we declare Your Perfection above and beyond all: we have no knowledge whatsoever except what You have taught us. No doubt it is You, and You alone that is all Knowledgeable and all Wise. (al-Baqarah, 32)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Clearing Misconceptions About Adam AS

Why are we stuck on earth?

Depending on one's religious belief (or one's lack of it thereof), you'll get different answers. I can't really say for every other religious belief, but I do believe that for most of the people of the Abrahamic faiths (Muslims, Christians and Jews), their answer would be because the first man created by God Almighty defied His command by eating from a forbidden tree and was thus banished to the Earth and his wife Eve (we Muslims call her Hawa) along with him.

If I didn't know better, that would've probably been my answer as well. However, a study of the Quran reveals  that that's not entirely true.

You see, according to the Quran, Allah SWT has already decided before Adam AS ('alaihissalam - peace be upon him) was created, that he was to be placed on earth.

وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَة
And (remember) when your Lord  said to the angels, "Verily, I will create a *khalifah on earth" (Al-Baqarah, 2:30)

This might raise a particular question: if God really intended for Adam AS to be placed on earth, why was he put in Paradise in the first place? That is a very valid question; one that the Allah SWT did not forget to address in His Book:

وَقُلْنَا يَا آدَمُ اسْكُنْ أَنْتَ وَزَوْجُكَ الْجَنَّةَ وَكُلَا مِنْهَا رَغَدًا
 حَيْثُ شِئْتُمَا وَلَا تَقْرَبَا هَٰذِهِ الشَّجَرَةَ فَتَكُونَا مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ
We said: "O Adam! Dwell you and your wife in Jannah (Garden / Paradise); and eat of the bountiful things therein as (where and when) you will; but approach not this tree, or you run into harm and transgression." (Al-Baqarah, 2:35)

The Arabic Language has a few words that means 'to live 'or 'to dwell', the most common of which is 'khuld'. For instance when in the following ayah, which describes the people who will live forever in Paradise, the word 'khaalidiin' which is a derivative of the word 'khuld' is used:

جَزَاؤُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ
فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۖ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَنْ خَشِيَ رَبَّهُ
Their reward is with Allah: Gardens of Eternity beneath which rivers flow; they will dwell therein for ever; Allah well pleased with them and they with Him: all this for such as fear their Lord and Cherisher. (Al-Bayyinah, 98: 8)

However, the word used in the aforementioned ayah isn't 'khuld' but 'uskun' ."Uskun' comes from the root word 'sukun' which means something that was in motion but stops temporarily and will afterwards continue to move (those of you who remember your tajweed should be familiar with this word). By using this word in the ayah, Allah SWT is telling Adam AS - and by extension, us- that his place in Paradise was only temporary and that he will have to move to his actual abode, earth, sooner or later. You can think of it as a transit before the final destination. Had it been a permanent stay, the word that would be the most appropriate to use is 'ukhlud' and not 'uskun' which, as mentioned above, implies the meaning of it being temporary.

Adam AS himself understood this and was aware that they won't be staying in Paradise forever, and Iblis - the Devil - used this knowledge to tempt Adam AS and Hawa into eating from the forbidden tree
وَقَالَ مَا نَهَاكُمَا رَبُّكُمَا عَنْ هَٰذِهِ الشَّجَرَةِ إِلَّا أَنْ تَكُونَا
مَلَكَيْنِ أَوْ تَكُونَا مِنَ الْخَالِدِينَ
he (satan) said, "Your Lord forbade you this tree lest you should become angels or such beings as live for ever." (Al-A'raf, 7:20)

Another common misunderstanding about this story is that Adam AS and Hawa was banished to earth because of their sin of disobeying the Lord and eating from the tree. This, however, isn't the real reason because Allah SWT clearly says in the narrative in surah Al-Baqarah that He had accepted their repentance.

فَتَلَقَّىٰ آدَمُ مِنْ رَبِّهِ كَلِمَاتٍ فَتَابَ عَلَيْهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ
Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration and his Lord turned toward him (accepting his repentance); for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. (al-Baqarah, 2: 37)

If they were forgiven, it wouldn't make much sense for them to be banished to earth as a punishment wouldn't it?

