CHAPTER XI / The Main Islamic Beliefs

The Main Islamic Beliefs

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Remembering that this is the longest surah in the Qur’an, taking no less than 286 verses, we find that the first purpose takes only five verses, 21-25,

which send a powerful address to all mankind calling on them to meet three requirements:

1) that they worship none other than God, associating no partners with Him whatsoever;

2) that they should believe in the book He has revealed to His servant and Messenger; and

3) that they should guard against incurring God’s painful punishment and should try to earn His plentiful reward.

These three requirements are the basic three principles of the Islamic faith, set out in their natural order: a beginning, a middle and an end.

The first two are set out with logical, irrefutable proofs that leave no room for any doubt. The third is given without such proof.

It is presented with a powerful appeal to the human conscience, along with much promise and warning to compensate for material proof.

Yet when we consider this third principle carefully, we realise that it needs no proof, after the first two have been firmly established.

It is, in a way, a logical consequence of these two principles.

Let us take the case of an ambassador delivering a message from a powerful king whose authority is unchallenged.

The recipient makes sure that the message is actually sent by the king, bearing his seal.

Does he need any further proof of the contents of the message, especially when he knows that the sender says only the truth and always honours the promises he makes?

This is the case here when the principle in question requires that we believe in something that is reported to us.

The report, however, is based on what has already been established with regard to the truth of prophethood.

The progress from the first two principles to the third one is masterly: : “But if you fail, as you will always do, then guard yourselves against the fire…”.

(2: 24.)

Then follows a recap in 14 verses, 26-39. As stated earlier, the surah opens by a general description of the Qur’an as a source of guidance.

It is now appropriate to describe the method of guidance employed in the Qur’an. We learn that it is perfect guidance, setting matters clearly with no ambiguity over any detail.

Let us now consider how the recap begins after a progressive transition stretching from the beginning of the surah.

In the introduction, the three classes of people are described fully, with examples setting out their respective attitudes and conditions.

It states very clearly that the unbelievers have chosen to follow falsehood, while the believers follow the truth they receive from their Lord.

In outlining the first purpose, the surah makes it clear that God is unlike anything.

No equals may be set up for Him, and no partners may be associated with Him.

This is followed by establishing a criterion to distinguish a true prophet sent with God’s message from one who makes a false claim to prophethood.

This criterion takes the form of a universal challenge that stands for all time, a challenge to produce a single surah like the Qur’an.

This is followed by examples describing the fire of hell which is prepared for the unbelievers, and heaven which is promised to the God-fearing.

In all these examples the Qur’an refers to a wide variety of facts, some are sublime while others mundane, some material and some spiritual.

This culminates with a presentation of the comforts and pleasures enjoyed in heaven, including some that are personal or even carnal.

Indeed, some people may feel shy when they are mentioned, while an uneducated person may think that a discourse by God would not refer to such things.

Such a thought may be entertained only when a person overlooks the fact that God is the Truth who does not hesitate to state the facts,

and that He is the Merciful who bestows His grace on mankind, telling them all that they need to know in the language they understand. He explains to them in plain terms all issues concerning what they may love or hate, hope for or fear.

Having given all these examples, the surah deduces from them a general rule that sets out the Qur’anic method in providing guidance. It gives all sorts of examples and sets out all facts..

pleasant or bitter, putting everything in its right place, calling it by its plain name. It does not refrain from referring to any matters, large or small, great or mundane:

“It would not be beneath God to give the parable of a gnat, or a higher creature.”

(2: 26.)

It is, indeed, the case that this book outlines in plain terms what is true and what is false, what is beneficial and what is harmful..

omitting nothing, just like the record each one of us will have on the Day of Judgement showing all our good deeds and all our bad ones.

People’s Attitudes towards the Qur’an

The general description of the Qur’an at the outset as a book of guidance has led to mentioning people’s attitudes to that guidance, and to a denunciation of those who reject its guidance.

A similar distinction results here from mentioning the Qur’anic method of providing guidance:

“By it He leaves many to stray and many He enlightens and guides.” (2: 26.)

Again, those who choose to go astray are denounced here with an outline of their evil deeds:

“He, however, will leave to stray none but the evil-doers.” (2: 26.)

The description of the unbelievers in the introduction provides an image that makes us eager to listen to the address calling on them to pay heed and accept God’s message.

