Pearls of Peace: An extract from Juzz 19

pearls9Surah An-Naml

The Surah is named after one ant which was concerned about the rest of her tribe, “Till, when they came to the valley of the ants, one of the ants said: O ants! Enter your dwellings, lest Sulaiman (Solomon) and his hosts crush you, while they perceive not.” (An-Naml 27:18)

Dua is directly proportional to closeness to Allah (swt)

If we Muslims concern about one another’s well-being just like the ant our lost peace would return. Prophet Sulaiman (as) who was given the miracle of communication with the humans, as well as, other creatures like the ant. He smiled, amused at her speech, and said, “So he Sulaiman (Solomon) smiled, amused at her speech and said: My Lord! Inspire and bestow upon me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favours which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds that will please You, and admit me by Your Mercy among Your righteous slaves. ” (An-Naml 27:19)

He right away acknowledged Allah’s (swt) special favour upon him and expressed gratitude. Let’s memorise this Dua and be grateful to Allah’s (swt) blessings upon us and our parents. Dua is a means to get closer to Allah (swt). The more we make Dua, the closer we get to Him. And the more effort we make to get closer to Him, the more He will run to us for He is a loving and compassionate Lord.

We have been reading the story of Moosa (as) in bits and pieces so far, now comes Surah al-Qasas.

Story of Moosa (as)

It is the Surah which contains the most detailed account of Prophet Moosa (as). Moosa (as) was born at a time when Pharaoh was slaughtering new-born male children. For the mothers, it was a grievous time; to give birth and see their child slaughtered. Allah (swt) inspired Moosa’s (as) mother to cast him into the river without fear or grief. He assured her that He will return the baby to her and make him one of His messengers. And this did happen, as we read, “So did We restore him to his mother, that she might be delighted, and that she might not grieve, and that she might know that the Promise of Allah is true. But most of them know not.” (Al-Qasas 28:13)

Allah (swt) keeps His promise

Allah’s (swt) promise is always true. He does not back out of His promises. Another promise mentioned in this story is when Allah (swt) promised Prophet Muhammad (sa) return to Makkah, “Verily, He Who has given you (O Muhammad (sa)) the Quran (i.e. ordered you to act on its laws and to preach it to others) will surely bring you back to the Maad (place of return, either to Makkah or to Paradise after your death, etc.). Say (O Muhammad (sa)): My Lord is Aware of him who brings guidance, and he who is in manifest error.” (Al-Qasas 28:85), and we read it did happen. Another meaning of this verse could be return to Allah (swt) in Paradise. May He grant us the company of Muhammad (sa) in Paradise. Ameen.

Moosa (as) and the valley of Madyan

When Moosa (as) was in the valley of Madyan, he found two women standing aside a water well, waiting for the men to leave so that they could water their flock. Moosa (as) felt no disgrace in reaching out to help them despite being a prophet of Allah (swt). He made his way into the crowd and watered the flock on the behalf of those girls. When the girls reached their home, they narrated the incident as well as the man’s utmost dignity and respect towards them to their old father; the father requested to meet him. He had found the man to whom he would marry off one of his daughters.

Current matrimonial facts

Today, we have made the Sunnah of marriage tough by our unrealistic demands and expectations. The Prophet (sa) instructed us to marry off our daughters to anyone whose conduct pleased us. People meet good fellows in the mosque, but due to their financial standing or not having a certain career, are refused or overlooked. Similarly, remarrying a divorced woman is looked down upon. Didn’t the Prophet (sa) marry divorced women? However, the divorced men and women have more experience. Reach out and see if you can find suitable matches for the singles, divorcees and widows in your families and communities. Let us save ourselves and our families from enjoying secret affairs which are strictly forbidden in Islam.

Hold on to trust and zest, let all else rest

One of the women said, “And said one of them (the two women): O my father! Hire him! Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.” (Al-Qasas 28:26) Hard work and trustworthiness are the two qualities that can take a person to higher levels.

Here we learn a recruitment tip: if you are to hire someone for a task look for these two qualities. (May Allah (swt) grant us these qualities too. Ameen.) The example we have is none other than our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa). When Khadijah (ra) was looking for an employee to conduct trade on her behalf, she selected Muhammad (sa) because of his hard work and trustworthiness. Due to these two qualities, she felt no shyness in offering her hands in marriage to him; to someone who was fifteen years younger than her. And the Prophet (sa) accepted it because she was a woman of grace and high respect.

