Lecture by Yasir Qadhi | Transcribed by Sameera
This lecture is brought to you by the Memphis Islamic Center (MIC). For more information about MIC, please visit www.memphisislamiccenter.org
Our shaykh just finished reciting Sūrat'l-Baqarah, and as we know, the ending of Sūrat'l-Baqarah is a very blessed portion of the Qur'ān. The Qur'ān is the most blessed of all speech. “The most blessed of all speech is the Speech of Allāh.” Within the Speech of Allāh, certain portions are more blessed than others. For example, the greatest sūrah in the Qur'ān is Sūrat'l-Fātiḥah. The greatest verse in the Qur'ān is āyat'l-kursi. Sūrat'l-Ikhlāṣ equals one-third of the Qur'ān. And so on and so forth. Within the Qur'ān, certain phrases or certain āyāt are more powerful than others even though the whole Qur'ān is more powerful and more blessed than any other speech. Therefore, of those blessings and extra special verses are the last two verses of Sūrat'l-Baqarah.
There are a number of traditions narrated about the blessings of these two verses. Of them is the ḥadīth in Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhāri in which the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whoever recites these two verses before he goes to sleep, they will be sufficient for him.” What does it mean that they will be sufficient for him? Scholars have differed as to what it exactly means when he (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “it will be sufficient for him.” Some scholars said that if this person doesn't pray tahajjud, inshā'Allāh he will get enough reward to get by because the average ṣaḥābi would pray tahajjud, so the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said that if he reads the last two verses, alḥamdulillāh it is just sufficient.
Other scholars have said that they will protect him against Shayṭān. Other scholars said that it will be enough of a blessing for him to protect him from the fire of Hell. The interpretations go on, but the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) left it open and said, “Whoever reads these two verses before he goes to sleep, it will be enough for him.” Therefore, it is of the Sunnah of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) and it is of the sunnah of those who follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) that they recite these two verses every single night before they go to sleep.
Of the blessings narrated about these two verses is also the ḥadīth reported in Sunan Al-Nasā'i in which the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, “I have been given from the treasure (kanz) that is present under the Throne of Allāh these two verses.” The ḥadīth says that there is a treasure (kanz) under the Throne of Allāh. Allāh has a Throne, and Allāh has mentioned this Throne in many verses of the Qur'ān. There is an 'Arsh and there is a Kursi. Under this – which is 'ilm'l-ghayb and we'll never understand all of this – there is a treasure. We know that the 'Arsh and the Kursi are the highest creation. Jannah itself is underneath the 'Arsh. Under the 'Arsh there is a treasure (kanz). What is in that kanz? We have no idea. All that we know is that we have one thing from there on this earth. Our Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, “I have been given from the treasure (kanz) that is present under the Throne of Allāh the last two verses of Sūrat'l-Baqarah.”
In a ḥadīth in the Musnad of imām Aḥmad, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, “When I went up on the journey of isrā' wa'l-mi'rāj, Allāh gave me three things: He commanded me to pray five times a day, He gave me the last two verses of Sūrat'l-Baqarah, and He promised me that anybody from my ummah who didn't do any major sins would be forgiven and go to Jannah.” The minor sins will be forgiven if you avoid the major sins. These are the three things the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) was given directly when he went up on the journey of isrā' wa'l-mi'rāj. From this, some scholars have said – this is a theory and only Allāh knows if this is true or not – the entire Qur'ān was revealed through Jibrīl to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) except for the last two verses of Sūrat'l-Baqarah.
When he went up to isrā' wa'l-mi'rāj, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) and Jibrīl were going together and Jibrīl said, “I don't have permission to go beyond this. You have to proceed on your own.” That is when Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla) says the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) was closer than two bows' length. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) went to a place where even Jibrīl was not allowed to go. He went higher than any created being, and Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla) spoke to him directly from behind the veil as he spoke to Mūsa on this earth from behind a veil, but our Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) went up and Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla) spoke to him there whereas Allāh spoke to Mūsa on Mount Sinai.
The point is that no one was an intermediary between Allāh and the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) when the prayer was legislated, and in the same ḥadīth, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, “I was given the last two verses of Sūrat'l-Baqarah. From this, many of the scholars of tafsīr and sciences of the Qur'ān have said that these two verses were given directly – i.e. Jibrīl was not an intermediary, Allāh recited these verses directly, and the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) came down with them directly. This would of course, therefore, mean that this has a very special blessing. These were the only two verses that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) was given directly without the intermediary of Jibrīl.
