Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Surah Al Baqarah Ayahs 58-64

In the next set of ayahs, Allah (SWT) continues to discuss the benefits bestowed upon the Bani Israel. The reason why Allah mentions these people and the blessings in the Quran is to teach us a lesson. The Bani Israel turning away from Allah does not affect Him in anyway, but it does affect the people.

Verse 58 states, "And (remember) when We said: "Enter this town (Jerusalem) and eat bountifully therein with pleasure and delight wherever you wish, and enter the gate in prostration (or bowing with humility) and say: 'Forgive us,' and We shall forgive you your sins and shall increase (reward) for the good-doers."
The Bani Israel were told to go enjoy themselves in this city, but with the condition that they enter in a humble manner while saying "Forgive us", or "Hi'tattun", as it is said in Arabic. However, when entering, they changed the word Allah told them to say as stated in the next ayah, "But the transgressors changed the word from that which had been given them; so We sent on the transgressors a plague from heaven, for that they infringed (our command) repeatedly." Instead of saying "Hi'tattun", which means "forgive us", they said "Hintattuan", which means "wheat". They were calling upon the food that they were expecting to eat. Because of this, a plague descended upon them in which 70,000 people died. Not all of the Bani Israel were wrongdoers, there were some who were sincere and obeyed Allah. However, when a calamity strikes a place, it's because the wrongdoers are punished for their ways, and the righteous have a quicker means to meet their Lord. Allah does not punish a group of people until they bring the punishment on to themselves. Allah (SWT) actually makes excuses after excuses for us to enter Jannah and forgive our sins, but hardships are sent as a reminder to remember life after death.

In the following verse, Allah mentions another blessing which was bestowed upon the Bani Israel, that being the water which Musa (AS) prayed for for his people. Allah said to Musa (AS), "'Strike with your staff the stone.' And there gushed forth from it twelve springs." The 12 springs were for the 12 different tribes with him. Allah then told them to, "Eat and drink from the provision of Allah, and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption." In the valley of Teeh, the Bani Israel lacked water, so they told Musa (AS) to pray for water. Allah then told Musa (AS) to hit his staff on a particular rock, thereby creating 12 springs which gushed forth. This miracle also aims to strengthen the faith of the group of people present at that time there. This is also a blessing.

Then the Bani Israel said to Musa (AS), that "We can never be patient with one kind of food", and told him to call upon Allah to give them things such as green herbs, cucumbers, garlic, lentils and onions. This again showed their ungratefulness with what they had, and they were not being humble, constantly complaining. This earned Allah's anger, because they were continuously transgressing. They were tired of the blessing Allah had given them of manna and salwa, and said they cannot endure this any longer, and wanted more variety in food, even though they were being punished for not fighting against those who conquered Syria, and backing out. Also, it is so common even for us in our everyday life to complain about eating the same food everyday, or getting bored of other such things. The Bani Israel are mentioned in the Quran so that we learn what we should avoid doing, so as to gain the pleasure of Allah! Yet we continue doing the same, without even realizing. We should always be grateful for what we have, and consider it a blessing from Allah. It is a sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) that he never ever complained about the food he got, whatever it may be. He was always thankful, and knew that when you start to complain, you deny Allah's blessings on you.

It says in ayah 61 that the Bani Israel "[repeatedly] disbelieved in the signs of Allah and killed the prophets without right". Now, it may seems that, since in our time, we don't have any prophets, we would not be able to follow this act. However, it is possible. This is by killing the sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). We have various ahadith which talk about how the Messenger (SAW) used to talk, eat, sleep, walk, and pretty much everything else. Not following it is killing it, and following it is bringing to life the sunnah of the Prophet (SAW).

Verse 62 highlights Allah's mercy, as He claims that if any Jew, Christian or Sabean (star worshipers before Muhammad (SAW)'s time) convert and believe in Allah and the Last Day, then all of their past life will be erased and they will start off a new Muslims. Allah will reward them, and they will not have to fear or grieve. This is also a blessing from Allah.

The next blessing is in verse 63, which says, " And recall when We took your covenant {O Bani Israel, to abide by the Torah] and We raised over you the mount, [saying], 'Take what We have given you with determination and remember what is in it that perhaps you may become righteous." This ties back in to what we mentioned previously, that the Bani Israel asked Musa (AS) to ask Allah for a Book to abide to the Law, after the demise of Pharaoh. When they received the Torah, they saw that the rules were very strict. They actually needed such rules because the majority of them was a disobedient group who did not listen to Allah's commandments. After seeing these rulings, they said that we should just do as much as we can, Allah will forgive us for what we can't follow. This is something common people say in this day and age as well when disobeying what is written in the Quran. Eventually the Bani Israel stopped following the rules in the Torah because they thought it was too difficult. The covenant was that the Bani Israel had previously agreed to follow what Allah says, and now they were disagreeing, therefore breaking the covenant. Allah then raised a mountain over their heads and said they are breaking the covenant, and if they don't follow it they will be crushed. that is what it took for them to believe, after these numerous clear signs from Allah.

The next ayah says that they went back to the their old ways after this incident, and if it wasn't for Allah's mercy, they would have been among the losers. Allah's mercy will only descend upon us if we follow the Shariah. If we are not following the Islamic Law yet we have a good life, then it a merely a test, not a blessing. The various stories of the Bani Israel are not in the Quran for our entertainment. We have to learn from them, to avoid having the same consequences as them. These stories are a serious and harsh reminder of the power and mercy of Allah. We should read these narrations and reflect about whether we have been thankful for the food Allah has blessed us with, or do we say we're sick of stuff? Are we really fulfilling the Shariah of Allah or are we making excuses that we live in a different time and place from 1400 years ago, so we will be excused? Or that Allah will forgive us and we don't need to worry about it? These are the same things the Bani Israel said.

i) We are still discussing the Bani Israel and what they were like in Musa (AS)'s time
ii) They disobeyed Allah in various incidents. The first one for today is changing the words that Allah told them to say, therefore not asking for forgiveness.
iii)One of the numerous blessings given to the Bani Israel include 12 springs of water which gushed forth when Musa (AS) hit his staff on a particular rock.
iv)Yet the Bani Israel continued to complain that they want more variety in their food, and were not thankful for what they had.
v)Because they continued to consistently disobey Allah, Allah had to raise a mountain over their heads to make them obey Him. It was the only way to make them follow Allah because they were so rebellious.
vi)We need to learn from these stories and make sure that we are not behaving like those who angered Allah.

May Allah (SWT) give us the tawfiq to learn lessons from these stories and help us always to strive for His pleasure. Ameen.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Surah Al Baqarah Ayah 55-57

Today, we will continue on with the story of Musa (AS) and the Bani Israel. Basically, we had discussed earlier about the miracles given to Musa (AS) and his people, and afterwards how they wanted a Book so that they can be rightly guided by the Divine Law. However, even after they got the Torah, they said (as it says in ayah 55), "O Mûsa (Moses)! We shall never believe in you till we see Allâh plainly." But you were seized with a thunderbolt (lightning) while you were looking."

So you can imagine what some of the Bani Israel were like - first, they complained to Musa (AS) that they don't have a Book to follow his religion, and they needed a Shariah. So Musa (AS) fasted, and worshipped Allah in solitude, in order to receive the Torah. Meanwhile, some of the Bani Israel began worshipping a calf while Musa (AS) was away. Then when he came with the Message, they said that they needed proof that Allah Himself wrote this, and not Musa (AS). So what happens is 70 people are chosen to go with Musa (AS), and he will talk to Allah, and they will also be there and witness that Allah is speaking to Musa (AS). So they hear Allah (SWT) speaking to Musa (AS), and then they have the audacity to say that they will never believe him until they see Allah physically before their eyes.

So what was the response of Allah (SWT)? He just sent a lightning bolt towards them and finished them on the spot, all 70 of them. Then Musa (AS) said to Allah that He killed all these people, but all the other people of Bani Israel who are waiting for the 70 people will just think that Musa (AS) killed them because he was lying, so he asked Allah to bring them back to life. That's where we have ayah 56, "Then We raised you up after your death, so that you might be grateful."

After this, a whole separate incident is talked about, but about the same group of people, the Bani Israel. "And We shaded you with clouds and sent down on you Al-Manna [] and the quails, (saying): "Eat of the good lawful things We have provided for you," (but they rebelled). And they did not wrong Us but they wronged themselves." Now, the Bani Israel were originally from Syria, but when Yusuf (AS) came they moved to Egypt. Eventually, Pharaoh took power and oppressed them, and they ran to a place near a valley called Teeh. At this point, Allah told them to go and make Jihad in Syria to fight for their land back from a group of people who were controlling Syria called the Amalika. However, while on the way to Syria, they heard of the power and might of the Amalika and they said to Musa (AS) that there was no way they could beat these people, and decided to turn back to Egypt. As a punishment, Allah made them get stranded in Teeh, which in Arabic means "lost". Basically what happened was that everyday they would travel towards Egypt, and then sleep at night to rest. When they woke up every morning they would return to the same place they started, and this happened for 40 years.