Their qualities described here make us eager to listen to how they are rebuked for their denial of the truth:

“How can you reject God when He has given you life after you were dead? He will cause you to die again then He will bring you back to life. To Him you shall surely return. It is He who has created for you all that is on earth. He then turned to heaven and fashioned it into seven heavens. He has knowledge of all things.”

(2: 28-29.)

We are now back to the first purpose with all its three principles, but these are put here in a different format.

As for the first principle, it is made initially in the form of an order to worship God. Here, the order is not to disbelieve in God.

In the first instance, the surah reminds them in general terms of the blessing of their creation. Here, the reminder comes in full detail.

They are told at the beginning that both the heavens and earth are made to sustain their life. Now they are told about this in more detail.

With regard to the second principle, the prophethood of Muhammad, God’s last Messenger, is mentioned first..

but now the surah mentions the prophethood of the first of all prophets, Adam.

This tells us that Muhammad is not a new phenomenon represented in a man given a message by God. Indeed, the concept of prophethood and Divine legislation is as old as the beginning of human life on earth.

This is well prepared by making mention of man’s remarkable origin and then by its discussion with the angels.

This discussion, as reported in the surah..

proves the extra care God has given to mankind who have been chosen to be in charge of building life on earth and who have been given the superior quality of knowledge that distinguishes them from other creatures.

That God has bestowed His grace on man and given him all these blessings ties up with the outline of God’s other favours given earlier in respect of the first principle.

The favours God has given to man were the cause of Satan’s envy of man and hostility towards Adam, the first man created.

This led to Satan’s wicked deception culminating in both of them being subjected to a trial.

Both are given a mission to fulfil. The progress of the discussion is natural, with all its points developing easily and naturally.

As for the third principle we see that in the first instance both heaven and hell are given an awesome description.

Here, they are mentioned only by name and by indicating the dwellers of each of them. Reward and duty are mentioned side by side to indicate that the one leads to the other.

What this means is that the fulfilment of duty leads to happiness in the Hereafter, while neglecting it leads to misery.

Here again the recap ends with a reference to the unbelievers in order to address some of them and to call on them to believe in Islam, which is the second purpose of the surah, treated in 123 verses (40-162).

It should be remembered that this surah was the first to be revealed in Madinah, where the most hostile enemies of Islam lived.

These were the Jews, the most argumentative about faith, as they relied on the knowledge vouchsafed to them through God’s earlier messengers.

This shows us the keen attention given to calling on them particularly to believe in the new faith, after the call addressed to all mankind.

It tells us why they are addressed in a friendly manner at times, and why the Qur’an talks about them at other times in different styles..

ranging from the offensive to the defensive, and from trying to win them over to putting the facts clear before them.

This takes us beyond the middle point of this longest surah. As we read through, moving from one stage to another, we are overawed with the structure and accurate design of the surah.

The address to the Jews begins with a single short verse that sums up all that the Qur’an needs to say to them:

“Children of Israel, remember My favours which I have bestowed on you. Fulfil your covenant with Me and I will fulfil My covenant with you; and of Me alone stand in awe.”

(2: 40.)

It addresses them by the name they love most, reminding them of their relationship to Jacob and Abraham..

as well as of the totality of the favours God has bestowed on them.

This forms the basis for the call to them to fulfil their pledges, adding promises of reward and threats of punishment.

It then begins to explain all this in more detail, starting with an outline in six verses, 41-46, of the covenant which they are required to fulfil.

Verse 47 describes the extent of God’s favours which they are required to remember..

while verse 48 details the extent of God’s warning to them.

Address to the Jews

The subsequent discussion is divided into four sections:

1) an account of the history of the Jews ever since Moses was sent with God’s message to them;

2) an exposition of the conditions of those Jews living at the time of the revelation of Islam, Muhammad’s message;

3) a discussion of the higher position of the Muslims ever since the time of Abraham; and

4) an exposition of the situation of the Muslims at the time of the Prophet Muhammad.

We will discuss these four themes as tackled in the surah.

1. The History of the Jews (Verses 49-74)

This section begins with eight verses in which God reminds the Israelites of the blessings which God had bestowed on them time after time, giving them much of their details.

These were the historical blessings which lasted for a long time and benefited one generation of Jews after another.

It reminds them of the great occasions when God first saved them from Pharaoh and his people, and then saved them from drowning in the sea, while leaving their enemies to be so engulfed.

Then they have a reminder of God’s promise to bestow His revelations on them..

and the fact that He had fulfilled that promise and sent down revelations for their guidance.