In the story of Prophet Moosa (as) and Prophet Muhammad (sa), we learn that there is nothing wrong with the girl’s side offering proposal. If the conduct pleases you, and they are righteous; marry your daughters, sisters and even divorced/widowed aunts and mothers to them. Make Dua and also make an effort to help that Dua be answered. A beautiful Dua that we learn in Surah Al-Qasas is:

رَبِّ إِنِّي لِمَا أَنزَلْتَ إِلَيَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ

“…and said: My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!” (Al-Qasas 28:24)

May Allah (swt) answer our prayers and grant us peace. 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 Furqan

pearls5Surah Al-Furqan

Now, we begin Surah Al-Furqan – the Criterion.

Stop picking holes in others!

Some of us love picking on others. But why do we do that? Is it because we have silently acknowledged they are better than us and a tiny seed of jealousy sits in our hearts? People mock the practicing Muslim wherever they see them. The Quraish mocked the Prophet (sa) and called him all kinds of name.

Some of their arguments were, “And they say: Why does this Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) eat food, and walk about in the markets (like ourselves). Why is not an angel sent down to him to be a warner with him? Or (why) has not a treasure been granted to him, or why has he not a garden whereof he may eat? And the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.) say: You follow none but a man bewitched.” (Al-Furqan 25:7-8)

Allah (swt) comments, “See how they coin similitudes for you, so they have gone astray, and they cannot find a (Right) Path.” (Al-Furqan 25:7-9) Because their hearts have been sealed to receive any guidance; therefore, they mock the messenger. Here is a warning for us: never mock the scholars or those who are knowledgeable. It is Allah (swt) who eases the path to knowledge for those whom He chooses. We should pray to Him to make us of those, instead of holding ill thoughts about the other person.

Allah (swt) responds, “And We never sent before you (O Muhammad (sa)) any of the Messengers but verily, they ate food and walked in the markets. And We have made some of you as a trial for others: will you have patience? And your Lord is Ever All-Seer (of everything).” (Al-Furqan 25:20) Had Allah (swt) not sent a human messenger, how would have we related ourselves to him? We would have perhaps said, “Oh, he is not human he does not understand us.” It is a great favour of Allah (swt) upon us that He chose a human messenger whose conduct is an excellent example for entire mankind. Today, the disbelievers are studying his Seerah to improve their lives.

The intense opposition of the Quraish

Why were the Quraysh so intense in their opposition to the Prophet (sa)? It was because of the company that they kept. None of them had a genuine concern for people’s well-being. All of them desired authority and leadership and shamelessly devoured people’s properties. Hence, we go back to our earlier lesson: you are known by the company you keep. Because there was no one in their circle who could advise them to goodness; they considered themselves right. Staying in wrong company only destroys us in the end. Therefore, it is best to distance away from those who call us to a path other than that of the messenger (sa).

A fruitful reminder

Allah (swt) warns us, “And (remember) the Day when the Zalim will bite at his hands, he will say: “Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger ( Muhammad (sa)).” “Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend!” “He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Quran) after it had come to me. And Shaytan (Satan) is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” (Al-Furqan 25:27-29) This tells us the importance of holding on to the Quran, studying it and reflecting on its verses.

Knot ties with the Quran

On the Day of Judgement the Prophet (sa) will complain, “And the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) will say: “O my Lord! Verily, my people deserted this Qur’an (neither listened to it, nor acted on its laws and orders).” (Al-Furqan 25:30). This is the month of Quran. Allah (swt) gives us a chance after every eleven months to re-connect with it and not be of those who have discarded it. Let us not miss this opportunity. Let us learn it and also teach it to others.

Discipline your desires

Our hearts are not opened to accept what is against our desires. Ibrahim (as) heard the command of Allah (swt) and he submitted right away. Allah (swt) asks us, “Have you (O Muhammad (sa)) seen him who has taken as his ilah (god) his own desire? Would you then be a Wakil (a disposer of his affairs or a watcher) over him? ” (Al-Furqan 25:43)

Following one’s desires is a sure way to end up in hell-fire, unless one realizes his mistake and repents. Desires are Shaytan’s (Satan) trap to trick men. If everyone was to follow their own desires, there would have been a chaos on earth. Therefore, Allah (swt) blesses us with Ramadan to discipline ourselves and soften up our hearts to follow His instructions.

Traits of a submissive slave of Allah (swt)

Talking about submission, let’s read how Allah (swt) describes His slaves, “And the slaves of the Most Beneficent (Allah) are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness.” (Al-Furqan 25:63)

First, He calls them Ibad-ur-Rahman (the servants of the Most Merciful). He associates them to Himself, and the attribute that He chooses is mercy. Subhan’Allah! He is teaching us to be merciful to others, walk humbly on earth and excuse ourselves from disputes and arguments with a word of peace. Allah (swt) does not like the proud and boastful; humility is a dear quality to Him. Hence, we are required to be humble in our prayers and acknowledge our low position.

