IOK Ramadan: The Quran is a Compass | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep5]

Muslim Matters - 15 March, 2024 - 04:47

This Ramadan, MuslimMatters is pleased to host the Institute Of Knowledge‘s daily Ramadan series: Keys to the Divine Compass. Through this series, each day we will spend time connecting with the Qur’an on a deeper, more spiritual, uplifting level.

Previous in the series: Juz 1 Juz 2 Juz 3 Juz 4

Juzʾ 5: The Qur’an is a Compass

Bismillah-ir Raḥmān-ir Raḥīm. All praise to Allah and peace and salutations upon his servant and final messenger Muḥammad (pbuh), Assalāmu ‘Alaykum wa Raḥmatullāhi wa Barakātuh!

Welcome to another episode of our Ramaḍān Reflection series, Keys to the Divine Compass, where we go over verses of the Qur’an from every Juz throughout the month of Ramaḍān so that we can derive lessons and apply them to our lives.

 InshaAllah today I will be going over verse 82 from Sūrah al-Nisā’ (Sūrah 4) in which Allah (swt) says, “Do they not ponder over the Qur’an, if the Qur’an had been from anyone other than Allah (swt) then they would have absolutely found within it many inconsistencies and mistakes.” The words of the Qur’an are the words of Allah (swt), and the words of the Qur’an are perfect just like the Perfection of Allah (swt) as He is the only being who can claim Perfection. The words of the Qur’an are so majestic and miraculous, that despite being in their language and being familiar with its conventions, the Quraysh were unable to reconcile how such a superior text (which they were unable to replicate) came to be recited on the tongue of someone who was illiterate i.e., the Prophet (pbuh). They were unable to challenge the miraculous linguistic aspect of the Qur’an, but it is a greater miracle because of what it contains.

The words of the Qur’an give us purpose and direction, it tells us the reason why Allah (swt) has given us an existence in this world for 70, 80, 90 plus years. Allah (swt) has given us an objective, has given us a reason as to why we are here, and what to do with the time that we are given.

 If the words of Allah (swt) are Perfection and the teachings of Allah (swt) are Perfection, therefore, in addition to giving us purpose and objective, the Qur’an also provides us with objective morality. The Qur’an tells us what is right and wrong, and how to think about good and evil. Allah (swt) tells us what the red lines are supposed to be for the believer. Morality, if kept under the purview of human beings who are imperfect, whose intelligence is limited, whose biases are inherent, then we are going to be unable to come up with anything that is objective. Our morality would then be subjective, and we would think of good as good only if it suited us, and we would argue for the things that are evil when it suited us. We would essentially change things around because morality, right and wrong, its definitions, would be subject to our whims and desires and subject to what society thinks about certain things at certain times. Yet Allah (swt) has made it very clear and has informed us of what is right and wrong, because the Qur’an is al-Furqān–that which allows us to distinguish between good and wrong.

 In addition to providing purpose, direction, and objective morality, the Qur’an also gives us a civilizing ethos. The Qur’an teaches us and the laws of the Sharī‘ah teach us how to govern ourselves in the most harmonious way possible when it comes to the individual vis-à-vis each other, when it comes to the individual vis-a-vis their creator Allah (swt). Allah (swt) has given us rules and regulations and the Sharī‘ah emphasizes the community, emphasizes the bigger units of collectivity, so beyond the individual we have the family, beyond the family we have the community, beyond the community we have the society, etc. At every level, Allah (swt) and the Prophet (pbuh) encourages us to come together because there is strength in numbers. There is a purpose in coming together because the believers are like one body as the Prophet (pbuh) said, yet when there are a lot of people together, and even when there are two people together there might be conflict. There is potential for conflict, for self-interest, so how do you navigate self-interest and prioritize the communal objective and the rights of the other? The Qur’an through its content teaches us a civilizing ethos, that we are not just encouraged to come together but we are also given standards, rights, and regulations that allow us to communicate, regulate the interactions that we have between the different units of society. Allah (swt) teaches us how to govern ourselves in the best way possible because Perfection comes from Allah (swt).

 The Qur’an also gives us perspective during times of difficulty. Pondering over the verses of the Qur’an allows us to understand the difficulties that we are experiencing–directly or indirectly–in our lives at any given moment. Over the past five months all of us have witnessed the horrifying atrocities in Gaza, but the verses of the Qur’an have given us comfort. Allah (swt) has given us the knowledge of what is yet to come, that the Judgment of Allah (swt) is inescapable, that the people who are suffering are having their ranks elevated and that they are martyrs. Allah (swt) reassures us that whatever they undergo in this world will be nothing in comparison to the rewards that they will receive on the day of judgment. For those of us who are still remaining and are witnesses to it and feel helpless, because we might be doing something, but we also acknowledge that we do not feel we are doing everything that we can. Instead of being paralyzed by our inability to affect change, Allah (swt) reminds us of who is in control, reminds us of the limitations that we have, reminds us not to stay back and do nothing. Perspective during times of difficulty allows us to navigate this realm of chaos, this existence that is filled with difficulty, trials, and tribulations.

 Lastly, Allah (swt) gives us guidelines. So, Allah (swt) not just gives us purpose, direction, objective morality, a civilizing ethos, and perspective during times of difficulty, but for every step of the way there are instructions. There is guidance from Allah (swt), there is encouragement from Him. “Do they not ponder over the Quran?” We do not want to be from those people that Allah (swt) addresses rhetorically because all the answers are here. Allah (swt) has given it to us and all we must do is reach out and take it.

May Allah (swt) allow us to be people of the Qur’an, allow us to be people who ponder over the Revelation, who ponder over the contents of the Qur’an, and not just on a theoretical level but apply it to our lives as well. Assalāmu ‘Alaykum wa Raḥmatullāhi wa Barakātuh.

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A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 3] What Is True, And What Matters

Muslim Matters - 15 March, 2024 - 04:42

This Ramadan, MuslimMatters reached out to our regular (and not-so-regular) crew of writers asking them to share their reflections on various ayahs/surahs of the Quran, ideally with a focus on a specific juz – those that may have impacted them in some specific way or have influenced how they approach both life and deen. While some contributors are well-versed in at least part of the Quranic Sciences, not all necessarily are, but reflect on their choices as a way of illustrating that our Holy Book is approachable from various human perspectives.

Introducing, A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series


What is True, and What Matters

By Wael Abdelgawad


Dania leaned back on the stool, rubbed her eyes, and turned to speak to Rawan. Except that her young Muslim colleague wasn’t there. Dania scanned the handful of lab stations, all dedicated to testing water samples for the presence of a wide spectrum of contaminants. Her eyes went to the clock: 1 pm. Wow, the day was half gone. Rawan was no doubt eating lunch.

An entire morning staring into a microscope and typing notes on a keyboard could do a number on you. Dania’s back was stiff, her eyes tired, and her hands were like chicken feet. Now that she was in her 30s, these things seemed to bother her more. She was 35 and unmarried, which in her Egyptian Christian family was a disgrace. She’d dated plenty of boys, but… The Egyptian-American men all seemed shallow. Money and girls, that was all they cared about. And some were as prissy as women.

As for the American boys, it never worked. Dania’s family were dedicated members of the Coptic church. They attended Sunday services as well as Matins and Vespers on Saturdays and Wednesdays. All their friends were Copts, and when they got together socially the conversation was in Arabic, and consisted of a combination of gossip and talking bad about Muslims. It was too foreign a world for American boys to fit into.

In fact, it was a world that left Dania herself feeling bored and empty. At services, the Bible reading was in Arabic. But Dania, though she was fluent in Egyptian conversational Arabic, could not read the language. Then the Liturgy of the Word was in Coptic, which no one but the priest could understand, and probably not even him.

She’d tried taking up guitar, but it was painful and time-consuming. Nowadays she spends most of her time in this lab, working twelve-hour days.

She removed the elastic band from her hair, letting her red curls fall loose. By some freak of genetic circumstance had been born with milk-white skin, flaming hair, and green eyes. Americans never believed that she was Arab. Oops… Coptic. Her parents would have seizures if they heard her refer to herself as Arab. Which was so weird. She spoke Arabic, she came from an Arab country. But she’d been lectured many times: “We are Copts, not Arabs. We are the true Egyptians, the word ‘Egypt’ means Copt!’”

She wandered into the break room. Her parents were there, as well as her brother, all still wearing white lab coats as they ate stuffed cabbage leaves, lentil soup, and saffron rice. She did half the work in this lab, yet no one had even called her to come for lunch. 

This entire lab belonged to her father, Boulos Khalil. Their clients were mostly large corporate farms. The lab had done well. Her family was wealthy. 

“I still don’t think it’s right what’s happening to the Palestinians,” her brother said in English. He was five years younger than her, lean, and clean-cut.

Her father grimaced. “What do we care,” he replied in Arabic, “about a bunch of terrorists in the desert? What do you think Hamas would do with us Copts? They would slaughter us like black sheep.” Her dad had been in America a long time, but had never learned English well.

Her brother shook his head. “I don’t think so. There are Palestinian Christians too, they’re integrated.”

“Stop worrying about the Arabs and the Muslims,” her mother said. “Leave them in their mess. Their religion is evil. All they know how to do is oppress and destroy.” Her mother was as elegant and graceful as she’d been as a teenager, but was so full of anger and bitterness. Every day it was the same thing, running down the Muslims, and vilifying their religion. It was very old-world and tiresome.

“I hope Rawan doesn’t hear you talking like that.”

