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We Are Not Numbers x MuslimMatters – Faith Is Our Way Of Resistance

Muslim Matters - 7 April, 2024 - 15:00

by Dima Shamaly

[Connie Charles, mentor]

 

March 19, 2024

When we see the crescent moon

   As you know, every year we are aware that Ramadan is approaching by the sighting of the crescent moon. When the crescent moon appears, children’s voices become louder in the streets, and decorations fill every street and every house. 

   Each of us goes to the markets and malls to buy delicious food and necessities for the month of Ramadan. We seek out the foods that distinguish Ramadan from other months. Dates, for example, qatayef, and many other things. 

   The days of Ramadan are filled with remembrance of God, prayer, reading the Qur’an, and then preparing food for Iftar. After sundown, we eat only when the family gathers around one table, filled with all kinds of foods. 

  You hear the sounds of Tarawih prayer while sitting in your home, a fragrant recitation from an imam who has a golden voice in reading the Qur’an. Your heart is filled with humility and reassurance in every rak’ah you perform. Once you stand before your Creator, you feel that the whole world is nothingness and that you want to spend the whole night praying.

This is what I wrote during the month of Ramadan last year to my friend who lives in New York. She was feeling consumed by exile, and wanted reminders of the atmosphere of Ramadan in Gaza so that she would feel a little reassured and could return home in her mind.

This year is different

This year, on March 3, she sent me a message asking whether my family and I were alive or not. She wanted details about how we would keep the month of Ramadan. I remained silent and did not respond. I did not know how to tell her that I had lost my ability to speak. I could not tell her any details. I was unable to say a word. How could I talk to her about all that I was experiencing? I had no words.

Spending Ramadan this year, in the Gaza Strip, is like being in the desert for a long time without enough food or drink. Each of us spends the day without doing anything, with no work to distract us, without study to be preoccupied with. We do nothing. Our faces show the bottomless fear and worry that each of us is feeling.

This year, we spend every day waiting for it to end, just to be over. At Iftar, the food for a family of no less than seven people is two cans of cooked beans or peas, tasteless and odorless, as if you were eating air. Canned food is the only thing available, that an individual in the Gaza Strip can find to buy. Other foods are for sale in local markets, but no one can afford them. 

Lack of control over sellers has made the prices of all goods in Gaza rise dramatically. I may go to the market carrying a hundred shekels—a good amount of money in normal circumstances, enough to buy a large amount of food—and all I can buy with it is a small bag of vegetables, enough for one salad plate, four bottles of water, and a box of dates.

Yet, we persist

Along with this situation beyond our control are the sounds of continuous bombing that come to our ears instead of the music of the call to prayer or the cannons, and along with Iftar this year there is the stench of the phosphorus bombs being dropped on us.

The thing that reassures us all is our unshakeable faith. With everything that happens, you will still find every family gathering in front of their tent to pray Tarawih prayers together. When those prayers are finished, everyone prays to God to be relieved of this horror we are living through. Every tent has its own supplication, and all tents have a common supplication. Any thought that God would abandon us or leave us without hope disappears simply by praying.

Even the elements are against us

On the seventh day of Ramadan this year, the weather in the city of Rafah, to which I have been displaced, changed from summer and sunny to continuous winter and bitter cold. Being cold in our tents seems to be the final way to make us feel pain, and it becomes worse when you have nothing to wear or to cover yourself with.

We are all bearing up, but we never thought it would get so bad. And now, the sound of the wind hitting the nylon of the tent is more difficult to endure than even the sound of continuous bombing, and there has been rain pouring on us in the night making us even more miserable. Yet we were able to sleep through the night, and were satisfied that it was God testing us.

Then, just a half hour before suhoor. I woke to the sound of my mother screaming, “The tent has fallen! Ya Allah, please have mercy on us.” I thought she was exaggerating, but opening my eyes and trying to sit up, I realized that wood and nylon were on top of us. 

We left the tent and spent the rest of the night out in the cold. My mother never complained or expressed doubt in God’s rule. She prayed till dawn, imploring God with all her strength to save us from the crisis we were in. I was amazed by my mother’s strong faith and firm belief in everything. 

I also prayed, asking God to reduce the affliction on us, or to get us out of this situation, to at least return us to our home. My 14-year-old sister, Farah, prayed too, saying, “Ya Rab, bring us back to our home and we will be satisfied with anything else. Bring us back to our home, and let them continue their war. Let them kill us, but while we are at home.”

Our faith gives us all we need

When morning came, I wanted to reach out to my friend in New York, but I knew I couldn’t say all of this to her. Something inside me prevented me from calling her, even though she was one of my closest friends. 

To my surprise, I found a message from her saying, “There is something in common between you and homeless cats. You are all in God’s care and protected in His eyes.”

Receiving this message was like a refreshing rain in the desert in which I had been without food or water for a long time. I realized that I was in God’s care and protection, and that my mother’s strong faith was not in vain. My sister’s prayers came out of her deep pain and her great hope in God. 

Faith is the strongest and the most enduring thing we have. Through all of our pain and suffering, we have faith. Whenever life gets tough and nothing makes sense, we have a refuge in Allah. We know that Allah is with us. Allah sees all that is happening and will never stop being with us and for us. Faith is the best thing my people have, and we are famous for it.

 

Related:

We Are Not Numbers x MuslimMatters – MuslimMatters.org

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We Are Not Numbers x MuslimMatters

Muslim Matters - 7 April, 2024 - 10:33
The Witnesses Of We Are Not Numbers

 

Introduction

by Ruth Nasrallah

Survivors of genocide have traditionally borne witness only after the atrocities end. In the case of the current tragedy in Gaza, witnesses are working in real-time. Because of the prevalence of journalists, photographers, and videographers on the ground using social media to livestream conditions there, millions can quite literally see the horror.

Whether you turn away from the worst of it – the images that are gruesome enough or provocative enough to merit a platform to blur them out – or you take every detail in, you can’t avoid the breathtaking violence, deprivation, and oppression.

Watching it happen on social media is traumatic and hard to absorb. It is a powerful motivator to action but arguably it’s only a first step into really understanding the depth of the calamity. There is a difference between a video and a written narrative. I would argue that the latter gives depth to our understanding of what we see happening in Gaza. And understanding the genocide from a more nuanced perspective guides us in our actions as well.

With that in mind, we introduce you to a group of young Palestinian writers who are distilling their experiences in real-time, in essays, in poetry, and in reporting. These are the writers of We Are Not Numbers, a youth-led Palestinian nonprofit project in Gaza. Writers accepted into a WANN cohort are paired with mentors who are professional journalists from around the world. The idea for WANN was conceived in 2014 by the American journalist Pam Bailey. In 2015, in collaboration with the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, it became a reality.

The WANN writers have always focused on their lives and perspectives as Palestinians, whether in Gaza or in the Palestinian diaspora. In the last five months, they have taken on the critical role of witnessing their homeland’s genocide. Through poetry, essays, personal accounts, and reflections, they tell the story of post-October 7 Gaza. In their writing, they have described the flour massacres, the images of people on the ground covered with blood clutching a bag of flour. They have shared the sweet, simple story of a birthday “cake” made from the ingredients of deprivation. They have reflected on the arc of adjusting life to accommodate the constant threat of death.

And, sadly, they have lamented their sorrow at losing their professor and mentor Dr. Refaat Alareer, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike in December.

I discovered We Are Not Numbers about six years ago and have been supporting them since. When I made my first donation, the incentive gift was my name in Arabic calligraphy. I was emailed a photo of “Ruth Nasrullah” written in Arabic on a sheet of paper held up against the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea. I cherish that photo.

I encourage you to read the work of the We Are Not Numbers writers, to share their writing, and to support it. In doing so, you help ensure that the world knows what individual Gazans experience, what they have survived, and what they have lost. By sharing their work, you are a kind of witness too.

The post We Are Not Numbers x MuslimMatters appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 27] Surat Al Waqiah Paid My Tuition Twice

Muslim Matters - 7 April, 2024 - 09:56

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

***

The Surah That Paid My Tuition Twice

by Meena Malik

 

When I was in my second year of college, I heard an amazing anecdote that I decided to put all my faith in. It was the spring of 2011 and I had just decided to take a year off from college after being accepted into a year-long Arabic immersion program. But I had a huge problem. I secured over half the funds needed when I emptied my savings and my parents pitched in, but how would I come up with the remaining $5,000 that I needed? 