Allah (swt) points to another quality of Ibad-ur-Rahman, “And those who spend the night before their Lord, prostrate and standing.” (Al-Furqan 25:64). This is where we should be spending our energies. One night, wake up only for Him. If we can do it for world cup, then why not for Jannah-cup?

We have heard the Hadeeth where it is stated Allah (swt) calls out at night; if there are any people seeking His forgiveness, He may forgive them; or if they are making Dua for something, He may answer it. Let’s not waste this opportunity of getting our Duas answered.

Turn a deaf ear to useless disputes

Engaging in disputes is a futile activity. Such people are not really interested in learning. They argue for the sake of arguing. Therefore, our Prophet (sa) guaranteed a house in Paradise for the one who gives up arguing. Why engage our tongues in something that is not approved by Allah (swt)? Why miss a few moments of Allah’s (swt) remembrance?

In arguments pretend to be deaf. You will be controlling your tongue from committing a sin and also achieve a lot of peace.

Seek refuge in Allah’s (swt) from the Shaytan

One thing is to abstain from sins, another is to increase good deeds and a third category is asking Allah (swt) to avert from us the punishment of Hell. This is the Dua of the Ibad-ur-Rahman:

رَبَّنَا اصْرِفْ عَنَّا عَذَابَ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ إِنَّ عَذَابَهَا كَانَ غَرَامًا إِنَّهَا سَاءَتْ مُسْتَقَرًّا وَمُقَامًا

“And those who say: Our Lord! Avert from us the torment of Hell. Verily! Its torment is ever an inseparable, permanent punishment. Evil indeed it (Hell) is as an abode and as a place to dwell.” (Al-Furqan 25:65-66)

Shaytan (Satan) controls us and we cannot control him, but for Allah (swt) it is possible. Let us then seek refuge with Allah (swt) against the treachery of the cursed one. Add Duas to your daily routine seeking Allah’s (swt) protection. Without His help, nobody can protect themselves from the tricks of Shaytan (Satan).

Spendthrifts – friends of the Shaytan

One of the traps of Shaytan (Satan) is to make us splurge on the non-essentials and when it comes to spending in the Cause of Allah (swt) we are counting change. Or he makes people overspend to later burden them with debts and loans. He is ever so active in snatching away people’s peace. Ibad-ur-Rahman knows the art of budgeting. They are neither extravagant nor miserly and choose the middle path instead. Let’s cut the size of our pocket.

Repent for peace within

Allah (swt) describes that they do not commit Shirk (associating partners with Allah), kill a soul unjustly, or commit illegal sexual intercourse. Since these are some of the major sins, there is punishment and humiliation for he who commits them. But the one who repents and changes himself, he will find his Lord Merciful, “And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds, then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance.” (Al-Furqan 25:71) One of the qualities of a good believer is to be constantly engaged in repentance.

Strive to be the true Ibad-ur-Rahman

The Ibad-ur-Rahman does not testify to falsehood, and stays away from time wasters. In Ramadan, people are hastening towards doing good. Someone is reciting the Quran. Someone is offering extra voluntary prayers. There is someone hastening to give voluntary charity. And then there is someone busy in a computer game. Let us only make the best use of technology, rather than making it a means of our destruction.

Allah (swt) again mentions the importance of holding on to the Quran, “And those who, when they are reminded of the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of their Lord, fall not deaf and blind thereat.” (Al-Furqan 25:73). That is a sign of a living heart. They make Dua for righteous spouses and offspring that will be a comfort to their eyes. For them are treasures as a reward for what they have patiently endured in this world and they will enter peace. May Allah (swt) make us of the Ibad-ur-Rahman. 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 Anfal

Akoya_pearlQualities of a believer

Right in the beginning of this Surah, Allah (swt) describes the qualities of a true believer. He says, “The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses (this Quran) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith; and they put their trust in their Lord (Alone).” (Al-Anfal 8:2) May Allah (swt) strengthen our Iman. Ameen.

These are those who say, “I have tried my best. Rest is all in the Hands of Allah (swt).” And they are content with that. Their other qualities are: “Who perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) and spend out of that We have provided them.” (Al-Anfal 8:3) We need to check ourselves. Do we have these qualities within us? If yes, then Allah (swt) says, “It is they who are the believers in truth. For them are grades of dignity with their Lord, and Forgiveness and a generous provision (Paradise).” (Al-Anfal 8:4) May He grant us Paradise and bless us with all the qualities of the true believers. Ameen.