This valley was barren, and had no food, shelter, and they didn't have extra clothes. So the Bani Israel asked Musa (AS) to make dua to Allah to ask for these things. This ayah refers to the acceptance of the dua, where Allah gave them a cloud as a shade to protect them from the heat, and "Manna" and "Salwa" to eat. Manna is referred to as fresh fruits like honeydew...which used to come from the sky just for them, and Salwa refers to quails, which were very easy to prepare and eat for them because Allah made it extremely simple for them.

Imam Kurtubi in his tafsir also goes one step further and explains another blessing given to the people of Bani Israel and that was clothes, which cleaned by themselves and grew with the people, such as kids. What happened then was that the Bani Israel then became tired with their blessings. They complained to Musa (AS) that they were bored of the same food everyday and the same clothes, and to make dua to Allah to give them more variety. Based on their complain, Allah removed what they already and, and said that "We have not wronged them, they have wronged themselves".

There are two lessons to be learnt from this ayah.
i) The first is based on the valley of Teeh. It shows that those people who play games, Allah causes them to be lost in the path, despite their apparent progress. In the valley of Teeh, they would go on a journey, and rest at night. In the morning they would end up in the same exact place. Our spiritual journey is called the "Sirat Ul Mustaqim", and the end is nearness to Allah (SWT). With each step, your iman increases, deepens and progresses. However, if you're not serious with the Shariah, and just get an "iman rush" once in a while but are not regular, then you end up in the same spot as you started, there's no progress. We are also caught in our own valley of Teeh.

ii) The second is based on the part that says these people have wronged themselves. When we are in difficulty, it's because we have wronged ourselves. We create our own trials and circumstances. We, in this day and age, obviously wrong ourselves a lot more than the Sahabas. Once when a companion of the Prophet (SAW) missed Tahajjud he retraced what he did and said "Oh I might have missed it because I accidently saw the ankle of a ghayr-mahram"! Hazrat Umar (RA) said that he always figured out when he did something wrong when he got back home, and if he had some trouble with his wife then he'd know it was because of something wrong he did that day. Once we're careful about each and every thing we do, we'll be able to see that there's a direct result for every action.

There is a hadith that says, "When you make a mistake, follow it up with a good deed". When a mistake is made, the door to the next mistake is opened, and the way to close that door is to follow it up with a good deed. We also need to remember that complaining and not thanking Allah is the way to get rid of barakah, so we need to be careful about avoiding complaining. Even if we make a mistake we should thank Allah for helping us recognize that it's a mistake. So may Allah SWT give us the tawfiq to apply this in our daily lives inshaAllah.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Surah Al Baqarah Ayahs 49-54

Image: Partition of the Red Sea

The verses that we will focus on today highlight the blessings that Allah had bestowed on the Bani Israel at the time of Musa (AS). "And recall when We saved you [i.e., your forefathers] from the people of Pharaoh, who afflicted you with the worst torment, slaughtering your [newborn] sons and keeping your females alive. And in that was a great trial from your Lord".

The people being addressed here are the people from Prophet Muhammad (SAW)'s time, but they are being reminded of the blessings given to their previous generations. If Allah had not blessed the people of Bani Israel in Musa (AS)'s time then they would not be in existence since they were all being killed. They were blessed like this due to the reason that they were in the company of Musa (AS), who is a Prophet.

Pharaoh had put the Bani Israel through a lot of difficulties, but one of the greatest difficulties that he bestowed on the Bani Israel is that he used to kill the newborn boys born in their house, but left the females alive. Killing baby boys is brutal enough, but leaving the women alive meant that more babies were born by them, just to be killed. Apart from being so ruthless, Pharaoh was also extremely protective of his kingdom, and no one could question his authority. One day he was told of a prediction that said that there will be a boy born in the tribe of Bani Israel who will arise to threaten his power. Although the Bani Israel were already so weak compared to Pharaoh's army and they had no power compared to him, Pharaoh still decided to get all the boys that were born in their tribe slaughtered immediately after they were born. During this period, there was one baby saved by the Grace of Allah, and he turned out to be Pharaoh's own adopted son! This was Musa (AS). What happened was that when the people of Pharaoh came to kill the baby, Musa (AS)'s mother had quickly put him in the oven to hide him. Pharaoh's people couldn't find the baby and left, and Musa (AS) came out of the oven unhurt. Then Allah told the mother to put the baby in a basket and let it flow in the River Nile. Musa (AS)'s sister quietly followed the basket and saw that it had landed in Pharaoh's kingdom! Aasia (AS) asker her husband Pharaoh if she could keep the baby- she reasoned that if they raise him then he won't go against them. Pharaoh agreed, and later on the baby refused to be nursed by anyone else, and only when his mother came did he get nursed, so she got to see him everyday as well. Such are the ways of Allah.

"And recall when We parted the sea for you and saved you and drowned the people of Pharaoh while you were looking on". When Musa (AS) grew up, he saw how Pharaoh was oppressing the people of Bani Isreal, and not liking it, he planned to escape with them, but Pharaoh's army found out. They chased the Bani Israel until they reached a dead end, in front of the sea. Allah told Musa (AS) to hit his staff on the sea and this caused the sea to part and make a pathway. Musa (AS) and his people quickly went across the sea, and as Pharaoh and his people were following behind them, Allah told the pathway to close and become a sea again. This drowned Pharaoh and his army which Musa (AS) and his people looked on.

The scholars have said that there are so many blessings mentioned in this one ayah.
i) Firstly, when the Bani Israel thought that they were trapped in a dead end, with Pharaoh's people on one side and the sea on the other, they thought there was no escape. But Allah gave Musa (AS) the ability to part the sea, and the sea opened a new passageway.
ii) The second blessing is that all the Bani Israel survived. It could have been that Allah drowned the people of Pharaoh, and along with them the Bani Israel could also have drowned, but Allah saved every single one of them.
iii) Then there's the blessing of Pharaoh and his people drowning. Allah could have left Pharaoh's army on one side and the Bani Israel on the other and they would've been saved. But Allah finished the whole army off by the sea.
iv) And the Bani Israel looked on. Imagine the peace that would've been felt in their heart after seeing such a cruel man you killed others mercilessly, dying before their own eyes. Getting to see him die let's them know it's over now. That in itself is also a blessing.

"And [recall] when We made an appointment with Moses for 40 nights. Then you took [for worship] the calf after him [i.e., his departure], while you were wrongdoers". After they were saved from Pharaoh, the Bani Israel went to a place which is outside of Egypt and Damascus. (Historically, the Bani Israel were originally from Syria but when Yousuf (AS) was King of Egypt they went to Egypt). When they came here they asked Musa (AS) to tell Allah to give them a Book of rules for them. They wanted guidelines in order to please Allah. They asked Musa (AS) to make dua to Allah to bestow on their community this book, and when he did then Allah told Musa (AS) to fast and worship Allah for 30 days at Mount Sinai. On the 30th day Allah gave him the Torah. The Torah and other Books were revealed all in one go, but the Quran was revealed over a period of 23 years. When the Torah was revealed, Musa (AS) broke his fast, and lost the smell of his breath which is very special to Allah (SWT). So he was told by Allah to fast for another 10 days. He did this, and it totaled to 40 days of fasting and worshiping.

What happened during the time that Musa (AS) was in seclusion was that a man named Thamri went back to the magical place that the sea was separated and he found a particular area where he saw the imprint of the horse of Jibrael (AS). He took that sand or dust from that place, and fashioned a gold calf. He put the dust into the mouth of the calf and that calf looked magically realistic. Some of the people of Bani Israel were so mesmerized by this and thought it was a miracle and started worshiping the calf. Thamri was cursed for doing this and he had a constant fever. He had to tell people not to come near him or touch him or else they would get it too. In the end, he asked Allah for forgiveness, and Allah forgave him. This shows Allah's infinite mercy, "Then We forgave you after that so perhaps you might be grateful".

"And [recall] when We gave Musa the Scripture and the criterion that perhaps you may be guided". These are the two blessings given to the Bani Israel. One is the Scripture, which refers to the Torah, and one is the criterion, which refers to the Furqan. This refers to the rulings of the religion or something that separates the truth from falsehood.

