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Performing Actions Equal to Hajj in Reward | Shaykh Waleed Basyouni

Sh. Waleed Basyouni

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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.

There are so many like myself could not go to Hajj this year.

But even when we are physically far away from Makkah, our hearts with the Hujjaj (pilgrims), thinking about what they are doing, praying for them and hoping to be like them soon. One of the things that I thought could help us to catch up with them is to do the actions that equal to Hajj in reward! Yes, equal to Hajj as our prophet Mohammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) informed us.

In many ahadith, our beloved ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) gave us tips as to how to catch up in reward in the following traditions:

Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported: The poor came to the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and said:

“Oh, Messenger of Allah, the wealthy have gone with the highest ranks and lasting bliss. They offer Salat (prayer) as we offer it; they observe fast as we do; and as they are wealthy, they perform Hajj and ‘Umrah, and go for Jihad, and they spend in charity.”

The Messenger of Allah said,

“Shall I not teach you something with which you may overtake those who surpassed you and with which you will surpass those who will come after you? None will excel you unless he who does which you do. You should recite: Tasbeeh (Allah is free from imperfection – Subhan Allah), Takbeer (Allah is Greatest – Allahu Akbar), Tahmeed (Praise be to Allah – AlHamdu lillah) thirty-three times after each Salat.” [Al-Bukhari]

Abu Dharr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that a group of the Companions came to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and said,

“O Messenger of Allah, the wealthy people will have higher grades and will have permanent enjoyment and they pray like us and fast as we do. They have more money, which they give in charity.”

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), replied:

“Has Allah not rendered for you the ‘Isha’ prayer in congregation equal to Hajj, and the Fajr prayer in congregation equal to ‘Umrah?” [Muslim]

Anas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,

“Whoever prays Fajr in congregation, then sits remembering Allah until sunrise, then prays two units of prayer, has a complete reward of Hajj and ‘Umrah. (The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) repeated ‘complete’ three times for emphasis.) [Tirmidhi]

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“Whoever walks to [perform] an obligatory prayer in congregation, it is like Hajj [in terms of rewards], and whoever walks to [perform] a voluntary prayer, it is like a voluntary ‘Umrah [in terms of rewards].” [Hasan hadith narrated by Tabarani, Abu Dawud, Ahmad]

Abu Umamah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“Whoever goes to the mosque not desiring except to learn or teach what is good has the reward of a pilgrim who completed his Hajj.” [Tabarani]

Ibn Rajab raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) narrated that the Companion Mikhnaf ibn Sulaym raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said,

“The reward for attending ‘Id Al-Fitr prayer is equal to the reward of performing ‘Umrah and the reward for attending ‘Id Al-Adha Prayer is equal to that of performing Hajj.” [Lata’if al-Ma’arif]

My brothers and sisters, if you missed standing before Allah in Arafah, stand for his religion wherever you are! If you are far from the House, be close to the Lord of the House! And if you aren’t at Mina, don’t be a sinner!

is Vice President of AlMaghrib Institute and Director of Clear Lake Islamic Center (CLIC). He is a frequent guest speaker at Universities, Conventions, Radio Talk Shows, Television, Interfaith meetings, and community centers nationally and internationally. He is also a member of the North American Imam Federation (NAIF), Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA)-Fatwa and Research Committee, Director of Texas Dawah Convention, and Advisor to numerous Islamic Societies/Organizations around the US.Shaykh Waleed Basyouni graduated with a Bachelors in Islamic Sciences from Al-Imam Muhammad University, KSA; did his Masters in Islamic Theology, World Religions and Modern Religious Sects from Al-Imam Muhammad University; and acquired a Doctorate in Theology. He is also an instructor at the American Open University in Alexandria, VA, USA, and serves as, the Imam of Clear Lake Islamic Center, Houston, TX, USA. Shaykh Waleed has Ijaazahs in reciting the Holy Quran and in several books of Hadeeth, awarded by various scholars. He studied with great scholars time such as Shaykh Ibn Baz, Abdul-Razzaq Afify and others.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Avatar

    ahsan arshad

    October 15, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    salaam alaykum,
    jazakallahu khairan for such blessed reminders.

  2. Avatar

    mohammad

    October 16, 2013 at 12:25 AM

    awrb jzk, just a quick question though, is it possible to get the checking of classical scholars of some of those narrations as I’m sure I’ve seen some as being as mentioned as week from muhaditheen of the past, I just cannot recall where.

