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Ramadan Reflections – Juz 2

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Ramadan Reflections

The Second Juz’ – Surat al-Baqarah

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فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ وَاشْكُرُواْ لِي وَلاَ تَكْفُرُونِ

 

So remember Me and I will remember you. Be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful. [2:152]

 

Today’s ayah which we shall reflect upon is a very simple and short one, yet its meaning is profound and its depth is significant. The noble ayah discussed two tremendous acts of worship that many do not truly comprehend and as such they become heedless of them. These two acts are 1) Remembrance (thikr) and 2) Thankfulness (shukr). As we shall soon see, these two great acts build upon what we learned yesterday of the importance of proper worship. No doubt, entire books have been written about each of these two matters but insha’Allah we will at least try to cover the basics of these two acts so that we can start practicing them better this Ramadan insha’Allah.

 

Thikr

 

Regarding Allah’s statement above, Ibn ‘Abbaas stated, “’Remember me’ means by obeying me, and ‘I will remember you’ means that Allah will remember us by His forgiveness”. Al-Hasan Al-Basri further commented, “Remember Me regarding what I have commanded you and I will remember you regarding what I have obliged upon Myself to do for your benefit (rewards and forgiveness).” And the eminent Successor Sa’eed ibn Jubayr summarized this issue beautifully when he said, “Thikr is obedience to Allah Almighty. For whoever turns to Allah and obeys Him, demonstrates that he has remembered Him. And if a person turns away from Allah and does not obey Him, then he is not in a state of thikr even if he stays awake the whole night reciting the Qur’an and the praises of Allah.” From this basis then we can now understand the following hadith:

 

Tirmithi narrated from Abu’l-Dardaa’ (ra) that the Prophet (saas) said: “Shall I not tell you of the best of your deeds and that which is most pure in the sight of your Lord, that which raises you more in status and is better for you than giving gold and silver (in charity), and better than your meeting your enemy and striking their necks and they strike your necks?‘ They said, ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘Remembering Allah (thikr).’” Mu’aath ibn Jabal (ra) adds, “There is nothing more effective in preventing the punishment of Allah than the remembrance of Allah.”

 

So we now can understand why thikr is so important and why so effective in preventing the punishment of Allah because it entails obeying Allah and avoiding His prohibitions which is taqwa as we have learned. Another aspect of this hadith can also revolve around the maintenance of an attentive heart during thikr with the tongue. It is a common sight to find someone moving through the beads of his rosary (sibhah) while actively engaged in conversation or even an argument. The greatest value in the thikr is that which is attained when the heart is in tune with what the tongue is saying so that Allah’s greatness is truly appreciated and loving Him, fearing His punishment and hoping for His mercy are truly established in the heart.

 

Furthermore as we know from the Hadith Qudsi that whoever remembers Allah, Allah will remember him:

 

أَنَا عِنْدَ ظَنِّ عَبْدِي وَأَنَا مَعَهُ حِينَ يَذْكُرُنِي فَإِنْ ذَكَرَنِي فِي نَفْسِهِ ذَكَرْتُهُ فِي نَفْسِي وَإِنْ ذَكَرَنِي فِي مَلَإٍ ذَكَرْتُهُ فِي مَلَإٍ خَيْرٍ مِنْهُ

 

 

Muslim narrates from Abu Hurairah (ra) that the Messenger of Allah (saas) said that Allah (Glorified and Exalted) said, “I am to my servant as he expects of Me, I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me to himself, I remember him to Myself, and if he remembers me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly better than his….”

