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How to Extract Gems from the Quran

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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.

Many of us have heard the beautiful gems Nouman Ali Khan gives in his tafsīr sessions. Whenever I’d take notes of the tafsīr sessions at LinguisticMiracle.com, I used to wish I could do just what he did the next time I read the Qurʾān.

Then I heard people who had a lot of experience with the Qurʾān praising his tafsīr sessions too. They said the tafāsīr were extremely powerful and in some ways unmatched (because he merged the different sciences of tafsīr into one combined study).

So I prayed to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to grant me the ability to understand Qurʾānic Arabic, and within a small period of time, I was able to grasp the meaning of the Qurʾān’s text and its linguistic beauty. Whenever I’d open a copy of the Qurʾān, I could feel the subtle yet powerful meanings Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was conveying to us.

I will share a brief yet detailed step-by-step method on how to extract gems from the Qurʾān and increase the pleasure you derive from your readings. Bi idhnillāh.

Layout:

I’ve laid this structure out similar to how Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan and Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda give their tafasir. They take the entire sūrah, and break it down into āyāt, and then they break down each āyah word for word. This is the focus of the outline, and I have divided it into 5 steps. Each step works its way up from a smaller scale to a larger scale.

After understanding the Arabic language, we can find gems through studying the basic layout of the language. This is how you extract gems from the Qurʾān.

Step 1 – Definitions of words through their pure roots, and identification of the types of words used i.e. their (verb or noun) pattern style, etc.
Step 2 – Placement of words in an ayah or sentence structure (Balaghah).
Step 3 – Placement of āyaat in a passage or ‘paragraph’ [Rukoo’] of discussion.
Step 4 – How all the different passages work together to form a theme.
Step 5 – To produce a conclusion by deriving the common theme and main message in the sūrah. (Through steps 1-4)

Step 1 – Focus on the Words and their Power

1. Look at definitions of words through their pure roots, and the types of words used i.e. their pattern style (verb patterns, rhymes, palindromes, etc.), the images the words portray, the sounds they make, etc. How can you do this? By discovering Literary Devices

 

Word Patterns

Verb Patterns: look at the verb patterns. What state are they in? If they are in Faa’il (Doer) form – imagine the object is a living object ‘doing‘ that action.

In Sūrah Taha 20:15, Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

 Indeed, the Hour is coming – I almost conceal it – so that every soul may be recompensed according to that for which it strives.

 The Final Hour is ‘atiyah (coming) [the Faa’il (doer) form is used and depicts a picture of the Hour actively coming (as if it is walking and approaching us)].

When Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us in Sūrat’l-Ḥāqqah 69:23 about the fruits of Jannah (Paradise):

69:23

Its [fruit] to be picked hanging near.

He says that they are  “daaniyah” [meaning: “close”] (But the verb form used  is in Faa’il (doer) form, so some scholars even say that the use of the Faa’il form shows that the tree itself ‘comes close’ to the Jannati  to feed him its fruit.

 

Meanings

1. Look at the word used, its root meaning, and its usage in:

  • Different contexts in classical texts (i.e. pre-Islamic Arabic poetry/speeches)
  • Different contexts in Qurʾān
  • Different explanations in ahadith
  • Different meanings and usages in dictionaries and lexicons

 

Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us about Shaytan in Sūrat’l-Ḥijr 15:39-40 and Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us the promise he made:

15:39

[Iblees] said, “My Lord, because You have put me in error, I will surely make [disobedience] attractive to them on earth, and I will mislead them all

 

15:40

Except, among them, Your chosen servants.”

I will misguide them all, except the mukhliseen ( مخلصين ) (see definition of root: Kh-lam-Sad ( خلص )

If you look at the precise word used and its root implication, you see that He will misguide all of us except the:

  1. sincere (Ikhlaas) slaves
  2. (Allāh’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)) pure (Khaalis) slaves [those who are pure from shirk and sins)
  3. freed and liberated slaves:
    a.   Those who Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has chosen to be saved by His Eternal Knowledge.
    b.   Who Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will free and liberate from the Hellfire on Judgment Day by His Mercy.

 

  1. Study the harf* word used, and try to look at it from a literal, picturesque perspective.

 *Harf (Huroof) words are those small words which ‘connect’ a sentence together.

A word like “fee” (meaning “in”), or ‘Alaa (meaning ‘upon’), Ilaa (meaning ‘to’). Words like these can be looked at from a literal perspective to give more impact to the meanings of a sentence.

  • In Sūrat’l-Mulk 67:20:

67:20

Or who is it that could be an army for you to aid you other than the Most Merciful? The disbelievers are not but in delusion.

Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us that the disbelievers are fi (in) ghuroor (deception) If we look at the word fi [meaning ‘in’] literally, it implies that the disbelievers are  literally engulfed in a graphic object called deception. So wherever they will look -they will always be surrounded by that deception.

  • If we look at the word ‘ila‘ (meaning ‘to‘) in Sūrat’l-Baqarah 2:257:

2:257

Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into the light. And those who disbelieve – their allies are Taghut. They take them out of the light into darknesses. Those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein.

