Quran and Quran Tafseer with Sheikh Ali Gomaa (على جمعة): Al-An’am, “The Cattle”
According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, a tafsir is a work which provides an interpretation of the Arabic text of the Quran. I’m studying the Quran from a non-Western perspective and have been learning from Ali Gomaa. Ali Gomaa is the Grand Mufti of Egypt, and one of the foremost Islamic scholars in the world.
Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa’s Teaching About Surat Al’An’am
Ali Gomaa’s teaching on the 6th chapter of the Qu’ran (Al-An’am) is in 19 episodes. I’m sharing my notes and giving my Christian perspective.
In the previous episode Ali Gomaa spoke about chapter 6 of the Qur’an (Al-An’am). The first verse (ayah) is “Praise be Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth“. Ali Gomaa’s emphasis was on the earth. In the first part of this episode, Ali Gomaa’s emphasis is on the heavens.
“We also need to contemplate on the heavens and look upon it as a blessing from Allah. In it we find the sun, which provides heat and it is the secret of life. It also provides light, which is luminance…It [is comprised] of the moon and the stars, as well as clouds and rain, “And in the heaven is your provision and whatever you are promised.’
I believe the following discussion is about ayah 142,
YUSUF ALI: Of the cattle are some for burden and some for meat: eat what Allah hath provided for you, and follow not the footsteps of Satan: for he is to you and avowed enemy.
PICKTHAL: And of the cattle (He produceth) some for burdens, some for food. Eat of that which Allah hath bestowed upon you, and follow not the footsteps of the devil, for lo! he is an open foe to you.
SHAKIR: And of cattle (He created) beasts of burden and those which are fit for slaughter only; eat of what Allah has given you and do not follow the footsteps of the Shaitan; surely he is your open enemy.
Ali Gomaa says, “Al-An’am (cattle) comprises of cows, sheep and camels or in another meaning all the blessings Allah bestowed upon mankind. Hence we find that under the definition of blessings we find what is permissible for us to eat and those which are not. But if we limit the deinition to those three, which are cows, camels and sheep, then they are all permissible [hallel]. Because this is the lawful meat that can be eaten, which Allah bestowed upon mankind.
“Some are used for tillage like cows, others for travelling like camels, whereas sheep are good for eating, milk and wool. Cattle is a broad general definition that comprises of the edible and the non-edible. It includes deer, which is edible as well as horses and there are differences of opinion concerning this. And donkeys, but it is forbidden to eat this cattle. Therefore some cattle offer the blessing of food, while others offer another blessing other than food….So some cattle have been made lawful and some have been made unlawful”
Scriptures, Bible, and the Quran
Several of the key teachings of Christianity concerning food are:
Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.
Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’”
After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.
“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’?
For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”)
He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’
For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,
greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ “
The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit
Why the change? Why were certain foods unclean in the Old Testament, but no longer? It is because Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law. This highlights an important difference between the legislation and ethics of the Quran compared to the Bible. The legislation and ethics of the Bible revolve around the person and work of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:4). The ethics of the Qur’an do not. The laws found in the Bible point to mankind’s need for a Redeemer (Psalm 19; Psalm 119:176; Romans 7:1-4; Galatians 3:24; 4:5).