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Quran and Sunnah

The Quran and Me: Developing a Personal Relationship

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By Ismail Kamdar

A few days ago, I was feeling very sad about an accusation somebody made against me. Although I knew it was false, it still hurt me that somebody would think like that about me so I turned to the best words for advice…the Quran. I opened the Quran randomly asking Allah to guide me and looked down at the verses in front of me, which read, “We definitely know the grief their words cause you, it is not you they deny but it is the signs of Allah that the oppressors deny. Indeed messengers were denied before you and they were patient with the denial and they were harmed until our help came….” (Surah Al-An’aam 6:33-34)

Over the years I have come to expect this from the Quran. As my relationship with the Quran grows, it becomes more personal and my view of the Quran has evolved from the book of Allah into a personal conversation with my Lord. I would like to mention some key events in my life that affected my relationship with the Quran so that everybody can develop a similar if not better relationship with the Quran than me, insha Allah.

In my early childhood, my relationship with the Quran was the average cultural relationship, kiss it, keep it on the top shelf, memorize my basic surahs, nothing more. When I was eight, I started Hifz and was beaten many times because I found difficulty memorizing the Quran or reciting it with the level of Tajweed that was demanded by my teachers. I soon quit Hifz and had become averse to the Quran, its recital and Tajweed.

Many years later, as I was studying to become a Moulana, I still had this fear to recite and this hatred of studying Tajweed, it didn’t help that my Tajweed teacher was very mean and demanded perfection, which my tongue could not manage, so my relationship with the Quran did not improve.

However, a few years ago while still studying I came across a lecture that changed my perception of the Quran forever,

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Ismail Kamdar, a.k.a Abu Muawiyah, is the Head Tutorial Assistant of the Islamic Online University, and the host of Living Islam on Radio Al-Ansaar. He began his study of Islam at the age of thirteen, and has completed both the Alim course and a BA in Islamic Studies. He is the author of multiple books including Having Fun the Halal Way: Entertainment in Islam, Getting The Barakah: An Islamic Guide to Time Management and Best of Creation: An Islamic Guide to Self-Confidence.



  1. Avatar

    Mirza Shahbaaz Baig

    February 24, 2010 at 6:11 AM


    Barak Allaah feek Ismail. Jazak Allaah khayr for this reminder. wonderful experience. wassalam.

  2. Avatar


    February 24, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    Anxiously waiting the first person who will say, “Open the Qura’an randomly and take a message for the day! This is bida’ah!”

    …and then Amad’s response about the concept of bida’ah.

    hehe :)

    May Allah make the Qura’an a proof for us and not against us. May Allah reward you for sharing your personal experiences Br. Ismail.

    • Avatar

      Abd- Allah

      February 24, 2010 at 2:13 PM

      Sneaky way of stating that this is an innovation without having to be the one who said it and thus avoid confrontation. Smart technique. I should use it more often.

    • Amad


      February 25, 2010 at 5:21 AM

      Sami, your comment is a bidah.

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    Yus from the Nati

    February 24, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    جزاك الله خورا!

    Akhi, I think I enjoy your posts on here the most. Good reminders/experiences.

  4. Avatar


    February 24, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    Alhamdulilah, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. What I’ve realized is that, amongst our generation at least, there’s so much emphasis on your “hardware” of the Qur’an (how much is memorized, how good is your tajweed, how often do you recite) understanding it just gets brushed to the wayside. It seems many of us are more content with simply reciting and reading than actually knowing what it is we’re saying and then I realize it’s no wonder so many of us haven’t really connected with the Book of Allah – we honestly don’t know what he’s saying.

    But alhamdulilah, we have posts like these and brothers like yourself to help steer everyone towards actual understanding which is the only way, really, to know and love Allah. On this same note, I guess it would beneficial for us to suggest translations or tafsir collections that have opened our eyes to Allah and His word:

    Personally, it was the translation, “Al-Quran The Guidance for Mankind” by Muhammad Farooqi-i-Azam Malik” published by The Institute of Islamic Knowledge (can read online for free Subhanallah I feel that it is excellent; before each surah is a overview, major points/guidance, and historical context of the surahs. On top of that it’s really written in modern day English which makes it VERY accessible. I pray that Allah guides us all to Him and that we each find benefit from this post, ameen.

    • Avatar

      Ismail Kamdar

      February 25, 2010 at 12:16 AM

      Jazakallah Khair to everyone for teh kind comments.

