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Ramadan Reflections: A Daily Journey Through the Qur’an Juz 1

Ali Shehata

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For all articles up to and including this one, click “Ramadan Reflections: The Daily Journey

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Alhamdulillah that Allah has allowed us to reach another blessed month of Ramadan, a month in which the gates of Paradise are opened wide and the gates of the Hellfire are shut, a month wherein we get closer to Him by fasting through the day and praying in the night, a month which contains a night more virtuous than a thousand months, a month whose good is such that the one who is deprived of its blessings is truly deprived. Alhamdulillah for the Qur’an, a magnificent recital which was revealed to our beloved Messenger Muhammad (saas) in this excellent month so that we might read and ponder the words of our Lord Most High. And in honor of this great month we devote more time to His message to human-kind by reading it and practicing the Sunnah of completing at least one full reading within the month. Yet, although so many Muslims are anxious to complete the entire recital of the Qur’an in this month, they in turn also neglect one of the most important aspects of the Qur’an – to reflect and ponder upon its meanings so that our hearts, manners, statements and actions fall in line with the pleasure of Allah. As Allah has stated in His Book:

 

وَقَالَ الرَّسُولُ يَا رَبِّ إِنَّ قَوْمِي اتَّخَذُوا هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ مَهْجُورًا

Then the Messenger will say: “O my Lord! Truly my people deserted this Qur’ân (neither listened to it, nor acted on its laws and orders). [25:30]

And elsewhere,

 

أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَى قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا

Do they not then earnestly seek to understand the Qur’an, or are their hearts locked up by them? [47:24]

In an effort to ensure that this Ramadan doesn’t pass us by without us acting upon the command of Allah to understand and consequently implement the Qur’an in our lives, a series will be written everyday reflecting upon the meanings and applications of the Qur’an – a small, concisely written daily reminder one juz’ (1/30th of the Qur’an) at a time to help us come away from this Ramadan with real and lasting changes in our relationship with Allah and His Book. They will be written so as to be read in a few minutes and thus cannot be so comprehensive, but insha’Allah using only what will drive home the point in the easiest and most efficient manner so as to allow Muslims to read them daily and act upon them insha’Allah. The major difficulty in this endeavor shall be what selection to use – how to select one or two ayaat from every juz’ to discuss, but with Allah is all success and insha’Allah each selection will provide its benefit. May Allah bring benefit and guidance from this effort and allow our hearts to come back to the beauty, wisdom and light of His words so that we become from among His righteous slaves and those who will inherit the highest Gardens on the Day when we meet Him – ameen.

Part One – Surat al-Fatihah and Baqarah

Building on the message in the introduction to this series, Allah makes mention of the matter of who truly benefits from the Qur’an in the opening to surat al-Baqarah, saying:

 

ذَلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهِ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

This is the Book; in it there is no doubt, it is guidance to those who have taqwa; [2:2]

Commentators on the Qur’an have understood the meaning of His statement, the Book, to mean that this is the Book the way that someone today would say, “This is the real deal.” This is no ordinary book, not a book you casually gloss over while lounging on the couch or waiting for the doctor. This book is a serious matter because its matter is guidance – it deals with that which will save you on the Day of Judgment and will bring you eternal bliss.

To that end, Allah issues one of many challenges found in the Qur’an, and in fact often pertaining to the Qur’an itself – there is no doubt in it. A bold statement for sure, but a challenge nonetheless for those who wish to sift through it ayat by ayat, word by word, letter by letter – there is no doubt in it and thus you can be secure. It is no coincidence that the word Imaan – often loosely translated as faith or belief – comes from the Arabic root word amana which means to be secure. Thus true “faith” in Islam is founded upon security and certainty and can never be a “blind faith”. This leads us to the final words in this glorious ayah – it is guidance to those who have taqwa.

So we have a wondrous book, unlike any other. In its pages you will find no doubt, but instead it leads to true security of the soul. And this book is guidance; but not to anyone – only to those who have taqwa. The root meaning of taqwa is to avoid what one dislikes, or to shield yourself from that which you fear. Its usage in Islam means to protect or shield yourself from the punishment of Allah. The illustrious Companion and scholar Ibn ‘Abbaas explained that those who have taqwa as being, “They are the believers who avoid associating partners with Allah and who obey Him and His commandments.” Ibn `Abbaas also said that they are, “Those who fear Allah’s punishment, which would result if they abandoned the true guidance that they recognize and know. They also hope in Allah’s mercy by believing in what He revealed.”

In this clear description, Ibn ‘Abbaas illustrates for us a very important concept regarding the state of taqwa: it is always linked to worship (‘ibaadah) in the Qur’an. Worship can be defined as, doing what Allah has commanded and avoiding what He has prohibited. Worship has also been defined including all actions that Allah loves and approves of, whether they are actions of the heart, the tongue or the body.

