Qur’anic Commentary on Surat Ta-Ha

Qur’anic Commentary on Surat Ta-Ha given to Shaykh Abdalqadir’s Fuqara at Masjid al-Mansoor, Constantia, Cape Town, 1 July, 2006

We will look at Surat Ta Ha. In the Warsh Riwayat it is Ayat 86 and goes all the way through to Ayat 91. Then we will jump from that to Ayats 97 and 98.


Musa returned to his people in anger and great sorrow.
He said, “My people, did not your Lord
make you a handsome promise?
Did the fulfilment of the contract seem too long to you
or did you want to unleash your Lord’s anger upon yourselves,
so you broke your promise to me?”
They said, “We did not break our promise to you
of our own volition.
But we were weighed down with the heavy loads
of the people’s jewellery and we threw them in,
for that is what the Samaritan did.”
Then he produced a calf for them,
a physical form which made a lowing sound.
So they said, “This is your god –
and Musa’s god as well, but he forgot.”
Could they not see that it did not reply to them
and that it possessed no power
to either harm or benefit them?

Harun had earlier said to them,
“My people! It is just a trial for you.
Your Lord is the All-Merciful,
so follow me and obey my command!”
They said, “We will not stop devoting ourselves to it
until Musa returns to us.”

Then Ayats 97 and 98:


He said, “Go! In the dunya you will have to say,
‘Untouchable!’
And you have an appointment
which you will not fail to keep.
Look at your god to which
you devoted so much time.
We will burn it up and then scatter it
as dust into the sea.
Your god is Allah alone,
there is no god but Him.
He encompasses all things in His knowledge.”

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Now we go back to the beginning:


Musa returned to his people in anger and great sorrow.

Ibn ‘Atiyya says in his Tafsir that the anger of Musa was that he wanted to change the people. He was angry at what he knew had happened, and the sorrow was that he felt that the thing was out of his hands and could only be dealt with by Allah. He was sad that he could not put it right. In other words, he could not impose the Shari’at, so it would have to be dealt with by the Haqiqat, it would have to be dealt with by Allah’s power. But something told him that they were not going to change.

Sayyiduna Musa said:


“My people, did not your Lord
make you a handsome promise?”

The handsome promise of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, is that obedience to Allah’s Command has a great reward – a great reward in this world and a great reward in the Next World.

He saw that their action was a split. The jewish people were split from this understanding of the Divine. This consciousness of Divine Power is that thing which separates the Muminun from the Kafirun. The certainty of Allah’s power is the dividing line. When people lose that they are in every sense kafir. They are atheist. They have lost the connection. That is why we find at the beginning of Surat al-Baqara:

 


Alif Lam Mim
That is the Book, without any doubt.
It contains guidance for those who have taqwa:
those who have iman in the Unseen.

It is for the people who believe in the Unseen, who know that the Unseen world dominates the Seen world and that Allah is governing the universe by unseen elements of His Ruhani heavenly creation, and by His Command:


His command when He desires a thing
is just to say to it, ‘Be!’ and it is.

(Yasin, 36:82)

That is the Command of Allah to which everything in creation has to submit. Once this is lost by man, then he has crossed the line, as it were, to be kafir. But, “Did not your Lord make you a handsome promise?”


“Did the fulfilment of the contract seem too long to you
or did you want to unleash your Lord’s anger upon yourselves,
so you broke your promise to me?”

Look at the wisdom of Sayyiduna Musa, how he interprets this event that he is confronted with on his return. He says: “Did the fulfilment of the contract seem too long to you?” In other words, in living your lives, was that too long a span for you to hold to the understanding that Allah is the Lord of the Universe? Was it too much for you to take it through your life? Because there is a point in your life where you have dumped the whole thing.

Then he asks a strange question: “Or did you want to unleash your Lord’s anger upon yourselves?” It is almost like a doctor or a psychiatrist. This Prophet’s insight into the situation is that he sees a sickness, and what is that sickness? It is very significant. “Did you want to unleash your Lord’s anger upon yourselves?” He is asking if there is something in you that made you want to be punished by Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, because you had lost what I call ‘connection’ with the truth, with the contract that Allah is the Divine Ruler?