What is the tafsīr of these verses? Very briefly:
“Āmana rasūlu…” to the end are the actual last two verses. Don't get confused. “Lillāhi mā fi'l-samāwāti wa mā fi'l-arḍ…” is so connected in meaning that every time you read them in ṣalāh, you actually begin with this āyah.
“Lillāhi mā fi'l-samāwāti wa mā fi'l-arḍ… (To Allāh belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth.)”
When Allāh says “to Allāh belongs,” ownership here implies many things. Firstly, it implies creation because ultimate Ownership necessitates creation. What do I mean by this? None of us are truly owners of anything, and we simply transfer ownerships. We don't actually 'own.' When you buy your car, you don't make it, but you simply transfer the ownership to yourself. Even if you make a house, you make it with material that you didn't create. When Allāh says, “To Allāh belongs everything,” this means He doesn't owe a favor to anybody else. This means the creation is completely coming from Him and His Speech and His qudra. He doesn't owe anybody anything. Allāh is the ultimate Creator.
When Allāh says “to Allāh belongs everything,” this also means that He has the right to do as He pleases and no one can interfere. When Allāh says “to Allāh belongs everything,” this means that Allāh is the King of kings and whatever He decrees will take place and nobody can come between Him and His Decree. When Allāh says “to Allāh belongs everything in the heavens and earth,” it means that His Knowledge encompasses everything. How can the owner not be aware of the object that he owns? When Allāh owns everything, then His Knowledge encompasses everything. As Allāh says in the Qur'ān: “Doesn't the Khāliq know?” Allāh owns everything, so He has to know everything as well.
Allāh says, “Everything in the heavens and earth….” We know that there are seven heavens. Allāh has created seven heavens in layers over each other. Many people get confused: sab'ā samāwāt are not the Jannāt. The heavens – meaning in English what we call Paradise – is different from the samāwāt. The samāwāt and the Jannāt are different. The Jannāt are in the highest heaven, and we live in the lowest heaven. Everything around us is in the lowest heaven. The furthest star we can see is in the lowest of these skies. Beyond this is a world we have no idea about, which is the sixth heaven. Beyond that is the fifth and then the fourth. Mankind's knowledge will never encompass even the lowest heaven, so forget about the others. The sab'ā samāwāt are not Jannāt but are literally skies, heavens one after the other. Paradise is something else, which is in the highest of the heavens.
“…if you declare and make open what is inside of you, or you keep it hidden, Allāh will call you to account.”
Muḥāsiba, which is to call to account, and to make a check. An accountant in Arabic is called a muḥāsib. Ḥisāb means to know and be aware of and take account of. Allāh is aware. Allāh is saying that He knows our thoughts and will call muḥāsiba of them.
Notice Allāh does not end the verse with “wallāhu'l-Ghafūr Al-Rahīm” because it doesn't make sense here. Allāh is saying, “I am going to punish and I am going to forgive,” so what characteristic combines punishment and forgiveness? Power. Allāh says, “I am capable of doing anything. If I want to punish, I can punish. If I want to forgive, I can forgive.”
This verse came down before the last two. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) recited it to the ṣaḥābah. In Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhāri, we learn that the ṣaḥābah must have had a meeting and talked about this verse, and then they came back to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) and said, “Ya Rasūlullāh, now with this verse Allāh has told us to do something we cannot do. Allāh told us to pray, and we prayed. Allāh told us to fast, and we fasted. Allāh told us to give zakāh, and we gave. Allāh told us to go for jihād, and we went. Now Allāh is saying that even our thoughts are going to be called into account? We cannot do this, ya Rasūlullāh!” The Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, “Do you wish to say like the people of Mūsa said to him that they cannot do this and reject the commandment of Allāh? Do not say this. This is not the attitude of the believer. Rather, say 'sami'na wa aṭ'ana. Ghufrānaka rabbana wa ilayka'l-maṣīr.'” Notice that the last two verses have not come down yet. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) is telling them that their attitude is wrong and that they have just heard Allāh say something and they said they cannot do it, which is wrong.