      Akhi, “Al-Quran The Guidance for Mankind” by Muhammad Farooqi-i-Azam Malik” is my favorite translation too, once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down, I read it cover to cover without missing any explanation. It just flows so well and so easy to understand. I definitely recommend it above all the English translations that I have read thus far.

      My favorite Tafseers are Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Imam Shawkani’s Fathul Qadeer. ALthough I do not know if Fathul Qadeer has been translated into English, I own an Arabic copy of it.

      • Amad


        February 25, 2010 at 5:24 AM

        I know Farooq Malik personally… both his sons were very good friends of mine in school.

        I don’t know how to say it, but take benefit from it as you can. But pls check it against the other translations. Basically, you’ll find a lot of it came from Maududi’s translation, mixed with other translations. I think his main goal was not as much to translate, but “help” the existing translations.

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    February 24, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    jazaak Allahu khayran Abu Muawiyah for sharing your experience. may Allah ta’ala make you from the companions of the Qur’an and grant you success in your hifdh soon.

    My relationship with the Qur’an started when I was around 15, I had this sudden urge to just memorize so I started listening to these Hodaify tapes my mom got me and just memorized on my own for a few years. My parents always took us to Qur’an classes and we would memorize but I never felt a connection with the Qur’an before this time. After that, I did what you did…I made it a habit to read the English over and over until I could remember the meaning on my own. I used to carry around a check list of which surahs I read with my pocket qur’an and how many more I needed to go to finish reading the translation. Then I started Al-Huda…the pinnacle alhamdulillah :)

    Which Arabic tafaseer did you start reading?

    I’d really like to have a tafseer like tafseer imam Sa’di translated for the English audience inshaAllah.

    • Avatar

      Ibn Malik

      February 24, 2010 at 12:04 PM

      Its not completely translated (Tafseer Sa’di rahimuAllah) but you can find tafseer of the some of the Juz Amma surahs

      The translations are top quality Alhamdulillah and the brother is slowly translating each Surah, so check back often to see if a new one has come out!

      • Avatar


        February 24, 2010 at 11:39 PM

        that is great mashaAllah, may Allah reward the brother tremendously. I really think his tafseer would benefit a wide range of people. It’s practically my favorite, as well as shaykh ibn Uthaymeen’s tafseer.

    • Avatar

      Ismail Kamdar

      February 25, 2010 at 12:19 AM

      Fathul Qadeer by Imam Shawkhani and Tafsir Ibn Kathir are my two favorite Arabic Tafsirs.

      In English for starters, one should read a short Tafseer of a surah to get a feel of it. My favorite Tafseer to recommend people first is “Tafseer of Surah Hujarat” by Dr Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, its a very important Surah and one of the best and most contemprary Tasfeers of that Surah I know off.

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    February 24, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    You’d be surprised to know how many “fear” the Qur’an in some sense because they lack the tajweed or reading skills and being previously embarrassed in their childhood for improper reading.

    I struggle with this a lot, but as long as I don’t give up insha’Allah I’ll be ok

  7. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    February 24, 2010 at 2:17 PM

    JazakAllah khayr brother Ismail for sharing your experiences in this article. I think every person has their own journey to discovering the Quran, but once we taste the sweetness of the Quran, reciting it and understanding it, it gives us the motivation to keep pushing and struggling for a better and deeper understanding of the Quran.

    What amazes me personally is that regardless of how many times I have read a certain surah or ayah, but every time I read it I have a new feeling inside me and I realize or see in it something new which I haven’t noticed before.

    Indeed, { (All) praise is due to Allah, Who revealed the Book to His servant and did not make in it any crookedness. } (18:01)

    • Avatar

      Ismail Kamdar

      February 25, 2010 at 12:22 AM

      Same here, for example: Surah Asr is just three verses but the more often I recite it, the more lessons I pull from it. It is amazing how deep each verse of the Quran is, that alone is proof of its miraculous nature.

      Imaam Shaafi said, “If Surah Asr alone was revealed, it would have bee sufficient for guidance,”

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    Wael -

    February 24, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    Jazak Allah khayr brother for this reminder about the importance of seeking understanding and guidance from the Quran. It’s not just something to recite in salat, or keep on the shelf to show our “Muslimhood”. It is Allah speaking to us, and not just as an excercise, but to help us understand the meaning of our lives.

    And now… I’m going to read the Quran, Insha’Allah.