We see that the devils are pulling the people out of the light (of the fitrah, the natural state humans are born in- believing in one Creator), and dragging them ‘to’ the darkness of disbelief and oppression.

  • If we look at the word ala (meaning ‘upon’) we can imagine someone being on top of what is being described, as if someone is sitting on top of a train.

So imagine there is a train called ‘manners’. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) describes His Messenger as being ‘Alaa (upon)      constantly excellent and unmatched character and high morals. You can see an example of this in Sūrat’l-Qalam 68:4:

68:4

And indeed, you are of a great moral character.

We can then imagine someone upon excellent manners as being upon a train of excellent manners, so that wherever the train of perfect manners goes, that person will always be upon it and following it in goodness.

 

2. Look at the word used and look for harf* words similar to it, and then wonder why this one was used instead of the others.

In Sūrat’l-A‘rāf 7:19, Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) told Adam:

7:19

And “O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat from wherever you will but do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.”

And do not approach ( هَٰذِهِ ) haadhi al-shajarah – this tree.
By Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) telling Adam not to approach ‘this’ tree, it implied that this tree was near to where Adam lived. Why didn’t Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) use the word that?

If Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) said to Adam – do not approach; ’tilka’ ( تلك ) meaning ‘that‘ [feminine form of dhalika ( ذلك ) ] tree (shajarah), it would imply the tree was far from where Adam lived in the Gardens of Eden.

This one word ‘this’ (haadhihi ) shows that Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tested Adam by placing the forbidden tree close to where he lived in the Gardens, just like when we have desires close to us and we are tested by them.

3. Look at the word used, and look for close synonyms to it, and then reflect on why this one was used instead of the others. i.e. إِنَّ اللَّهَ نِعِمَّا يَعِظُكُم بِهِ

In Sūrat’l-Nisā’4:58:

4:58

Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing.

 Surely Allāh is Ni’im (favorable) with what He advises you with…

Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) could have used many words to describe that He has been favorable to us by advising us to do good things, Sūrah Āle-‘Imrān:

3:164
Certainly did Allah confer [great] favor upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error.

Other words for ‘Favor‘ include:

Fadl (فضل ): for something to be more in quantity than what is fair or expected. (i.e. I ask you for $1 and you give me $20 as a Fadl from you.) (see Sūrat’l-Baqarah 2:253)

2:253

Those messengers – some of them We caused to exceed others. Among them were those to whom Allah spoke, and He raised some of them in degree. And We gave Jesus, the Son of Mary, clear proofs, and We supported him with the Pure Spirit. If Allah had willed, those [generations] succeeding them would not have fought each other after the clear proofs had come to them. But they differed, and some of them believed and some of them disbelieved. And if Allah had willed, they would not have fought each other, but Allah does what He intends.

Mann ( من): favor or goodness. To remind another of one’s favor and to use it to impose oneself on another. It is also used for a heavy weight.

Ahsana ( أحسن): any commendable deed whether it has to do with the self or another. (see Sūrah Yusuf 12:100)

12:100

And he raised his parents upon the throne, and they bowed to him in prostration. And he said, “O my father, this is the explanation of my vision of before. My Lord has made it reality. And He was certainly good to me when He took me out of prison and brought you [here] from bedouin life after Satan had induced [estrangement] between me and my brothers. Indeed, my Lord is Subtle in what He wills. Indeed, it is He who is the Knowing, the Wise.

However, Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) chose to use another word instead; Ni’im (نعم), which means everything that fulfills a need and becomes a source of happiness.

Ni’m also comes from a similar word meaning Nu’oomah (نعومه): ‘softness’

So Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) specifically chose this word to tell us that He is:

Favorable (most common translation of Ni’m is ‘favor’) with what He advises us.
Fulfilling a need for us (by advising us) so we gain happiness.
Being ‘soft‘ with us in what He advises us with. He could have made the rules harder than needed, like the nations before us, but He was Merciful in His Law to us.

3. Next look at the word used and consider the antonym (opposite) to appreciate the power of the negativity in comparison to its positive meaning.

In Sūrat’l-Layl 92:4 ( إِنَّ سَعْيَكُمْ لَشَتَّىٰ ) Inna sa’yukum la shatta – Surely your travelling is no doubt diverse.

92:4

Indeed, your efforts are diverse.

Shatta ( شَتَّىٰ ) (means shatter or divide). But there are a lot of words that mean ‘divide’ in Arabic.

So what is this word’s opposite? It is allafa [ ألف ] (put together something divided as one united whole).

So we see that this āyah doesn’t just mean that mankind’s sa’ee (walking fast, traveling [to the next life]) is divided. Rather, it means our traveling was one and united once allafa [when all people followed the Guidance given to Adam], and now over time it has shattered, like glass breaks or shatters and now we are dispersing like breaking glass into different directions [shatta]. (Some traveling and doing deeds of the people of Hell, and others travelling and doing deeds of the people of Paradise).

 

Rhyme Patterns

Look for common and repeated patterns in the Sūrah.

