The Noble Path: Denying to Caesar what is not Caesar’s – Surah Al-Asr of the Holy Qur’an
Zahir Ebrahim | Project Humanbeingsfirst.org
California, United States of America
Sunday, July 31, 2011, Ramadan eve in the United States, Muslim year 1432 A.H.
There is evidently a great deal of confusion among the pious regarding Islam’s pathway to Heaven. Mosques in the United States as in all Muslim countries are filled in Ramadan with worshippers seeking the spiritual blessings of the Night of a thousand nights of prayer. In their efforts at spiritual self-cleansing for a life that is not in a state of loss, most ignore the abysmal fact that tyranny is spreading faster than virtue, worldwide. Few dare to standup to it as readings of the Holy Qur’an resonate throughout Ramadan. The pulpits worldwide of both Sunnidom and Shiadom lead the flock in obsessing about ritual worship. What does the Holy Qur’an have to say about the life that is not in a state of loss?
Reproduced here is the full recipe of the pithy Surah Al-Asr of the Holy Qur’an for a noble life which is “not in a state of loss”.
Notice what’s stated and what’s omitted in this self-sufficient tiny Surah which evidently requires reflection in inverse proportion to its length.
There is no reference to Muslims, or to Islam, or to any particular people or religion.
The Surah is directly addressed to man, “insaan” (الۡاِنۡسَانَ ), to every people of all religions, and to people of no religion (the overarching pluralistic context for peoples of different faiths has previously been established in the article: Islam and Knowledge vs. Socialization).
Caption Islam: The AND Logic of Surah Al-Asr of the Holy Qur’an, Chapter 103* (Engineering representation of the semantic logic of Surah Al-Asr; author’s conception)
By the declining day, (1)
Lo! man is in a state of loss (2)
اِنَّ الۡاِنۡسَانَ لَفِىۡ خُسۡرٍۙ
|Save those who believe,
and do good works,
and strive for “haq”,
and are patient** (103:3)
اِلَّا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا
وَ عَمِلُوا الصّٰلِحٰتِ
ۙ وَتَوَاصَوۡا بِالصَّبۡرِ
Caption Full text of Surah Al-Asr, Chapter 103 of the Holy Qur’an
The logic of the verses 2-3 is the AND conjunctive clause. Meaning, a concatenation of conditions joined by the AND clause (Arabic وَ ). Every one of the listed conditions in such a statement has to be individually true in order for the overall statement to be true. Otherwise the statement is false.
Being a techie engineer, I have depicted this AND conjunction in electrical engineering parlance in the top figure using a simple electronic device called the AND Gate. One can purchase it for a few cents at Radio Shack. The logic device is made out of a few transistors and implements this AND conjunctive clause function.
The 4-input AND Gate in the diagram captures the logic of Surah Al-Asr verses 2:3 with exact precision. Those more inclined to be “Left-brained” (logic, math, and problem-solving dominated) than “Right-brained” (art, creativity, and language dominated) can perhaps appreciate the import of Surah Al-Asr better in this representation.
Imagine that an LED is attached to the pin labeled Output (metaphor for a man’s life).
It glows green (to indicate a life which is not at a loss) only if all four inputs of the AND Gate labeled I1, I2, I3, and I4 are TRUE (represented by a “one” in the truth table). Observe that there is only a single statement in the truth table when the LED is ever green.
It glows red (to indicate a life which is at a loss) if one or more input is FALSE (represented by the corresponding “zero” in the truth table). Observe that there are fifteen statements in the truth table representing all the remaining permutations for which the LED is red!! The obvious first statement of all zero inputs clearly captures the vile hectoring hegemons of the planet and is of no surprise to anyone. But the remaining fourteen can indeed be very surprising.
it doesn’t matter how many prayers one offered and how many Hajj one performed to “believe” (اٰمَنُوۡا );
or how many hungry mouths one fed, how many hospitals and schools one built, and how honestly one earned one’s income and paid one’s zakat to do “good works” (عَمِلُوا الصّٰلِحٰتِ ) ;
if one didn’t strive to oppose falsehoods and uphold “haq” (حَقّ ), the life, even if otherwise piously and well-lived, is still one of “loss” (خُسۡرٍۙ ).