    • Avatar

      Wael -

      February 24, 2010 at 3:14 PM

      It’s been a difficult time for me recently. I’ve been feeling suffocated and emotionally cramped in many ways. After reading brother Ismail’s article, I took a break from work, opened the curtains to let in some sun, and sat down with the Quran. I opened it randomly and read in Surah Yasin ayah 33:

      “And a sign for them is the dead earth. We have brought it to life and brought forth from it grain, and from it they eat.”

      SubhanAllah. This could easily be a metaphor for the deadened heart. Just as Allah brings life and sustenance from the dead earth, He will do the same with our lives, our hearts.

      It’s a sign for us, Allah says. It’s not accidental or random.

      Trust in Allah, turn to Him, and from the cramped, oppressed, suffering heart He will bring light, happiness, comfort, peace and joy.

  9. Avatar

    Mr M

    February 24, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    Most people fail to appreciate that they need to put enough effort into Islam just as they do so in order to gain entry to colleges of higher learning. Muslims should be prepared to study many years and not fall into the trap of listening or watching certain TVs that suit them; that is called “grooming” and not learning.

    You can google a torrent called “Learn Quranic Arabic words – The Easy Way” and take the necessary steps to download the files.

    Thank you.

  10. Avatar

    Umm Bilqis

    February 24, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Some people will come on the Day of
    Judgement and their Imaan will be outstanding, it’s light will shine from their chests and from their
    right hands.
    So it will be said to them, ‘Glad tidings for you today, Assalamu ‘alaikum and Goodness for you, Enter
    into it (Jannah) forever!’
    So the Angels and the Prophets will be jealous of the Love of Allah for them.”
    So the Sahabah asked, “Who are they, Ya Rasoolullah?”
    He (sallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) replied,
    “They are not from us and they are not from you. You are my companions but they are my beloved.
    They will come after you and will find the Book (the Qur’an) made redundant by the people, and a
    Sunnah which has been killed by them. So they will grab hold of the Book and the Sunnah and revive
    So they read them and teach them (the Qur’an and the Sunnah) to the people and they will experience
    in that path a punishment more severe and more ugly than what you (O Sahabah) have experienced.
    Indeed the Imaan of one of them is equivalent to the Imaan of forty of you.
    The Shaheed of one of them is equivalent to forty of your Shuhadaa’. Because you found a helper
    towards the truth (the Prophet) and they will find no helper towards the truth.
    So they will be surrounded by tyrant rulers in every place, and they will be in the surroundings of Baitul-
    Maqdis (Al-Quds, Masjid al-Aqsa). The Nussrah (Help and Victory) of Allah will come to them, and
    they will have the honour of it on their hands.”
    Then he (sallahu ‘alayhi wasalam) said, “O Allah, give them the Nussrah and make them my close
    friends in Jannah.”
    – Reported by Ahmad

    • Avatar

      Wael -

      February 24, 2010 at 9:11 PM

      Wow, that’s an amazing hadith. I had not read that before. May Allah make us among them, or even allow us to learn from them and know them.

    • Avatar

      Abd- Allah

      February 25, 2010 at 1:09 AM

      Assalam Alaikum

      This hadith is fabricated, and it doesn’t even seem to be found in the musnad of Imam Ahmad nor in any of the other books of hadith.

      Allah knows best.

  11. Avatar

    Ibnu Ameen

    February 24, 2010 at 9:03 PM

    Insyallah akhi, i’m also trying to learn and understanding more about our precious Kitaab,
    amy Allah help us and guide us to understanding our deen better, in a right path, Ameen

  12. Avatar


    February 24, 2010 at 9:48 PM

    Reading your story totally reminds me of myself :)
    I had been exposed to Quran at a very young age.I started reading Quran at 8 years old and managed to finish it less than a year.
    Every night, I will recite quran in front of my father and will be canned if I read it wrongly.My dad stressed so much on the tajweed,Thanks to him,Today I can see his efforts were paid off.Alhamdulillah, I can read quran fluently, with good tajweed and makhraj.
    Nevertheless, something seems not right.All this while,I read quran without putting my heart and soul at it.Reading quran just because its been my daily habit,I am not feeling excited,overwhelmed,or awed.Astaghfirullah.
    After I attended this one leadership training called ESQ, it seriously struck on me that I have been neglecting the most beautiful love letter by the sole Creator.So since that occurence, I read quran with translation and Subhanallah,Allah knows how beautiful HIS words were,of course,they came from HIM.And tears of happiness just gushed from my eyes.

    Thank You brother,I am eager to practice your advice about opening random verses in the quran as my REMINDER OF THE DAY vitamin.InsyaAllah.