This further enforces the notion that neither Adam AS nor his spouse are to be blamed for the human race to be put on earth. This is clearly a misconception that needs to be set straight especially among the Muslims. We must realize that our place on earth is a matter that has always been decided. It is only after we have proven ourselves worthy of Paradise in this world that we will be allowed to live there in the hereafter.

Wallahua'lam - Allah knows best.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
*Khalifah is an Arabic word literally meaning "one who replaces someone else who left or died" (taken from http://islamic-world.net/khalifah/definition.htm)

**image taken from http://socialtimes.com

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Love Others as You Love Yourself

Out of the many ahadeeth (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w) that I memorised way back when I was in high school, one of them sticks clearly in my mind for some reason or another. The hadeeth goes:

None of you will truly believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself”. (Al-Bukhari)

It's a fairly straightforward and easily understood hadeeth, but it was only recently after hearing a story of one particular great individual that I understood it in a new light.

The story is of of Imam an-Nawawi r.a. He was one of the greatest zahid of his time, which meant he doesn't own much worldly materials. One night as he was praying, a thief broke into his house. Seeing as there wasn't much (if any) to be taken, the thief decided to take the only he could found of value - an-Nawawi's shoes. After finishing his solah, an-Nawawi who realised a thief had entered his house started running outside chasing after the thief shouting.

What exactly did he shouted? If any normal person would be in his shoes, I think it would be something along the lines of "Stop! Thief" though honestly, that is probably putting it mildly.

An-Nawawi said nothing like that at all. Instead, he was shouting to the thief to accept his shoes as a gift! Why? Because he was a man who truly had taqwa. As much as he fears to be punished by Allah and be entered to the hellfire for committing sins, he also fears other to fall into sin. SubhanAllah, just look at the level of iman this man had! Now this is how a person truly loves his brother. This is how we should be loving our brothers.

I pray that we can inculcate even just a fraction of this attitude shown by Imam an-Nawawi into our lives


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Allah Knows What Is Best

One of the names of Allah s.w.t is al-Hakeem - the Most Wise - and part of His wisdom is manifested in the Divine Laws that He imparts to us through the Quran. In fact in surah YaaSiin (among other places), He even says that the Quran itself is wisdom.

As Muslims, we must believe that there is wisdom in each and every command that Allah gave us in the Quran, from issues like, say, the prohibition of riba (usury), the need to cover one's 'aurah, fasting, the five daily prayers and the list goes on. Basically, everything that Allah commands us to do has wisdom in it and is for our own good.

However, there are people in the post-modern society that we live in today who start to second guess the Laws of Allah, claiming it no longer relevant and is inappropriate for the 'modern' society. Some even say it's barbaric! Astaghfirullah, may Allah have mercy on them. This is because in these people's minds, they fail to see the logic - and by extension, the wisdom - behind these Laws.

What does Allah s.w.t has to say about this? In the Quran, He says:

وَلَوْ أَنَّا كَتَبْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ أَنِ اقْتُلُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ أَوِ اخْرُجُوا مِن دِيَارِكُم مَّا فَعَلُوهُ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ مِّنْهُمْ وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ فَعَلُوا مَا يُوعَظُونَ بِهِ لَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَّهُمْ وَأَشَدَّ تَثْبِيتًا
If We had prescribed upon them to kill themselves or to leave their homes, very few would have done it: But if they had done what they were advised to do, it would have certainly been best for them, and would have gone farthest to strengthen (their faith) [Surah an-Nisa', 4:66]

Think about the above aya for a bit. It says "to kill themselves or to leave their houses". What logic is there in such commands? If anything, the logical mind would say that it is madness. Of course, Allah didn't command any of these to us, He was just proving a point, that is; "if We had prescribed upon them... it would have certainly been best for them". 

In this aya, we learn that there are times when our limited intellect are just unable to grasp the logic behind certain things that Allah reveals to us. We may not understand it or even see the wisdom behind it, but know for sure that it is definitely, definitely better for us. Why? Because Allah is al-Hakeem, He is the Most Wise and He knows what is best. And that answer should be enough for us if we truly believe in Him.

