Symmetry and Equality in the Quran
BY: Senobar Tafazoli
The meaning of "symmetry" in Webster's dictionary is "balanced proportion, beauty of form arising from balanced proportions, the property of remaining invariant under certain changes." The meaning of equality is: "like in quality, nature, or status." There is equality and symmetry all through the Quran. There is symmetry between the flies and the humans, among messengers and messengers, messengers and their followers, male and female. When God speaks of Heaven, usually the next verse is balanced with discussion of Hell and vice versa. The same is true of day and night, the sun and the moon and so on.
God puts the believers and the messengers on the same level: "The messenger has believed in what was sent down to him from his Lord, and so did the believers. They believe in God, His Angels, His scripture, and His messengers: They make no distinction among any of His messengers" [2:285]. Note also that He has put the messengers on the same level as us.
Abraham is on the same level as the other believers: "Peace be upon Abraham . . . we thus reward the righteous. . . . He is one of our believing servants" [37:109, 110, 111].
Moses and Aaron are also put on the same level as the other righteous believers: "Peace be upon Moses and Aaron. . . . We thus reward the righteous. . . . Both of them were among our righteous servants" [37:120, 121, 122].
God places Muhammad on the same level as the other prophets. He does not want us to make any distinction among them: "We have inspired you, as we inspired Noah and the prophets after him. And we inspired Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, the Patriarchs, Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon. And we gave David the Psalms" [4:163].
In the following verse Muhammad and his followers are placed on the same level: ". . . God will not disappoint the prophet and those who believed with him. Their light will radiate in front of them and to their right. They will say, 'our Lord, perfect our light for us and forgive us, you are omnipotent' " [66:8]. Muhammad is put on the same level as other Messengers: "Muhammad was no more than a messenger like the messengers before him. . . " [3:144]. God puts Muhammad and his followers on the same level. God tells Muhammad to say: "Say, "This is my path: I invite to God, on the basis of a clear proof, and so do those who follow me . . .' " [12:108]. We too must not elevate the messengers above righteous believers.
Both Moses and Aaron are given manifest authority, and they are put onthe same level as their followers, ". . . We will strengthen you with your brother, and we will provide you both with manifest authority. Thus, they will not be able to touch either of you. With our miracles, the two of you, together with those who follow you, will be the victors" [28:35]. Moses is in charge yet both of them are prophets and both have been given manifest authority. Also, it is Aaron who can speak well.
Jesus is put on the same level as the righteous: "He will speak to the people from the crib, as well as an adult; he will be one of the righteous" [3:46].
There is symmetry even in criminal justice: "O you who believe,
equivalence is the law decreed for you when dealing with murder the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the female for the female. If one is pardoned by the victim's kin, an appreciative response is in order, and an equitable compensation shall be paid. This is an alleviation from your Lord and mercy. Anyone who transgresses beyond this incurs a painful retribution. Equivalence is a life saving law for you, O you who possess intelligence, that you may be righteous" [2:178,179]. If someone cuts one's ear one cannot turn round and kill him. There must be forgiveness or an equivalent esponse.
All through the Quran we are told to be equitable in every thing we do, even in retribution: "During the Sacred Months aggression may be met by an equivalent response. If they attack you, you may retaliate by inflicting an equitable retribution. You shall observe God and know that God is with the righteous" [2:194].
In the following verse God has perfected His blessings on the family of Jacob, not Joseph alone. That is the same way he had blessed Abraham and Isaac. They were all given the equivalent blessings. "Your Lord has blessed you (Joseph), and has given you good news through your dream. He has perfected His blessings upon you and upon the family of Jacob, as He did for your ancestors Abraham and Isaac before that. Your Lord is Omniscient, Most Wise" [12:6].
God puts Mary and Jesus on the same level. He treats Mary and Jesus the same, calling them both a portent for the whole world. "As for the one who maintained her virginity, we blew into her from our Spirit and thus we made her and her son a portent for the whole world" [21:91].
The following verses put husband and wife on the same level: ". . . You commit no error by mutually agreeing to any adjustments to the dowry. God is Omniscient, Most Wise" [4:24]. Note that the dowry adjustment is made after mutual agreement.
Regarding divorcing a wife: God says not to take back anything you have given her and says: "How could you take it back after you have been intimate with each other . . ." [4:21]. Note it does not say you have been intimate with her -- the women is put on the same level as the man.
The following verse demonstrate equality between male and female: "Their Lord responded to them: ' I never fail to reward any worker among you for any work you do, be you male or female -- you are equal to one another. . ." [3:195].
There is also a parallel between the bad men and bad women and the good men and the good women: "The bad woman for the bad men and the bad men for the bad women, the good women for the good men, and the good men for the good women." [24:26].
The following verse shows the parallel between men and women: "The submitting men, the submitting women, the believing men, the believing women, the obedient men, the obedient women, the truthful men, the truthful women, the steadfast men, the steadfast women, the reverent men, the reverent women, the charitable men, the charitable women, the fasting men, the fasting women, the chaste men, the chaste women, and the men who commemorate God frequently, and the commemorating women; God has prepared for them forgiveness and a great recompense" [33:35].
God spreads human beings through joining male and female; they are equally responsible: "O people observe your Lord; the One who created you from one being, and created from it its mate, then spread from the two many men and women. . ." [4:1].
The following verse is about Joseph and the governor's wife. Joseph is not any better than the governor's wife except that God sent him a proof. Otherwise, "She almost succumbed to him, and he almost succumbed to her, if it were not that he saw a proof from his Lord. We thus diverted evil and sin away from him, for he was one of our devoted servants" [12:24].
Speaking of property transactions, God tells us mutually acceptable transactions are permitted: "O you who believe, do not consume each other's properties illicitly -- only mutually acceptable transactions are permitted. . ." [4:21].
On the subject of idol worship ,God brings the idol to the level of a fly, telling us that both are helpless. "O people, here is a parable that you must ponder carefully: the idols you set up beside God can never create a fly, even if they banded together to do so . Furthermore, if the fly steals anything from them, they cannot recover it; weak is the pursuer and the pursued" [22:73].
God tells us that the believers and those who are well founded in knowledge believe in the Quran and what was revealed before the Quran, putting both groups on the same level: "As for those among them who are well founded in knowledge and the believers, they believe in what wasrevealed to you, and in what was revealed before you. . ." [4:162].
The Queen of Sheba places herself on the same level as Solomon: ". . . My lord, I have wronged my soul. I now submit with Solomon to God Lord of the universe" [27:44]. Note that she does not say she will follow Solomon.
God in His infinite grace makes symmetrical statements by bringing Himself to our level. The following five verses demonstrate this:
". . . God supports those who support Him. God is Powerful Almighty" [22:40].
". . . If you support God He will support you, and strengthen your footholds" [47:7].
"O you who believe, if you revert from your religion, then God will substitute in your place people whom He loves and who love Him. . ." [5:54].
"As for the early vanguards who immigrated (Muhajerin ) and the supporters who gave them refuge (Ansar) and those who followed them in righteousness. God is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him" [9:100].
"Their reward (SENOBAR: FROM?)at their Lord is the garden of Eden with flowing streams, wherein they abide forever. God is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him. . ." [98:8].
"As for you O content soul . . . Return to your lord, pleased and pleasing" [89:27, 28].
God in His infinite grace has made Submission a symmetrical state.
"You shall remember Me, that I may remember you, and be thankful to Me; do not be unappreciative" [2:152].