“Oh, Dania! Come and eat.” Her mother waved to an empty chair at the table.

“No. That’s alright. I’ll go see what Rawan is doing.” She walked to the exit door.

“Dania!” her mother called after her.

Dania found Rawan in the small garden at the center of the office park. The mid-twenties hijabi sat on the grass, engrossed in her reading. She was a small woman of Iraqi origin, skin the color of Arabic coffee and with big, dark eyes. Rawan had come to work at the lab a year ago, and Dania had always found her fascinating. Rawan was a near genius, yet she liked to laugh. She was assured, but not cocky. She tended to keep to herself, and who could blame her, considering the work environment?

Dania sat beside her and stretched her arms to the sky, reveling in the feeling of the soft grass against her skin, and the sun on her face.

“How come you’re not eating?”

Rawan marked her spot in the book, which Dania saw now was the Quran, then adjusted her blue headscarf. “Ramadan started last week. I’m fasting.”

“Oh, right! I knew that. How’s it going?”

“Really good, alhamdulillah.”

“Listen, Rawan…” Dania picked a blade of grass and put the end in her mouth. “I’m sure you’ve heard my family sometimes. How they talk… I feel ashamed. I can’t understand why my father hired you when he feels like that about Muslims.” Realizing what she’d said, she hurried to explain. “I mean, I’m glad he hired you! It just surprises me.”

Rawan grinned. “Mr. Khalil hired me because I have a bachelor’s in organic chemistry, a master’s in environmental sciences, and I speak English, Arabic, and Spanish. And he pays me well, so hey, no worries. You know what your dad always says: ‘American is American. Zis mean – ‘”

“Business is business!” The two women finished in unison, and both laughed. One of the many Boulos-isms that barely made sense, perhaps not surviving the translation from Arabic to English.

Dania nodded to Rawan’s copy of the Quran. “What were you reading about?”

“Oh.” Rawan’s brow furrowed. “I don’t like to talk about religion at work, especially considering…”

“Considering my family.” Dania sighed. “It’s okay. I really want to know.”

Rawan opened the Quran to the bookmarked page and handed it to Dania. “The Quran is divided into thirty parts, and I’m trying to read a part each day. Today I’m reading a chapter called Aal Imran, the family of Imran.”

“Who is Imran? One of Muhammad’s relatives?”

“No. Read it, you’ll see. Start at verse 33.”

Dania swallowed the blade of grass she’d been chewing – a habit she’d had since she was a kid – and studied the book. It had Arabic on one side of the page and English on the other. She found verse 33 and read the English part:

  1. Indeed, Allāh chose Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of ʿImrān over the worlds –

  2. Descendants, some of them from others. And Allāh is Hearing and Knowing.

  3. [And mention] When the wife of ʿImrān said, “My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service], so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing.”

  4. But when she delivered her, she said, “My Lord, I have delivered a female.” And Allāh was most knowing of what she delivered, and the male is not like the female. “And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled.”

Dania frowned. “Which Mary? Our Mary? The Christian Mary, I mean?”

“Mm-hmm. The very same.”

Dania was confused. She was reading the Quran, and it was talking about Mary. In all the times she’d heard her parents insult Islam, its Prophet, its book, and everything else, she’d never heard them mention anything about Muslims believing in Mary.

She read on. The Quran went on to describe Mary’s seclusion and her care by Zakariyyah, and some angels bringing Zakariyyah and his wife the news that they would have a son, which would be Yahya. Dania knew this was the Arabic name of John the Baptist.

The next verse made her eyes widen:

  1. And [mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allāh has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds.

“Are you serious? You guys worship Mary like we do?”

“No. We revere her as a great woman. A woman of God. But we don’t pray to anyone but God. No son, no saints, none of that.”

“Sounds… uncomplicated.”

Rawan shrugged and smiled. “I suppose. Islam is a natural religion. Very pure.”

Dania read:

  1. O Mary, be devoutly obedient to your Lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow [in prayer].”

  2. That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, [O Muḥammad]. And you were not with them when they cast their pens as to which of them should be responsible for Mary. Nor were you with them when they disputed.

  3. [And mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allāh gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary – distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to Allāh].

  4. He will speak to the people in the cradle and in maturity and will be of the righteous.”

  5. She said, “My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?” [The angel] said, “Such is Allāh; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.

  6. And He will teach him writing and wisdom1 and the Torah and the Gospel

  7. And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], ‘Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allāh. And I cure the blind [from birth] and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of Allāh. And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.

  8. And [I have come] confirming what was before me of the Torah and to make lawful for you some of what was forbidden to you. And I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear Allāh and obey me.

  9. Indeed, Allāh is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is the straight path.'”

Dania read on to verses 59 and 60:

  1. Indeed, the example of Jesus to Allāh is like that of Adam. He created him from dust; then He said to him, “Be,” and he was.

  2. The truth is from your Lord, so do not be among the doubters.

With trembling hands, Dania replaced the bookmark, closed the Quran, and handed it back to Rawan. “I don’t know what to say. There are details here about Jesus that are not even in the Bible. And… It’s clear. I always found it confusing in the Bible how Jesus calls himself the son of man, and humbles himself, yet we Christians claim he is God. Your book is consistent. It’s not what I expected at all.”

“Would you like to hear part of it in Arabic? Just to know what it sounds like?”

Dania nodded. “Sure.”

Rawan began to recite. She had a mellow voice, and it was pleasant to listen to. Dania began to notice that this book sounded very different out loud from the Arabic Bible. There was a rhythm and rhyme to it that was captivating, and the language was very high level. Dania was actually able to understand most of it, but it was like listening to poetry composed by the archangel Gabriel himself, if Gabriel were a poet. The language, and Rawan’s beautiful recitation, reached inside Dania’s chest and struck her heart, making it ring like a gong. For the first time in a long time, her heart didn’t feel like an empty room. The Quran flowed into it and filled it up. Dania felt like she was sitting in a boat on a calm river, drifting as the sun shined down on her, growing steadily brighter and hotter…

Something broke inside Dania and she began to weep. Embarrassed, she stood quickly and returned to the lab, where she washed her face in the restroom. Her father and brother had apparently gone on a purchasing run, and her mother was alone in the break room, using a compact mirror to adjust her makeup.

Her mother looked up. “What happened? Why are your eyes red?”

Dania paused, thinking. “Have you ever read the Quran?”

Her mother grimaced. “Of course. I attended public school in Cairo as a child, we all had to learn some of it.”

“What did you think of it?”

“I hated it. The teacher used to hit our palms with a ruler if we did not memorize.”

“Okay, but I mean the book itself. What did you think?”

“What are these ridiculous questions? By the Messiah, I don’t understand you. You are 33 years old, when will you get married and -”

“I was reading it just now,” Dania interrupted. “The Quran, I mean. You know what? It seemed true to me.” Dania brushed her hair out of her eyes. “It seems like the truth.”

Her mother flicked her hand dismissively. “That girl, Rawan. I told your father not to hire her. As soon as he gets back I will tell him to -”

“If she goes, I go. And you’re missing my point. I said it seems like the truth.”


“What do you mean, so?”

“I mean, so what?”

“You don’t disagree?”

Her mother tilted her chin, saying nothing.

Dania opened her palms. “You don’t have an opinion? You always have an opinion. I said it seems like the truth.”

Her mother slammed her palm down onto the table, making Dania jump. Her mother was like an ice sculpture, she never lost her cool. Yet as Dania stared, stunned, her mother began to shout:

“Of course it is true! Do you think we are stupid? I know the Quran very well. It is Arabic of another level. Islam keeps growing everywhere, do you think it’s an accident? Soon they will outnumber Christians. Of course, Muhammad was a Prophet, it’s obvious. Of course, he was the one that Jesus told us would come. Any intelligent person has to recognize it. But so what, my dear Deedee, so what?”

Her mother wiped spittle from her chin and waved at Dania as if to dismiss her. Dania was dumbfounded.

“You don’t think the truth matters?”

Calmer now, her mother nonetheless spat out the words. “Stupid girl. No, truth does not matter. What matters is that we are Copts. That is our identity, our culture, our history. Islam came to our country from outside and took over, will we now join them? Our Coptic language goes back two thousand years. Our ancestors resisted joining Islam for 1,400 years, should we betray them? We are the true Egyptians, we are more ancient. There is truth, and there is what matters. We are Copts, that is what matters!”

Her mother stood and stalked out of the lab, slamming the door behind her.

Dania’s heart beat like the sound of running feet, and sweat stood on her brow. She wiped her forehead with a sleeve, then fished the hair band out of her pocket and tied her hair back. Her mother’s words rang in her head. “There is the truth, and there is what matters!” Yet even as she pondered these words, they rearranged themselves in her head: “Truth is what matters.”

Rawan entered the lab. “Dania, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to -”

Dania held up a hand to silence her. “It’s okay,” she said. While her brain whispered:  “Do not be among the doubters. Truth is what matters.”



A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 1] Reflections On The Opening Chapter

A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 2] “I Am Near”

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What do the Tories consider extreme? – podcast

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 March, 2024 - 03:00

Michael Gove is rewriting the government’s definition of ‘extremism’ but his actions have drawn criticism from across the political spectrum. Columnist Rafael Behr reports

Why does the government need a new definition of extremism? There are two ways of answering that, the Guardian’s political columnist Rafael Behr tells Michael Safi. If you listen to the communities secretary, Michael Gove, you would hear a dark story of how certain organisations present themselves as moderate but beneath the surface are ideologically dangerous. These groups must be banned from interacting with the government at any level and blocked from receiving any funding. Another motivation, which the Conservatives would deny, is that it is an election year and they are fighting a campaign based on finding potential cultural dividing lines with Labour.