May Allah give us the correct understanding of His Deen and the Quran, and may Allah guide us to and along the straight path.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Allah, Our Rabb

In this post, I'd like to share a reflection on the following two ayaat from the Quran which sums up the reality of our current ummah very well:

وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُم مَّنْ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَسَخَّرَ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّهُ 
If indeed thou ask them who has created the heavens and the earth and subjected the sun and the moon (to his Law), they will certainly reply, "Allah". (Surah al-Ankaboot, 29: 61)

قُلْ مَن رَّبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ قُلِ اللَّهُ 
Say: "Who is the Rabb of the heavens and the earth?" Say: "(It is) Allah." (Surah ar-Ra'ad, 13: 61)

In the aya from surah al-Ankaboot, the question asked was 'who is the Creator' and the people have no problems in declaring that Allah is the Creator of everything. In the aya from Surah ar-Ra'ad however, the question asked was 'who is the Rabb' and interestingly, to this question we don't find the people declaring an answer. Instead we find Allah s.w.t commanding his Messenger s.a.w to tell the people that Allah is indeed the Rabb of the heavens and the earth.

To fully appreciate this aya, we must first understand what Rabb means. Rabb essentially means 'One who has absolute ownership, right and authority'. Actually, this is the concept that is at heart of our relationship with Allah and we can see this in surah TaHa, when Allah first introduced Himself to Musa a.s and said:

إِنِّي أَنَا رَبُّكَ فَاخْلَعْ نَعْلَيْكَ إِنَّكَ بِالْوَادِ الْمُقَدَّسِ طُوًى
Veryl it is I, I am your Rabb therefore take off your shoes; you are in the sanctified valley of Tuwa (Surah TaHa, 20: 12)

Meanwhile in surah al-Alaq which is the first revelation to Prophet Muhammad s.a.w, he was told: 

اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ
Read! In the name of your Rabb who created. (Surah al-Alaq, 96: 1)

In both instances, Allah is being introduced to a Prophet and the very first thing that these Prophets were told about Allah is that He is the Rabb - He has complete authority. He even goes further to display His authority to the Prophets by giving them each a command in the very same aya in which He is introduced. To Musa a.s He says, "take off your shoes" and Muhammad s.a.w was told, "read!". 

In these ayaat is a summary of our relationship with Allah, our Rabb. He has absolute ownership, right and authority over us. Therefore He has all the rights in the world to tell us what He wants us to do or not do and our responsibility to Him in turn is to obey His commands.

Now that we have established how heavy and important this word is, we should be able to understand the ayaat from surah al-Ankaboot and ar-Ra'ad in a different light. 

وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُم مَّنْ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَسَخَّرَ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّهُ 
If indeed thou ask them who has created the heavens and the earth and subjected the sun and the moon (to his Law), they will certainly reply, "Allah". (Surah al-Ankaboot, 29: 61)

قُلْ مَن رَّبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ قُلِ اللَّهُ 
Say: "Who is the Rabb of the heavens and the earth?" Say: "(It is) Allah." (Surah ar-Ra'ad, 13: 61)

These  ayaat exposes what is going on in the minds of people who readily admits that Allah is their Creator but are unable to accept that Allah is their Rabb. These are people who have problems accepting Allah as having absolute authority over their life. These are people who claim to be Islam but still refuse to obey certain commands of Allah - be it to pray or fast or pay the zakat or concerning their 'aurah.

Unfortunately, this is the state of a large majority of the Muslims among us today are in. People who know very well that Allah is their creator but are utterly heedless in the fact that above and beyond simply being our Creator, He is also our Rabb. And this is a sad reality that we can clearly see going on around us.

And you know what the really scary thing is? It is that the the first question that one is asked in the grave according to the narration of the Prophet s.a.w is "who is you Rabb". Know that simply acknowledging Allah as the God who created us isn't enough to save us on that day. If we do not accept Allah as our Rabb today, how can we expect ourselves to be able to answer that question when on that day?