    I remembered in a hadeeth:

    Rasulullah (Sallalloho alaihe wasallam) said:
    When a man dies and his relatives are busy in funeral, there stands an extremely handsome man by his head.

    When the dead body is shrouded, that man gets in between the shroud and the chest of the deceased.

    When after the burial, the people return home, 2 angels, Munkar and Nakeer (names of two special Angels), come in the grave and try to separate this handsome man so that they may be able to interrogate the dead man in privacy about his faith.

    But the handsome man says,
    “He is my companion, he is my friend. I will not leave him alone in any case. If you are appointed for interrogation, do your job. I cannot leave him until I get him admitted into Paradise”.
    Thereafter he turns to his dead companion and says,
    …“I am the Qura’an, which you used to read, sometimes in a loud voice
    and sometimes in a low voice. Do not worry.

    After the interrogation of Munkar and Naker, you will have no grief. When the interrogation is over, the handsome man arranges for him from Al-Mala’ul A’laa
    (the angels in Heaven) a silk bedding filled with musk.

    So Let us be a faithful companion to Quran,InsyaALLAH :)

    • Avatar

      Abd- Allah

      February 25, 2010 at 1:12 AM

      This hadith is fabricated too and is not found in any of the books of hadith. Allahu almusta’an.

      • Avatar

        Umm Bilqis

        February 25, 2010 at 2:04 AM

        Jazak’Allah Khairan brother Abd-Allah for pointing this out.

        Here is a hadith that is from Riyad al Saliheen.

        992. An-Nawwas bin Sam`an (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, “The Qur’an and its people who applied it, will be brought on the Day of Resurrection preceded with Surat Al-Baqarah and Surat Al-`Imran arguing on behalf of those who applied them.”

        Commentary: This Hadith means that on the Day of Requital, the Qur’an, with Surat Al-Baqarah and Al-`Imran in the forefront, will intercede before Allah for those who used to recite and act upon them in the life of the world.
        May we Allah become Companions of the Quran. Brother Ismail please feel free to delete the previous hadith.

        • Avatar

          Umm Bilqis

          February 25, 2010 at 2:08 AM

          Typo> My Allah Make us Companions of the Quraan Ameen

        • Avatar

          Abd- Allah

          February 25, 2010 at 2:37 PM

          JazakumAllah khayr sister Umm Bilqis for providing an authentic hadith instead. I should have done that myself but I was in a bit of a hurry when I wrote that comment.

      • Avatar


        February 25, 2010 at 1:01 PM

        Please can I ask: what is wrong with the yusuf Ali translation?

  13. Avatar

    Holly Garza

    February 25, 2010 at 12:10 AM

    MashaAllah thanks for this post

  14. Avatar

    Ismail Kamdar

    February 25, 2010 at 12:26 AM

    Nobody brought up the issue of beating kids to learn the Quran that I mentioned in the article. I was hoping somebody would comment on that. What are your views on the system of beating kids to learn their tajweed and Hifz? I’d like to have a beneficial discussion on this point, insha Allah.

    • Avatar

      Abd- Allah

      February 25, 2010 at 1:18 AM

      Beating the kids to learn the Quran? I’m pretty sure that isn’t even allowed according to Islam. Using a system where they are rewarded for learning the Quran and hadith would be a much better approach, and the kids would also enjoy it too which will make them develop a good relationship with it and not feel like it is a burden where they will be punished for not doing it. Besides, if you beat them up to learn the Quran, then what do you do when they reach the age of ten and don’t want to pray?

      • Avatar


        February 25, 2010 at 1:47 AM

        This is pretty common in South Asian communities. I’m surprised you haven’t heard of this. May I ask, Abd- Allah, what is your background?

        • Avatar

          Abd- Allah

          February 25, 2010 at 2:13 PM

          This is pretty common in South Asian communities. I’m surprised you haven’t heard of this. May I ask, Abd- Allah, what is your background?

          I come from an Arab background. I have heard about some people who beat their kids to learn the secular sciences, but not to learn the Quran.

      • Avatar


        February 25, 2010 at 2:00 AM

        if they do not pray you beat them after age 10 and rewarding to some extent can be fine, but systematic rewarding can lead to an improper intention of the child of memorizing the Quran.

        • Avatar

          Ismail Kamdar

          February 25, 2010 at 2:06 AM

          You do not beat them for not praying, you (daraba) hit them. Big difference! Beating involves physical and emotional harm, hitting can be just a light slap and a reprimand. Constantly beating a child for not praying will also ruin his intention, he might start praying to avoid being beaten and as soon as he is away and no one can beat him, he will not pray.

