Our Beacon Forum

The Truth About Saum by Dr. Qamar Zaman (3)
By:Zubair
Date: Sunday, 22 November 2009, 1:05 am

Now let us examine some Arabic Terms used in the Quran.

1. لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

O ye who believe! Siam are prescribed to you, as they were prescribed to those before you, so that you become Mutaqi (Righteous).
The teachings and practical steps undertaken by all the prophets sent to various nations fall under Siam. Hence, Siam is the name of practical steps or actions necessary to reform a society. But the other nations changed the nature of Siam altogether by converting it to the fast of hunger and thirst. We followed their footsteps and named Siam Roza or Fasting.

2.أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ

This term appears in the Quran at four places and twice it is related to Jews. The Jews believed that they would face the requital for their misdeeds for limited days. In another place Muslims are instructed to remember God’s Commandments abundantly. The context of these verses implies that “Limited Days” is the period when wrong doers are punished and the righteous enjoy peace and prosperity, as a result of enforcing and acting upon God’s decrees. It is also mentioned that if someone is sick or travelling, he can strive on other days to gain the same capabilities. The root of word “ADDATA” is “Adad (ayn,daal, daal), which means amount or quantity as well as to prepare. The subject of these verses is training and attaining capabilities. Hence, the sick (be it physical impairment or lack of knowledge) and the traveler (whether his journey is physical or ideological or mental) are allowed to obtain those capabilities on other days.

In brief Siam are “The Days of Acquiring Capabilities”. During this period the believers prepare for the reformation of the society. And those responsible for the chaos, anarchy, and terror in the society are restrained and punished.

فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ

If anyone is sick or traveling, he can acquire the capabilities on other days.

This sickness may not be physical and the journey may not be on the land. Illness might be lack of knowledge and journey might be for gaining the knowledge or ideology. Hence, before committing to the cause of Siam a believer must overcome all his shortcomings and weaknesses. If he lacks knowledge, gain it. If he just begins his journey of acquiring knowledge and ideology, he should complete it before joining the program of reformation of the society. But those we have the power to Soam, i.e. are prepared for the Siam physically and ideologically, they should start Siam by taking care of the needy.

3. طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ

وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ

Those who are capable of carrying out Siam, taking care of the helpless is their ransom.

What ransom? Did this person commit any offense to pay the ransom? Let me clarify here that the Siam used in these verses is for the reformation of the society. Certainly, he made an error for which he must pay ransom in the form of feeding the needy. Hence, those who have the capability should reform themselves. Please revisit verse 177 of Surah 2, which states that the righteous are those who despite their love for their wealth spend it on the needy. We can conclude that the Siam are made mandatory on those who were not fulfilling their duties, i.e. sharing their wealth with the needy. TAAM does not just mean feeding the hungry. This Arabic term includes all the necessities such as food, clothes, housing, education, health, honor, security, and justice.

4. فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ

Whosoever obeys God’s decrees does so for his own good.

Here Arabic word “Tatowa” is used, which means obedience. Quran uses “Khair” with two distinct meanings; God’s revelations or decrees (2:105) and wealth or belongings. Here it means God revelations or decrees because it refers to obedience. Whoever follows God’s decrees and acts upon them, he does so for his own benefit. Basically, Siam is the term used for employing God’s decrees or commandments to overcome and resolve all the conflicts facing humanity. Those carrying out the mission of Siam reap the rewards as well. [When problems are solved and conflicts resolved, everyone benefits. All citizens enjoy peace and security.] Next part of the verse clarifies this point even further.

5. وَأَن تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

And Soam is good for you if you knew.

This part of the verse describes wisdom behind Soam. It produces Taqawa. Those who acquire Taqawa consider it their duty to spread God’s bounties fairly and justly, so that no citizen is left deprived. This brings prosperity to the whole society. As a result those participating in the Soam benefit as well. Moreover, prosperity brings peace and security to everyone.
In order to understand the meaning of Soam in the verse 185, we must understand the words and terms used in the verse.

SHAHAR:

The root of Shahar is SH, H, and R (Sheen, Haa, & Raa). It means well known or famous. Anything that becomes famous is called Shahar. Some scholars derive the meaning of a month from Shahar because 12 months of a year are well known. There are other words derived from Shahar, such as Tashhir, Mushahir, and they too mean famous or well known.