The program management advised me to try to fundraise the money on my own, seeking funds from my community. Their logic was that when I came back after a year of study, the community’s investment would pay off when I would teach free Arabic classes. So I began fundraising and actually raised much more than I had imagined. But I was still a few thousand dollars short. I had a worst-case backup plan up my sleeve: I’d take a part-time job while doing the Arabic program. I had been working part-time and commuting to college full-time all year. I could manage. 

But another solution came unexpectedly to me–and I knew it was my last hope for a miracle. 

[Please note: The author denounces the organization that she studied Arabic through due to ethical concerns about the CEO being a perpetrator and engaging in spiritual abuse.]

The Inspiring Story about Surat al Waqiah

At the time, there was a Muslim radio station called One Legacy Radio in Irvine, California and one of the brothers from my MSA hosted a show. It seems so silly to me now, but even then in the decently segregated MSU at UC Irvine, the sisters who would be hanging out and doing homework together on campus would always tune in online. Someone would open up her laptop and play the show out loud for everyone to hear. In a fateful episode, DJ Halal told a story about how he started reading Surat Al Waqiah every day to alleviate the financial burden he was experiencing. It had to do something with losing a job or somewhere along those lines. He mentioned a hadith that supported this practice and how reading the surah every night miraculously resolved his financial trouble at the time. 

Something clicked in my mind. The Arabic program marketed itself as a quick way to “learn Classical Arabic to understand the Quran” and thus what could be more logical than to read a magical surah from the Quran every single night to get to that goal? I use the word magical without trying to disrespect the Quran–because to me, I had to believe in the miracle that the hadith promised with full conviction for it to work. I had already been reading Surat Al Mulk every night for four years to protect myself from punishment from the grave–so why not try something that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught us to do that results in benefit in this life, too?

Starting the Ritual

That night, I opened up my dear mushaf which I lovingly nicknamed “Q” and pulled up a recitation from YouTube at the same time. At 20 years old I was mostly confident that I could read a surah new to me without any major issues because I had invested over a year in seriously-needed tajweed and Quran reading, but I wanted to listen with a reciter just in case anyway. I listened along a second time with the old faithful Yusuf Ali translation in the margins of “Q” and I thought to myself, this surah is all about people being sorted into groups on the Day of Judgment and dying. What does this have to do with getting money? 

I told my Quran teacher at the time that I needed to learn Surat Al Waqiah properly with her. I told her the reason why and she was very supportive of my dream of learning to understand the Quran. She helped me over the next month. (Huge props to that amazing woman!) I read the surah every night and slowly committed it to memory. Although it was the longest surah I had yet attempted to memorize and was a bit nervous to try, it was one of the easiest ones I have ever memorized. 

Why I Love Surat Al Waqiah

The reasons why this surah was so easy for me to memorize are the thematic elements in the surah and the way the surah is organized into neat sections. I split the surah up into five sections: the introduction which sets up the three categories of people, the forerunners or sabiqoon, the people of the right hand or ashabul yameen, the people of the left hand or ashabul shimaal, signs of the Divine in worldly creation, and the conclusion which connects the Quran as revelation nicely with the previous four sections. To me, the surah makes well-connected jumps from section to section while also staying on topic within each section without wandering around too much. In addition to this, phrases and sentence structures repeat themselves and echo throughout the surah, which I find very helpful. These reasons made it very easy for me to memorize. 

As I memorized and read the surah every night, it quickly became one of my favorites to recite and remains my favorite surah to recite today. This is because of the way the surah sounds to me. Many of the verses in the very beginning are short and have a lovely cadence to them with long “a” endings. Moving into the next three sections, the verses’ rhythms group themselves in sets of similar lengths with similar-sounding endings. In the fourth section, we get a series of rhetorical questions. I always love reciting questions because of the slight difference in inflections that you can stylistically choose to recite with. One of the other things I love about the questions is the repetitive sounds that come from the conjugations of words from the second-person verb to the third-person plural noun. For example in verse 59, did you create (verb: takhluqoona) it, or are We the Creators (noun: khaaliqoon)? This pattern repeats itself multiple times throughout the fourth section and it was exciting to me because I could tell the roots of the words were the same without yet understanding how to conjugate them since I had not studied sarf. Lastly, I like the punctuated sound throughout this surah with its frequent flow disrupters: many qalqalahs, haa with sukoons, and raa with sukoons. I had barely begun to dabble in listening to alternate recitations, but eventually when I studied the Asharah Qira’aat my favorite recitations were the ones with extra pauses, or saktah. There is just something I find so musically satisfying about reciting this surah and that’s honestly why I love reciting it! 

The First Miracle

The spring of 2011 turned to summer and I kept chugging along with my shameless (in hindsight) fundraising efforts, many of my fellow MSU-ers pitching in five or fifteen bucks to get me closer to my goal. I kept working part-time at the masjid and cut back all discretionary spending. And most importantly, I kept reading Surat Al Waqiah every night. 

Right before I left Southern California for Dallas, I experienced the last Ramadan in which I stood in Taraweeh and ached to understand what was being recited. I had met with my Quran teacher earlier in the day and she told me to find her after the khatam that night at the masjid. After Taraweeh ended, I roamed around the brightly lit parking lot with a plate of baklava and mithai in my hand, looking for my beloved Quran teacher. 

We saw each other and she walked up to me with a huge smile. “I have something for you, Meena,” she said to me. “I know how hard you have been working since you came to me last year to learn how to read the Quran properly. I know how hard you have been working to find a way to learn how to understand the Quran.” She then handed me a nondescript white envelope which I discovered to be very thickly packed with cash. “Here is the last of the money you need for your Arabic program.” It was the remaining $2,000 I needed.

I burst into tears. “No, I can’t take this money from you,” I protested. I was in complete shock. 

“This is not my money. I fundraised it for you. Keep the donors in your prayers,” she told me. 

I hugged my Quran teacher and wept freely. I thanked Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in my heart and I knew what was responsible for the miracle–Surat Al Waqiah! I ran to find my mom and my sisters. “I got the money, I got the money!” I screamed at their confused faces. 

Needless to say, I happily went off to my Arabic program, knowing that Surat Al Waqiah had paid my tuition and I didn’t need to worry about money while I was studying. 

The Grad School Miracle

A few years later, I got married to a graduate student in 2014 and we spent our newlywed years happy and broke, surviving off of his $25,000 a-year PhD stipend and my substitute teaching money. (If you’re wondering, of course, I never felt as broke as we actually were because of the blessings of the surah.) I had kept up with reading the surah every night–how could I not when I had experienced a miracle because of it? And it helped that I liked it, too. Little did I know that Surat Al Waqiah would come in clutch again when I decided to go to graduate school. 

In the winter of 2016, I applied to a Master’s in Education program which would also help me get my high school English teaching license. I got accepted. My husband and I had already made plans to go to Hajj that summer–it was something that we had decided to do before we got married. We agreed that we wouldn’t go for a glamorous honeymoon or any other vacation so that we could save up for Hajj. Once we had enough money, we’d go right away without having to worry about kids, since we didn’t have or want any that early in our marriage. Over two years of scraping and pinching, we finally had the money saved up. It was time to go. 

But to go for Hajj, we had emptied pretty much everything from our savings. How in the world was I going to find $6,000 a semester for three semesters in a row? I was vehemently against taking interest-bearing loans and the awesome organization A Continuous Charity was relatively new and unknown to me. The pressure to enter the program which would ensure I had a job after “wasting my time in undergrad” studying Comparative Literature and Creative Writing (the words of many and my thoughts over a decade later, frankly) was immense. I started feeling the stress of my financial situation physically with gastrointestinal problems from the GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) I started developing. I cut back on acidic and spicy foods and I switched to drinking decaf chai because my stomach would burn and cramp so much from the constant worrying about where I was going to get thousands of dollars from. I was regularly seeing the doctor and even ended up in the ER once. But one thought never crossed our mind–and perhaps that was another source of blessings. Taking our Hajj money which would have covered my full tuition and delaying our Hajj for another three years (until I finished grad school and worked for a year) was something that we didn’t consider sacrificing. 

Lo and behold, Surat Al Waqiah brought me the miracle I was waiting for–again! I ended up scraping together enough money for one semester of graduate school by continuing the hellish job of substitute teaching, through a few side hustles, and a very generous group of friends (the same ones from the Arabic program) who entered into a money lending pool with me (which my Pakistani mother calls a “committee” and from whom I got the idea.) I worked hard before and during grad school and my husband made concerted efforts with our budget trying to tie things over as best as we could to pay for school without going into debt. 

