~ offered by Camille H. A. Helminski

    Al-Fatiha

    With the Name of God, the Infinitely Compassionate and Continually Merciful—
    Praise is God’s, Sustainer and Cherisher of all worlds—
    the Infinitely Compassionate and Continually Merciful,
    Sovereign of the Day of Recognition,
    You alone do we worship and serve;
    You alone do we ask for help.
    Guide us on the clear path,
    the path of those who have received Your blessing;
    not the path of those who have brought stringency upon themselves,
    nor of those who wander into confusion.

    Al-Baqarah

    Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim
    Alif. Lam. Mim.
    This book, let there be no doubt, is a guidance for all the God-conscious,
    those who trust in the Unseeable-Unnamed, who are rooted steadfastly in prayer, and who open-heartedly bestow from the sustenance We have provided for them,
    and who trust in that which has been sent down to you, and that which was sent down before you, and who have reached certainty through nearness with the Hereafter—
    they are following guidance from their Sustainer; it is they who attain felicity.
    As for those who turn away in denial, it is the same to them whether you counsel them or you don’t; they will not have faith.
    God has covered over their hearts and the possibility of their turning, and their hearing, and veiled their sight; mighty is their chastisement.
    Among the people there are those who say, “We trust in God and in the ‘Day’ of the Hereafter, but they do not really trust,
    they would proudly deceive God and those who have faith, but they only deceive themselves and do not see it,
    because in their hearts is disease, and God (the Unity of all existence) increases their disease; their torment is grievous, because they are cut off by their deception.
    When it is said to them, “Do not spread corruption on this good earth!” They say, “We only want to do good deeds.”
    Indeed, it is they who spread corruption, but they do not comprehend it.
    When it is said to them, “Trust as the others trust,” they say, “Should we trust like fools trust?”
    No, surely, they are the fools; but they are unaware.
    When they come face to face with those who trust, they say, “We trust,” but when they are alone with those who have turned away in denial, they say, “We are with you; we were mocking them.”
    The Unity of God will render them ridiculous and extend the rope of their transgressions, so that they will wander further in their blindness.
    These are those who have traded guidance for perplexity; their trade is without benefit. They have lost their way.
    Their likeness is that of someone who kindles a fire—when it lit up all around them, God took away their light and left them in obscurity, such that they cannot perceive.
    Deaf, unable to speak, blind, they could not turn back to find the way.
    Another likeness is that of a cloud heavy with rain from the heavens—within it are darkness, and thunder and lightning—they put their fingers in their ears to keep out the crash of the thunder, stunned with fear of dying, yet God encompasses the deniers (those who attempt to conceal the Truth).
    The lightning seizes their perception; when the light shines, they walk within it; when the darkness increases, they are stilled. If God willed, He could take away their capacity to hear and to see, for God has power over all things.
    O humankind, worship and serve your Sustainer—who created you and those who came before you, so that you may learn to be God-conscious—
    Who has made the earth a support for your rest, and the heavens your canopy, and sent down rain from the heavens and so brought forth fruits for your sustenance; then do not set up rivals in opposition to God, when you know.
    And if you are in doubt as to that which We have sent down to Our servant, then produce a surah like it, and call your own witnesses besides Allah if your purpose is sincere.
    But if you cannot—and surely you cannot—then fear the fire that burns humans and hardened stones that is prescribed for the deniers.
    But give glad tidings to those who have faith and do the deeds of wholeness and reconciliation that theirs are gardens beneath which rivers flow. Whenever they are nourished with its fruits they say, “Why, it is this with which we were fed beforehand,” for they are given corresponding favors; and they have there pure partners, and they abide there forever.
    Truly, God does not disdain using metaphors, for the lowly or the exalted. Those who have faith know it is Truth from their Sustainer. But those who are in denial say, “What does God intend by this metaphor?”–through it He causes many to wander in confusion and many He guides to the clear path; but He does not cause any to lose their way except those who have already fallen into transgression.
    Those who break the bond with God after it has been pledged, and who break apart what God has enjoined to be held together, and spread corruption upon good fruitful land—it is they who are in loss, themselves.
    How can you turn your back on God in denial, seeing that you were without life and He gave you life; then He will cause you to die, and will bring you to flourishing life again, and again to Him you will return.
    It is He who has created for you all things on earth, and He brought together His design, arranging in proportion the seven heavens, and of all things He is the Knower.
    Behold, your Sustainer said to the angels, “I will create a representative caretaker on earth.” They said, “Will you place there one who will spread corruption and shed blood; while we praise You and glorify Your Purity?” He said, “Truly, I know what you know not.”
    And He taught Adam all the Names; then He displayed all before the angels, and said, “Tell Me the names of these if you speak the truth.”
    They said, “Glory be to You, we have no knowledge except that which You have taught us: it is You Who are the All-Knowing, the Most Wise.”