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Playing our part - A lesson from the story of Maryam r.a.

The surah that I particularly enjoy reading in the Quran lately is surah Maryam, in which the story of the most pure woman who had walked the face of the earth is told. That woman is none other than Maryam (Mary), mother of Isa (Jesus) - peace be upon them both -. There are so much valuable lessons to be had in this short yet beautiful surah and I only wish to share one of them today which comes from the following ayaat:

23 And [when] the throes of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree, she exclaimed: "Oh, would that I had died ere this, and had become a thing forgotten, utterly forgotten!"24 Thereupon [a voice] called out to her from beneath that [palm-tree]: "Grieve not! Thy Sustainer has provided a rivulet [running] beneath thee; 25 and shake the trunk of the palm-tree towards thee: it will drop fresh, ripe dates upon thee. 26 Eat, then, and drink, and let shine eye be gladdened! And if thou shouldst see any human being, convey this unto him: 'Behold, abstinence from speech have I vowed unto the Most Gracious; hence, I may not speak today to any mortal.'"
(Translation of surah Maryam by Muhammad Asad, 19: 23.26)

You will find this story that Maryam r.a. heard a voice telling her to shake the trunk of a palm-tree so that dates will drop from it. On the surface, there seems to be nothing unusual about that command. However, think more deeply about it and you'll find something unusual.

The command was to shake the trunk of a palm tree. If you think about it, it's hard enough to do so by a person who is in the fittest of health, let alone a woman who is undergoing labour. So if you think carefully, this isn't something that Maryam r.a. was able to do at that time. So why ask a person to do something that she isn't capable of doing? I mean, If Allah had wanted, He could have just made the dates fall of the tree for her just like that.

What we learn from this is that Allah will help us but only after we have made an effort, even as little as an effort that may seem to be.

We can also see this point made from the stories of Musa (Moses), - peace be upon him - when he was inspired to strike his staff in the water and the sea parted. The sea was parted by the will of Allah, not because of the staff. Musa a.s learnt this when he got to the other side and he struck the water once again, this time hoping to close the sea, but it didn't. Allah could have parted the sea without having Musa a.s to do anything, but by Him inspiring Musa a.s. to do so, He is telling us that as long as we put some effort, He will, inshaAllah, take care of the rest.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Making Du'a

Du'a is a means for us to directly speak to Allah. We are taught from the sunnah of the Messenger s.a.w to always make du'a to Allah s.w.t. and of course, the majority of us usually follow up the daily prayer with du'a. In fact, even some portions of the prayer are forms of du'a. However, there are times that we may find ourselves not actually making du'a but only rehearsing whatever we've memorised instead. Worst still are the times when we have no idea what the imaam is reciting and we're just raising our hands saying 'amiin' over and over.

On the topic of making du'a, I'd like to share a reflection of a very beautiful ayah from Surah al-Baqarah. InshaAllah, this will motivate us to become more aware when making du'a. Allah s.w.t says:

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

When My slave asks you about Me, then I am near. I respond to the call of anyone who makes du'a when he makes du'a. Then they should try to respond to Me and believe in Me so that they may be rightly guided [al-Baqarah, 186]

How to get close to Allah

There are several gems in this ayah. First of all, this part of the ayah "When My slave asks you about Me, then I am near" is a conditional statement. We are told in other ayaat from the Qurat that Allah is indeed near to us, but this ayah further clarifies who Allah s.w.t is near to - the one who asks about Him. Another lesson that we can derive just from the sequence of the ayah is that in order to get close to Allah, we must be the ones to first make the initiative.

Being close to Allah

There are also important things that we must take notice by Allah using the word qareeb (close). Obviously, it's much more effective to ask something from someone who is in close proximity to us, but even more than that, the word close can also depict the kind of relation we have with another person. For instance, a close friend is someone whom we can trust and just pour our emotions to. This is the kind of relation that we should have with Allah. We shouldn't be shy to admit our mistakes to Him, to ask for His forgiveness and to ask whatever it is we want.