But what about the other semester-and-a-half of tuition? Without getting into too many details, let’s just say that a windfall of money in an untapped education fund presented itself to me from a distant relative. There was enough money to cover my entire tuition if I wanted to use it! I tried my best to dip into the fund as little as possible by making as much money on the side and being as frugal as I could, but it was the fountain that was there for me to run to whenever I needed it, alhamdulillah

Continuing Reading Surat Al Waqiah Today

The ahadeeth that mention the virtues of Surat Al Waqiah specifically protecting a person from falling into poverty are ones that I have firm belief in even today. There are a handful of other financial situations that I have gotten through because of reading the surah every night. I think it also deeply impacts my mindset when it comes to understanding my finances and the ebbs and flows in rizq that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has given me. Somehow we’ve always had decent housing, even in strange situations. When a car has died, a relative coincidentally is getting a newer car and seems to magically gift us their old car–that’s happened twice. It is also the reason why seven of the eight jobs I’ve had over the past 15 years have literally fallen into my lap without me looking for work or applying to any jobs. I’ve also been able to walk away from jobs much easier than others, I think, when life gets crazy and I need to step away. Whenever I have left a job, rizq comes unexpectedly from somewhere else, or somehow our money stretches enough. Surat Al Waqiah is the safety net that never lets me truly despair over my current or future financial situation. I know that it will all work out somehow because I’m putting in the spiritual means by reading the surah every night and trying my hand with the worldly means simultaneously.

The last reason I’m grateful for hearing of this nightly ritual and adopting it into my own life is that it ensured I read the Quran every single day for the past 13 years. If I am happy or sad or experiencing debilitating anxiety, I read it before I sleep. If I am feeling healthy or literally in the hospital, I at the very least listen to it sometime at night. If I have spent my day doing good or have spent it racking up sins, I lay there in bed unable to sleep until I read it. If I am feeling confident in my faith or have a doubt nagging at my soul, I still read it. I stick to the surah because I have seen how it has worked miracle after miracle in my life. The thought of leaving it seems as idiotic to me as taking all the money out of my bank account and storing it for safekeeping as cash under my doormat instead. I’m grateful that reading the surah has given me so much in this life and I’m grateful that it has cemented something in my religious practice that I believe I can and never will stop. I hope to follow through with another hadith that mentions its virtues and teach it to my children once they are old enough, inshaAllah!

 

Related:

A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 19] Of Plans, Parenting And Genocide

A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 16] What Endures? Reflections on Surat Taha

 

The post A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 27] Surat Al Waqiah Paid My Tuition Twice appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

IOK Ramadan: Who Responds to the One in Distress? | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep20]

Muslim Matters - 6 April, 2024 - 17:00

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 Juz 5 Juz 6 Juz 7 Juz 8 Juz 9 Juz 10 Juz 11 Juz 12 Juz 13 Juz 14 Juz 15 Juz 16 Juz 17 Juz 18 Juz 19

Juzʾ 20: Who Responds to the One in Distress?

In verses 59-66 of Sūrah al-Naml, Allah ﷻ reminds us about all of these amazing signs, proofs, and evidence spread throughout the universe that prove the existence, oneness, might, majesty, power, magnificence, and glory of Allah ﷻ. We are asked to look towards the Heavens above us, the world all around us, ourselves, and then asked to reflect on the reality of creation. It is an amazing, powerful, profound, and beautiful passage that highlights the existence, oneness, might, power, glory, and magnificence of Allah ﷻ spread throughout the universe. It is a very beautiful, eloquent, and powerful passage designed to stir people’s hearts and minds and connect them to their Lord and Creator. It is a passage centered around the concept of faith, īmān, firm unshakeable belief in the existence and oneness of Allah. It is a passage that asks us to contemplate and reflect upon what we see all around us and also what is within ourselves. It makes us realize that it is impossible for this universe to exist without us acknowledging the existence of the Creator.

In this passage Allah ﷻ asks a series of questions, one after the other. Who created the heavens and the earth? Who brought rain from the skies to bring forth pleasant gardens? Who has stabilized the earth, caused rivers to run through it, placed mountains on it, and a barrier between seas? Who responds to a supplicant praying in desperation and removes harm? Who causes human succession on earth? Who guides you in the darkness on land and at sea? Who sends the wind bringing His grace? Who originates and repeats creation? Who provides sustenance for you from the heavens and the earth? Time after time they are hammered with the question: can there be another deity alongside God? The answer to this series of questions is obvious: no, there can be no other deity along with Allah. These verses give us a very good introduction and understanding of who Allah ﷻ truly is.

Verse 62: Or, who is it that responds to the one in distress when he calls out to Him, and who removes the ill, and makes you inherit the earth? Could there be any deity alongside God? Little do they reflect!

Allah ﷻ again is posing the same rhetorical question aiming directly at the hearts and minds of those who either don’t believe in Him or associate partners with Him. Is it better to worship idols, statues, wealth, or anything else that can’t cause harm or benefit, or the One who responds to those in distress when they call out to Him, and who removes evil, and makes mankind vicegerents of the Earth? Allah ﷻ starts by describing Himself as the One who responds to and answers the one in distress when they call upon Him. This is a very powerful and profound description of Allah ﷻ. When we as human beings find ourselves in real distress, in a situation that seems hopeless, helpless, and desperate, we instinctively turn towards Allah ﷻ, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. Even those who don’t believe in God, who stubbornly refuse to accept the existence of an Almighty Being, when they find themselves in a hopeless situation, they call out to Allah ﷻ.

The person is being described as a mudtar; someone in a hopeless, helpless, and desperate situation. Who is coerced and compelled to turn towards Allah. Syed Quṭb beautifully writes, “This is especially so when the distress is too much to cope with; when the help one had been expecting from friends and relatives fails to materialize; when one looks around only to find oneself in a hopeless situation with no means of escape; when no power, not even one’s own, is able to do much to relieve one’s distress; when whatever one has prepared for hard times proves useless. In such a situation human nature wakes up and appeals to the only power that can provide help and support. Man then appeals to God, even though he had forgotten Him in times of ease and plenty.” In situations like that it is Allah and Allah alone who responds and assists the one in distress.

That is why Allah ﷻ then says, “and removes the evil.” Allah ﷻ alone is the One who responds and removes the evil, ill, or hardship. He alone removes the illness, poverty, financial difficulty, fear, or whatever difficulty or hardship there was. Allah ﷻ then continues to direct our attention towards undeniable truths and realities. “And makes you inherit the Earth.” Another translation reads, “and Who make you vicegerents of the Earth?” Allah ﷻ is reminding us that He is the One who has placed us on this Earth and made us its caretakers. He has placed us in charge of the Earth and we are responsible for looking after it. He has placed us here and makes us succeed one another, generation after generation. 

After reminding us of all of these undeniable truths and realities Allah ﷻ asks again, “Could there be any deity alongside God?” Once again, the answer is obvious. But Allah ﷻ tells us, “Little do you reflect!” Unfortunately, human beings don’t use their minds to reflect and ponder over these absolute truths and realities. They become preoccupied and distracted by the life of this world and deceived by their own limited minds and abilities.

The post IOK Ramadan: Who Responds to the One in Distress? | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep20] appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

IOK Ramadan: Abandoning the Qur’an | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep19]

Muslim Matters - 6 April, 2024 - 11:00

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 Juz 5 Juz 6 Juz 7 Juz 8 Juz 9 Juz 10 Juz 11 Juz 12 Juz 13 Juz 14 Juz 15 Juz 16 Juz 17 Juz 18

Juzʾ 19: Abandoning the Quran?

“And the Messenger will say, “O my Lord! Truly my people have taken this Qur’ān as something to be discarded!”

This is a very powerful complaint from the Prophet ﷺ. He’s expressing his sorrow and sadness at the Quraysh’s attitude towards the Qur’ān and revelation. The Prophet ﷺ will say that they have abandoned the Qur’ān, which Allah revealed to His Messenger to warn and explain to them what lies ahead for mankind. They refused to listen to it because they feared they would be attracted to its message. Stubbornly, they refused to consider its message which would have guided them to the truth and given them light. When the Prophet ﷺ would recite the Qur’ān to the people of Quraysh they would ignore him, walk away and even put their fingers in their ears. Others would distract people and make them stop listening to the Qur’ān.

As a matter of fact, the leadership of Quraysh and those that opposed the Prophet ﷺ tried everything they could to stop people from listening to the Qur’ān. As we’ve covered before, they would make all types of false claims and accusations. They would say that he composed these words himself, or that he composed them with the help of others. They would say that the Qur’ān is a compilation of old tales. They would say that these are the words of a poet, magician, sorcerer, fortuneteller or a madman. So the Prophet ﷺ will say, “O my Lord! Truly my people have taken this Qur’ān as something to be discarded!”

