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Lessons From Surah Yusuf – Part 3: Da’wah Behind Bars

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

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بسم اللّه

Part I | Part II | Part III

prison-cell

For the second time in his young life, Prophet Yusuf [عليه السلام] found himself treated unjustly, oppressed and punished for committing absolutely no crime or offence. It is interesting how he appealed to Allah that living in a prison cell would be better for him than what the women of the city were calling him towards, and it was through his life in the cell that Allah decreed for him to have future honor and respect. Despite his innocence being publicly proven and acknowledged by onlookers and witnesses, he was imprisoned.

Through this event we derive important lessons. First, it proves that oppressors in this world can get away with the wrong that they intentionally do to sincere believers, especially if they have worldly power and authority over the oppressed righteous individuals. Just as his brothers had thrown him into the well, the power and social influence wielded by Aziz’s wife facilitated her oppression of Yusuf, and even Aziz – who liked Yusuf – let her get her way. A sincere believer in Allah might suffer the same fate today, with oppressors getting him thrown out of a job, slandered, or deported from somewhere, as those who know of his innocence stand by and let it happen. This, by no means, should lead a believer to despair of Allah being by his side, but rather, as mentioned in the previous posts of this series, he should focus on accepting the decree of Allah and convincing himself that if Allah has willed this for him, it must be good for him in some way. Besides, Yusuf already opted for the prison to escape the shenanigans of Aziz’s wife and her circle.

وَدَخَلَ مَعَهُ السِّجْنَ فَتَيَانَ قَالَ أَحَدُهُمَآ إِنِّي أَرَانِي أَعْصِرُ خَمْرًا وَقَالَ الآخَرُ إِنِّي أَرَانِي أَحْمِلُ فَوْقَ رَأْسِي خُبْزًا تَأْكُلُ الطَّيْرُ مِنْهُ نَبِّئْنَا بِتَأْوِيلِهِ إِنَّا نَرَاكَ مِنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

Two young men happened to go to prison at the same time as Yusuf. One of them said: “Behold, I saw myself [in a dream] pressing wine.” And the other said: “Behold, I saw myself [in a dream] carrying bread on my head, and birds were eating thereof.” [And both entreated Yusuf:] “Let us know the real meaning of this! Verily, we see that you are one of those who do well.” [12:36]

Yusuf’s good conduct and special, Allah-given expertise of dream interpretation soon attracted his first two “students” or “clients”.  These two were youths who had been sent to prison at the same time as he, as the verse above states. This means that they too, were probably intimidated at first by the prison environs, and sought his company when they observed him to be righteous and agreeable in nature.

There are important lessons for us in this as well. First, each and every human being is granted some talent, skill or natural aptitude at something with which he or she can be of benefit to others or earn their livelihood. That talent just needs to be nurtured or polished through observation, practice or an environment conducive to foster progress in its early stages. Children who are still very young show natural affinity or aptitude for certain vocations, hobbies and occupations.  Thus Allah grants a person his or her “key” to success in this life.

The other important lesson in this verse, especially for da’ees or callers towards Islam, is that proactively inviting others to their faith is albeit very important, but just one aspect of da’wah. By consistent good actions and conduct, a person portrays the practical picture of what it is like to be a sincere believer, and onlookers learn about Islam from him just by observation. There are very small gestures that we, as Muslims, can do in public that would invite others towards Islam e.g. giving up our seat on the tube to an elderly person who has just come on board, or offering our snack to the person sitting next to us on the bus/in a public waiting lounge, before eating from it. These small gestures paint a very positive picture of our faith, and undoubtedly it was this ‘silent’ da’wah by Yusuf that earned him not just the respect, but also the confidence, of his two prison mates.

