You who have faith, do not say (to the Prophet), “Rai’na (listen to us),” but instead say, “Unzur-naa (have patience with us),” and pay careful attention. Painful punishment is for disbelievers. Disbelievers, be they people of the Book or polytheists, do not like to see any good come to you from your Sustainer, whereas God chooses whom He likes to shower with mercy; He is the Lord of Infinite Grace!
Whatever message God overrides or causes to be forgotten (e.g., Mosaic Law for example), God brings one better than that or like it (e.g., Qur’anic Law). Don’t you realize that God has power over all things? Don’t you also realize that the heavens and the earth belong to God and that besides God you have no friend nor helper?
The word “rai’na” means to give ear to or to listen, but with a slight change in accent, “ra’ina” means one is foolish or intellectually unsound. The root word of “rai’na” is “ra’y,” meaning to pasture or to be mindful, and the root word of “ra’ina” is “ra’n,” meaning to be foolish. The Jewish neighbors in Medina during this time would change words to make fun of Muslims or distort the true intent of the words. The word “unzur-naa,” which means wait for us or grant us delay, cannot be distorted like “rai’na.” While all people of faith, Muslims included, are forbidden to tell lies, e.g., to distort one’s comments, it is also important to use clear, concise expression that leaves less room for distortion. In our age of rampant public relations campaigns, when words are deliberately used to create impressions and assertions that have double or alternate meanings, this verse is a strong reminder of what our ethical standards should be for communication, a critical form of human dialogue.
This is in response to the assertion of the Jewish people that another revelation was not necessary and to their being unhappy that the last revelation did not come to them, as addressed in verse 105. Some people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, have misinterpreted this sentence to mean that the Qur’an has been an abrogation or replacement of one verse with another. There is no credible evidence for this, nor is there any saying of the Prophet regarding such abrogation or replacement. It is important to understand the universal themes of unification and unity in God’s message to mankind and to corroborate the fact that all prophets and all revelations are from the same source and, hence, are mutually consistent.
These verses make an appeal to our sense of understanding and fairness that we acknowledge God’s blessings and mercy and His way of conveying and confirming His revelations. There has been an ongoing evolution of human thought, intellectual capability, and societal structure and its governance since the beginning of human existence and of our continuous quest for higher ground for human existence since its beginning. Keeping pace with that, God continued to send messengers with guidance specific to time and place, as needed. The final message (the Qur’an) came and is being preserved to provide a sound basis and fundamentals of belief to guide mankind going forward. The Qur’an replaces as appropriate or augments aspects of all previous scriptures.
The Qur’an unifies the true guidance from God with mankind and encourages us to follow it with care and commitment. It is equally important to understand the fundamental principles and values on which Qur’anic instructions and recommendations are based, as each generation must learn how to put them into practice in the context of their time and environment. The prophetic tradition says that in each century a reformer will come to the community to provide continued contextual understanding and application of Qur’anic instruction, especially with respect to human interactions and community affairs while the fundamental elements of faith such as the Oneness of God, worship/service, and other pillars of Islam stay constant.
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*Definitions can be found in the Glossary*