A further reminder mentions the fact that God accepted their repentance after they had reverted back to associating partners with Him, and then again He accepted their repentance when they had rebelled against their Prophet and put to him great demands.

All these were great favours bestowed on them ‘before and after their commitment of sin’.

Mentioning them should soften their hearts and motivate them to acknowledge God’s favours and express gratitude to Him and to obey His orders.

After this reminder of former favours, which are plentiful and wide ranging, another reminder of a different kind is intended...

but this time it mentions their offences and the punishment they suffered for them.

We are first prepared for this intervening passage by a brief note that mentions their turning away showing displeasure.

Here, we are told that God has given them on top of all those favours some special blessings such as sending clouds to comfort them with shade and giving them food and drink which they received without having to work for them.

Nevertheless, they wronged themselves, looked at those blessings with contempt,

distorted their expression of gratitude to make it an expression of ridicule, and asked for a life of toil to replace their life of comfort.

God has committed them to what they suggested and has imposed on them a life of ignominy and humiliation.

Mention of their offences and the punishment they were made to suffer for them follows this intervening passage.

The surah mentions that they earned the burden of God’s condemnation because of their disbelief in the signs given to them by God and because they killed prophets...

making an exception only in the case of those of them who adhered to the faith.

They further disobeyed God’s orders outlined in the Torah until they were forced to heed them.

However, they subsequently disregarded these orders to the extent that they earned God’s displeasure and deserved the punishment that befell those who sinned against the Sabbath..

but God bestowed His grace on them nevertheless. They were also slack to carry out the orders of their prophet.

They were so naïve in their understanding of prophethood that they thought that he was jesting about some of what he conveyed to them.

Verse 74 provides a link between the first two sections.

The surah wants to establish a link between their situation in the past and in the period when the Qur’an was revealed.

It places this link in the verse with which it concludes the first section: “Yet after all this your hearts hardened until they have become as hard as rocks or even harder.” The phrase, ‘yet after all this’, , indicates the beginning of the hardening of their hearts, without putting a limit to it.

This suggests that it was progressive, continuing over generations. The listener is left with the impression that this hardening has continued to the present day.

This impression is further emphasised by usage of the present tense in describing the hardness of their hearts: ‘until they have become as hard as rocks.’

This is far more expressive than saying,‘until they were as hard as rocks.’

As the verse describes their hearts in this way, it makes this description a reason for a change of address.

When a person’s heart is so hardened that it becomes like a rock, it is unwise to carry on any further discussion with him.

It is, indeed, wiser to turn to someone else whose heart is free of sickness and to speak to him.

This is indeed what happens here. The surah stops addressing them about their ancestors and begins speaking to the Muslims about the Jews who were contemporaries of the Prophet and his companions.

2. The Jews in Madinah at the Dawn of Islam (Verses 75-121)

As said earlier, the second purpose of the surah may be divided into 4 sections. The second section, verses 75-121, deals with the situation of the Jews in Madinah at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

It opens with an unusual sentence that does not follow the reporting style of the previous or subsequent verses.

It is an interrogative sentence preceded by one particle and followed by another.

The first particle, ‘fa’, reminds us of all the incidents mentioned in the first section, while the second, ‘wa’, opens the door to all events that are to be mentioned in this section.

Between the past and the present history this sentence serves to indicate the lesson to be learnt.

The reasons leading to past events and those ushering in future ones make the result a foregone conclusion:

“Do you, then, hope that they will accept your message when some of them….”

(2: 75.)

The first particle, fa, which is given in translation as, ‘then’, serves to say to us:

‘Is it conceivable after all that has been told that anyone could hope that such people, heirs to all this unsavoury history, could accept the faith?’

The second particle, wa, which is translated here as, ‘when’, tells us:

‘Not only so, but they have committed even worse deeds and these they continue to perpetrate.’

After this short sentence...

the surah reverts back to the reporting style, mentioning various deeds and sayings done or said by these contemporary Jews...

giving in the process around 20 reasons that leave absolutely no hope that they will ever accept the faith honestly.

Some of these reasons apply to them alone, while some are common to others as well, such as their own ancestors, as also to Christians and idolaters.

As the surah mentions a claim or allegation made by the Jews, it adds a clear reply to refute it.

This description of the conditions of these contemporary Jews divides them at the outset into two groups: scholars who deliberately distort God’s words, urging one another to conceal their knowledge so that it is not taken as an argument against them.