Thus, benefiting from the Qur’an requires sincerity and determination from the Muslim. Once again, it is not any book and cannot be read as you read any book. It must be read in a way similar to the way a person reads a map when he is lost and on the verge of death. Such a person will throw all of his focus into reading the map before him in hopes of rescuing himself from disaster, and in the same way we approach the Qur’an with seriousness to avoid falling into heedlessness and consequently misguidance which leads to Hell. One must then approach the Qur’an with a heart ready to understand and ready to implement the guidance it discovers – otherwise what would separate this reading from any other? Certainly a beautiful and melodic voice is not the distinction that is needed, but the attitude is the real key. To that end, we find another ayah building on this issue:

إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَذِكْرَى لِمَن كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ

Verily in this is a Message for any that has a heart and understanding or who gives ear and earnestly witnesses (the truth). [50:37]

This ayah emphasizes the above mentioned meanings by informing the reader that only with comprehension and attentiveness does a person benefit from the Qur’an. Ad-Dahhak, one of the great scholars of Qur’anic tafsir, commented on this ayah, “The Arabs would say that someone has given ear when he hears with his ears, while his heart is present and not absent.” And Ibn Qutaibah said: “Listen to the book of Allah whilst your heart and mind is attentive, not neglectful nor distant.” Yet many will recite verses with their hearts distant, such that their eyes fall upon verses of punishment yet they are not affected or stopped, whereas the Companions would follow the Sunnah of our beloved Messenger Muhammad (saas) by pausing at these verse – sometimes to weep, other times to ask Allah for His protection and forgiveness, but always to ponder their meanings and consider their own actions in this light.

So we end this selection from the first day of Ramadan by remembering the practice of the Companions of the Prophet regarding their approach to the Qur’an.

Abu `Abd al-Rahmaan al-Sulamee states that whenever the people who taught them (them – the Successors/Tabi’een) the Qur’an like `Uthmaan ibn Affaan, `Abdullaah ibn Mas`ood and others (rA) that they learned ten verses of the Qur’an from the Prophet (saas) and they did not proceed further unless they had understood these verses with what they contained of regulations and injunctions. They used to say: “We learned the text of the Qur’an and studied its ideas and injunctions all together.” This explains why they spent such a long time in learning a chapter (surah). Anas (rA) has said: “We used to hold in great esteem the one who learned the two surahs of the Qur’an: al-Baqarah and Aali-‘Imraan”.

Ibn `Umar (rA) spent many years, and according to Maalik, a complete eight years, in learning these surahs (Usool at-Tafseer by Ibn Taimiyyah) when today some students memorize them (of course without understanding) in a few months. Hence, their serious and sincere approach to the Qur’an – seeking its guidance as Allah intended – caused them to take the Qur’an in a manner different from us today.

The take-home point today then is that our approach to this magnificent book must change, our attitude must fundamentally change if we are to become among the people of taqwa and thus those who will benefit from the Qur’an. We should return to the manners of our predecessors by remembering that this Qur’an is the word of Allah spoken and sent down to us from above the seven heavens so that we can attain guidance. Our attitude when reading it must be one in which the goal is not finishing the page or the juz’ as much as it is understanding what we read with the sincere intention of acting upon it – implementing it if it is a command and avoiding it if it is a prohibition. If this limits us to only a few ayat per day then remember that we are not better than the Companions who also took a similarly long time yet benefited and were guided so much more than us. Let us end by remembering the wise words of al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadi who said,

“Do not be pleased with knowledge that has no action to accompany it, nor with action that has no knowledge to guide it; but instead marry the two together by acting upon knowledge even if the result of that is that you attain less of them both.”

May Allah accept our fasting and help us to become among the people of the Qur’an, those described by the Prophet (saas) in the authentic hadith as those who act upon the Qur’an – ameen.

See Also: MM’s Ramadan Coverage 

Dr. Ali Shehata is the author of Demystifying Islam: Your Guide to the Most Misunderstood Religion of the 21st Century. Dr. Ali is an Emergency and Family Medicine physician currently living in an area of central Florida. He was born in Maryland to parents who had immigrated to the US from Egypt. He has studied Islam mainly through traditional methods among various scholars, du'at and students of knowledge here in the US.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Amaar

    September 2, 2008 at 5:00 AM

    Asalaamu alaikum, jazakum’Allahu khairan Dr. Ali for the excellent article. Your analogy of the Qur’an to a map studied intensely by a dying person is especially relevant, as we tend not to give the Qur’an its right and the attention it deserves. Subhan’Allah it is also true that very often we do read the verses of punishment without reflecting and pausing; I was not aware that this was the practice of the Prophet (SAW) and Companions.

    May Allah accept your effort, and we look forward to reading the articles to follow bi’idnillah.

  2. Avatar

    Servant

    September 2, 2008 at 6:37 AM

    As’salam Alaykum Wa’Rahmat Allah,

    May Allah azza wajall bring our hearts closer to His book. And allow us to read with understanding and inculcate the Qur’an in our daily lives, in and outside of Ramadan, Ameen. Ramadan Mubarak – Taqqabal Allahu mina wa meenkum.

  3. Avatar

    Tunde

    September 2, 2008 at 7:56 AM

    Asalaam aleikum Ali,

    Great reminders, thank you. I am sure everyone will benefit from it. May Allah reward you justly for what you do…… ameen

  4. Pingback: Hadrat Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq (RA) - The Inspirational Leader « Thoughts Unthought.