          A balanced approach is required.

          • Avatar


            February 25, 2010 at 2:35 AM

            yes i agree that is what i meant. Hit would be a better word, but the translation of the hadith i usually hear beat. Allah knows best.

          • Avatar

            Abd- Allah

            February 25, 2010 at 2:34 PM

            In English there might be a difference between the words hit and beat, but in Arabic, the word (daraba) is general enough and contains the meanings of both words. That is why the word (daraba) is sometimes translated as hit and other times as beat.

            But if we are using the English meaning of the word beat which means to cause physical and emotional harm, then in that case a child should never be beaten up.

  15. Avatar

    Umm Bilqis

    February 25, 2010 at 12:40 AM

    Br. Ismail> This is a heinous crime and interferes with true learning.

    As Plato said, ‘Nothing of value to the individual, happens by coercion.”

    • Avatar

      Ismail Kamdar

      February 25, 2010 at 12:51 AM

      I agree, Umm Bilqis but then why is it so normal in our society. I have seen so much negative outcomes of this mentality, I know of a brother who sincerely started Hifz and was beaten severely for not knowing his work well enough.

      The result: He dropped off, grew averse to Ulema and became a modernist/progressive.

      The psychological effects of this backwards method are great. I do not understand why so many Madressas see nothing wrong with it.

      I had it easy actually, all they did to me was hit my head, poke me with pens or throw keys at me. I saw other boys have sticks broken over their heads and desks flung at them, busting them open, all in the name of Islam and Islamic knowledge. It is true, these things happen in many Madressas around the world and can be a cause of chasing many young people away from Islam.

      • Avatar

        Umm Bilqis

        February 25, 2010 at 1:07 AM

        How awful brother, many people convinced themselves that this is the only way to learn things. In effect it puts kids off learning or memorizing anything altogether which is sad. It needs the attentions of the Ulema, and a continued message that love of learning comes from positive experiences and successes in learning.
        No one would ride bikes or cook if they were hit for doing it so why are we doing the same for the best study the study of the Quran?
        Ultimately parents are in control of education and they have say in where their money goes. They should give naseeha to the ones who run the schools and then leave the schools that do this.
        The good news is that this message has been communicated in some Gulf states and will gain traction Insha”Allah.

      • Avatar

        Abd- Allah

        February 25, 2010 at 1:23 AM

        Who is the one beating the kids? Their parents or the hifz teacher? If it is the parents then I doubt that they have a proper understanding of Islam if they are beating their kids for something which isn’t even obligatory like prayer. And if it is the hifz teacher who is beating the kids up, then these kids shouldn’t even be learning the Quran from him because he definitely is not qualified to teach the Quran if he lacks the manners which are mentioned in the Quran. How can he teach something which he doesn’t know… how can he give something which he doesn’t have?

        • Avatar

          Ismail Kamdar

          February 25, 2010 at 1:32 AM

          It is the Hifz teachers, many a times they are Maulanas and Ulema who see it as the normal method of teaching Hifz that their forefathers have been using for ages. It is so normal in my community that many parents and Ulema here don’t even regard it as anything wrong. May Allah guide us all.

          • Avatar


            February 25, 2010 at 2:04 AM

            Some form of discipline as long as it isn’t too severe should be present to indicate the seriousness of the task to the children.

  16. Avatar

    Umm Bilqis

    February 25, 2010 at 3:32 AM

    Brother Ismail I hope that people become those who value Our Holy Quraan.
    About 2 months ago I had a wonderful dream that I shall keep to myself but it made me realize the illusion of Dunya and the procrastination of Most Muslims about the study of the Quran and in seeking good deeds.

    At this time I was involved in post graduate studies in a field that does not motivate me.< that is all I'll say about that topic.

    So I handed back the golden chains of subjugation to this course of study and I wish to be a slave/ servant of Allah Insha'Allah. Who knows maybe my dream about the hereafter will become true. Insha'Allah Ameen.

    Here is a nice motivational speech about becoming people of action Insha'Allah. By Sh. Zahir Mahmood:

    • Avatar

      Ismail Kamdar

      February 25, 2010 at 5:35 AM

      Jazakallah Khair for this.