  3. Avatar

    powerandprivilege

    October 16, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    “Isha’ prayer in congregation…” The word Isha comes from the Sanskrit root that means God/Divine. The Muslim pilgrims to holy Mecca probably do not realize that they practice ancient Vedic customs: shaving their heads, taking a dip in ‘holy water,’ wearing white robes [called dhoti in Sanskrit], and circum-ambulate around the Kaaba. Islam forbids idolatry. So, what is the significance of circum-ambulation about? If Allah/God/Divine is everywhere, has the original purpose of the rituals in Mecca been lost or suppressed through history? Perhaps the Imaams ought to give this some thought and seek what binds us all on this small planet – a common ancestry.

    • Avatar

      O H

      October 16, 2013 at 9:11 PM

      With regards to the Kabah circumambulation, this is what a Saudi scholar (Shaykh Salih al munajjid) has to say:

      http://www.onislam.net/english/ask-the-scholar/hajj/178282.html

      Maybe someone else can address your other questions.

    • Avatar

      Brother

      October 17, 2013 at 3:55 PM

      A lot of your points are actually incorrect…

      – “Isha'” is a pure Arabic word which means ‘nightfall’
      – Muslims don’t “dip in holy water” (they drink from the well of Zamzam)… and it’s actually not a condition of performing the Hajj, though it’s good to drink
      – Circling around the Kaaba is not an act of worship directed to the Kaaba. It’s worshiping God by following the Hajj rituals, as taught by the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), just like any other act of worship (like praying, for example).
      – Muslims don’t believe God is everywhere… though He has knowledge of everything.

      *I agree with you that we are all united, but in something more significant than ancestry- purpose. We all have the same purpose for existing, and Islam suggests that the best way to confirm what this purpose is and how to fulfill it is by seeking it from the most authentic source (which is the final divine revelation- the Quran- and the teachings of the final messenger of God- Muhammad, peace and blessing be upon him).

    • Avatar

      Basmah

      October 20, 2013 at 4:09 AM

      You may have read one of those books or heard speeches how everything traces back to Sanskrit and Hinduism .
      Well brother/sister,those people give no proof as to how a word was derived from a root in another language. They just invent things that they think is the possible truth.

      But it’s not always true brother/sister.

      Someone said Ramadan came from Rama + dhyan ( rememberance of hindu god Rama ). :) interesting but totally false . Ramadan comes from ramadh ( summertime when the earth becomes really hot from the scorching heat)

      My advice to you would be to ‘investigate’ islam firsthand fromauthentic islamic sources . And then , if u like , u may read criticism from islamophobic websites . Hopefully , you will able to differentiate truth from falsehood .

      God bless you.

      • Avatar

        Basmah

        October 20, 2013 at 4:20 AM

        And btw, islam is the oldest religion starting with the first man and prophet Adam . It’s possible that other religions and cults copied some islamic practises .

        There have been several prophets and messengers from God. It’s possible Vedic dharm was initially taught by a prophet of God , and the people changed its nature over the years .its very much possible.

        After all , the Vedas are monotheistic .

    • Avatar

      gunal

      October 20, 2013 at 8:24 AM

      Well said: “It’s possible Vedic dharm was initially taught by a prophet of God, and the people changed its nature over the years.”

      From the history you can see how, some people cannot manage the truth. Some try to find the easiest ways to worship. (Most people feel the need to show ‘PHYSICALLY’ their commitment to their God, without realising they end up getting attached to those physical things as associating them with true God.. which then leads them to kufur). The biggest example of this, for me, is; when Moses left his brother Aron in charge (only for a little time). Some people were already struggling with the idea of invisible God. Hence, some of them made a golden calf.

      This idea that ‘God is in everything/everywhere’ is today’s biggest example. Nature is created by God+we love nature(=) therefore if we say God is everywhere (in everything and everyone, including in ourselves) and love nature (everything, everyone and ourselves) as part of God we are the true believers.. Believing in ‘God is everywhere notion’, in some people is translated as just that! Which is far from the truth therefore should not be encouraged.