When Musa (AS) came back from his 40 days of worship, he was in shock to see that some of his people were worshiping an idol. Musa (AS) made dua to Allah that He forgives the Bani Israel and not finish them off entirely. Allah said that the only way of purifying these people is that those who have wronged will have to be killed, they will then be forgiven. It used to be so difficult to seek Allah's forgiveness before, but Alhumdulillah, in our Ummah, we just have to sincerely ask for repentance and Allah (SWT) accepts it. "And [recall] when Musa said to his people, 'O my people, indeed you have wronged yourselves by worshiping the calf. So repent to your Creator and kill yourselves [i.e., the guilty among you]. That is the best for you in the sight of your Creator'. Then indeed, He accepted your repentance...He is the Merciful". They had committed an act which would take them straight to the Hellfire, but Allah provided a means for them to be forgiven.

There was a Sahabi who came to the Prophet (SAW) and told him that he made a mistake, so the Prophet should punish him. The Prophet (SAW) told him to sit down. Then they had the prayer in Jamaat/congregation. After the prayer Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was leaving the masjid and the Sahabi caught up and said he needs to be punished for the mistake he made. The Prophet (SAW) said the prayer you just made wiped away your sins. So as you can see, the deen is designed to fix our mistakes.

Such are the interesting stories in the Quran and ahadith, and inshaAllah we will continue the inspiring story of Musa (AS) in the next entry. May Allah (SWT) readily forgive our sins and save us from the punishments of the Hellfire. Ameen.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Surah Al Baqarah Ayahs 45-48

In the last couple of ayahs we had discussed, Allah tells us to seek patience and prayer. One thing to keep in mind is that today's society is designed in such a way that it pulls us away from patience or sabr since everything is supposed to be instant, due to the power of technology. We instantly get information on the click of a button off the internet, we can instantly get money from the ATM machine, we have things known as "instant coffee" and "instant noodles" in our generation. This isn't a bad thing, but we have to realize that we can't attain nearness to Allah instantaneously like we can with so many other things. Getting close to Allah requires time, consistency, sacrifice, effort and a long period of time. It's a journey. Sometimes we go to a religious talk and we feel an "iman rush" for a while, thinking our souls have been elevated instantly, then after a while we go back to our normal lives. We have to seek assistance with patience in order to be regular in our deen.

The next few ayahs are addressed towards the Bani Israel, who were people who deviated from the straight path, and Allah says "Remember the blessings I have bestowed upon you and that I preferred you over the worlds". This ayah was revealed to the Bani Israel during the time of Muhammad (SAW), although the stories mentioned are from the time of Musa (AS). This comes to show that the later generations also take part in the benefits given to the Bani Israel. It is similar in the case of Muslims - the source of benefit in our religion is Muhammad (SAW), and because of his efforts and his sacrifices, we, 1400 years later, also get to benefit from our religion. If we have concern for our future generations, we should attain closeness to Allah so that we receive His mercy and this will benefit the next generations. Our primary concern is that the deen remain within the upcoming generations. The best way to make sure Islam stays strong is by supplicating and asking for Allah's grace or "fadhl", and He, in turn, will inshaAllah not only bless the person who made dua, but also the community, and therefore, the future generations.

In this ayah, the Bani Israel are being challanged. They are told in a subtle manner that they shouldn't take it for granted that Allah is bestowing His mercy on them again and again. He could easily close the doors of Rahma for them, and so they should be careful. They have to be sincere, and have be careful about this as well. Just being born Muslim doesn't mean we can take going to Heaven for granted - we have to work for it.

There have been great historical narrations in the life of Bani Israel, and Allah (SWT) reminds them about many incidents to awaken them. Then He makes them conscious, "And fear a Day when no soul will suffice for another soul at all, nor will intercession be accepted from it, nor will compensation be taken from it, nor will they be aided". We live for thousands of days, but the one essential day in our life is that one Day - the Day of Judgment. In reality, all these thousands of days we're living one after another, are just days to prepare for that one day. And Allah gives us 4 charactistics of that Day:
i) There will be no compensation
ii) Intercession will not be accepted
iii) Ransom will not be taken
iv) No one will be aided exept by Allah's will.

So basically, we are all alone. It's just us and our deeds. Even a mother will not think about her child that day. Everyone will be on their own. There are a few examples of intercession taking place on that day though...which include the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) making dua that the people with equal amount of thawab and sin go to Heaven, and an infant which died at a young age will seek intercession for its parents, as will a fetus lost in miscarriage. Also, the hufaaz who have memorized the Quran and implemented it's teachings in their lives and intercede...but it all depends on the situation and their level of piety, and only Allah knows what will happen. In these ayahs it just generally says there will be no intercession as will be the case in most situations.

InshaAllah next time we will go through the various blessings bestowed upon the Bani Israel during Pharaoh's time.

May Allah give us the tawfiq to remember the Day of Judgment everyday and prepare for it accordingly.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Surah Al Baqarah Ayahs 44-46‏

"Do you bid others to righteousness while you ignore your own selves, although you keep reciting the Book? Have you then no sense?" (Ayah 44)

This verse teaches us about practicing what we preach. It is said that when the Prophet (SAW) went to the Mi'raj (journey of ascent), he witnessed people in Hell with their tongues being cut with scissors of fire. When he asked what their fault is, he was told that these are people who do not practice what they tell others to do themselves. In another hadith it is narrated that some people will be in Heaven because of certain people on Earth who told them to do good. But the preachers themselves will end up in Hell. Because of this, the Jannatis will ask those in Hell how they ended up there, because it was due to their teachings that these people got into Heaven. And the people in Hellfire will say that they used to preach, but they didn't practice it themselves. This elucidates the hypocrisy of the preachers.

Because of this, one should always make an effort to practice what they tell others to do. This doesn't mean that people should just stop preaching out of fear. It is the sincere intentions and efforts which count. It is our duty to encourage others to do good and strive to do good ourselves. It is natural to make mistakes and fall into sin from time to time, but it's the repentance and motivation to improve oneself that is the key.

The next ayah continues, "And seek assistance in sabr (patience) and in salah (prayer)". The scholars proclaim that there are 3 main types of sabr:
i) The patience one has while in a time of difficulty, and not complaining while in such a situation.
ii) The patience one has in obedience. This is when one does a good deed regularly even though it's difficult, such as praying in the masjid for Fajr consistently.
iii) The patience that keeps one away from avoiding bad deeds.

The gist of all three of the sabrs is that they help you restrict the nafs, or inner desire. We each have a soul and a body. The soul is such that it loves to worship Allah, it loves to pray, read Quran, give Zakah etc. It finds peace within these things. The body is more animalistic, because it consists of the nafs or desire. Both of these together create a kind of balance in humans, but our goals, as Muslims, is to crush the nafs and follow the Deen, or our religion. This elevates one's soul, and a feeling of elevation is created in oneself such as how one feels during Ramadan.

Sabr is practiced most while one is doing Salah. When in prayer, one has to completely restrict the body and focus the mind on Allah. This is when the soul elevates and the nafs drops. This is when the nafs realizes true pleasure and tranquility is not actually in worldly pleasures, but in remembering Allah and in prayers. This state is what we call the "nafs-ul-mutma inna".

The next verse continues, "And it is indeed difficult (to have patience and pray properly), but not for the humble in heart who bear in mind that to Him they are to return".

Sabr and salah lead to restfulness of the heart. Salah should have "khushu", where one concentrates fully on the prayer and not other thoughts. In a hadith, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) says that the improperly prayed salah rises up as an ugly, dark person, and says "May Allah ruin you the way you ruined me", and the salah is flung back on the person, and he gets no benefit from it. There should be tremendous fear in all of us of this and we should make an effort to attain khushu in our salah. We should remember that we will return to our Lord. This remembrance will give us khushu in our Salah, inshaAllah. Every individual should take some time out and think of their state and our connection with Allah, and spend time in His remembrance and reflection.

May Allah make us from those who reflect on our state, and have khushu in our prayers, and find the utmost pleasure in pleasing Allah alone. Ameen.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Surah Al Baqarah Ayah 43

These verses are addressed towards the People of the Book, but there is something for all of us to learn. We should reflect on where the previous communities went wrong. In the following ayahs there is a tremendous amount of advice. Allah makes 3 commands to the people:

i) Be steadfast in Salah ( "wa aqeemus salah")
ii) pay the alms, give Zakat
iii) make Rukuh with people who make Rukuh.

The first is to establish the Salah. Prayers are a way of lowering oneself towards Allah and praising Him. Literally, the Arabic word "aqeemus" means to straighten. So the prayers also help in straightening ones path towards Allah. We need to be very careful about all the different aspects of Salah, such as the timings, the Qiblah, our purity and the purity of the place we pray in, as well as the purity in our hearts (praying with the right intentions).