Honouring claims and contracts

He then says, “O you who believe! Obey Allah and His Messenger, and turn not away from him (i.e. Messenger Muhammad (sa)) while you are hearing. And be not like those who say: We have heard, but they hear not.” (Al-Anfal 8: 20-21) Several times during the day, we recite Surah Al-Fatihah, and beseech Allah (swt) to show us the right path. When the right path is shown to us, we turn away. Allah (swt) says when the message has reached you; when you have been informed what is right and what is wrong, then do not turn away. Do not become of those who claim we are the followers of Muhammad (sa). But when a command of Allah (swt) comes, they cannot be bothered to act upon it.

Once again we are reminded about the virtue of honouring contracts, Allah (swt) says, “O you who have believed, do not betray Allah and the Messenger or betray your trusts while you know (the consequence).” (Al-Anfal 8:27) Marriage is a contract similar to business contract. By being Muslim, you naturally become an ambassador of Islam. Do not bring a bad repute to Islam because of your behaviour. Many people do not want to engage with the Muslims because of their deceit and clandestine behaviour.

Stay honest with entrusted responsibilities

“O you who believe! Betray not Allah and His Messenger, nor betray knowingly your Amanat (things entrusted to you, and all the duties which Allah has ordained for you).” (Al-Anfal 8:28) Your wealth and children are a test from Allah (swt). He can take them away whenever He desires. They are not yours; you have only been entrusted with their responsibility. He may never bless you with wealth and children; He may bless you with wealth but not give children; He may bless you with children but deprive you of wealth or He may give them both to you and then take them away during your lifetime or after you are gone. This is a great reminder to not get attached to that which in reality belongs to Allah (swt). He can snatch it any moment.

All belongs to Allah (swt)

When an attachment is snatched away, a person loses his peace of mind and contentment. He complains and grieves for his loss. He utters ungrateful words. And when that happens his Iman begins to diminish. May Allah (swt) strengthen us and help us accept that we will suffer loss in this world.

Taqwa – The key to right decisions

In life, we are faced with miscellaneous decision-making. We wish we had a counsellor that we could consult with; Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! If you obey and fear Allah, He will grant you Furqan (a criterion to judge between right and wrong, or Makhraj, i.e. making a way for you to get out from every difficulty), and will expiate for you your sins, and forgive you, and Allah is the Owner of the Great Bounty.” (Al-Anfal 8:29) What do we learn from this? The only thing required to make the right decision is Taqwa. If we are conscious of Allah (swt), He will grant us the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. Insha’Allah.

It’s either my way or the highway

This brings us to another important matter – in fact a great Fitnah of our times. Everyone is disagreeing with the other. The ideology is: if you do not follow my belief, then you have clearly gone astray. This continuous fighting has divided the Ummah immensely. Many people don’t come near the religion because they cannot understand who is right and who has deviated. Allah (swt) says, “And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.)” (Al-Anfal 8:46)

The enemies are rejoicing as the Muslims fight among themselves. Let us reflect on our behaviour, be forgiving and reduce the distances between the Ummah.

We notice that in the Quran, the reminders for prayer and obligatory charity are frequently mentioned. It is because reminders benefit the believers. Each time we are reminded, we learn something new.

Consistency is the key

Allah (swt) loves those acts of worship which are done consistently. Doing them strengthens our Iman. And abandoning them can have serious implications on our heart’s condition. If you are content with worshipping and obeying Allah (swt), then you are among those who have understood their purpose in life; and know where they are heading to.

Test or punishment?

As Allah (swt) says in verse 53 of Surah Al-Anfal that He will not change a favour which He has bestowed upon His people; unless they change what was given to them. When that happens, then people deserve the gifts to be taken away. Having said that, we should remember that sometimes taking away of the favours is a test, instead of a punishment. How can one distinguish between a test and a punishment? Your heart’s condition will tell you. If your heart remains content and you say “Alhamdulillah” even in adversity, then Allah (swt) intends to increase your status by this test. On the other hand, if a calamity distances you from Allah (swt), then it could be His punishment. May Allah (swt) forgive and protect us. Ameen.

How can we nurture contentment in our hearts?

Let go of disputes and disagreements and forgive people. Look at what Allah (swt) says about confrontation with enemies, “But if they incline to peace, you also incline to it, and (put your) trust in Allah. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” (Al-Anfal 8:61) Allah (swt) is asking us to make peace with the enemies if they give up fighting too.

Opt for a ceasefire; this initiative will bring you peace

If there’s someone who has had an estranged relationship with you, and he now wants to mend it, then hasten to make peace with him. It is a sign of a good believer that he is the first one to apologize and forgive. Keep forgiving others and keep your heart calm. You might want to deal with that person differently, but do forgive them. “And if they intend to deceive you, then verily, Allah is All-Sufficient for you. He it is Who has supported you with His Help and with the believers.” (Al-Anfal 8:62)

If they deceive you after making peace, then make Dua for them instead. Because Dua has the power to alter conditions. And in this we have the best example of Prophet (sa). When two greatest enemies of Islam were creating hurdles for him, he made Dua for the softness of their hearts so that either of the two would come and work for Islam. Reflect on this Dua.