  5. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    September 2, 2008 at 1:30 PM

    Masha’Allah, a wonderful article – jazaakAllahu khairan for the time and effort you’re putting into these series!

    I have a couple questions, however, regarding completing the reading of the Qur’an in Ramadhaan and memorization of the Qur’an throughout the year.

    1) For those of us who don’t understand Arabic, or are not fluent in it, can it be considered as disliked to read the whole Qur’an cover-to-cover during this month, yet not be able to spend all that time in also looking up and studying its meanings? I say this because on one hand we’re told that we should be reading as much as possible; on the other hand we feel bad that we’re not able to give it the proper time and understanding due to it…

    2) What of those who encourage us to memorize the Qur’an as much and as soon as possible, and leave studying its deeper meanings for a later time? Is either approach (that of the Sahaabah, and that which is common now) okay, as long as your intention is sincere and you truly do try and make the effort to study it? A huge problem that I have, and which I think others also have, is that it’s easy to memorize on your own – but studying the Qur’an deeply often requires a qualified teacher, which we don’t all have at our disposal.

    Once again, jazaakAllahu khairan and I look forward to tomorrow’s episode!

  6. Amad

    Amad

    September 2, 2008 at 5:00 PM

    salam
    this is going to be AMAZING… a little dose from each juz every day!! Mashallah!

  7. Avatar

    sisterindeen

    September 2, 2008 at 5:12 PM

    JazakAllahu khairan. This is an excellent idea and I’ve benefited from today’s post a lot.

  8. Avatar

    zfnd

    September 2, 2008 at 7:45 PM

    alhamdulilah!

    Exactly what I was looking for.

  9. Ali Shehata

    Ali Shehata

    September 2, 2008 at 10:48 PM

    As-salaam alaikum everyone and thank you for the encouraging comments.

    Alhamdulillah, AnonyMouse asked a very good and relevant question regarding the issue of finishing the recital of the Qur’an vs studying its meanings in depth during Ramadan as well as outside of Ramadan. Certainly this has become a dilemma for us in recent ages with the loss of the Arabic language among many Muslims, but alhamdulillah the matter is not restrictive and many approaches are valid.

    1) It is a Sunnah to complete the recital of the entire Qur’an in Ramadan since we know the Prophet (saas) used to do this with Jibreel. As I had mentioned in another post, to complete the whole Qur’an in Ramadan would require one to read about 25 pages per day which is not difficult if a person plans their day out in advance. This still leaves time for us to add some time for understanding selections of the Qur’an.

    Knowing that Companions and Ulamaa’ like Abdullah ibn ‘Umar finished al-Baqarah and aali-‘Imraan in eight years due to their depth of study in it does not mean that all the Companions did that. There is of course a difference between an elite ‘aalim like ibn Umar and others. For the majority of us, selecting portions from our daily reading of the Qur’an everyday to better understand will be sufficient because it is not reasonable to expect that a person will be able to really study and implement such huge portions in such a short time. Instead, Ramadan should be the time when we establish these habits for the rest of the year insha’Allah.

    2) Regarding the issue of memorization, again there are many roads to success in this matter and Allah has made it easy for us alhamdulillah. Among the Companions are those who studied deeply and took time with memorization not wanting to memorize without full understanding, and there were also other illustrious Companions who memorized with less understanding. We know of the large number of hufaath (people having completed the memorization of the whole Qur’an) who died in the Battle of al-Yamaamah and they were not scholars in Tafseer. So as you have said masha’Allah, memorizing the Qur’an with a good intention (becoming proficient at its recitation, so that it can raise your degrees in Jannah, so that it will be a base for future study, etc., etc.) – and then studying it at a slower pace after memorization is also acceptable alhamdulillah provided the sincerity of the deed for Allah alone.

    As a note, it was standard among the earlier generations, as in the time of Maalik and Shaafi’ee, to not accept students into halaqas of advanced study if they had not completed the memorization of the Qur’an. So the matter is expansive alhamdulillah and the real issue is making sure that the reason you are memorizing the Qur’an is for Allah and not to be praised by people (riyaa) and so forth and then to have the continued sincerity to study its meanings and applications later.

    And Allah knows best.

  10. Avatar

    muslim

    September 4, 2008 at 12:15 PM

    JazakAllah Khair!

  11. Avatar

    shabbeer

    November 6, 2008 at 7:54 AM

    my question is why is there a christian propogation link under”KORAN PROPHESY”

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Lessons From Surah Maryam: 1

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

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Alhamdulillah, it’s a great blessing of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that He has given us both the opportunity and ability to come here tonight to study and explore the meanings of His words in Surah Maryam. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accept this effort from all of us and place it on our scale of good deeds.