I am not making this up. That’s what the Holy Qur’an itself states, unequivocally – reflect on it yourself while further recalling the admonishment of the Author of the Book of Reflection:
‘That this is indeed a Qur’an Most Honourable, In a Book well-guarded, Which none shall touch but those who are clean: A Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds. Is it such a Message that ye would hold in light esteem?’ Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Waqia, 56:77-81
Witness that the hardest thing to do in modern life is to stand up to oppression and tyranny (وَتَوَاصَوۡا بِالۡحَقِّ ). And also to persevere in adversity when one is experiencing the jackboots of the new Nazis upon one’s neck ( ۙوَتَوَاصَوۡا بِالصَّبۡرِ ).
Whereas the easiest thing to do is to sit in a mosque, and/or to feed the hungry in atonement of a guilty conscience.
We already see what the pious Muslims worldwide tend to excel in. We pay our zakat, khums, fitra (religiously mandated donations) on time, pray our namaz on time, and keep our fasts on time. Aspire to go for Hajj at least once, while the privileged take great pride in performing it repeatedly. Many among the oppressed are also incredibly patient in affliction. Indeed, we are so patient that we oft proclaim “Allah chala raha hai” (God is running the world), “Allah malik hai” (God is our provider), and often cry ourselves to sleep with utmost sabr (patience in the sense of resignation to fate), repeating to ourselves with quivering lips and glistening eyes: “hasbun allahu wa naimal wakeel” (Allah is sufficient for us and most excellent is the Protector, Arabic: حَسْبُنَا اللَّهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-e-Imran 3:173).
According to the testimony of Surah Al-Asr, take it any which you want, the fact remains that most of us are still in خُسۡرٍۙ unless we stand up to oppression and unequivocally affirmحَقّ with some measure of constancy to the best of our individual capacity. While it is true that only Allah can be the fair judge of that capacity and to what measure each individual is at a loss and not at a loss, silence and acquiescence to tyranny are the obvious antithesis of (وَتَوَاصَوۡا بِالۡحَقِّ ). And that, lamentably, seems to be the modus vivendi of the majority of Muslims today.
The crafting of that antithesis, evidently, has also come about courtesy of the imperial scholars subverting the meaning of the religion of Islam in the service of tyrants and kings throughout the ages, modernity being no exception. Language being the first target of corruption.
Thus,وَتَوَاصَوۡا بِالۡحَقِّ has been reduced to some nonsensical gibberish by the pious turbaned man on the pulpit to mean: just talk about justice حَقّ with utmost earnestness while occupying oneself in the mosque believingاٰمَنُوۡا and in doing good deedsعَمِلُوا الصّٰلِحٰت ! The exposition of وَتَوَاصَوۡا بِالۡحَقِّ from the pulpit and among the masses never includes standing up to kings, rulers, governments, and to their usurpation, oppression, injustices, and “imperial mobilizations” writ large in the blood of the masses.
The ullema (plural for the Muslim man on the pulpit) today, as yesterday, selectively focus people’s attention with verses from the Holy Qur’an that exhort people to good works and belief promising a pleasing Hereafter (e.g. Surah Al Baqara 2:25), to mask their crafty omissions in the service of empire.
Keeping the masses occupied in rituals and salvation, and “rendering unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s,” is not merely a Biblical saying (Matthew 22:21). That semantics has existed from time immemorial. Its biggest harbingers have always been the man on the pulpit.
Witness the 600-page one-sided Fatwa on Terrorism by the vaunted “scholar of Islam”, the posterboy of “moderate Islam” who issued a jurist’s proclamation (Fatwa) against the terrorism of the pirates (see http://tinyurl.com/Fabricating-Pirates ) but not the emperor’s. For services rendered to empire, the house nigger (see Faq: What is a house nigger) soon found a place-setting at the massa’s table. As previously examined in Islam vs. Secular Humanism and World Government (http://tinyurl.com/Islam-vs-Secular-Humanism), the religion of Islam was hijacked from its very early days to service “empire” – Muslims’ own. Nothing has principally changed today except for the color of the imperial flag.
Liberating the meaning of the religion of Islam, the Deen-ul-Haq (religion of حَقّ ) from the clutches of the so called scholars and jurists among Muslims is only as difficult as the uncongeniality of pondering the message of the Holy Qur’an directly, with one’s own head and commonsense, rather than merely mouthing its melodic and soothing verses which no doubt are magic to the soul.
To strive for “haq” (وَتَوَاصَوۡا بِالۡحَقِّ ) against anyone’s tyranny requires no man’s sanction – when Allah Itself has sanctioned it for every man and woman (اِنۡسَانَ ) in creation.