Some commentators mention that although this verse is referring to the non-believers of his time, it could also be referring to us as Muslims. That the Prophet ﷺ is going to complain about us, his followers, who abandoned the Qur’ān and took as something to be discarded. ibn Taymiyyah (r) said, “Whoever doesn’t recite the Quran has abandoned it. Whoever recites the Quran but doesn’t reflect upon it has abandoned it. Whoever recited the Quran, reflects upon it but doesn’t act upon it has abandoned it.”

The post IOK Ramadan: Abandoning the Qur’an | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep19] appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

5 Years Of Studying Emotions In The Quran: A Therapist’s Findings

Muslim Matters - 6 April, 2024 - 10:59

After starting grad school to become a therapist, I learned that much of what we do as therapists is help people understand and navigate through their emotions. It sparked my curiosity, to see what the Quran has to say about people and emotions, so that very first Ramadan while I was studying in my program, I decided to put post-it flags in my mushaf every time I saw a word describing an emotion in the Quran. I did not realize then that this idea would turn into a 5-year endeavor. 

Here I am, 399 post-its, 2 years of graduate school, and 4 years post-graduation later, and I’m still learning about what the Quran has to say about humans and their emotions. I am still knee-deep in this study, so I have in no way arrived at the end of this journey— I am only just at the beginning. I hope that I approached the subject with humility, and opened my heart to what the Quran has to say, rather than what I want it to. What follows are some of my findings and reflections that I came across while on this journey. 

On Fear and Sadness

The first emotions Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions in His book (7 pages in) are the emotions of fear and sadness (خوف & حزن). Researchers define fear as a high-alert emotion that we experience in response to a perceived threat, whereas sadness is defined as a low-alert emotion experienced in response to perceived loss or suffering. The first mention of fear and sadness appears in Surah Al-Baqarah, where Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says,

“We said [to the children of Israel], “Descend all of you! Then when guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows it, there will be no fear for them, nor will they feel sorrow.” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 2;38]

Fear and sadness are also the two emotions mentioned most (fear was the most mentioned, at 113 times, followed by sadness, mentioned 41 times). I found it interesting that they are the very two emotions that are at the root of the two most prevalent mental health diagnoses diagnosed today: depression and anxiety. These are also the ones that I see most often in my therapy room. 

It also made me consider, that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knew that the difficulties of this life will naturally bring about sadness and fear within us, and that perhaps He was bringing it to our attention in His book: that when ignored, these human emotions can develop into chronic conditions that keep us from successfully fulfilling our ultimate pursuit in this life: the worship of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). It’s also worth noting the number of times that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) provides reassurance to us right after mentioning either of the two emotions: fear or sadness – a sign of His Mercy that He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) does not intend for us to be in constant pain in this life. 

On Regret emotions

Emotions {PC: Francisco Gonzalez ) unsplash]

A few years ago, I made a choice that I deeply regretted. It was the kind of regret that keeps you up at night, tossing and turning as your mind goes through an endless replay loop of should-haves and could-haves. That summer, I poured my heart into researching the phenomenon of “regret,” and discovered countless researchers who dedicated their entire lives to studying this emotion. The majority of their findings revealed that up until our mid-twenties, most of our experiences of regret stem from an action that we took, whereas on the other hand, the regrets we experience later in life (after the mid-twenties mark) are related to a lack of action, or “inaction” as Daniel Pink1 calls it. 

So after gathering my findings from the research, I searched through the places in the Qur’an where regret was mentioned to see what Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has to tell us about regret (ندم). What I found was that regret is only ever mentioned when describing the experience of humans in the afterlife, as they reflect on their time on the earth. Take the ayah in Surah Yunus as an example, where Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says, 

“And if every wrongdoer were to possess everything in the world, they would surely ransom themselves with it. They will hide ˹their˺ regret when they see the torment. And they will be judged in all fairness, and none will be wronged.” [Surah Yunus: 10;54].

There are also numerous places where Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions the believers experiencing regret in the afterlife, wishing that they could go back in time to do more good. Action and inaction aside, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is telling us that no amount of regret ever felt in this Dunya is even worth mentioning, compared to the regret one will feel in the next life when reflecting upon this life (either in wishing that they could have done more good, or wishing that they would have chosen the righteous path). This discovery made me put my own experience of regret into perspective.

On Panic and Dread

 Similarly, the emotion of فزع, or panic and dread, is only ever mentioned in the context of the Day of Judgment. Perhaps it is that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is highlighting that whatever panic or dread experienced in this world will seem like nothing in comparison to what we will feel on the Day of Judgement. This observation made me reflect upon my reactions to the unexpected, and my one-too-many moments of panic that I often experience on a regular basis: a misunderstanding that I may have caused; a social situation in which I did not show up at my best; a therapy session that seemingly took a left turn and did not go as expected. It made me wonder, if my one-too-many moments of panic would fall more into perspective if I were to remember this a little more. If my heart would beat a little slower and if my racing thoughts would become a little calmer. 

In Surah An-Naml, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says,

“Whoever comes with a good deed will be rewarded with what is better, and they will be secure from the panic of that Day.” [Surah An-Naml: 27;89].

May we be among those who come with enough good that day, and may we be among those who are protected from the experience of panic – a type of security that can only be granted by Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). May we be able to seek some of that security in this life from Him subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

On the Familial Emotional Journey

One of my grad school professors told our class once, that he doesn’t believe in people –  he believes in families. This became a foundation of our studies: whatever mental illness an individual experiences does not develop in isolation. It is always connected to a complex system of relational and family dysfunction. Families, it turns out, are at the root of most mental health issues we see today. 

When I turned to Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Book, I was curious to see what I would find about families and emotions. I chose to look at Surah Yusuf, as it is the only Surah in the Quran that tells a family’s story in its entirety. Curious thing that the one surah that includes a full family story in the Quran, includes the emotions of fear, sadness, بأس, hopelessness, and اسف. Even though the surah is infused with joyous moments as well (such as the tender moment where Prophet Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) tells his father about his dream), I was fascinated to notice that the named emotions were those mentioned above. It’s as if Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) set the tone for us: yes, family is meant to be the birthplace of tranquility and connection, but it inevitably also becomes the birthplace of sorrow, grief, and the lowest of emotions. And both can exist at once. 

On Emotions As a Whole  Emotions in the quran

Emotions in the Quran [PC: Ashkan Forouzani (unsplash)]

Looking back, I believe I approached my endeavor with as much humility as possible, opening my heart to what I might find in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Book. Although I hope that I did achieve this humility (and continue to do so), I will admit that I did go into this endeavor with one bias: I had the expectation that I would find His subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) book rich in its discussion of emotions… and I did. 

This was in strong contrast to what we find in the real world today. Despite the outward wokeness of our society, we continue to be an emotionally constipated one. Outwardly, “therapy” and “talking about emotions” are trendy, and it seems that many of us are jumping onto the bandwagon. Yet despite that, we continue to be as disconnected from our emotional experiences as we ever have. (Just think back to how many times you heard an argument end with: “You’re being emotional!”) 

Walking into this, I knew that I wouldn’t find the same constraint in the book of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). I knew that the One who created us would not address this fundamental aspect of our humanity. And what I found confirmed my biases. However, even if I hadn’t had the expectations that I did, my findings would have been the same. In the Qur’an, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) uses 27 different words to describe human emotions, appearing in about 413 places in the Quran. Our Creator has always known that we are emotional beings, but in our ignorance, we denied this very core aspect of our existence.

Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Knowledge and Wisdom are endless. After all, isn’t it He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) who said that if the oceans were ink for His Knowledge, the ink would run out before His Wisdom does [Surah Kahf: 18;109]?  Even after studying the Qur’an for five consecutive years, thoroughly going through the mushaf word by word in an attempt to understand Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) discourse on emotions, I will still stumble upon a new word or a verse that I had missed. Truly, there is something to be said about the vastness of Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Book: one can never be done studying the Qur’an or reaping its benefits. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) designed His book to be this way, to keep us returning to it, while our own understanding grows over the years.

For me, this is only the beginning. I will be returning to my Post-it flags and my mushaf year after year, hoping to understand something new about my humanity that I didn’t before. As we approach the end of Ramadan, I invite you to do the same too. 

