For all parts, up to and including this one, click “Ramadan Reflections: The Daily Journey“
Ramadan Reflections Juz 4
Juz 4 – Surat Aali-‘Imraan
In today’s reflections we will also seek to benefit from two verses again insha’Allah. The first of these noble verses is one that we hear every Friday when the Imam begins the khutbah:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ
O’ you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam. [3:102]
I felt strongly that this is an ayah that we should discuss if even for a brief moment due to the fact that we hear it so often, and we hear it so often alhamdulillah due to its great value and importance. The first notable fact about this ayah is that it calls upon the believers to fear Allah – it doesn’t say O’ you corrupt or O’ you disbelievers – but O’ you who believe.
It happens that a person accepts Islam and then thinks that simply due to that statement that they are in the clear. Alhamdulillah, this is indeed the first step in guidance and salvation (to declare Allah’s oneness and to worship Him alone), but it doesn’t mean that we have elevated ourselves to the position of righteousness by this statement alone as some may believe. This is not something new as Allah has recorded the statement and incorrect understanding of some of the desert Arabs when He said about them:
قَالَتِ الْأَعْرَابُ آمَنَّا قُل لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَكِن قُولُوا أَسْلَمْنَا وَلَمَّا يَدْخُلِ الْإِيمَانُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ
وَإِن تُطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ لَا يَلِتْكُم مِّنْ أَعْمَالِكُمْ شَيْئًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
The Bedouins say: “We believe (we have Imaan).” Say: “You have yet to believe, but instead you should only say, ‘We have submitted (in Islam),’ for Faith has not yet entered your hearts. But if you obey Allah and His Messenger (saas), He will not decrease anything in reward for your deeds. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [49:14]
Thus, Allah calls us to have the necessary and true taqwa in the ayah we are studying. `Abdullah bin Mas`ud (ra) explained the meaning of this portion of the ayah by saying, “That He is obeyed and not defied, remembered and not forgotten and appreciated and not unappreciated.” This helps us insha’Allah to reinforce what we have been learning in this series regarding the connection between taqwa and obedience to Allah. And Abdullah ibn ‘Abbaas, the commentator of the Qur’an among the Companions, recited this verse and then commented:
Verily, if a drop of Zaqqum (a tree in Hell) falls down to Earth, it will spoil life for the people and cause them misery. What about those whose food is only from Zaqqum?
The connection? Fear Allah and remember that you will return to Him and be asked about your deeds. Fear His punishment and what He has kept in store for the disobedient and arrogant. Certainly hoping for His mercy is a necessary and balancing aspect of our faith, but too often people forget to have the requisite amount of fear of Allah and His punishment.
The last portion of the ayah also is an important reminder for us to not die except in a state of Islam. If we could expand from this with ample time, we would discuss a special subject called “the evil end.” Many of the scholars discuss this topic as a means of motivating the person and instilling in them the reminder that straying from the truth for even a moment can end tragically. How many a Muslim has decided to indulge in some prohibition like zina, theft, murder, etc. only to find that the last moment of their life was spent in this act? That they will now be resurrected in that very deed – in open and shameless disobedience to Allah? This is the “evil end”. That they ended up sealing their deeds and their life’s work with an open act of disobedience, and this end does not bode well for such a person – may Allah protect us all and have mercy on us and prevent us from such an end! Thus Allah reminds us to die as Muslims – don’t stray from the path of obedience and humility to Allah even for a moment, and if it happens that you slip as we all shall do, then rush back to His forgiveness.
This leads us into the next set of ayaat which I couldn’t bear to separate due to their beauty and value to us in reforming ourselves:
وَسَارِعُواْ إِلَى مَغْفِرَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالأَرْضُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ
الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاء وَالضَّرَّاء وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ وَاللّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا فَعَلُواْ فَاحِشَةً أَوْ ظَلَمُواْ أَنْفُسَهُمْ ذَكَرُواْ اللّهَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُواْ لِذُنُوبِهِمْ وَمَن يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلاَّ اللّهُ وَلَمْ يُصِرُّواْ عَلَى مَا فَعَلُواْ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ
And race towards forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for those who have Taqwa.
Those who spend [in Allah’s Cause] in prosperity and in adversity, who repress their anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves those who seek perfection in the good that they do.
And those who, when they have committed Fahishah (illegal sexual intercourse, etc.) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins; – and none can forgive sins but Allah – And they do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know. [3: 133-135]
So here, Allah encourages us to rush forth – to race among one another – for His forgiveness and for a Paradise whose width alone is that of the universe, a universe that even now with all of the technological advancements we have reached cannot be measured. A universe where a star can die and vanish completely before its light rays, traveling at 670 billion mph, reaches our eyes. So naturally the human intellect collapses when trying to fathom this size, yet this is the size of Jannah, wallahu akbar! And once more we return to the issue of taqwa because it is your admission pass to this glorious place. Yet, from His infinite Mercy, Allah provides us with some examples of the behavior of these people, the people with taqwa, so that we can strive to emulate them.
