Pearls of Peace: Surah Yusuf

freshwater-clam-with-natural-freshwater-pearlsWipe out the bad with good!

When a believer commits a sin, he is filled up with remorse and guilt. This is nothing but a sign of Iman. It is the mercy of Allah (swt) that He has informed us beforehand about the major and the minor sins. However, this does not give one a license to continue their minor sins. If one does not avoid minor sins, then one day they will fall for the major ones. May Allah (swt) protect us all. Ameen. If a person commits a minor sin, the Prophet (sa) advised us to follow it up with a good deed. This is done in order to wipe out the effects of the bad deed.

In Surah Hud it appears, “And perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night (i.e. the five compulsory Salat (prayers)). Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds (i.e. small sins). That is a reminder (an advice) for the mindful (those who accept advice).” (Hud 11:114) Many people appear to be religious, but they have some hidden bad habits such as pornography.

How can one get rid of addictive bad habits?

First, exercise your willpower. Go cold turkey. But if a person finds himself weak, he keeps reverting to the sin after repentance, and then such a person should increase his good deeds. Add a lot of voluntary prayers, recitation and Dhikr in your routine; so much so that you have no time left for Laghw (non-beneficial) matters.

Stories of the past – a solace!

Allah (swt) narrates the stories of past nations in the Quran to enlighten us about them and to give us comfort and solace; like there were people before you who endured much intense challenges. Thus, if they could persevere and become victorious, you would too; if you rely on Allah (swt) and follow His commands.

“And all that We relate to you (O Muhammad (sa)) of the news of the Messengers is in order that We may make strong and firm your heart thereby. And in this (chapter of the Quran) has come to you the truth, as well as an admonition and a reminder for the believers.” (Hud 11:120)

A similar verse appears in Surah Yusuf, “Indeed in their stories, there is a lesson for men of understanding.” (Yusuf 12:111) A person can learn a lesson through the hard way, by not paying heed to advice; or they can learn through the easy way, by reading about the lives of other people, and being cautious of what could destroy them.

The story of Yusuf (as)

This story is bound to leave your teary-eyed. Allah (swt) says, “We relate unto you (Muhammad (sa)) the best of stories through Our Revelations unto you, of this Quran. And before this (i.e. before the coming of Divine Inspiration to you), you were among those who knew nothing about it (the Quran).” (Yusuf 12:3)

In Prophet Yusuf’s (as) story, we learn about the evils of jealousy; brothers harming their own brother out of jealousy. A jealous person cannot live in peace. He destroys his own peace and that of others. We should remember that Allah (swt) has decided who would get what.

How to get rid of jealousy?

Instead of being jealous of what someone has, we should rather make Dua to Allah (swt) to bless us with the same or a better blessing. Another cure for jealousy is that, instead of looking at what people have been gifted, we should see what Allah (swt) has given us. Perhaps, there is something that we have and they don’t. For example, a sister might be married; but the person to whom she is married doesn’t respect her or provide her any emotional support. On the other hand is a sister, who is not married yet; but her parents are kind and loving. Let’s consider another example, a person complains about his wife being out of shape. There’s another man whose wife is in shape, but too difficult to get along. Each of them has something to be grateful for. Jealousy blinds us. When evil thoughts come to your mind, seek the refuge with Allah (swt) from the cursed Shaytan.

Prophet Yusuf (as) saw a dream that eleven stars, and the sun and the moon are prostrating him. When he narrated this dream to his father, his father warned him, “He (the father) said: “O my son! Relate not your vision to your brothers, lest they arrange a plot against you. Verily! Shaytan (Satan) is to man an open enemy!” (Yusuf 12:5)

An important advice

Here is an important advice for us. Do not share everything with others; especially your future plans, because Shaytan uses your loved ones as a tool to harm you. Do not talk about it, unless you have achieved your task completely. May Allah (swt) protect us from jealousy and causing harm to others. Ameen.

