Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Araaf

pearlsWith this message we begin Surah Al-Araf. Allah (swt) says, (This is the) Book (the Quran) sent down unto you (O Muhammad (sa)), so let not your breast be narrow there from, that you warn thereby, and a reminder unto the believers.” (Al-Araf 7:2) How fortunate we are that we have the Quran, which is an anti-depressant; yet how selfish we are that we do not communicate its gems and wonders with our friends and families. We recite the Quran, learn it, preserve it in our hearts and keep the knowledge to ourselves. The Prophet (sa) said, “The best among you is the one who learns the Quran and teaches it.” (Bukhari) If someone informed us that there is a university where from if we graduated we will get $150,000 per month we would have rushed to enrol ourselves in it. The Prophet (sa) is calling us to something better and we are not moved.

We have read Harry Potter and other similar books. We wait for their launch and fantasize the stories; but have we also read the Quran? If we have not read the Quran ourselves, how can we teach it to others and be amongst the best? This is the Book of Allah (swt), the word of the Creator which we have not even attempted to learn. That is why we don’t have peace in our lives.

We need to be careful of the devil’s plot. Shaytan says, “Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You).” (Al-Araf 7:17) He beautifies sins for us and makes us fall for them. May Allah (swt) bless us the insight to distinguish between the straight path and the trap of Shaytan. Ameen.

Adam (as) and the treachery of Shaytan

Allah (swt) then mentions the story of Adam (as) that how he lost a certain place in Paradise due to the treachery of Shaytan. This teaches us an important lesson: if we fall for Shaytan, Allah (swt) will take away the blessing that He gave us. In this story, we also learn about clothing; which is both an adornment and a covering.

Clothe with piety

When we are invited to our friend’s house or some renowned politician, businessman or anyone famous, we pick up the best clothes that we can. We make sure our hair and our accessories are in order. We check ourselves out several times in the mirror before leaving the house. But how do we approach Salah? When the Maker of everything invites us to stand before Him for a private conversation that guarantees us everything that we desire, what clothes or condition are we in? Sometimes for Fajr Salah, we simply roll out of our beds, throw water on our face, perform a quick Wudhu and stand up in prayer in our sleeping pyjamas. Is that an attitude of gratitude towards Him Who rewards one good deed up to ten times?

Allah (swt) says, “O O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes), while praying and going round (the Tawaf of) the Ka’bah, and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Araf 7:31) Do not be extravagant in your clothing. When one looks today at the prices of bridal and semi-formal clothing, he wonders where the money is coming from. An ordinary dress with trimmings of silk or Banarsi fabric and some embellishments is priced at 50,000 rupees or even more. Lawn which was the clothing of common people is now sold at Rs. 6,000. Allah (swt) says, “And the raiment of righteousness, that is better.” (Al-Araf 7:26)

Not only should the clothing be sanely priced, but also, it should serve the purpose for which it was created. And that is “covering”. Too tight, too short, too revealing is not the clothing of people of Taqwa. If Salah is not accepted in such clothes, how can one step out of their house wearing those welcoming gazes of strange men?

Choose the appropriate attire

If one has to shed their clothing in order to appear attractive in front of others, then they should know twenty years later, they will not have the same appearance. So why not attract people by your character and Taqwa, instead of superficial things? If we dress up according to how Allah (swt) commands us, we will, Insha’Allah, attract those who are best for us in the Sight of Allah (swt). Who doesn’t want a righteous companion? Everyone does! The righteous companion pushes us to give our very best to Allah (swt). Thus, let us not attract the filth and dress appropriately instead.

Allah (swt) has promised us that He will send messages and reminders to us in various forms. Some fortunate ones lived in the midst of the messengers. For later generations, there were people who had acquired knowledge from the messengers and disseminated it to others. And that is how it reached us.

What should be our attitude towards Allah’s (swt) messages?

Allah (swt) says, “O Children of Adam! If there come to you Messengers from amongst you, reciting to you, My Verses, and then whosoever becomes pious and righteous, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Al-Araf 7:35)

Two actions are required: Taqwa and reform. By being conscious of Allah (swt) and rectifying our faults, we will be free from anguish.

Dialogue between the dwellers of paradise and hellfire

Then we learn about a dialogue that takes place between the people of hellfire and the people of Paradise: “And the dwellers of the Fire will call to the dwellers of Paradise: Pour on us some water or anything that Allah has provided you with. They will say: Both (water and provision) Allah has forbidden to the disbelievers.” (Al-Araf 7:50)

What actions lead to hellfire?

Allah (swt) says, “Who took their religion as an amusement and play, and the life of the world deceived them. So this Day We shall forget them as they forgot their meeting of this Day, and as they used to reject Our verses (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.).” (Al-Araf 7:51) Materialism took over them. They were more attached to the material things than to their Maker. The love of Allah (swt) should exceed our love for every other being or thing. People who have taken religion as play and amusement, have chosen to ignore Allah (swt) (may Allah (swt) protect us). Hence, on the Day of Resurrection, Allah (swt) will disregard them.

How does one ignore Allah (swt)?

