Sunday, March 29, 2009
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.