The Clear Proof
|Other names||Evidence, The Proof, The Clear Sign, The Evidence of the Truth|
|No. of verses||8|
Sūrat al-Bayyinah (Arabic: سورة البينة, "The Clear Proof, Evidence") is the 98th sura of the Qur'an with 8 ayat. The Surah is so designated after the word al-bayyinah occurring at the end of the first verse.
This is the 98th Surat, by no coincidence composed of 98 words, with both structural and thematic symmetries more characteristic of the Meccan period. The central chiasm is precisely positioned in the 5th verse "religion [of Abraham], upholding prayers and giving alms, that is true religion" this in turn is flanked by concentric looping themes in an A B C | C' B' A' pattern where A' responds to A, B' responds to B and C' responds to C. As an example of this structure, verse 2 stating "A Messenger from Allah reciting purified scriptures" is answered by verse 7 "Indeed, they who have believed and done righteous deeds — those are the best of all creatures."
The sura opens by addressing the polytheists of Arabia, as well as those amongst the People of the Book who had fallen into disbelief. Allowing that they may be restored only by a "clear sign" from God who speaks holy and untainted words — the Prophet Muhammad bringing the Qur'an, which lays down proper laws and morality. The fifth ayah is pivotal and explains that all God asks of mankind is "To praise God by offering Him devotion being true, to pray the Salat, and to give charity. And that is the Religion of Truth."
Those who cling to these simple practices of faith in Allah, prayer and charity will be offered the Gardens of Paradise, "underneath which rivers flow", as their prize; for God is pleased with them for being the best of possible creations. Those who turn away, however, shall meet the fires of Hell.
Theme and subject matter
Its having been placed after Surahs Al-Alaq and Al-Qadr in the arrangement of the Quran is very meaningful. Surah Al-Alaq contains the very first revelation, while Surah Al-Qadr shows as to when it was revealed, and in this Surah it has been explained why it was necessary to send a Messenger along with this Holy Book.
First of all the need of sending a Messenger has been explained, saying: The people of the world, be they from among the followers of the earlier scriptures or from among the idolaters, could not possibly be freed from their state of unbelief, until a Messenger was sent whose appearance by itself should be a clear proof of his apostleship, and he should present the Book of God before the people in its original, pristine form, which should be free from every mixture of falsehood corrupting the earlier Divine Books; and which should comprise sound teachings.
Then, about the errors of the followers of the earlier Books it has been said that the cause of their straying into different creeds was not that Allah had not provided any guidance to them, but they strayed only after a clear statement of the Right Creed had come to them. From this it automatically follows that they themselves were responsible for their error and deviation. Now, if even after the coming of the clear statement through this Messenger, they continued to stray, their responsibility would further increase.
In this very connection, it has been stated that the Prophets who came from Allah and the, Books sent down by Him, did not enjoin anything but that the way of sincere and true service to Allah be adopted, apart from all other ways, no one else's worship, service or obedience be mixed with His, the Salat be established and the Zakāt be paid. This same has been the true religion since ever. From this also it automatically follows that the followers of the earlier scriptures, straying from this true religion, have added extraneous things to it, which are false, and Allah's this Messenger has come to invite them back to, the same original faith.
In conclusion, it has been pointed out clearly that the followers of the earlier Books and the idolaters who would refuse to acknowledge this Messenger are the worst of creatures: their punishment is an everlasting Hell; and the people who would believe and act righteously, and would spend life in the world in awe of God, are the best of creatures: their reward is eternal Paradise wherein they will live for ever. Allah became well pleased with them and they became well pleased with Allah.
- Haddad, Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 97, mo. 4. (Oct. – Dec. 1977), pp. 519–530.
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