      This video is beautiful, I am going to play it at my Youth Workshops, insha Allah

  17. Avatar

    South African Sis

    February 25, 2010 at 3:41 AM

    Salam alaikum

    Abu Muawiya, kazakAllahu khairun for writing this beautiful reminder…

    It is unfortunately so common place in our society for children to be beaten in the Quraan/Hifz classes. In one Darul Uloom madressah near us, they shave the boys’ heads as punishment: one line from ear to ear as a lenient punishment, a cross for more severe offenses, and other “styles” for other offenses (read: not memorising well enough, not pronouncing what the teacher believes in correct, which does not mean that he knows tajweed properly anyway)… and we wonder why the kids have such psychological problems??!!

    May Allah swt guide all of us to the proper understanding of the Quraan, and help us to impart the beauty of the Quraan to others in a beautiful manner, ameen.


  18. Avatar


    February 25, 2010 at 4:22 AM

    I’m feeling so angry at this moment. The part about beating kids to learn to read the Qur’an brought back all the bitter memories from my childhood Qur’an classes!!! My ‘Hafiz ji’ would would poke our hands with his pen when we made a mistake and after the class, we’d have pen marks all over the back of our right hands!
    We were caned all the time! He even had a wire which he had folded and twisted to whip us more efficiently and called it ‘Tambi’-ul-ghaafileen‘. May Allah forgive him and have mercy on him. I was a good student at school but I was the worst student in his class! It was really bad for my 6 years old self esteem. When it was time for the Qur’an class, I’d feign stomach ache or use onions ‘to raise my temperature to get a fever’ (it never worked!) or I’d simply run away to a friend’s house.
    I hated reading the Qur’an as a kid! There was so much fear, dislike and pain associated with the Arabic Qur’an that even when I started practising Islam, I never read the Qur’an in Arabic, only the English translation. It was so serious that I had to resort to counselling to be able to read the Qur’an without those bitter feelings. Alhamdulillah, I’ve overcome my fear. May Allah reward all those who helped me through it.

    • Avatar


      February 25, 2010 at 9:59 AM

      SubhanAllah…you know what this goes to show? The real importance of akhlaaq as a Muslim. What sort of Muslim are you if you can’t be kind to children? What is the point of teaching Qurán and being a Hafiz if the well-earned rewards will be equally weighed against the cruelty towards children who make mistakes? It is in the nature of man to make mistakes, it’s how Allah created us and He is so Merciful towards us! And yet, Qurán teachers don’t have any patience with a 5-year old. Sad state of affairs.

      I really feel for you.

  19. Avatar

    Middle Ground

    February 25, 2010 at 9:14 AM


    Here is how I see it, maybe it’s too simplistic… amongst KNOWLEDGEABLE and PRACTICING muslims, there are are two types.

    The first type are those who have seen and felt the beauty of the Quran and the beauty of Islam, and want to call others to Islam through this. Their emphasis is on how great Islam is, and how great it is to be a practicing muslim. They are the kind of people who, when you meet with them, you find a desire to be a better muslim.

    The second type are who are driven by fear, see Islam as mere “rules”, and want to call others to Islam in this way, by simply emphasizing what is haram, and talking about the punishments for doing haram. They are the kind of people who, when you meet with them, you come back scared out of your pants.

    If Allah wanted us to be like the second type, He could have summed up the Quran in less than 10 pages. He could have made the Quran one list of harams. But He chose, out of His infinite wisdom, to make the Quran a thing of beauty.

    Needless to say, the second type are the kind who will beat kids, not the first type.

    From what I have read on his blog, I think that Brother Ismail started as the second type, and is now, Alhamdolillah, the first type. May Allah make us all of those who truly find beauty in the Quran, and are motivated by it, Ameen.

    • Avatar

      Abd- Allah

      February 25, 2010 at 3:19 PM

      Isn’t the middle ground some where in between the first and second types?

      The Quran and sunnah talk about heaven and hell, reward (for good deeds) and punishment (for bad ones). A balance between fear and hope is what a believer must have throughout his/her life.

      Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, entered on a young man who was on his death bed. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, then asked him: “how is your condition?” The young man replied: “By Allah, O Prophet Muhammad, I hope for Allah’s mercy, but I am afraid of my sins.” The Prophet replied, “These two things (hope and fear) do not come together in the heart of a slave except that Allah gives the slave what he hopes for and secures him from what he fears.” (Tirmidhi, classed as hasan by Al-Albani rahimahullah)

      (And do not make mischief in the earth after its reformation, and call on Him with fear and hope; surely the mercy of Allah is near to those who do good) 007.056

      (Their sides draw away from (their) beds, they call upon their Lord in fear and in hope, and they spend (benevolently) out of what We have given them) 032.016

  20. Avatar


    February 25, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    Jazakallah khair for this beautiful article. I do totally and completely agree about family/cultural tradition being that one must read Qurán in Ramadan as much as possible. Whilst that is a good thing, one thing I learnt when I went on Hajj just a few months ago with our wonderful Sheikh Abu Abdissalam is that we may all read Qurán in Arabic, but how many of us truly understand it in a language that we’re fluent in? Very few. So he set us a task on our last day in Mina…that task being that we should try to read the Qurán at least once by the end of January in a language that we fully understand. For me, that is English. Although I still haven’t finished it, I feel like I’ve built a relationship with a Qurán just by reading the meaning and it makes more sense to read it cover to cover in order to fully comprehend the true beauty of Allah’s Words.