Alhamdulillah, in our last series we were able to complete the tafsir of Surah Al-Kahf. InshAllah, in this next series, we’ll be exploring the meanings, lessons, and reminders of Surah Maryam. Tafsīr is an extremely noble and virtuous discipline. The reason why it’s so noble and virtuous is that it’s the study of the divine speech of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). As mentioned in a hadith the superiority of the speech of Allah over all other speech is like the superiority of Allah over all of His creation. There’s nothing more beneficial and virtuous than studying the Quran. And by doing so we’ll be counted amongst the best of people. As the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “the best amongst you are those who learn the Quran and teach it.”

All of us need to build a stronger relationship with the Quran. The Quran is full of wisdom and guidance in every single verse and word. It’s our responsibility to seek that guidance, understand it, contextualize it and more importantly act upon it. Tafsīr is such a unique science that it brings together all of the other Islamic sciences. While exploring a Surah a person comes across discussions regarding Arabic grammar and morphology, rhetoric, Ahādīth, fiqh, sīrah and all those studies that are known as the Islamic Sciences. One scholar described the Quran as an ocean that has no shore, بحر لا ساحل له. The more we study the Qur’ān the stronger our relationship with it will become. We’ll become more and more attached to it and will be drawn into its beauty and wonder. The deeper a person gets into tafsir and studying the more engaged and interested they become. They also recognize how little they truly know. It develops humility. That’s the nature of true knowledge. The more we learn the more we recognize we don’t know. May Allah ﷻ allow us all to be sincere and committed students of the Qur’ān.

Surah Maryam

Surah Maryam is the 19th surah in the Quran. It is a relatively long Makki surah made up of 98 verses. Some commentators mention that it’s the 44th Surah to be revealed, after Surah Al-Fatir and before Surah Taha. It has been given the name Maryam because Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions the story of Maryam (as) and her family and how she gave birth to Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) miraculously at the beginning of the Surah. Just like other Makkan surahs, it deals with the most fundamental aspects of our faith. It talks about the existence and oneness of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), prophethood, and resurrection and recompense.

The Surah is made up of a series of unique stories filled with guidance and lessons that are meant as reminders. One of the main themes of this Surah is mercy… It has been mentioned over 16 times in this Surah. We’ll find the words of grace, compassion and their synonyms frequently mentioned throughout the sūrah, together with Allah’s attributes of beneficence and mercy. We can say that one of the objectives of the Surah is to establish and affirm the attribute of mercy for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). That’s why all of the stories mentioned also have to do with Allah’s mercy.

Another objective of the Surah is to remind us of our relationship with Allah ﷻ; the concept of Al-‘Ubūdiyyah. These are the two major themes or ideas of this Surah; the concept of Rahmah and the concept of ‘Ubūdiyyah (Mercy and Servitude).

The Surah can be divided into 8 sections:

1) Verses 1-15: The surah starts with the story of Zakariyya (as) and how he was given the gift of a child at a very old age, which was something strange and out of the ordinary.

2) Verses 16-40: mention the story of Maryam and the miraculous birth of Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) without a father and how her community responded to her.

3) Verses 41-50: The surah then briefly mentions one part of the story of Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), specifically the conversation he had with his father regarding the worship of idols. The surah then briefly mentions a series of other Prophets.

4) Verses 51-58: Mention Musa and Haroon 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), Ismail 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Idrees 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to show that the essence of the message of all Prophets was the same

5) Verses 59-65: compare and contrast the previous generations with the current ones in terms of belief and actions.

6) Verses 66-72: Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) addresses the Mushrikoon rejecting their false claims regarding life after death and judgment.

7) Verses 73-87: continue to address the Mushrikoon and warn them regarding their attitude towards belief in Allah and His messengers. They also mention the great difference between the resurrection of the believer and the resurrection of the non-believer.

8) Verses 88-98: contain a severe warning to those who claim that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has taken a child. They also express that Allah is pleased with the believers and mentions that one of the objectives of the Quran is to give glad tidings to the believers and to warn the non-believers.

Story

From various narrations, we learn that this surah was revealed near the end of the fourth year of Prophethood. This was an extremely difficult time for Muslims. The Quraysh were frustrated with their inability to stop the message of Islam from spreading so they became ruthless. They resorted to any method of torture that they could think of; beating, starving and harassing. When the persecution became so severe that it was difficult for the Muslims to bear it, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) gave permission to migrate to Abyssinia. “For in it dwells a king in whose presence no one is harmed.” 10 men and 4 women migrated in the 5th year of Prophethood secretly. After a few months, a larger group of 83 men and 18 women migrated as well. This migration added more fuel to the fire. It enraged the people of Quraysh.

Umm Salamah [rahna]narrated, “When we stopped to reside in the land of Abyssinia we lived alongside the best of neighbors An-Najashi. We practiced our religion safely, worshipped Allah without harm and didn’t hear anything we disliked. When news of our situation reached the Quraysh they started to plot against us…” They decided to send two delegates to persuade An-Najashi to send the Companions back by offering him and his ministers’ gifts. The plan was to go to each minister with gifts and turn them against the Muslims. So they went to each minister with gifts and said, “Verily, foolish youth from amongst us have come to the country of your king; they have abandoned the religion of their people and have not embraced your religion. Rather they have come with a new religion that neither of us knows. The noblemen of their people, from their fathers and uncles, have sent us to the king asking that he send them back. So when we speak to the king regarding their situation advise him to surrender them to us and to not speak to them…” The minister agreed.

