Sunday, February 23, 2014

Anti-consumerism anti-wastefulness in the Qur'an

Chap 6: Al-An'am (The Cattle)
6:141 (Asad) For it is He who has brought into being gardens-[both] the cultivated ones and those growing wild [127] -and the date-palm, and fields bearing multiform produce, and the olive tree, and the pomegranate: [all] resembling one another and yet so different! [128] Eat of their fruit when it comes to fruition, and give [unto the poor] their due on harvest day. And do not waste [God's bounties]: verily, He does not love the wasteful (al-musrifeen)!
Note 127 (Quran Ref: 6:141 )

This is the generally-accepted explanation of the term ma'rushat and ghavr ma'rushat (lit., "those which are and those which are not provided with trellises"). The mention of "gardens" serves here to illustrate the doctrine that everything living and growing-like everything else in the universe-owes its existence to God alone, and that it is, therefore, blasphemous to connect it causally or devotionally with any other power, be it real or imaginary.(Quran Ref: 6:141 )
Note 128=85 (Quran Ref: 6:99 )
I.e., all so alike in the basic principles of their life and growth, and yet so different in physiology, appearance and taste.(Quran Ref: 6:99 )

Chap 7: Al-A'raf (The Heights)
7:31 (Asad) O CHILDREN of Adam! Beautify yourselves [23] for every act of worship, and eat and drink [freely], but do not waste: verily, He does not love the wasteful (al-musrifeen)
Note 23 (Quran Ref: 7:31 )
Lit., "take to your adornment (zinah)". According to Raghib (as quoted in Lane III, 1279 f.), the proper 'meaning of zinah is "a [beautifying] thing that does not disgrace or render unseemly ... either in the present world or in that which is to come": thus, it signifies anything of beauty in both the physical and moral connotations of the word.(Quran Ref: 7:31 )

Chap 10: Yunus (Jonah)
10:12 (Asad) For [thus it is:] when affliction befalls man, he cries out unto Us, whether he be lying on his side or sitting or standing; [19] but as soon as We have freed him of his affliction, he goes on as though he had never invoked Us to save him from the affliction [20] that befell him! Thus do their own doings seem goodly unto those who waste their own selves (lil-musrifeen)[21]
Note 19 (Quran Ref: 10:12 )
These three metaphorical expressions are often used in the Qur'an to describe the various situations in which man may find himself. The "calling unto God" under the stress of misfortune describes the instinctive reaction of many people who consider themselves "agnostics" and in their conscious thinking refuse to believe in God. See also verses 22-23 below, as well as 6:40-41.(Quran Ref: 10:12 )
Note 20 (Quran Ref: 10:12 )
Lit., "called out unto Us against (ila) an affliction".(Quran Ref: 10:12 )
Note 21 (Quran Ref: 10:12 )
The expression musrif, which often (e.g., in 5:32 or 7:81) denotes "one who is given to excesses" or "commits excesses" or (as in 6:141) "one who is wasteful", has in the above context the meaning of "one who wastes his own self" (Razi)-namely, destroys his spiritual potential by following only his base impulses and failing to submit to any moral imperative. (Cf. the very similar expression alladhina khasiru anfusahum occurring in many places and rendered by me as "those who have squandered their own selves".) In the sense in which it is used here, the term israf (lit., "wastefulness" or "lack of moderation in one's doings") is almost synonymous with the term tughyan ("overweening arrogance") occurring in the preceding verse (Manar XI, 314), and relates to the same type of man. The phrase "goodly seem [to them] their own doings" describes the unthinking complacency with which "those who waste their own selves" go through life.(Quran Ref: 10:12 )
  • 10:83 (Asad) But none save a few of his people declared their faith in Moses, [104] [while others held back] for fear of Pharaoh and their great ones, lest they persecute them: [105] for, verily, Pharaoh was mighty on earth and was, verily, of those who are given to excesses (among the wasteful) (lamin al-musrifeen).
  • Note 104 (Quran Ref: 10:83 )
    Lit., "believed in Moses"; however, since the sequence shows that not belief as such but its open profession is referred to here, I have rendered the above phrase accordingly. As for the term dhurriyyah (lit., "offspring"), we have several authoritative statements to the effect that it often denotes "a small group [or "a few"] of one's people" (Ibn `Abbas, as quoted by Tabari, Baghawi, Razi and Ibn Kathir, as well as Ad-Dahhak and Qatadah, as quoted by Tabari and Ibn Kathir); hence my rendering. Since the Qur'an mentions (e.g., in 7:120-126) that some Egyptians, too, came to believe in Moses' message and openly proclaimed their belief, it is reasonable to assume that by "his people" are meant not merely the Israelites but, more generally, the people among whom Moses was living: that is, both Israelites and Egyptians. This assumption is strengthened by the reference, in the next clause of this sentence, to "their great ones" - an expression obviously relating to the Egyptian "great ones":(Quran Ref: 10:83 )
  • Note 105 (Quran Ref: 10:83 )
    If the expression `aia khawf is taken to mean "despite [their] fear" (referring to those who did declare their faith openly), the above sentence would read thus: ". . . a few of his people declared their faith in Moses despite their fear that Pharaoh and their great ones would persecute them" -implying, as does the rendering adopted by me, that, because of their fear, the majority did not declare their faith openly.(Quran Ref: 10:83 )