 

Related:

Emotional Intelligence: A Tool for Change

Cultivating Mental Well-Being in the Muslim Community [Part I]: Debunking Myths, Steps Toward Seeking Support

 

1    PINK, D. H. (2022). Power of regret: How looking backward moves us forward. Riverhead Books.

The post 5 Years Of Studying Emotions In The Quran: A Therapist’s Findings appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

IOK Ramadan: 7 Qualities of Highly Effective Believers | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep18]

Muslim Matters - 6 April, 2024 - 06:00

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 Juz 5 Juz 6 Juz 7 Juz 8 Juz 9 Juz 10 Juz 11 Juz 12 Juz 13 Juz 14 Juz 15 Juz 16 Juz 17

Juzʾ 18: Seven Qualities of Highly Effective Believers

ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (ra) narrated: “When revelation came to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, one could hear what sounded like the buzz of bees near his face.

كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا نَزَلَ عَلَيْهِ الْوَحْىُ سُمِعَ عِنْدَ وَجْهِهِ كَدَوِيِّ النَّحْلِ

One day revelation came to him so we waited a moment until it stopped. He faced the qiblah, raised his hands, and said, ‘O Allah! Increase us, do not diminish us. Honor us, do not disgrace us, give us and don’t withhold from us, favor us and don’t choose others over us, make us pleased and be pleased with us.’

فَأُنْزِلَ عَلَيْهِ يَوْمًا فَمَكَثْنَا سَاعَةً فَسُرِّيَ عَنْهُ فَاسْتَقْبَلَ الْقِبْلَةَ وَرَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ وَقَالَ ‏”‏ اللَّهُمَّ زِدْنَا وَلاَ تَنْقُصْنَا وَأَكْرِمْنَا وَلاَ تُهِنَّا وَأَعْطِنَا وَلاَ تَحْرِمْنَا وَآثِرْنَا وَلاَ تُؤْثِرْ عَلَيْنَا وَأَرْضِنَا وَارْضَ عَنَّا ‏”‏ ‏.

He ﷺ then said, ‘Ten verses were revealed to me, whoever abides by them shall enter Paradise (and they are), ‘Successful indeed are the believers…’ until he completed the ten verses (23:1-10).”

ثُمَّ قَالَ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ أُنْزِلَ عَلَىَّ عَشْرُ آيَاتٍ مَنْ أَقَامَهُنَّ دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ ثُمَّ قَرَأَ ‏:‏ ‏(‏ قدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ ‏)‏ حَتَّى خَتَمَ عَشْرَ آيَاتٍ ‏.

This is a very beautiful, powerful, profound, and inspiring narration designed to enhance our engagement and connection with the opening passage of this sūrah. The Prophet ﷺ is telling us that if we try our best to nurture and develop these seven qualities within ourselves we are guaranteed Paradise. These verses provide a roadmap that leads directly toward success in this life and salvation in the next.

This isn’t something the Prophet ﷺ simply said or advised us to do. He ﷺ showed us how to do implement the guidance and teachings of these verses practically. Once ʿĀ’isha (ra) was asked about the character of the Prophet ﷺ. She said, “His character was the Quran.” She then recited the first nine verses of this sūrah and said, “That’s how the character of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ was.” That’s a very profound statement from ʿĀ’ishah (ra) describing the character of the Prophet ﷺ. The Prophet ﷺ was a physical manifestation of the teachings and guidance of the Quran.

The sūrah starts with a very powerful and emphatic statement that guarantees happiness and success for the believers.

 

Verse 1

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ ١

Successful indeed are the believers

 

Allah ﷻ opens the sūrah by emphatically declaring that the believers are successful. This is a very interesting statement both grammatically and in terms of meaning. The word “qad” is a particle used in the Arabic language to give the meaning of emphasis and affirmation. It’s usually translated as indeed, surely, or truly. Allah ﷻ then uses the past tense of the verb “to succeed.” The literal translation of the verse would be “Indeed/surely/truly the believers have succeeded.” Using the past tense to describe an event in the future is a literary device used in the Quran to show certainty. Often, Allah ﷻ will use the past tense to describe future events to show that they will happen without a doubt. Allah ﷻ is telling us that those who believe in Him, His last and final messenger, and the last day will definitely be successful both in this world and the next. This is an absolute guarantee and certainty; there’s no doubt about it whatsoever. The success promised by Allah ﷻ for the believers is both for us as individuals and for us as a community, as an Ummah. It includes all forms of goodness, help, assistance, blessings, victory, honor, dignity, respect, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Anas (ra) narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, “When Allah ﷻ created Paradise He said, ‘Speak.’ Paradise said, ‘Truly the believers have prospered (are successful).’”

Who exactly are these believers that have been promised and guaranteed success both in this world and the next? Allah ﷻ describes them to us with seven specific characteristics or qualities. He paints a complete picture of how belief expresses itself and manifests in the actions and speech of an individual. We can refer to these as the seven qualities of highly successful believers.

The post IOK Ramadan: 7 Qualities of Highly Effective Believers | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep18] appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 7] – You Are Not Alone

Muslim Matters - 5 April, 2024 - 23:25

This special video installment of the MuslimMatters Ramadan Qur’an Journal series comes from Ustadha Samia Mubarak. Ustadha Samia shares powerful reflections from Surah al-An’aam, which was revealed to provide comfort and reassurance to RasulAllah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) during a time of great struggle and grief. “You are not alone” is a message from Allah to RasulAllah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and to all believers who recite the words of Surah al-An’am.

Related:

A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 13] Bringing Oppressors To Justice

A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 22] Manifesting The Prophetic Mission

The post A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 7] – You Are Not Alone appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

New York pays $17.5m to settle suit after police forced women to remove hijabs

The Guardian World news: Islam - 5 April, 2024 - 19:00

Class-action settlement covers people required to take off religious attire by NYPD after Muslim women said their rights were violated

New York City agreed to pay $17.5m to settle a lawsuit by two Muslim women who said the police violated their rights after arresting them, by forcing them to remove their hijabs before being photographed.

The preliminary class action settlement covers men and women required to remove religious attire before being photographed. It was filed on Friday in Manhattan federal court, and requires approval by the US district judge Analisa Torres.

Continue reading...

IOK Ramadan: Good and Bad are Tests from Allah | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep17]

Muslim Matters - 5 April, 2024 - 17:00

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 Juz 5 Juz 6 Juz 7 Juz 8 Juz 9 Juz 10 Juz 11 Juz 12 Juz 13 Juz 14 Juz 15 Juz 16

Juzʾ 17: Good and Bad are Tests from Allah ﷻ

To drive the reality of death into our hearts, in order to etch it into our consciousness, Allah ﷻ says, “Every soul will taste death. And We test you ˹O humanity˺ with good and evil as a trial, then to Us you will ˹all˺ be returned.” Every single soul, every single living being, all of us, will taste death. This is an absolute certainty and the ultimate reality of life. Life can be described as a series of uncertainties; we do not know what is going to happen the next year, month, week, day, minute, or second. As human beings, we really do not know what is going to happen from one moment to the next. I can be healthy, breathing, and alive, and all of a sudden, within a blink of an eye, that life can be taken away from me. We like to think we are in control of our lives and our futures. That is one of the reasons we make all of these various, elaborate, and detailed plans for the future; our families, education, savings, retirement, investments, stocks, crypto-currency, 401k’s, and Roth IRA’s. We have these high hopes, aspirations, and dreams that we plan and prepare for. We can plan and prepare all we want, but we really do not know what is going to happen in the future.

However, there is one thing that every single one of us knows for sure; that we’re going to eventually leave this world. The only real certainty in life is death. There is a set appointed time for our departure and the departure of our loved ones from this world. We may not know when, where, or how we’re going to die, but our death is inevitable. Our death will not come a moment sooner nor a moment later than its appointed time. 

The word choice that Allah ﷻ uses is very interesting. He ﷻ doesn’t just say that we will die, but that we will taste death. For some people, the “taste” of death may be bitter and for others it may be sweet. The way a person who is passing away “tastes” death is very different from the family member who is losing their loved one. The “taste” varies from person to person and circumstance to circumstance. The way a father “tastes” the death of a child is very different from the way a child “tastes” the death of a mother. Every single one of us is going to experience death in our lives; either the death of a loved one and eventually our own. Some of the commentators mention that this is referring to the pain and difficulty experienced at the time of death. As the Prophet ﷺ said, “Indeed death has its difficulties/pangs.” Regardless of who we are, we will all experience a little difficulty at the time of death. For some of us it will be extremely difficult and for others it will be extremely easy. This is the absolute law that governs life. 