By not abiding to His rules and regulations, by not abstaining from His prohibitions, and by not following the commandments that He has ordained upon us. Move towards Allah (swt) even if it’s inch by inch. Our Prophet (sa) would say: “O Allah (swt), make faith appear beautiful to us and adorn our hearts with it, and make Kufr, sin and disobedience abhorrent to us. Make us of those who are rightly guided. Ameen.”

Befalling of a calamity – boon or bane?

Again we learn about calamities. One thing to remember is that a calamity is not always a punishment. While some people drown and die in floods, there’s someone in the same city who died in the state of prostration. Your heart gauges whether a calamity is destruction or a blessing. If you find contentment and peace in your heart, then you are blessed. It could be a mean to raise your status in the sight of Allah (swt). So be pleased with His decree.

Sometimes we see images of calamity-stricken areas and we notice almost the entire settlement has perished, except one house. Why it is that one house is saved while all the other houses collapsed? It could be because the resident of that house was engaged in enjoining good and forbidding evil. He did his duty, he forwarded the knowledge that he had acquired. If people didn’t pay heed, he would not be held accountable for it. Look at what Allah (swt) says, “So when they forgot the reminders that had been given to them, We rescued those who forbade evil, but We seized those who did wrong with a severe torment because they used to rebel (disobey Allah).” (Al-Araf 7:165)

Lesson to learn

The key to stay protected from Allah’s (swt) punishment, after we have reformed ourselves, is to remind others. Tell the brothers to come to the Masjid for Salah. Advise the sisters not to dress in a certain way. Remind, for reminders benefit the believers.

Pay full attention to the Quranic recitation

How would one feel if the CEO of the company is talking and no one is paying attention? Sometimes, we turn on the Quran recitation and continue chatting on the side; paying absolutely no attention to what is being said. Allah (swt) warns us about this in the Quran, “So, when the Quran is recited, listen to it, and be silent that you may receive mercy. (I.e. during the compulsory congregational prayers when the Imam (of a mosque) is leading the prayer (except Surah Al-Fatihah), and also when he is delivering the Friday-prayer Khutbah).” (Al-Araf 7:204) Listening to Quran results in receiving Allah’s (swt) mercy, Subhan’Allah! Our mind and heart both should be attentive. Know that the one who receives the mercy of Allah (swt) is a person of high rank.

 

[Hadeeth Commentary] Reliance on Allah (swt) for guidance and Forbiddance of Oppression

Adapted for Hiba by Tasneem Vali

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It was related on the authority of Abu Dhar Al-Ghifari that the Prophet (sa) said, of what he related from his Lord, the Magnified and the Exalted be He, Who said:

“O My servants, I have made oppression unlawful for Me and unlawful for you. So do not commit oppression against one another. O My servants, all of you are liable to err except for those, whom I guide on the right path, therefore seek guidance from Me so that I should direct you to the right path. O My servants, all of you are hungry (needy) except for those whom I feed; therefore seek food from Me so that I may feed you. O My servants, all of you are naked (need clothes) except for those whom I provide garments, therefore seek clothing from Me so that I should clothe you. O My servants, you sin by night and by day and I am there to pardon your sins, therefore seek forgiveness from Me so that I should grant you pardon. O My servants, you can neither do Me any harm nor can you do Me any good. O My servants, even if the first amongst you and the last amongst you and the whole human race of yours and that of Jinns become as pious as the most pious heart of any one amongst you, it will not add anything to My Power or Kingdom. O My servants, even if the first amongst you and the last amongst you and the whole human race of yours and that of Jinns become as wicked as the most wicked heart of anyone amongst you, it will not decrease anything from My Power or Kingdom. O My servants, even if the first amongst you and the last amongst you and the whole human race of yours and that of Jinns gather together on a sector of land and all ask of Me and if I were to give every one of them what they asked for, that will not in any way decrease what I have any more than a needle decreases what is in the ocean when it is put into it. O My servants, these deeds of yours which I am recording for you I shall reward you for them, so he who finds good should praise Allah and he who finds other than that should not blame anyone but himself.” (Muslim)

This Hadeeth is a ‘Hadeeth Qudsee’, meaning a Hadeeth where the Prophet (sa) relates what Allah (swt) has said, His actual words. This Hadeeth demonstrates our relationship with Allah (swt) and teaches us to rely exclusively on Him for all our needs. Allah (swt) informs us of His attributes; Merciful, Forgiving, Powerful and Compassionate, compared to human beings, who are needy and weak. We need Allah’s (swt) Guidance and His help in all aspects of our lives. We are told categorically that no form of oppression or injustice will be tolerated in Islam.

