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Offline Athman

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Cleansing Power Of The Rain, in Qur'an 8:11?
« on: December 21, 2017, 10:33:12 PM »
Dear Br. Joseph,

As salaam Aleikum,

With an effort to understand the theme of what is referred to by what is mentioned as "cleansing by rain" of the Muslim army in Quran 8:11, I took notice of various views progressed from the traditional understanding.
The commonest one being the following quoted:

“In the Battle of Uhud the Muslims passed through a similar experience as in 3:154. On both occasions, when prevalent conditions should have produced intense fear and panic among them, God filled their hearts with such peace and tranquility that they were overpowered with drowsiness.

The rain refers to the heavy downpour on the night preceding the Battle of Badr. It helped the Muslims in three ways. First, it provided them with an abundant water supply which they quickly stored in large reservoirs. Second, rain compacted the loose sand in the upper part of the valley where the Muslims had pitched their tents. This helped the Muslims plant their feet firmly and facilitated their movement. Third, where the Quraysh army was stationed in the lower part of the valley, the ground turned marshy.
The defilement caused by Satan which occurs in the verse refers to the fear and panic which initially, afflicted the Muslims.” [1]

A view held by most traditionalists in my area concerning the verse is an idea that the verse stands to confirm that generally, rainwater cleanses one of evil spirits/shaitan whispers hence magic spell/witchcraft effect, an idea which can greatly be termed moot from the context of the verses.

Another common interesting proposition is that Allah caused the whole army into a sleep in which they dreamt lustfully about sex to a point of waking up ritually impure as a result hence the rain cleansed them from the Janaba (ritual impurity) status.

Would you please give your opinion on how you understand the verse in question as quoted below.

[Remember] when He overwhelmed you with drowsiness [giving] security from Him and sent down upon you from the sky, rain by which to purify you and remove from you the evil [suggestions] of Satan and to make steadfast your hearts and plant firmly thereby your feet. (Qur’an, Al-Anfaal 8:11)


Regards,

Athman.

Reference:
[1] http://www.islamicstudies.info/tafheem.php?sura=8&verse=11

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Cleansing Power Of The Rain, in Qur'an 8:11?
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2017, 06:39:45 AM »
Dear brother Athman,

Wa alaikum assalam

One of the beauties of the Quran is the intentional dearth of information it presents to the reader whilst remaining relevant to its immediate audience to whom the context was particularly applicable.

Arguably, whether the need to elicit finer details beyond the narratives present is relevant to future generations of believers can be argued as moot (debateable).

My approach as a Quran-centric student is to establish what is shared by the Quran pinning it against relevant themes and verses within the Scripture foremost as truth that is known. Then, if the desire remains, to allow for any possibilities from other sources, but only as a possibility of what 'may have happened' and with the certain proviso that its details (if not specifically presented by the Quran) are not important for believers as a 'religious matter' or 'unequivocal truth'.

As I mention in my article [1] below:

"The Quran remains silent in certain matters not so that the 'perceived gaps in details' can be filled in by hearsay or used as a conduit to vouch for the requirement of Islamic secondary sources (which are known to have their difficulties). Rather, because there is no benefit in terms of guidance for knowing them. If knowing them was necessary for any purpose (in God's wisdom), then God would have mentioned them. It is clear that God does not run out of words, He only informs us of what we need to know for our guidance." [2]

We know from the Quranic verses that 'Ma' (rain /water) is a blessing from the heavens. It not only provides us rain (78:14; 2:22 et al), it is the very essence through which living creatures are formed (24:45), it is the life substance that provides sustenance to grow (2:22) and is used for religious purification (5:6; 4:43).

Yet, God has used it for the punishment of transgressors (11:42-43) and as in the verse you quoted (8:11), as a source of purification / fortification of hearts for a specific people to whom the narrative was relevant.

It is clear from the contextual narratives that a battle of sorts was ensuing. Reassurances were being given and a reminder to a particular incident was presented when the heavens poured rain.  The reason for the slumber was for the purpose of 'security' (amanatan). Therefore, it would be difficult to accept that the 'security' was given as a premise in order that Satan could simply send lustful dreams requiring the need for ritual purification. This would arguably not be a 'security' but a lure into Satan's guile.

However, it is quite possible that the rain provided some protection from enemy advancement or even to provide the believing army with much needed respite in terms of continued sustenance leaving open the possibility that they were hitherto, deprived in some way. The mention of 'rija'l-shaytan' (evil of the Satan) does not necessarily have to be interpreted in the lustful manner as presented by secondary sources. Satan's evil can arguably manifest as any number of evil thoughts, one could be abandonment given the struggles the army were facing / loss of composure or trust in God. (Also see verse 3:154)

These sentiments can be further supported by the contextual reassurances that were given. The very next verse (8:12) also provides another of these reassurances (I am with you).

Whatever the situation, one point is clear that God works through His servants, be they angels or otherwise and assists in a number of discreet ways (even to fortify hearts and minds), which may not always be apparent.

Therefore, it is quite possible that whilst some narratives can be dismissed as improbable, others presented by the secondary sources could have truth to them remaining cautious as accepting them as indisputable truth - ‘filter’ and ‘discernment’ remaining key.

That is my approach to the verses.

In my humble view, what is important for believers is any wisdom that can be immediately extracted without the need to elicit finer details of the event, if intentionally not shared by the Quran.

I hope this helps, God willing
Joseph


REFERENCE:

[1] UNKNOWN TOWNS AND NAMES - WHY FILL IN THE GAPS?
http://quransmessage.com/articles/unknown%20towns%20and%20names%20FM3.htm
[2] Ibid
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell

Offline Athman

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Re: Cleansing Power Of The Rain, in Qur'an 8:11?
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2017, 05:27:46 PM »
Salaam,

Thanks for the response Br. Joseph. It really helps.

In particular, I would sincerely concur with the general sentiment(s) and advice you respectfully parted as quoted below.

“One of the beauties of the Quran is the intentional dearth of information it presents to the reader whilst remaining relevant to its immediate audience to whom the context was particularly applicable.”

“Therefore, it is quite possible that whilst some narratives can be dismissed as improbable, others presented by the secondary sources could have truth to them remaining cautious as accepting them as indisputable truth - ‘filter’ and ‘discernment’ remaining key.”

“...what is important for believers is any wisdom that can be immediately extracted without the need to elicit finer details of the event, if intentionally not shared by the Quran.”


Regards,

Athman.