They spend out of what Allah has provided them with in both prosperity and adversity.
They repress their anger, in particular when they are capable of acting upon it
They are forgiving of others and freely pardon those who have wronged them
They quickly rush to seek Allah’s forgiveness when they commit any wrong – big or small
They know with certainty that only Allah can forgive sins (and they expect that from Him)
They don’t knowingly persist in those wrongs, meaning that they don’t delay repenting
To keep my promise of making this a concise series, I will mention only one or two hadith elaborating on these points so that we can have a taste of what they mean with the intention of implementing them in our lives insha’Allah:
Charitable spending is known as sadaqah which is rooted in the word sidq (sincerity) because it is an indication of the true faith of the one who spends it seeking Allah’s pleasure. Abu Hurairah (ra) reports that the Prophet (saas) said: “There is no day on which the people get up but two angels come down and one of them says, ‘O Allah, give in compensation to the one who spends (in charity),’ and the other says, ‘O Allah, destroy the one who withholds.’” (Bukhari and Muslim)
And he (ra) also reports that he Messenger of Allah (saas) said: “Whoever gives charity equal to a date from good (halal) earnings – for Allah does not accept anything but that which is good – Allah will take it in His right hand and tend it for the one who gave it as any one of you tends his foal, until it becomes like a mountain.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
The meaning in this ayah as will be demonstrated in the ahadith below is that those with taqwa do not satisfy their rage upon people or act upon it. Rather, they refrain from harming those who have angered them and await their rewards with Allah.
Narrated Mu’aath ibn Anas that the Prophet (saas) said, “Whoever controlled rage while able to act upon it, then Allah will call him while all creation is a witness, until He gives him the choice of any of the Huris (fair females of Paradise with wide, lovely eyes) he wishes.” (Hasan – Abu Dawwod)
And Ibn ‘Umar reports that the Messenger of Allah (saas) said, “There is not a dose of anything that the servant takes which is better than a dose of control of rage that he feels, when he does it seeking Allah’s Face.” (Sahih – Ibn Maajah)
The understanding here, as taken from the tafsir, is that “they forgive those who treat them with injustice. Therefore, they do not hold any ill feelings about anyone in their hearts, and this is the most excellent conduct in this regard.”
Narrated Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (saas) said, “No charity shall ever decrease the wealth; whenever one forgives people, then Allah will magnify his honor; and he who is humble for Allah, then Allah will raise his rank.” (Muslim)
Rushing to Seek Allah’s Forgiveness
Narrated Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (saas) said, “A man once committed a sin and said, `O Lord! I committed a sin, so forgive me.’ Allah said, `My servant committed a sin and knew that he has a Lord Who forgives or punishes for the error. I have forgiven My servant.’ The man committed another error and said, `O Lord! I committed a sin, so forgive me.’ Allah said, `My servant knew that he has a Lord Who forgives or punishes for the sin. I have forgiven My servant.’ The man committed another sin and said, `O Lord! I committed a sin, so forgive me.’ Allah said, `My servant knew that he has a Lord Who forgives or punishes for the sin. I have forgiven my servant.’ He then committed another sin and said, `O Lord! I committed a sin, so forgive me.’ Allah said, `My servant knew that he has a Lord Who forgives or punishes for the sin. Bear witness that I have forgiven My servant, so let him do whatever he likes.” (Agreed Upon)
Note that in the above hadith, the phrase “let him do whatever he likes”, doesn’t mean that he can sin as he pleases, but instead it means that since the servant already has the right attitude that no matter what he does, he will always return to Allah and seek His forgiveness and repent to Him correctly. This hadith also serves to show that the person knows that he has a Lord who forgives sins and he expects the mercy of Allah because he knows Allah. This idea is also found in the following hadith:
Narrated Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (saas) said, “I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assemble better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
The phrase, “I am as My servant thinks I am”, means that the servant expects that when he makes du’a that Allah will respond, that when he repents that Allah will accept it from him, when he performs a good deed he expects that Allah will reward him for it and when he seeks forgiveness for his sins that Allah will indeed forgive him and so on. The person who doesn’t expect goodness from Allah falls under the category of those who despair of the Mercy of Allah, and this is classified as one of the major sins as can be referenced from many statements of the Prophets in the Qur’an. And Allah knows best.
The first hadith in this section is also an illustration of the importance of not delaying repentance and that Allah is pleased with His slave for this attitude and behavior.
May Allah help us to establish these characteristics of excellence in our lives and to keep us from straying from the right path – ameen, walhamdulillah.