The other group includes ignorant, unlettered people who pursue their hopes and superstitions.

These are victims of the distortion perpetrated by their rabbis.

In such a situation, who could entertain any hope in the reformation of a community in which the masses are deceived into adding to their religion what does not belong to it...

while its scholars deliberately deceive people into accepting as Divine revelation what they themselves have invented.

This is followed by providing the origin of their shameless attitude making it easy for them to commit every kind of sin.

This is due to their arrogance which led them to claim that they would not be tortured in hell except perhaps for a few days. The Prophet is ordered to refute this claim in unequivocal language.

He is instructed to put his argument in a progressive way...

beginning by pursuing a rational and logical approach starting with a request that they should produce evidence in support of their claims.

It then refutes their claim showing that it is at variance with the basic elements of the law of Divine justice which admits no favouritism or injustice whatsoever.

All human beings are equal before this law, with everyone held responsible for their deeds. Whoever does good or evil will have just reward for it.

Then the surah turns the scales against them, showing clearly that they belong to the camp of people who

‘earn evil and become engulfed by their sins’

(2: 82)

Have they not made a covenant committing themselves to remain God-fearing and to do good to other people, but have failed to honour their covenant?

Have they not pledged to refrain from sin and injustice, yet they are immersed in injustice?

On top of this they believe in certain portions of God’s book and deny others.

They also make God’s law subject to their desires.

Whenever a messenger comes to them with something that is in conflict with their wishes, they turn away in arrogance.

This is followed by a full list of their other misdeeds: a long list indeed that may be summed up as follows:

1. Their refusal to listen to the message of the truth, justifying their attitude by claiming that their hearts are sealed;

2. Their rejection of the new Divine book only because it has been revealed to a person who does not belong to them. Yet they were awaiting the new message, hoping to follow the new prophet so that they would be able to overcome the pagan Arabs;

3. Their claims of fulfilling their duty by believing in what was revealed to them. The fact is that they disbelieve even in their own revelations. They have continued to make these claims ever since they worshipped the calf and loved that sort of worship;

4. Their claims that ultimate success in the Hereafter will be theirs alone. Yet they contradict their very claims by their fear of death and by their desire to prolong their life in this world as much as possible;

5. Their hostility to Gabriel, the angel, because he delivered God’s revelations to someone who did not belong to them. The fact is that the revelation is made under God’s instructions and in His knowledge;

6.Their repeated violations of their covenants;

7. Their preoccupation with learning books of black magic, while discarding God’s book;

8. Twisting their tongues when speaking to the Prophet, pronouncing a certain word, rāᶜina, in a way that made it a word of ridicule directed at him and his faith, although they professed to use it as a word of respect.

This manipulation and deliberate obscuring of their language sometimes aimed to embarrass the Prophet, putting to him a long list of requests and suggestions, just like they did with Moses.

[It should be mentioned here that this point is given in the surah in the form of a warning to the believers not to say that word the Jews used for ridicule.]

9. Their grudges, along with those of other disbelievers among the people of earlier faiths and the polytheists, emanated from their envy that revelation had been vouchsafed to someone else.

It is, indeed, up to God to assign prophethood to anyone He chooses. It is, indeed, His prerogative to abrogate any code of law, substituting for it a similar or a better one, as He pleases;

10. The desire entertained by many of them to turn the believers back into disbelief;

11. The claims reiterated by the Jews and the Christians that none other than they will ever be in heaven. Such claims are no more than vain desires that have no solid basis;

12. The mutual claims made by both the Jews and Christians that the other religion has no basis to stand on, while the pagan Arabs said the same thing about both of them;

13. All three groups were keen to forbid the mentioning of God’s name in His houses of worship;

14. Their participation in making false claims against God and alleging that He has a son;

15. Their refusal to believe in God’s Messengers until God had spoken to them directly, without a medium, or until He had sent them a clear sign.

16. The last of their misdeeds mentioned in the surah is the one leading to total despair on the believers’ part that they would ever believe.

Indeed, those Jews hoped to convert God’s Messenger himself so that he would follow their desires.

How, then, could he hope that they would ever believe in the guidance he brought? This is impossible.

It is sufficient for him then that those of them who have true knowledge and who read God’s book as it should be read believe in his guidance. After all, those who disbelieve are themselves the losers.