If you think about the history of the jews in our time, that whole question is the thing they dare not allow to be asked. They put up all the barriers of saying, “Anti-semitism!” and that you must not attack them and so on, but the thing is – did they want this terrible disaster to come down on them? It did come down on them in the most horrific way, yet they could have escaped it – but they did not. That means that this disaster came on them by them, not by some outside forces. The outside forces responded to that desire that they had to be punished:


Or did you want to unleash your Lord’s anger upon yourselves,
so you broke your promise to me?”

In other words, the evidence that that was the case was the breaking of the promise of the Bani Israel with their Messenger. When they broke the contract with Sayyiduna Musa, at that point, that was also the breaking of the contract with Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, because Allah says clearly in the Qur’an:


“Obey Allah and obey His Messenger.”
(Nisa, 4:59)

You cannot separate the two. Their Messenger at that time was Sayyiduna Musa, and the breaking with him is their rejection of Tawhid and the Power of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. Then there is their astonishing answer:


They said, “We did not break our promise to you
of our own volition.”

This is unveiling the whole psychology of kufr and the Bani Israel. “They said, ‘We did not break our promise to you of our own volition.’” In other words, it was not that our will-power decided to do this. Now we find out why:


But we were weighed down with the heavy loads
of the people’s jewellery and we threw them in,
for that is what the Samaritan did.”
Then he produced a calf for them,
a physical form which made a lowing sound.
So they said, “This is your god –
and Musa’s god as well, but he forgot.”

So they made a complete jump into idolatry. What is interesting is that they are making the break with the power of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. Their disobedience of the Prophet Sayyiduna Musa, ‘alayhi salam, is that it was not by their intellect and their will that they chose to do this, but that they were weighed down with the enormous amount of wealth they had acquired by what had happened previously with the Egyptians. So the great wealth that they had was the distraction. This is what allowed them to get carried into this path saying, “This is what the Samaritan did.” We know very little about this, and the correct Tafsirs are very specific because they do not want to look to the Torah for evidences – we do not take evidence from it because it has been tampered with – but it seems that the Samaritan was from one of the tribes of the Bani Israel and they were in conflict with the other tribes. So part of this trouble which came was from their fighting each other. It was the fighting among themselves which was the seed of their disaster. Out of that was produced an idol which was like a calf and from other Ayats and the Tafsirs it is assumed that it was made of gold and also that it made a lowing sound worthy of the Hindus – it was a real toy god!

Then they made the jump to try and connect Musa to this, saying that he had not realised that this is how it was – “but he forgot.” In every age you find people trying to soften the strength and power of the Prophet by making out that he was easing into these sorts of things, which is what in fact has happened in our time where the kuffar try to reinterpret the Message that has come from the Rasul and the Revelation of Qur’an by saying that Islam means ‘peace’ and ‘tolerance’, and all the mottos which are the mottos of the kafir system which cannot be and are not what was taught by Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

Then it comes to the insight that the path they have taken does not produce results. The path of kufr does not alleviate the position of the kafirun:


Could they not see that it did not reply to them
and that it possessed no power
to either harm or benefit them?

In this you see that what has happened to Bani Israel is that they have looked to a power which actually does not rescue them. It does not have rescue in it. It does not harm them and it does not benefit them. They have looked outwards to a rescue that is not there.


Harun had earlier said to them,
“My people! It is just a trial for you.
Your Lord is the All-Merciful,
so follow me and obey my command!”
They said, “We will not stop devoting ourselves to it
until Musa returns to us.”

In other words, their hope was that they would secund their Prophet to their plans.

Now we come to a very interesting Ayat:


He said, “Go! In life you will have to say,
‘Untouchable!’
And you have an appointment
which you will not fail to keep.
Look at your god to which
you devoted so much time.
We will burn it up and then scatter it
as dust into the sea.”