Rather, their attitude should be: We hear and we obey. We ask your maghfirah, O Allāh, and to You we return. After the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said this, then Allāh revealed these two verses literally quoting the Prophet's (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) statement and making it part of the Qur'ān. Initially this phrase was not part of the Qur'ān, but this comes from the īmān of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) that this is the attitude of the believer, and that which came from him actually came from Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla). Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla) then reaffirmed that spirit and attitude and the next two verses were revealed which are the blessed verses.
The Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) did not know how to explain the verse and told them not to have this attitude, but he didn't offer the actual meaning. He told them that this is not the right level of īmān. When he demonstrated real īmān, Allāh praised him: “The Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) has believed in whatever Allāh has revealed.” This is the reality of īmān. “We hear and we obey.” The real believers will also have this attitude, and they will have īmān.
“The Prophet and the believers believe in Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla), the angels, the books, the messengers…”
The reason why Sūrat'l-Baqarah is finishing with this is because the whole sūrah talks about Mūsa, 'Īsa, and Ibrāhīm. Many different prophets are mentioned. At the end, Allāh is saying: “The attitude of the believer is that we don't make tafrīq (reject some and accept others).” Notice the verb here is farq and not fadl because there is fadl. Allāh says in the Qur'ān that there is tafdīl between the prophets but there is no tafrīq. This is a fundamental principle of ahl'l-sunnah wa'l-jamā'ah. Our Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) is the best prophet and has the fadl, and Ibrāhīm, Mūsa, 'Īsa, and Nūḥ have the highest ranks. The other prophets are not to their level. There is tafdīl but there is no tafrīq. They are all prophets of Allāh, and Allāh is saying that all prophets are the same when it comes to the message that they are preaching.
Notice that our religion is based on two pillars: 'ilm and 'amal. Knowledge and action. As for the 'ilm, sami'na. As for the action, aṭ'ana.
Let me translate that for those who don't understand the Arabic phrases. Our religion is based upon two pillars: knowledge and action. These two pillars are fundamental for the believer and you cannot have Islam without them. You have to know the truth and then act upon it. This is what the last two verses of Sūrat'l-Baqarah say. “We hear the 'ilm and obey with our bodies and our actions.”
Ghufrānaka is the verbal noun and is in some ways more powerful than saying ighfirlana because it means “Your forgiveness, O Allāh,” and it doesn't mean “Forgive me, O Allāh.” Ighfir means 'forgive me.' Ghufrānak means 'Your forgiveness.' It is as if we are invoking: “O Allāh, we want Your forgiveness.” Therefore – without making it too complicated – it is tangible and something that is close by and something that we want. This is more powerful than saying “Forgive us, O Allāh.” It is as if you are invoking the forgiveness that is right there, and you want it.
The Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said this phrase, and Allāh confirmed and affirmed it. From a ḥadīth, it was upgraded to the Qur'ān. The Prophet's (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) attitude was embodied in the Qur'ān.
Allāh then confirms that what the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said was correct and says, “la yukallifullāhu nafsan illa wus'aha (Allāh will not put more on you than you can bear).” No soul will be burdened with more than it can bear.
Notice that the first verse says “yuḥāsibkum billāh” and muḥāsiba means Allāh takes account of it. This verse was not abrogated, and Allāh will still take account of it. Allāh knows your thoughts. Then Allāh says: “Allāh will forgive whomever He wants.” The verse later on clarifies and the ḥadīth clarifies that anything that is in your soul of a thought will be forgiven. When you think of something bad and don't act upon it, Allāh will forgive it. The verse has not been abrogated, but the ṣaḥābah misunderstood it. In their attitude, they were saying that they could not do this, which the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said was not the right attitude.
The bottom line: the verse is as it is. Muḥāsiba does not mean punishment. Muḥāsiba means to take into account and that Allāh knows about it. Just because Allāh knows about it doesn't mean that you will be punished. For example, if you have an opportunity to steal money or you see some evil in the street and felt something bad in your heart, then that thought will be forgiven. If you acted upon it, then you will get the sin.
There is a duality here. Laha means 'for you' and 'alayha means 'against you.' Therefore, Allāh is saying: “I am not going to punish you for something I have done but rather for something you have done. I will not put you in circumstances that are not of your doing. You have done this yourself. For you will be all that you earn.” Kasaba means 'to earn.'