Then they went to the king, offered him gifts and said the same thing… The ministers tried to convince him as well. An-Najashi became angry with them and said, “No, by Allah, I will not surrender them to these two and I don’t fear the plotting of a people who have become my neighbors, have settled down in my country, and have chosen me (to grant them refuge) over every other person. I will not do so until I summon them and speak to them. If they are as these two say I will give them up, but if they aren’t then I will protect them from these two and continue to be a good neighbor to them as long as they are good neighbors to me.”

al-Najāshī then summoned the Prophet’s ﷺ Companions. When his messenger informed the Prophet’s Companions that they were to appear before the king, they gathered together to discuss what they should do. One of them asked, “What will you say to the name (al-Najāshī) when you go to him?” They all agreed on what they would say to him, “By Allah, we will say what our Prophet ﷺ taught us and commanded us with, regardless of the consequences.” Meanwhile, al-Najāshī called for his priests, who gathered around him with their scrolls spread out before them. When the Muslims arrived al-Najāshī began by asking them, “What is this religion for which you have parted from your people? You have not entered into the fold of my religion, nor the religion of any person from these nations.”

Umm Salamah [rahna] narrated, “The Person among us who would speak to him was Jaʿfar ibn abī Ṭālib [rahnu] who then said, “O king, we were an ignorant people: we worshipped idols, we would eat from the flesh of dead animals, we would perform lewd acts, we would cut off family ties, and we would be bad neighbors; the strong among us would eat from the weak. We remained upon that state until Allah sent us a Messenger, whose lineage, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and chastity we already knew. He invited us to Allah – to believe in His oneness and to worship Him; to abandon all that we and our fathers worshipped besides Allah, in terms of stones and idols. He ﷺ commanded us to speak truthfully, to fulfill the trust, to join ties of family relations, to be good to our neighbors, and to refrain from forbidden deeds and from shedding blood. And he ﷺ forbade us from lewd acts, from uttering falsehood, from wrongfully eating the wealth of an orphan, from falsely accusing chaste women of wrongdoing. And he ﷺ ordered us to worship Allah alone and to not associate any partners with him in worship; and he ﷺ commanded us to pray, to give zakāh, and to fast.” He enumerated for al-Najāshī the teachings of Islam. He said, “And we believe him and have faith in him. We follow him in what he came with. And so we worship Allah alone, without associating any partners with Him in worship. We deem forbidden that which he has made forbidden for us, and we deem lawful that which he made permissible for us. Our people then transgressed against us and tortured us. The tried to force us to abandon our religion and to return from the worship of Allah to the worship of idols; they tried to make us deem lawful those abominable acts that we used to deem lawful. Then, when they subjugated us, wronged us, and treated us in an oppressive manner, standing between us and our religion, we came to your country, and we chose you over all other people. We desired to live alongside you, and we hoped that, with you, we would not be wronged, O king.” al-Najāshī said to Jaʿfar [rahnu], “Do you have any of that which he came with from Allah?” Jaʿfar [rahnu] said, “Yes”. “Then recite to me,” said al-Najāshī. Jaʿfar [rahnu] recited for him the beginning of Surah Maryam. By Allah, al-Najāshī began to cry, until his beard became wet with tears. And when his priests heard what Jaʿfar [rahnu] was reciting to them, they cried until their scrolls became wet. al-Najāshī then said, “By Allah, this and what Mūsa (as) came with come out of the same lantern. Then by Allah, I will never surrender them to you, and henceforward they will not be plotted against and tortured.”

Describing what happened after the aforementioned discussion between al-Najāshī and Jaʿfar [rahnu], Umm Salamah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “When both ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ and ʿAbdullah ibn abī Rabīʿah left the presence of al-Najāshī, ʿAmr [rahnu] said, “By Allah tomorrow I will present to him information about them with which I will pull up by the roots their very lives.” Abdullah ibn Rabīʿah who was more sympathetic of the two towards us said, “Don’t do so, for they have certain rights of family relations, even if they have opposed us.” ʿAmr said, “By Allah, I will inform him that they claim that ʿĪsā ibn Maryam is a slave.”

He went to the king on the following day and said, “O king, verily, they have strong words to say about ʿĪsa (as). Call them here and ask them what they say about him.” al-Najāshī sent for them in order to ask them about ʿĪsa. Nothing similar to this befell us before. The group of Muslims gathered together and said to one another, “What will you say about ʿĪsa when he asks you about him?” They said, “By Allah, we will say about him that which Allah says and that which our Prophet ﷺ came with, regardless of the outcome.” When they entered into his presence, he said to them, “What do you say about ʿĪsa ibn Maryam?” Jaʿfar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “We say about him that which our Prophet ﷺ came with – that he is the slave of Allah, His messenger, a spirit created by Him, and His word, which he bestowed on Maryam, the virgin, the baṭūl.”

al-Najāshī struck his hand on the ground and took from it a stick. He then said, “ʿĪsa ibn Maryam did not go beyond what you said even the distance of the stick.” When he said this, his ministers spoke out in anger, to which he responded, “What I said is true even if you speak out in anger, by Allah. (Turning to the Muslims, he said) Go, for you are safe in my land. Whoever curses you will be held responsible. And I would not love to have a reward of gold in return for me hurting a single man among you. (Speaking to his ministers he said) Return to these two (men) their gifts, since we have no need for them. For by Allah, Allah did not take from me bribe money when He returned to me my kingdom, so why should I take bribe money. The two left, defeated and humiliated; and returned to them were the things they came with. We then resided alongside al-Najāshī in a very good abode, with a very good neighbor.”

