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.)

Pray Before You are Prayed Upon

last dayAnd the day draws to an end…

I think of how my life would change if I found out that this is the last month of my life. A state of perfection cannot be achieved in such a short time. Thus, I would prefer to live a life without regrets of not fulfilling my duties to my Lord, to the people and to myself. As Muslims, we know that this life will end and we will be answerable for every word we speak, every action we do and every prayer we may recite.

However, if I know the end is near, I will lose interest in going to places, stop eating frantically or stocking up whatever possible for family. Rather, I’ll try to be more content with what I have, treasure the people in my life and ask for their forgiveness, finish my incomplete prayers and finally, prepare for the ultimate journey by repenting to the Almighty.

I would leave a will for my children and mentees, taking inspiration from the ten precious advices Luqman (as) the wise, offered his son. Allah (swt) liked them so much that he honoured them to be a part of the Quran. We as Muslim parents should communicate this valuable advice to our children, family, and members of society. There cannot be a better legacy to leave for one’s mentees and children.

Moreover, if we follow and implement this advice, then Insha’Allah we all will be on the straight path leading to Paradise.

Try doing this exercise yourself!

This short and thought provoking exercise influences our entire way of living. It makes us reflect on how ready we are to present ourselves to Allah (swt)! Amazingly, the more I think, the more I tend to realize that nothing can be more important than asking for forgiveness when we know that the day is soon coming to an end. Is not repentance and humility what we were sent here for? Aren’t we astray from the right path and disillusioned/distracted by the worldly charms?

May Allah (swt) forgive us and guide us towards His path. Ameen