Conditions for Allah's response to du'a

Next, Allah s.w.t says "I respond to the call of anyone who make dua when he makes dua"

Being the Most Merciful, Allah responds to the dua'a of anyone, but with a certain condition:

"Then they should try to respond to Me and believe in Me so that they may be rightly guided."

The first condition for Allah's respond to our du'a is that we should try to respond to his commands. Notice the Mercy that Allah grants to us in this statement. For himself, he said "أُجِيبُ" (I respond) whereas for our part, he said "فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا" (they should try to respond), meaning that as long as we make honest efforts to respond to His commands, this is enough for Him to respond to our du'a in return.

The second condition is to have iman (to believe) in Him, which might come off as a little strange. This ayah is intended for the believers, so why is it that Allah is telling us to believe? The answer is simple. Allah s.w.t is telling us to always revitalise our iman and this can be done by means of trying to respond to His commands. InshaAllah, by always adhering to this simple lesson that Allah taught us in the Quran, we might become among those who are rightly guided.

OK, I've been making du'a but it doesn't seem to have any effect

This is something that might come to the mind of some Muslims. Is Allah not responding to our du'a? He does. We just need to realise how He does so. This matter is dealt with in two hadeeth from the Messenger s.a.w:

"There is no Muslim man on the face of the earth who supplicates to Allah but Allah would either grant it to him, or avert a harm from him of equal proportions, as long as his supplication does not involve sin or cutting the relations of the womb." [At-Tirmidhi]

"The supplication of the servant will be accepted as long as he does not supplicate for what includes sin, or cutting the relations of the womb, and as long as he does not become hasty." He was asked, "O Messenger of Allah! How does one become hasty'' He said, "He says, `I supplicated and supplicated, but I do not see that my supplication is being accepted from me.' He thus looses interest and abandons supplicating (to Allah)". [Muslim]


I learnt this from:
A Juma'ah khutbah by Br. Nouman Ali Khan
Tafsir Ibn Kathir

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wonderful lecture about the position of music in Islam


If you know me from years past, you'll know that I'm a music junkie. I used to listen to music while doing pretty much anything. It's hard to imagine someone like me would stop listening to music altogether but that's exactly what I did. Alhamdulillah, I have stopped to actively listen to music after being convinced by Br Kamal al-Mekki in his lecture that it's better for me to give it up some time last year and really, I don't miss it at all.

I saw another lecture yesterday by a Br Abu Mussab which was to me the most comprehensive lecture about the position of music in Islam and I would like to share with you here. It deals in much more detail than that of Br Kamal al-Mekki's as it also includes the discussions of what we call today as Islamic nasheeds/songs (Maher Zain, Sami Yusuf, etc).

Before you make remarks like "What? Music is haram?? That's nonsense! That's taking it too extreme!!" I strongly suggest you watch the lecture first and then make your decision. I pray that it will benefit you as much as has benefitted me.

WallahuA'lam, Allah knows best.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Amazing facts about the Quran - Surah Yusuf

Surah Yusuf is actually one of the most unique surah in the entire Quran. First of all, it is the only surah in which the story of prophet Yusuf a.s is mentioned. However, the stand out feature of this surah is that it is the only surah among the longer surah that conveys a single unified story - the story of Prophet Yusuf a.s. - from the beginning till the end of the surah. Interestingly, Allah s.w.t already hints this nature of the surah by mentioning in the third ayat of the surah, "We are narrating to you the best of stories"

The following are the plot in the narrative of this surah, told in over 100 ayaat:

1. Yusuf (alayhis-Salam) has a dream.
2. His brothers plot against him
3. His owner’s wife attempts to seduce him
4. Her friends attempt to seduce him
5. He (as) is imprisoned
6.The king has a dream
7.The king’s dream is interpreted
8. Yusuf (as) is released from prison
9.The ladies confess
10. His former owner’s wife confesses
11. His brothers learn their lesson
12. Yusuf (as)’s
dream is interpreted and realized.

Now, if you noticed (and have studied a little bit of literature), you'll find the first six plot points were the conflicts while the latter six are the resolutions. So that's 6 conflicts and 6 resolutions - again highlighting the theme of balance in the Quran.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Let's take a look at the plot point again with a different perspective. Pay attention to the numbers and the words in bold.