Whatever happens to us through this journey of life, both the good and the bad, is a test from Allah ﷻ. “And We test you ˹O humanity˺ with good and evil as a trial.” Allah ﷻ is informing us that the life of this world is a test. Allah ﷻ tests us and tries us with both good and evil; both are a trial. In this world, Allah ﷻ is going to test us and try us in many different ways. As mentioned in Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr Allah ﷻ will test us with hardships and blessings, ease and difficulty, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty, the permissible and the impermissible, obedience and disobedience, guidance and misguidance; all as a trial. 

This is a very unique and important statement. Allah ﷻ is providing us the proper perspective on life; both good and bad are trials. It is easy to understand the concept of a difficulty or hardship being a trial or a test. That is generally what we think about when we think about being tested by Allah ﷻ; we think of something negative. We think of some type of hardship, trial, challenge, adversity, or difficulty. We’ll think about some type of loss; physical, material, or financial. These are obvious tests and trials from Allah ﷻ; specifically a test of our patience and steadfastness. These types of trials demonstrate how much patience, faith, and reliance we have in Allah ﷻ.

In this verse, Allah ﷻ is telling us that the blessings we receive from Him are also a test. Health, wealth, safety, security, food, clothes, shelter, and prosperity are also tests from Allah ﷻ. They’re a test of our gratitude. Allah ﷻ makes it clear that everything in our lives – the good and the bad– is a trial for us. How will we handle the situation that Allah ﷻ has placed us in? Will we be grateful in times of ease and prosperity and will we be patient in times of difficulty and poverty? Oftentimes, this is something that we overlook. That is why ʿUmar (ra) used to say, “We were tested with difficulty so we were patient and we were tested with ease but we didn’t have patience.”

بلينا بالضراء فصبرنا و بلينا بالسراء فلم نصبر.

Syed Quṭb has a very powerful quote regarding this concept. He writes, “To be tested with good things is more difficult than hardship, even though it may appear easier. For the fact is that many people can endure being tested by evil, but few can endure a test with the good. When the test takes the form of sickness and weakness, many are able to endure and withstand the hardship, but when its form is that of good health, strength and ability, then few are those who pass through successfully.

People may be able to withstand poverty and deprivation, maintaining their dignity in such situations, but few are those who succeed in a test with comfort and affluence. For the latter tempts us to satisfy all our desires. Equally there are many who cannot be deterred by torture or physical harm. They are not overawed by such threats and actualities. By contrast, however, only a few can resist the temptations posited by wealth, position, comfort and desire. It is not difficult to tolerate the hardships of struggle and the injuries that one sustains in such a struggle. But it is extremely hard to experience comfort and a carefree life without becoming so keen to maintain it even at the expense of one’s dignity. Indeed such an experience could easily lead to accepting humiliation in order not to lose it.

A test with hardship may arouse within us a keen sense of dignity, encouraging us to resist. Thus, all our powers and faculties are directed at the hardship and enable us to pass through successfully. Affluence, on the other hand, has a calming effect which reduces our awareness of the test. Hence, many fail it. This applies to all human beings, except those that God helps and protects.”

Although we may not realize it, being tested with ease and prosperity is more difficult and challenging than being tested with hardships. That is because ease, comfort, luxury, money, and prosperity oftentimes lead a person to become heedless and careless. It is easy to forget about Allah ﷻ in times of prosperity and to be fooled by one’s material comforts. A person may think that they have achieved all of this prosperity through their own skills and hardwork or that it is a sign that Allah ﷻ is pleased with them. Prosperity is a very real trial and this is a very important perspective that oftentimes is missing. Living a life of ease and prosperity is not necesarilly a sign of Allah’s pleasure. Similarly, a life of difficulty and hardship is not necessarily a sign of Allah’s displeasure. The exact opposite can be true. As the Prophet ﷺ said, 

إِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِعَبْدِهِ الْخَيْرَ عَجَّلَ لَهُ الْعُقُوبَةَ فِى الدُّنْيَا وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِعَبْدِهِ الشَّرَّأَمْسَكَ عَنْهُ بِذَنْبِهِ حَتَّى يُوَفَّى بِهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ

“If Allah wants good for his servant, He hurries on His punishment in this world, and if He wills ill for a servant, he holds back punishing him for his sin so He can give it to him in full on the Day of Resurrection.”

As believers, Allah ﷻ has made both prosperity and adversity avenues of good for us. The Prophet ﷺ said, “The affair of the believer is amazing, because all of his affairs are good for him. This applies to no one other than a believer. If he experiences what is good and pleasing, he will express his gratitude to God and this is good for him. On the other hand, if he experiences hardship, he will patiently persevere and this is good for him.” Everything a believer experiences in this world is a source of blessing and benefit. The Prophet ﷺ said, “No fatigue, illness, anxiety, sorrow, harm or sadness afflicts any Muslim, even to the extent of a thorn pricking him, without Allah wiping out his sins by it.” It is all about perspective and reframing; having the right understanding of the reality of the life of this world. 

At the end of the verse Allah ﷻ reminds us, “Then to Us you will ˹all˺ be returned.” All of us, every single human being, will go back to Allah ﷻ on the day of resurrection to be questioned, held accountable, and judged. All of us are going to be judged and held accountable for our words and actions. In essence, this statement is both a promise and a warning. It is a promise for those who work hard, struggle, and try to do well on their test. At the same time it is a warning for those people who are careless.

The post IOK Ramadan: Good and Bad are Tests from Allah | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep17] appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

IOK Ramadan: Shake the Trunk of the Tree | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep16]

Muslim Matters - 5 April, 2024 - 11:00

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 Juz 5 Juz 6 Juz 7 Juz 8 Juz 9 Juz 10 Juz 11 Juz 12 Juz 13 Juz 14 Juz 15

Juzʾ 16: Shake the Trunk of the Tree

فَأَجَآءَهَا ٱلْمَخَاضُ إِلَىٰ جِذْعِ ٱلنَّخْلَةِ قَالَتْ يَـٰلَيْتَنِى مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَـٰذَا وَكُنتُ نَسْيًۭا مَّنسِيًّۭا

Then the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was long forgotten.”

 

Meaning, the pains of childbirth, her contractions, and all of the difficulties she was experiencing forced her to seek physical support from the trunk of a date palm. She leaned against the trunk of the date palm or held on to it in order to relieve some of the physical pain she was experiencing. This is a very vivid and powerful description of how Maryam (as) was feeling. The pains of childbirth, the pain felt by a mother when giving birth, her contractions, are indescribable. Anyone with children, particularly mothers, knows how painful and difficult this process is. She was also experiencing emotional pain as well as understood from the previous verse.

The culmination of all of this physical and emotional pain caused her to say, “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was long forgotten.” I wish I could have been taken from the life of this world before all of this pain and difficulty and before people would accuse me and question my modesty, chastity, and morality. I wish that I could die before people accuse me of this sin and look down upon my family and me. This is an extremely powerful expression that captures her feelings and emotions. This is how important modesty, honor, and chastity were to her. She’d rather be dead than be accused of illicit relations and have that as a stain on her and her family. “And was long forgotten.” Meaning, not only dead but completely forgotten and erased from people’s memories. Immediately after expressing her deep emotions and exposing her vulnerability before Allah ﷻ, He sent His unique and infinite mercy upon her.

 

Verse 24

فَنَادَىٰهَا مِن تَحْتِهَآ أَلَّا تَحْزَنِى قَدْ جَعَلَ رَبُّكِ تَحْتَكِ سَرِيًّۭا

So he called her from below her, “Do not grieve! Your Lord has provided a stream at your feet.

 

“So he called out from below her, ‘Do not grieve.’” Meaning, someone called out from below her telling her not to be worried, grieved, anxious, or sad. The scholars of tafsīr mention two different explanations here. The first is that Jibrīl (as) called out to her consoling and comforting her; telling her not to be sad. The second is that Allah ﷻ allowed ʿIsā (as) to miraculously speak at that moment comforting his mother and telling her not to be sad. “Your Lord has provided a stream at your feet.” Allah ﷻ caused a small stream to flow at her feet so she could drink water, quench her thirst, cool off, and wash up. 

 

Verse 25

وَهُزِّىٓ إِلَيْكِ بِجِذْعِ ٱلنَّخْلَةِ تُسَـٰقِطْ عَلَيْكِ رُطَبًۭا جَنِيًّۭا

And shake the trunk of this palm tree towards you, it will drop fresh, ripe dates upon you.

 

ٓ As another sign that everything will be alright, that the help and mercy of Allah ﷻ are with her, as a source of comfort, reassurance, and consolation, she was told to shake the trunk of the date palm that she was leaning against and getting support from. Once she shook the trunk, the date palm would drop fresh, ripe dates upon her. It’s mentioned in a few narrations that this particular date palm was dry, devoid of fruit and fonds and was in the middle of the desert. However, when she shook the trunk, fresh ripe dates miraculously fell upon her. 