Shahar also means to take out sword from its sheath. Hence, the meaning of sword and war were derived from the word “shahar”.

In brief “Shahar” means any event or saying that becomes widely known or situation that involves bloodshed. Now let us see how Quran uses the words derived from “Shahar”. In the verse 2:194 God Almighty says:

الشَّهْرُ الْحَرَامُ بِالشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ وَالْحُرُمَاتُ قِصَاصٌ

The prohibited month for the prohibited month and all things prohibited in retaliation. (Traditional translation)

Can you draw any meanings from the above translation? Sure they named four prohibited months. But what does it mean the retaliation for them is prohibited months? The word “Shahar” used here is singular, not plural. In other words God is talking about Shahar, not Ashahar.

How can we take retaliation for prohibited shahar with prohibited shahar? A month cannot be retaliation for another month. But we sure can return a good deed with another good deed or strike back for an evil act committed against us with something equal in magnitude.

Next part of the same verse 194 states:

فَمَنِ اعْتَدَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ فَاعْتَدُوا عَلَيْهِ بِمِثْلِ مَا اعْتَدَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ

If someone commits aggression against you, you can retaliate likewise. And stay on God’s Right Path (Taqawa). Keep in mind that God is with those who walk aright.

Now it is clear that any aggression can be paid back likewise. Hence, the retaliation for “Shahar Alharam” is “Shahar Alharam”, which means Shahar Alharam is a situation or condition prohibited under normal circumstances. But if an enemy ignores the prohibition and commits aggression, then, you can retaliate likewise.

RAMADAN:

The root of this word is R M Z (Raa, Meem, & Daad). It too carries two meanings. The first meaning is intense heat. The researchers believe that when Arabic calendar converted to Islamic calendar, this month was named Ramadan because it fell in the year when there was intense heat. Later, there was a switch from solar to lunar calendar. But they kept the same names for months. Please consult the Lukahat-Al-Quran by Rashid Naamani for further details. The second meaning of Ramadan is to sharpen the blade of a sword.

After clarifying the meanings of “Shahar” and “Ramadan”, let us check the places in the Quran where either of these words has been used. You will be surprised to see that the verses make sense once we use the correct meaning of the word.

God Almighty says:

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ

To deal with a situation like Shahar Ramadan you have the Quran. It is Guidance for humans and criterion of right and wrong.

فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ

Hence, whoever witnesses this situation or condition; he should refrain from contributing to it and restrain others as well.

We can see that “Shahar Ramadan” does not convey the meaning of witnessing a month. Moreover, it commands that whoever witnesses it should refrain himself and restrain others. This clearly implies that the command is not about a month. Humans neither witness a month nor can they refrain or restrain it. We can witness an accident or event or a physical change that we are capable of stopping. Hence, here we are referred to a situation or condition, which we must stop.

In verse 2:184 Soam is mentioned in reference to taking care of the helpless. Now we are being commanded to refrain ourselves and restrain others whenever we witness a situation like “Shahar Ramadan” in the society. Evidently, Shahar Ramadan is a situation or state when society is witnessing some type of evil. This evil could be warfare that might cause bloodshed. Or it could be a minor or major evil creeping in the society. Hence, whoever witnesses this evil; he should refrain from it and restrain others as well. Falisumhu means both refrain self and restrain others. Those in a position of power and authority will restrain others while ordinary folks will refrain. But there are some people who are not yet ready to fight the evil or take any responsibility for the reformation of the society. These people need to gain knowledge and develop their capabilities first. That is why God Almighty says:

يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

God wills ease through you, not any hardship. Hence, attain the capabilities and establish God’s supremacy according to His decrees. And be grateful. (2:185)

You can see that using Soam the humans can remove difficulties and create ease in the society. They need to acquire capabilities so that they could establish God’s supremacy by making and implementing laws based on His decrees. When society lives under laws that conform to God’s decrees, people enjoy God’s blessings and bounties. Then, they can express their gratitude by making good use of God’s bounties.

To appreciate God’s bounties and blessings means to use them correctly and wisely. This means those who need the bounties most get them first. It also means to give the people their rights. Human Rights are a great blessing from God. That is where Soam enters. Its aim is to provide people their rights. When you promote this ideology, people will certainly ask you; “Where is the blissful system that insures our rights?” And you will respond that such system is almost ready. But there are two conditions to implement it.

