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.