Here it is important to note that according to the majority of scholars, Maryam (as) is not considered to be a prophet. However, we find that Allah ﷻ used her to display several miraculous things as a sign of His infinite might and power. Generally speaking, in English, all unusual and supernatural events are referred to as miracles. However, within our Sharīʿah and system of belief we differentiate between different types of “miracles”. The Arabic language marks the subtle differences that exist between each type. A miracle, muʿjizah, is an unusual event that occurs at the hands of a prophet but is purely an act of Allah ﷻ; the prophet has no role in its creation whatsoever. A miracle is defined as “a clear interruption in God’s normal pattern of creating things – one that is inimitable (such that no other can perform the like) and is granted to someone who claims to be a prophet sent by God, the exalted.” In other words, a miracle is a divine act that defies and transcends universal norms and laws, which Allah ﷻ grants to His prophets and messengers in order to convince people of the truth of their message.

A saintly miracle, or karāmah, is also something extraordinary. It’s an act of Allah ﷻ but it appears at the hands of someone close to Allah ﷻ. It is an “act of God ﷻ that contradicts His customary norm, with the consequence that the servant realizes the fruit of his worship, and [as a result], his insight regarding the validity of his religion may increase.” This incident of ripe dates falling on her lap after shaking a dry barren tree and a stream flowing at her feet are classified as saintly miracles. 

Another interesting point to note is that If Allah ﷺ had willed, He could have caused the dates to fall in her lap without having her shake the tree. Allah ﷻ commanded her to shake the tree to show how important it is to use the means that we have available to us. The amount of sustenance, food, drink, and water each of us is going to receive throughout our lives has already been determined and decreed by Allah ﷻ. However, that doesn’t mean that we will receive our sustenance automatically without any effort; money, food, drink, and clothes will not just fall into our laps. We still have to work hard and strive for it using all of the available resources at our disposal. Planning, preparing, and putting forth our best efforts is not contrary to the concept of yaqīn (certainty in Allah’s promise) or tawakkul, having trust in Allah ﷻ. All of this is an essential aspect of placing our absolute trust in Allah ﷻ.

The post IOK Ramadan: Shake the Trunk of the Tree | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep16] appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

IOK Ramadan: Choose Wisely | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep15]

Muslim Matters - 5 April, 2024 - 06:00

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 Juz 5 Juz 6 Juz 7 Juz 8 Juz 9 Juz 10 Juz 11 Juz 12 Juz 13 Juz 14

Juzʾ 15: Choose Wisely from the Two

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 verses 18 and 19 from Sūrah al-Isrā’ (Sūrah 17) in which Allah (swt) says, “Whoever desires this fleeting world, We hasten in it whatever We please to whoever We will; then We destine them for Hell, where they will burn, condemned and rejected. But whoever desires the hereafter and strives for it accordingly, and is a believer, it is they whose striving will be appreciated.” Allah (swt) in these two verses is giving both a note of hope and a warning for the paths that are available for the creation to take.

 

Allah (swt) says that at the conclusion of sending all the messengers and all the revelations when the message is clear and the expectation of your Lord is clear, you have two paths to choose from. You can choose to live in this world as if you only have this life to live, choose to do as you please without any boundaries, rules, regulations, and without hesitation do as you wish and be your own master. Or, the second path that is available to you, is that you live a life of discomfort, sacrifice, live according to the boundaries and regulations that Allah (swt) has placed upon you, and you put an effort in the life of the hereafter where you expect the reward not to be given perhaps in this world but given in the next.

Allah (swt) says that a person who wants the immediate benefit of this life, the fleeting, temporary blip of existence compared to the rest of eternity, if a person chooses to put all their chips on the table and wants to only focus on their life in this world, Allah (swt) will give it to them. If a person wants the immediate benefits of this life, if they want to live within the glitz and glamor of this life Allah (swt) says that we will give them whatever they wish in this world. We will give them whatever we wish to whomever we wish, and this is something that we see around us today, that the people who are perhaps the most unethical and immoral have the most resources, and the people who covet the most have the most. Allah (swt) says that because they wished to just have everything in this world and to enjoy the comforts of this life and not to worry about anything else, He gives it to them because on the day of judgment they will not be able to say ‘Oh Allah, I did not know that there was another option available. I did not know that there was a better path available’ (because the messengers and revelations had been sent down to warn humanity of the hereafter). Allah (swt) in the meantime gave them what they desired in this world and destined for them a place in the Fire, and on the day of judgment they will enter the Fire in a state of disgrace, discarded, thrown in, and forgotten.

 

That is not a path that we want to take. Allah (swt) says the path of the believers is for the one who desires the hereafter. This verse does not necessarily mean that a person cannot enjoy the comforts of this world, it does not mean that a person lives a life of extreme poverty and sacrifice in this world. What it simply means is that during our worldly existence, as we go about our day-to-day and work to take care of ourselves, our families, our responsibilities, Allah (swt) reminds us that our ultimate objective is still in the hereafter. Our ultimate objective is to aim for the hereafter, so the one who aims for the hereafter and not just intends but tries for it as it will not come easily and without sacrifice. It does not come without denying ourselves our base impulses, without denying ourselves the things that we would also like to do just like everyone else.

 

Allah (swt) says the one who intends for the hereafter and works towards it. Yet there are many people who have a concept of the hereafter, many who hope for an afterlife, but Allah (swt) says that it must be in the right frame of mind, with belief and submission to Him. One who submits to Allah (swt), submits to the final Revelation, submits to the mission of the Prophet (pbuh) with the right frame of mind, when a person aims for the hereafter and works towards it Allah (swt) says that all of their efforts, sacrifices, denying themselves of what they had wished to do, all of it is very much appreciated by Him. Allah (swt) is Shakūr, He is the Most Appreciative. We know and believe that our worship and what we do for Allah (swt) does not increase Him in any way, and we are also aware that what we do not do, as in what the rest of humanity chooses not to do in not acknowledging and not worshiping Him, does not harm Allah (swt) at all.

 

At the end of the day whatever we put in our worship and sacrifice in terms of abstaining from sin, trying to follow the path of good, trying to stay away from the path of wrong, Allah (swt) says that all of this is being witnessed and written down by the angels. Allah (swt) sees all, hears all, and knows everything in His infinite knowledge, and our actions are appreciated because Allah (swt) knows that we are doing it only to please Him. For the believer, the pleasure of Allah (swt) that will be earned and declared upon them on the day of judgment, that ‘I am pleased with you’, that is the greatest reward a believer will receive on that day.

 

May Allah (swt) enable all of us to receive that declaration from Him, that He is pleased with us, that our efforts had been accepted, and that all the sacrifices that we had done during our lives were InshaAllah worth the effort. May Allah (swt) guide, bless, and protect us all. Assalāmu ‘Alaykum wa Raḥmatullāhi wa Barakātuh.

The post IOK Ramadan: Choose Wisely | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep15] appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

The Hindu caretaker and his mosque: a symbol of harmony amid India’s religious discord

The Guardian World news: Islam - 5 April, 2024 - 06:00

Bechan Baba has dedicated his life to Varanasi’s Anarwali mosque, where Hindus and Muslims come to pray – despite the historical disputes raging outside

In the heart of Varanasi, where the sacred Ganges meanders by and incense smoke mingles with the faint echoes of prayers from a myriad of temples, Bechan Baba sits at the entrance of the Anarwali mosque. A silent sentinel, the 72-year-old Hindu caretaker leans back on weathered stones that were laid almost 400 years ago.

Bechan has dedicated his working life to the service of this ancient mosque, which represents a sense of unity in a city wrestling with historical disputes.

Continue reading...

A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 22] Manifesting The Prophetic Mission

Muslim Matters - 4 April, 2024 - 21:57

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

***

Manifesting The Prophetic Mission

by Johaer Jilani

 

[I want to begin with a disclaimer that I am not an expert, scholar, or even a substantial student of knowledge in Arabic, Qur’anic studies, or any of the Islamic sciences, and the following notes are just reflections from my novice reading of the 22nd juz.]

The twenty-second juz of the Qur’an begins in the middle of Surah al-Ahzab (the Confederates). It includes all of Surah Saba (Sheba) and Surah Fatir (the Originator) and ends in the middle of Surah Ya-sin. The most prominent trend I observe is that this juz is a continuation of the general theme and conversation found in many of the earlier surahs, which manifest the mission of the Prophets and Messengers and elucidate how we are to assume that mantle. The core content that runs throughout all four surahs primarily revolves around envisioning the ideal relationship between an individual and Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), not only in belief but more importantly in action, by maximizing our collective responsibility.