All actions have some kind of reaction. Prayers, as well, are supposed to have effects, such as stopping one from doing sinful acts. In a hadith the Prophet (SAW) said the mi'raj (ascension) for a Mu'min is Salah. The unique experience during Salah that are present are unlike any other feeling. If one experiences this deep feeling while praying then they know they are doing it right. Otherwise, more focus is needed in the different aspects. For us non-Arab speakers, it's ideal to also learn the meanings of the various surahs and duas, so that we actually know what we are praying for, and this increases attentiveness.

In Surah Rum, there is an ayah that says, "And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts). Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect." (Ar Rum: 21) This again comes to show that all forms of worship have some kind of effect. Marriage as well can be a form of worship, and it's effect is tranquility in the heart. If this is not the case in couples then most probably the spouses are not following all of the rules of Islam in their relationship. Obviously, there are ups and downs, but marriage should lead to a general state of peace. Similarly, Salah also has some effects if we pray properly, and this will show that we are doing it the right way. Also, going to the masjid gives you many rewards if you are in a state of wudhu before going there. Every step makes you drop a sin, gain a reward, and raises your rank in Jannah. When you go to the masjid by car you should try to park your car furthest away from the entrance to get more reward for every footstep!

The second command is to give Zakat to the needy. "Zakat" has two meanings. One is "to purify" and one it "to grow". Basically by giving Zakah to the poor and needy, we purify ourselves and our barakah or blessings grows in our own wealth. These is a means of purifying our wealth. If one finds that there is no barakah in their wealth, then there is most probably a problem with the Zakah.

The third command is to make rukuh with those who make rukuh. In the previous Ummahs of other Prophets, the prayers did not have Rukuhs. It is just the Ummah of the Prophet (SAW). So the Bani Israel are told to join the Muslims and make Rukuh in their prayers.

InshaAllah I will continue the rest of the ayahs shortly afterwards. I apologize for the delay in this tafsir!

Jazak Allah Khair.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Surah Al Baqarah Ayahs 38-42

In the previous couple of ayahs, Allah (SWT) had accepted Adam (AS)’s repentance for the mistake of eating from the forbidden tree. We are all prone to making mistakes but what matters is the sincere attitude one has afterwards of trying to improve.

We now proceed to ayah 38, “We said, ‘Go down from here, all of you. Then, should some guidance come to you from Me, those who follow My guidance shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve.” Allah has promised that He will guide those on earth, and this is by means of Prophets and the Holy Books. Obviously, we have no direct contact with Prophets in this day and age, but we do have the Ulama, or the scholars. They have the knowledge, and can guide us Islamically. The way to know which kind of Ulama is right is by making sure he represents the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) through his sunnah. Those who choose to follow this guidance shall not be in fear or grieve. A question that arises is how can there be no fear and grief in people? Even the Prophet (SAW) went through so much grief throughout his life. The fact of the matter is that Allah (SWT) gives difficulties to people in this life, especially those He loves, so that they become closer to Him. There are two ways one can get closer to Allah;

i) through good deeds
ii) by having “sabr” or patience.

Difficulties allow one to practice their patience. The fear and grief spoken about in this ayah refers to the fear and grief everyone will experience in the Hereafter, when they will be held accountable for their deeds. There will be so much fear in everyone who are about to get their results of getting into heaven or hell, except those who have no doubt in Allah (SWT) and follow His guidance.

On the other hand, ayah 39 continues, “As for those people who disbelieve, and deny Our signs, they are the people of the Fire- they shall be there forever.”

For the next dozens of ayahs, the “Bani Israel”, or the Children of Israel are addressed. These were people who spread mischief and corruption on earth. They never fulfilled their covenant with Allah. From ayahs 40-108, the crimes that they have committed are mentioned, and their charges for it. Also, Allah (SWT) talks about the consequences of those He favors and those He does not in these ayahs. After reading these instances and examples of what they did, we have to try and avoid their misdeeds, rather than just think that the ayahs are just being addressed to them and not us.

The term “Israel” literally means “the servant of Allah”. Apart from this, it is also the second name of Yaqub (AS). There are only two prophets who have more than one name. One is Yaqub (AS) and the other is Muhammad (SAW).

So Allah (SWT) addresses the Children of Israel, “O Children of Israel, remember My blessing that I conferred upon you, and fulfill the covenant with Me, so I fulfill you covenant, and have awe of Me alone.”

Allah challenges these people, and He does so by some requests of them. Firstly, it is to remember the blessings He has bestowed upon them. Previously, Allah (SWT) had mentioned many of His blessings on all people. In these ayahs, however, Allah particularly reminds the Bani Israel the blessings He had bestowed on their community. The next request is to fulfill the covenant. This covenant actually refers to an agreement made by the Bani Israel previously; that they would worship Allah, follow His messengers, fast and give sadaqah. In return, Allah had promised them Jannah. But these people had forgotten any such agreement.

The next couple of lines continue as such, “And have faith in what I have revealed, confirming what is already with you, and do not be the first to deny it, nor take a paltry price for My signs. And fear Me alone. And do not confound truth with falsehood, and do not hide the truth when you know.”

Allah asks the Bani Israel to believe in His signs, and not deny it. This is because if they are the first to deny it then the generations following will also deny the signs, and all the sin for that will go to the ancestors. Allah also asks them not to hide the ayahs of the Quran, or His signs, for a “paltry price”, or something worthless. The Torah had verses in it that said that there are more messengers yet to come, but the scholars would hide these verses. The reason behind this is that they wanted their own fame, not someone after them. This is a very small price for hiding the truth. Allah also tells them not to hide the truth with a lie.

Basically all of these ayahs are for the Bani Israel to believe in Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as the Last Messenger, which they didn’t. They denied the fact, and hid the ayahs from the Torah which proved this. The few ayahs after this are about the advice given to the Children of Israel, which we can also take much benefit from. They will be discussed in the next entry, inshaAllah.

May Allah give us the tawfiq to recognize His signs and may He strengthen our Iman. Ameen.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Surah Al Baqarah Ayahs 35-37

The next two ayahs depict the situation that was at hand when Allah (SWT) told Adam (AS) and his wife to enjoy all of the pleasures of Paradise, but forbade them from going near a specific tree. The Ayah is as follows, “And We said, “O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise, and eat at pleasure wherever you like, but do not go near this tree or you shall join the transgressors.”

Even though the entire Jannah was there for the couple to enjoy, they got whisperings from Shaitaan, who made them want even more. He asked them if they knew why they weren’t allowed to have the fruits of that tree, and told them it’s because if they eat it, they will become like angels, or they will live in Jannah eternally. This comes to show the concept of wanting more, which is always present in humans. The other thing it highlights is fear of loss. If a person has happiness, then he or she tends to think about losing it as well. What is interesting in this ayah is that is says do not even approach this tree, let alone eat the fruits from it. There is a lot of wisdom in Allah’s command because He knows that if man even goes near something he is not supposed to then there’s a high risk of falling into sin. This also applies to our lives. The way we can really avoid sin is to avoid the environment of sin. For example, if you know you have a problem with backbiting, then don’t socialize with people who are into it. If you know you have a problem with lowering your gaze, then don’t go in such an environment to test yourself.

However, the thoughts from Shaitaan caused them to slip as it says in the next ayah, “Then, Satan caused them to slip from it, and brought them out of where they had been. And We said, “Go down, you all, some of you enemies of some; and on the earth there will be for you a dwelling place and enjoyment for a time.” We have been brought down to this world for a short period of time, and we are tested through our deeds.

We are human, and it is natural for us to make mistakes. But repentance is very important. Adam (AS) felt ashamed and begged for forgiveness and Allah accepted it. Ayah 37 says, “Then Adam learnt certain words (to pray with) from his Lord; so, Allah accepted his repentance. No doubt He is the Most-Relenting, the Very-Merciful.” There’s a discussion amongst the scholars who tried to figure out what these words were. Some say that it’s a phrase that comes in the 7th Surah of the Quran where this whole story is narrated where Allah asks Adam (AS) if He had not warned him about Shaitaan, the open enemy. That is when Adam and his wife Hawa (AS) respond with, “Oh Allah, we have wronged ourselves, and if You don’t forgive us, and have mercy upon us, we will be from among those who are the losers”.

This passage also shows that man was originally supposed to live in Jannah. He was created for Jannah, but now has been brought down to earth for a period of time, then according to his deeds will be taken back to Jannah. Allah makes it so easy for people to enter heaven. There are numerous ways given in the Quran and Hadith:

i)A hadith narrates that whoever recites the Kalimah with faith in it will enter Jannah
ii)The man who prays in Jamaat/congregation receives 27 times more sawaab
iii)The man who prays 2 rakah in front of the Kabah receives a hundred thousand times more reward.
iv)When you fast you get rewarded immensely, so much so that the ajar will be given on the Day of Judgment itself.
v)If you make an intention to do something good then you get rewarded just for the intention even if you don’t do the deed (it has to be a sincere intention though!). But if you make an intention to do evil you don’t get sinned until you do the deed, for which you can ask for forgiveness later on as well, sincerely.

