يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ
O you who have attained security! Be conscious of God with all the consciousness that is due to Him, and do not die except that you are surrendering
قُلْ آمَنَّا بِاللّهِ وَمَا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنزِلَ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالأَسْبَاطِ وَمَا أُوتِيَ مُوسَى وَعِيسَى وَالنَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ لاَ نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ
Say: “We believe in [i.e. are secure with] God, and in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, and that which has been bestowed upon Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, and that which has been vouchsafed by their Sustainer unto Moses and Jesus and all the callers/prophets: we make no distinction between any of them And [this security is because] we surrender [to Him, the One they all surrendered to]”
وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الإِسْلاَمِ دِينًا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
For, if one seeks other than the surrendering [of everything, without exception] as what one owes to God [or as the way that reality is] , it will never be accepted from him [i.e. it will be contradicted and not accepted by the way reality is], and in the life to come he is among the losers. [note/reminder: claims about who prospers and loses have to be confirmed as true here and now unless one deceives oneself into thinking that one can “believe” and be secure about a claim simply by repeating/uttering it. I find no such conception of believing taught or approved by the Quran though it is utterly common among “believers” of all kinds. I have made my choice. you make yours!]
فَمَن يُرِدِ اللّهُ أَن يَهْدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلإِسْلاَمِ وَمَن يُرِدْ أَن يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَأَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّمَاء كَذَلِكَ يَجْعَلُ اللّهُ الرِّجْسَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ
And whomsoever God wills to guide, He opens his heart for the surrendering [of himself and all other beings] and whomsoever He wills to let go astray, he makes his bosom tight and burdened, as if he were climbing into the skies: it is thus that God inflicts impurity upon those who do not find security with Him.
أَفَمَن شَرَحَ اللَّهُ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ فَهُوَ عَلَى نُورٍ مِّن رَّبِّهِ فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْقَاسِيَةِ قُلُوبُهُم مِّن ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ أُوْلَئِكَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ
Could, then, one whose bosom God has opened wide with the surrendering, so that he is illumined by a light from his Sustainer [be the same as those not surrendering?] Woe, then, unto those whose hearts are hardened against all remembrance of God! These are the ones lost in clear/obvious error [obvious here and now for the reader to see and understand]
My comments about the above verses:
- When the Quran says, “o those who believe!..” what I understand is that what follows this statement is tied to my security and safety. That in order to be safe and secure, the Quran is claiming that I would need x, y z. I do not find it reasonable to read the verse already assuming that I understand what it means to believe or that I am already a “believer”. I am reading revelation to seek answers to my questions about meaning and truth. If i confirm the Quran’s claim, then I can respond to the verse and say “You, the One who speaks here, are telling the truth!” The Quran speaks to me so that I will attain security not to me as a believer already. Belief/security seems to be its goal for me, not an assumption I can make at the start. Those who already take their identities for granted as meaningful and assume Quran to be true, without any evidence, do not understand the matter this way. It makes a lot of difference. The Quran, to me, is addressed to anyone who cares to look for answers from their maker. And its goal is my security and it claims, in the verses above, that this security is tied to surrendering to Him.
- It is a tragedy to me (and a non-issue to those who are, to me, unthinking and dishonest) that “Islam” is widely used as a proper noun to refer to a religion or religious tradition when it is an attitude (surrender) throughout the Quran. An attitude not specific or permanent to any people. Not something that can be passed along by birth or claimed by words or actions. It is a surrender to God. And of course only God would know whether anyone actually surrendered to Him or not. Surrendering is a guidance to be followed if I, the one reading the Quran, want the safety and security it offers and claims that I need. My response to Quran’s claim here, as elsewhere, is to verify its claims by looking at myself and the reality I see around me. Are things surrendered to their maker or are they acting independently and on their own?
- When the president of the US says, “if you bring a currency other than US$ to me, it will never be accepted from you”, I can understand that he speaks about the laws in force in the country he rules. I can understand that if I take Pakistani rupees to a baker in New York, he will not accept it as a valid payment because the one who is in charge of the system [the president. for instance and institutions under his authority] have set the system up in a way that makes Pak rupee payments impossible and invalid. So then if the maker of the universe says that NO other attitudes (NOT religions, ATTITUDES!) other than surrendering to Him are acceptable to Him, I should try to verify from myself and the universe that He has made if this is true. Can I see the beings in the universe, including myself, surrendering to Him? Do I find this understanding of myself and the universe giving me the security and safety I am made to need? These are my questions when I read the above verses. These verses do not at all suggest (unless I read into them) that Islam is some religion that is the only acceptable religion to God etc. This would be a irrational and nonsensical way to read revelation. One could never verify the truth of this claim i..e that God only accepts “islam” as a Din. What Islam? There is no way I am going to listen to what people say Islam is instead of listening to my maker’s plain and verifiable claim that it is a surrender that is tied to remembrance of God and a “light” that one walks by and whose contrast is hardness of heart and difficult and narrowness and obviously oppressive misguidance (Dalaalum mubeen).