Sayyiduna Musa dismisses them with a warning. He says, “In life you will have to say, “Untouchable!” – but I do not agree with this translation, it really means, “Don’t touch me!” So at this point, Sayyiduna Musa fixes as the destiny of the jews for the rest of time on this earth, that they will say, “Don’t touch me!” This is extraordinary, and it is a double-edged sword. They will say, “Don’t touch me!” which means that the rest of humanity is coming to wipe them out, in one aspect. In another aspect it means that they will get power and they will turn against all the world and say, “Don’t touch me!” Whichever way they get it they have lost the link with Bani Adam. This “don’t touch me” is a very important thing because it goes right into the christian time of the Middle Ages and was one of the mottos of a great chivalrous family: “Nolo me tangere”, meaning, “Do not touch me or I’ll finish you!” which is what you are seeing in Palestine right now. “Do not touch me or we’ll wipe out all of you,” because of one man.

It also means they have been split off from Bani Adam, from the rest of the human tribe. This is extraordinary, and here it is in this moment when they chose instead to have this wealth and this idolatry. Remember, the true nature of kufr, the break with kufr is not the denial of god so much as the separation from all creation-events – they are saying, “They may be in His power,” astaghfirullah, “But my destiny is not in His power.” Yet the essence of Tawhid is in the recognition of the destiny.

What are the elements of Iman? They are belief in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day – and the Destiny, good and bad. Kufr is cutting that last bit off. Elsewhere in Qur’an you will find that when asked, the Kafirun will say that Allah created the heavens and the earth. They will acknowledge that Allah is the Creator, but they will not allow that His Command is over the destiny of the individual. He is the Master of the Destiny. “Maliki Yawmid-Deen.” They cannot accept that. This is the key. Here is this moment in time when it happened and it happened by disobedience to the Messenger of the time, Sayyiduna Musa. So the disobedience to Sayyiduna Musa is a disobedience to Allah. They are told that what they turn to will be scattered like dust. In the age we are living in, we can also recognise this amongst the arab peoples because they have turned from the Command of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, because they have broken with the Rasul, sallallahu ’alayhi wa sallam.

To complete this, the Ayat after it is:


“Your god is Allah alone,
there is no god but Him.
He encompasses all things in His knowledge.”

That is, again, the declaration of Tawhid that finishes the affair of the jews. You could say that all your understanding of them has to be seen in the light of this extraordinary encounter of Sayyiduna Musa – their Prophet, and their rejection of him is absolute. All the history that they have stems from that and this strange compulsive return to money-lending, to dealing with money and somehow feeling that it is wealth that will protect them from the difficulties of existence.

The more they are persecuted, and the more they are exiled and the more they are cast out, they still return to it and they still return to it. This is the tragedy of them.

There is still a small section of their people who make that Musan accusation against them and do not recognise Israel and do not recognise all the path that their own people have taken. There is a small group of them who oppose it because they are human beings, and so there are some among them who can see the terrible disaster that has come on them. We are living in an epoch where this matter is still unfinished business and it is very important that you understand it.

Do not think of the strength of Israel or the strength of the bankers and the rich jewish families, think of it in terms of the power of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, the situation they have been put in all these ages and ages ago and their devastating decision – and from that rejection of their Messenger, all their suffering and all their tragedy, as was foretold in these Ayats of Qur’an, has come to pass and is happening today. You must look on it this way. So when people talk about them, do not say, “Oh, but they are powerful and they have all the wealth and all the banks,” you must tell them, “No, they are on a path where they have been rejected by Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, because they disobeyed their Prophet.”

Therefore it is not for us to look at them with a feeling of our superiority, because we have to look to the fact that many, many of the leadership of our people in this age have done exactly the same thing. So we must remind people that it is by obeying Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, that they are obeying Allah. That is Rasul, and not anybody else who came after. The matter goes back to the Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, it does not go back to anybody else, just to him. That is why our Deen, as Sufis, is based on a true Tawhid and love of Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. That love has no room for anybody else. No other mortal. We have respect for the Sahaba and respect for Sayyidatuna ‘Aisha, this great woman from whom half the Deen comes, but all our love is for the Rasul, sallallahu ’alayhi wa sallam, out of all the creatures on this planet.

We ask Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, to make us among the people who teach the proper Deen and we ask Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, to give us a tongue like Sayyiduna Harun was given a tongue to tell people the truth. We ask Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, to strengthen us in the Deen and give us knowledge in the Deen and give us love of Qur’an.

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