The textuality or ‘kitabiyyah’ aspect of Quran is the most crucial element in the quest to understand its message. There are verses which may seemingly be out of place but actually are crucial to understanding the ‘flow’ of a particular passage.
In this exercise, we will explore Ch 3 Vs 95-99. This passage is unique is because it is the only one in Quran which mentions the word ‘bakkah’ (tears, sorrow, breaking of the neck) and the phrase ‘awwala bayt’. Here is the passage:
Say: Allah has confirmed therefore follow the dictates of Ibrahim, the curved one; and he was not one of the polytheists.
Most surely the foremost house appointed for men is the one with bakkah , blessed and a guidance for the nations.
In it are clarifiying signs, the standing place of ibrahim, and whoever enters it shall be secure, and challenge of the house is incumbent upon men for the sake of Allah, (upon) every one who is able to undertake the journey to it; and whoever disbelieves, then surely Allah is Self-sufficient, above any need of the worlds.
Say: O people of the Book! why do you disbelieve in the signs of Allah? And Allah is a witness of what you do.
Say: O people of the Book! why do you hinder whoever believes from the way of Allah? You seek (to make) it crooked, while you are witness, and Allah is not heedless of what you do.
Let us contemplate the following issues:
1. Why is ‘bakkah’ mentioned only in the passage and chapter?
2. Why is ‘awwala bayt’ translated as ‘first house’? Is there an alternative translation considering Quranic usage of both words?
3. Why is ‘maqam ibrahim’ only mentioned here and in Ch 2? What does this say about Ch 2?
4. Who are the people of the ‘book’ in this context? What is the ‘book’ being immediately mentioned?
5. What does this passage talk about, considering the answers tothe questions above?