1. Yusuf (alayhis-Salam) has a dream.
2. His brothers plot against him
3. His owner’s wife attempts to seduce him
4. Her friends attempt to seduce him
5. He (as) is imprisoned
6.The king has a dream
6.The king’s dream is interpreted
5. Yusuf (as) is released from prison
4.The ladies confess
3. His former owner’s wife confesses
2. His brothers learn their lesson
1. Yusuf (as)’s
dream is interpreted and realized.

The amazing fact about this narrative isn't just that its balanced, but it's also symmetrical. Just like the way a paper is folded in half, conflicts are introduced and solved in a reverse symmetrical order.

It may not be impossible for an author to write a narrative in a similar style, provided he/she be given enough time to properly draft it beforehand. BUT, the Quran wasn't revealed as a book, it was first heard in the form of the speech of the Messenger s.a.w. and this feat is nothing short of a miracle.



I learnt this from:

Friday, May 6, 2011

You only live twice

As ridiculous as that old James Bond movie title sounds, there's actually truth in it. After all, Allah Himself s.w.t says:

كَيْفَ تَكْفُرُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَكُنْتُمْ أَمْوَاتًا فَأَحْيَاكُمْ ۖ ثُمَّ يُمِيتُكُمْ ثُمَّ يُحْيِيكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ
How can any of you deny Allah and you used to be dead then He brought you to life, then He will give you death again, then He will bring you to life again, then you will be returned to Him (2: 28)

We are given life twice, and the way we carry ourselves in the this life will determine our life in the next one. Just about any Muslim knows that. However, too often we became overly concerned with this life that we don't give as much concern about the next one. Allah s.w.t reminds us of this fact in surah al-A'la:

بَلْ تُؤْثِرُونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا. وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ
Not at all, you prefer worldly life. And the hereafter is better and longer lasting (87: 16-17)

In this ayat, Allah s.w.t is using the pronoun 'you', meaning He is speaking directly at you and I and the problem that He highlights isn't wanting for dunya (worldly life); it's preferring dunya over akhirah (the hereafter). In other words, Allah is telling us to get our priorities sorted out!

But let's face it, in this day and age, when people talk about long-term thinking and aspirations, most will talk about getting a high-paying job, a luxurious house and ride etc, which is nice and all but you know what Allah has to say:

وَفِي ذَٰلِكَ فَلْيَتَنَافَسِ الْمُتَنَافِسُونَ
and in that (the rewards of jannah), let those who have aspiration aspire (83: 26)

Let's all be the judge of ourselves. How much effort are we putting into dunya? How much are we putting into akhirah?

It's all a matter of preference and in the end, that makes all the difference in the world.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Pondering over the Quran in light of recent events

The Quran is a magnificent book, full of wisdom, lesson and guidance that is applicable in any era for those who truly seek them. This doesn't come from just reading the Quran casually as one would with any other book. In surah Sad, ayat no 29, Allah Azza wa Jall tells us a principle we should bear in mind about the Quran :

كِتَابٌ أَنْزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ مُبَارَكٌ لِيَدَّبَّرُوا آيَاتِهِ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ
A blessed Book which We have revealed to you (O Muhammad) so that people may ponder over its ayaat, and so that those endowed with insight may take heed. (38: 29)

I was listening to a tafseer of Surah Az-Zalzalah and one of the ayat really struck me deeply. The surah informs us of a day when the Earth will be shaking violently. The day on which it will unleash of it's burdens and will speak of what the people did on its surface. This is of course describing a scene on the Day of Judgement. In ayat no 5, Allah Azza wa Jall explains to us what causes the Earth to act in such a way:

بِأَنَّ رَبَّكَ أَوْحَىٰ لَهَا

Look up most translations and you'll most probably find the ayat translated as "because your Lord inspires it". However, this would be a shallow translation of the ayat. Explaining why this translation isn't accurate will be something very grammatical and is just beyond the scope of this entry, but if you're interested, you'll find the answer in the lecture. Instead, I'll just state the more correct meaning which is given by Ibn Kathir (r.a).