It was after they approached him with their queries that he called them towards monotheism. A da’ee must therefore, first win the trust of people before he or she starts to proclaim/convey the message of Islam to them. Once the audience is keenly listening in, it is important to remember what to talk about first and which issues should be given priority. No doubt, a person’s basic belief or aqeedah is the first thing that needs to be checked and rectified. Therefore, after assuring his two listeners that he would be able to tell them their dream interpretations in a jiffy, he spoke about himself thus:

  • That his ability to interpret dreams was taught to him by Allah ذَلِكُمَا مِمَّا عَلَّمَنِي رَبِّي
  • He had left the way of a nation/people who did not believe in Allah, and who denied the Hereafter:
    إِنِّي تَرَكْتُ مِلَّةَ قَوْمٍ لاَّ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ وَهُم بِالآخِرَةِ هُمْ كَافِرُونَ
  • He instead followed the monotheistic message brought by his forefathers, Prophets Ibrahim, Ishaaq and Yaqoub [عليهم السلام]:

وَاتَّبَعْتُ مِلَّةَ آبَآئِـي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْحَقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ

  • These Prophets did not commit polytheism, which was a great favor of Allah upon them and mankind, but most of mankind was ungrateful about this:

مَا كَانَ لَنَا أَن نُّشْرِكَ بِاللّهِ مِن شَيْءٍ ذَلِكَ مِن فَضْلِ اللّهِ عَلَيْنَا وَعَلَى النَّاسِ وَلَـكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لاَ يَشْكُرُونَ

Yusuf then addressed his two cell mates in an endearing manner, before asking them a question aimed at establishing the proof of tauheed/oneness of Allah:

يَا صَاحِبَيِ السِّجْنِ

“O my prison companions! Are different gods better, or Allah, The One, The Almighty?”

To sum it up, Yusuf waited to ‘strike when the iron was hot’, so to speak. He waited for the right, most appropriate moment to preach to them the oneness of Allah, when he had their full attention, just before telling them the interpretations of their respective dreams.

The lesson for us in this as da’ees is to focus on our own conduct (akhlaq) with others first, befriending them and making them feel at ease, and thereby earning us their trust. When we have their attention, we should make concise but powerful, logical arguments based on tauheeed, the oneness of Allah, and address our listeners in an endearing, affectionate manner. Even in other places in the Quran, the Prophets have addressed their sinning/erring nations as “O my people!”: a manner of address that establishes a link between the speaker and the audience.

Eventually, Yusuf told both of them their respective dream interpretations. One of them was soon to be released from prison and destined to become the ruling King’s cupbearer. When his release was imminent, Yusuf requested him to mention him positively to the King; however, Iblis made the released prisoner forget to do that. As a result, Yusuf stayed in the prison for several more years.

Several more years!

The thing with Allah’s decree is that it cannot be changed by Shaitan or anyone else. Had Allah willed, Yusuf would have been able to get out of prison immediately. But Allah had decreed for him to stay there longer, among a diverse population of convicts and criminals, for a purpose which only He knows best. Isolation and social debasement probably comprised a stringent “training program”, specially designed by Allah, for the talented future leader of Egypt. It does seem “harsh”, at first glance, that Allah would make a future Prophet spend several years of his youth in confinement, with limited, low-quality food for nourishment, and only the bare necessities of living met in a decrepit shelter, with only criminals and convicts for companions. Our lives seem so luxurious in comparison, don’t they?

Although I admit it is not a fair analogy, but whilst reflecting upon the situation of Yusuf, I was reminded of the many times I have counselled young girls and women in my social and da’wah circle, who suffer from the feeling of “isolation” after marriage. Most of them go through some bouts of depression, especially if/when they’re pregnant due to being away from their biological family, friends, and relatives. Cut off from their pre-marriage career, da’wah and social activities, they sometimes ask themselves if marriage is really “worth the sacrifice” they are making, viz. giving up their “whole life” to live with a man who is still relatively a stranger, and his family, around whom they have to be careful not to complain or show sorrow. With their husband away for most of the day, spending their time in a small apartment, in a country foreign to them, their old friends and relatives thousands of miles away, they soon become very depressed. For those living with in-laws, it is somewhat better, as they have company. Nevertheless, it can be a challenge to live away from familiar people with whom they can be frank and no-holds-barred, as opposed to ‘walking on eggshells,’ so to speak. Fortunate are those who do not experience such adjustment woes.