186 وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

And when my servants ask about me, I am nearby. I hear whoever calls me and answer the caller. Hence, he should move forward and become a peace maker (Mumin) by implementing My Commands. As a result others will heed the call as well. (2:186)

[The beginning sounds like a traditional translation. It would be better to use accurate translation here. People do not ask, “Where is God?” And God answers, “I am nearby”]

According to this verse the purpose of Soam is not only to avoid a situation that might result in disputes and even bloodshed, but it also means to change the situation with the help of God’s decrees. In other words the aim is to establish God’s supremacy that can resolve disputes and remove all difficulties as well as bring ease and peace to the society.

You can see that Soam is a program whose promoter strives to reform the society according to God’s decrees. That is what verse 2:185 is all about. It tells us that when there is any chaos in the society, then we ll use the Guidance from the Quran to fight the chaos and improve and reform the society. We will use Quran as the criterion for right and wrong. That is how we will establish God’s supremacy on earth. As a result society will get rid of it problems and bring about ease and comfort to its citizens. Everyone will enjoy prosperity. When such a program will be presented to people, they will ask; “Where is that ideal society or program?” In response they are told that such a blissful program is coming soon provided that people come forward and using Guidance from the Quran restore and maintain peace in the society.

In the verse 2:187 Soam is mentioned with reference to another problem in the society.

187 أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَىٰ نِسَائِكُمْ ۚ هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ ۗ عَلِمَ اللَّهُ أَنَّكُمْ كُنتُمْ تَخْتَانُونَ أَنفُسَكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَعَفَا عَنكُمْ ۖ فَالْآنَ بَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَابْتَغُوا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ

Bad mouthing to your Annisa was made lawful for you. They are your garment and you are theirs. God knew you were committing treachery against your own people. Yet, he turned to you and forgave you. Now you can enjoy cordial relations with them and seek whatever has been ordained for you.

[The above includes partial traditional translation. Why not use accurate translation for the whole verse? Here is my suggestion.

Mistreatment of Annisa (Kami or common folks) had been widespread or considered acceptable behavior in the society. But they are your brothers and sisters (you are children of the same ancestor). God was aware of your treachery against your own people. Yet, he turned to you in favor and forgave you. Now you can establish cordial relations with them and take only what rightfully belongs to you.]

Two words in the above verse need our attention. They are “Rafas” and “Annisa”. Rafas means bad-mouthing. The Quranic term Annisa not only means women but it also applies to weak, deprived, and helpless folks of the society. The beginning of the verse indicates that bad-mouthing or belittling the deprived was wide spread and even acceptable behavior in the society. Doubtless, God can never sanction this type of behavior. When bad-mouthing (mistreatment and belittling others) becomes accepted behavior in the society, the rich and influential treat the weak and destitute like Kami or untouchables. They abuse the poor verbally and physical without fearing any requital. As a result the weak lose self esteem and may think of themselves even lower than the animals in front of the elite and influential. Instead of fighting this evil and removing it from the society, our clergy turned the subject towards women folks. They changed the meaning of “Rafas” from bad-mouthing to intercourse. Similarly they changed the meaning of “Annisa” from the weak and destitute to wives. Hence, the whole subject of reformation of the society turned into ordinary relationship between a husband and his wife. WOW!

Please remember that neither God’s decrees and His laws nor the consequences of the violation of those laws ever change. An evil is always an evil whether the time is past, present, or future. What was a vice yesterday cannot become a virtue today. If “Rafas” was a vice yesterday, it is a vice today, and will be a vice tomorrow. It is inconceivable to attribute a vice to God. How could we say that God allowed continuing with the practice of bad-mouthing? Humans created such vices like bad-mouthing or belittling, not God. In other words the rich and influential in the society had made “RAFAS” (bad-mouthing or abuse) of “Annisa” (the weak and destitute) lawful.

The word “Nisa” also appears in the story of Prophet Musa and Pharaoh. It is said that Pharaoh killed the “Abna” and spared the lives of the “Nisa” of Bani Israel. Under the influence of Jewish traditions our Ulma (clergy) tell us that Pharaoh had ordered the killing of all new born boys of Israel. Let us see who were the “Abna” and “Nisa” of Bani Israel.