Ibn Kathir says in his tafseer, "it is apparent that the implied meaning here is that He will permit it (the Earth)".

In this statement is a scary reality. You see, when somebody is given a permission, that means the person was just waiting for the moment when he's allowed to do what he wanted to do. In other words, we learn here that the Earth had wanted to shake violently all along. That it has been eagerly waiting for the moment that it will be able to bear witness to all the crimes that people had been committing on its surface, and that the only that is holding it back it the permission of Allah.

Why exactly does the Earth want to shake? This has been explained is surah Ar-Rum

ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُمْ بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ
Corruption manifest on land and sea because of that which men's hands have done, that He may make them taste a little bit of that which they have done, in order that they may return (30: 41)

And what do we hear often in the news lately? Natural disasters and corruption. Coincidence?


Friday, April 15, 2011

Amazing facts about the Quran - the book of balance

One of the the themes of the Quran is balance. Allah balances our motivation by telling us to aspire for Jannah, informing us a lot of its great features while at the same time warns us of Hellfire and what a terrible return it is.

This theme can be seen very well in the very first surah in the Quran, the Fatihah. In the Fatihah, we declare Allah as our Lord and we His slaves. We declare his Mercy but also acknowledge his authority. Finally, we ask Him for guidance, the path of which whom He had favoured and ask him to make us not among those who earn His wrath and those who are lost.

On this theme, there are some claims that through a corpus study, some related words are mentioned in the Quran in an equal amount. For instance, the word dunya (this world) and akhirah (the hereafter) is mentioned the exact same number of time throughout the Quran, and so does life and death, day and night, angels and devil, and so on.

Unfortunately, I don't have the resources nor the capacity to confirm any of these claims, so even I would say take the info with a grain of salt. Wallahua'lam - Allah knows best.

I can however, show something that is way more amazing. This occurs in the second surah of the Quran, surah Al-Baqarah, the longest surah in the entire Quran. In this surah, Allah honours us by inaugurating the Muslims as an ummah - a nation - in the beginning portion of ayat 143 of the surah :

وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا
Thus have We made of you an Ummah justly balanced that ye might be witnesses over the nations and the Messenger a witness over yourselves (2: 143)

The word that Allah describes the Muslim ummah in this ayat is وَسَطًا which can be translated as middle, balanced, or just - a concept that is at the heart of the teaching of Islam. As I've mentioned earlier, Allah describes our ummah with this word in ayat number 143. Now check out how many ayaat there are in total in surah Al-Baqarah. 286 ayaat. Have you noticed it? Even the position where Allah describes our ummah as a justly balanced nation is perfect - right in the middle of the surah!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Amazing facts about the Quran - the precision in arrangements

The Quran is a Book full of wisdom. And said wisdom doesn't only show in the contents but also through the way the speech is presented. This is one of the most amazing features of the Quran that is easily overlooked by simply reading it casually - the eloquence of the arrangements of words.

To give a basic example of this, let's look at this ayat from surah An-Nur

يَوْمَ تَشْهَدُ عَلَيْهِمْ أَلْسِنَتُهُمْ وَأَيْدِيهِمْ وَأَرْجُلُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
On the day when their tongues and their hands and their feet testify against them as to what they used to do (24: 24)

This ayat is referring to a scene of the Day of Judgement. Notice how these words are sequenced here, "their tongue and their hands and their feet". This sequence tells us something. It tells us the order in which our own body parts will testify against us on that Day.

Why is the tongue the first to give the testimony? It's because it's the organ that whether we realise is or not, will commit the most crime. So the tongue will have to give the most testimony. The next one to commit the most crime will be the hands and finally, the feet which only lead the hands and tongue to where they are used.

Just in this sequence is a profound lesson for us to be aware of out tongue the most. SubhanAllah.

Here's something a bit more complex. We find in two surah where Allah Azza wa Jall says something very similar :

وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ مِنْ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَحْنُ نَرْزُقُكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ
and do not kill your children because of poverty, We provide for you and them (6:151)

وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ
and do not kill your children due to fear of poverty, We provide for them and for you” (17:31)

It's easy to dismiss the small difference between "We provide for you and them" and "We provide them and you" and say they're the same thing said differently, but as I've mentioned in another post, the Quran is hyper sensitive even in its sentence structure.