3. An Account of Believers Since Abraham (Verses 122-134)

A wise reformer’s approach in his advocacy is the same as a farmer who prepares the land for a new season. The latter begins by weeding and clearing the land of dead plants before putting in the new seeds or planting new trees.

The same is done by a wise advocate of faith.

He begins with preparing the mind and the soul by purging them of all false beliefs and corruption before directing them to the truth and Divine guidance.

It is a two-stage approach: clearance and preparation in the first stage and completion of the mission in the second.

So far the address to the Children of Israel in the surah has been confined to showing the crookedness of the way they have been following. Indeed, the surah has illustrated this crookedness fully to complete the first stage.

Now the second stage begins, showing them the way they should follow.

We have seen how the discussion in the previous section was concluded with the mention of God’s guidance and the knowledge He has vouchsafed to His Messenger (peace be upon him).

This is coupled with the mention of the group that is most likely to believe in it from among the followers of earlier religions.

These are the ones who read God’s revelations as they should be read. This conclusion serves as a prelude which prepares us for the new beginning.

The discourse so far in the present theme or purpose of the surah has been divided into two sections: one devoted to discussing the situation of the Israelites in the past and the other to outlining their situation at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

It is most fitting, then...

to provide a perfect contrast and to speak now about the believers dividing the discussion first to an exposition of their past and then to outlining their present situation.

This is what we will see now. Indeed, we will see an even more perfect contrast,

with the discourse taking in the third section the same lines followed in the first, with a direct address to the Israelites.

In the fourth section, the same line will be followed as in the second, speaking about the Muslims at present.

What is more, the two verses which started the discussion in the first part are used again to start the discussion now.

Again, they are invited here to believe in the truth in the same way as they are called upon to turn away from falsehood.

This repetition makes it clear to the listener that the discourse will follow the same lines as it followed earlier, but on a parallel route and a new outlook based on similarly solid grounds:

“Children of Israel! Remember My favours which I have bestowed on you, and that I have preferred you above all nations. Beware of a day when no soul shall avail another in any way:

when no ransom shall be accepted from any of them, nor shall intercession be of any use and they shall be without succour. When his Lord tested Abraham with certain commandments….”

(2: 122-124.)

Thus, the Jews are called upon to follow in the footsteps of their God-fearing ancestors. This does not take the form of a commandment or an urging which would have proved to be of little use in their case.

Instead, it comes in the form of a captivating narrative mentioning aspects of Abraham’s glorious history and that of his children and grandchildren in the golden age; the one unanimously agreed by all followers of Divine religions and pagan Arabs to be the high pinnacle of their history.

The surah quotes them all as making the same statement which Abraham had urged his seed to adopt...

and which his offspring continued to teach to their children and grandchildren.

This is the statement which declares one’s full submission to God, the Lord of all worlds.

In relating Abraham’s history and his leadership of mankind, the surah makes a point of mentioning his prayer to God to appoint a leader for mankind from among his own seed, just like he himself was appointed such a leader.

As we see Abraham and his son Ishmael working on the construction of the Kaᶜbah, the Inviolable House of worship...

which God has sanctified and made a place of security towards which people turn in their prayer...

the surah relates their passionate prayer to God to bring out of their offspring a community that submits itself to God and to raise in that community a Messenger from among themselves to teach and purify them.

All this serves to establish a strong historical bond between the Prophet Muhammad and his followers on the one hand and those two noble Prophets on the other.

This is not merely a bond of family descent. It is a bond of unity in faith and principle.

The Prophet and his followers are of the offspring of Abraham and Ishmael.

Their existence comes in answer to their prayer; their faith is the same as that of Abraham and Ishmael; they turn in Prayer to the same place and offer the same pilgrimage.

At the same time, the surah declares that such honourable descent is withdrawn from the Jews who trace their blood ancestry to Jacob and Abraham,

but who turn away from their faith and disobey their express commands.

Of what use is family descent when the bond of faith is severed?

It is as the Arabic saying goes: “If a person’s deeds do not speed him towards his goal, his family descent will not move him any faster.”

Here the surah declares: “That nation have passed away. To them shall be credited what they have earned, and to you what you have earned. You shall not be questioned about what they did.”

(2: 134.)

4. The Muslims at the Time of the Prophet (Verses 135-162)

This follows in a natural progression from discussing ancestors to discussing descendants, and from making implicit hints to a clear and explicit statement.

It begins by stating unequivocally that the present Muslim community has a strong bond with that community of believers, both in the fundamentals of its faith and in its main details.