“…and against you will be that which you have earned.” Kasaba and iktasaba are not the same structure. You can see the difference when you read it. Iktasaba has an added effort because there is an extra letter there. Kasaba has no such effort. What Allāh is saying is: “For you will be the good which is easy to earn. You have to struggle and fight to do sin.” Getting sin is more difficult than getting good. Therefore, Allāh is saying that the basic nature of human beings is to want to do good. The paths for good are easy and many. Against the soul is that which it strove to attain and had to fight to get. To do sin is not easy; to do good is easy. There are more paths to good than there are to sin.
Every time there is a Qur'ānic du'ā', our īmān should boost up to the skies because Allāh is telling us how to make du'ā'. Allāh is telling us what we should say to Him in order to get our goal. Therefore, the Qur'ānic du'ā's are the most powerful du'ā's.
Mu'ākhadah and muḥāsaba are two separate things. Mu'ākhadah means punishment. Here Allāh is saying: “O Allāh, don't punish us.” The first verb was yuḥāsibkum (Allāh will make ḥisāb). This is a contrast. Allāh is not going to punish you for your thoughts even though ḥisāb will be made of your thoughts. Ḥisāb hear means that Allāh knows them but will not punish for them. “O our Lord, do not punish us.”
There are two ways of committing a fault: unintentionally and intentionally. Nasīna here means that you forgot. For example, if it was time to pray and you forgot to pray. Akhṭā'na is making a mistake and you knew it was a mistake. We ask Allāh for both intentional and unintentional.
“O our Lord, don't put on us iṣra…” Iṣr means a very strict treaty or law. Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla) says that our Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) came to remove their iṣr. What is iṣr? Scholars said that this is the strict laws that were placed upon the previous nations. If you compare our Shari'ah to the Shari'ah of the previous generations such as the Orthodox Jews, theirs is such a difficult and complicated Shari'ah. We ask Allāh to not make our lives difficult with that burden. Our Shari'ah is the easiest Shari'ah. The Christians and Jews used to fast around 22 hours and only had two or three hours to eat. Allāh made it easier for us.
“O our Lord, do not place upon us that which we don't have the power to bear.” Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, “Every time you make this du'ā', Allāh says, 'I have done so, and I will do so.'”
There are three specific verbs. We ask Allāh's mu'afaf for our sins. We ask Allāh's maghfirah for our shortcomings in our obligatory deeds. We ask Allāh's raḥmah for whatever is left of this life and in death in the qabr. Wa fu'anna is for our sins. We shouldn't have done thinks and ask Allāh's 'afuww. Waghfirlana is for falling short in our duties. We didn't pray as we were supposed to. We didn't fast as we were supposed to. We didn't read the Qur'ān as we were supposed to. Warḥamna is for all that is left in our lives. Other scholars have said wa fu'anna is what is between us and our Lord – our private sins. Waghfirlana is our sins between us and other people of humanity. Warḥamna is for the remainder of our lives. All of these are correct interpretations. We ask Allāh for his 'afuww and His maghfirah and His raḥmah.
“You are our Mawla…” Mawla is one who is closest to us. The actual meaning of wali is the one who is close to you. Allāh says: “Allāh is the wali of the true believers.” The mawla is the one who is closest to you, and the meaning of closeness here is love, protection, and taking care of.
“You are our Master who loves us. You are our Owner who will protect us.” This is the mawla. This is why the freed slave calls his master mawlaya because his master protects him and owns him and nourishes him and protects him.
“You are the Ultimate Mawla, O Allāh.” In the famous incident in the battle of Uhud, Abu Sufyan and the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) and the ṣaḥābah were having a shouting match at the end of the battle. The last thing Abu Sufyan said was, “We have the famous idol of 'Uzzah. You have no 'Uzzah.” Umar (raḍyAllāhu 'anhu) said, “What should we say, ya Rasūlullāh?” The Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, “Say to him, 'Allāh is our Mawla; you have no mawla.” Because Allāh is our Mawla, it means that Allāh will take care of us. Allāh will provide for us. Allāh will protect us. That is what a wali does.
This is a short tafsīr of these last verses of Sūrat'l-Baqarah. Let us make it a habit inshā'Allāh to recite it regularly and frequently, especially every single night before going to sleep as was the Sunnah of our Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam).