Surah Hujurat in Our Lives (Part 1)

Overview, Verses 1-8:

This Surah was revealed to the best generation of Muslims. Imagine the Sahabah – they were the best of the people with a high level of faith. Yet this Surah was revealed obligating a change in their behaviour. Their hearts were inclined towards Allah (swt) with a high level of faith and certainty. However, they still harboured negative feelings towards each other. Jealousy, malice, hatred, and backbiting were still present. These issues in the society needed to be reformed. A way of living was needed now – which was sent by Allah (swt).

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The teachings of Prophet Muhammad (sa) were focused to reform the Sahabah’s hearts. But now Allah was reforming their جهنم = ways. You can figure out the جهنم of an organization, school, university or organization from their students/employees – The way they interact with each other, The way they behave, their discipline, interaction, empathy towards others.

Surah Hujurat talks more about Taqwa (guarding oneself from Allah’s (swt) anger) and building faith. It also offers lessons of leadership in this Surah. Each person is a leader (at home also). The Sahabah did not lead the world/people by their sword or money – they led by their manners. Islam spread to Indonesia, Malaysia and other Asian countries through Muslim traders. Amazingly, they did not know the local languages but were still able to spread Islam through their manners and behaviours.

Verse 1

“O you who believe! Do not put (yourselves) forward before Allah and His Messenger, and fear Allah. Verily! Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” (Al-Hujurat 49:1)

This is a gentle address from Allah (swt) to the believers. If a person is a believer – انعطا و انعمس .Whatever Allah says (commands) and the person submits and obeys then he is a Muslim. Someone doing contrary (not submitting and obeying) indicates a low faith. Don’t – ةيهانلا لا forward or precede “Between the hand” = a phrase that means don’t put before or put forward – it doesn’t literally mean between two hands.

What did Allah (swt) forbid the believers? Don’t put anyone or anything before Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa). Before Allah (swt) mentions how to reform our manners with the people, He mentions how our manners with Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) should be like. That’s the most important manner we need to have. The other conditions follow in a proper sequence.

We the verses of the Quran personally – each verse is for each person. Don’t follow the saying, “Please don’t take it personally.” Sometimes, we say this to people when stating something general. However, our behavior with the Quran has to be the opposite! We have to take each verse personally as if Allah is directly addressing each one of us, in order to reform us and to make us better in life and worthy of Paradise.

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Nothing, nothing, nothing comes before Allah (swt) and his Messenger (saw)!

Sometimes people ask for opinions in Islam. That’s not acceptable. We cannot question or ask for opinions or comments on the rules and commands of Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa).We cannot have conferences or discussions regarding doctrines of Islam. Some people debate on topics of Islam, like mix gathering, and then say: Ok, Allah (swt) said this and the Messenger (sa) said this: What’s your opinion? That is not acceptable! This means we need to go behind and follow Prophet Muhammad (sa) very closely. A believer’s sole goal is to attain the pleasure of Allah (swt) and tread المستقيم صراط

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We need to be conscious of Allah (swt) (ىوقت) in the following circumstances in life: While doing obligations and while abstaining from sins. Worship without love of Allah (swt) is just an exercise or duty; the heart remains detached from it. Worship should be out of love for Allah (swt) hoping for reward from Allah (swt) and fearing Allah’s (swt) punishment.

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We must remember that this Surah was revealed to people who had a very high level of faith still the Shaitan could affect them. He could incite them to believe that they had a lot of knowledge, thus making them arrogant and proud like Iblees himself. Firmness or staying steadfast upon guidance is more difficult than the guidance itself! After having guidance, if you elevate yourself, and make yourself high and proud – that’s a disaster! When you know Allah (swt) is the All-Hearer, you will not put anyone before Allah. You know Allah hears everything. All-Knower: Allah (swt) also knows everything in your heart, even when you are saying something and meaning something different. This means your inside and your outside both have to be the same!

We cannot pinpoint anyone. “I know she is saying something but in her heart is something else.” This is only for Allah (swt). Only He is the All-Knower – not any human! No one can deceive Allah (swt). Consider the impact of both these names together

“I will focus on what I say and what is in my heart at the same time.”

“And there is no sin on you if you make a hint of betrothal or conceal it in yourself, Allah knows that you will remember them…” (Al-Baqarah, 2:35)

“O you who believe! Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he () calls you to that which will give you life, and know that Allah comes in between a person and his heart (i.e. He prevents an evil person to decide anything). And verily to Him you shall (all) be gathered.” (Al-Anfal, 8:24)

You need to respond to Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) whatever they invite you/command you to do. It will make you alive! If you put anyone else’s words in front of you – they will not give you life! Opposite of life is death or destruction. You need to know that Allah (swt) will stand between you and your heart. You need to be careful. Allah (swt) standing between you and your heart means that you don’t/won’t even have control over your heart!

This Surah, will help us do the makeover that comes from the inside, and also shows on the outside, through our actions

Adapted from a workshop conducted by sister Eman of Al-Huda Sisters, Dubai.

“Who am I?” – Resolving an Identity Crisis

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By Sheikh Omar Suleiman

Member, ICNA Shariah Council and Instructor, Al Maghrib Institute, Canada

Throughout your life, as you try to find out who you are, you lose sight of what you were meant to be. Should you pursue this or that?

In order to attain success, Islam recommends that we analyze ourselves with critical eyes, as the tendency to live in status quo leads to hypocrisy. We learn from the times of the Prophet (sa) that the hardest prayers for hypocrites were those of Fajr and Isha. Fourteen hundred years ago, they did not have bright chandeliers in the Masajid. Neither did they have well-lit roads. The worshippers heading for Fajr and Isha Salah did so purely for the love of Allah (swt). There was no opportunity to display their faith in public. Naturally, the hypocrites lagged behind, as it did not serve their purpose of recognition before the society.

The Sahabahs were engaged in a life-long process of finding out who they truly were. It is advised to have a certain level of uncertainty about yourself, in order to engage in self-criticism and improvement. Medical experts would agree that the worst patient to deal with is someone who finds nothing wrong with him. The truly righteous is the one who thinks he is not pious.

When Aisha (rtaf) was asked about hypocrites, she described them as those who think of themselves as pious. The ones who come to the conclusion that they are not hypocrites are indeed hypocrites. All one hundred and twenty Sahabahs of the Prophet (sa) feared falling into hypocrisy, even though tales of their unparalleled Iman (faith) are penned in history.

What saves you from turning into a hypocrite then? The answer is in Surah Ash-Shams. Allah (swt) swears by His countless creations in this chapter of the Quran for all to arrive at the process of Tazkiya (purification of the soul). He clearly states that He is the One Who has set our Nafs (soul) right. We have been instilled with the sense of right (Taqwa) and wrong (Fujoor). Allah (swt) has also announced the means to succeed in the Quran. It is to remain busy with your own purification of the soul.

Allah (swt) places the burden of Tazkiya on you. Nafs is the Hijab (veil) between you and Allah (swt). The more you improve your Nafs, the more you will experience Allah’s (swt) Qurb (nearness). This is the first step to Tazkiya.

The second step is to recognize that purification is not possible without Allah’s (swt) help which comes in the form of Fitnahs (trials). Allah (swt) asks: do they think they will be left alone without tests? For every pain, you are rewarded by Allah (swt).

A supreme example of how Fitnah elevates you is in a story of a young man in Syria. He had never bowed before Allah (swt). The soldiers of Bashar-ul-Asad (ruler of Syria) were coercing everyone to prostrate before the picture of Bashar-ul-Asad. Those who refused were mercilessly beaten up. This particular man refused to perform Sajdah before the ruler’s picture, because he didn’t wish to make his very first Sajdah before Allah’s (swt) creation – Sajdah was Allah’s (swt) right alone. Hence, he was beaten to death, making his first and last Sajdah to Allah (swt) alone. What could have been a doomed end due to Kufr and Shirk transformed into an opportunity to enter Jannah. Allah (swt) presented this man with that chance, and he wisely took it.

The next step is Tarbiyah. It means to raise the Nafs. You need to question yourself: “Who am I?” Why can’t I come close to Allah (swt)?” “Why don’t I enjoy Salah?” Some people blame Allah (swt) for their misfortunes, while others blame the environment. They never take responsibility for their own errors and misguidance. They lose hope of Allah’s (swt) mercy and fall into despair.

History proves how people, who were born out of the fold of Islam, travelled far and wide and raised the level of their faith. Bilal Habshi, Sulaiman Farsi, Najashi – they were all people who questioned the purpose of their lives and were thus led to guidance by Allah (swt).Whereas Abu Hakm, the Prophet’s (sa) own uncle, became Abu Jahl (father of ignorance) in spite of experiencing Islam in Makkah. Abdullah bin Ubay, in spite of praying in the Prophet’s (sa) congregation in Madinah, became the leader of the hypocrites.

It was the genius of the Prophet (sa) that he looked at each companion’s strengths and offered them opportunities to develop and utilize them for the benefit of Islam.

Abu Jahl and Omar bin Khattab (rtam) both had exceptional leadership qualities. The Prophet (sa) prayed to Allah (swt) to strengthen Islam by granting one of them to him. Hence Omar’s (rtam) qualities were spent for Islam, while Abu Jahl fought against Islam.

The point is to nurture the gifts Allah (swt) has given you – for example, reputation, wealth, eloquence, etc., – and use them for Allah’s (swt) Deen and the benefit of the mankind.

We either own Nafs Lawama, a soul which is constantly distracted by people, or we own Nafs Mutamainna, a soul that is at peace with Allah (swt).

To accomplish the above, you might need to push out of the way things that come between you and Allah (swt). Surround yourself with people of Allah (swt) and take their Naseehah (advice).

Remember, the difference between a punishment and a trial is your attitude towards it. If during hardships you remain calm, exhibit Sabr and Shukr, Allah (swt) will reward you. Conversely, if during trails you become bitter and disobey further, you will be punished. Just remind yourself in times of tribulations that on the Day of Judgement, people burdened with sins would wish they had scissors to cut their skin to part with them and envy the ones who underwent the trials of the world patiently only to be elevated in the Akhirah. And the believers will not even remember their sufferings at the sight of Jannah – a satisfying end to a journey of self-discovery, indeed.

Based on a lecture-shop organized by “LiveDeen”. Transcribed for “Hiba” by Rana Rais Khan.

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It is a non-profit project with an up-to-the-minute concept of lectureshops, a combination of workshops and live lectures of international speakers broad casted via hi-technology video conferencing tools. Their main aim is to bridge the gap between the English-speaking strata of the society and Deen.

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