    This article echoes my sentiments. Well written, masha’Allah.

  21. Avatar


    February 25, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    I agree with all of you regarding the punishment for learning the Quran is not right… however, I was hit during my learning not beaten but hit … and I think it kind of worked on me…it set me straight and also gave me motivation to finish faster… just another side of it..

  22. Avatar

    Siraaj Muhammad

    February 25, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    I didn’t have a Maulana saab to teach me Arabic, so I was left with the translation. But y’know, to a kid in middle school and high school, the translation didn’t make much sense, I didn’t have any concept of tafseer, so reading the translation for me was like how some people read the Arabic – without understanding and just for whatever blessings come from reading :)

    It’s taken me years of classes and programs just to solidify the basic arabic reading, so I relied on transliteration w/tajweed ;) I know many of those who know Arabic reading and tajweed don’t like this, but I’m not one to really care – if the goal was to recite the Qur’aan, it didn’t matter if it was written with diacritical marks, without, or in Roman letters, so long as it got the job done.

    Now, alhamdulillaah, I’m able to read it and I’m continuing in my Arabic language and tajweed studies. I hope in the next few years to have cover significant ground for the purposes of reciting, reflecting, and understanding better the message of the Qur’aan. My journey’s been quite a bit longer, but I’m enjoying the ride, alhamdulillaah =D


    • Avatar

      abu Rumay-s.a.

      February 27, 2010 at 1:38 PM

      May Allah bless your journey of learning the Quran. Ameen. I have found through my friends that the key to learning Qur`an is essentially three.
      1. Deep sincerity to Allah ta`ala and wanting to learn His book
      2. Persistence and review with a good teacher
      3. Lots of sincere Du`aa

      One of my friends started memorzing at age 30 something and finished the complete Quran in about 5 years time along with his full time professional career and kids….he was living in a Muslim country which kinda helped (smile).

      I kinda understand what you went through, the good old transliteration days…hahahehhe….but i think its just getting over the hurdle of being “ovewhelmed and/or intimated” with the new language…

  23. Avatar

    abu Rumay-s.a.

    February 25, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    Your story reminds me of the beautiful du`aa about the Quran which ends and says ..”Make the Quran the delight of our hearts, the light of our souls and the relief of our sorrows and griefs..

    اللهم إنا عبيدك، بنو عبيدك، بنو إمائك، نواصينا بيدك، ماض فينا حكمك، عدل فينا قضاؤك، نسألك بكل اسم هو لك، سميت به نفسك، أو أنزلته في كتابك، أو علمته أحداً من خلقك، أو استأثرت به في علم الغيب عندك، أن تجعل القرآن العظيم ربيع قلوبنا، ونور صدورنا، وجلاء أحزاننا، وذهاب همومنا وغمومنا. اللهم علمنا منه ما جهلنا، وذكرنا منه ما نُسِّينا، وارزقنا تلاوته آناء الليل وأطراف النهار على الوجه الذي يرضيك عنا، برحمتك يا أرحم الراحمين

    I’ll leave you with a most heart warming and earnest du`aa by my favorite reciter, (hafithahullah)…the above du`aa is also included in it, it calls unto Allah azza wa jal by some of His Noble and Beautiful attributes imploring Him…these are just some of the delights of which we can expect when we strengthen our relationship with the Quran…

  24. Avatar


    February 25, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    The kids that used to get beat the most in my Quran classes are the ones that ended up memorizing the entire Quran. And it is these same kids who are now alcoholics, drug-addicts, commit some of the biggest Major Sins, all because their teachers found that it was better to beat them to death and have them memorize the Quran. So they beat them rather than give them that sense of connection with the Quran. To them (and in most cases the parents too) it’s all about telling people “My kid is a hafiz” no matter how screwed up he has become. The teachers in most of these madrassas never provide tarbiyya, guidance, or even an explanation of what is being taught.