The surah relates the attempts of the weak-minded among the Israelites and other communities to deprive the Muslims of this bond...

calling on the Muslims to follow their own direction of prayer and denouncing the change of the direction of Islamic prayer from facing Jerusalem to facing the Kaᶜbah.

All these attempts are shown to be false and of little consequence.

We have seen how the surah has earlier combined its account of Abraham’s faith with speaking about the direction he faced in his prayers.

This provides a solid basis here to speak about the Islamic faith and its direction of prayer.

As for the faith itself, the surah reminds the Muslims that they are faced with calls from Jews and Christians to follow their creeds.

The Muslims are instructed to reply that they will follow the pure faith of Abraham, based on total submission to God.

They are to make clear to them that this pure faith requires a complete belief in God and in all that has been revealed to all prophets.

We make no distinction between them. To which of these two parts of our faith do you object?

Is it to our belief in God, who is our Lord and your Lord? Or is it to following Abraham and his offspring who were neither Jews nor Christians:

“That nation have passed away. To them shall be credited what they have earned, and to you what you have earned. You shall not be questioned about what they did.”

(2: 141.)

This should have been sufficient to put an end to all their arguments and to close this door in their faces. It makes it clear that the basic principles of faith are too strong to admit any argument of any sort.

The surah moves on quickly to refute their other argument concerning the Kaᶜbah,

which is the centre of two of the most important acts of worship in Islam, namely, prayer and pilgrimage.

The position of the Kaᶜbah in the Divine faith had already been established when Abraham and Ishmael made it a place of sanctity and turned towards it in prayer.

But this was not sufficient to silence those who were bent on criticising the Muslims for the change of their direction in prayer from Jerusalem to the Kaᶜbah. Those evil-minded people used such a change to raise doubts concerning the Prophet’s message.

Their criticism affected the weaker elements of the Muslim community.

Hence, it was necessary to make a strong argument here to refute all the fallacies those hostile elements used to spread.

We see here how the surah directs much of its attention to this issue.

It begins by instructing the Prophet to answer those who questioned the wisdom behind the change in a dignified manner...

stating that this is a matter decided by the One who may not be questioned about His orders or deeds.

The Prophet is told to say to them: all directions are the same, and God directs us to face whichever one He chooses. It is He who guides to the straight path.

It follows this with instructions addressed either to the Prophet, in person, or to the believers, and at times to both the Prophet and the believers.

All these instructions state emphatically and in detail that the Muslims must maintain their direction of Prayer all the time,

wherever they happen to be, in their places of residence or to whichever place they may travel.

The surah intersperses these confirmed commandments with various aspects of old and new Divine legislation.

It makes clear that the choice of the temporary direction of prayers was no more than a test of the strength of faith among those believers who migrated from Makkah.

The test proves who would sincerely and resolutely follow the Prophet and who would turn back on their heels.

The choice of the new, permanent direction for prayer has a number of reasons and important objectives behind it.

It is the middle qiblah, i.e. direction of prayer, which is most suitable for the middle community, i.e. the Muslims;

and it is the one which meets the desire of the Prophet who turned his face up to heaven, hoping to receive instructions to turn to it without actually putting his wishes into words.

It is the qiblah which the followers of earlier revelations know to be the true direction determined by their Lord, despite the fact that they concealed it out of envy and arrogance.

Moreover, it is the qiblah which God testifies to be the true way, and it is the one which leaves no argument for any fair-minded person.

As for those who are unfair, they will continue to argue about it as long as they remain hostile to you.

Hence, do not fear them. Prepare yourselves, instead, to make whatever sacrifice you are called upon to make for God’s cause.

Remain patient in adversity and do not grieve for those of you who will be killed in defending God’s cause, because such death represents permanent life.

The surah then indicates that continued argument about the qiblah not only represents an act of turning people away from the acts of worship done inside the Sacred Mosque.

It is also an aggression aimed at turning people away from other acts of worship done near it:

“Al-Safa and al-Marwah are among the symbols set up by God.”

(2: 159.)

It explains the true nature of these symbols in the same way as it explained the nature of the qiblah,

denouncing the people of earlier revelations who were fully aware of their origins in Abraham’s history..

but who nevertheless knowingly concealed the truth God had revealed.

Page IV

Strengthening Believers’ Resolve

Thus, the four sections in this second purpose or theme of the surah, which calls on the Israelites to believe in Islam, are completed.