Mischief-seeking gossipers make matters no better, when they say things like, “What a talented, lovely, educated girl; and look how she is living! Since she got married, all she does is stay at home with the baby.  Do they make her bake bread? She deserves to live in a palace like a princess, with servants doing all the work for her!” The girl’s mother nods tearfully in melancholy acquiescence. Hearsay reaches the bride in question, and she promptly descends another notch in her negative perception of life after marriage: “Am I really so unworthy that I have to spend my life in a small room that doesn’t even have an attached bath?!”

To all such girls out there, I’d say, reflect upon what happened to Yusuf. He was young, talented, righteous in behavior, and super-handsome in appearance. Yet, Allah made him dwell in a prison for years. He had committed no crime; he had always been good to others, but after suffering misery at the hands of his envious brothers, he was slandered and thrown into prison by female oppressors. He lived for years with only basic amenities, amid convicts. Yet, he endeavored to convey his religion to those around him, and accepted Allah’s decree. No doubt, this imprisonment was to be good for his future role.

Further, we can look at some more examples of righteous people living a threadbare and/or isolated existence e.g. Prophet Muhammad [صلّى اللّهُ عليه و سلّم] living in self-imposed, semi-exile in the cave of Hira before he received his first revelation; his daughter Fatimah living a life of poverty and hardship, and dying very young, after giving birth to future leaders; Maryam [عليها السلام] living in isolation in the mihraab, spending her time in worship and remembrance of Allah; Prophet Yunus [عليه السلام] being swallowed by a whale, in which he dwelled until he repented. Ponder on the lives of the Prophets and righteous people who have gone before you, and thank Allah for the isolation that you are temporarily going through. This time will surely pass, and some day you will be powerful and independent. But for now, reap the tremendous personal benefits of isolation, because it surely brings about self-actualization. Its greatest benefit is that it allows you to reconnect with Allah without distractions, remember him exclusively, and worship him with sincerity. Isolation also allows a person to explore their inner strengths, analayze their goals for the future i.e. what they want out of life, polish their personal talents and abilities without the interference of others, and keep away from negative social company, burdensome events and useless pastimes. Many successful people impose isolation upon themselves to relax, read, do research, and generate ideas for future projects.

When Yusuf had reached the requisite level of self-actualization, Allah caused the King of Egypt to have a dream that none of his courtiers could interpret. It was at this time that his cupbearer finally remembered Yusuf’s dream-interpreting talent from his prison days. This was not just a mere coincidence, but Allah’s decree at work. It was finally the time for Yusuf to come out and benefit society with his knowledge and talents.

When his ex-cellmate came to him after many years to ask him about the King’s dream, Yusuf was once more the epitome of the easy-going “nice guy”: he neither rebuked nor chastised him for forgetting to mention his dream-interpreting talent to the King upon his release from prison, nor did he refuse to tell him the dream interpretation as revenge.

Rather, his main concern, even as the King ordered his release, was the threat to his chastity that still existed outside the prison walls – the “cougars”:

فَلَمَّا جَاءهُ الرَّسُولُ قَالَ ارْجِعْ إِلَى رَبِّكَ فَاسْأَلْهُ مَا بَالُ النِّسْوَةِ اللاَّتِي قَطَّعْنَ أَيْدِيَهُنَّ إِنَّ رَبِّي بِكَيْدِهِنَّ عَلِيمٌ

And when the messenger came unto him, he (Yusuf) said: “Return to your lord and ask him what was the case of the women who cut their hands. Lo! My lord knows their guile.” [12:50]

Yusuf knew that he had been sent to prison because the women had threatened him to either do as they wished, or be imprisoned. He knew that they were still out there, and that majority of the town’s people might still be in the dark about who actually was guilty of betraying Aziz.

