In this chapter the Qur’anic author preaches Faith Alone and Prophethood Alone. By Faith Alone, or “exclusive faith,” he means active reliance on God alone – not wealth, not other believers, not prayers, not saints. By Prophethood Alone, he rejects the idea that we share win any office of Kingship or Priesthood – rather, we are all prophets and called to be such.
For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1 Corinthians 1:22-24
A reading, from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah:
That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting
That there is none besides Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
I form the light and create darkness,
I make peace and create calamity;
I, the Lord, do all these things.’
“Rain down, you heavens, from above,
And let the skies pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,
And let righteousness spring up together.
I, the Lord, have created it.
“Woe to him who strives with his Maker!
Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth!
Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’?
A Psalm, from the *Psalms:
Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!
For the Lord Most High is awesome;
He is a great King over all the earth.
He will subdue the peoples under us,
And the nations under our feet.
He will choose our inheritance for us,
The excellence of Jacob whom He loves. Selah
God has gone up with a shout,
The Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding.
God reigns over the nations;
God sits on His holy throne.
The princes of the people have gathered together,
The people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
He is greatly exalted.
A reading, from the Revelation of St. John:
And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice,
“Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?”
And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.
So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me,
“Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon.
A reading, from the Gospel according to Matthew:
Then Jesus said to His disciples,
“Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying,
“Who then can be saved?”
But Jesus looked at them and said to them,
“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Then Peter answered and said to Him,
“See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”
So Jesus said to them,
“Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
“Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!
A Qur’anic Homily
Christ taught us not to worship both God and Mammon, but why not? The Qur’anic author centers this question in this chapter, explicitly making this a lesson that’s specific for his audience:
We have drawn for mankind in this Lectionary every example so that they may take admonition: an Arabic Lectionary without any deviousness, so that they may be Godwary.
God draws an example: a man jointly owned by several contending masters, and a man belonging entirely to one man: are the two equal in comparison? All praise belongs to God! But most of them do not know.
This specific question is from the Book, the divine logos, that contained Truth, Christ Himself – it’s of cosmological significance.
The sending down of the Book is from God, the All-mighty, the All-wise. We have indeed sent down the Book to you with the Truth; so worship God, putting exclusive faith in Him.
The general answer is that Mammon (or Wealth) is a god of selfishness, closely connected to the “Love of Money,” the root of all evil. But to the Qur’anic author, the mistake is not Mammon himself or Money itself, but anything that is not God:
If you ask them, “Who created the heavens and the earth,” they will surely say, “God.”
Say, “Have you considered what you invoke besides God? Should God desire some distress for me, can they remove the distress visited by Him? Or should He desire some mercy for me, can they withhold His mercy?
Say, “God is sufficient for me. In Him alone let all the trusting put their trust.”
Attempting to serve God and Mammon at the same time is sharing one’s faith between the Creator and a Creature. Instead, the Qur’anic author calls for exclusive faith:
Say, “I have been commanded to worship God with exclusive faith in Him and I have been commanded to be the foremost of those who submit.”
In hard times this exclusive faith is easy. My best days, so it is said, are when I tremble with fair. Exclusive faith is harder in good times than in bad:
When distress befalls man, he supplicates his Lord, turning to Him penitently. Then, when He grants him a blessing from Himself, he forgets that for which he had supplicated Him earlier and sets up equals to God, that he may lead astray from His way.
Say, “Reveal in your ingratitude for a while. You are indeed among the inmates of the Fire.”
The general rule can be placed in terms of the destination of the soul: any entity worshipped instead of God is Satanic:
As for those who stay clear of the worship of satanic entities and turn penitently to God, there is good news for them. So give good news to My servants.
And – here a fundamental disagreement with the Catholic Church, and even much of Protestantism – the Qur’anic author includes intercession in the spiritual sense as a lacking of exclusive faith:
Have they taken intercessors besides God? Say, “What! Even though they do not control anything and cannot reason?!
Say, “All intercession rests with God. To Him belongs the Kingdom of the Heavens and the Earth; then you will be brought back to him.”
