Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Prophet Dawood/David's Adultery in Islam: Quranic reference ?

In quran 38, we read an interesting story:


اصْبِرْ عَلَى مَا يَقُولُونَ وَاذْكُرْ عَبْدَنَا دَاوُودَ ذَا الْأَيْدِ...  

17. Have patience at what they say, and remember Our Servant David, the man of strength:
C4167. David was a man of exceptional strength, for even as a raw youth, he slew the Philistine giant Goliath. See 2:249-252, and notes 286-287.

Before that fight, he was mocked by his enemies and chidden even by his own elder brother. But he relied upon Allah, and won through, and afterwards became king.

... إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ ﴿١٧﴾

for he ever turned (to Allah).
إِنَّا سَخَّرْنَا الْجِبَالَ...  

18. It was We that made the hills declare,
C4168. See n. 2733 to 21:79.

All nature sings in unison and celebrates the praises of Allah.

David was given the gift of music and psalmody, and therefore the hills and birds are expressed as singing Allah's praises in unison with him.
The special hours when the hills and groves echo the songs of birds are in the evening and at dawn, when also the birds gather together, for those are respectively their roosting hours and the hours of their concerted flight for the day.
... مَعَهُ يُسَبِّحْنَ بِالْعَشِيِّ وَالْإِشْرَاقِ ﴿١٨﴾


in unison with him, Our Praises, at eventide and at break of day.
وَالطَّيْرَ مَحْشُورَةً...  

19. And the birds gathered (in assemblies):
... كُلٌّ لَّهُ أَوَّابٌ ﴿١٩﴾

all with him did turn (to Allah).
C4169. Note the mutual echo between this verse and verse 17 above.

The Arabic awwab is common to both, and it furnishes the rhyme or rhythm of the greater part of the Surah, thus echoing the main theme: 'Turn to Allah in Prayer and Praise, for that is more than any worldly power or wisdom.'

وَشَدَدْنَا مُلْكَهُ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْحِكْمَةَ وَفَصْلَ الْخِطَابِ ﴿٢٠

20. We strengthened his kingdom, and gave him wisdom and sound judgment in speech and decision.
C4170. Cf. n. 2732 to 21:79 for David's sound judgment in decisions; he could also express himself aptly, as his Psalms bear witness.

وَهَلْ أَتَاكَ نَبَأُ الْخَصْمِ ...
21. Has the Story of the Disputants reached thee?
C4171. This story or Parable is not found in the Bible, unless the vision here described be considered as equivalent to Nathan's parable in 11 Samuel, 11, and 12. Baydawi would seem to favour that view, but other Commentators reject it.

David was a pious man, and he had a well-guarded private chamber (mihrab) for Prayer and Praise.

... إِذْ تَسَوَّرُوا الْمِحْرَابَ ﴿٢١﴾

Behold, they climbed over the wall of the private chamber;
إِذْ دَخَلُوا عَلَى دَاوُودَ فَفَزِعَ مِنْهُمْ...  

22. When they entered the presence of David, and he was terrified of them,
C4172. David used to retire to his private chamber at stated times for his devotions. One day, suddenly, his privacy was invaded by two men, who had obtained access by climbing over a wall. David was frightened at the apparition. But they said: "We have come to seek thy justice as king: we are brothers, and we have a quarrel, which we wish thee to decide."

... قَالُوا لَا تَخَفْ...  

they said: "Fear not:
... خَصْمَانِ بَغَى بَعْضُنَا عَلَى بَعْضٍ...  

We are two disputants, one of whom has wronged the other:
... فَاحْكُم بَيْنَنَا بِالْحَقِّ...  

decide now between us with truth,
... وَلَا تُشْطِطْ وَاهْدِنَا إِلَى سَوَاء الصِّرَاطِ ﴿٢٢﴾

and treat us not with injustice, but guide us to the even Path.
إِنَّ هَذَا أَخِي لَهُ تِسْعٌ وَتِسْعُونَ نَعْجَةً وَلِيَ نَعْجَةٌ وَاحِدَةٌ...  

23. "This man is my brother;

he has nine and ninety ewes, and I have (but) one:
C4173. The brother who was most aggrieved said: "This my brother has a flock of ninety-nine sheep, and I have but one; yet he wants me to give up my one sheep to his keeping; and moreover he is not even fair-spoken. He talks like one meditating mischief, and he has not even the grace to ask as an equal, or one sharing in a business or an inheritance. What shall I do?"