One of the names of Allah (swt) is Ash-Shakoor. He is the Most Appreciative of His servants’ deeds. When sin becomes accessible to a person and that person chooses to stay away from it for the sake of Allah (swt), Allah (swt) elevates such a person in status. We see this in the story of Prophet Yusuf (as). A beautiful, wealthy woman tried to seduce him in the privacy of her house. There was nothing that could stop them besides the fear of Allah (swt). Yusuf (as) replied, He said: I seek refuge in Allah (or Allah forbid)! Truly, he (your husband) is my master! He made my stay agreeable! (So I will never betray him). Verily, the Zalimun (wrong and evil-doers) will never be successful.” (Yusuf 12:23) What a response!

Pearls of Peace – Extracts from Surahs Yunus and Hud

pearlsSurah Yunus – named after prophet Yunus (as)

Before we begin the Surah, let’s read why is it important to study the Quran. Allah (swt) says, “O mankind! There has come to you a good advice from your Lord (i.e. the Qur’an, ordering all that is good and forbidding all that is evil), and a healing for that (disease of ignorance, doubt, hypocrisy and differences, etc.) in your breasts, – a guidance and a mercy (explaining lawful and unlawful things, etc.) for the believers.” (Yunus 10:57) Quran is Shifa (cure) for diseased hearts, a guidance and mercy for the believers. This is the power of the Word of Allah (swt). It cleanses one from spiritual ailments. 

The touch of affliction

Allah (swt) tests us so that we can turn to Him. It so happens that once the calamity is gone, we revert to our old ways. The One, Who brought us relief, is all capable of snatching our peace away and much more than that.

Why play with Allah (swt)?

“And when harm touches man, he invokes Us, lying down on his side, or sitting or standing. But when We have removed his harm from him, he passes on his way as if he had never invoked Us for a harm that touched him! Thus it seems fair to the Musrifun that which they used to do.” (Yunus 10:12)

Wouldn’t you want to become one of the friends of Allah (swt)? Who wouldn’t? We would run for the opportunity. Allah (swt) says, “No doubt! Verily, the Auliya of Allah (i.e. those who believe in the Oneness of Allah and fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which he has forbidden), and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)), no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve , Those who believed (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and used to fear Allah much (by abstaining from evil deeds and sins and by doing righteous deeds).For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present world (i.e. righteous dream seen by the person himself or shown to others), and in the Hereafter. No change can there be in the Words of Allah, this is indeed the supreme success.” (Yunus 10:62-64)

How to become Allah’s (swt) friend?

To become a friend of Allah (swt) one needs to be a believer and have Taqwa (consciousness of Allah (swt)). One is a believer if he believes in Allah (swt), associates no partners with Him, and treads on the path of Muhammad (sa). Taqwa can be attained by honouring Allah’s (swt) commands and staying away from prohibitions.

Allah (swt) takes care of His friends; as we see in the stories of the Prophets (as). When the messengers called people to Allah (swt), and they refused to follow; there came a time when the messengers were compelled to invoke Allah’s (swt) wrath against the transgressors.

“And Moosa (Moses) said: Our Lord! You have indeed bestowed on Firaun (Pharaoh) and his chiefs splendour and wealth in the life of this world, our Lord! That they may lead men astray from Your Path. Our Lord! Destroy their wealth, and harden their hearts, so that they will not believe until they see the painful torment.” (Yunus 10:88)

What did Allah (swt) say in reply? He said, “Allah said: “Verily, the invocation of you both is accepted.” (Yunus 10:89)

Sometimes, we lack peace in our life because we harmed someone and perhaps, he invoked Allah (swt) against us. Abstain from mocking, hurting, or causing discomfort to anyone. Perhaps, they are friends of Allah (swt).

Surah Hud – named after prophet Hud (as) (the messenger sent to the people of ‘Ad)

People of ‘Ad were huge and dwelled in carved mountains. This Surah contains lessons for those, who shy away from working in the path of Allah (swt). They are worried about their sustenance and the worldly competition that distracts them. Shoo those Satanic whisperings away because Allah (swt) has promised sustenance. He says, “And no (moving) living creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah. And He knows its dwelling place and its deposit (in the uterus, grave, etc.). All is in a Clear Book (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz – the Book of Decrees with Allah).” (Hud 11:6) If He provides for an ant and a bird, would He not provide us? However, it does not mean to sit at home and do nothing. One has to work for a living, but should not make it the sole purpose of his lives. Work sincerely and ask Allah (swt) to open up avenues for you. Do not depend on your intellect alone. Depend on Allah (swt) instead.