- From 3:85, I learn that when I ask the earth: do you give me food and vegetation because you can? or are you a surrendered subject and servant of the One whose provision and generosity you obediently bring to me? The earth replies to me: I have no power and wisdom and compassion and awareness of your needs or a will to fulfill you that I could give you all this. I am a servant surrendered to the Will of my maker and your maker and it is His treasures I bear and bring forth for you. I confirm that the earth that is powerless and compassionless would make an unsafe source for me to rely on. I find safety and security in relying on the One who gives life to the earth and brings forth through it sustenance for me, displaying His will to care for my needs. I find safety in surrendering my need (also given to me by my maker for i did not give it to myself nor find nature able to give to me) for sustenance NOT to the earth but to the sustainer of the earth. If I bring to the sustainer an attitude of “Thanks for the offer but I am alright! I can manage just between me and the earth. I don’t need you!”, this is ejected by the earth as invalid and unacceptable. The earth tells me: I cannot sustain you! If you expect sustenance and life from me, I will disappoint you. I do not give you life. i do not have power to stop your death and to provide you with life and health eternally and perfectly. The earth, like the baker in the example, rejects my payments and thanks to it. This is how I confirm that the One who has set up this system has set it up in a way that “sharing” His providence with the earth is invalid and does not work. Only surrender to Him works. Only as a servant of the One who is the source of sustenance does the earth agree to give me sustenance for a while. And it points to me that I should thank the One who is the source and I should expect from such a generous One, who feeds all, to fill all the needs He has given me, material or otherwise.
- When I ask myself: Is life yours Faraz so that you live by your life and enjoy what you enjoy with your own sense of enjoyment? Is this a safe way to look at my reality? Not at all! Nothing of my enjoyment is in my control. But neither can blind and created beings have power over it either. I do not find safety in thinking that blind chance or time or luck or fate or wealth or friends or health or my youth can guarantee endless pleasure and enjoyment to me, which is what my soul is made to need. These things are either names with no power to create or sustain or they are themselves created beings dependent on their maker. I realize that when I surrender my life to the Living One and my enjoyment and pleasure to the ever-lasting, Compassionate One, I find a secure and safe way to meet all my needs eternally. My needs do not constrict and burden me, as if I have to walk trek to the skies [which is what it feels like trying to meet my needs myself or through created beings that declare their impotence and limitedness to me]. I can only safely live i.e. can expect to have life forever and in perfect form if i live by the life i receive from the ever-living One who is giving me life. While my body decays, the Living One lives. Life never perishes into annihilation even as living beings, as servants of the Living One, leave this realm, as if a procession coming from the source, performing its duties and returning to the source. In this surrender of all beings and my own life, I find safety and security. As I remember the Living One, as the verse says, I experience a light that reveals that death is not the end of life. The remembrance of the living One, when I surrender life to Him instead of claiming it for myself or for other created beings, is a light for me as the verse says. I live securely now as the source of my life is the eternally Living One now. The heart enlarges as it receives news of eternal life while still here. To forget the living One, to not surrender life to Him but to instead claim it as one’s own would mean trying to keep alive as long as one could and yet finding life terribly short. It would mean carrying the burden of needing life without any source that could give it to me. This is an oppression of the soul that I am responsible for when I do not surrender. I must carry this desire for life as an impurity now – a burden. I wish I did not have it! Something that was a beautiful sign (a sign of my maker’s desire to give me eternal life) becomes my own clingy and humiliating desire for as much life as possible before impending, permanent annihilation [or so I imagine..revelation says there is eternal punishment, as evidenced by the pain such a non-surrender brings to me here and now, not a peaceful non-existence. so much more can be said much more clearly and methodically. But the overall point should be clear enough.
If someone reads the Quran assuming that they are “Muslims” [born, convert/revert whatever, doesn’t matter] or that Muslim is something that one IS by virtue of some verbal utterance [no such thing in the Quran – there isn’t anything about uttering a ‘shahada’ in the Quran] or performance of some “pillars” etc rather than a person, any person, if and when that person is surrendering everything to His Lord, they are not learning the meaning of the word ‘muslim’ from revelation. If someone thinks “Islam” is some religion or religious tradition that God wants me to follow or to invite others to, rather than a surrendering whose truth is witnessed by what he has created and that God is asking me to be aligned with this reality, then they are engaged in meaningless speech that extinguishes the light and truth I get from revelation. Such people repeat whatever meaningless things they have been taught as ‘knowledge’. They turn Quran’s guidance (mostly unconsciously) into ideology [an ideology’s truth does not matter for it to command loyalty and passionate approval], identity and unverifiable claims that I should submit to. I do NOT submit to some “Islam” that people imagine being some religion. I surrender all beauty and life and power to the One who is the sustainer of all things and I find security and safety in so doing, as the Quran claims. This surrender produces witnessing His signs where previously I saw just passing, ownerless and orphaned qualities and attributes being constantly lost. I turn away from those turn surrendering into a religion and an identity to be possessed and claimed for oneself. I seek refuge with God from such claims that have made islam into a “tradition” people were born into and that is for many today an object of praise, devotion, loyalty and fidelity IN ADDITION TO loyalty and surrender to God.
The light of surrender that reveals the truth and meaning of things to me, I witness and confirm. Surrendering the qualities I love, the things I need to the One who owns those qualities and who can provide all needs, is a light and a truth. You too should read revelation so that you can confirm its claims as true and be guided by the truth of its claims. Otherwise, you lie [repeat without understanding] when you say you believe the Quran is guidance. You cover its truth by never trying to find and confirm it. And I have no interest in or patience for listening to liars. I turn away from lies and all who lie when they lie.