It’s been a bumpy week for the government to be highlighting its plan to deal with extremism. Rishi Sunak has spend much of it fending off demands to return a donation of £10m from a man who told a 2019 meeting that seeing Diane Abbott made you ‘want to hate all black women’ and that the MP ‘should be shot’. Downing Street eventually upgraded its criticism from ‘unacceptable’ to ‘racist and wrong’ but at the time of recording was refusing to return the donation.

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A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 2] “I Am Near”

Muslim Matters - 14 March, 2024 - 21:26

This Ramadan, MuslimMatters reached out to our regular (and not-so-regular) crew of writers asking them to share their reflections on various ayahs/surahs of the Quran, ideally with a focus on a specific juz – those that may have impacted them in some specific way or have influenced how they approach both life and deen. While some contributors are well-versed in at least part of the Quranic Sciences, not all necessarily are, but reflect on their choices as a way of illustrating that our Holy Book is approachable from various human perspectives.

Introducing, A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series


“I Am Near”

by Aliyah Umm Raiyaan


There is one verse in the Qur’an that pulls on my heart more than any other. It does not matter how many times I read it or hear its melodious recitation. Even when I hear a scholar delve deep into its meaning and linguistic beauty, I cannot but find my heart completely enthralled and attached to its Owner. I cannot but smile at how truly Caring and Loving my Rabb, Allah (azza wa jal) is.

I love this verse so much that as I planned the first draft of my first book, Ramadan Reflections, I knew it had to be included within its pages. For this verse, with its beautiful preserved words that belong to a most Merciful Creator, is a light for what can often feel like a dark world. They are the compass in which we can navigate this confusing experience called life.

Allow me to introduce you to the words of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) found in ayah 186 of Surah Baqarah. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 2;186]

In my book, Ramadan Reflections, I wrote:

“When the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was asked by his people about all types of matters – from questions about the crescent moon in verse 189 in Surah Baqarah to a question about the sacred months in verse 217 – Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) would respond through revelation upon Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) with ‘Qul’, meaning ‘Tell them’, followed by the answer. However, the verse quoted above is different. In this verse, there is a linguistic beauty in how Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) responds. He (azza wa jal) says, ‘When My servants ask you about Me, I am near.’ ‘Qul’ meaning ‘Tell them’ is removed, linguistically removing Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) from the response just as he is removed from the direct intimate connection experienced between servant and Lord in du’a. There is no intermediary. We have a direct line to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).”

Not only is Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in this verse, telling us that He is near. By making it stand out linguistically, He proves to all of us that we must hold this to be ever so true. He wants us to know this is an absolute fact. Linguistically it is so and in reality, Ar-Raheem –The Especially Merciful- wants us to know it is so. This makes my heart swell. The way I see it is that my Lord wants, yes wants, me to know He is near. In the midst of my trials and challenges, He does not want me to ever doubt. When Shaytaan whispers uncertainties in my ear, my Rabb does not want me to ever question. When tests leave me feeling unrooted, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) wants me to feel grounded. My Lord cares about me so much that He wants for me to feel safe and secure as I traverse this journey called life. He wants me, as an individual slave, to know He is near.

Through such simple words with a profound depth of linguistic beauty, preserved in the Qur’an from the moment it was revealed to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) through the Angel Jibreel 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) until the end of time – we learn that we have a Creator who is so Attentively Merciful towards us that He wants our souls to be in a state of complete wellbeing – emotionally, mentally and spiritually. And what greater way for us to be truly well than to know with surety that we are not alone and will never be alone? For He is Near.

With this knowledge, I am able to stand that little bit taller, knowing He is with me; close. With this knowledge, I need not anxiously wonder how I’ll get through the difficulties of my future because I know He is with me; ever so close. With this knowledge, I continue my striving as an imperfect soul upon an imperfect journey, knowing despite my imperfections and flaws, He is with me in ways that I will never truly be able to comprehend.

My Lord who created me knew before I was in the womb of my mother that I needed to know “I am Near.” This applies to all of us. Rabbul ‘Alameen has left no room for us to ever doubt His Closeness. He wants us to feel aided and protected during our brief encounter in this world. He is Ar-Rahmaan, Al Wadood. If this is a glimpse of His Care for us in this dunya, then I can only ponder on His Mercy that awaits us in the akhirah.



A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 1] Reflections On The Opening Chapter

Think Like Ibrahim | The Essence of Surah Baqarah | Shaykh Akram Nadwi

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The Guardian view on Gove and extremism: this definition is a problem, not a solution | Editorial

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 March, 2024 - 19:03

The government’s new approach is not a serious effort to tackle rising hatred and division

It is never a good sign when a minister needs to spend as long talking about what a new policy doesn’t do as what it does. Much of Michael Gove’s Thursday was occupied with stressing the limits of the new extremism definition. It will not be statutory, the communities secretary pointed out. It will “in no way threaten” free speech. It will not be used against environmental groups. It would not be used in response to an individual comment, he added, responding to the inevitable questions that arose because the crackdown coincided with the Guardian’s revelation that one of the Conservatives’ top donors, Frank Hester, said in 2019 that Diane Abbott “should be shot”.

What the new measure will do, said Mr Gove, is help the fight against extremism. It won’t. Had community cohesion and tackling hatred truly been a priority, a full public consultation and proper engagement with faith groups would have been the right way forward. Instead came what the Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi described as a “divide and rule approach”.

Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a response of up to 300 words by email to be considered for publication in our letters section, please click here.

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London mayor says new extremism policy likely to drive groups underground – UK politics live

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 March, 2024 - 16:07

Sadiq Khan says new extremism policy announced by Michael Gove risks increasing division

In his speech Keir Starmer has just confirmed that Labour would stop ticket touts buying up tickets for events and re-selling them at rip-off prices.

This is what Labour said about the plan in a news release this morning.

Reselling tickets for profit has already been banned in many countries, but under the Tories, fans have been let down.

Too often, genuine fans are missing out on getting tickets only to see those same tickets on secondary ticketing websites at far higher prices, making them unaffordable and putting them out of reach.

My first ever trip abroad was to Malta with the Croydon youth Philharmonic Orchestra. You will know that excitement you feel when you have an encounter with the arts that changes your life. Everyone in the room will know that the sense, I suppose, of being drawn into something that seems bigger than ourselves, of being truly moved by a piece of music, or painting, or a play …

Even now even now, listening to Beethoven or Brahms as I read the Sunday papers, takes the edge off some of the more uncomfortable stories.

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Understanding Boycotts And Buying Within Our Communities

Muslim Matters - 14 March, 2024 - 14:10

Someone inquired of Imam Ahmad, “Can a man buy from the enemy?” 

Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) answered, “Nothing should be bought from those who gain power over the Muslims.” (Masāil Ibn Hani)

Boycotting—along with protests and donations to charitable organizations—is just one way to express solidarity with the Palestinian cause. And like all methods of solidarity, it comes under scrutiny.

On the flip side, in our earnestness, we may seek to boycott anything and everything we think is part of a boycott list. Some have coined the term “boycott fatigue” to express the dismay of being unable to buy certain products from certain businesses. There is a grain of truth in the sentiment; we may overwhelm ourselves with a pressure to participate in every boycott that we hear of and restrict our purchasing decisions to a point where we cannot work effectively.

This piece will emphasize the importance of boycotts, reiterate the specific outcomes of a boycott, and suggest alternatives.

Internalize That Boycotts Are Permissible—And That They Work

We remember a foundational principle in our faith: “الأصل في الأشياء إباحة.” All things are permissible, unless there’s something that makes it reprehensible or rewardable. So when it comes to transactions with non-Muslims, the default is that they are permissible. However, there are concerns when those transactions directly contribute to the harm of our people. [Ikmāl al-Muʿlim bi-Fawāʾid Muslim of al-Qadi ‘Iyad]

We often hear of one boycott from the seerah, termed as “The Boycott.” Muslims were confined to one valley for merely practicing their faith. 

After the hijrah, a man named Thumamah was in charge of the wheat in Yamamah. He came to accept Islam after being captured in Madinah. With the permission of the Prophet ﷺ, he left to perform Umrah. While in the holy city, he proclaimed to the Makkans that he wouldn’t give them a single grain of wheat unless the Prophet ﷺ, again, gave him permission. The Prophet ﷺ didn’t rebuke him for this action. In fiqh, we learn that this is a tacit approval of boycotts. So we’ve learned that boycotts are not only permissible; they can be encouraged.

The similarities between the seerah and the ongoing crisis are many. Where the early Muslims in the past had to eat leaves in order to survive their boycott, Palestinians have been forced to move from tent to tent, “safe” zone to “safe” zone, exiles in their own land. The situation is so severe that Palestinians made “bread” out of animal feed. This stark reality gives us reason for pause. We must examine our own food critically and see if it contributes to this genocide. McDonald’s and Starbucks are two examples of food companies complicit in apartheid.

In just the past quarter alone, McDonald’s and Starbucks suffered huge losses not only in profits, but in worker strikes. Those losses stemmed from each individual’s decision not to purchase their products. It’s a beautiful reminder of the hadith, “Even if the Resurrection were established upon one of you while he has in his hand a sapling, let him plant it.” [Musnad Aḥmad 12902] Deeds like these are small, but they have a large impact.