 

 

Shukr

 

The second aspect of the ayah refers to thankfulness, yet what exactly does it mean to thank Allah? Many people think it is simply a verbal statement but this is a very limited understanding. Elsewhere in the Qur’an Allah states:

 

وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ

 

And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks, I will give you more ; but if you are ungrateful, verily My punishment is indeed severe. [14:7]

 

In both of these cases, thankfulness is equivalent to obedience to Allah and ingratitude equivalent to disobeying Him. The reason for this is that true thankfulness is to use what Allah has given you in a way that is pleasing to Him and in a way consistent with the Shari’ah. If Allah blesses you with money and you wish to thank Him, then to spend it on that which is halaal is thankfulness. You can say alhamdulillah all that you want but if you then use your money in that which is prohibited what good is the saying of alhamdulillah? We again see this pristine understanding in the lives of the Companions as in the following authentic hadith:

 

 

Abu Raja’ Al-`Utaaridi said: `Imran bin Husayn (ra) came out to us once wearing a nice garment interwoven with a small amount of silk that we never saw him wear before or afterwards. He said, “Allah’s Messenger (saas) said, ‘When Allah has favored someone with a bounty, then He likes to see the effect of His bounty on His servant’.” (Ahmad)

 

Once again though, thanking Allah with the tongue is certainly something not to be neglected. The following hadith illustrates this issue well:

 

On the authority of Abu Malik Al-Ashari (ra) who said that the Messenger of Allah said (saas), “Purity is half of faith. And Alhamdulillah (praise and thanks are due to Allah) fills the scales, and subhanAllah (How exalted is Allah from every imperfection they seek to attribute to Him) and alhamdulillah fill that which is between heaven and earth ….” (Muslim)

 

From this hadith we see that no doubt there is great virtue, honor and reward in praising and thanking Allah with the tongue – yet this virtue is not the same for the one who does so with an empty or heedless heart. So when you say these phrases of remembrance, then let your heart be focused; think and reflect upon what you are praising and thanking Allah for so that your heart can acknowledge His great favors upon you.

 

 

So in conclusion, the take-home points from today’s ayah are as follows:

 

  1. The essence of thikr is to obey Allah and act upon His commands, avoiding His prohibitions. This demonstrates your remembrance of Him. This does not mean that our hearts and lips should become silent though; for the combination of keeping your lips moist with the remembrance of Allah – to continue to praise Allah with the recommended phrases taught in the Sunnah with an attentive heart – and obeying Him with your limbs completes this act if it is done with sincerity seeking only the pleasure of Allah.

  2. The true nature of thanking Allah – shukr – is by using what He has favored you with in obedience to Him. This does not mean that a person can have no enjoyment, but the enjoyment he derives from the bounties of Allah upon him should always be within the permitted and never crossing over into those acts which the Shari’ah has prohibited.

 

And Allah knows best.

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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.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. ibnabeeomar

    September 3, 2008 at 2:03 AM

    jazakallahu khayr.. im really looking forward to these articles.

    also reading about shukr reminded me of an earlier post we had on the relationship between ibadah, taqwa and shukr

    http://muslimmatters.org/2007/03/22/ibaadah-taqwa-shukr-mindblowing-relationship/

  2. XXXXX

    September 3, 2008 at 9:29 AM

    “It is a common sight to find someone moving through the beads of his rosary (sibhah) while actively engaged in conversation or even an argument. ”

    SubhanAllah, i live in a muslim country an i find very often people engaged in conversation while doin thasbeeh, just the other day this man my senior happend to be doing that an i was observed him an it lookd as if he was just moving beads. lol and i seriously doubt he had full cocentration because he happend to be teaching me something.
    anyways subhanAllah i have witnessed this act and this somethign to ponder upon when doi dhikr how the heart should be attentive an intune with the tongue.

  3. muslim

    September 4, 2008 at 12:21 PM

    JazakAllah! May Allah reward you for this.

  4. salam

    September 5, 2008 at 2:49 AM

    Abu Raja’ Al-`Utaaridi said: `Imran bin Husayn (ra) came out to us once wearing a nice silken garment that we never saw him wear before or afterwards. He said, “Allah’s Messenger (saas) said, ‘When Allah has favored someone with a bounty, then He likes to see the effect of His bounty on His servant’.” (Ahmad)

    In the above hadith, it shows that a man is wearing silk. Isn’t it haram ?

  5. ks

    September 5, 2008 at 7:57 AM

    Jzk Dr Ali for these beautiful words

    but can i also ask about the hadeeth which says the sahabi wore silk?