  • Chap 11: Hud (The Prophet Hud)
    11:116 (Asad) BUT, ALAS, among those generations [whom We destroyed] before your time there were no people endowed with any virtue [146] - [people] who would speak out against the [spread of] corruption on earth -except the few of them whom We saved [because of their righteousness], whereas those who were bent on evildoing only pursued pleasures which corrupted their whole being, [147] and so lost themselves in sinning.***
    [Note 147]: 

    The verb tarifa means "he enjoyed a life of ease and plenty", while the participle mutraf denotes "one who enjoys a life of ease and plenty" or "indulges in the pleasures of life", i.e., to the exclusion of moral considerations. The form mutarraf has an additional significance, namely, "one whom a life of softness and ease has caused to behave insolently", or "one whom the [exclusive] pursuit of the pleasures of life has corrupted" (Mughni ). Hence my above rendering of the phrase ma utrifu fihi. (Note by translator Leopold Muhammad Asad)

    Chap 20: Ta-Ha
  • 20:127 (Asad) For, thus shall We recompense him who wastes his own self (man asrafa)[110] and does not believe in his Sustainer's messages: and, indeed, the suffering [of such sinners] in the life to come shall be most severe and most enduring!
  • Note 110 (Quran Ref: 20:127 )
    Regarding this rendering of the phrase man asrafa, see surah 10, note 21, in which I have discussed the meaning of the participial noun musrff, derived from the same verbal root.(Quran Ref: 20:127 )

    Chap 21: Al-Anbiya (The Prophets)
  • 21:9 (Asad) In the end, We made good unto them Our promise, and We saved them and all whom We willed [to save], [11] and We destroyed those who had wasted their own selves (al-musrifeen)[12]
  • Note 11 (Quran Ref: 21:9 )
    I.e., their believing followers.(Quran Ref: 21:9 )
  • Note 12 (Quran Ref: 21:9 )
    As regards my rendering of al-musrifun as "those who had wasted their own selves", see note 21 on the last sentence of 10:12 above.(Quran Ref: 21:9 )

  • Chap 25: Al-Furqan (The Criterion)
    25:43 (Asad) Hast thou ever considered [the kind of human] who makes his own desires his deity?
    Couldst thou, then, [O Prophet,] be held responsible for him?

  • 25:67 (Asad) and who, whenever they spend on others, [51] are neither wasteful (lam yusrifoo) nor niggardly but [remember that] there is always a just mean between those [two extremes];
  • Note 51 (Quran Ref: 25:67 )
    In the Qur’an, the verb anfaqa (and the corresponding noun nafaqah) has usually this connotation.(Quran Ref: 25:67 )

  • Chap 26: Ash-Shu'ara (The Poets)
    26:151-152 (Asad) and pay no heed to the counsel of those who are given to excesses (wasteful) (al-musrifeen)
    those who spread corruption on earth instead of setting things to rights!

    Chap 36: Ya-Sin (Ya-Sin)
  • 36:19 (Asad) [The apostles] replied: “Your destiny, good or evil, is [bound up] with yourselves! [13] [Does it seem evil to you] if you are told to take [the truth] to heart? Nay, but you are people who have wasted their own selves  (qawmun musrifoon)!” [14]
  • Note 13 (Quran Ref: 36:19 )
    Cf. 17:13 - "every human being’s destiny (ta’ir) have We tied to his neck" - and the corresponding note 17.(Quran Ref: 36:19 )
  • Note 14 (Quran Ref: 36:19 )
    For this rendering of musrifun (sing. musrif), see note 21 on the last sentence of 10:12.(Quran Ref: 36:19 )