Truly Muhammad (sa) was the mercy for mankind. Within moments we hear Umar ibn Al- Khattab (ra) has embraced Islam. Subhan’Allah! See the power of Dua? One of the mightiest opponents of Islam became one of the strongest proponents of Islam. A seemingly impossible situation was made possible. May Allah (swt) grant us all the strength that Umar (ra) was blessed with. Ameen. Continue making Dua and you will witness the fruit.

(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 Nisa 2

pearls2Hasten for Hajj – it’s obligatory!

It is Shaytan who discourages a person from hastening to do good. People delay the obligation of Hajj until they have attained old age. Who has guaranteed you that you will live that long? Who has guaranteed you that if you are alive by that time; you will have the health to perform Hajj? Who has guaranteed you that if you are alive by that time, and also have health; you will get the permission to perform Hajj? What are you delaying Hajj for? Why not take hold of the time you have now?

Allah (swt) says, “Allah wishes to make clear (what is lawful and what is unlawful) to you, and to show you the ways of those before you, and accept your repentance and Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.Allah wishes to accept your repentance, but those who follow their lusts, wish that you (believers) should deviate tremendously away from the Right Path.” (An-Nisa 4:26-27)

This is the reason why people delay doing the good. They are following their desires: a bigger home, a better job, another degree, an exotic foreign vacation, and then in the end, comes the Pilgrimage to the House of their Lord. Remember, Hajj becomes obligatory upon you at the age of twenty and when you fulfill other conditions too. You cannot delay it until you are fifty. It is an obligation for you!

Hold on to your better half!

An important topic that Surah An-Nisa deals with, is about resolving issues; particularly the marital disputes. Allah (swt) discusses conflict resolutions in steps; where the first step is willingness to reconcile. Do not be too arrogant to resolve matters. Remember, divorce is not a seven letter word that you can throw any time. You have to live by the consequences. The person within whom you  find tons of problems might be the best person you ever meet. There is no person in the world created as per our liking. Therefore, married couples need to try as hard as possible and keep their marital secrets between themselves.

But when matters go out of hand, Allah (swt) says, “If you fear a breach between them twain (the man and his wife), appoint (two) arbitrators, one from his family and the other from hers; if they both wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation. Indeed Allah is Ever All-Knower, Well-Acquainted with all things.” (An-Nisa 4:35)

This is the most pertinent key to resolving issues. If the couple wants to settle disputes, Allah (swt) will pave the way for resolution. But if the couple wants to proof who was right and who was wrong, they will never be able to reconcile. And this is true for any kind of dispute that one might face.

Split without a slam!

But if they separate (by divorce), Allah will provide abundance for every one of them from His Bounty. And Allah is Ever All-Sufficient for His creatures’ need, All-Wise.” Yes, separation is permissible in Islam. (An-Nisa 4:130)

This teaches us the etiquette of separation. Do not let that separation be an event to mud sling one another; where the whole family and the entire town gets to hear rumours about you two. After the divorce live like two civilized people. The children need both their parents. It is too much for them to witness their parents’ separation and later their slandering and accusations.

Jealousy kills, Dua brings!

A reason couples fight is jealousy. We look at other people’s lives and feel they have a better life than us. The grass is never greener on the side. Everyone has their tests which we are unable to see. Allah (swt) says, “Or do they envy men (Muhammad (sa) and his followers) for what Allah has given them of His Bounty?” It is Allah’s (swt) decision that who gets what. We should not look at other people’s treasures and wish it is snatched from them. If we like what someone else possesses, we should Dua for them and ourselves. We should ask Allah (swt) to bless them and grant us with the same goodness.

Then Allah (swt) says, “Then We had already given the family of Ibrahim (Abraham) the Book and Al-Hikmah, and conferred upon them a great kingdom.” (An-Nisa 4:54) This is what we need to make Dua for. Of course, we cannot attain Prophethood but we can get something from it. We should ask Allah (swt) for wisdom and the commendable conduct of the Prophets (as).

Say “No” to hypocrisy!