Contrary to our Ulma’s claims, Pharaoh ordered the killings of “Abna” when Prophet Moses challenged him in his court. You can check the verse 2:49 where this order is attributed to the descendants of Pharaoh, not Pharaoh. And there is no mention of new born. The second place is verse 7:127 which states that after sensing Moses’ rebellion against the regime, the chieftains asked Pharaoh if he was going to let Musa and his nation go and Pharaoh replied:

سَنُقَتِّلُ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَنَسْتَحْيِي نِسَاءَهُمْ

Doubtless, I will kill their “Abna” and spare their “Nisa”.

Third is verse 40:25 where Haman and Qaroon (Korah) gave the following advice to Pharaoh.

اقْتُلُوا أَبْنَاءَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ وَاسْتَحْيُوا نِسَاءَهُمْ

Kill the “Abna” who accepted the faith he (Moses) preaches but spare their “Nisa”.

Our Ulma translate the above verse like this. “Those who are believers kill their new born sons and spare their new born girls.”

There are many flaws in this translation. First, the occasion is when Prophet Moses visited the court of Pharaoh and challenged him, Haman, and Korah. Hence, Moses was an adult at his prime, not a new born. Second, the word Nisa or Annisa is used for an adult woman, not a new born girl. Third, “Allazina Amanu” (those who are believers) defines “Abna”. Hence, correct translation for “Abna Allazina Amanu” would be “Those Abna who became believers”. What the Pharaoh would have gotten by killing the son of a believer? The adult believers posed a challenge for Pharaoh’s authority, not their infant sons. Adult or fully grown males possess the physical capacities and will power to rebel against a tyrant and bring about a change in the regime. These believers standing in front of Pharaoh were fully grown powerful males. But under the influence of myths and Jewish folk lore, our Ulma are hell bent on turning Quran into a book of Mazhab. Hence, wherever in the Quran there is a lesson for the ambitious and bold individuals to challenge the Pharaoh of times and force him to restore human rights, our esteemed Ulma change the meanings, so that Abna of the nation feel helpless and give up their ambitions.

We went into detail to clarify the meaning of the Arabic word “Nisa”. It is used for those men and women who are scorned and suppressed by the elite so much that these helpless folks cannot even raise their voices in protest or demand their rights. This is the meaning of Nisa in this verse. Another word used in this verse is “Lil”. We need to clarify its meaning as well.

The same period called “Shahar Ramadan” in verse 2:185, is given another name “Lilata Assiam” in the verse 2:187. The meaning of “Assiam” is obvious. It is the period when people will work to stop evil, spread the good, and reform themselves. The dark night of this period stands for the days when nobody stops the evil or spreads the good. The tyrants continue with their tyranny and the victims cannot ask for justice or demand their rights. This is the period Quran calls “Lilata Assiam”. In other words this is the period when human rights are violated. This is a dark night for those who wish to reform of the society. Now let us translate the same verse using these meanings.

أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَىٰ نِسَائِكُمْ

It had been made lawful for you to mistreat helpless folks during the dark nights of tyranny.

During the times when human rights were being violated it seemed as if the society had sanctioned the mistreatment of helpless and destitute. The rich and privileged had no fear in bad-mouthing and belittling them.

هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ

They are your garment and you are theirs.

It means these helpless folks you abuse, mistreat, exploit, and steal the fruits of their labor, are in fact your own people. You all had a common ancestor. Hence, you all, whether rich or poor, are related to each other. By stealing the fruits of their labor and abusing them, you were guilty of treason. Now the time has come to stop from indulging in such evil acts.

عَلِمَ اللَّهُ أَنَّكُمْ كُنتُمْ تَخْتَانُونَ أَنفُسَكُمْ

God was aware of your treachery against your own people. (You were stealing the fruits of their hard labor.)

فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَعَفَا عَنكُمْ

Yet, God turned to you and forgave you.