Thus, prayers to Saints and Angels demonstrate a lack of exclusive faith, just as placing hope in Wealth is a lacking of exclusive faith. The Qur’anic author snidely accuses those who pray to the angels and saints as not truly even believing in the next life!
When God is mentioned alone, shrink away the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter, but when others are mentioned besides Him, behold, they rejoice!
Those who hope for intercession from the Pope or Bishops are accused of lacking exclusive faith:
God is the creator of all things and He watches over all things. To Him belongs the Keys of the Heavens and the Earth, and those who disbelieve in the signs of God – it is they who are the losers.
Likewise, the use of icons or images that connect to God is rejected:
Indeed, only exclusive faith is worthy of God, and those who take others as masters besides Him,
“We only worship them so that they bring us near to God,’ God will judge between them concerning that about which they differ.
Even what would later become popular Protestantism is attacked by the Qur’anic author as a lack of exclusive faith. Prayers for each other, for other loved ones, for other members of the church, are a lack of exclusive faith:
Can he against whom the word of punishment has become due…. ? Can you rescue someone who is in the Fire? But as for those who are wary of their Lord, for them there will be lofty abodes with lofty abodes built above them, with streams running beneath them – a promise of God. God does not break His promise.
The Qur’anic author calls instead for his specific variation of Faith Alone, exclusive faith, freed and unrelated to the actions or desires from any created being:
Do they not know that God expands the provisions for whomever He wishes and tightens it? There are indeed signs in that for a people who have faith.
God has no partners – not a Pope or Bishop, not a Saint or Angel, not a fellow believer, in making his decisions or doing his actions. Only Himself:
Certainly, it has been revealed to you and to those before you: ’If you describe a partner to God your works shall fail and you shall surely be among the losers. Rather, worship God and be among the grateful!”
They do not regard God with the regard due to Him, yet the entire earth will be in His first on the Day of Resurrection, and the heavens, scrolled in, in His right hand. Immaculate is He and far above having any partners that they ascribe.
In this view Christ and the Holy Spirit do not have a lasting Kingship of rule or a lasting Priesthood of Sacrifice – not even a lasting “Sonship”:
Had God intended to take an offspring, He could have chosen from those He had created whatever He wished. Immaculate is He! He is God, the One, the All-paramount.
Only a lasting office of Prophethood, that we are called to share – a Prophethood Alone in addition to Faith Alone:
He who brings the Truth and he who confirms it – it is they are are the Godwary. They will have what they wish near their Lord – that is the reward of the virtuous – that God may absolve them of the worst of what they did and pay them their reward by the best of what they used to do.
Instead of praying to each other or for each other, the Qur’anic author instead repeats the Universal Call to Prophecy. A theme of this chapter is “Say,” urging the believer to point others toward God and His Mercy:
Say, “O My servants who have committed excesses against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of God. God will indeed forgive all signs. Indeed, He is the All-forgiving, the All-Merciful.
The guides shared to us are not persons who can intercede but objects that peacefully witness to the Lord, such as the Bible…
God has sent down the best of discourses, a Scripture of similar motifs, whereat shiver the skins of those who fear their Lord, then their skins and hearts relax at God’s remembrance. That is God’s guidance, by which He guides whomever He wishes; and whomever God leads astray has no guide.
… and the natural world, as described by the Prophet Isaiah:
Have you not seen that God sends down water from the sky, then he conducts it through the ground as springs. Then He brings forth with it crops of diverse hues. Then they wither and you see them turn yellow. Then He turns them into caff. There is indeed a lesson in that for those who possess intellect.
If you act as a prophet, you will see the angels join you during the end of the world.
Those who are wary of their Lord will be led to Paradise in throngs. When they reach it and its gates are opened, its keepers will say to them, “Peace be to you! You are welcome! Enter it to remain!”
They will say, “All praise belongs to God, who has fulfilled His promise to us and made us inheritors of the earth, that we may settle in Paradise wherever we may wish!” How except is the reward of the workers!”
And you will see the angels surrounding the Throne, celebrating the praise of their Lord, and judgment will be made between them with justice, and it will be said, “All praise belongs to God, the Lord of all the worlds!”