    As for the beating stories, I have witnessed everything from beatings done with Rolling Pins ie. what our moms make Roti with, to kids being hung out of the 6th story of an apartment building. The odd part is that this was predominantly the case in Indo-Pak circles and those kids were usually the best behaved. It was just when they didn’t know their “sabak” that they got the beatdown. Pretty horrible stuff, most of which never really happened to me…maybe that’s why I’m not a hafiz:)

    But all of this has stopped presently. I don’t think Qari Saabs are allowed to hit anymore because kids are getting smarter and call 911.

    Allah (swt) knows best.

  25. Avatar

    Abu 'Ubaida

    February 26, 2010 at 7:14 AM

    Jazakhallah khair all for the reminders.

    Just wanted to share this interactive website that has multiple facets of Qur’an and it’s translations. Great resource to learn the qur’an and it’s translation at the same time (it has many use as well). (and then Click the the LEARN-EZ link on the top and it will take you to the Qur’an page).

    Upon the page feel free to browse for different reciters & surahs (top left) and different outlooks (top right).

    I hope you will find it beneficial Inshallah.

  26. Avatar

    Umm Bilqis

    February 26, 2010 at 8:55 PM

    Link> Imam Ghazali, ” I fear there will be no one left to study Islam.”

  27. Avatar


    February 27, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    Oh the sunday class days! fond memories

    I think there needs to be a balance though.

    I’ve been to both types of Quran classes. The first was probably started at age 8 ish, the teacher would beat us with a stick if we didn’t do our memorization in class or were not behaving, everyone respected him and didn’t act up in class.

    The surahs I got beaten for I find very easy to remember and are ingrained in my mind. At the same time Quran class was something I feared/dreaded, I would hide in closets and cry every week before class. Ten or so years later though I am very grateful that I went there because I ended up knowing how to read the Quran and having a signifigant amount memorized.

    The next class from age 11 was wayy more chilled, we didnt focus as much on memorization/reading Quran but more on building up eman, learning lessons through stories, hadith..etc. That class got me to more build up my love for Allah subhanwat’ala and the prophet sallahu alayhi wasaallam. I began to pray 5 times a day which is the best thing I got out of my experience. In my first class I would ONLY pray on sundays the rest of the week not once would I even do one prayer.

    I think both experiences helped me in different ways, the second class helped to me to actually WANT to learn the Quran while the first gave me the foundation of skills, so teachers need to have both approaches to be sucessfull.

  28. Avatar


    March 18, 2010 at 2:23 AM

    Ismail Kamdar,


  29. Avatar

    Muqith Mujtaba Ali

    July 17, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    Assalamu Alaikum.

    A good article, alhamdulillah.

    I would like brothers and sisters at Muslim Matters to have a look at this recently initiated weblog on Qur’anic teachings

    Suggestions for improvement are welcome.



  30. Avatar


    September 1, 2010 at 3:58 AM

    Mashaallah, very inspiring. I cant remember where i heard this but i love it, If you want to speak o Allah ,pray and if you want Allah to talk to you, read the Quran.
    May Allah guide us.

  31. Avatar


    May 24, 2011 at 3:20 AM

    JazakaAllah kheir very effective article you have shared,it inspired me.The Quran is not only about memorizing or Tajweed but even more it was a revelation from Allah that needs to be understood.

  32. Avatar

    Taha_fatima @IOU

    April 29, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    as salaamualikum sir MASHA ALLAH nice article i have ever gone through, it is an inspiration , a wonderful reminder for all of us , i always like all your articles but this one has inspired me soo much it will be 1 of my favourites INSHA ALLAH……may ALLAH reward you for sharing this JAZAK ALLAH for sharing this…….

  33. Avatar

    Hasan Kamal

    February 27, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    I would love to go for consulting the Quran whenever I am stuck in any situation. Thanks to ALLAH almighty.

  34. Avatar


    April 22, 2015 at 6:51 PM

    as salaamu alaykum, just wondering is this the whole article? I can only read unto the part where it says that he watched a lecture that changed his life forever. i want to know more. where can i get the rest of the article from? jazak allah khair. I’m using apple to view the article if that has anything to do with it. jazak ALLAH khair :)

  35. Avatar


    June 25, 2016 at 11:41 PM

    where’s the rest of the article?

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Lessons From Surah Maryam: 1

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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.


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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Continue Reading


Heart Soothers: Idrees Al Hashemi

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Lesson 13 From Surah Al -Kahf

Last verses of Surah Kahf

Surah Kahf
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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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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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