      Perhaps even bigger example can be given; when people cannot associate with the invisible God notion they start associating with God’s messengers (or, saints/dervishes/people regarded as (or with) holy spirits). This may be why and how some of Adam’s sons were later on worshipped as Gods… This may also be the reason why today Jesus is worshipped as a God (one of the Gods even though Jesus himself said there is only one God and resides in heaven). My view is; because these people were physically on this earth therefore we can associate with them easier. We like to ‘ENTRUST’ our difficult obligation of having to believe and pray to invisible One and only God, to those people. We feel we can pray and worship God through those people. I don’t know if we can but my main problem with the idea is that our generations (once we are gone) get confused. For today’s intelligence capacity (and the bounds of examples of the past under out fingertips) I don’t think any of us should struggle with the idea of an invisible God who created everything and everyone.

      When it comes to powerandprivilege’s comment above; Yes, I aggree. Our imams have to be careful! Making sure everyone knows that whatever traditions we adopt or create in order to make our obligations/worship easier to practice, we do not endanger it completely. Taking lessons from the past and promoting an awareness of how and why it can go wrong (not so much for us; for our next generations to come).

  4. Abez

    Abez

    October 20, 2013 at 4:00 AM

    AssalamuAlaikum Sh. Basyouni! I’ve heard it said that greeting your parents with a smiling face (or something to that effect) has reward equivalent to Hajj, but then I have also heard that hadith may not be correct.

    I notice it was not included here, may I ask if that was because of it’s lack of authenticity? Or just an omission? Is that hadith valid?

    JazakAllahuKheiran!

  5. Avatar

    gunal

    October 20, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    If you haven’t visited your parents and/or they grieve that they don’t get to see you enough… They may need your support..yet you ignore them.. Prophet might have said it would be better for such person to visit his/her parents and worship/praise God (during Eid) WITH those people whom are yours (belong to you and you are responsible even for their spiritual wellbeing).

    The problem for such hadis- some people may take it for granted or misinterpret it. “Paradise is under the feet of mothers” . This is been a religious guidance for my elders from my childhood. And I am aware of some parents thinking this gives them the need for disciplining their child by kicking the child with their feet (because the paradise is meant to be under their feet!). Can you see how evil can twist certain things and lead you away from the truth.

  6. Avatar

    jannat

    October 22, 2013 at 11:08 PM

    Most of the rewards here are for men who can pray in masjid.women do not always have the option of going to the mosque. So are there are any other points which even a woman can do to earn the rewards equal to hajj

  7. Avatar

    Faizan

    October 23, 2013 at 5:11 AM

    Mash Allah Wonder Full your post. Thanks for sharing……………..

  8. Avatar

    salmirah

    February 9, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    Brother Waleed, we girls don’t pray in congregation, then will it be as rewarding as we pray Fajr at home and sit remembering Allah till sunrise?

    *Comment edited to remove SPAM Links. Please be warned, SPAM is not welcome here and may cause legitimate comments content to be deleted as well*

  9. Avatar

    nav

    August 28, 2014 at 10:36 PM

    The hadith mentioning the reward of doing zikr after salah can be earned by women as well.

    With regard to Salaah in the masjid, it is mentioned that it would be better for women to perform their prayer at home. Maybe you can check the hadith. So it might be a reward equal to men going to the masjid. I dont have the evidence for this but i know Islam is a fair religion.

  10. Avatar

    Sadiq Syed

    September 13, 2015 at 4:46 PM

    “The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), replied: “Has Allah not rendered for you the ‘Isha’ prayer in congregation equal to Hajj, and the Fajr prayer in congregation equal to ‘Umrah?” [Muslim]

    I was unable to trace this hadeeth and it is absolutely not there in Saheeh Muslim. Please clarify.
    Jazaakumullah.

  11. Avatar

    Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena

    September 16, 2015 at 9:27 AM

    SUBHANALLAH.! ALLAAHU AKBAR.! AL HAMDULILLAAH. May ALLAAH Shower More Blessings upon You. WasSalaam.
    Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena.
    Sri Lanka.

  12. Avatar

    juwayriyah

    September 18, 2015 at 3:52 AM

    asalam o alaikum.Alot of the narrations suggest praying in congregation and the reward of that being equal to hajj.Does this include the sisters?

    • Avatar

      Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena

      September 18, 2015 at 6:14 AM

      Humbly suggest to ask ALLAAH in secret to help You with an answer please. May ALLAAH Shower More Wisdom upon You.
      Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena.
      Sri Lanka.

    • Avatar

      Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena

      September 18, 2015 at 6:28 AM

      Islam is very simple my dear sister. If anything is not good for sisters You will find it very easily. And, the very beautiful part of it is that ALLAAH is there to teach, and clarify Your queries. May ALLAAH Shower More Courage upon You.
      Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena.
      Sri Lanka.

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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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