    He said, “O Adam! Tell them their names.” When he had told them, God said, “Didn’t I tell you that I know the hidden reality of heaven and earth, and I know what you reveal and what you conceal.”
    And We said to the angels, “Bow down to Adam,” and they bowed down. Except for Iblis—he refused, full of pride—he was in the state of the deniers (who turn away from truth).
    We said, “O Adam! Dwell in tranquility, you and your partner, in the Garden; and eat of the abundance as you will, but do not approach this tree (the tree of separation), or you will find yourself carried away into a state of darkness.”
    Then Satan (who provokes separation) made them stumble, forsaking that state of felicity in which they had been abiding. We said, “Descend; you with discord between yourselves, on earth will be your dwelling and where you will find your footing and nourishment for a while.”
    Then the human beings learned words of inspiration from their Sustainer—their Sustainer turned towards them, for He/She is Ever-Accepting of Repentance, the Continually Merciful.
    We said, “All of you descend from here; and if, as is sure, there comes to you guidance from Me, whoever follows My guidance, they shall not fear, nor shall they grieve.
    But those who turn away in denial and reject Our Signs, they shall be companions of the fire—abiding within it.
    O children of Israel! Deeply remember the blessings I have bestowed upon you, and fulfill your covenant with Me as I fulfill My covenant with you, and do not be in awe of anyone or anything but Me.
And trust in what I send down, confirming the truth of that which is already with you, and do not be the foremost among those who turn away from its truth; do not exchange My Communications for a pittance; of Me, of Me be conscious.
    And do not cover over truth with falsehood, and do not hide the truth when you know;
    and be steadfast in prayer, and in charity, and bow in prayer with all those who are humble.
    Do you enjoin other people to be righteous and honest and forget to be so yourselves? And yet you meditate upon the Scriptures—why do you not understand?
    Seek help in steadfast patience and prayer; it is a great challenge for all but those who approach in humility,
    those who know with certainty that they will meet their Sustainer and Cherisher, and that to Him/Her they will return.
    O descendants of Israel (of “he who struggles with God”), deeply remember the blessings with which I gifted you, above all creatures.
    And be conscious of a Day when no soul shall avail another, nor shall intercession be accepted, nor ransom, nor succor arrive.
    And remember when We delivered you from Pharoah’s people, who afflicted you with cruelty, slaughtering your sons and only letting your women live—a mighty trial from your Sustainer!
    And remember We split the sea for you, saving you, and caused Pharoah’s people to drown before your eyes.
    And remember when We apportioned for Moses forty nights, and while he was absent, you turned towards the calf, erring in darkness.
    Yet, even after that, We erased your sin with forgiveness, that you might be grateful.
    And remember We gave Moses the Scripture–the Criterion of discernment—so that you might be guided rightly.
    And remember Moses said to his people, “O my people! You have wronged your own selves by worshipping the calf, so turn towards your Maker, and cause your egos to die (coming to know your real self); that would be better for you in the sight of the One who made you. And thereupon He/She turned towards you, for He/She is Ever-Turning Towards those in repentance, Continually Merciful.
    And remember when you said, “O Moses, truly we will not trust in you until we see God clearly apparent!” Whereupon mighty thunder and lightning stunned you, as you looked,
    but We raised you up again after you had been as though dead, so that you might be grateful.
    And We covered you with clouds to comfort you with shade, and sent down to you manna of bounty and quail of consolation: “Partake of the wholesome things We provide for you as sustenance.” And they did no harm to Us, but only themselves did they wrong.
    And remember We said, “Enter this land, and eat of its abundant provision as you will, but enter the gate humbly, and say, ‘Remove from us the burden of our sin,’ and We shall forgive you your errors and magnify those who do that which is good and beautiful.”
    But the wrong-doers corrupted the words We had sent down, and so We sent down calamity from the heavens upon those wrong-doers, because of their erring ways.
    And remember, Moses prayed for water for his people; We said, “Strike the rock with your staff”—and twelve springs gushed forth from within it. Each tribe knew its own place for water. So eat and drink of the sustenance provided by God, and do not act wrongly by spreading corruption on this good earth.
    And remember when you said, “O Moses, we can’t keep eating just one kind of food; pray to your Lord for us that He might bring forth from the earth its produce—its herbs and its cucumbers, its garlic, its lentils, and onions.” He said, “Will you trade that which is better for that which is less? Return then in shame to Egypt, and then you can have that which you are wanting.” And so they covered themselves with shame and misery; they drew towards themselves the stringency of God, because they continually rejected the Communications of God and slayed His Messengers, without reason; they kept opposing God and acting unjustly.
    Truly, those who have faith, and those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians—all who have faith in God and the Day of the Hereafter and do the deeds of wholeness and reconciliation—shall have their recompense with their Sustainer; they shall have no fear, neither shall they grieve.

[Surah al-Baqarah 2:1—62 (paragraph indents reflect ayah notation)]

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(to be continued, inshallah . . .)