Divine Commands, Part-1 – Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:43-44) By: Mohammad Sobhanie

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Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:43-44)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie

Divine Commands, Part-1

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَارْكَعُوا مَعَ الرَّاكِعِينَ ﴿٤٣﴾ أَتَأْمُرُونَ النَّاسَ بِالْبِرِّ وَتَنسَوْنَ أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ تَتْلُونَ الْكِتَابَ ۚ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ ﴿٤٤﴾
Translation: “And establish salat (obligatory daily prayer), and give zakat (obligatory charity), and bow down before me (pray) along with those who bow down. Will you bid others to piety and forget yourselves, while you recite the Book. Do you not exercise your reason?”
Commentary:  The preceding verses invite the Children of Israel to believe in the prophet of Islam, whose prophetic signs were in conformity with the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. The subsequent verses highlight some important principles of Islamic faith and codes of conduct, while also inviting the Children of Israel to practice them alongside other believers.
1- Salat (Obligatory Prayer): The verse begins with an establishment of salat, establishing it as a pillar in the Islamic faith.
Salat restrains humankind from indecent and wrongful conduct, if performed with proper etiquette. Proper etiquette begins with the clothes worn during prayer, the water used for ablution, and the place of worship. A worshipper must obtain all these through lawful means, in accordance with Islamic jurisprudential law. One should perform salat calmly, with punctuality, and with full awe and reverence of Allah (SWT). Establishment of such a prayer indeed would keep men away from indecencies.
The verse at the end directs the Children of Israel to participate alongside believers in congregational prayer: “Bow down before me along with those who bow down”. “Bow” here means salat itself.
Standing, prostration and bowing down are principal components of salat. Without them, prayer is negated. Hence, the Quran, in some instances, uses principal components of salat that are synonymous to salat itself.
2- Zakat: Giving obligatory charity, known as “zakat” in Islamic jurisprudence, is mentioned next. The word “zakat” is mentioned 37 times in the Quran; 27 times out of those instances come alongside mentions of salat. This suggests a closely intertwining relationship between salat and zakat. According to Imam Ali-ar-Rida (AS), those who offer salat but do not pay zakat subsequently negate acceptance of their prayers.
Salat connects us to Allah (SWT) and zakat connects us to His creation. The Prophet (SAW) said, “All creations are Allah’s dependents. Hence, the dearest one in the sight of Almighty God is the one who helps the most His creations.”
3- Practice What You Preach:  The verse 2:44 reprimands those who enjoin people to do good deeds but disregard their own advices, and it ends with a rhetorical question, “Do not you think disregard your own advices is wrong attitude?”
The Quran commands scholars and community leaders to be excellent and exemplary role models in practicing what they preach. Individuals whose deeds are not commensurate with their word are strongly condemned in the sight of Allah (SWT).
Imam Sadeq (AS) stated in a narration, “The most painful punishment on the Day of Judgment is for those who praised justice but act with cruelty amongst people.”
In another narration, Imam Ali (AS) stated, “O people, by Allah! I did not enjoin you to a righteous deed unless I had already practiced it. And I did not forbid you from an indecency unless I had already renounced it.”
Appendix: Arabic Text of hadith
H.1
بحار الأنوار (ط – بيروت)، ج‏71، ص: 68
40- ل‏[1]، الخصال ن، عيون أخبار الرضا عليه السلام مَاجِيلَوَيْهِ عَنِ الْبَرْقِيِّ عَنِ السَّيَّارِيِّ عَنِ الْحَارِثِ بْنِ دِلْهَاثٍ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنْ أَبِي الْحَسَنِ الرِّضَا ع قَالَ: إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ أَمَرَ بِثَلَاثَةٍ مَقْرُونٍ بِهَا ثَلَاثَةٌ أُخْرَى أَمَرَ بِالصَّلَاةِ وَ الزَّكَاةِ فَمَنْ صَلَّى وَ لَمْ يُزَكِّ لَمْ تُقْبَلْ مِنْهُ صَلَاتُهُ وَ أَمَرَ بِالشُّكْرِ لَهُ وَ لِلْوَالِدَيْنِ فَمَنْ لَمْ يَشْكُرْ وَالِدَيْهِ لَمْ يَشْكُرِ اللَّهَ وَ أَمَرَ بِاتِّقَاءِ اللَّهِ وَ صِلَةِ الرَّحِمِ فَمَنْ لَمْ يَصِلْ رَحِمَهُ لَمْ يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَ جَلَ‏.
H.2
بحار الأنوار (ط – بيروت) ؛ ج‏93 ؛ ص118
قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ (ص) الْخَلْقُ كُلُّهُمْ عِيَالُ اللَّهِ فَأَحَبُّهُمْ إِلَى اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ أَنْفَقُهُمْ لِعِيَالِهِ‏.

H.3
الكافي (ط – الإسلامية) ؛ ج‏2 ؛ ص300
2- مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يَحْيَى عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عِيسَى عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ سِنَانٍ عَنْ قُتَيْبَةَ الْأَعْشَى عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع أَنَّهُ قَالَ: إِنَّ مِنْ‏ أَشَدِّ النَّاسِ‏ عَذَاباً يَوْمَ‏ الْقِيَامَةِ مَنْ وَصَفَ عَدْلًا وَ عَمِلَ بِغَيْرِهِ.
H.4
175 نهج البلاغه خطبه
أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي وَ اللَّهِ‏ مَا أَحُثُّكُمْ‏ عَلَى‏ طَاعَةٍ إِلَّا وَ أَسْبِقُكُمْ‏ إِلَيْهَا وَ لَا أَنْهَاكُمْ عَنْ مَعْصِيَةٍ إِلَّا وَ أَتَنَاهَى قَبْلَكُمْ عَنْهَا

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