All of this and much more come to show the mercy of Allah, and how He wants His people to enter the gates of Jannah. Allah also makes excuses to wipe away our sins, like when we make wudhu, when we pray, fast, go for Umrah or Hajj, and so much more. This comes to show His infinite mercy on humans.

May Allah (SWT) make us from those who obey His commands without trying to rationalize them, and may He return us to our original home, Jannah. Ameen.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Surah Al Baqarah Ayahs 30-34

The next few ayahs will highlight the nobility of mankind, and emphasize on how humans are the creations of the highest rank compared to anything else. I will copy the next 3 verses in order to understand the beginning of the story of Adam (AS).

“And when your Lord said to the angels, “I am going to create a deputy on this earth!” they said, “Will You create there one who will spread disorder on the earth and cause bloodsheds, while we, along with Your praises, proclaim Your purity and sanctify Your name?” He (Allah SWT) said, “Certainly, I know what you do not know”. And he taught Adam the names, all of them; then presented them before the angels, and said, “Tell me their names, if you are right”. They said, “To You belongs all purity! We have no knowledge except what You have given us. Surely, You alone are the all-knowing, all-wise”. He said, “O Adam, tell them the names of all these.” When he told them their names, Allah said, “Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of the skies and of the earth, and that I know what you disclose and what you have been concealing.” (Verses 30-33)

This comes to show that Allah has given people a rank which is higher even than the angels, even though the angels continuously praise and glorify Allah, and always obey Him in the most perfect way. On the opposite extreme there is the Jinn, Shaitan, who completely disobeys Allah SWT. In between these two there are human beings. People are given a choice, whether they want to live like the angels of devil. The thing that makes humans better than the angels is knowledge.

The next ayah continues, “And, when We said to the angels: “Prostrate before Adam!” So they prostrated, all but Iblis. He refused and joined the infidels”. Telling the angels to prostrate before Adam (AS) is to convey respect for him, and by no way means that they are worshipping him. The fact is that before Prophet Muhammad (SAW)’s time, people were allowed to prostrate before other people to show respect, like Yusuf (AS)’s family did sajdah in front of him. It is only in our ummah that prostrating to anyone besides Allah is forbidden, along with other things that were previously allowed. Examples include making pictures of living things, offering salah (prayer) at those times when then infidels used to worship their idols, or putting one hand on the other (like you do in prayer) in respect of some other person. These things have been prohibited so that there is no way that idolatry or shirk can enter into anyone’s life. In our Shariah, doors are completely closed to things that can lead to the wrong path.

Now, Iblis was actually a jinn, not an angel. But he was so devoted to Allah and so pious that it was almost like he was from amongst the angels. However, he began to reason through the command of Allah (SWT), by saying that he will not prostrate to Adam (AS) because he was made of dirt and Iblis, like other jinns, is made of fire. So naturally, fire is stronger than dirt. Because of this, he disobeyed Allah, and immediately went from being one if His most devout worshippers to Allah’s enemy. This is all because of the pride of Iblis. His pride differentiates him from Adam (AS), who also made a mistake of eating the forbidden fruits, but later asked for Allah’s forgiveness. Iblis did not do this. In the next few ayahs we will discuss the story of Adam (AS).

May Allah save us from pride, which caused Shaitan to receive the wrath of Allah (SWT). Ameen.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Surah Al Baqarah Ayahs 28-29

We can recall from the last few ayahs that Allah (SWT) gives us the fate of those who disbelieve Him (the hellfire awaits them) and those who believe Him (the Gardens of Paradise await them).

Ayah 28 continues: “How is it that you deny Allah despite that you were lifeless and He gave you life, then He will make you die, then make you live again, and then to Him you will be returned?”
This highlights the phases of life a person goes through. First we didn’t used to exist, then we were born in this world, then we will die and then be raised again to face Allah. These are all blessings of Allah. There are 4 important points to note from this ayah:

i) Allah (SWT) asks how can people disbelieve Him when He is the one who has created them. Now the Quraish, those people against Prophet Muhammad (SAW) back in his time, actually believed in Allah, but the did not want to follow the Prophet (SAW) because they said he was illiterate and the Quran had some things which they did not believe in. But Allah says how can they disbelieve Him, so this comes to show the high status of the RasulAllah. To be a Muslim you have to believe that there in no God but Allah, and Muhammad (SAW) is the final prophet.

ii) Many stages of life have been mentioned, but one stage has not been mentioned, and that is the barzakh. The ‘barzakh’ is the period between death and resurrection. It is the time when the angels will question us about our faith, and our rewards or punishments will start from there (the grave) itself. Because this period is not a distinct entity, it does not need to be mentioned separately, but there is proof in the Quran and Hadith that it does exist.

iii) Allah highlights why we will be raised again…we will be judged by Him.

iv) Death is a blessing because it will lead us to our eternal life.

Proceeding to Ayah 29: “It is He who created for you all that the earth contains; then He turned to the heavens and made them seven skies – and He is the knower of all things.”

Everything on earth was created for our benefit. A pious Sufi Ibn ‘Ata’ says about this verse that Allah has created the earth to serve you, so that you may serve Him. Also, everything created on earth is halal unless otherwise stated haram in the Quran or Hadith.

Allah (SWT) highlights here that He has not only created the earth, but also the skies, so that not only when you look at things on earth do you get reminded of Him, but also when you look at the sky. Every single thing on earth and beyond should remind us of the blessings and greatness of Allah. What leaves us stunned on top of this is that Allah has created this expansive universe, and He knows everything that is going on everywhere. “He is the knower of all things.”

May Allah give us the tawfiq to realize His greatness, and may we be amongst those rewarded in the barzakh and Paradise.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Surah Al Baqarah Ayahs 25-27

In the previous two ayahs, there was a discussion on what will happen to those who deny the validity of the Quran, and on top of that fail to bring some verses which are similar to those of the Quran. This was a challenge given by Allah (to bring a Surah similar to that of the Quran). The effect of this denial is hell-fire, which is already waiting for these people. The fuel for this fire is stones and men, showing the intensity of the situation.

Right when we are feeling fear at its peak, Allah (SWT) turns the situation around completely, and says, “And give glad tidings to those, who believe and do what is virtuous, that for them there are gardens beneath which rivers flow.” We now go to a state of pure bliss. This is going to be a reward from Allah, and we can’t even begin to imagine the possibilities because they are endless. In various ahadith, it is stated that the grains of sand at the bank of the River Kauther in Jannah will be made of pearls or jewels.

Allah (SWT) continues, “Every time they are given a fruit from there to eat, they will say, ‘this is what we have been given before’; and they are given one resembling the other.” This is one of the characteristics of Jannah. There are two different opinions of the Ulema (scholars) on this:
i) When the fruits are served to those in Jannah, they will say it looks familiar to the fruits they had on earth. However, the taste will be a totally different experience because the fruits here don’t taste like the fruits in Jannah.
ii) The second opinion is that all the fruits in Jannah will look the same, but all of them will have a different ecstasy associated with it. Either way, the conclusion is that the fruits there will taste like no other.

The next benefit that people will receive in Jannah are “pure spouses”. That spouse will be pure physically (no need to use the bathroom, no monthly cycle etc), and also spiritually. There will therefore be a strong connection between spouses, unlike the ups and downs between husbands and wives go through in this life.

Then Allah (SWT) says one thing that tops it all. “And there they are eternal”. In this world, no matter what happiness you have, you always know that it is for a limited period. You can never expect it to last forever. We are just here for a short period of time to determine where we will be for eternity.

To attain these, you need belief and good deeds. The deeds determine how long you will spend in each place. So, for example, if there is belief in Allah but more bad deeds than good, then the person will be sent to Jahannum for a time period and experience the hellfire, and then be sent to Heaven after that.

In Jannah, it is stated in a hadith that there will only be one complaint. This is that people will look at other pious people and say that they wish that they had said one more “SubhanAllah” in this life so as to get on to a higher level in Jannah, in order to get more rewards. This comes to show how we will be accountable for everything we say and do, and will be rewarded or punished exactly according to that.