Arrogance leads to destruction

Don’t be arrogant because arrogance was the cause of destruction of previous nations. Allah (swt) says, “They said: O Nuh (Noah)! You have disputed with us and much have you prolonged the dispute with us, now bring upon us what you threaten us with, if you are of the truthful.” (Hud 11:32) They were asking the Prophet of Allah (swt) to bring punishment upon them. And it was answered! Floods swallowed them up. Why invite trouble? Do not say, “Let me see what happens if I divert.” Stay on the straight path.

When one corrects someone, they are attacked by all kinds of statements as a rebuttal. Someone might say, “Who do you think you are?” Shuayb (as) faced a similar situation.“They said: O Shuayb! We do not understand much of what you say, and we see you a weak (man, it is said that he was a blind man) among us. Were it not for your family, we should certainly have stoned you and you are not powerful against us.” (Hud 11:91) What kind of a statement is that? May Allah (swt) protect us from arrogance. Ameen.

What is the cure to arrogance?

Do Shukr and acknowledge the supremacy of Allah (swt). Because whatever we have today is from Him. Let’s not become such people against whom others invoke Allah (swt). Allah (swt) gives us time to change our ways. But when we remain adamant; that is when His wrath descends. May He save us from destruction. Ameen.

Walk the talk

Having said that we should also not become of those who command others to do good and themselves do the entirely opposite. How will anyone listen to us when we don’t walk the talk? The Messengers were the first ones to act out a command. They submitted to Allah (swt) before reaching out to people. Shuayb (as) said, “And He said: “O my people! Tell me; if I have a clear evidence from my Lord, and He has given me a good sustenance from Himself (shall I corrupt it by mixing it with the unlawfully earned money). I wish not, in contradiction to you, to do that which I forbid you. I only desire reform so far as I am able, to the best of my power. And my guidance cannot come except from Allah, in Him I trust and unto Him I repent.” (Hud 11:88)

People who live disciplined lives and have good conduct, do not even need to give long lectures, shout and scream at people to get some work done. People see them and are motivated to follow.

May Allah (swt) bridge the gap between our speech and our actions and allow us to live conscious lives. Ameen.

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s “Pearls of Peace” series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Anam 2

Pearl-in-a-shell1Previously, we discussed standing up for what’s right, even if others around us are content with whatever is happening.

Prophet Ibrahim (as) – the devoted friend of Allah (swt)

Prophet Ibrahim’s (as) entire nation was drowned in Shirk. But he was not of those who blindly followed his tribe. He said: “Verily, I have turned my face towards Him Who has created the heavens and the earth Hanifa and I am not of Al-Mushrikun.” (Al-Anam 6:79) His family kicked him out, his people threw him in fire; but his heart was filled with peace. Why? It was because he had turned his attention and devotion to Allah (swt). As a consequence of his open declaration of truth Allah (swt) chose Ibrahim (as) as His friend – Khalilullah. What an honour!

Who are the secured ones?

Therefore in verse 81 Allah (swt) asks us, “(So) which of the two parties has more right to be in security? If you but know?” The two parties mentioned here are the monotheists and the polytheists. He answers this question in verse 82, “It is those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah and worship none but Him Alone) and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong i.e. by worshipping others besides Allah), for them (only) there is security and they are the guided.” May Allah (swt) keep us firm on Tauheed. Ameen.

Respect all religions

As we talk about polytheism, an important point to mention here is that if Allah (swt) chose us to be Muslims, then we have no right to scoff those who worship whatever pleases them. He says, “And insult not those whom they (disbelievers) worship besides Allah, lest they insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge.” (Al-Anam 6:108) If we make fun of them, the obvious retaliation would be ridiculing our religion. Think of others’ reaction before you take any action. Do not become the reason for causing damage to your own religion.