A study of these verses reveals that there is a period when the elite think it is alright to abuse and mistreat the helpless in the society. The rich shun the poor and feel no guilt in stealing the fruits of their labor. This is the time when good people in the society must take action. They should stop the elite from committing these evils, so that God may turn to them in favor. But to earn God’s mercy and blessings, they must stop their treachery first. God never changes His laws. Hence what was dishonesty or infidelity yesterday, cannot become honesty or fidelity today. Sadly, our forefathers never thought of applying treachery to violation of human rights or exploitation of the poor and helpless. Hence, they assumed the Arabic word “Rafas” meant sexual intercourse. They considered this treachery and fabricated a story to support their view. They never bothered to check that it really meant bad-mouthing, defiling, or slandering. Applying this meaning we can understand the message of the verse. God Almighty is addressing the Rich Elites who shun the helpless in the society, treat them like untouchables, and exploit and mistreat them. God warns them that He was aware of their treachery but forgave them. Henceforth, they should mend their ways by stopping exploitation of the helpless, restoring social relations with them, and treating them like their own brothers/sisters.

فَالْآنَ بَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَابْتَغُوا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ

Henceforth, establish intimate relations with them and seek only what is legally yours according to God’s decrees.

You can see how our clergy (Imams) corrupted the pristine message of the verse by changing the meaning of word “BASHIROHUN” from socializing or intimate relations to sexual intercourse. The root of this Arabic word “BASHIRHUN” is B (Baa), SH (Sheen), and R (Raa). Taken literally it means contact of skin with skin. But figuratively it carries two meanings, i.e. to meet someone or to convey good news. Our Mufsrin focused on “to meet” and figured it meant sexual intercourse.

In this verse the word “BASHIROHUN” conveys its fundamental meanings and it suits the occasion and the subject under discussion. Here the topic is the sorry and sad state of the weak and helpless in the society. They are being exploited, degraded, and the fruits of their hard labor taken away from them in the broad daylight. The rich and influential shun them. God Almighty knew this and He considered it treachery. Nevertheless, He showed them His favor and forgave their past mistakes. Hence, they must immediately stop this treachery and take steps to mend their ways. (FALANA BASHIROHUN) Now establish intimate relations with the weak and helpless. And convey the good news to them that the dark days of injustice and misery are over. From now on nobody will steal the fruits of their hard labor. They will no longer fear exploitation or mistreatment at the hands of the rich and influential. Instead of stealing the fruits others’ labor, everyone will seek only what is lawfully his/her, as ordained by God’s decrees. This recourse demands that you study the revelations (the Quran), which distinguish between right and wrong. Then, you will be able to identify the wrong traditions, customs, and faiths the society has embraced. That is why God Almighty says:

وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الْأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الْأَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ

Eat and drink until the dawn (Al-Fajar) distinguishes the white thread from the black thread.

Our Imams and Mufsrin use the above verse to derive the times of fasting (Roza). According to them the white thread means the start of dawn. Likewise, they consider the black thread to mean the end of night. Further, they consider “Menalfajar” to mean morning. Hence, the traditional translation looks like this.

“Eat and drink at night until you see the dark thread of night distinguish from the white thread of morning.”

The first fundamental error in this translation is that human is being shown to be subject of this statement. There is no Arabic word in this statement that could be translated as “you see”.

The second error is that the compound word “alkheetu alabeez”, which is the subject, has been made object instead. Here “alkheetulabeez” (the white thread) is the subject and “alkheetilasod” (the black thread) is the object. Hence, it is the white thread that distinguishes the black thread. If we consider white thread to mean the morning ray or day break, it distinguishes the black thread or night ray. Night is already there. Hence, the morning ray does not distinguish the night. Rather morning ray heralds the beginning of the day.

The third error in this translation is that it does not take into account the use or Proper Noun. The morning (Alfajar) is a proper noun. Hence, it is a special morning, not ordinary or common morning that we see daily at the beginning of the day. The same is the case with “alkheetulabeez” and “alkheetilasod”. They are compound words made up of adjectives and proper nouns. They do not stand for common whiteness of the day or blackness of the night. For the morning ray we see every day at day break the proper Arabic word would be “kheetabeez”. Likewise, the common blackness of night would be called “kheetasod”.

In brief both compound words contain adjectives and proper nouns. Alabeez (the white) or alasod (the black) describe the quality of “alkheet” (the thread).

Another important thing to consider is that the white thread distinguishes the black thread. In other words until the white thread shows up, nobody knows about the black thread. If it means regular or common night, then everyone knows it is night regardless of whether outside is pitch-black. Hence, it is something that will provide us with information about an upcoming thing or event.

Similarly, Alfajar (the morning or dawn) is proper noun. It represents a special morning, not the regular morning we witness daily. If it were a common morning, the Arabic word “Fajar” would be appropriate. But our clergy wants to present the Noble Quran as a book of mere religious rituals. Hence, they changed the meanings of the above Arabic terms to suit their needs for religious rituals.