There are two secrets that will allow us to get to a higher level of Jannah.
i) The first secret is in the Book of Allah. There’s a hadith that says that you should memorize verses of the Quran. On the Day of Judgment, Allah will ask the people to recite how much of it they know, and as long as they keep on reciting, the higher they will ascend.
ii) The second hadith is when a man comes to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and asks him when the Day of Judgment is, because that was one thing the Prophet (SAW) constantly spoke about. In reply, he (SAW) asked the man what he has done to pray for the Day of Judgment. The man replied, (in modesty) that he did nothing except that he loved Allah and the Prophet (SAW) more than anything else. The Prophet (SAW) said that that man will be next to him in Jannah because of this. This comes by following the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) internally and externally.

Allah (SWT) wants us to be in Jannah. There are so many ways to wipe away our sins…doing wudhu, praying, making dua etc, so we should make the best of this.

The Quran continues: “Indeed, it does not embarrass Allah to use as a parable, a gnat or what exceeds it” This verse addresses the protest of the Kafirs who ask why Allah speaks of something so little as a mosquito or ant when He is so Grand. For example, in the Quran, Allah compares certain things to a fly or spider. The Kafirs were expecting more grand things and ask what kind of example is this. In actuality, Allah (SWT) shows the people that they think so greatly of themselves, but they can’t even create something as small as a fly, and neither can their idols. Allah continues, “By this (example of a fly), He lets many go astray, and by this He makes many find guidance”.

So we wonder who those are who become misguided. The answer lies in the line, “He does not let anyone go astray thereby except those who are sinful – those who break the Covenant of Allah after it has been make binding, and cut off what Allah has commanded to be joined, and spread disorder on the earth – it is these who are the losers.” These are people who have gone beyond the limitations of Islam. The Covenant of Allah refers to a day all of humanity was raised before Allah (before we were brought down to Earth), and Allah asked everyone “Am I not your Lord?”. That day everyone agreed and made a Covenant to Allah and accepted the responsibility of Islam. The kafirs reject this covenant, and by breaking this promise to obey Allah alone, they will be punished. Apart from this, we have to follow the Rights of Allah (Huquq Allah) and the Rights of People (Huquq al Ibad). Our relationships with Allah and other people we are close with, especially our family, should be strong. If we have a weak connection with some relative, we should try to strengthen it.


-Allah turns the situation around from speaking of those who will dwell in the hellfire to those who will dwell in Paradise, and He speaks of the blessings they will receive there.

-Then, Allah talks to people who question His words when He speaks of something tiny like flies. He answers them, then he elaborates on those who have become misguided.

May Allah give us the tawfiq to be among those who are permanently given the blessings of Jannah. Ameen.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Surah Al Baqarah Ayahs 23-24

This part is a continuation of the last two verses, which demanded Allah’s worship alone. The following two verses indirectly demand that we accept the Messenger (SAW). This is because we received the message of the Quran through Muhammad (SAW). The Kalimah is proof that we testify that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad (SAW) is the Messenger of Allah.

In these two ayahs, there is a focus on those people who are in doubt of what has been revealed to them, which is the Quran. The ayahs are translated as “ And if you are in doubt as to that which we have revealed to Our servant, then bring a Surah the like of this, and do call your supporters other than Allah, if you are true”. Allah (SWT) establishes that RasulAllah is bringing the message from Allah Himself.

Each Prophet that was sent to give the message of Allah had his own miracle, and that miracle was appropriate according to their given time. For example:
i) Prophet Musa (AS) was given the miracle of magic, and this is because during his time, people were into magic, and that is what impressed them most. Because of this, when Musa (AS) threw his stick on the floor and it turned into a snake, the other magicians present there all went into sujood because they knew that he was no ordinary man. They were impressed by his magic.

ii) Isa (AS) came with the miracle of curing and healing, because there was a trend of curing and medicine during his time. He could cure people by his mere touch (because Allah gave him the powers to do so), and could even make the dead become alive. This is what impressed the people most at his time.

iii) During Prophet Muhammad (SAW)’s time, there was great emphasis on eloquence and poetry. This is what captured the hearts of Arabs at that time. This is where the challenge is coming from. Allah challenges the disbelievers to create a single Surah like that of the Quran, but no one was able to do so.

The next ayah continues: “But if you do not-and you never shall- then guard yourselves against the fire, the fuel of which are men and stones. It has been prepared for disbelievers”. The mindset of the kafirs during that time was such that they would go to any extent, including sacrificing their lives, to destroy Islam. Because of this, Allah challenges them to disprove Muhammad (SAW). Nobody could do this. The essence of the challenge lies in the fact that the Quran is a miracle. There are different layers of miracles in the Quran:
i)The language and the linguistics. When Prophet Muhammad (SAW) used to recite the Quran out loud in front of the public, they would just become mesmerized and enchanted by its magic.

ii)Even 1400 years later, the Quran is still relevant. Everything in the Quran has been scientifically proven.

iii)The ability of the Quran to change the hearts of people is still alive today. We ave to make an effort to take some time out to read the Quran in order to appreciate its beauty.

iv)The Quran is in its original form till date.

Now we get on to the result of the disbelievers failing to prove Islam wrong. They will be thrown into the hellfire of extremely high intensity, “the fuel of which are men and stones”. When the companions of the Prophet (SAW) heard this they began to weep. They thought that they might be the ones who are the fuel for the hellfire. If that’s what such pious people thought, where does that leave us? We should beg Allah for His mercy. We should inculcate the Quran in our hearts and pass on whatever knowledge we have, because we may be questioned about that as well.


-Those who disbelieve in the fact that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was revealing what Allah has said, and claimed that he was making things up himself, are challenged to create a Surah similar to one in the miraculous Quran. Nobody is able to do so.

-Those who continue disbelieving will be thrown into the hellfire, of which the fuel is men and stones. This detail is like a wake-up call for all of us and should shake us, and help us to strive to become better Muslims.

May Allah give us the tawfiq to apply the Quran in our lives, and understand how miraculous the Quran is, and may He save us from the hellfire. Ameen.

Surah Al Baqarah Ayahs 13-22

Ayahs 13-20 are missing from Sheikh Husain’s lectures and are also not given in detail from the book I am reading, so I can only summarize it briefly, but not give the tafsir, unfortunately. Ayahs 21-22 are described in detail though.

We had previously talked about the munafiqeen, or the hypocrites, who claim to be on the side of Muslims, but actually are not. They left their iman or faith for this petty world. Allah (SWT) says about them, “These are the people who have bought error at the price of guidance; so their trade has brought no gain, nor have they found guidance”. They were so into this world that they gave up something as priceless and invaluable as Islam for something as worthless as kufr, just to get benefit in worldly things. When with Muslims they pretend to be Muslims to be popular amongst them and when with non-Muslims they claim to be on their side.

To quote from the book, “the last four verses bring out the miserable plight of the hypocrites with the help of two extended similes”. Basically there are two different kinds of hypocrites:
i)The hypocrite who has little interest in Islam but pretends to be Muslim for worldly motives. He is described as a man who has found light, then again loses it, leaving him in darkness.

ii)There are also those who did recognize the truth of Islam and sometimes wished to be genuine Muslims, but got caught up in worldly interests and were left in a state of hesitation and doubt. They have been likened to the men who are caught in a thunderstorm and move forward a couple of steps only when there is a flash of lightening, but when this light is over they get stuck again.

These hypocrites have been warned that Allah’s power goes beyond theirs, and if Allah wished, He could take away their sight and hearing, and even destroy them.

Verse 21: “Oh all of mankind, worship your Lord”: All 3 groups are grouped together in one category and are told to worship Allah. The believers, the disbelievers and the hypocrites are addressed. The people who already worship Allah should stay steadfast in their beliefs and acts. Those who do not believe in Him should change their direction towards Islam and believe in Allah. Finally, the munafiqeen or the hypocrites should become straight and sincere in their path of worship. The command in this verse applies to all three groups in their own ways. It shows all of mankind has One Lord.

“(Allah) has created you and the people before you. (Worship Him) so that you may attain taqwa”. Why should you worship Allah? To have taqwa or God-consciousness. That is the reason why we were created. If read in Arabic, this sentence indicates a sense of hope. It is only through Allah’s mercy that our deeds will be accepted. He is reminding us that He created us out of nothing. He gave us so many blessings, and all He asks for in return is for us to worship Him. Allah is the only one who has infinite mercy. No parent, child, spouse, friend etc can have as much mercy as Allah. A person can be denying the favors of Allah all their lives and leading a life of sin but all he/she has to do is repent sincerely and all their sins are wiped away. In the Quran, Allah (SWT) continually reminds us of His blessings over and over again until we figure it out.