Scholars like Hatem al-Haj have offered another framework for participating in boycotts besides their economic effectiveness:

“The effectiveness of boycotts can be variable, and my personal contribution may seem minuscule. However, my commitment to them is not dependent on their practical outcomes. It is a spiritual and moral choice, a means to consciously disassociate from the oppression and those who inflict it upon my brothers and sisters and those who support them. It is a practice I undertake to uphold the integrity of my character, preserve the tranquility of my soul, and safeguard my standing in the hereafter.”

Not only does this build qualities of restraint (إمساك), but also consciousness (تقوة). If we’re able to restrain ourselves from a subscription service like Disney+ or another purchase from Amazon, it allows us to refine ourselves into more conscious consumers, and ultimately, more practicing Muslims. Just because something is halal (permissible) doesn’t mean that it is tayyib (good).

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Allah the Almighty is Good, and accepts only that which is good. And verily Allah has commanded the believers to do that which He has commanded the Messengers. So the Almighty has said:

O messengers, eat from the good foods ( tayyibat) and work righteousness. Indeed, I, of what you do, am Knowing.” [Surah Al-Muminoon: 23;51]

And the Almighty has said:

“O you who believe! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you, and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 2;172]

Then he ﷺ mentioned a man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty, and who spreads out his hands to the sky saying ‘O Lord! O Lord!,’ while his food is haram, his drink is haram, his clothing is haram, and he has been nourished with haram, so how can he be answered?” [Hadith 10, 40 Hadith al-Nawawi]

Understanding Boycotting

There are a few categories from movements like the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. The first are targeted boycotts versus non-targeted boycotts.

Targeted boycotts

Targeted boycott (PC: BDS website)

The method of targeted boycotts was inspired by other movements that focussed on a few companies and products. A company or product on a targeted boycott list has a proven link to Israel and a desired outcome. The BDS movement has eight main targets: Hewlett Packard, Siemens, AXA, Puma, Israeli Produce, SodaStream, Ahava, and Sabra.

Non-targeted boycotts

Non-targeted boycotts (PC: BDS website)

A non-targeted boycott is Pepsi-Co, one of the parent companies of Sabra. While Pepsi-Co does operate factories in Atarot, an illegal Israeli settlement, BDS specifically targets Sabra because of its support towards the Israeli Occupation Forces.

Returning to the idea of targeted boycotts, there are four sections that the BDS movement illustrates.

  • Consumer boycott: Complete boycott; company has dedicated proof of support for Israel. Examples include the main targets above, as well as Carrefour, Chevron, Caltex, Re/max, and Texaco.
  • Divestment and exclusion: Avoid purchasing and investing; company profits from Israeli apartheid. Examples include HikVision, Barclays, Cat, Volvo, and Intel.
  • Pressure target: Find alternatives as much as possible; these companies continue to market themselves, promote, and operate in illegal Israel. Examples include Google, Amazon, Airbnb, Expedia,, Teva, and Disney.
  • Organic boycott: Grassroots boycott; supported by larger BDS movement. Examples include McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Wix, Domino’s and Papa John’s. 

It’s also important to note that many of these companies show up on multiple boycott lists. Many Palestinian activists promote boycotting Nestle due to their stake in Osem. They also emerged on the Lakota People’s Law Project for their deforestation as well as harmful water pumping practices.

Where To Buy From Instead

Consider supporting Muslim-owned businesses, even if you find that a non-Muslim company is considered “safe” from boycotts. Malcolm X (may Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) have mercy on him), had a brilliant idea within his biography: that black men and women should exclusively support black-owned businesses. The same can be said for Muslims. Imagine what our community could do if the daughters and sons of grocery store owners had parents who could further fund their futures. All it takes is for us to support the businesses of our brothers and sisters.

If you are unable to avoid a certain product or company, consider making a minimal donation to a charitable organization every time you make that purchase.

Ultimately, remember that it comes down to intention. We all do our best, but many factors are at play—like medical conditions, environment, and income. Do not forget the comforting words of the Prophet ﷺ that remind us that we can do whatever is within our capacity:

“Whoever among you sees evil, let him change it with his hand. If he cannot do so, then with his tongue. If he cannot do so, then with his heart, which is the weakest level of faith.” [Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 49]

Boycotting is an effective method of resistance, not just economically, but spiritually. 

May Allah ﷺ allow us to have halal wealth, and to be upright with how we spend that wealth.



This Eid And Beyond Boycott Goods Made With Enslaved Labor Of Uyghurs Even If It Is Your Favorite Brand

Israel and Apartheid | Taking Action with BDS

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Gove says three Muslim-led groups and two far-right to be assessed for extremism

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 March, 2024 - 13:22

Community secretary’s new definition of extremism attracts criticism in parliament, including from former Tory minister

Three Muslim-led organisations and two far-right groups will be assessed under the government’s controversial new extremism definition, Michael Gove has told MPs.

The communities secretary named the Muslim Association of Britain, Mend and Cage as groups with “Islamist orientation and beliefs” that would be held to account following the launch of a new definition of extremism.

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‘We’re easy to scapegoat’: Muslim Council chief baffled by Tory ‘extremism’ label

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 March, 2024 - 05:00

Zara Mohammed says Tories ending relationship with leading, trusted Muslim body leaves a gap between the community and the government

A couple of months ago, Zara Mohammed, the 33-year-old secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), learned that the Ministry of Defence was ending its 12-year relationship with the organisation.

The MCB, the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella group, with more than 500 affiliated members including mosques, schools and charitable associations, had been acting as a referee for potential imam chaplains in the armed forces.

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IOK Ramadan: What’s Even Better? | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep3]

Muslim Matters - 13 March, 2024 - 23:32

This Ramadan, MuslimMatters is pleased to host the Institute Of Knowledge‘s daily Ramadan series: Keys to the Divine Compass. Through this series, each day we will spend time connecting with the Qur’an on a deeper, more spiritual, uplifting level.

Previous in the series: Juz 1 Juz 2

Juzʾ 3: Know What’s Even Better?

Juzʾ 3 Contains: Sūrah Sūrah al-Baqarah – Āl ʿImrān (#2-3)


Sūrah Āl ʿImrān  (3):14-17

زُیِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ حُبُّ ٱلشَّهَوَ ٰ⁠تِ مِنَ ٱلنِّسَاۤءِ وَٱلۡبَنِینَ وَٱلۡقَنَـٰطِیرِ ٱلۡمُقَنطَرَةِ مِنَ ٱلذَّهَبِ وَٱلۡفِضَّةِ وَٱلۡخَیۡلِ ٱلۡمُسَوَّمَةِ وَٱلۡأَنۡعَـٰمِ وَٱلۡحَرۡثِۗ ذَ ٰ⁠لِكَ مَتَـٰعُ ٱلۡحَیَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡیَاۖ وَٱللَّهُ عِندَهُۥ حُسۡنُ ٱلۡمَـَٔابِ ۝١٤ قُلۡ أَؤُنَبِّئُكُم بِخَیۡرࣲ مِّن ذَ ٰ⁠لِكُمۡۖ لِلَّذِینَ ٱتَّقَوۡا۟ عِندَ رَبِّهِمۡ جَنَّـٰتࣱ تَجۡرِی مِن تَحۡتِهَا ٱلۡأَنۡهَـٰرُ خَـٰلِدِینَ فِیهَا وَأَزۡوَ ٰ⁠جࣱ مُّطَهَّرَةࣱ وَرِضۡوَ ٰ⁠نࣱ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِۗ وَٱللَّهُ بَصِیرُۢ بِٱلۡعِبَادِ ۝١٥ ٱلَّذِینَ یَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَاۤ إِنَّنَاۤ ءَامَنَّا فَٱغۡفِرۡ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ ۝١٦ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِینَ وَٱلصَّـٰدِقِینَ وَٱلۡقَـٰنِتِینَ وَٱلۡمُنفِقِینَ وَٱلۡمُسۡتَغۡفِرِینَ بِٱلۡأَسۡحَارِ ۝١

Loving the following things was made attractive to people: desiring women, children, heaps and piles of gold and silver, beautiful one-of-a-kind horses, livestock, and crops. All of that is the temporary enjoyment of this worldly life. But Allāh has (a far more) beautiful place of rest with Him. My Prophet, tell humanity, ‘Do you want to know what’s even better than all of that? People of taqwā (those who protect themselves from Allāh’s punishment by obeying Him) have the following things set aside for them with their Master: luscious green gardens that have rivers following under them – they will get to live there forever, pure spouses, and the pleasure of Allāh. Allāh sees everything about His slaves. (The people of taqwā are) those who say, “Our Master! We have believed, so forgive our sins, and save us from the punishment of Hell!” (They are those who are) perseverant, truthful, obedient, generous, and those who seek Allāh’s forgiveness in the early morning.’


زُیِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ حُبُّ ٱلشَّهَوَ ٰ⁠تِ مِنَ ٱلنِّسَاۤءِ وَٱلۡبَنِینَ وَٱلۡقَنَـٰطِیرِ ٱلۡمُقَنطَرَةِ مِنَ ٱلذَّهَبِ وَٱلۡفِضَّةِ وَٱلۡخَیۡلِ ٱلۡمُسَوَّمَةِ وَٱلۡأَنۡعَـٰمِ وَٱلۡحَرۡثِۗ ذَ ٰ⁠لِكَ مَتَـٰعُ ٱلۡحَیَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡیَاۖ وَٱللَّهُ عِندَهُۥ حُسۡنُ ٱلۡمَـَٔابِ ۝١٤

Loving the following things was made attractive to people: desiring women, children, heaps and piles of gold and silver, beautiful one-of-a-kind horses, livestock, and crops. All of that is the temporary enjoyment of this worldly life. But Allāh has (a far more) beautiful place of rest with Him.