Unlawful Oppression

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Allah (swt) – the Light of Guidance

Allah (swt) is the originator of all guidance, be it from a book, a lecture, a person or an article. We as individuals are incapable of providing guidance unless Allah (swt) wills. We may attempt to show people the right path, but the true guidance comes from Allah (swt) alone. Guidance is a great mercy and blessing from Allah (swt). This guidance, in the form of the Quran, was revealed to us by Allah (swt) through His Messenger, Muhammad (sa). Allah (swt) showed us the right path to follow and warned us against Shaitan, who is our greatest enemy. Reciting Surah Al-Fatiha in every Rakah reminds us of our extreme need for our Lord’s Guidance and Support. (An-Nawawi)

Types of guidance:

  • Hidayat Al-Bayan – guidance related to the knowledge. Allah (swt) never forsakes us; He will bring us some means to guide us, guidance to know Allah (swt) and His attributes. Allah (swt) will never forsake us or leave us without showing us Who we need to worship. When Allah (swt) provides people guidance, not all will accept it. Allah (swt) offers guidance through different means but it will be your choice and free will to accept, reject or think about it. Some people know this is guidance from Allah (swt) and they accept it and Allah (swt) increases their level of guidance. If we accept, appreciate and act upon it; Allah (swt) gives us more and makes it easy for us to follow.
  • Hidayat Al-Tawfeeq – the guidance to do. The guidance will not just be in your heart. For example, someone is always angry and she needs guidance to become a calm person. She will listen to a lecture about patience and see examples of people who are angry and how they deal with it. She will realize and then change. Hence Allah (swt) will change her heart. Allah (swt) will give her the Hidayat Al-Tawfeeq so that in the most stressful situations she will not get angry.

Don’t be unjust towards Allah (swt) by seeking guidance from a slave just like us. Maybe that way of guidance will turn you away from the truth. With Allah (swt) it is always different than what you expect. You think something, and Allah (swt) does it differently; contrary to what you thought. Guidance resembles light and misguidance resembles darkness.

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Allah (swt) is Ever-Forgiving

Repentance is a tool Allah (swt) has provided us with, in case we slip. Islam recognizes that humans have weaknesses and will occasionally do wrong. We may neglect/postpone our obligations or indulge in sins, but Allah (swt) reminds us He is Forgiving.

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Allah (swt) is the Provider

Allah (swt) provides us with all our material needs: food, clothing, shelter etc… You need Allah (swt) to clothe you even if your wardrobe is full. Allah (swt) loves that His creation has a connection with Him all the time; we must ask with humility and Allah (swt) will increase our sustenance for us.

Allah’s (swt) Treasures and Bounties are Endless

Allah’s (swt) resources will not be reduced by the least in giving us what we ask for. The Hadeeth shows Allah’s (swt) generosity. Allah (swt) gives His servants a lot of bounties and favours. The more they ask Him, the more He gives. He wants us to ask Him more and seek His help and support. This is different from human beings because humans do not like to be asked frequently. The more you ask a human, the more he hates you and eventually turns away from you. He wants us to come closer to Him and show Him our needs and humbleness. (An-Nawawi) Allah (swt) protects you from harm and Allah (swt) benefits you. So you rely on Allah (swt) exclusively. If you make rules and everyone follows your rules; you will benefit. If people do not follow your rules; you will despair. Allah (swt) created us not because He needs us, but because of (wisdom) Hikmah. Allah (swt) created us and we benefit from having been created. Allah (swt) does not need His creation to worship Him.

Allah (swt) is the Most Rich (Al-Ghani)

If you don’t worship Allah (swt), He can create a billion other people to worship Him. Life does not stop because of one person. Everyone being pious will not add anything to Allah (swt). If you do good, it is good for you and nobody else.

  • Allah (swt) does not need anybody.
  • Allah (swt) does not need anybody to worship Him.
  • We need Taqwa; Allah (swt) does not need our Taqwa, we need to become Muttaqeen.
  • We need to obey Allah (swt); Allah (swt) does not need our obedience.
  • We need to be close to Allah (swt); Allah (swt) does not need us to be close to Him.
  • We need to be humble; Allah (swt) does not need our submission.
  • Nobody can harm Allah (swt); nobody can benefit Allah (swt).
  • Nothing can increase Allah (swt) in His dominion, nothing can decrease His dominion.

Do not worship or follow Allah’s (swt) commands as if you are doing Allah (swt) a favour. Allah (swt) enriches all creation. An example of a parable is given – except what is decreased from the ocean when a needle is dipped into it. Imagine you put a needle in the sea, it would have no effect, and it would not decrease anything in Allah’s (swt) dominion or treasure. Whatever Allah (swt) gives, it does not affect Allah (swt); our actions do not affect Allah (swt), He is our Rabb, and nobody is like Him.

Accountability on the Day of Judgment

At the end of the Hadeeth, it is mentioned and stressed that everyone will be accountable for their deeds. Whoever finds a good record; should be thankful to Allah (swt) and praise Him for that. Those who find other than that should not blame anyone except themselves. This is a clear statement that shows the personal responsibility we have for our actions (An-Nawawi). When your time in this world comes to an end, then the accountability starts. At the time of death, you can see the result. What you see at the time of death is preparation of what is to come. If you did well, you will be among the successful ones. And if you did not do well, you will be in trouble. Your actions are your responsibility.

Conclusion

The lesson we take is that when we express our needs to Allah (swt), it must be with humility for Allah (swt) is the only One who can guide us and forgive us. We must repent when we err. Thus gaining the pleasure of Allah (swt) should be our major goal in this world.