  • Chap 39: Az-Zumar (The Groups)
  • 39:53 (Asad) SAY: “[Thus speaks God:] [57] ‘O you servants of Mine who have transgressed (alladheena asrafoo) against your own selves! Despair not of God’s mercy: behold, God forgives all sins - for, verily, He alone is much-forgiving, a dis­penser of grace!’ ” [58]
  • Note 58 (Quran Ref: 39:53 )
    Sc., "whenever the sinner repents and turns to Him": cf., for instance, 6:54 "Your Sustainer has willed upon Himself the law of grace and mercy - so that if any of you does a bad deed out of ignorance, and thereafter repents and lives righteously, He shall be [found] much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace"; or 4:110 - "he who does evil or [otherwise] sins against himself, and thereafter prays God to forgive him, shall find God much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace".(Quran Ref: 39:53 )

  • Chap 40: Ghafir (The Forgiver)
  • 40:28 (Asad) At that, a believing man of Pharaoh’s family, who [until then] had concealed his faith, exclaimed: [19] “Would you slay a man because he says, ‘God is my Sustainer’ - seeing, withal, that he has brought you all evidence of this truth from your Sustainer? Now if he be a liar, his lie will fall back on him; but if he is a man of truth, something [of the punishment] whereof he warns you is bound to befall you: for, verily, God would not grace with His guidance one who has wasted his own self (musrifunby lying [about Him]. [20]
  • Note 19 (Quran Ref: 40:20 )
    Cf. the parable of the believer in 36:20-27 and, in particular, the corresponding note 15.(Quran Ref: 40:20 )
  • Note 20 (Quran Ref: 40:28 )
    Lit., "a liar". As regards my rendering of musrif as "one who wastes [or "has wasted"] his own self", see note 21 on the last sentence of 10:12 . Thus, the anonymous believer spoken of here argues that the message brought by Moses is so convincing that, by itself, it is a proof of his not being "one who wastes his own self" - i.e., destroys himself spiritually - by a spurious claim to divine inspiration.(Quran Ref: 40:28 )
  • 40:34 (Asad) “And [remember:] it was to you that Joseph came aforetime with all evidence of the truth; but you never ceased to throw doubt on all [the messages] that he brought you - so much so that when he died, you said, ‘Never will God send any apostle [even] after him!’ [24]“In this way God lets go astray such as waste their own selves (musrifun) by throwing suspicion [on His revela­tions] –
  • Note 24 (Quran Ref: 40:34 )
    Thus not only refusing to acknowledge Joseph’s prophethood, but also denying the pos­sibility of any prophet being sent by God (Zamakhshari). It would seem that Joseph had been accepted in Egypt as a prophet only by the ruling class, the Hyksos, who were of Arab origin, spoke a language closely related to Hebrew (cf. surah 12 note 44), and were, therefore, emotionally and culturally predisposed towards the spirit of Joseph’s mission, while the rest of the population was and remained hostile to the faith preached by him.(Quran Ref: 40:34 )

  • 40:43 (Asad) “There is no doubt that what you summon me to is something that has no claim to being invoked either in this world or in the life to come - as [there is no doubt] that unto God is our return, and that they who have wasted their own selves (al-musrifeena) shall find them­selves in the fire:

  • Chap 43: Az-Zukhruf (The Gold Adornments)
  • 43:5 (Asad) [O YOU who deny the truth!] Should We, perchance, withdraw this reminder from you altogether, seeing that you are people bent on wasting your own selves (musrifeen)[5]
  • Note 5 (Quran Ref: 43:5 )
    For this rendering of the term musrif, see note 21 on the last sentence of 10:12 . The above rhetorical question answers itself, of course, in the negative - implying that God never ceases to "remind" the sinner through His revelations, and always accepts repentance.(Quran Ref: 43:5 )

  • Chap 44: Ad-Dukhan (The Smoke)
  • 44:31 (Asad) [inflicted on them] by Pharaoh, seeing that he was truly outstand­ing among those who waste their own selves (al-musrifeen);

  • Chap 51: Az-Zariyat (The Winds that Scatter)
  • 51:34 (Asad) marked out in thy Sustainer’s sight for [the punishment of] such as have wasted their own selves (lil-musrifeen).”

  • (All notes by translator Leopold Muhammad Asad) from
    This can be used as Khutbah material. 
    For arabic words transliterated among verse translations notice the same root: the consonants "s""r""f" (sarafa=to waste) in this order and the words that are derived from this same root: 

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