We are human, and Allāh knows better than anyone what we love and don’t love. He is our creator afterall. He tells us that humans have a built in attraction and love of:

  1. Women “ٱلشَّهَوَ ٰ⁠تِ مِنَ ٱلنِّسَاۤءِ”
    1. This could be that men have a much stronger attraction to women
    2. Or it could also be a style of language that implies the opposite: men are attracted to women, and women are attracted to men.
    3. Humans almost always find joy, comfort, pleasure, and intimacy with the opposite gender. That is a reason for marriage.
  2. Children “وَٱلۡبَنِینَ”
    1. Humans have children. They love having children. They have lots of children. They almost always love to hug, kiss, squeeze, play and joke with their children.
    2. They almost always love taking care of their children.
    3. This is all despite the fact that having and raising children is not easy.
  3. Lots of money “وَٱلۡقَنَـٰطِیرِ ٱلۡمُقَنطَرَةِ مِنَ ٱلذَّهَبِ وَٱلۡفِضَّةِ”
    1. Can be literally understood as heaps and piles of gold and silver
    2. Humans almost always love money. They seek it, desire it, and want more.
    3. Either they love money itself, or they love what it can be exchanged for.
    4. Be it gold, silver, rubies, cash, stocks, homes, etc
  4. Beautiful one-of-a kind horses “وَٱلۡخَیۡلِ ٱلۡمُسَوَّمَةِ”
    1. Any prized possession that stands out
    2. Perhaps we can personally apply this statement to refer to our vehicles
      1. Some people love their unique cars, colors, and styles
      2. Or anything else of value
  5. Livestock “وَٱلۡأَنۡعَـٰمِ”
    1. Be it cows, camels, goats, or sheep
    2. And perhaps we can personally apply this to our other valuables
  6. Crops “وَٱلۡحَرۡثِ”
    1. Anything with a harvest
    2. Perhaps we can personally apply this to anything we have that grows, like investments

But this is all temporary enjoyment “مَتَـٰعُ”. It is limited to this short finite fleeting life. Really wonderful things are saved with Allāh. Want to know what those things are?


قُلۡ أَؤُنَبِّئُكُم بِخَیۡرࣲ مِّن ذَ ٰ⁠لِكُمۡۖ لِلَّذِینَ ٱتَّقَوۡا۟ عِندَ رَبِّهِمۡ جَنَّـٰتࣱ تَجۡرِی مِن تَحۡتِهَا ٱلۡأَنۡهَـٰرُ خَـٰلِدِینَ فِیهَا وَأَزۡوَ ٰ⁠جࣱ مُّطَهَّرَةࣱ وَرِضۡوَ ٰ⁠نࣱ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِۗ وَٱللَّهُ بَصِیرُۢ بِٱلۡعِبَادِ ۝١٥

My Prophet, tell humanity, ‘Do you want to know what’s even better than all of that? People of taqwā (those who protect themselves from Allāh’s punishment by obeying Him) have the following things set aside for them with their Master: luscious green gardens that have rivers following under them – they will get to live there forever, pure spouses, and the pleasure of Allāh. Allāh sees everything about His slaves.’


We are human, so of course we will enjoy the six items mentioned in the previous āyah. But Allāh wants us to keep our eyes on the prize, to work for real enjoyment that we’ll actually be able to enjoy – and enjoy it forever. What are those beautiful things that Allāh has prepared for us upon our arrival “حُسۡنُ ٱلۡمَـَٔابِ” to the Hereafter?

  1. Luscious green gardens that have rivers flowing underneath them – a place we’ll live in forever “جَنَّـٰتࣱ تَجۡرِی مِن تَحۡتِهَا ٱلۡأَنۡهَـٰرُ خَـٰلِدِینَ فِیهَا”
    1. Greenery, cool breezes, fresh rivers – forever and ever
    2. All the scenic beauty we can imagine
  2. Pure spouses “وَأَزۡوَ ٰ⁠جࣱ مُّطَهَّرَةࣱ”
    1. Some people are married, and others not
    2. For those unmarried, or those in bad marriages, this is a wonderful gift
    3. For those that are married, there is no need to feel worried. If both spouses work towards Jannah, and help each other get into Jannah, they will be the best version of themselves in Jannah!
      1. We are humans, we have shortcomings, faults, issues, mistakes
      2. But we as humans, as spouses, as partners in Jannah will be the best version of ourselves – pure and wholesome
      3. No one should have any worry of, “I don’t like my spouse,” or “I don’t like this about my spouse.” The concept of discontentment doesn’t exist in Jannah. You will either have (a) the best version of your spouse (and you will be the best version of yourself), and/or (b) you will have a new pure wonderful amazing spouse.
  3. Allāh’s Pleasure “وَرِضۡوَ ٰ⁠نࣱ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِۗ”
    1. Allāh will be pleased and happy with you
    2. He will never be angry with you every again
    3. In Sūrah Al-Tawbah (9):72, Allāh ﷻ tells us that this is the greatest gift and reward: “وَرِضۡوَ ٰ⁠نࣱ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ أَكۡبَرُ”. This is also mentioned by the Prophet ﷺ in many narrations found in Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim: “أَنَا أُعْطِيكُمْ أَفْضَلَ مِنْ ذَلِكَ‏ – I will give you something far greater than all of that (everything else in Jannah)”.

These are stored and saved with Allāh. And He sees everything His slaves do. So He ﷻ has conditions for these rewards. The first one mentioned in this āyah is being someone of taqwā – being aware of Allāh, and as a result, saving yourself from His punishment by obeying Him. But Allāh highlights a few more conditions – in reality, these aren’t necessarily “new” conditions, but more so just descriptions of the people of taqwā.


ٱلَّذِینَ یَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَاۤ إِنَّنَاۤ ءَامَنَّا فَٱغۡفِرۡ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ ۝١٦ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِینَ وَٱلصَّـٰدِقِینَ وَٱلۡقَـٰنِتِینَ وَٱلۡمُنفِقِینَ وَٱلۡمُسۡتَغۡفِرِینَ بِٱلۡأَسۡحَارِ ۝١٧

(The people of taqwā are) those who say, “Our Master! We have believed, so forgive our sins, and save us from the punishment of Hell!” (They are those who are) perseverant, truthful, obedient, generous, and those who seek Allāh’s forgiveness in the early morning.’


The people of taqwā are those who:

  1. Make duʿāʾ (prayers and supplications) to Allāh saying, “Our Master! We have believed, so forgive our sins, and save us from the punishment of Hell!” “ٱلَّذِینَ یَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَاۤ إِنَّنَاۤ ءَامَنَّا فَٱغۡفِرۡ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ”
    1. They believe
    2. They ask for forgiveness
    3. They ask for protection from the punishment of the fire of Hell
  2. Patient and Perseverant “ٱلصَّـٰبِرِینَ”
    1. They push themselves to obey Allāh
    2. They hold themselves from from disobeying Allāh
    3. They continue to push forward despite calamities
  3. Truthful “وَٱلصَّـٰدِقِینَ ”
    1. They speak the truth, the do not lie
    2. They affirm the truth in their hearts, and on their tongues and limbs 
  4. Obedient “وَٱلۡقَـٰنِتِینَ”
    1. They obey Allāh, they submit to Him, humble themselves before Him ﷻ
  5. Charitable “وَٱلۡمُنفِقِینَ “
    1. They donate
    2. They spent the money they earned in causes that Allāh loves and approves of
    3. Be it on their families, religious schools, orphans, widows, the poor
  6. Seek forgiveness in the early morning “وَٱلۡمُسۡتَغۡفِرِینَ بِٱلۡأَسۡحَارِ”
    1. Seeking forgiveness is so important it has been mentioned twice
    2. But this comes to emphasize that they are always seeking forgiveness
    3. And also, they do it at one of the most special times: early mornings – asḥār
      1. As we fast, we know of “suḥūr” (Arabic) or “sehri” (Urdu)
      2. It is the meal before Fajr
      3. That is the early morning, the tail end of the night
      4. The last third of the night, a very special time that has been referenced by the Prophet ﷺ in many narrations found in Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim


May Allāh ﷻ allow us to have these qualities, and earn His pleasure.

The post IOK Ramadan: What’s Even Better? | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep3] appeared first on

Day 159 roundtable: Ramadan genocide

Electronic Intifada - 13 March, 2024 - 21:47

Walaa Sabah on her family in Gaza (13:12); Palestine Action’s Huda Ammori on sustained interventions against UK complicity in Israel’s genocide (33:30); Jon Elmer’s latest analysis of Palestinian armed resistance (01:08:48); Group discussion on 7 October incidents of “friendly fire” and Gaza port (01:31:17); Nora Barrows-Friedman’s news update (01:00).

IOK Ramadan: What Allah Says About Ramadan | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep2]

Muslim Matters - 13 March, 2024 - 16:10

This Ramadan, MuslimMatters is pleased to host the Institute Of Knowledge‘s daily Ramadan series: Keys to the Divine Compass. Through this series, each day we will spend time connecting with the Qur’an on a deeper, more spiritual, uplifting level.