Please remember that the words “the white thread”, “the black thread”, and “the morning” used in this verse are all proper nouns. Also, “the white thread” is the subject” that influences the object “the black thread”.

All three components of this verse carry figurative or metaphorical expressions. Hence, we must find out what these words “the white thread”, “the black thread” and “the morning” really mean. But we must insure their meanings convey the same message Quran intends and they fit in the context.

The Arabic word “Alfajar” appears in the Quran multiple times. But verse 78 of Surah Al-Isra tells us explicitly what Alfajar stands for.

78 أَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ لِدُلُوكِ الشَّمْسِ إِلَىٰ غَسَقِ اللَّيْلِ وَقُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ ۖ إِنَّ قُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ كَانَ مَشْهُودًا

Establish the system of Salat to bring forth the new Dawn and remove the darkness of tyranny with Quran Al-Fajar.

Here we are discussing Soam, not Salat. Hence, I will mention Salat only briefly. Salat is not Namaz but a system we build on God’s decrees. This system results in a New Dawn, which brings hope of prosperity, and removes the darkness of economical and social injustices from the society. That is what means Quran Alfajar.

[When sun rises, the darkness of the night disappears. Likewise, the Quran is a shining light that causes the darkness of tyranny to disappear. The white thread represents the shining verses of the Quran while the black thread represents wrong traditions, customs, and beliefs prevalent in the society. Hence, the enlightening teachings of the Quran distinguish the wrong traditions and beliefs and empower us to remove the darkness of tyranny from the society.]

Now let us take a look at the same verse again with brief translation.

وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الْأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الْأَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ

Acquire the knowledge of God’s Decrees/Commandments and follow/implement them so that their shining light can help you indentify and remove the wrong traditions and beliefs from the society.

ثُمَّ أَتِمُّوا الصِّيَامَ إِلَى اللَّيْلِ

Then, complete “Alsiam” until the night. [This translation needs revision.]

In other words it is not enough to distinguish between the right and the wrong. We must also use Quran to cover all of “the Night” with “Alsiam”, i.e. uproot the wrongs using guidance from the Quran. Please note that “Al-Leel” too is a proper noun. It is not a common night we witness daily after the end of the day. It is a special night. Whenever human rights are violated and helpless are exploited in the society, Quran labels this period “Al-Leel” (The Dark Night).

This program of reformation demands that only those, who possess a sound knowledge and understanding of God’s Book, should take part in its designation and implementation. Any good news before its time can cause trouble or chaos. Until the responsible persons develop and implement the program of action according to the teachings of the Quran, it is no good to promise anything. Unfulfilled promises bring nothing but misery. Hence, God Almighty says:

وَلَا تُبَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَأَنتُمْ عَاكِفُونَ فِي الْمَسَاجِدِ

You must not promise anything while you are still in the process of studying God’s decrees and planning their implementation.

تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ

These are limitations or boundaries set by God.

فَلَا تَقْرَبُوهَا

Do not ever come near or cross them.

It is obvious that incorrect or unreasonable expectations about God’s decrees regarding human rights could bring in unfavorable consequences. “TILKA HUDOD ALLH” refers to God’s decrees or commandments. TILKA points to Masajid, as the word Masajid is followed by Tilka Hudod Allah. Hence, Masajid are God’s Hudod (limitations).

You can see that there are two conditions that make it necessary to stop someone going near something. The thing is a danger for the person or the person is a danger for the thing. Here both dangers are present. If people are told prematurely about the benefits of the program of reformation, there is a risk of failure. Those carrying out the program of reformation might be harmed. Consequently, beneficiaries of the program may suffer.

To talk about these Hudod without understanding may bring in disastrous consequences. This command “do not ever cross them” could not be about fasting. If it were about fasting, why would God command us not to go near or cross fasting?

Next, God Almighty says:

كَذَ‌ٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ آيَاتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ

That is how God clarifies His decrees/commandments, so that you achieve Taqawa (righteousness).

These are the verses or decrees from our Lord that help us become Mutaqi, i.e. be responsive to God’s decrees or commandments. The sum and substance of these commands is Soam, whose meaning and purpose is clarified in the next verse.

