64:5-8 bashar or messenger?

Due apologies but you will have to look up the verses yourself.

To me, and I say this for the 70th time or have been saying it for 40 days (i.e. ever so often), revelation, if true in its claims, reveals. It claims to describe me and my world in a way that is better than how, it claims, I can describe it without it. It’s descriptions of me are better for me, it claims. It offers a perspective that, it claims, can make me safe and addresses the one who is looking for safety. That is why it speaks of those who are safe/secure (so that I can decide if I want to be one of those). It also describes attitudes and choices it refers to as denying or covering up etc. that it associates with painful suffering and grief and despair and so on. It remains on me, as a human being looking for meaning, to agree or disagree with its claims, which I do either by affirming them and actually being helped by them or rejecting them and by not being helped by them.

Let’s turn to the verses then. Verse 5 asks me if news has reached me of those who covered up before me? What “covering up”? Who were they and why do you, my maker, tell me this? And since my answer is ‘no! not really! I haven’t gotten any news about any such thing except that now you are telling me, as if, I should expect such news? So now, reading this, i realize that it is possible, and even likely, that i was among “such ones” and that is why you, the speaker, has asked the question. If news has not reached me about them, as it hasn’t, then i don’t know who is being talked about and why it is important for me to hear it now.

And so i am ready to actually hear now to see if what is said describes me in any way? Am I such a person? Are my problems related to being such a person?

Verse 5 continues and claims that there is something that these “deniers” experienced (something terrible and painful) and that there is painful suffering for them and the reason for this is something that they do/did [and some firm view or commitment they had so that they adhered to something, as if to a practice so that this adherence inevitably led them to do suffer painful consequences]. What did they do? what was their way or practice? Is this my way too? and is it true that it carries painful suffering? is there any suffering and grief in my life that i can relate to such an action of mine? Are you, the speaker, revealing something to me that I can test and either affirm or reject?

Verse 6 claims that these people – and one can now just speak of the kind of action/attitude they had because that is what seems to be important about them here – looked at someone and said something that amounted to a “denial.” Their “denial” lies in denying what that someone was and what that someone does or does not do. Pay attention to the verse now.

It claims that what came to them were, in reality (i.e. in this revelation’s description) “their messengers.” The “messengers?” What are those and what is important about them here? The verse claims that the messengers came with “clear stuff” (and as messengers, the “stuff” that they carry are, naturally, “messages” or, in other words the Quran uses in relation to “bayyinaat” is “ayaat” or signs). So what came to people were “clear signs” or messages. Messages about what? What was the message? As one reads before and after the current verse and other verses in the Quran, one can say that the messages or clear signs referred to here are “signs showing that whoever is my maker and the maker of this world is clearly showing, with what he is doing both inside me and around me, that he wills for me a wise and compassionate outcome i.e. a resurrection that begins an eternal and perfect existence of unending joy and satisfaction, without death and dying. The soul witnesses that it is in need of this [both in its yearnings for such and in its cries against what it perceives (having begin taught as such) to be the absurdity and unwisdom and cruelty that beauty and existence/life should end in annihilation]. The verse claims that there are signs that clearly show this, that the reality of things, as they exist, are made to die/pass and are renewed/resurrected, points clearly to the reality of eternal life. This is a reality, a resurrection-near reality, a reality in which life is not ending with death but instead as an eternal horizon, that came to me when I interpreted things around me as carrying messages to me from their maker about a realm of perfect existence and about the will of my maker to give me such existence. This news reached me when things were message-carriers and the choice to see them as such, the verse seems to say, was mine and is mine.

While the reality was that they were receiving messengers bearing news about the unseen, (we can say this because the Quran describes messengers as messengers of God (rusulihi), the people “denied” them this function or role or purpose. I can deny that any message is being conveyed to me, for instance, in a plant dying in winter and then brought back to life in the spring. I can deny that I am made to sleep and made to wake up, still as me after I had lost all of me during sleep, as a sign of the ability and will of my maker to give me life after death in this lower realm (lower because it is passing and leaving). My denial is then a denial that there is any message being conveyed to me about an eternal life, here and now. This denial is expressed by the text as an attitude that looks upon only the external face of things. In terms of human beings, to say that someone is a “bashar” only, and not a messenger, is to say that he does not give any meaning to the world that helps me clearly see that there is going to be life after death. As a human being, the person lives with his own life, feels with his own feelings, smiles with his own happiness, cries from his own grief and dies his own death, losing his life. Nothing about the human qua human points to any eternal aspect of anything. When I look at a human qua human or a thing qua thing, it does not guide me. The denial of the denier (of eternal life) with SUCH an attitude (to look at the external and apparent face of things) is surely logical and expected. I can witness to it. If and when I do see the “bashari” aspect of existence, I get no guidance about resurrection and must deny it! I must say that I do not get any “guidance” or news (bushra in other verses) about the existence of a perfect, heavenly life after this world. I am told that the reason for the denial was and will be that the deniers saw only “can a bashar guide us?” When they refer to only the bashar, they deny. This is the consequence of their practice of looking at the bashar and denying to hear/see what message or sign is shows about whoever sends/makes them.

The favor, if any is to be done for anyone, is what I would do to myself by looking at things as signs giving evidence and news to me about a perfect existence of pure joy and contentment. Safety, as the interesting verse 8 claims, is to be found with a God who sends messages about the existence of eternal life, which would then be such joy-giving signs to me while I am still here that they would be like “light” (of eternal life) in which I would live starting now so that my world would not be darkened by silent, message-less things, vanishing into the darkness of non-existence. Security, it claims, is found in the light (a metaphor) that brightens up this passing world by showing me clear signs in this world, of a realm of perfect and eternal existence beyond death in the lower world. If I live with this news, if I can see the signs of it (it does not help me to repeat the claim of revelation here – only actually witnessing the clear signs can), then I would feel secure and safe. My maker will create me in a state that reflects my witnessing and choice to hear and messages that signs convey to me and he will create me in a different, grieving state, when I do not hear the news. In so doing, he demonstrates His full knowledge of my choices and my soul’s real condition. It is either safe in the light that signs shine beyond death or it is burdened and anxious and suffocated by the darkness of the destruction of all that I love and want. The verses claim I have a choice in the matter. What I taste is the consequence of what I choose. Identity claims and intentions do not help me. My choice to receive clear messages from beings can guide me to a security that, the verses assumes, I seek as a soul.

It is curious that “bashar” is related to the word “bashra” which means the surface or external part of the head or hand on which hair grow”. I can interpret this to mean that bashar is what “appears to be the origin or source”. If i see the things as the origins of their existence and qualities and death, there is no message for me about their source. The only thing they say to me is: look, I am here. And look, I am dying! They tell me about themselves. But messengership claims that the things have another face – that in their life and in their death, they are telling about their source, their maker, their sustainer, God. They are giving news about Him to me. anyways..bashar is an interesting word to use for human beings here…


Published by Faraz Sheikh

Faraz Sheikh

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