During Prophet’s (sa) days in Madinah, there were some hypocrites who had embraced Islam. They would come to Prophet’s (sa) gatherings, take notes of his speech, go out and tell people the opposite. Sometimes, they would leak out plans to the enemies. This resulted in serious setback to the Muslims. About their faith Allah (swt) said, “And of mankind, there are some (hypocrites) who say: ‘We believe in Allah and the Last Day’ while in fact they believe not. They (think to) deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not!” (Al-Baqara 2:8-9)

Most often, our deeds don’t match our statements. What we say is entirely different from what we actually do. Allah (swt) says, “If He wills, He can take you away, O people, and bring others. And Allah is Ever All-Potent over that.” (An-Nisa 4:133)

This verse serves as a stern warning. At another place He says, “O you who believe! Whoever from among you turns back from his religion (Islam), Allah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love Him.” (Al-Maidah 5:54)

It is hypocrisy to say we believe in Allah (swt) and consider Muhammad (sa) as His Final Messenger, and then not follow His commands. Allah (swt) says, “Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them.” (An-Nisa 4:142) Can anyone deceive the One Who knows what our hearts conceal?

Who are the hypocrites?

“And when they stand up for As-Salat (the prayer), they stand with laziness and to be seen of men, and they do not remember Allah but little.” (An-Nisa 4:142) How many of us stand up for Salah because we want to? Many of us offer Salah only because it is obligatory upon us. May Allah (swt) grant us the ability to offer Salah, because we want to and not because we have to.” Ameen.

Many of us, when we are standing for Taraweeh, we are thinking when it is going to end; when we are reciting the Quran we are counting the pages, how much left to reach the end. We act more like ‘Abd-clock (the slave of clock) than ‘Abd-Allah (the slave of Allah (swt)). Will such an act of worship be acceptable to Allah (swt)? In worldly matters, no one accepts half-hearted deeds or presents. We try our best and often go beyond our means and capacity to please people. Then, why not exert ourselves to please Allah (swt)?

In verse 142 cited above, Allah (swt) said that the hypocrites do not remember Allah (swt) except a little, but they like to show off. During Ramadan, Quran classes and Masajid are filled with people. Everyone wants to join the study circle or Taraweeh and tell others about it. But what is the condition of our hearts and where is our mind? Sometimes, we go to the Quran class and Masjid only to be seen. While we are listening to the Quran recitation, our minds are focused on what’s happening outside.

Hypocrites – the fire-dwellers

About the hypocrites, Allah (swt) said, “Verily, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths (grade) of the Fire; no helper will you find for them.” (An-Nisa 4:145) This is where the Fire is most intense. May Allah (swt) protect us from doing such acts that can lead us to Fire. Ameen.

Glad tiding for the repenting ones

After highlighting a significant yet often callously ignored matter of our worships, and talking about the punishment Allah (swt) ends Juz 5 by saying, “Why should Allah punish you if you have thanked (Him) and have believed in Him. And Allah is Ever All-Appreciative (of good), All-Knowing.” (An-Nisa 4:147) This statement gives us so much hope. Why would Allah (swt) want to punish anyone who honours his commitment to Allah (swt) sincerely? Why would He warn us of the consequences if He didn’t care for us? Rather, when we turn to Allah (swt) out of love or in repentance, it delights Him for He says that, “Look, My servant knows there is a Deity Who understands him and can comfort him.”

Another trait of the hypocrites that Allah (swt) stated is, “And when it is said to them: Come to what Allah has sent down and to the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)), you (Muhammad (sa)) see the hypocrites turn away from you (Muhammad (sa)) with aversion.” (An-Nisa 4:61)

(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 Baqarah 1

pearls1Pearls extracted from Surah Al-Baqarah

Right in the beginning Allah (swt) starts off by saying: Alif-lam-meem. Dhalika alkitabu larayba feehi hudan lilmuttaqeen

“Alif-Lam-Meem.” This is the Book about which there is no doubt, guidance for those conscious of Allah (swt).”

If you are conscious of Allah (swt), you will receive guidance from the Book. If you want to achieve inner comfort, never doubt a word in this Book. If science has proven something otherwise, remember that proof is wrong. There will come a day when science will re-prove until it comes in line with the narration of the Owner of creation. We are the believers. When you read the Book of Allah (swt), you should know for a fact that this is the absolute truth. Even if you don’t understand something temporarily; go and find out, go and ask the scholars and you will learn a lot.

So who are those conscious of Allah (swt)?

Allah (swt) says, “Who believe in the Ghaib and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and spend out of what we have provided for them (i.e. give Zakat , spend on themselves, their parents, their children, their wives, etc., and also give charity to the poor and also in Allah’s Cause – Jihad, etc.)..” (Al-Baqarah 2:3) If we could see the Unseen, we would be seeing the mercy of Allah (swt) and His Sakeena (tranquility) that descends whenever He is mentioned.

