Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A couple of reflections on Surah Ash-Shuara

by S N Smith -- April 1, 2014

While reading Surah Ash-Shuara, the 26th chapter of the Quran, this morning the following verse, due to my own current situation, stood out in my mind. The context is Prophet Ibrahim speaking to his father and his people and telling  them about Allah. In verse 80, Ibrahim says of Allah: وَإِذَا مَرِضْتُ فَهُوَ يَشْفِينِ -- "And when I am ill, it is He who cures me."

Ibrahim is saying two things here:

1) Even though he is a prophet, he gets ill like everyone else
2) Allah is the source of all healing

Now remember, this statement is made in the context of Ibrahim trying to convince his father and his people, which you can read in verses 70-82, of the falseness of their idols and that the only true god worthy of worship is Allah.

So why is it that Ibrahim felt it necessary to mention that it is Allah who heals him when he is ill? If you read the entire discourse you will find the answer to this question. Ibrahim was not telling his father and his people anything new that they did not know previously. He was, in fact, merely reminding them of a reality which they instinctively knew to be true. Ibrahim makes it clear that Allah is exalted above all these idols and that they possess no power to help or harm anyone, or even hear them. Ibrahim asks of his father:قَالَ هَلْ يَسْمَعُونَكُمْ إِذْ تَدْعُونَأَوْ يَنفَعُونَكُمْ أَوْ يَضُرُّونَ قَالُوا۟ بَلْ وَجَدْنَآ ءَابَآءَنَا كَذَٰلِكَ يَفْعَلُون --- He said: "Do they hear you, when you call (on them)? "Or do they benefit you or do they harm (you)?" They said: "Nay, but we found our fathers doing so."

This is a clear admission from Ibrahim's father and people that their idol worshipping did not benefit or harm them in any way, and that the only reason they were doing it in the first place was because their forefathers did it: قَالُوا۟ بَلْ وَجَدْنَآ ءَابَآءَنَا كَذَٰلِكَ يَفْعَلُونَ ---They said: "Nay, but we found our fathers doing so." (vs. 74) 

In verses 75-76 Ibrahim reminds them that all they have been worshipping is themselves and their forefathers, and nothing else. They knew they could not heal themselves when they got ill. They knew that only a higher power could bring about their recovery and yet they chose to devote themselves to that which can neither harm or benefit them in the least. And they knew their idols were of their own making, fashioned out of materials from the earth on which they walked. Why they did this was out of a sense of tradition, and not because it helped them in any way. Their entire belief system and practice was based on falsehood and delusion.

So when Ibrahim reminded them it is only Allah who heals, and no one else, reality slapped them right across the face and reminded them that what they were doing was wrong and the evidence is right in front of them if they would care to look and think upon it.