قَالَ مَا خَطْبُكُنَّ إِذْ رَاوَدتُّنَّ يُوسُفَ عَن نَّفْسِهِ قُلْنَ حَاشَ لِلّهِ مَا عَلِمْنَا عَلَيْهِ مِن سُوءٍ قَالَتِ امْرَأَةُ الْعَزِيزِ الآنَ حَصْحَصَ الْحَقُّ أَنَاْ رَاوَدتُّهُ عَن نَّفْسِهِ وَإِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ

He (the king) (then sent for those women and) said: What happened when you asked an evil act of Yusuf? They answered: “Allah preserve us! We know no evil of him.” Said the wife of Aziz: “Now the truth is out. I asked of him an evil act, and he is surely of the truthful ones.” [12:51]

At long last, the truth surfaced. Aziz’s wife confessed and proclaimed Yusuf’s innocence and righteousness before all. Thus, Allah publicly cleared Yusuf of the false charges/rumors against him, and he was honorably discharged from prison. What he said then is a lesson in humility and wisdom for all time to come:

ذَلِكَ لِيَعْلَمَ أَنِّي لَمْ أَخُنْهُ بِالْغَيْبِ وَأَنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يَهْدِي كَيْدَ الْخَائِنِينَ وَمَا أُبَرِّىءُ نَفْسِي إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ إِلاَّ مَا رَحِمَ رَبِّيَ إِنَّ رَبِّي غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Then (Yusuf) said: “(I asked for) this, that he (Aziz) may know that I did not betray him in secret, and that surely Allah guides not the snare of the betrayers. I do not absolve myself of blame. Indeed, the (human) soul enjoins unto evil, except the one on whom my Lord has mercy. My Lord is Forgiving, Merciful.” [12:52-53]

Despite being a Prophet of Allah and having opted for prison to escape from the women’s invitation towards adultery, he didn’t preach his “holier-than-thou-ness” or act self-righteously before everyone, after the confession was made by the Aziz’s wife. He didn’t absolve himself from evil, making it clear to the public that the human self is naturally prone to evil desires, and it is only Allah’s mercy that saves anyone – anyone – from becoming a slave to them. This statement of his could also have been directed as a measure to save Aziz’s wife from being condemned by society for her action, for which she had clearly repented. Otherwise, her confession could have triggered her public humiliation and ostracization, had Yusuf not testified to the fact that every human being is prone to evil, so no one should consider himself above it or protected from it.

This was his ultimate “moment of truth”. He could have said something tinted with disdain or arrogance to his former oppressor, as her guile and his innocence became public. But he stuck to the same nature of action of his, which is apparent throughout Surah Yusuf – that of being a “muhsin” – a doer of good. No matter what anyone did to him, he returned their actions with good. No wonder Allah calls this surah of the Quran احسن القصص [“Ahsan Al-Qasas”]: the most beautiful of stories!

Sadaf Farooqi is a postgraduate in Computer Science who has done the Taleem Al-Quran Course from Al-Huda International, Institute of Islamic Education for Women, in Karachi, Pakistan.11 years on, she is now a homeschooling parent of three children, a blogger, published author and freelance writer. She has written articles regularly for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine and Saudi Gazette.Sadaf shares her life experiences and insights on her award-winning blog, Sadaf's Space, and intermittently teaches subjects such as Fiqh of Zakah, Aqeedah, Arabic Grammar, and Science of Hadith part-time at a local branch of Al-Huda. She has recently become a published author of a book titled 'Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage'.For most part, her Jihad bil Qalam involves juggling work around persistent power breakdowns and preventing six chubby little hands from her computer! Even though it may not seem so, most of her time is spent not in doing all this, but in what she loves most - reading.

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Avatar

    ummMaryam

    February 17, 2010 at 8:38 AM

    salaamu ‘alaikum,

    jazakillah khair for the beautiful reminders. i think both fellow authors of Muslimmatters and us the readers can benefit from the lessons of forgiveness and humility that you highlight. Slandering fellow muslims is certainly not “idfa’ billatee heeya ahsan” (repel evil with that which is best). Nor is the lambasting in the comments sections and the redundant arguments and counterarguments of who can get the last say.

    let us all please print the above article, put it on our fridges/desks/etc and read it at least once daily, if not more to improve our akhlaq/character. And I am telling myself first!!