In the first ayat, Allah Azza wa Jall says "do not kill you children BECAUSE OF poverty", indicating the family is already poor so the first thing they worry about is themselves. So He says "We provide for you" first and "them" i.e the children later.

In the second ayat, Allah Azza wa Jall says "do not kill your children DUE TO FEAR of poverty", indicating a family who fears of poverty after having children for fear of not having enough to provide for the children. This family is thinking about the children first, so He says "We provide for them (the children)" first and "you" later.

SubhanAllah! See how perfect the words are arranged? Again, I would like to say here as I've said in a previous post; It is impossible for such perfection in speech to be uttered verbally without some kind of draft. But that is exactly how this Quran was revealed. An evidence that this Quran is no speech of a man but the speech of the Lord Himself, revealed through the mouth the Messenger, Muhammad s.a.w.

The Quran is like a gold mine that is full of hidden gems of wisdom. There is just no end to how much wealth we can gain out of it. We only need to start putting effort into it.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Amazing facts about the Quran - Lost in Translation

In every surah that begins with the disjointed letter, the very next thing that will be mentioned is the Quran itself along with a certain feature of the Quran.

الم . ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِلْمُتَّقِينَ
Alif Laam Miim. That is the book, there is no doubt in it. Guidance for the muttaqeen (2: 1-2)

يس . وَالْقُرْآنِ الْحَكِيمِ
Yaa Siin. By the Quran, full of wisdom (36: 1-2)

In surah Yuusuf, we find

الر ۚ تِلْكَ آيَاتُ الْكِتَابِ الْمُبِينِ . إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ
Alif Laam Raa. These are the ayaat of the book that make things clear. For sure, we have sent it down, an Arabic Quran so that you may understand. (12: 1-2)

In these ayaat, it is clear that the Arabic Language is an inseparable feature of the Quran. While it is possible to recapture some of the messages of the Quran in another language, the beauty of the Arabic Quran would be lost in translation.

There are many things that showcases the beauty of the Quran in Arabic, but here I would like to show one specific example that even a person who doesn't know much Arabic like me can appreciate. Allah Azza wa Jall says in surah Al-Muddathir :

وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ
Declare the greatness only of your Lord (74: 3)

In the Quran, the letter وَ has as many as 21 functions. One of them, such as the one used in the ayaat above is to separate one sentence from another. Think of it as the full stop and capital letter in English.

So, the sentence which really carries meaning in this ayaat is رَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ
This is truly amazing, but you might not immediately notice anything. Now, let's try to spell out the sentence letter by letter.

رب ب ك ف ك ب ب ر

Notice something? The whole sentence is spelled the same even if spelled backwards. In English, this is called a pallindrome. Try writing 'Declare the greatness only of your Lord' that reads the same backwards and forwards in any other language. It's not possible.

Another such example can be found in surah Yaasiin, ayat no 40 in which Allah Azza wa Jall tells us : "It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. They each float in an orbit"

The fact that this is mentioned some 1400 years ago when men hadn't a clue about the sciences of the universe is amazing enough, but this isn't the topic of this article. Instead, let's examine the last sentence in the ayat

وَكُلٌّ فِي فَلَكٍ يَسْبَحُونَ
They each float in an orbit (34: 40)

يَسْبَحُونَ means 'float' and this sentence explains the fact that the sun and the moon both float in their own set orbit. Let's separate the letters of the phrase that comes before 'float'.

ك ل ف ي ف ل ك

See how the letters 'orbit' around the letter ي - in a sentence that gives the imagery of objects floating in an orbit. How amazing is that!


These are but small examples of what is missing from a translation of the Quran. As was mentioned earlier in the ayaat from surah Yusuf, Allah Himself says that He sent down an Arabic Quran so that WE may understand. So to get the full breadth of understanding and appreciation of this book, we really owe it to ourselves to learn the language of the Quran.

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