Sunday, March 29, 2009
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.