Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Politicization of Divine Wrath


According to a commentary entitled "Key to al-Fatihah" published by the Islamic Foundation, Abdur Rashid Siddiqui (formerly a Secretary General of the UK Islamic Mission and a past Chairman of the Shura Council of the Islamic Society of Britain) demonstrates how easily the Holy Qur'an can be misinterpreted based on one's personal or collective political biases. He begins by discussing the meaning of al-ghadab, and proceeds with an analysis that borders on anti-Semitism:

" 1. Meaning

The literal meaning of al-Ghadab is hardness. Hence a hard rock is called Ghadabah and a deadly poisonous snake is called ghadub. Thus, anger is called ghadab and an angry person is referred to as ghadban. Ghadab is a relative state and varies. The hardness of a rock, the poison of a snake and the anger of a human being differ in their manifestation but all possess a quality of extremism. Allah (swt) is above feelings and sensations that we experience and, thus, we cannot really comprehend the quality of His Anger.

2. Analysis

The word ghadab signifies anger, displeasure and wrath. Those who incurred Allah's Wrath are those who were deprived of His Favours and received punishment:

Thus they (Jews) have drawn on themselves Wrath upon Wrath, and humiliating is their punishment of those who reject Faith. (al-Baqarah 2:90)

They (Jews) were covered with humiliation and misery, they drew on themselves the
Wrath of Allah. (al-Baqarah 2:61)

It is instructive to note the word maghdub is used impersonally and means that their actions are responsible for Allah's Wrath.

Thus, the Jews either rejected the Shari'ah of Allah, or if they accepted it, they tried to distort it or mould it to suit their own desires. Thus, they incurred Allah's Wrath. Their worst crime was to conceal the Truth. For this they were deprived of Allah's blessings and incurred His Curse which is signified by the word la'nah.

Those who conceal the clear (Signs) We have sent down, and the Guidance,
after We made it clear for the People in the Book - on them shall be Allah's Curse,
and the curse of those entitled to curse. (al-Baqarah 2:159)

The reasons for incurring Allah's Wrath are deviation from the Path of Righteousness after receiving Divine Guidance and favours and following their own base desires. It is important to know why this disease afflicts and prevents people from following the Way of Truth. One factor is their own inclinations, desires and self-interests and the other is the corrupt environment that surrounds them. These disrupt their relation with Divine Guidance and, thus, they follow their own whims and desires. All corruption and deviation in Din starts from these diseases. Thus, in several places, the Holy Qur'an instructs the People of the Book:

O People of the Book! Why do you reject Allah's Signs when you yourselves are there as witnesses. O People of the Book! Why do you mix truth with falsehood and knowingly conceal the truth? (Al 'Imran 3:70-71)

Say: "O People of the Book! Exceed not in your Din the bounds (of what is proper), trespassing beyond the truth, nor follow the whims and desires of people who went wrong in times gone by - who misled many and strayed (themselves) from the Right Way." (al-Ma'idah 5:77)

Thus, one of the supplications of the Prophet (peace be upon him) narrated by 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with both of them) is:

O Allah! I seek Your refuge from forfeiture of Your favours, displacement of Your concern for my well-being, and sudden descent of Punishment and Your Wrath and Anger.
(Sahih of Muslim)

The other supplication taught to us by the Qur'an is:

Our Lord! (they say) "Let not our hearts deviate now after You have guided us...
(Al 'Imran 3:8)"

Counter Analysis

In the view of more enlightened Muslims, the above analysis in pointing a finger at another Abrahamic faith is completely flawed and they would quote the Holy Qur'an in al-Baqara itself in Sura 2:62:

"Those who believe (in the Quran),
And those who follow the Jewish (scriptures),
And the Christians and the Sabians, -
Any who believe in God
And the Last Day,
And work righteousness,
Shall have their reward
With their Lord: on them
Shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve."

In my view, the Holy Qur'an makes these references to past cultures and civilizations which earned Divine Wrath by collapsing on themselves as a result of the incongruencies of their spiritual and ethical foundations. In fact, it is the Hebrews to whom we should turn to teach us the profound significance of Divine Wrath:

"This fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom,
they have sound sense who practice it.
His praises will be sung for ever."

Psalms 111:10 from The Jerusalem Bible

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