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FEATURED ARTICLE: Chapter 3, Aali-Imran (The Family of Imran) (part 1 of 3)

 

Introduction

Chapter-3,-Al-Imran-(The-Family-of-Imran)-(part-1-of-3).jpgThis is the
first of three articles summarizing the third chapter of the Quran called Aali-Imran
or The Family of Imran.  It takes its name from the story of Prophet Zachariah,
Mary and her son Prophet Jesus, in verses 33 to 64.  The family of Imran was a
blessed family that also included the Prophet Christians refer to as John the
Baptist, thus this chapter has particular relevance for Christians and does
indeed address itself to them.  The Family of Imran was revealed in Medina
after the pivotal Battle of Badr and is in some ways a sequel to the previous
chapter The Cow, or Al-Baqarah.  The Cow was addressed primarily to the
Children of Israel (the Jews) and in the Family of Imran the invitation is
extended to the Christians.  Thus the chapter begins by inviting the People of
the Book (Jews and Christians) to the truth of Islam and goes on to warn the
Muslims to take heed of the religious degeneration that plagued the two earlier
communities.

Verses 1- 6 Quran confirms previous revelations

The chapter opens with the same combination of letters
that opened the previous chapter.  Alif, Lam, Meem.  These letters are from
amongst the various combinations of fourteen letters that open twenty-nine
chapters of the Quran.  God has never revealed any specific meaning attached to
them.  The letters are immediately followed by praising God, the Living and the
Eternal.  He is the One who has sent down the Quran to confirm the previous
books, the Torah and the Gospel of Jesus.  It is a guide and a criterion
between right and wrong, and anyone who denies this will suffer a severe
penalty.  Be sure that nothing in the heavens and the earth is concealed from
God.

Verses 7 – 13 Precise or symbolic?

Some verses are precise and others are open to more than
one interpretation.  There are people who try to mislead others by seeking to
find hidden meanings in the unspecific verses and no one knows
its interpretation except God. But those firm in knowledge say, “We
believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord.”

The possession of wealth or the number of children you
have will not help on that momentous Day.  Disbelievers will be overpowered and
gathered together in Hell.  The Battle of Badr was a lesson; the believers
overcame twice their number because with God’s support you cannot lose.

Verses 14 -20 An invitation

The life of this world is full of temptations, the
desire for beautiful spouses, children, gemstones and jewels, and expensive
homes and transport.   However, what is promised in Paradise is even more
desirable and beautiful.  Those who fear God will abide in gardens with flowing
rivers.  The righteous are those who believe and ask for forgiveness and
protection from Hell, they are steadfast, devout, spend in the way of God and
pray before dawn.  There is no deity but except God (Allah), He is just and the
true religion is devotion to Him Alone.

The People of the Book did not differ except out of
jealousy and God is swift to call to account those who deny His revelations.  Prophet
Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, must tell those who
argue with him that he and his followers are devoted to God and invite them to
do the same.  If they refuse however, he has still fulfilled his mission to
convey the message.

Verses 21-30 Fear retribution

There will be a painful punishment for those who deny
the revelations, kill the Prophets without justification, and kill those who
order justice; they will be beyond help.  Those who were given one of the
earlier revelations refuse to settle their disputes according to God’s
commandments; they think the fires will not burn them.  They deceive themselves
and will come to know the torment of the fire.  Praise God, the One who has
power and control over all things.  He is the one who causes the night to
change into the day and separates the living from the dead and gives provision
to whomever He pleases.  God warns the believers not to seek protection from
the unbelievers except for safety from tyranny.  Remember that God knows
everything concealed or revealed, He has power over everything.  Fear
retribution but know that He is compassionate to those who are devoted to Him. 

Verses 31 – 41 Family matters

Prophet Muhammad must tell the people to love and obey
God and to follow him (Muhammad); if they turn away he must warn them that God
does not love those who disbelieve or ignore Him.  God favors whom He wills – He
chose Prophet Adam, Prophet Noah, the family of Abraham and the family of Imran
from amongst those who were living during their times.

God was listening when Mary the mother of Jesus was
born; her mother dedicated her to the service of God and sought protection for
her and her children from Satan.  Mary grew to be a righteous woman and when
she secluded herself in the temple, God provided her with all her needs, to the
amazement of her guardian Zachariah.

Mary was an example to Zachariah who asked God to give
him a righteous son even though he and his wife were old and barren.  The
angels confirmed that this would be so but Zachariah asked for a sign.  God
took away his power of speech for three days.  John was born, a son, destined
to be a chaste leader and Prophet.

Verses 42 – 52 The story of Jesus

Mary, the mother of Jesus was chosen and exalted by God
and her story is told to Prophet Muhammad from the unseen, it is something he
(Muhammad) knew nothing about.  The angels told Mary that God would give her a
son who would be honored in both this world and the next.  He will speak while
still in the cradle and in maturity will be among the righteous.  Mary is
overwhelmed and confused for she is chaste and unmarried but the angels explain
that God has only to say “Be” and it is.  God will teach her son, Jesus, the
Messiah, the revelations, the Torah and the Gospel and he will be a Prophet and
Messenger to the Children of Israel.  Jesus will do amazing things; make a bird
of clay and it will become real, heal lepers and cure the blind – all with the
permission of God.  Jesus will confirm the Torah and make some things that were
previously forbidden permissible.  This is a sign for those who believe.  Jesus will command his people to be mindful of God and to worship
Him.

Jesus felt that many disbelieved so he asked them who
would help him in God’s cause.  The disciples said, “We will help you in God’s cause,
we believe in Him and testify that we are Muslims.”

 

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