Previous in the series: Juz 1

Juzʾ 2: What Allāh Says About Ramaḍān

Juzʾ 2 Contains: Sūrah Sūrah al-Baqarah (#2)

Sūrah Al-Baqarah (2):185

شَهۡرُ رَمَضَانَ ٱلَّذِیۤ أُنزِلَ فِیهِ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانُ هُدࣰى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَیِّنَـٰتࣲ مِّنَ ٱلۡهُدَىٰ وَٱلۡفُرۡقَانِۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ ٱلشَّهۡرَ فَلۡیَصُمۡهُۖ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِیضًا أَوۡ عَلَىٰ سَفَرࣲ فَعِدَّةࣱ مِّنۡ أَیَّامٍ أُخَرَۗ یُرِیدُ ٱللَّهُ بِكُمُ ٱلۡیُسۡرَ وَلَا یُرِیدُ بِكُمُ ٱلۡعُسۡرَ وَلِتُكۡمِلُوا۟ ٱلۡعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَىٰكُمۡ وَلَعَلَّكُمۡ تَشۡكُرُونَ ۝١٨٥

Ramaḍān is the month that The Qurʾān was revealed in. It has been sent down as a guidance for Humanity, with clear proofs, and as The Criterion. Whoever is present in this month must fast. If someone is sick or traveling, they can make it up at a later date. Allāh wants to make things easier for you and through you, and doesn’t want to make things hard for you or because of you. This is so that you can complete the month, Declare God’s Greatness because He’s guided you, and so you are grateful and thankful.

Ramaḍān is the 9th month of Hijrī calendar. It is called the Hijrī calendar because it is based on the Prophet ﷺ’s Hijrah (migration) from Makkah to Al-Madīnah 1445 years ago. Allāh tells us that He ﷻ sent the Qurʾān down, He revealed it within this very month of Ramaḍān. That makes this month very special. It is the month in which Allāh ﷻ’s final revelation, perfect divine words, The Divine Compass was sent down.

But it’s no ordinary text with an ordinary purpose. Allāh ﷻ highlights three key aspects of the Qurʾān here.

  1. Guidance of humanity “هُدࣰى لِّلنَّاسِ”
  2. Clear Guidance/Clear Proofs “بَیِّنَـٰتࣲ مِّنَ ٱلۡهُدَىٰ”
  3. The Criterion/Differentiation “ٱلۡفُرۡقَانِ”

Our last article/session was on our duʿāʾ, our prayer for Guidance in Sūrah Al-Fātiḥah. And in a sense, Allāh answers that duʿāʾ here (as well as in many other places). This Qurʾān is the guidance that you’re seeking and asking for “هُدࣰى لِّلنَّاسِ”. It will illuminate your journey on this earth. Provide clarity in your life. Help you understand your purpose. But guidance, or a tour guide, or any self-help guide can be confusing, inaccurate, or just plain bad. The Qurʾān is not that at all. It is guidance that is clear, that is well proven “بَیِّنَـٰتࣲ مِّنَ ٱلۡهُدَىٰ”. We do not need PhDs in Arabic to understand the Qurʾān. Although learning Arabic is undoubtedly an excellent means to getting a better grasp of the Qurʾān. And IOK has Full-Time and Part-Time programs to help everyone reach their Arabic goals. But the guidance is so clear, that, even a 10-year-old who only knows English can read a translation of the Qurʾān and conclude that:

  1. There is only one God worthy of worship
  2. That God, Allāh ﷻ, is the creator of all things
  3. He has sent Prophets and Books for our guidance
  4. He has prepared and promised rewards and punishments
  5. Those rewards and punishments will take place in the next life
  6. Rewards and Paradise are for those who obey, pray, give charity, have good character, help their families and neighbors
  7. Punishment and Hell are for those who reject the truth, lie, cheat, harm others, spread evil and corruption

And the third aspect mentioned is that the Qurʾān is the differentiator, Al-Furqān, which is also one of the names of the Qurʾān. It tells us clearly what is right and wrong. Humans are able to make decisions about what color they want to paint their house. But some things require knowledge that can only come from the Creator. Humans will argue to the death regarding topic x or y, and those important topics that Allāh knows we need to know, but cannot know on our own – He ﷻ gives us the answer. What is clearly moral and immoral. How we help others. The concept of marriage. And much more.

Allāh ﷻ proceeds to tell us that, if we find ourselves in the month of Ramaḍān, then we should fast. And before anyone can ask, He ﷻ kindly tells us that if we are sick or traveling, we can not fast and make them up at a later date. He ﷻ did that to make things easy for us, and not to overburden us. What a caring Lord and Master!

He ﷻ ends by saying He did that so that we can complete the set days – the 29 or 30 days of the lunar/hijrī month of Ramaḍān. And that we declare His greatness and supremacy because He guided us. And we do exactly that right after Ramaḍān. Before the Eid (ʿĪd) Ṣalāh, we say: اَللهُ أَكْبَرُ اَللهُ أَكْبَرُ اَللهُ أَكْبَرُ لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا  اللهُ وَاَللهُ أَكْبَرُ اَللهُ أَكْبَرُ وَلِلَّهِ الْحَمْدُ —  Allāhu Akbar, Allāhu Akbar, Allāhu Akbar, lā ilāha illā Allāh, Allāhu Akbar, Allāhu Akbar, wa li-llāh al-Ḥamd. God is Greater, God is Greater, God is Greater. There is no God except Allāh. God is Greater, God is Greater. The most perfect and complete praise and thanks belongs solely to God. And the last thing Allāh ﷻ mentions in this āyah (verse) is, “so that you are grateful”. The point of Ramaḍān, the goal of your recitation, understanding, and living by the Qurʾān should make us more grateful. More grateful to Allāh ﷻ and humanity at large.

May Allāh ﷻ allow us to truly benefit from the Qurʾān, and to truly become more grateful.

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A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 1] Reflections On The Opening Chapter

Muslim Matters - 13 March, 2024 - 01:14

This Ramadan, MuslimMatters reached out to our regular (and not-so-regular) crew of writers asking them to share their reflections on various ayahs/surahs of the Quran, ideally with a focus on a specific juz – those that may have impacted them in some specific way or have influenced how they approach both life and deen. While some contributors are well-versed in at least part of the Quranic Sciences, not all necessarily are, but reflect on their choices as a way of illustrating that our Holy Book is approachable from various human perspectives.

Introducing, A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series


Reflections on the Opening Chapter 

by Dawud Omar 


In the Name of God—ar-Raḥmān, ar-Raḥīm1

This semester, I was given the opportunity to teach a course on Islamic philosophy. Before teaching the course, I wanted to give my students—some of whom were Muslims, some of whom were people of other faiths or no faith—an idea of what Islam is. The question ‘What is Islam’ is an interesting one, especially since it has been a point of contention in academic circles. For me, I decided one of the best ways to explain Islam was to defer to the Qurʾān. For Muslims, we believe the Qurʾān is the inerrant Word of God and the last and final revelation for all of mankind. Hence, I believe it best encapsulates the essence of Islam, and by extension Islamic philosophy. 

Obviously, the entire Qurʾān would be too great a task for an introduction, and so I decided to simply go over Surah al-Fātiḥah—the opening chapter of the Qurʾān. This is the first chapter of the Qurʾān, and according to many scholars, among the first chapters of the Qurʾān to be revealed. This chapter, although short (it only consists of seven verses), is quite significant since Muslims are required to recite it at least seventeen times a day throughout their daily prayers. According to some scholars, the opening chapter is essentially a summary of the entire Qurʾān which is why it is referred to as the ‘Mother of the Qurʾān.’ Each verse in the opening chapter represents a major theme in the Qurʾān. Hence, this chapter can serve as a great starting point and a powerful exposition to help elucidate the essence of the Qurʾān, or in other words, the Qurʾānic philosophy. 

In this article, I will share some of the reflections covered in my course in hopes that it will inspire us—Muslims and even non-Muslims alike—to further explore the Qurʾān. The Qurʾān is an infinite source of wisdom as God says: “If all the trees on the earth were pens and all the seas, with seven more seas besides [were ink], still the Words of God would not be exhausted. Indeed God is Almighty, All Wise.” Hence, the enormous depth of the Qurʾān demands that we give2 much attention to every verse and contemplate its meaning. This is not something we should read casually, but rather conscientiously. For the Qurʾān demands contemplation. It demands reflection. As God says, “Do they not reflect on the Qurʾān? Or are there locks upon their hearts?”3 What you will read here is simply the result of my poorest attempts to reflect upon the 3 meanings of the Qurʾān, with the crucial disclaimer that I am not an expert and so I defer to the religious scholars. 

Praise Be To God, Lord Of All Worlds, 

This is the opening verse which sets the tone for the rest of the Qurʾān. This verse beautifully encapsulates the Qurʾānic worldview and captures one of its main points. 

The first part of this verse expresses absolute gratitude. This attitude of gratitude depicts the normative state of a Muslim. A Muslim is essentially defined as a person who is grateful. No matter what it is we are going through, our constant state of mind is that we are always grateful to God. Suppose I am having a difficult time at work, struggling with my classes, fighting with my family, or stricken with a terrible illness. The Qurʾānic mindset of gratitude automatically transforms those problems into blessings. It allows me to appreciate the fact that I at least have a job when so many people are unemployed, that I am able to take classes when so many lack the opportunity to do so, and that I still have my family when so many have lost people that they love and that even with my illness, I appreciate how things could have easily been worse. The fact is, no matter what, there are always so many reasons to be grateful. In fact, “If you tried to count God’s blessings, you would never be able to enumerate them.”4

This first part of the verse suggests a very important lesson, which is that gratitude is not based on having abundance. But rather based on recognizing the abundance that God has already given you.

