Does Allah command evil and indecency?

This is in response to an article published on a notorious anti-Islamic site. (Read it in full Here)

In that article the heathen writer has written that Allah in Qur'an 17:16 commands people to commit indecency and then punish them for doing so. The translation he has given to the verse goes as;
“And when We desire to destroy a city, WE COMMAND its men who live at ease, AND THEY COMMIT UNGODLINESS therein, then the Word is realized against it, and We destroy it utterly.” S. 17:16

It does not seem odd of a Christian playing with the Word of God for this is their ancestrally profession, The Arabic wording of the verse goes as;

وَإِذَا أَرَدْنَا أَنْ نُهْلِكَ قَرْيَةً أَمَرْنَا مُتْرَفِيهَا فَفَسَقُوا فِيهَا فَحَقَّ عَلَيْهَا الْقَوْلُ فَدَمَّرْنَاهَا تَدْمِيرًا

Now I give some well known translations of this verse;

Taqi Usmani: "And when We intend to destroy a habitation, We command its affluent people (to do good), then they commit sins therein, and thus the word (of punishment) becomes applicable to it (habitation), and We annihilate it totally."  

Yusuf Ali: “When We decide to destroy a population, We (first) send a definite order to those among them who are given the good things of this life and yet transgress; so that the word is proved true against them: then (it is) We destroy them utterly.”

Shakir Ali: “And when We wish to destroy a town, We send Our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives, but they transgress therein; thus the word proves true against it, so We destroy it with utter destruction.”

Pickthal: “And when We would destroy a township We send commandment to its folk who live at ease, and afterward they commit abomination therein, and so the Word (of doom) hath effect for it, and we annihilate it with complete annihilation.”

Hilali/Mohsin Khan: “And when We intend to destroy a city, We command its affluent but they defiantly disobey therein; so the word comes into effect upon it, and We destroy it with [complete] destruction.”

 Maududi: “When We decree that a habitation should be destroyed, We give Commands to its well-to-do people and they show disobedience; then that habitation incurs just torment and We totally exterminate it.”

Asad: “But when [this has been done, and] it is Our will to destroy a community, We convey Our last warning" to those of its people who have lost themselves entirely in the pursuit of pleasures; and [if] they [continue to] act sinfully, the sentence [of doom] passed on the community takes effect, and We break it to smithereens.” 

Infact even other orientalists have translated this verse in a way that does not leave any room for the liars to play with fire:

George Sale: "And when We resolved to destroy a city, We commanded the inhabitants thereof, who lived in affluence, to obey our Apostle; but they acted corruptly herein: Wherefore the sentence was justly pronounced against that city; and We destroyed it with an utter destruction."

Further let’s see the commentary of Abdullah Yusuf Ali on this verse. He writes;

“Allah's Mercy gives every chance to the wicked to repent. When wickedness gets so rampant that punishment becomes inevitable, even then Allah's Mercy and Justice act together. Those who are highly gifted from Allah-it may be with wealth or position, or it may be with talents and opportunities-are expected to understand and obey. They are given a definite order and warning. If they still transgress there is no further room for argument. They cannot plead that they were ignorant. The command of the Lord is proved against them, and its application is called for beyond doubt. Then it is that their punishment is completed.”

All these famous and authentic translations and commentaries prove that the true meaning of this verse is that when a people have become too stubborn in their opposition to Allah’s commandments, He gives them the commandment to correct their way of life, but as they transgress therein Allah punishes them. This is what it means.

Trickery of the writer:

The insane writer has brought up a little known translation here and hasn’t used any of the well known translations as they leave no room for him to twist the real meanings of the verse. He uses the Translation of Yusuf Ali, Pickthal and Asad later on but here he plays the trick to pollute the innocent minds.

He has used the translation of A.J. Arberry who was an Orientalist and a non-Muslim whose translation is very rarely, in fact hardly ever, referred to in the Islamic word for there are certain mistakes of omission and mistranslation with him. I don’t claim that he has intentionally mistranslated here but because of his less knowledge compared to the Muslim translators he has not been able to give the real meaning in exclusive sense. Even his translation does not actually give the meaning that the author of the article has tried to, but it does leave a slight room for the heathens like him.

Islamic divorce law:

Further he gives the wrapped view of the some divorce laws in Islam. Islam says that if a husband and wife divorce then they cannot remarry until the woman has married another person and that person either dies or divorces her after having consummated the marriage. He says that this is another point where Allah, to his understanding, commands indecency.