The Prophetic Mission

In delving into Surah Ahzab, what captivates my attention is the profound spectrum of themes it encapsulates. From venerating the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as the epitome of perfection (Al-Insan al-Kamil), to delineating various hukum, and shedding light on pivotal historical battles, the Surah brims with enlightenment.

Midway through the Surah, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) resoundingly emphasizes the primary role of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in his mission:

“O Prophet! We have sent you as a witness, and a bearer of glad tidings, and a warner.” [Surah Al-Ahzab: 33;45]

Reflecting upon the seerah, the term “witness” assumes paramount significance pertinent to the current plight of the ummah and the oppressed lands. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) embodies this role by manifesting the ideals he’s tasked to propagate. His immaculate life, devoid of blemish, serves as a tangible testament to the message of his da’wah. He stands at the forefront of fulfilling his obligations and exercises utmost caution in abstaining from transgression. His persona epitomizes the moral fabric he seeks to inculcate, envisioning a holistic societal framework, encompassing spiritual, material, and socio-political realms, particularly prioritizing regions besieged by corruption, persecution, and bloodshed. The irony lies in the fact that many Muslim rulers and people alike have strayed from the path of the Qur’an, Sunnah, and justice in general, in situations less dire than that of the life of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Towards the Surah’s end, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) sternly reminds us of the consequences of nations’ disregard for the witness of Prophets and Messengers:

“O believers! Do not be like those who slandered Moses, but Allah cleared him of what they said. And he was honorable in the sight of Allah.” [Surah Al Ahzab: 33;69]

The warning here admonishes against emulating the Jews’ ingratitude towards Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), their greatest benefactor. This is because the Children of Israel accept the fact that Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was their greatest advocate. If it weren’t for Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), the Jews would have been in a worse situation or circumstance in Egypt than many of the oppressed people we see today. That being said, one of the main takeaways from the story of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) is that the ingratitude of the Jews led to their demise, and anything similar from the Ummah of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would lead to our own demise as well. This historical lesson serves as a practical tip on what not to do and also serves as a poignant reminder for us to be introspective about our actions and attitudes. A few verses later, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) clarifies what our responsibility actually is, as opposed to what we shouldn’t do.

 

“Indeed, We offered the trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they ˹all˺ declined to bear it, being fearful of it. But humanity assumed it, ˹for˺ they are truly wrongful ˹to themselves˺ and ignorant ˹of the consequences˺” [Surah Al-Ahzab: 33;72]

Furthermore, the term “amanat” (trust), a cognate across the Indian subcontinental languages, embodies the essence of khilafa (vicegerency and caliphate) bestowed upon mankind by God. To grasp the gravity of this entrusted responsibility, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) vividly portrays how neither the heavens nor the earth, in all their grandeur, nor the mountains, steadfast in their enormity, could bear its weight. Yet, despite man’s inherent frailty, he shoulders this profound burden.

The inexorable outcome of the liberty accorded to humanity to discern between obedience and disobedience, coupled with the dominion and authority vested upon them over myriad creations, mandates their unwavering accountability for their deliberate actions. Since man hasn’t attained these prerogatives through his own merit but has been endowed with them by the Almighty, he stands answerable before His Divine Court for their righteous or wrongful utilization.

Understanding the weight of accountability, as humanity grapples with the responsibility endowed upon them by the Almighty, we find a profound illustration in Surah Saba. Through the stories of Prophets Dawud 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Sulayman 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), we witness a guide for achieving our ultimate purpose as individuals, one that transcends mere acknowledgment to active engagement in alignment with Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will.

Fulfilling the Trust

The “amanat” is fully realized in the subsequent chapter, Surah Saba, vividly portraying the narratives of Prophets Dawud 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Sulayman 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), illustrating how humanity must earnestly embrace the responsibilities bestowed upon them by Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Here, a profound blueprint for achieving our ultimate purpose as individuals is delineated.

“They fashioned for him whatever he desired of sanctuaries, statues, basins as vast as reservoirs, and cooking pots firmly anchored into the ground. We commanded: ‘Work gratefully, O family of David!’ But only a few of My servants truly embody gratitude.” [Surah Sabah: 34;13]

Mere verbal acknowledgment of favors, divorced from sincere action in alignment with the benefactor’s will, falls short of true gratitude. Worship transcends mere survival and gratitude; it embodies a higher purpose. 

Consider gratitude from the lens of indebtedness: we enter this world burdened with debts we did not choose—our parents’ care, sacrifice, and unconditional love. Though we can never fully repay this debt, gratitude is our solemn obligation. Similarly, obedience to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) —though incomparable in magnitude—is akin in essence. We owe gratitude for the sustenance, shelter, and blessings bestowed upon us. Recognizing this debt, we must strive to embody gratitude and acknowledgment.

The truly grateful individual not only voices gratitude but also actively employs the bestowed favors in accordance with the benefactor’s will. The concept of Khilafah, a successor, or guardian, is integral here. A true Khalifah assumes responsibility for maintaining and advancing the blessings entrusted to them, ensuring their alignment with the benefactor’s intentions. Gratitude, thus, becomes transformative—only as an act of self-betterment.

However, doing the work of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in creation, or Islamic work, is the highest form of human purpose and isn’t merely an end in itself; it serves as a means to our ultimate objective: pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Throughout Surah Fatir, this is reiterated emphatically.

“Allah created you from dust, then from a sperm drop, then fashioned you into pairs. No female conceives or gives birth without His knowledge. And no lifespan is extended or shortened except as decreed in a Record. That is easy for Allah.” [Surah Fatir: 35;11]

We are reminded of our humble origins and our eventual return to stand before Him on the Last Day. As the famous hadith states, “The dunya is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the unbeliever,” [Sahih Muslim 2956] underscoring the temporal nature of our work in this world and the eternal bliss awaiting the faithful.

“He is the One who, out of His grace, has bestowed upon us the abode of eternal stay, where fatigue and weariness shall never touch us.” [Surah Fatir: 35;35]

In essence, our struggles and hardships find culmination, leading to an existence devoid of toil or affliction. True believers are freed from the shackles of worldly labor, transcending into a realm of everlasting peace and contentment. Thus, as we contemplate the essence of true victory—found in aligning our actions with the akhira—we’re reminded of the ultimate purpose of Islamic work: to please Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and secure success in the Hereafter. This pivotal understanding sets the stage for the exploration of true victory in the ensuing chapter, Surah Ya-sin.

True Victory Through Intention, Not Outcome

The juz culminates near the outset of Surah Ya-sin—a chapter cherished in the heart of every Muslim, resonating within the sanctity of our homes, especially during times of mourning for loved ones. Its opening narrative depicts a nation’s defiance against its messengers, unveiling the dire consequences of their rejection.

“As if We have put shackles around their necks up to their chins, so their heads are forced up.” Surah Ya-sin: 36;8]

In the midst of the narrative concerning the trio of messengers, the juz reaches its ending. Despite the town’s outright dismissal, only one man embraced their message of tawheed (oneness).

“Then from the farthest end of the city, a man came, rushing. He advised, ‘O my people! Follow the messengers.'” [Surah Ya-sin: 36;20]

This solitary figure beckoned his community towards truth, paying the ultimate price and sacrifice—martyrdom. Even amid the bliss of paradise, his thoughts lingered with his people, yearning for their guidance.

This epitomizes the fervor of a true believer—a relentless dedication to guiding others toward the truth for the benefit of both the deen and the dunya.

As believers, we’re tasked with earnest action, epitomized by the Hadith: “Tie your camel first, and then put your trust in Allah.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhi 2517]

This echoes the resolute commitment of the three Messengers, who shall be judged not by outcomes, but by the sincerity of their endeavors. Amid the current plight of the Ummah, debates rage over the efficacy of socio-political strategies in halting death, bloodshed, and genocide in Gaza and liberating oppressed lands like Palestine. Yet, our focus shouldn’t solely dwell on efficacy, for ultimate victory lies in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) decree. It’s not that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) requires our sacrifice; rather, we need His divine guidance to secure triumph, aligning ourselves with His will in the pursuit of seeking His pleasure.

 

Related:

A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 13] Bringing Oppressors To Justice

From The Chaplain’s Desk: Prophetic Training In Sacred Activism

 

The post A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 22] Manifesting The Prophetic Mission appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

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