Here the Qurʾān begins by giving us the proper perspective. Even if we are having an especially difficult time finding something to be grateful for, we can at least be grateful that God is Lord of All Worlds. 

To say God is Lord of All Worlds basically means that He is the Master of All Worlds. We could also say that He is the Owner, Maintainer, Caregiver, or Nurturer. This is something to be grateful for since it allows us to let go of things we have no control over. Sometimes we tend to worry about our future or stress over things that are beyond our control. This verse highlights the futility of worrying about those things and reassures us that God is in full control of our affairs. Everything, no matter how big or small or seemingly insignificant, is determined by God. “He has power over all things.”5

To say God is Lord does not mean that He is merely the Lord of a particular elite group, but rather, the Lord of all peoples, nations, communities, and all things in existence. This includes all realities and even all possible worlds. In other words, there does not exist a possible world where God is not the Lord and Master of all things. God is the Lord and Master of even fictitious worlds. This is because nothing can exist, even in imagination, without God the Most Glorified, the Most High. 

To say God is the Master of all implies that we are all His slaves and that we belong to Him. This is the relationship between God and human beings and is one of the most important themes of the entire Qurʾān. However, due to the problematic connotations associated with the notion of slavery, I would describe the relationship to be more like that between a pregnant mother and her child (and to God belongs the best example). When a child is in the womb of its mother it is completely nurtured, maintained, and sustained by the mother. Its entire world exists inside of the mother’s womb. It is weak, helpless, and completely dependent on its mother. This analogy  best describes our dependence on God and how He sustains and provides for us. This point is also supported by the next verse. 

Ar-Raḥmān, Ar-Raḥīm,  Quran journal - surah fatiha

Surah Fatiha (PC: MD Shairaf [unsplash])

Throughout the entire Qurʾān, God conveys to us His many names and attributes. “He is God, other than Whom there is no god, the Sovereign, the Holy, Peace, the Faithful, the Protector, the Mighty, the Compeller, the Proud… He is God, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner. He is the Mighty, the Wise.”6 Even in the Judeo-Christian tradition, He is similarly referred to as the Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnibenevolent, the First, the Last, and so on. These are among the many names and attributes of God. 

However, what’s most peculiar about Ar-Raḥmān, Ar-Raḥīm is that among all of the other names God has, these are the names He chooses to introduce Himself to us. Moreover, God does not only introduce these names but reinforces them with emphasis. If we take the basmalah7 as the first verse of this chapter, we can see that the names are repeated for greater emphasis. Even if we do not take the basmalah as the first verse, we can still see that this verse emphasizes His name simply by isolating them. This verse is exclusively devoted to the expression of these particular names. 

This is all to say that it is worth pondering on what these names mean. For those who may not know, it would be interesting to hear what you would guess. What name or attribute comes to mind when you think about God? For those who already have an idea of the meaning may translate these names to ‘Most Gracious, Most Merciful.’ 

This is understandable since the names are a derivative of the Arabic word for mercy. However, Ar-Raḥmān, Ar-Raḥīm also contains huge elements of love and compassion. You could try to translate the names to mean loving or compassionate, but the names also contain huge elements of mercy that may be devoid of the notion of compassion. This is one of the reasons why, whenever discussing this verse, as opposed to simply translating these names, it may be better to provide an explanation. 

Master Of The Day Of Judgment. 

Given the benevolence of the last verse, the following question may arise: if it is the case that God is Most Merciful, Most Compassionate, so much so that He chose to emphasize those particular names among all others, then why is there so much evil in the world? Why does God allow so much pain and suffering to be inflicted, particularly on those who acknowledge and accept God? 

This is one of the most well-known philosophical questions of all time and is referred to as the problem of evil. Interestingly, this verse can be understood as a direct response to the problem. 

The problem of evil seems to hold two false assumptions that are absent from the Qurʾān. First, it holds that this life is either all that there is or it is of utmost value. Whereas in reality, this life is worth little to nothing. It is insignificant and ultimately ephemeral. The Qurʾān holds that after we die we will be resurrected in the afterlife. The afterlife is eternal, everlasting, and ultimately real. “The worldly life is nothing but an illusionary enjoyment.”8

This raises a very important point about the purpose of life. In the Qurʾān, God says, it is He “who created death and life in order to test which of you is best in deeds.”9 Hence, the purpose of this life is to test us on our moral actions. Interestingly, contrary to how we would usually say ‘life and death,’ God mentions death before life. Some scholars believe this is meant to signify the fact that our real lives begin only after death. God says, “Did you think that We created you without purpose, and that you would not be brought back to Us?”10

The problem of evil also falsely assumes an ultimate reality without absolute justice. However, this assumption is contradicted by this verse. The ultimate reality is the afterlife, and there we will find absolute justice. This verse represents a fundamental aspect of the Qurʾān and the Islamic faith, which is the Day of Judgment. The Day of Judgment represents a period of time, well after death, where all human beings will be resurrected and forced to take responsibility for the things they have done and how they lived their lives. 

God is Master of the Day of Judgment, meaning He will be in full control and will hold everyone accountable. Those who did good, or were victims of oppression, will be compensated. Those who committed injustice, or were themselves the oppressors, will be punished severely. The final destination for those who were good in this life will be eternal Paradise, whereas those who were evil will be the Hellfire. 

The justice of this world is inferior. So many people throughout history have faced injustices. People either face injustice on a small scale (i.e. being victims of abuse) or a large scale (i.e. being victims of genocide). The sad reality about this world is that those who commit injustice can get away with it. However, on the Day of Judgment, no one will be able to escape. “On that Day every person will flee from their own siblings, and [even] their mother and father, and [even] their spouse and children. For then everyone will have enough concern of their own.”11 This Day will be a period of real accountability. This Day will be a period of perfect and absolute justice. 

You (alone) We Worship And You (alone) We Ask For Help. 

After acknowledging the ultimate reality of God, that He is Lord of All Worlds, Most Merciful, and Master of the Day of Resurrection, we turn to Him with utmost humility, in full submission. This is the very essence of Islam. Islam is peace acquired through submission to God alone. 

As mentioned previously, God has absolute control over everything. “You cannot will [to do so] unless God wills.”12 Yet, simultaneously God bestows on us the incredible gift of free will. A Muslim is essentially defined as one who freely chooses to submit his will to God. It is only by submitting our will to God alone that we become truly free. Whether we want to accept it or not, “everyone in the heavens and the earth submits to Him, willingly or unwillingly.”13 It’s inescapable. By submitting our will, we liberate ourselves from all the restraints of this world. There are many things in this world that inescapably preoccupy our thoughts and determine our actions. However, submitting our will to God means putting God at the center. It is to say that our life is not determined by our career, our desire for power, our fear of death, and so on. Rather, it is to say that our life is determined by God alone. It is making God the ultimate end of our desires and our actions. It is to say “surely my prayer, my sacrifice, my life, and my death are all for God, Lord of all Worlds.”14

This form of enslavement is unique and unlike any other form of enslavement. When you enslave yourself to other things you are confined to those things. However, when you enslave yourself to God, you are confined to God—the Master of all Worlds, thus making you unconfined to anything. Unlike all other forms of enslavement which are to the benefit of the master, enslaving ourselves to God is purely to the benefit of ourselves. 

This is the point of human existence. The Quran makes it emphatically clear that our ultimate existential purpose is to worship God. For God says, “I did not create jinn and humans except to worship me.”15 By worshiping God, we are fulfilling our ultimate purpose. 

Notice this verse shifts from describing God to addressing God in the second person, thus departing from the previous verses. This reflects our coming into communication with God. One of the ways Muslims worship God is through the performance of five daily prayers. This allows Muslims to be conscious of God throughout the day. To also connect with God and come close to God. It is one of the greatest forms of worship. 

Beyond our daily prayers, Muslims may also supplicate to God. Supplication to others may be a sign of weakness, but supplication to God is a profound act of worship. In the Qurʾān, God tells Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) When My servants ask you about Me: I am truly near. I respond to one’s prayer when they call upon Me. So let them respond to Me [with obedience] and believe in Me, so that they may be [rightly] guided.”16 This also highlights the unique Master/slave relationship where God (the Master) presents Himself to His slave and attends to the needs of His slaves. 

Guide Us Upon The Straight Path, 

This is one of the most philosophically intriguing verses in the entire chapter. 

Quran - right pathOne way to think about its significance would be to think about what you would wish for if you could only have one wish. Would it be all the money in the world? Well, why wish for money when you could have all the power? Of course, money and power are things that pertain to the pleasures of this life. What about the pleasures of the afterlife? Perhaps the greatest thing we could ask for is Paradise. But then I am reminded of Rabia al-Basri’s poem where she says, “If I adore You out of fear of Hell, burn me in Hell! If I adore you out of desire for Paradise, lock me out of Paradise. But if I adore you for Yourself alone, do not deny to me Your eternal beauty.” Why would anyone want to be that filthy person who found their way into paradise, when they could be pure and worthy of paradise? Hence, perhaps the best wish we could ever wish for is to be good. 

But what makes a person good? We may say something like always doing the right thing. But how can you do the right thing if you do not know what is right? So we may say a good person knows what is good and acts upon it by doing the right thing. This is reasonable and is consistent with the Quran, where God praises “those who believe and do good deeds—they are the best of [all] beings.”17 But how can you know what is good? This leads us to a broader epistemological question: how can you know anything? 