Why such a Law? To see whether he is right or wrong, lets see the rationale of this Law.
Firstly, Islam gives such a mechanism of family life that if strictly followed, there are quite less chances of divorce. In case some differences arise even then Islam’s prescribed way of divorce as laid down in the Holy Qur'an surah 2, ayah 229-230 and Ahadith give a lot of time for the rapprochement between the spouses. But if done Islam does not allow them to remarry unless the woman marries with someone else and the marriage is consummated and then either she is divorced or widowed. Islam prescribes this in order to make the couple think before making any emotional or out bursting decision and to ensure that marriage and divorce does not become a child play.
Having said this, Islam allows them still to marry under the above mentioned rules. I wonder how can one can call this indecency or lewdness as the other person with whom the woman will have relations meanwhile will be her husband then legally married to her. Yes, if somebody tries to play with the law and marries a person with a pre-condition of divorce then definitely it will be lewdness and Allah has forbidden this. Such an act is called Hilala which has been condemned in strongest terms.

أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ لَعَنَ اللَّهُ الْمُحَلِّلَ وَالْمُحَلَّلَ لَهُ

Narrated Ali, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Cursed be upon the one who marries a divorced woman with the intention of making her lawful for her former husband and upon the one for whom she is made lawful. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith 2076. Classified as Sahih by Albani)
But there is no rationality in not allowing the remarriage even after woman has married another man and got widowed or divorced. It has no reason to be banned. But for remarriage between those two people such a condition is attached only to have deterrence against divorce which is, though lawful, but abhorred in the sight of Allah.

عن عبد الله بن عمر رضي الله عنهما ، قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : « ما أحل الله شيئا أبغض إليه من الطلاق
Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Of all the lawful acts the most detestable to Allah is divorce. (Mustadrak Hakim, Hadith 2745. Classified as Sahih by Al-Hakim. Dhahbi agreed with him)
On the meaning of word “Rafath”:

In the end the writer has poured out his ignorance about the Qur'anic language. He says that it means obscenity and lewdness and Qur'an allows Muslims “Rafath” to their wives in 2:187 thus he says Allah has commanded Muslims obscenity.

If we read the commentary of this word in Tafsir Ibn Kathir, that this person himself mentioned, we read;

“Whatever might lead to sexual intercourse, such as embracing, kissing and talking to women about similar subjects, is not allowed. Ibn Jarir reported that Nafi` narrated that `Abdullah bin `Umar said, "Rafath means sexual intercourse or mentioning this subject with the tongue, by either men or women.'' `Ata' bin Abu Rabah said that Rafath means sexual intercourse and foul speech. This is also the opinion of `Amr bin Dinar. `Ata' also said that they used to even prevent talking (or hinting) about this subject. Tawus said that Rafath includes one's saying, "When I end the Ihram I will have sex with you.'' This is also the same explanation offered by Abu Al-`Aliyah regarding Rafath. `Ali bin Abu Talhah said that Ibn `Abbas said, "Rafath means having sex with the wife, kissing, fondling and saying foul words to her, and similar acts.'' Ibn `Abbas and Ibn `Umar said that Rafath means to have sex with women. This is also the opinion of Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ikrimah, Mujahid, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i, Abu Al-`Aliyah who narrated it from `Ata' and Makhul, `Ata Al-Khurasani, `Ata' bin Yasar, `Atiyah, Ibrahim, Ar-Rabi`, Az-Zuhri, As-Suddi, Malik bin Anas, Muqatil bin Hayyan, `Abdul-Karim bin Malik, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak, and others.”
In this passage the writer has emphasized the words, “foul speech” and “foul words” etc. and then gives the impression that it means lewdness and obscenity as understood generally. Infact it only refers to the intimate words that a husband may say to his wife during their intimate relation. Infact Abdullah b. Umar's statement in this passage conveys the very same meaning. i.e. "Rafath means sexual intercourse or mentioning this subject with the tongue, by either men or women.''

So what we find is that the word Rafath means intimate relation (physical or in words) and when Qur'an says that its allowed in Ramadan during nights (2:187), it clarifies by saying;

أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَى نِسَائِكُمْ

“Permitted to you, on the night of the fasts, is the approach (Rafath) to your wives.”

Mark the words “to your wives”. And no sane would ever call this obscenity or lewdness. But definitely same when out of marital contract will be lewdness and obscenity without doubt.

Edward William Lane gives its meaning as; "He went into his wife, he compressed her, or was with her alone in private." (Arabic-English Lexicon part 3 p. 1118)

And in Qur'an 2:197 Rafath is forbidden during Hajj i.e. all intimate relations are disallowed, with wives of course, others are always forbidden in Islam.

So the heathen writer makes really a poor case and lacks reason and rationality and is merely trying to play with people not aware of the dirty missionary tactics.

But surely falsehood has no feet to stand on.

"Truth has (now) arrived, and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish." (Qur'an 17:81)


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