Two major qualities of a believer

Two qualities are required to be a believer:

  • establishing of Salah (prayer)
  • spending from the provision

Sometimes people who have been given more are stingy. On the other hand, those who have much less give out a lot in the way of Allah (swt). If Allah (swt) has given you wealth, spend it in His way. Believing in the Unseen, establishing prayer and sharing your Rizq (provision) will take you to a different level. A person who misses his Salah cannot achieve peace. Wealth that is not spent in the right way does not benefit a person.

Allah (swt) then mentions at another point, “And who believe in what has been revealed to you, (O Muhammad), and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith).” (Al-Baqarah 2:4) We definitely believe in the Quran. And we also believe in the previous scriptures. We acknowledge that they are from Allah (swt), although they have been tampered today. If we are convinced about our meeting with Allah (swt), we will keep away from sins. Therefore, keep a check on yourself.

Signs of a hypocrite

Allah (swt) then mentions the qualities of a hypocrite. Know that a hypocrite cannot have peace. So who are the hypocrites? From their tongues they confess their belief in Allah (swt) and the Hereafter; however, their deeds do not reflect their words. They are in an entirely opposite direction. They think they are deceiving Allah (swt); yet they are deceiving none except themselves. Can anyone deceive Allah (swt)? How can we deceive Him when we will eventually return to Him? Therefore, Allah (swt) says that humans have disease in their hearts. A person with a diseased heart will never have inner peace. The Prophet (sa) said: “Indeed there is a piece of flesh in your body which, if it be sound, then the whole body will be sound and if it be corrupt then the whole body will be corrupt. Indeed it is the heart.” (Bukhari)

If there is a disease within us, we need to diagnose it. Look within yourself and reflect on your qualities. If you have hatred, jealousy, deception and love towards the material world in your heart; you need to fight it and take it out. This will grant you peace in this world and the Hereafter. As Allah (swt) says,

“The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, except him who brings to Allah a clean heart (clean from Shirk (polytheism) and Nifaq (hypocrisy)).” (Ash-Shuara 26:88-89) Thus, your heart has to be cleansed.

Due to this disease in their hearts, the hypocrites cannot differentiate between right and wrong. When they are told not to cause corruption, they say, “We are not corrupters.” This shows us that when our hearts are contaminated, we cannot focus properly. We chase things that can lead us to danger. This Ramadan we should strive to purify our hearts. May Allah (swt) grant us a heart that is always engaged in the remembrance of Allah (swt). Ameen.

Invitation to His Worship

Allah (swt) gives a general invitation to all mankind to worship Him. “O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous.” (A-Baqarah 2:21)

 Want to know who to worship? Worship the One Who sends you rainfall, crops and fruits. When you put your forehead and your nose on the ground, you are prostrating before the One Who created you. Allah (swt) mentions worship here because it is through worship that He will grant us peace.

History of Shaytan and his first victim Adam (as)

We talked about the being that snatches away our peace – the Shaytan. Allah (swt) now talks about his history. “When We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate before Adam’; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers.” (Al-Baqarah 2:34)

Here we learn to be careful of the devil. We lock up our cars and homes because of a few bad people out there waiting to snatch our belongings. Shaytan has enmity for us. Stay alarmed. Distance yourself from him because what you have in the form of Iman is far more valuable than three coins of gold. Make an effort to protect and look after your Iman. Serve Allah (swt). Get up in the early hours of the morning. Stand up for Taraweeh.

Wherever you falter, remember this pearl of peace, “Then Adam received from his Lord Words. And his Lord pardoned him (accepted his repentance). Verily, He is the One Who forgives (accepts repentance), the Most Merciful.” (Al-Baqarah 2:37)

Adam (as) learnt to seek repentance

After the sin was committed, Allah (swt) taught Adam (as) how to seek repentance. The devil leads us astray. Allah (swt) teaches us how to achieve His Mercy. He teaches us a few words to wipe out the effects of the devil. Admit your error. Regret your sin. Ask Allah’s (swt) forgiveness and promise not to do it again. Allah (swt) doesn’t hold anything against you when you have asked for forgiveness. In the last hours of the night, He is calling out, “Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness so that I can forgive him?” But we are snoring at that time. In Ramadan we are worried about our Sahoor, “How many minutes are left? Why did you wake me up so late?” Allah (swt) is calling out, “Is there anyone seeking forgiveness?” And we are busy with our bowl of porridge. How long does it take to say, “O Allah! Please forgive me”?

Time for Dua

There are so many things we are seeking for. Repeat your Dua list every day before Him. Don’t lose hope. There will come a time when everything that you ever wanted will be marked off your Dua list. That is the Qudrah of Allah (swt). Even if you have to wake up every night for years, do it. Our problem is that we lose hope and do not make an effort. At that moment, we are more worried about the temporal pleasure of our belly. We don’t realize that the more we eat the more hungry we will be. Improve your diet. Eat a quality meal. Add more fiber and foods with low GI (Glycemic Index).