You may say that your reason guides you towards what is good. However, isn’t it true that human reason often leads people to draw various erroneous conclusions? Similarly, one might cite scripture as a source of guidance. Yet, it seems scripture can also be misinterpreted or manipulated to justify corrupt agendas. The scariest thing about being wrong is navigating this world under the assumption that you are right. And yet, the greatest irony is how we acknowledge this, but still believe we are right. Hence, the best thing a person could ever ask for is guidance. 

But hold on a second, I thought Islam was supposed to be the true religion. I thought Muslims were already on the right path. Why would Muslims need to ask God for guidance? This is because, without God, there is no way for us to access truth, let alone remain upon it. “And whoever God leaves astray – for him there is no guide and whoever God guides, none can lead astray.” 18 This verse is the purest expression of epistemic humility, recognizing and admitting our complete dependence on God’s guidance. Whether we realize it or not, we are susceptible to all sorts of cognitive biases and logical fallacies. God’s guidance is our only means of attaining true knowledge, discerning information accurately, or acting appropriately. Even one of the greatest philosophers in the West recognized “[t]he truth is… that God only is wise; and by his answer, he intends to show that the wisdom of men is worth little or nothing.” 

The Path Of Those You Have Blessed, 

This verse helps to introduce one of the most fundamental aspects of the Islamic faith and a major recurring theme in the Qurʾān: Prophethood. 

The Quran teaches us that God did not leave people to try and figure things out for themselves without any assistance. God says, “And We would never punish [a people] until We have sent a Messenger.”19 In the Qurʾān, God mentions how He has sent down guidance in the form of divine scriptures, with messengers to explain and clarify the message. 

The Prophets and Messengers in Islam serve as the leading examples of how to properly worship God. They serve as moral exemplars and are mentioned explicitly in the Qurʾān: “And We blessed him [i.e. Abraham] Isaac and Jacob. We guided them all as We previously guided Noah and those among his descendants: David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron. This is how We reward the doers of good. Likewise, [We guided] Zachariah, John, Jesus, and Elias, who were all of the righteous. [We also guided] Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah, and Lot. We favored each one of them over other people, and also some of their forefathers, their descendants, and their brothers. We chose them and guided them to the Straight Path.”20 All Prophets and Messengers in Islam are recognized as being among the most righteous people to ever walk the earth. 

The most righteous of all is Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). He is considered “the Messenger of God and the seal [i.e. last] of the prophets.”21 He is the best example for all human beings to emulate and as God says “of a great moral character.”22 When his wife, Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), was asked about his character she said he was the Qurʾān. In other words, he was the best embodiment of the Qurʾān. Thus, any Muslim who seeks God and loves to be closer to Him will follow Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). This is not simply a recommendation but a requirement: “O you who believe, obey God and obey the Messenger, and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to God and the Messenger, if you should believe in God and the Last Day. That is the best and fairest resolution.”23

One final thing to note about those whom God has blessed. This group includes many of whom are mentioned in the Qurʾān and many of whom are not. God tells us, “We already sent Messengers before you. We have told you the stories of some of them, while others We have not.” This is one of the great mysteries of our religion. Although we may not know definitively who these Prophets and messengers were, we can find examples of figures in history who stood out in their communities by calling for monotheism. God says “We surely sent a messenger to every community, saying, ‘Worship God and avoid false gods.’” This is significant as it illustrates the mercy and universality of the Islamic message. 

Not Of Those Who Incur Wrath, Nor Of Those Who Are Astray. 

This verse is incredibly powerful and perhaps the most unsettling. It is a verse of condemnation and rejection. Contrary to some popular versions of religious pluralism which holds that all paths 

are equally valid, this verse directs us to the fact that there are possible wrong paths. Interestingly, this verse combined with the previous verse suggests that there are more wrong paths than there are right paths. 

The Qurʾān warns us about falling into two broad groups: those who incur wrath and those who are astray. According to some scholars, an example of the former is found in the Jews and an example of the latter is found in the Christians. This is consistent with the entire Qurʾān since it addresses the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) and clarifies where they deviated from the Straight Path. The main contention against the Jews is that although they possessed knowledge of the truth, they failed to act appropriately. The main contention against the Christians is that they excelled in sincere actions but lacked knowledge. Hence, these two paths may represent two extremes: knowledge devoid of action and action devoid of knowledge. 

These two paths may also represent two spiritual diseases that hinder a person from accepting God: arrogance and ignorance. Some examples, in the Qurʾān, of those who were arrogant include Satan (the Devil) and the Pharaoh. Their arrogance blinded them from accepting the truth, even though they knew it, and ultimately led them to reject God. Some examples of ignorance include those who speak about God without knowledge. Some scholars say this is among the greatest sins since it may lead a person to commit a lie about God. This not only allows a person to deviate from the Straight Path, but it allows him to misguide others. What is most unsettling about this verse is that it is unspecified, and unlike the prior verse which referred to people in the past tense, this refers to people in the present tense. Hence, this verse warns us that any one of us could be at risk of becoming among those who deviate. May God protect us. 

The last point to understand about Islam, which is articulated in the Qurʾān and beautifully illustrated in the structure of this entire chapter, is that Islam is a religion of balance. Some philosophers hold that virtue is the middle between two extremes. Islam is that middle path. It is the right balance between knowledge and action, the heart and the mind, the body and the soul, strength and kindness, faith and skepticism, fear and hope, concern with this life, and concern with the afterlife. This balance is demonstrated through the chapter’s composition itself. It begins by providing knowledge about God and then ends with us taking action. Although knowledge comes before action, action is followed up immediately. 

In the end, I hope this reflection was in some way beneficial. For more information, I have provided a few references below. These were all sources that I used for this reflection. I pray that God allows us to reap the benefits of this Ramadan. I pray that God allows us to build a deeper relationship with the Quran. I also pray that God increases us in taqwā (reverence) and imān (i.e. faith). Anything good that was mentioned here is from God, and anything bad or incorrect is due to my shortcomings and the Devil. 



 – Abdel Haleem, M. A. S., trans. The Qurʾan: A New Translation. Oxford University Press, 2008. Baghawi, Tabari, The Spiritual Cure. Al-Hidaayah Publishing, 2006. 

 – Gülen, M. Fethullah, The Opening Al-Fatiha: Commentary on The First Chapter of the Qur’an. Tughra Books, 1997. 

 – Khan, Nouman Ali, Randhawa, Sharif, Divine Speech: Exploring the Quran as Literature. Bayyinah Publications, 2016. 

 – Khattab, Mustafa, trans. The Clear Qurʾan: A Thematic English Translation of the Message of the Final Revelation. Book of Signs Foundation, Lombard, IL, 2016. 

 – Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, Caner Dagli, Maria Massi Dakake, Joseph E.B. Lumbard, and Mohammed Rustom, eds. The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary. HaperOne, 2017. 

 – Nefeily, Salah Ed-Din A., Highlights on The Meaning of Al-Fatiha: the Opening Chapter of the Muslim’ Glorious Book, Al-Qur’an. Dar An-Nashr Liljami’at, Egypt, 2005. 

 – Qutb, Sayyid. translated by Adil Salahi and A. Shamis. In the Shade of the Qur’an: Fi Zilal al Qur’an. Islamic Foundation, 2015. 

 – Razi, Fakir al-Din, translated by Sohaib Saeed, The Great Exegesis: Al-Tafsir al-Kabir: The Fatiha. The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought & The Islamic Texts Society, 2018. 

 – Saheeh International, trans. The Qur’an: English Meanings. Al-Muntada Al-Islami, 2004. 

 – Suleiman, Omar and Kamdar, Ismail. Qur’an 30 for 30: Thematic Tafsir: Based on Seasons 1-4. Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, 2024.



Conversing with Allah: Reflecting On Surah al-Fatihah For Khushoo In Salah

Structural Cohesion In The Quran [A Series]: Surah Al Fatihah



This statement is referred to as the Basmala. Scholars differ as to whether the Basmala is the first verse of Surah al-Fātiḥah. However, because I want to keep my discussion brief, I have decided not to include it in my reflections. I mention it here since it is part of Islamic etiquettes to always begin our actions by mentioning the Name of God.2    Qurʾān 31:27 3    Qurʾān 47:24 4    Qurʾān 16:18 5     Qurʾān 67:1 6    Qurʾān 59:24 7    In the Name of God—ar-Raḥmān, ar-Raḥīm 8    Qurʾān 3:1859    Qurʾān 67:210    Qurʾān 23:115 11    Qurʾān 34:34-37 12    Qurʾān 76:30 13    Qurʾān 3:83 14    Qurʾān 6:16215    Qurʾān 51:5616    Qurʾān 2:18617    Qurʾān 98:7 18    Qurʾān 39:36-37 19    Qurʾān 17:15 20    Qurʾān 6:84-87 21    Qurʾān 33:4022    Qurʾān 68:423     Qurʾān 4:59

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Archbishops of Canterbury and York warn against new extremism definition

The Guardian World news: Islam - 12 March, 2024 - 23:47

Clerics say Michael Gove’s anti-extremism strategy risks targeting Muslims and may threaten freedom of speech and peaceful protest

The archbishops of Canterbury and York have joined the growing list of critics of the government’s new extremism definition, which they have warned risks “disproportionately targeting Muslim communities” and “driving us apart”.

Michael Gove will present his new counter-extremism strategy on Thursday, which he says will target organisations that undermine British democracy.

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