    Indeed, Ahsan al Qasas. laa ilaaha illa Allah. the spiritual and physical beauty of Yusuf, the CREATION of Allah. SubhanAllah we cannot even imagine the beauty of Allah, ‘azza wa jall, the PERFECT CREATOR of such beauty and conduct.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      February 18, 2010 at 8:45 PM

      So true. How beautiful and just must Allah be, if the best of His creation can reach such lofty heights?
      Indeed, this Surah is Ahsan Al-Qasas from Allah. We should be so grateful that He narrated it in such detail for our guidance!

  2. Avatar

    UmmOsman

    February 17, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    Jazak Allah khairun-have been waiting for part 3 and it was worth it .
    So many beautiful lessons that we can learn and apply now a days !

  3. Avatar

    Sammy

    February 17, 2010 at 12:35 PM

    I was waiting for the 3rd part eagerly too, needless to say I’m in awe of the beauty with which you analyzed and wrote it! MashaAllah!

  4. Avatar

    Hafsa

    February 17, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    Jazakallahukhair!

  5. Avatar

    Sayf

    February 17, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    May Allah reward you tremendously! Ameen.

  6. Avatar

    ahmed

    February 17, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    fantastic mashaAllah

  7. Avatar

    Ahsan Sayed

    February 17, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    This by no means should thwart a believer from thinking that Allah is not by his side…

    I think there is a small typo there.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      February 18, 2010 at 8:41 PM

      Jazak Allahu khair for pointing that out. I have corrected the error.

  8. Avatar

    Ilyas Abdullah

    February 18, 2010 at 12:38 AM

    May Allah(SWT) reward you with Al-Jannah firdaus.

  9. Avatar

    Argentyne

    February 18, 2010 at 3:00 AM

    Please consider Ilyas Abdullah’s dua as my dua too. Jazakallahu khayran. From the bottomest bottom of my heart.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      February 18, 2010 at 8:43 PM

      Ameen! Jazak Allahu khairan for such a nice dua.

  10. Avatar

    ummahmed

    February 18, 2010 at 7:23 AM

    Assalamualykum dear sis ,

    Mashaallah…Subahanallah..Jazakallahu khairaa .It`s really amazing to read posts like this .Learning from the past and applying it in our day to day life…May Allah reward you more and more for directing the young ladies in the right direction.

    salaam.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      February 18, 2010 at 8:51 PM

      Ameen. Indeed, the lessons from the Quran guide us even 14 centuries on, in our personal, day-to-day lives.
      Times, cultures, systems and civilizations may change, but human beings and their psychology remains the same. Whatever guidance for behavior Allah sent down centuries ago, is relevant and needed today, irrespective of the time elapsed since revelation; His wisdom and commands are applicable in every day and age.
      If we make Quran recitation (with understanding) and tafakkur a daily part of our lives, striving to complete the Quran every few months, our soul will find solace from daily problems and distress, and we will get answers to our questions/worries directly from the Book! It is a tried-and-tested way of staying connected to Allah. We all should adopt it!

  11. Avatar

    Holly Garza

    February 18, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    JazakAllah Khayer for sharing this post, MashaAllah great reminders and very well written.

  12. Avatar

    Sayf

    February 19, 2010 at 12:45 AM

    I’m hoping we get to see a lot more articles like these about the Prophets (peace upon all of them) and lessons from the Qur’an inshAllah!

  13. Pingback: Lessons From Surah Yusuf – Part 1: Sibling Rivalry | MuslimMatters.org

  14. Pingback: Lessons From Surah Yusuf – Part 2: Trials and Temptation | MuslimMatters.org

  15. Avatar

    zarina ahsan quadeer

    February 20, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    Alhamdullilah!
    Mashallah, what beautiful insight, what Taffakur what Taddabur.
    Inshallah may we all benefit from the beautiful lessons this Surah has for all of us, so well highlighted by you. One can keep reading Allah SWT’s Ahsan Al-Qasas all one’s life and applying it.
    May Allah Tallah Reward you amply for sharing.
    Zarina

  16. Avatar

    Mariam E

    February 20, 2010 at 2:16 PM

    Asalamu Alikum

    Absolutely beautiful, mashaAllah. May Allah guide us to understand and apply the teachings of the Quran in our lives.

