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)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A reminder for all Muslims

The following are taken from a lecture from Surah Baqarah of ayahs 76-80. I transcribed them and edited the text to make it flow better as a written text. They aren't my own commentaries as I am not yet qualified to make remarks of my own in this subject matter. You can listen to the complete audio recording here, something I can't recommend enough. Please, spare some time to listen to the rest of the ayah because we owe it to ourselves as Muslims to learn Book.

I chose this one ayah (ayah number 78) to share with you because it contains a profound lesson that we need to know of. It also indicates a very huge problem that the we, the Muslims of today are marching forward into. May this knowledge help us in becoming better Muslims and may we be able to remind others with this knowledge inshaAllah.

And even out of them (Bani Israel), there are people who are 'ummiyyun', who don't know their Book (the Torah) except for 'amaniy' and they do nothing but make assumptions.

Now, lets analyse this ayah in three parts:
1. And even out of them (Bani Israel), there are people who are 'ummiyyun'
2. who don't know their Book (the Torah) except for 'amaniy'
3. and they do nothing but make assumptions

1. And even out of them (Bani Israel), there are people who are 'ummiyyun'

'Ummiy' means two things - someone who is incapable of reading or writing. In modern times it is translated as 'unlettered'. It comes from the word 'um' which means mother. Meaning they are as illiterate as they were when they came out of their mother. But the Israelites do know how to read. So why are they being labelled as unlettered?

2. who don't know their Book (the Torah) except for 'amaniy'

'Amaniy' means wishful thoughts. In other words, instead of knowing what it is, you just think you know what it is. Allah is saying, they don't know their Book at all except what they think they know what it is. They can read their Book but they can't understand what they read, so they might as well be called as unlettered.

This is a very serious ayah about the crime of Bani Israel against their Book.

Now let's stop to think about this for a bit as far as our own selves and our own ummah is concerned. How many of us think we know what the Quran says as opposed to actually knowing what it says?

Next, Allah says:

3. and they do nothing but make assumptions.

This is yet another crime the Israelite committed against their Book as a result of their wishful thinking. What this is teaching us is that our ummah better not make assumptions about Allah's Book - You and I better not make assumptions about what Allah expects us to do and what He expects us not to do. We better not make make out own assumptions as Allah has already given the Book detailing what Allah Himself wants us to do.

The second thing that we should really be aware of is the interpretation of the Sahabah regarding this ayah which is very shocking and scary as far as we should be concerned.

Now, the central crime that the Isralites commited against their Book is with the word 'amaniy'.

According to an explanation by Ibn Abbas, 'amaniy' in this ayah means tilawah (recitation). They (Bani Israel) know their Book only by reciting it and memorising it without understanding it.

This means that they did have a relationship with their Book but their relationship with their Book is just two things; they recite it and memorised some parts of it, but the most crucial aspect of reading - comprehension - is absent.

This is a description of Bani Israel. Now think about this. Think about our own ummah. Think about ourselves. The vast majority of the Muslims today can be described as people who read the book, maybe even memorise some parts of the book, but has no idea what it says.

*personal note: in Malaysia especially, isn't it true that when we think 'mengaji Quran', what immediately pops in our head is recitation?*

Again, this is Allah describing Bani Israel but look who else the description fits! Isn't it a scary thought?

*So, there are at least 2 lessons that I gathered from this lecture:
  1. Do not make assumption on the contents of the Quran. Don't even say "I think this ayah means this that or the other", we're just putting ourselves in dangerous waters.
  2. The second lesson is the most crucial. For our own sake, we really need to start being 'students' of the Quran. It is a must for all of us - not just the scholars or the sheikhs or the ustadz - to really learn the Quran. We also need to realise that learning the Quran means 3 things - recitation, memorisation and understanding it.
I hope this piece of reminder has been useful and will inshaAllah lead us to take actions so that we will be able to avoid ourselves from being in the same category as the people described in this ayah. Do remind your family and friends of this lesson and lets pray that Allah not make us among those who are described in this ayah.

Everything that is good comes from Allah, and any flaws is from my own weaknesses.


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