The response was simply amazing in its eloquence. A believer puts the needs of his soul before the needs of his body. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) starts the Surah by saying,

Verse 1: Kaf, Ha, Ya, ‘Ayn, Sad.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) starts Surah Maryam with a series of five letters. There are many different saying or explanations regarding these five letters. The most correct opinion is that these are from the broken letters. There are 29 different Surahs in the Quran that start with the broken letters. Only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) alone knows the meanings of these letters. They are a secret from amongst the secrets of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), meaning that no one knows what they truly mean. Only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows their meanings so they are from amongst the Mutashaabihat, those verses whose meanings are hidden.

However, we do find that some great Companions, as well as their students, sometimes gave meanings to these words. For example, it’s said that it is in acronym and each letter represents one of the names of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Kaf is for Al-Kafi or Al-Kareem, “haa” is for Al-Hadi, “yaa” is from Hakeem or Raheem, “’ayn” is from Al-‘Aleem or Al-‘Adheem, and “saad” is from Al-Saadiq. Others said that it is one of the names of Allah and it’s actually Al-Ism Al-‘Atham or that it’s a name of the Quran. However, these narrations can’t be used as proof or to assign definitive meanings. They offer possibilities, but no one truly knows what they mean.

Now the question should come to our mind that why would Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) start of a Surah with words that no one understands?

1) To grab the attention of the listeners.

2) To remind us that no matter how much we know there’s always something that we don’t know.

3) These letters are the letters of the Arabic language and the Quran was revealed at a time that was the peak of eloquence of the language and it was their identity. The Quran was revealed challenging them spiritually and intellectually. The Arabs never heard these letters being used in such a majestic way.

4) To prove the inimitable nature of the Quran.

Allah then starts the story of Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was one of the Prophets sent to Bani Israel. He was the husband of Maryam’s paternal aunt. He was also one of the caretakers or custodians of Baitul Maqdis.

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Heart Soothers: Idrees Al Hashemi

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Lesson 13 From Surah Al -Kahf

Last verses of Surah Kahf

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

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Surah Kahf

Alhamdulillah last session we were able to cover the meanings of verses 83-98. InshAllah tonight we’ll explore the meanings of verses 99-110, which will bring us to the end of this noble and beautiful Surah. Just as a quick reminder, the last set of verses related the story of Dhul Qarnain, who was an upright and God-conscious ruler who ruled over the entire known world of his time. He was a righteous servant of Allah to whom Allah granted might, power and sovereignty over the world along with knowledge and wisdom. He was a special servant of God. We’re told about his journeys to the east, west, and north as well as his building of a huge wall to prevent Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj from escaping. This story highlighted the fitna and trial of might, power, leadership, and authority and showed us that the way to deal with it is through faith and sincerity. Dhul Qarnain was tested with a lot of wealth and power but it was unable to corrupt him because of his faith and sincerity. The Surah follows the story of Dhul Qarnain with a scene from the Day of Judgment.

Verse 99: And We shall leave them, on that day, to surge over one another like waves. And the trumpet shall be blown, and We shall gather them together.

The first part of this verse is referring to Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj and the second part refers to resurrection, when the Angel Isrāfīl will blow into the horn bringing all creation back to life. On that day, is referring to the day near the end of times when Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj will break through the barrier and surge down the mountains like waves upon humanity destroying everything in their way. As Allah ﷻ tells us in Surah Al-Anbiya, “Until when [the dam of] Gog and Magog has been opened and they, from every elevation, descend…” They will wreak havoc for a period of time known to Allah until they will be destroyed.

As we’ve covered before there will be two instances when the trumpet will be sounded. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has appointed the Angel Isrāfīl to blow into the trumpet. This will happen twice. The first time every single thing will be destroyed. The second time every single thing will be brought back to life. This is how the day of Resurrection will start. The sūr, which is a trumpet or a horn, will be blown and all of mankind will rise from their graves and come towards the plain of judgment. That’s what Allah ﷻ is mentioning here in this verse, “And the trumpet shall be blown, and We shall gather them together.”

The Surah then describes a scene from the day of Judgment that’s specific to the non-believers. Those who received the message and consciously chose to reject it and rebel against God and His messengers.

Verse 100-101: And We shall present Hell, on that Day, as an array before the non-believers, those whose eyes were veiled from the remembrance of Me, and could not hear.