    Jazaki Allah khair.

  17. Avatar

    Mehak

    February 20, 2010 at 9:39 PM

    Asalamualaikum
    jazakillah!

  18. Avatar

    Umm Musayb

    May 15, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    Salaam ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

    MashaAllah, tabarakAllah – what beatuiful lessons in such a beautiful surah, about such a beautiful Prophet! ‘Alayhi salaam.

    I have just read all three in one go, they’re so awesome mashaAllah, and amazingly enough just reading the above has helped me in my life and look forward to my future – more than before. May Allah increase my life, so I can do more khayr, aameen!

    SubhanAllah.

    Jazaakillahu khayrun for sharing these gems with us, and I look forward to more, in sha Allah.

    Ma’asalaama.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      May 16, 2010 at 12:36 AM

      Alhamdulillah! May Allah bless your life and make you a source of good. Ameen.

  19. Avatar

    mamoona

    May 6, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    Dear Sadaf, Asslam O Alikum,
    MaShaallah, you have analyzed this sura with deep understanding of practical life problems. All of us face some of these problems to some extent. I have learned many lessons form this sura and applied them in my life that helped me to stay patient and on best level of character. Almost fifteen years ago, when I used to recite Quran with translation, (Alhamdullilah, from last ten years I am learning with tafseer) life was at peak of difficulty but this sura helped me go through that time. I would like to share some moments and the lessons I learned.
    I was raised in a family where, there were five to eight servants helping in the household. I was kind of a spoiled brat and was not trained enough to face practical life problems (like many Pakistani girls). After my marriage, I came to America, living with nine family members; that means I was the only servant who literally used to clean one bath room in that apartment ten times a day and washing dishes with hands all day long. Even during the last month of pregnancy, I would clean floors everyday. I wanted to run away but there was no place to hide. In that situation, I would relate myself to Prophet Youasf (A) imagined him standing in the market of Egypt waiting for to be sold. What I think being a slave is most disgraceful to a person. Thinking that if this could happen to a prophet of Allah, I am still in better situation because I am serving people who are my relatives.

    Prophet Yousaf (A) had a long time of trials and hardships. One after another for example first, he was thrown into a well than, he was sold as a slave next, a women from elite class was pressurizing him to commit adultery and last he was sent down to jail without any trial. If we see Prophet Yousaf’s life; he was on the highest level of character throughout the time, he did not do anything wrong why he is being punished for. When people do something bad to us, the first thing we think what I have done wrong? (Although, behind our problems we have done something wrong but we do not want to admit it.) Sometimes, our trials go longer and tougher and we started to loose hope especially when the time of our youth ( the time we think to enjoy the beauties of life) is going under pressures. Prophet Yousaf’s (A) youth spent in the trails. He was in his early teens when his brothers betrayed him and so on one trial after another. We see he would never complained to Allah Taala; He was at the highest level of “ sabar” through all the times.
    As Dr Farhat Hashmi says, “ if his brothers would not throw him in the well, he would stay in Palistine all his life and would never get chance to become the king of Egypt.” Sometimes our enemies or envies planned bad for us and Allah Taala has “khair” for us in that plan. The only thing we need to be patient, have trust that Allah Taala that He will never do bad to us, we should try to be at the best level of “Taqwa.”

    The last thing, when time turns in our favor, we should forgive the people like Prophet Yousaf (A) did to his brothers and Prophet Muhammad (S) did to people of Makka.

  20. Avatar

    fatima

    September 8, 2015 at 1:18 AM

    very educative and interesting surah

  21. Pingback: Comment on Lessons From Surah Yusuf – Part 3: Da’wah Behind Bars by fatima | Souqhub | Blog

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Lessons From Surah Maryam: 1

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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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Lesson 13 From Surah Al -Kahf

Last verses of Surah Kahf

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

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Surah Kahf
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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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