... فَقَالَ أَكْفِلْنِيهَا وَعَزَّنِي فِي الْخِطَابِ ﴿٢٣﴾

Yet he says, 'Commit her to my care,' and is (moreover) harsh to me in speech."
قَالَ لَقَدْ ظَلَمَكَ بِسُؤَالِ نَعْجَتِكَ إِلَى نِعَاجِهِ...  

24. (David) said:

"He has undoubtedly wronged thee in demanding thy (single) ewe to be added to his (flock of) ewes:
C4174. The circumstances were mysterious; the accusation was novel; it was not clear why the unjust brother should also have come with the complainant, risking his life in climbing the wall to evade the guard, and he certainly said nothing.

David took them literally, and began to preach about the falsehood and the fraud of men, who should be content with what they have, but who always covet more. (R).

... وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنْ الْخُلَطَاء لَيَبْغِي بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ...  

truly many are the Partners (in business) who wrong each other:
C4175. Especially, said David, is it wrong for brothers or men in partnership to take advantage of each other; but how few are the men who are righteous?

He had in his mind his own devotion and justice. But lo and behold! the men disappeared as mysteriously as they had come.

It was then that David realized that the incident had been a trial or temptation-a test of his moral or spiritual fibre! Great though he was as a king, and just though he was as a judge, the moment that he thought of these things in self-pride, his merit vanished.
In himself he was as other men: it was Allah's grace that gave him wisdom and justice, and he should have been humble in the sight of Allah.
... إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَقَلِيلٌ مَّا هُمْ...  


not so do those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and how few are they?"...
... وَظَنَّ دَاوُودُ أَنَّمَا فَتَنَّاهُ...  

And David gathered that We had tried him:
... فَاسْتَغْفَرَ رَبَّهُ ...

he asked forgiveness of his Lord,
C4176. Judged by ordinary standards, David had done no wrong; he was a good and just king.

Judged by the highest standard of those nearest to Allah (Muqarraban, 56:11), the thought of self-pride and self-righteousness had to be washed off from him by his own act of self-realisation and repentance.

This was freely accepted by Allah, as the next verse shows.
... وَخَرَّ رَاكِعًا وَأَنَابَ ﴿٢٤﴾


fell down, bowing (in prostration), and turned (to Allah in repentance).
C4176a. Some commentators say that David's fault here was his hastiness in judging before hearing the case of the other party. When he realized his lapse, he fell down in repentance. [Eds.].

فَغَفَرْنَا لَهُ ذَلِكَ...  

25. So We forgave him this (lapse):
... وَإِنَّ لَهُ عِندَنَا لَزُلْفَى وَحُسْنَ مَآبٍ ﴿٢٥﴾

he enjoyed, indeed, a Near Approach to Us, and a beautiful place of (final) Return.


يَا دَاوُودُ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَاكَ خَلِيفَةً فِي الْأَرْضِ...  

26. O David!

We did indeed make thee a vicegerent on earth:
C4177. Cf. 2:30, and n. 47.

David's kingly power, and the gifts of wisdom, justice, psalmody, and prophethood were bestowed on him as a trust. These great gifts were not to be a matter of self-glory.

... فَاحْكُم بَيْنَ النَّاسِ بِالْحَقِّ...  

so judge thou between men in truth (and justice):
... وَلَا تَتَّبِعِ الْهَوَى فَيُضِلَّكَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ...  
nor follow thou the lusts (of thy heart), for they will mislead thee from the Path of Allah:
C4178. As stated in n. 4171 above, this vision and its moral are nowhere to be found in the Bible. Those who think they see a resemblance to the Parable of the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel, 12:1-12) have nothing to go upon but the mention of the "one ewe" here and the "one little ewe-lamb" in Nathan's Parable.

The whole story is here different, and the whole atmosphere is different. The Biblical title given to David, "a man after God's own heart" is refuted by the Bible itself in the scandalous tale of heinous crimes attributed to David in chapters 11 and 12 of 2 Samuel, viz., adultery, fraudulent dealing with one of his own servants, and the contriving of his murder. Further, in chapter 13, we have the story of rapes, incest, and fratricide in David's own household! The fact is that passages like those are mere chroniques scandaleuses, i.e., narratives of scandalous crimes of the grossest character.

The Muslim idea of David is that of a man just and upright, endowed with all the virtues, in whom even the least thought of self-elation has to be washed off by repentance and forgiveness. (R).
... إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَضِلُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ...


for those who wander astray from the Path of Allah, is a Penalty Grievous,
... بِمَا نَسُوا يَوْمَ الْحِسَابِ ﴿٢٦
for that they forget the Day of Account.

*The translation and commentary is taken from Yusuf Ali translation.