Meaning on the Day of Judgment Allah ﷻ will show the non-believers Hell Fire, exposing it to them so that they can see it with their own eyes. They will see it with their own eyes and hear its raging and frightening sounds even before entering it. Allah then describes the non-believers with 3 characteristics, which are essentially three reasons why they will be punished in the hereafter:

1) “Those whose eyes were veiled from the remembrance of Me, and could not hear.” They weren’t able to understand the truth when it was presented to them because they were spiritually blind and deaf. They were blind to the signs of Allah’s existence and power all around them spread throughout the universe, so they never thought or reflected over them. On top of that, they weren’t able to understand what was being recited to them. Meaning, they consciously chose to ignore the message and turn away from it. Here Allah is contrasting their condition in the hereafter to their condition in the life of this world. In this world, they chose to turn away from belief in the fire and in the hereafter, they won’t have the option to turn away. The veil over their eyes will be removed and they will see the consequences of their choice.

2) The second is that they worshipped others besides Allah.

Verse 102: Do those who disbelieve reckon that they may take My servants as protectors apart from Me? Truly We have prepared Hell as a welcome for the disbelievers!

Allah is scolding them and showing them their mistake. Did they really think or believe that they could take created beings or inanimate objects as protectors apart from Me? Did they really believe that worshipping idols, angels or people would benefit them or help them in any way? There’s no help or protection except with Allah, who deserves to be worshipped alone without any partners. As Allah ﷻ says in Surah Maryam, “No! Those “gods” will deny their worship of them and will be against them opponents [on the Day of Judgment].” Allah then tells us that their punishment is Jahannam, which has been prepared as a resting place for them. “Truly We have prepared Hell as a welcome for the disbelievers!”

3) The third quality that the non-believers are described with is that they are fools for thinking that their actions in this world will be of any benefit to them in the Hereafter.

Verse 103-104: Say, “Shall We inform you who are the greatest losers in respect to their deeds? Those whose efforts go astray in the life of this world, while they think that they are virtuous in their works.

In this verse, Allah ﷻ is addressing the Prophet ﷺ directly and he’s telling him to pose this question to the non-believers. “Shall We inform you who are the greatest losers in respect to their deeds?” Do you want to know who the greatest and biggest losers are with respect to their deeds? They are the ones who did good deeds and put in effort, but all of it went to waste. Those individuals who were misguided in the life of this world so their actions were guided by their wants, desires, and pleasures. Their actions were misplaced and not guided by faith in Allah. The reason why all of their efforts will go to waste is their disbelief or absence of faith. As Allah says,

Verse 105-106: They are those who disbelieve in the signs of their Lord, and in the meeting with Him. So their deeds have gone to waste, and on the Day of Resurrection, We shall assign them no weight. That is their recompense, the Jahannam, for having disbelieved and for having taken My signs and My messengers in mockery.

The greatest losers with respect to their deeds are those who reject the signs of Allah in this world. Those who refuse to accept the oneness, might, power and magnificence of Allah, those who refuse to believe in life after death and accountability. Their deeds will go to waste and on the Day of Judgment, they won’t have any weight. We know from multiple verses and narrations that our deeds are going to be weighed on the Day of Judgment. And on the Day of Judgment, it’s not about the number of deeds but the quality. That’s why on the Day of Judgment our deeds won’t be counted but they will be weighed. It could be that the weight of one action or deed is more than a thousand other deeds.

Those actions that are devoid of faith and sincerity will have no weight whatsoever. As Allah ﷻ says in Surah Al-Furqān, “And We will regard what they have done of deeds and make them as dust dispersed.” Their recompense is the fire of Jahannam, and that is the ultimate justice and fairness. They get punishment as recompense because of their rejection and disbelief and mockery of Allah’s signs and His messengers. Allah ﷻ then contrasts the punishment of the non-believers with the reward of the believers in Paradise.

Verse 107-108: Those who believe and perform righteous deeds, theirs shall be the Gardens of Paradise as a welcome. Abiding therein forever, they don’t seek any change from it.

Just as Hell is a “welcome” for the non-believers, Paradise is a true “welcome” for the believers. Meaning, those who believe in the existence and oneness of Allah, believe in the Prophet ﷺ and life after death and that faith expresses itself through their actions, their reward will be Gardens of Paradise. Again we see this formula being mentioned, faith + righteous deeds. This is the simple formula to achieve success in this world and the next. Our faith has to be real and practical; it has to translate into action. If we do so then our reward will be Jannah al-Firdaws, which is the highest and most virtuous level of Paradise. The Prophet ﷺ said, “When you ask Allah for Paradise ask Him for Al-Firdaws. It is the highest level of Paradise, the middle of Paradise and the rivers of Paradise flow from it.”

  • إذا سألتم الله الجنة، فاسألوه الفردوس، فإنه أعلى الجنة، و أوسط الجنة، و منها تفجر أنهار الدنة.

In another narration, the Prophet ﷺ said, “In Paradise, there are a hundred levels, what is between every two levels is like what is between the heavens and the earth. Al-Firdaws is its highest level, and from it the four rivers of Paradise are made to flow forth. So when you ask Allah, ask Him for Al-Firdaws.”