In Sūrat’l-Ḥāqqah (69: 1-32) all of the words end in the letter ‘ha’ [ه] which implies

  • Rhyme builds consistency and suspense up to the āyah when the rhyme stops
  • Severity when recited (in accordance with the severe and violent sound produced from inside your body when pronouncing the letter ‘ha’ [ح], and that sound producing the violent punishments being portrayed in the theme of Sūrah al Haqqah).

This repeated pattern is sustained from āyāt 1-12 in Sūrat’l-Ḥāqqah and when the rhyme pattern changes, it’s because the topic of discussion has changed.

Resources:

  • Near Synonyms – Booklet created by Nouman Ali Khan – Available for free
  • A good Arabic reference is: Mutaraadifaat ul-Qurʾān – by Imam Raghib al Isfahani. It is translated in Urdu also by Abdul Rahman al Kilani, author of Mutaraadifaatul Qurʾān in Urdu. Read a discussion about it by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan.
  • A really good resource for meanings is ejtaal.net – the Arabic Almanac dictionary. You simply type in the root letters in phonetic English, and the results for the three main dictionaries (Hans Wehr, Lanes Lexicon and Hava) come up in two seconds, it works on smart phones too, is downloadable, and free alhamdulillah.

In the next post we will discuss Step 2- dissecting the sentences structure and other concepts of balaghah. Please do post any gems you have reflected on in the comments?

 

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    IbnDuraidBaghdadi

    January 28, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    I’m going to read this again and again and again. Jazakallahu Khairan.

  2. Avatar

    peace

    January 28, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    Thank you, as a student of classical Arabic I find it very useful. Still waiting for the Fatha; opening.

  3. Avatar

    Yasmin

    January 28, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    Jazakallah khair for this immensely beneficial and useful post!

  4. Avatar

    taz

    January 28, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Salam.

    Jzkk for a great article, it resonates with me on so many levels.

    I had a great Ustad when I was learning quranic Arabic alhamdolillah.

    He used to present gems all the time. He also made us find and present gems as well.

    The one I remember is where Allah swt says he will forgive “from the sins of” people x, y and z. But when referring to the people of prophet Muhammad (saw) the same ayat is used but the word min (from) is excluded, implying that *all* our sins will be forgiven. May Allah forgive me if I’ve made any mistakes in the above.

  5. Avatar

    Ramadan

    January 28, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    Jazakillahu khayr

  6. Avatar

    Quranreading

    January 29, 2013 at 1:11 AM

    This is really nice post! and easy to understand from Quran verses. In my openion the basic purpose of this story is to tell people that everything on the earth happens according to Allah’s will and people should choose the right path for not only in this world but also in the world hereafter.

  7. Avatar

    Barsawad

    January 29, 2013 at 11:51 PM

    Thank you very much for this wonderful information and insight.

  8. Avatar

    Olivia

    January 30, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    Does anyone know if Brother Nouman is planning on writing a tafseer of the Quran in book format?

  9. Avatar

    Hamayoun

    January 31, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Salam

    Does anyone know if LingsuticMiracles.com has permission from Br. Nouman to transcript his tafseer?

  10. Pingback: How to Extract Gems from the Quran | Holy Quran Online | Scoop.it

  11. Avatar

    Mehru

    February 3, 2013 at 5:02 AM

    Thankyou for providinsuch an insight! :)

  12. Avatar

    QuranGems.com

    February 3, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    Asalaamu alaykum.

    Jazakum Allahu khayran for adding our article on your site :)

    We’ve made a few new sites now to build up on this Quran Gem experience for you:

    1 – http://QuranGems.com
    2 – http://QuranSynonyms.com (still in the Reviewing stage)

    3 – http://LinguisticMiracle.com – our original site, with an awesome book on the Quran’s LinguisticMiracle (150 pages) which you can get for free from our site.

    Please take a look, you will enjoy it inshaa Allah.

    To the people who asked if Ustadh Nouman gave us permission, then he has replied to my emails in a positive way. Furthermore, the QuranSynonyms site is based on a project which he recommended for us.

    Take a look and we hope you benefit. Please make dua for us, that He makes our good wishes come true. Ameen.

    Jazakum Allahu khayran once again to MM for this :)

  13. Avatar

    ummati

    February 9, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    what a beautiful beautiful piece.

    enthralled *

    subhan Allah

    jazakAllahu khayr for taking the time to write this out for us!

  14. Avatar

    Al kalaam

    February 10, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    Masha allah,
    May Allah give us all taufeekh to follow his QURAN and implement it.

  15. Avatar

    Mohammed Awal

    December 31, 2014 at 1:13 AM

    Please,I’m really interested in learning the Arabic language. Am so happy efforts of this nature are being made to help us learn the language. However,I find it difficult to see and download the books you talk about on my windows phone. If it’s that it can’t be downloaded with a phone,I hereby make a passionate appeal that you look into the matter and work out ways and means to make the download possible on phones. That will actually be of great help to some of us. Salaam

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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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Heart Soothers: Idrees Al Hashemi

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Lesson 13 From Surah Al -Kahf

Last verses of Surah Kahf

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

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Surah Kahf
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

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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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