Quran and Quran Tafseer with Sheik Ali Gomaa (على جمعة): Al-An’am (سورة الأنعام), “The Cattle”
Commentary on the Quran is called tafsir (also spelled tafseer [تفسير]). I’m studying the Qur’an from a non-Western perspective and have been learning from Ali Gomaa; a leading Islamic scholar and jurist who studied and taught for many years at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University.
For years, I realized that the Western media misrepresented Christianity, but it took me a long time to realize that in order to understand Islam I needed to talk with Muslims from around the world. This is what I did in my book Is the Qur’an the Word of God.
One of my reform minded Muslim friends from Egypt isn’t a big fan of Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt. In his opinion, Ali Gomaa was too close to former Egyptian regime. However, he told me that Ali Gomaa is a good teacher and scholar when it comes to the principles of Islam. This is ironic because the Western media has tauted Ali Gomaa for being moderate.
For the principles of Islam, Ali Gomaa is respected by many and this is why I am studying his interpretation of the Qur’an. Below is episode 3 of 19,
Shaikh Ali Gomaa’s Teaching About Surat Al’An’am
Sheekh Ali Gomaa continues his discussion of cattle saying, “Also the word cattle in Arabic sounds like blessing, because Allah wants to remind us of the blessing. And that is is a blessing He bestowed upon us. Those blessings maintain the connection, which is about to get lost in so many areas of our lives between man and beast. There is a connection between us and animals, which Allah Glorified and Exalted He bestowed upon us as a blessing.”
Ali Gomaa discusses the time when mankind depended on animals and the close relationship we had with them and how they were to be treated humanely. One of the reasons they were treated humanely was because Muhammad related the following, “A woman once entered hell because of a cat that she held captive, she didn’t feed it nor let it eat the earth’s vermin.” They have seen Allah’s Prophet and heard him say: A man once entered Jannah [Paradise] because of a dog he once saw thirsty so he gave it a drink and Allah let him into Jannah for it. They heard Allah’s Prophet (SAWS) talk about the predecessors and say: “A prostitute from the people of Israel once entered Jannah because of a dog she watered so Allah allowed her to enter Jannah.” He forgave her for what she did. So a woman entered hell for a cat and a prostitute entered Jannah for a dog” (5:23-6:25).
SAWS – an abbreviation for Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam meaning, “May the blessings and the peace of Allah be upon him (Muhammad)”. The Quran commands Muslims to use this, or like expression, when referring to Muhammad and promises to reward them ten times.
From these things we are to learn “that the relation between humans and the universe is a relation of mercy and praise to Allah for the blessing of brute cattle, cattle and animals in general. The messenger of Allah taught us this ecological balance. The environment must be balanced.”
“The Prophet knew that angels don’t enter a house that has a dog. So, he thought he must rid humanity of them. Allah taught him that this is not right and that the Angels reaction to dogs is something and maintaining the dogs in this world another thing. We have seen Muslims building special places to offer water for dogs so that they would enter Jannah. Just like that man and woman and those who told us about them from the Prophet (SAWS).”
Christianity, and the Qur’an
The biblical emphasis on mankind’s care for creation is known as dominion and is first found in the Bible in Genesis 1:24-31,
24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so.
25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.