Complain of Allah (swt)

Allah (swt) then talks about the children of Prophet Yaqoob (as), O Children of Israel! Remember My Favour which I bestowed upon you….” (Al-Baqarah 2:40) Let’s pause here for a moment. Has Allah (swt) not favoured us? We are Muslims. We are alive. We can listen to the words of Allah (swt). We have a house, food and families. Has Allah (swt) not given us countless blessings? Associate this verse with the Children of Israel that ‘they’ have forgotten the gift of Allah (swt) upon ‘them’ so Allah (swt) is reminding ‘them’ in the Quran. We don’t realize that there is a lesson in it for ‘us’. What is the point of pointing fingers at others when we have forgotten countless gifts of Allah (swt) ourselves?

Gratitude gives peace

Be thankful for what you have; your parents, your spouse, your children, your house, all are gifts of Allah (swt). Be pleased with what you have. And be patient with your tests. Perfection is only in the Hereafter. Focus more on your own life than what people have and you will achieve peace.

The most repeated instructions in these verses have been: “offer your Salah, give Zakah and be patient.” Allah (swt) says, “And perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and give Zakat, and Irka (i.e. bow down or submit yourselves with obedience to Allah) along with Ar-Rakiun.” (Al-
Baqarah 2:43) If we don’t offer our prayers or go to the Masjid, we will miss out on a number of blessings! The Imam is there. People are offering their prayers. Don’t be absent. Join them. Make it a concerted effort. Don’t disappear after day one.

Peace comes with patience

The same instruction has been given at other places in the same Surah. Allah (swt) says, “And seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer) and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashiun (i.e. the true believers in Allah – those who obey Allah with full submission, fear much from His Punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise, etc.) and in His Warnings “Then your hearts became hardened after that, being like stones or even harder (Hell, etc.).” (Al-Baqarah 2:45) It was said, “O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Al-Baqarah 2:153) Something little goes wrong in our lives and we are willing to break our relationships. Allah (swt) commands us to be patient. Seek His help to handle your matters like a mature person.

Soften with Salah

Allah (swt) then talks about the hardness of the heart, “Then, after that, your hearts were hardened and became as stones or even worse in hardness.” (Al-Baqarah 2:74) Some people, no matter what happens in their life; they won’t offer Salah, turn to Allah (swt) or make peace within themselves and others. “There are stones from which rivers gush forth.” But a man’s heart does not soften to turn to Allah or forgive people. There is no goodness in his heart. Therefore we should ask Allah (swt) to soften our hearts in this blessed month.

Allah (swt) is the All-knower

Allah (swt) knows what’s in our hearts, as He says, “Know they (Jews) not that Allah knows what they conceal and what they reveal?” (Al-Baqarah 2:77) We can run and hide from a human being but can we run from Allah (swt)? That is not possible. This realization will make us  achieve the peace that we are seeking.

Fulfill the rights of others

Then we learn about the qualities that Allah (swt) has prescribed not only to the Children of Israel but also to us. He says, “And (remember) when We took a covenant from the Children of Israel, (saying): Worship none but Allah (Alone) and be dutiful and good to parents, and to kindred, and to orphans and Al-Masakin(the poor), and speak good to people (i.e. enjoin righteousness and forbid evil, and say the truth about Muhammad (sa) and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and give Zakat. Then you slid back, except a few of you, while you are backsliders.” (Al-Baqarah 2:83)

How do we treat our parents? What have we done for the orphans? How do we speak to the beggars? Even if you don’t give them anything, at least say a kind word.

Save each other’s blood

Two more things that Allah (swt) took in His covenant with the Children of Israel were, He said, “And (remember) when We took your covenant (saying): Shed not the blood of your people, nor turn out your own people from their dwellings. Then, (this) you ratified and (to this) you bear witness.”  (Al-Baqarah 2:84) Take a look at where the Ummah is today. It’s Muslims against Muslims. Why are we allowing others to do the dirty job?

Magic is Haram

Allah (swt) then talks about magic. A person who uses magic has lost his Iman. Whoever has casted a spell has engaged in Shirk. “They followed what the Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulaiman (Solomon). Sulaiman did not disbelieve, but the Shayatin (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic…” (Al-Baqarah 2:102) Let us learn one important lesson from this. When something goes wrong in our life, we cannot blame others that someone must have casted a spell. Evil Jinn inspires people to say evil things which may destruct families. So don’t be deceived by evil Jinn.

May Allah (swt) allow us to look through His Book of peace to attain peace in our lives. Ameen.

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s Peace of Pearl Series, Cape town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)