“… Who has created the earth as a bed for you and the sky a roof”. There is perfection in the firmness of earth, and the sky is also a blessing from Allah. All 3 of these things are signs of Allah’s greatness: us being created, the earth, and the sky. The fact that all these interact together is yet another sign of Allah. This dynamic interaction occurs when water falls from the sky onto the earth, allowing fruits to grow so that we may consume it, as it says in the continuation of the verse: “…and sent down water from the sky, then through it brought forth, out of all fruits, provision for you. So do not set up parallels to Allah when you know”. SubhanAllah. All of this was created for us, and all we need to do in return is worship Allah. And even that is for us! What an imbalanced equation.

Associating partners with Allah does not only refer to idols etc. It can also be things from our everyday lives, like work and family. Anything which we should be giving as much care towards as Allah almost becomes like worshipping it. For example, if your wife tells you to buy a big house which would require you to pay interest, then that goes over the barrier of Shariah, and that is like creating partners with Allah. Allah (SWT) gently explains to us that we shouldn’t make anyone partners with Him.


The purpose of these ayahs is to show that:

i) All 3 groups (muttaqin, kuffar and munafiqeen) are called upon to worship Allah alone
ii) We are all dependant on Allah and His mercies.

May Allah give us the tawfiq to appreciate His blessings and acknowledge them, and guide others to do so as well.

Surah Al Baqarah Ayahs 6-12

In the first 20 verses or the Surah, Allah is classifying mankind. There are two main classifications:

i) Muttaqin (Verses 1-5), people who believe in Allah. We are told in Ayah 5 that "It is these who are on guidance given by their Lord; and it is just these who are successful".

ii) People who deny Allah
-Verses 6-7 = Kuffar
-Verses 8-20= Munafiqin: hypocrites

Allah created animate objects and inanimate objects. We are blessed to be the most noble of all of creation. He granted us intellect, tawfiq, and ability.

We could easily have been created as disbelievers. It's His infinte Mercy that we were born into a muslim home.

People are followers of different prophets. The most blessed state is to be a part of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) Ummah, of which we are a part of. Look at the Mercy Allah has bestowed upon us. We should therefore submit to the Will of Allah and follow the Shariah and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). We should reflect what we are doing with our time. These abilities of intellect, wealth, health etc are given to us with a sense of responsibility, and we will be asked about them on the Day of Judgement. If we can make so many sacrifices for our education, our loved ones, our desires etc, then what about the sacrifices we should be making for the sake of Islam?

Kuffar: Openly reject Allah and His signs. 2 verses about them. Simplistic and to the point. "Surely for those who have disbelieved, it is all the same whether you warn them or you warn them not: they would not believe".

This verse is directed towards Allah's Messenger (SAW). The word "kfr" in Arabic means to hide or to conceal something. It's often used for people who conceal or hide the blessings of Allah. In this context, they reject the message of Allah. They openly and clearly disobey. What RasulAllah (SAW) used to do was warn the people, and he did this out of compassion, love and concern, it was not some kind of threat. Allah is not saying don't warn them, because there is still reward for warning them with that deep love in our hearts. Even if there seems to be no hope of them changing. The thing is, we should love the kaafir, but it is the KUFR (the act of disbelieving in Allah's Oneness) that we should deeply dislike. We should never believe that we are better than a disbeliever because that person has the potential to take shahadah and become a better Muslim than us. Giving them dawah gives us reward, whether they change or not, but there's always a small chance that the MIGHT change.

So what characteristic is there in the kuffar that makes them not even listen to the Messenger of Allah (SAW)? Allah explains it. "Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes there is a covering; and for them there lies a mighty punishment". A discussion raised with this ayah is how can they be blamed if Allah has sealed their hearts? The answer is in another ayah "Verily rust has come upon their hearts because of what they used to do". It is their own deeds which caused that seal. A hadith says when a person sins a black dot comes on their heart, as many times as they sin. Eventually their whole heart becomes darkened. There's no more hope. It's an "End stage disease". That's when the heart is sealed. The treatment before it is completely sealed is by remembrance and dhikr of Allah, this wipes away the impurities of the heart. Now that we know that the heart can be sealed, we should avoid doing bad deeds which leads to kufr.

i) Avoid sin
ii) If it's done, wipe away the black spot on the heart by seeking forgiveness from Allah.
iii) Follow it up with a good deed. Knock off a bad deed with a good deed.

Once you start sinning it becomes a slippery slope. Lying once leads to more lies, doing
salah quickly, looking at bad scenes on the TV or internet doesn't become a big deal after a while, etc. So we have to be very careful. Start hanging out with good company to make it easier.

Allah talks of the sealing of different organs: Allah has sealed their hearts and hearing and veiled their visions. Vision is very limited, so only veiling the front part is sufficient. One can protect their vision by lowering their gaze. Avoiding hearing is more difficult, because you need to avoid the environment where bad things are being heard. Our heart gets imprinted by these means; i.e. the 5 senses. Sinning may appear to be enjoyable, but they can never bring true peace of heart. Only remembrance of Allah brings that. The reason the kafirs were mentioned in these ayahs even though they will most likely not read the Quran is so that we remember to
i) warn them with love, which is a rewarded though not always fruitful act
ii)look at the state of their disease and try to avoid it.

Verses 8-20: Hypocrites (Munafiqin) and their deeds. They are an in-between group of people. Their deeds talked about in detail. "And from the people those who say 'we believe in Allah and we believe in the Hereafter but they are not believers". There are two kinds of hypocrites:
i)Those who think they are believers, but don't act accordingly
ii)Those who purposely deceive others into thinking that they believe but they don't.

"They seek to deceive Allah and they seek to deceive those who believe in Allah, but the truth is that they deceive no one but themselves, but they perceive not." Obviously it is impossible to deceive Allah, but by trying to deceive the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), they reflect their relationship with Allah (SWT).

"In their hearts is a disease". This is different from the way the kafirs were described (hearts are sealed compared to heart has a disease). There's still hope for treatment, although there's a chance for it to progress to the end-stage. It's a life time process.

"so Allah has increased their disease": The hypocrites used to enjoy watching Muslims fail.Allah increases the cause of the burning in their heart by giving the Muslims victory. The hearts of those who do not repent are also sealed, and this is another way the disease increases.

"For them is a painful punishment because of the lies they used to tell": The purpose of these ayahs is not for us to point and people and say he is a munafiq, but for us to takea lesson from these people.

The cause of their disease is the LIES they used to tell. Allah chose this one characteristic to describe them. Avoiding lying will protect us from a tremendous amount of sin.

"And when it said to them 'do not create corruption in this world' they say 'we are but reformers'. Verily it is they who are the corrupters, but they do not perceive". This is similar to the case these days, where the West had this "War on Terrorism" to obtain peace, but in reality, they are oppressing and killing innocent people and destroying land. This is hypocrisy. As Muslims, we should stand up for justice and this would be a form of dawah.


In Surah Fatiha we made a dua to Allah to guide us to the straight path, the path of those who You have bestowed Your Mercy, not to the path of those who have incurred wrath or been misguided. Surah Al Baqarah's first 20 lines define what the charactersitics of these three groups of people are.

i)muttaqin, the believers we should be like
ii)kuffar, the disbelievers
iii)munafiq, the hypocrites.

Surah Al Baqarah Ayahs 1-5

Title is translated as "The Cow". Famous incident that occurs within Surah. People of Bani Israel were challenged by Allah to sacrifice a cow. Allah relates the whole story of the back and forth between Musa (AS) and the people. They thought Musa (AS) was joking when he told them to sacrifice a cow. They ask about different aspects, of animal they ask more and more unnecessary details. In the end they sacrificed the cow, but it was almost like they didn't sacrifice it.

Madani surah (i.e. after hijrah). Irrespective of fact that it could have been revealed in Makkah.

Occured over an extensive period of time, longest surah.

Last ayah ever revealed also in this surah "Be conscious of the day you will be raised before Allah (SWT)"

Surah Al Baqarah: gist of Holy Quran.

Shaitan stays away from house of person who recites Surah Al Baqarah. Misfortunate to not recite it. Powerful means of protecting.

Shaitan knows reality of world. He steals your iman and time, not other goods. Protect yourself from him.

Alif Lam Mim: unanimous opinion of scholars: no one but Allah knows what they mean. Prophets may have known, we don't know. Every single letters of the holy Quran gives you 10 rewards. Example = Alif Lam Mim. 3 individual huroofs. Nobody knows what it means. Therefore even if one doesn't know Arabic, you get rewarded for reciting the Quran though you don't know Arabic. Know tajweed to beautify the Quran.

