What this project is: This Ramadan, rekindle your spirituality and relationship with God by reading the Quran in a language you understand! To facilitate those who find reading the Quran for the first time daunting, we, at Quranalyze It, will be posting short chapter summaries to get you acquainted with the basic theme and content of a particular chapter. It is important to note, however, that these summaries are no substitute to reading the Quran, and should be used as a bridge towards the Quran, or as an additional tool.
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Ch 6 is an awe-inspiring chapter, and certainly one of my favorites. The chapter starts with Al hamdu lillah (a feeling of praise for God), and mentions sirat ul mustaqeem (The straight path) 5 times! This shows that it is complimentary to Chapter 1.
Unlike Chapters 2-5 (which were more informative), Chapter 6 adopts a persuasive style and is very spiritual in nature. A good part of the chapter is devoted to God and how he works in the universe, showing a divergence from earlier chapters which focused on ordinances. This is the first chapter to mention as many as 18 different messengers/prophets.
Furthermore, the chapter outlines the shortcomings of people in approaching God: They ask for supernatural miracles. To these people, the answer is that even if God were to perform these supernatural miracles, you would still not detest and continue arguing. Instead, attain conviction by reasoning.
Despite my best efforts, I really can’t do any justice to this chapter. It is a chapter that needs to be read and enjoyed. However, here are the more prominent interests of the chapter:
- Monotheism: Come back to the source (God), and don’t set up authorities with Him. All spiritual practices should be for God, not earthly entities.
- Chapter primarily concerned with atheists and hardline religionists.
- Individual accountability, no intercession.
- Freedom of belief. Do not insult the “gods” of others.
- Every prophet had enemies who ascribed sayings to him he never uttered.
- Book is fully detailed.
- Only chapter to mention 18 personalities and linking them all to Alkitab (The book).
- Do not obey the majority. Majority does not equate to truth.
- Advocates reasoning in religious matters. “How can god have a son without a partner?” Not the “God can will whatever” mantra most religionists like to use.
- Enlightenment and ignorance not equal. How can they deserve the same treatment?
- Degrees according to deeds, not beliefs.
- Ordinance on food.
- Fatalism shunned.
- Division discouraged.
- Different understandings of the same truth given so that he could test you in your individual capacities. Therefore, Islam was never supposed to be a monolith.
Narrates the account of Ibrahim: His own spiritual journey, and how he challenged the prevalent religion of his times. (6:74-83)
Advocates one of the strongest arguments for Quranism (6:112-117):
Remember, We have appointed to every Prophet enemies. The rebellious among the urban and the rural populations rose in opposition, (since the Message struck at their personal interests.) They plotted and inspired each other with fancy words. If your Sustainer willed, they would not do that. Disregard them and whatever they fabricate.
Those who love quick gains and neglect the long-term benefits and the Hereafter, are parties to such fabrications. Let them delight in it and let them earn from it what they may.
Shall I seek for Judge and Ruler someone other than God? He is the One Who has revealed this Book, well expounded in detail for you? Those whom We have given the Book know that this is revealed in truth from your Sustainer. Be not among those who argue for the sake of argument.Perfected is the Word of your Sustainer in truth and Justice. None can change His words and His laws. And He is the Profound Hearer, the Knower.
(People will confront you with what the majority is doing.) Now if you pay heed to, or get intimidated by majority of those who live on earth, they will lead you astray from God’s way. Most of the people follow nothing but conjecture and they only live by guesswork.
Only your Sustainer (shows the right path and) knows best those who stray and those who are rightly guided.
The Nine commandments of Islam, so to speak (6:151-152):
•You shall not set up idols besides Him.
•You shall honor your parents.
•You shall not kill your children from fear of poverty – we provide for you and for them.
•You shall not commit immoralities and injustices, obvious or hidden.
•You shall not kill – God has made life sacred – except in the course of justice.
•You shall not touch the orphans’ money except in the most righteous manner, until they reach maturity.
•You shall give full weight and full measure when you trade, equitably. We do not burden any soul beyond its means.
•You shall be absolutely just when you bear witness, even against your relatives.
•You shall fulfill your covenant with God.
Here are some very useful notes on Chapter 6 from Introduction to the Quran: An Existential Reading by Farouk Peru:
1. Ch 6 is like Ch 1 as it also starts with the feeling of joy and thankfulness (hamd) for Allah who created the heavens and the earth, darkness and light. However, those who reject or cover up this feeling will make others equal to Allah. This sets the tone for the chapter which is about attaining the direct connection with Allah.
2. Ch 6 has a long section talking about man’s relationship with Allah and how we can relate to him. This is from Vs 1-73. This is the first long metaphysical treatise in Quran and helps us to understand how we can build such a relationship with Allah.
3. Ch 6 mentions *ibrahim* and his reaction to the sun, moon and planets (7/74-83). This shows our contemplative route towards Allah where we see the source of power and light fade before turning to Allah himself. This process can be seen as an actual experience of 6/1-73.
4. Ch 6 mentions 18 personalities, linking them to ‘the book, governance and prophecies’ (6/83-89). These personalities should be understood as means for us to achieve the straight and establishing path. (siratin mustaqeem).
5. Ch 6 has the means of attaining the detailing of God’s judgment, 6/114. This is represented by the Quran and opposite to flowery sayings (6/112-113) which alienate us from the path (shaitaan). From this judgement of 6/114, we are to attain the fulfillment of the words of our lord in truth and justice (6/115).
6. Ch 6 has the detailing of the straight path (6/151-153) and immediately after that, Allah mentions *musa* and the book as well as the Quran (6/155)
7. Ch 6 ends with ibrahim who is the model of the perfect deen. Ibrahim’s philosophy of life is linked to his level of deen.