    Abu Raja’ Al-`Utaaridi said: `Imran bin Husayn (ra) came out to us once wearing a nice silken garment that we never saw him wear before or afterwards. He said, “Allah’s Messenger (saas) said, ‘When Allah has favored someone with a bounty, then He likes to see the effect of His bounty on His servant’.” (Ahmad)

    In the above hadith, it shows that a man is wearing silk. Isn’t it haram ?

  6. Ali Shehata

    September 5, 2008 at 11:08 AM

    Salaam alaikum

    Barak Allahu feekum for your comments:

    Salam and KS noted above that in the hadith of ‘Imraan ibn Husain that it described him as wearing silk. The word used in the hadith for this garment is “khazz” and not “hareer”. Hareer means pure silk or a garment entirely made up of silk. As to the meaning of Khazz though there is some differences of opinion but generally it is understood to be a garment which has some silk woven into it. Some scholars understood it to be fur with silk interwoven into it such that the percentage of the silk was limited whereas others understood the word Khazz to be a term used for any garment which contained silk and other fabrics with silk being in the minority percentage-wise. From this has come a number of juristic opinions regarding what amount of silk is allowed for a man to wear.

    As regards garments of Khazz though, there is a general consensus among the Companions of its permissibility and the hadith scholars have noted that at least twenty notable scholars have worn such garments and that even the Prophet (saas) dressed a man once in such an outer garment by placing it on his shoulders.

    A better translation for the hadith may have been to say a “garment interwoven with some silk” and I will change this now so that no other confusion may come from those who may read it later. Jazakum Allahu khair for asking this question though!

  7. salam

    September 7, 2008 at 12:26 AM

    Btw, what is the authenticity of this hadith ?

    Abu Raja’ Al-`Utaaridi said: `Imran bin Husayn (ra) came out to us once wearing a nice garment interwoven with a small amount of silk that we never saw him wear before or afterwards. He said, “Allah’s Messenger (saas) said, ‘When Allah has favored someone with a bounty, then He likes to see the effect of His bounty on His servant’.” (Ahmad)

    If I were you, I would put the original word “khazz” and put the meaning in parentheses. I checked hans Wehr, it says just ” silk” it didn’t make any distinction w/ hareer. Since, we are not sure of the percentage of silk, it’ll be safer to translate it as
    ” a garment made of fabric from mixture yarns, or a mixed type of fabric. “

    My cousin who works in fashion industry said that there is no such thing as “pure silk or 100% pure silk” even if it says on the clothe’s tag, or printed on the fabric. The industry definition of 100% pure silk, in reality is not. My cousin said all of those pure silk is always mixed w/ synthetic material.

    I know what the ulama’ meant by khazz, I have seen a pashmeena made of silk and wool. It’s 50/50, but the look does not show glossy silky fabric, it still looks like wool, but thinner and a bit silky, feels softer . The look is more wooly than silky even though it’s 50/50. If it doesn’t say so, you would guess it’s a fine wool. So, I understand why it was allowed.

  8. Ali Shehata

    September 8, 2008 at 5:19 PM

    Salaam alaikum

    The hadith is authentic alhamdulillah and as I pointed out in the commentary (taken from Fath al-Bari the commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari which also references this hadith) that there are numerous witnesses to this practice among the Sahaba. The majority of the ulama are of the opinion that a garment in which the majority of the fabric is silk is forbidden. Many have stated that the silk should be very limited and this is why I chose the translation that I did because I think it best represents the meaning without belaboring the reader with a fiqh treatise on the subject since the essence of the hadith is not this issue and should not distract from the main point of being thankful to Allah for His bounties, and Allah knows best.

  9. obaid

    September 17, 2008 at 12:12 AM

    Jazakallahu kheir Dr Ali, I have a question regarding dhikr: is it not advised to be engaged in doing dhikr while doing other tasks? for example while driving or vaccuming or whatever daily acts one might be busy with over the period of the day?

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