"That is the Book, there is no doubt in it, it guides the people":
Don't question the Book. There is no doubt in it. Prerequisite on the reader: one simple characteristic: be Muttaqin, have taqwa or God-consciousness. Hazrat Umar (RA) once said that taqwa is like when you walk through thorns...the way you protect your clothes from the thorns is how you should protect yourself from the duniya. The clothes are your taqwa and the thorns are the duniya. The number one issue a person should look into before reading the Quran is their level of taqwa. Why is the word "that" used for the Quran though? Why not "this", even though it's in my hand? Ullema said (i) this is the answer to the dua from Surah Al Fatiha. That is the book that will guide you to the straight path. (ii) the book itself can be with you, but the respect that comes with the Book is so high that it is in fact far away from anything else in creation. Above and beyond anything, therefore it's far from us in that sense.

People of taqwa=
(i) "those who believe in the Unseen". I.e. Allah (SWT).We have Signs of Allah in this world, but not proof of Allah. So He is Iman bil Ghayb. Therefore the answers of what He is like is in Quran or through prophets.

(ii) "they establish salah", that person will take benefit from the Book. It's not just praying, it's establishing. That's deeper. Also straightening salah. Fulfill faraidh/nawafil of salah, avoid makrooha. Ask someone who knows how to pray properly (Ulema).

(iii) "They spend what Allah has bestowed upon them": Zakah (mandatory). Spend from that thing which is most beloved to you to get closer to Allah. We're actually putting the wealth Allah gave us to the place it belongs. It is not a greatness from us, it is just an Amanah from Allah. It's our responsibility to give that money in Sadaqah. And then Allah rewards you for that. It's His Mercy.

"Those who believe in that which was revealed upon you (SAW)and what was revealed before you": believe in the transmission and in all 4 books. This is the final Book and Prophet. This is the end revelation. It says everything in Quran and hadith. First 3 books were altered.
They have a basis from Allah though. Thus they are People of the Book (Jews and Christians).

The main thing a muslim needs is the Kalima. That will take even the worst charactered Muslims into heaven eventually, but the best kafirs will not be able to enter Jannah because of this one Kalimah (if they know about Islam and reject it). We have been commanded to spread the Truth.

"And in the Akhira they are certain": people have to believe in Akhira with such certainty as if they say it.


We need to have the following characteristics in order to benefit from the Quran:

-be al Mutaqqin by
(i) believing in the Unseen
(ii) establishing and straightening the Salah
(iii) spending from that that Allah has given us
-believe in what was revealed to us (by Prophet Muhammad SAW) and believing
what was revealed before him (to other prophets).
-be 100% certain in Al Akhirah. Nothing else should be treated with that certainty.

Surah Al Fatiha

At least 17 times a day we stand in prayer asking for God’s guidance and commend His lordship and mercy. We speak directly to Allah (SWT), yet do we realize the depth and intensity of the Surah we read repetitively? Wouldn’t one then think that because so much emphasis has been put on this one Surah alone that it would be of much importance? Yet unfortunately these days it seems that praying has just become a routine in our daily lives, something we quickly want to get over with in order to start with our other worldly tasks.

Surah Al-Fatiha is not only a dua which we read in every rakah of our prayers, but it is also “The Opening” of the Quran, and is also known as “Umm al Kitab”. It is the beginning of a Book which guides us completely in both Deeni and Dunyawi affairs. How do we start reading the Quran? By saying, “Aa’odu billahi min ashaytan irrajeem”. [I seek refuge with Allah from the cursed devil]. We say this before we start to read the Quran because this is a Book given to us by Allah, and it leads us to the straight path. Of course, Satan will try his best to keep us away from it so that we don’t gain the knowledge that we need, so we say this line to drive him away and start with a clear mind.

Bismillâhi r-raḥmâni r-raḥîm
1:1 In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Al hamdu lillâhi rabbi l-'âlamîn
1:2 All the Praises and thanks be to God, the Lord of the Universe.

Thanking Allah is a simple task, and one can never thank Him enough for all that He has provided for us. Notice all of the blessings that you have been endowed with instead of constantly looking for more, and you will be amazed. Family, health, shelter, any type of food at any time of day, a comfortable lifestyle, nature and much more-these are all blessings we tend to overlook and take for granted. Why is it that only when something is taken away from us do we realize its significance? In a hadith it is narrated that you should look at people who are below you in this world, for this will keep you from denying Allah's favor to you. Also, “The Lord of the Universe” reminds us that we should not worship the world which Allah created, but instead, worship He who created it.

Ar raḥmâni r-raḥîm
1:3 The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Allah alone is the Most Compassionate. He shows His mercy to both believers and disbelievers. He looks at your intentions. The Prophet said, 'O people! The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions, and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended… If anybody comes on the Day of Resurrection who has said: La ilaha illal-lah, sincerely, with the intention to win Allah's Pleasure, Allah will make the Hell-Fire forbidden for him." Also, He is ever-forgiving. We are all humans and we are sinful, there is no doubt about that. However, Allah (SWT) is always waiting for us to repent, and is ready to pardon us if our intentions are clear. In the Quran (5:74) God asks us, “Will they not, then, turn towards God in repentance, and ask His forgiveness? For God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.” The doors of repentance are always opened, no matter what age you are or what you have done. Allah loves us more than 70 mothers, such is His love for us.

Mâliki yawmi d-dîn
1:4 Master of the Day of Judgment.

When we claim that we know that Allah (SWT) is the Master of the Day of Judgment, we should get our acts straight. We have been sent down to Earth to be tested, and our results will be given on the Day of Judgment itself. Yet, are we prepared? Before doing any act one should think about how it will affect oneself on the day we get resurrected.

Iyyâka na'budu wa iyyâka nasta'în

1:5 You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help

This is a declaration to the Lord Himself. At least 17 times a day in prayer a Muslim testifies that he or she has strong faith in Allah, and believes in Allah alone. However, we see that shirk is common these days even amongst Muslims. Shirk can come in many forms-it does not necessarily just have to do with worshipping idols. Being obsessed with worldly matters so much so that you give priority to it more than Allah is also a form of shirk.

Ihdinâ ṣ-ṣirâṭ al mustaqîm
1:6 Guide us to the straight way
This is one of the best duas one can ask for –guidance towards the straight path. Without the guidance of Allah, how can we reach our goal? Also, when one takes one step towards Allah, Allah takes 10 steps towards him. All we need to do is put in some effort and have clean intentions. Whoever Allah guides will never be misguided.

Ṣirâṭ al-laḏîna an'amta 'alayhim ġayril maġḍûbi 'alayhim walâḍ ḍâllîn

1:7 The way of those whom you have blessed, not of those who have deserved anger, nor of those who stray.

Those who deserved anger are the Jews and those who went astray are the Christians because they believe that Jesus (AS) is the son of God (Naudhubillah). This does not mean that we have to discriminate against them or act unfairly with them. Muslims are a mirror to Islam, thus, a Muslim should act with Non-Muslims with kindness and care. However, we are asking for guidance from Allah in this surah, and we ask Him to save us from the path of those who went astray and the wrong-doers, yet we follow the West in many ways. We wear their clothes, adopt their attitudes, and basically act like “Western wannabes”. What happened to the Muslim identity? If only all Muslims stood together as one ummah there would be harmony.

Tafsir of Bismillah

There has been a debate about whether "Bismillah" is a part of Surah Al Fatiha or not.
The 4 Khalifas didn't recite it out loud in Surah Al Fatiha. The Shafi madhab usually say it out loud, while the Hanafi madhab people don't. However, Bismillah is a part of the Quran, therefore you can't touch it without wudhu, even if it's on a piece of paper, or chain etc.

Meaning of Bismillah:
i) With the name of Allah
ii) With the help of Allah
iii) With the baraka of Allah

We should say "Allah" rather than God. The word "Allah" has no plural form and only has a masculine form, therefore there is no equivalent. The translation is not as powerful as the Arabic word.

"Bismillah" is a phrase that is open-ended, and so can be used for anything [like before eating, sleeping, traveling etc]. Helps us to remember blessings Allah gave us and thank Him. The more you thank Allah, the more barakah you get.

Meaning of "Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim":
"Rahman" is mercy so vast that it reaches all parts of the universe.
"Rahim" is mercy which is complete and reaches perfection.
From so many names, Allah repeats His characteristic of being Merciful to highlight that this characteristic dominates all others. It's the mercy of Allah through which people can enter Jannah. Allah (SWT)'s mercy can be divided into 70 parts, in which just ONE part is bestowed upon us in this life, and the rest will be in the Hereafter. His mercy is beyond our comprehension.

It was a custom in the Age of Ignorance that people began everything they did with the names of their idols. To eradicate this practice, Angel Jibrael (AS) commanded the Prophet (SAW) to read in the name of Allah. He (SAW) said that no important work receives the blessings of Allah (SWT) unless it begins with His name.

May Allah (SWT) give us the tawfiq to start things by saying His name always. Ameen.