Today’s section picks up some ideas discussed previously.  Men are to treat their wives with respect (4:127).  “Highhandedness” or callous disrespect shown as meanness and spite is grounds for divorce regardless of the gender of the offender, unless reconciliation is possible (4:128).  Polygamy will make fair treatment of all spouses next to impossible — do you think?  (4:129)  Repentance brings forgiveness, but if you are so depraved that you would not even ask, then there is nothing we can do to help such a sinner (4:143).  I am finding the Qur’an to be very repetitive. 

What struck me most about this section is what I would call “theology.”  Theology is typically defined as the “study of God.”  In his magisterial Theology of the Old Testament, Walter Brueggemann calls it the “words” or “testimony about God.”  The best places to go for theology are in the many statements describing the nature of God: “God is . . . , God does . . . , God is a . . . .”  Today’s passage has several such statements.  What kind of god is this Allah?

  • He is well aware of whatever good you do. (4:127)
  • He is well aware of all that you do. (4:128)
  • He is most forgiving and merciful. (4:129)
  • He is infinite in plenty, and all wise. (4:130)
  • Everything in the heavens and earth belongs to God. (4:131)
  • He is self-sufficient, worthy of praise. (4:131)
  • He is enough for those who trust in him. (4:132)
  • He hears and sees everything. (4:134)
  • Whether the person is rich or poor, God can best take care of both. (4:135)
  • God is fully aware of what you do. (4:135)
  • In reality all power is God’s to give. (4:139)
  • God always rewards gratitude and He knows everything. (4:147)
  • He is all hearing and all knowing. (4:148)
  • God is most forgiving and powerful. (4:149)

Most of all I am struck by the extreme elevation that is given to Allah — all-powerful, all-knowing, sees everything, fully aware.  There is no equal to Allah.  And you can’t sneak one past him either.  At the same time, he sees all that you do that is good too, and if others do not appreciate you, rewards come from the all-seeing One.  His forgiveness can overcome all, at least if you want it.  This God is very big.  Big is good. 

Can He be small?  Will He condescend to our level?  Is it ridiculous or even sacrilegious to want a God who is personal as well? 

The Arabic word says "Allah"