  • “‏ فِي الْجَنَّةِ مِائَةُ دَرَجَةٍ مَا بَيْنَ كُلِّ دَرَجَتَيْنِ كَمَا بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالأَرْضِ وَالْفِرْدَوْسُ أَعْلاَهَا دَرَجَةً وَمِنْهَا تُفَجَّرُ أَنْهَارُ الْجَنَّةِ الأَرْبَعَةُ وَمِنْ فَوْقِهَا يَكُونُ الْعَرْشُ فَإِذَا سَأَلْتُمُ اللَّهَ فَسَلُوهُ الْفِرْدَوْسَ ‏”‏ ‏.

They will be in Paradise for all of eternity, enjoying all of its pleasures and not wanting or desiring anything other than it. Allah (swt) then tells us about the extent and vastness of His knowledge. That his knowledge is infinite. This is also a description of the greatness and status of the Qur’ān.

Verse 109: Say, “If the ocean were ink for the words of my Lord, the ocean would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like thereof to replenish it.”

“The words of my Lord” may be a reference to Allah’s infinite knowledge or wisdom or the meanings of the Qur’ān. Meaning that if the oceans were turned into ink and the words of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) were to be written with this ink, then the ink would run out and the words of Allah (swt) would still be left, even if more ink were to be brought. This is an example to make us understand the vastness of Allah’s knowledge, wisdom, and secrets. This example is being given to make us as human beings recognize the infinite nature of Allah’s knowledge as compared to or finite and limited knowledge.

The ocean is the largest and richest creation known to us as human beings. It takes up more than 70% of the surface of the Earth. And we use ink to document and record our knowledge, which we think is vast and amazing. So Allah gives this example of the ocean as ink being used to write and record His words. The entire ocean is used up and then it’s replenished but the words of Allah are still being written. This example is trying to help us comprehend the difference between the infinite and the finite. “And if all the trees on earth were pens, and if the sea and seven more added to it were ink, the words of Allah would not be exhausted. Truly Allah is Mighty, Wise.” This example should allow us to recognize the greatness and magnificence of Allah ﷻ as well as humble us as human beings as well.

We as human beings should never be deceived or fooled by our own intellect and abilities. No matter how much we learn and how advanced we become scientifically and technologically, it’s nothing compared to the infinite knowledge and wisdom of Allah ﷻ. Our knowledge compared to the knowledge of Allah is like a drop of water compared to all the oceans. Allah ﷻ then ends the noble Surah by reminding the Prophet (saw) about humility and us about the path of true salvation.

Verse 110: Say, “I am only a human being like you. It has been revealed to me that your God is one God. So whosoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let him perform righteous deeds and make no one a partner with his Lord in worship.

Allah ﷻ is speaking directly to the Prophet ﷺ. He’s telling him to tell his nation, his community, that he is a human being just like them. He’s not an Angel nor is he divine in any way. He eats, drinks, walks, talks and sleeps just like them. The only difference is that he ﷺ receives revelation from above from the Most High. It has been revealed to him that there is only one God, alone without any partners. So whoever believes in the meeting with their Lord, meaning they believe in the last day, resurrection, accountability and judgment. They know that the life of this world is temporary and finite and that the life of the hereafter is eternal and infinite, should “perform righteous deeds and make no one a partner with his Lord in worship.”

Righteous deeds include fulfilling all of our obligations, obeying the commands of Allah and staying away from His prohibitions. It includes all voluntary acts of worship such as praying, fasting, reading Quran, making dua, dhikr and charity. It includes being kind to our parents, spouses, children, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers. It even includes smiling at someone. There are multiple paths of righteousness in Islam.

We’re then reminded to not associate partners with Allah in our worship; to not commit shirk. There are two types of shirk: al-shirk al-akbar and al-shirk al-asghar. Al-Shirk Al-Akbar is associating partners with Allah; it’s an act of disbelief. Al-Shirk Al-Asghar refers to ostentation and showing off or not having sincerity in acts of worship. The Prophet ﷺ referred to ostentation as “the lesser idolatry.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “I do not fear that you will worship the sun, the stars and the moon, but I fear your worshipping other than Allah through ostentation.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “What I fear most for my community is doing things for other than the sake of Allah.” Ibn al-‘Arabi quotes his shaykh, “Let not the hours of your dear life pass away confronting contemporaries and socializing with friends. Watch out! Allah concluded His statement on the following verse…”

Alhamdulillah that brings us to then end of this noble and beautiful Surah. A Surah that has a special and unique status because the Prophet ﷺ encouraged us to recite it specifically on Fridays. Through four stories the Surah focuses on four different types of trials we’re going to face in this world and how to respond to them.

1) The story of the people of the cave represents the trial of faith. And we’re taught that one of the best ways to deal with it is through good company; surrounding ourselves with people of faith and righteousness.

2) The story of the owner of the two gardens is representative of the trial of wealth. And we’re taught the most powerful way to deal with it is by recognizing the reality of the life of this world.

3) The story of Musa (as) with Khidr is representative of the trial of knowledge and the way to deal with it is through seeking knowledge and humility.

4) The last story, the story of Dhul Qarnain is representative of the trial of power. The solution is sincerity and righte

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