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Word Of The Day: Contumely

Saturday, 25 June 2011

In the name of God, Compassionate, Merciful بسم الله الرحمن الرحيمِ | Peace be with you السلام عليكم

Flip open your Qur'an, find chapter 17, verse 23. That's surat Al-Isra, ayat 23. Read it.
Or I'll read it to you:
'And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], "uff," and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.' (Qur'an, 17:23)

Word • Contumely | noun (plural: Contumelies) 

Meaning • Insolent or insulting language or treatment; contempt rising from arrogance.

Example • 
"The masjid should not be exposed to gossip and contumely."

The word I want you to focus on is "uff", a repelling type of 'ugh' or eye rolling. In eastern languages this "uff" is common and used particularly when exhausted or annoyed. In Urdu, "uff" is equivalent to the colloquial "oh my God", and we've all used that at one time or another. While the "oh em gee" is not particularly offensive or rude - it's an expression, "uff" carries a regretful rudeness when used in the family home.

In this verse 17:23 (remember it), God directly commands humanity to follow the natural order of respect and worship. (1) First worship of Him alone, (2) then ultimate respect of your parents. Good treatment of your parents is held in the same high esteem as worship of God. The controversial part that's difficult to admit though is that we're easily irritated by our parents, especially in our youth when everything from before 1970 was 'not cool'. We easily roll our eyes at their habits, mock the pre-historic eon in which they were raised and reject their commands, which are most often simple encouragement and protections that we just misunderstood. However, sometimes there is legitimate reason to feel misunderstood by your parents, or neglected.

What God is saying is that regardless of how your parents treat you, YOU must never resort to saying the simplest of refutations. And this, boys and girls, is best translated in the English language as contumely.

Here is about where I'd say something snazzy such as "go forth and use it!" but in this instance, for the sake of your relationship with your parents and with God - don't.
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