188 وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُم بَيْنَكُم بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتُدْلُوا بِهَا إِلَى الْحُكَّامِ لِتَأْكُلُوا فَرِيقًا مِّنْ أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ بِالْإِثْمِ وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

You must not take away others’ property illegally. Nor you should offer a part of your ill gotten wealth to authorities (as bribes), so that you knowingly consume the rest for yourselves. (2:188)

When we ponder over these verses and their correct meanings or message, we see a picture quite different from what our so-called Imams have been painting for us over centuries. We learn that Soam is in fact a plan for action that helps us to undo our wrongs and develop the highest level of conscience or become conscious of God. We obey and follow God’s decrees at all times. We make every effort to establish the just social and economic order based on God’s decrees. Once we achieve this objective the whole society enjoys peace and prosperity. Nobody is left helpless. Hence, it is in our own interest that we reform the society. If our society is healthy, every one of us benefits. If our society is sick, we all suffer. (2:183 & 184)

If selfishness and chaos take over the society, we can undo the damage and repair our society by taking guidance from the Quran and implementing a program of action based on God’s decrees. That is how we can overcome the hardships and challenges our society encounters. This plan of action brings out the best in our character and capabilities. When people learn about such plan of action, they may wonder and ask how or when it would be carried out. The answer is that all learned persons, who understand God’s decrees and know how to apply them, have to come forward to support and enforce the plan of action. (2:185 & 186)

Whenever society plunges into an abyss of darkness where the helpless are treated like untouchables, their hard earned wages withheld or consumed by the elite, their human rights violated, and it becomes a vice to socialize with them, that is when a plan of action is needed to undo all these wrongs. First, people must stop participating in or promoting these vices. Second, all barriers separating the rich and poor must be demolished. Third, convey the good news to the helpless that the dark days of their misery are over. They are now the honorable members or the society like everyone else. Whatever they earn with their sweat and blood belongs to them. Nobody is going to steal the fruits of their labor any more. From now on we will use the criterion of the Quran to distinguish right and wrong. We will weed out vices and cultivate virtues in our society. The reformation of the society would be accomplished when Soam encompasses every aspect of the darkness, i.e. uproots every evil from the society. (2:187)

However, prior to announcing the plan of action for the reformation of the society, we must envision the questions people may ask and be ready to provide them with satisfactory answers. Hence, we must study and understand the Quranic decrees to prepare ourselves for this noble mission. We should never announce the plan of action prematurely, as it could harm the mission. In brief the purpose of Soam is to stop vices, cure social and economic ills, and bring peace, security, and prosperity through reformation. Here is what Soam does for the individuals and the society.

1. Soam enables a person to become Mutaqi (Righteous or God-Conscious).

2. Soam brings comfort to the helpless.

3. Soam is a plan of actions based on Quranic decrees. Its purpose is to identify and uproot the vices, and spread the virtues. When they see the injustice and economic exploitation of the helpless, all good persons (who understand God’s decrees and know how to implement them) will join hands to stop these vices.

4. Soam is the program of action that removes hardships and brings ease to the society.

5. Soam helps individuals to acquire capabilities to fight and uproot vices.

6. Soam is the program that builds a welfare state by implementing God’s decrees.

7. Soam is the program that invites individuals to join the process of reformation. Hence, we can anticipate people questioning us when or how this noble program will be enforced.

8. Soam is the program that invites every member of the society to come forward and join in the efforts to bring peace and prosperity to the society.

9. Soam is the program that will remove the barriers between the rich and poor, the influential and the helpless, and everyone will enjoy his/her fair share of God’s abundant bounties honorably.

10. Soam is the program that will bring an end to economic exploitations and human rights violations.

11. Soam is the program that helps us to get rid of all the repressive ideas by taking guidance from God’s decrees or verses of Quran Al-Fajar.

12. This program would not be accomplished until its lights illuminate every corner of the darkness.

13. But this program requires careful study and deliberations. Any premature announcement or action can produce adverse results. Hence, only persons well educated in God’s decrees should participate in the development and implementation of the program.

14. The sum and substance of Soam is that people should never steal the fruits of others labor or consume others wealth or property illegally. This practice of stealing from others and passing a portion of it to the authorities in order to keep the rest without fear of punishment creates chaos and anarchy in the society.

(To be continued)

Dr. Qamar Zaman www.aastana.com