That is the momentous import of Surah Al-Asr – that tiniest Surah of the Holy Qur’an comprising a mere 27 words (as counted for the English translation used here). Its utility as a rallying call for denying to Caesar what is not Caesar’s, for affirming to God what is God’s, and to man what is man’s, remains unsurpassed.
But, at the end of the day, only Allah is also the final Judge of the extent to which we each did our own due diligence to Allah’s guidance given our individual trials and tribulations, and our individual bounties and blessings, on all four criterion for a life which only Allah shall Deem as “not in a state of loss”!
The holy month of Ramadan, a joyous month of fasting and reflection, commences tomorrow (or the day after) worldwide for 1.6 billion Muslims. Perhaps while rushing to “finish” the recitation of the Holy Qur’an in this month for nourishing the starved soul, the hunger in the stomach from not eating all day will be matched with a hunger in the intellect from not thinking at all.
* For those “Left-brained” readers with a precision oriented engineering bent of mind, there is an implicit A/D convertor at each of the four inputs in the figure above to characterize the threshold of conversion from a “zero” to a “one” for every individual. This is consistent with the Accountability Equation of the religion of Islam for every individual: Output / Input, wherein, the Output is the individual’s voluntary behavior, choice of acts, performance, thoughts, beliefs; and Input is the individual’s involuntary assets and liabilities, more specifically: inheritance, DNA, innate abilities and limitations, psychological bent of mind, involuntary nurturing and opportunities or lack thereof due to the general lot in life, and life’s trials and tribulations upon which the individual exercised little or no control. Thus, for the purpose of individual Accountability in reference to Surah Al-Asr, in order to be fair and just to every individual, the measurement is not only Output / Input, but the threshold of a “one” or “zero”, i.e., threshold of pass or fail, in this abstraction is also programmed individually for every human being. And according to the religion of Islam, only God has the perfect knowledge to set this threshold for every human being. This also automatically implies not to judge others, of who is “pass” and who is “fail”. That determination is exclusively the Right of Allah, haquq-Allah, in the religion of Islam! See the travesty done to minorities among Muslims for political reasons by encroaching upon this haquq-Allah, as for instance: What Role did Shias Play in Condemning Qadianis to Kafirdom in Cahoots with Sunni Scholars in 1974? (http://faith-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/2013/02/role-of-shias-in-qadianis-kafirdom.html )
** Perseverance, constancy, steadfastness – and not passivity or resignation. The word “sabr” is often misused, at times deliberately, to incapacitate strident action in the face of adversity. Once again, linguistic hijacking permits subversion of the mind and consequently controlling of mass behavior. The popular meaning of the word “sabr” in the Muslim public mind has been transformed into what is perhaps most closely akin to the Hindu Karma — it is just one’s lot in life to be born under oppression, so grin and bear it for in the next life one will surely be compensated for the full resignation to fate in this one! No devil could have incapacitated human endeavor to strive to better their condition more than this hijacking of semantics.
This article appears in the author’s two books: Hijacking The Holy Qur’an And Its Religion Islam – Muslims and Imperial Mobilization, August 2013 (http://tinyurl.com/islam-reader-zahirebrahim1e) ; The Poor-Man’s Guide To Modernity – Oligarchic Primacy for World Government 7th Edition, August 2013 (http://tinyurl.com/modernity-reader-zahirebrahim).
Articles in the series What does the Holy Qur’an Say
Download What does the Holy Qur’an Say as a pamphlet, Volume I, 1st Edition, August 2013 (http://tinyurl.com/what-does-quran-say-vol1p).
Short URL: http://tinyurl.com/Surah-Asr-Tafsir
Alternate URL: http://humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/p/islam.html
The author, an ordinary researcher and writer on contemporary geopolitics, a minor justice activist, grew up in Pakistan, studied EECS at MIT, engineered for a while in high-tech Silicon Valley ( http://tinyurl.com/zahir-patents ), and retired early to pursue other responsible interests. His maiden 2003 book was rejected by numerous publishers and can be read on the web at http://PrisonersoftheCave.org. He may be reached at http://Humanbeingsfirst.org. Verbatim reproduction license at http://humanbeingsfirst.org#Copyright.
First Published Sunday, July 31, 2011, Ramadan eve in the United States, Muslim year 1432 |
Footnotes Last Revised July 11, 2013, 1st of Ramadan in Pakistan, Muslim year 1434 |
Abstract added 29th Ramadan, August 09, 2013, for inclusion in Pamphlet What does the Holy Qur’an Say Volume I
What does the Holy Qur’an say about Haq – Truth and Justice? By Zahir Ebrahim August 2013