Leaving inner and outer sins

Allah (swt) then wants us to examine ourselves internally – the dual lives that we live. There are people who apparently seem pious and righteous, but they are engaged in sins that only they know of. Allah (swt) says, “Leave (O mankind, all kinds of) sin, open and secret. Verily, those who commit sin will get due recompense for that which they used to commit.” (Al-Anam 6:120) Quit immediately. Give them up. Learn to control your Nafs. Cleanse yourself internally. Our Prophet (sa) taught us a beautiful Dua: “O Allah! Give my heart its piety and purify it, for You are the best who can purify it; You are its Protector and Guardian.”

Would you like to share your good deeds with anyone?

To do a good deed is not as difficult as preserving that deed is. We may be doing a lot of good deeds in our lives, but sometimes we hurt one person and back bite another. We spread rumours about people without verifying the source of information. All these people will be coming on the Day of Judgement to take a portion from our good deeds. Do we wish to give our Salah to other people when we will be the neediest ones? Allah (swt) says, “Whoever brings a good deed shall have ten times the like thereof to his credit, and whoever brings an evil deed shall have only the recompense of the like thereof, and they will not be wronged.” (Al-Anam 6:160) What a loss it would be if our deeds are added to someone else’s scale! Repent and protect other people’s rights.

Do’s and don’ts for staying on the straight path

Towards the end of Surah al-Anam, there is a list of prohibitions and commandments that is similar to what Prophet Moosa (as) was given in Torah. Allah (swt) instructs Muhammad (sa) to say, “Say (O Muhammad (sa)): Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited you from: Join not anything in worship with Him; be good and dutiful to your parents; kill not your children because of poverty – We provide sustenance for you and for them; come not near to Al-Fawahish (shameful sins, illegal sexual intercourse, etc.) whether committed openly or secretly, and kill not anyone whom Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause (according to Islamic law). This He has commanded you that you may understand. And come not near to the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until he (or she) attains the age of full strength; and give full measure and full weight with justice. We burden not any person, but that which he can bear. And whenever you give your word (i.e. judge between men or give evidence, etc.), say the truth even if a near relative is concerned, and fulfill the Covenant of Allah, This He commands you, which you may remember. And verily, this (i.e. Allah’s Commandments mentioned in the above two Verses 151 and 152) is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His Path. This He has ordained for you that you may become Al-Muttaqun.” (Al-Anam 6:151-153)

Why were the above prohibitions mentioned?

It is because if we engage in them, our peace will be snatched both in this world and the hereafter.

1. Shirk – no forgiveness without repentance

The first thing that Allah (swt) mentions is Shirk. That is because there is no forgiveness for Shirk if one dies without seeking repentance. Right after, He mentions kindness to parents because they have the greatest right on an individual.

2. Infant killing

Then we are warned against killing children out of the fear of poverty and hunger. The Arab pagans used to bury their daughters alive; today we have abortions. We are told immorality is unacceptable- don’t even come near it. We should be upright in our character and have high morals.

3. Rights of humankind

Murder and suicide is absolutely prohibited in the Shariah. Then the rights of the orphans are mentioned. If one has spent anything on them. He can recollect his honest share; otherwise handover their property as it was received. We continue to cheat the women when it comes to inheritance and do not give them their share. May Allah (swt) help us. Ameen

4. Bless your business

The discussion moves on to business dealings. People cheat one another for petty prices. The Prophet (sa) said that if one is honest in his business dealings then Allah’s (swt) blessings will descend. But when we misquote our prices and scheme deceitful plans, how do we expect the Barakah in our wealth?

Value the Deen – spread it with love

This brings us to another aspect of our lives. When we have to sell something of this world, our mind can think of all sorts of strategies to lure the customer. We are polite, kind, friendly and respectful. But when it comes to calling people to Allah’s (swt) Deen, we can come up with all the excuses that one can think of. The energy that drives our business marketing skills has vanished. Our time becomes limited. Our tongues become sharp and bitter. We forget all our manners and etiquettes. We will not humble ourselves for the grandeur of the hereafter, but we will open our hearts to accommodate the customers for paltry gain of this world.

Brothers and sisters, the Deen is more valuable! It can result in Paradise for you as against the momentary benefit of this world.