[Stories from the Quran] An Uncalled-For Murder

quran-2The Background

This is a story about the nature of evil, anger and hostility- as well as-the nature of goodness, forgiveness and peace. These two characteristics are in complete contrast, and result in the first murder that humanity ever experienced. This is the story told in Surah Maidah, verses 27 to 31.

Fraternity

“And (O Muhammad (sa)) recite to them (the Jews) the story of the two sons of Adam in truth…”Allah (swt) narrates the tale of two brothers who are the sons of Adam (as). This story occurs only once in the Quran, and we know that it is the truth. No authentic Hadeeth, or Quran, mentions the names of the main characters – the two sons, nor are we told the time or place where the incident occurs. Ibn Qutb says: “Leaving the story in the general terms in which it is given in the Qurān ensures that the purpose of relating it is fulfilled and its lessons are understood”.

Generally, siblings fight with each other, but they also love and protect one another; this is inherent in our nature as humans. Siblings are essentially the people we are closest to and care about. So, let’s see what happened between the two sons that resulted in a violent crime.

Faith or Fury?

“…when each offered a sacrifice (to Allah), it was accepted from the one but not from the other.”

Each of the sons offered a sacrifice to Allah (swt). This situation in any normal person’s mind is about pleasing and obedience to Allah (swt). However, when they both offered their sacrifices, one was accepted and the other was not. The Quran or Hadeeth does not detail the nature of how an offering was accepted at that time; hence, we deem it as unimportant. What we must focus on is that one son offered the best sacrifice only to please and obey Allah (swt), he proved to be God-fearing; while, the other brother’s sacrifice was not accompanied by Taqwa.

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The fire of desire

“The latter said to the former: I will surely kill you.” This statement clearly shows the evil intent of one brother. It makes us shocked and horrified. How can such a severe punishment be given for no crime at all? We all disapprove of this son’s behaviour and thought process. The only reason for such a statement is envy. Envy is a serious disease of the heart; it is what led Iblees towards pride, which resulted in Allah’s (swt) disobedience.

“The former said: Verily, Allah accepts only from those who are Al-Muttaqun. If you do stretch your hand against me to kill me, I shall never stretch my hand against you to kill you, for I fear Allah; the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, Jinns, and all that exists).Verily, I intend to let you draw my sin on yourself as well as yours, then you will be one of the dwellers of the Fire, and that is the recompense of the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers).”

Envy is a serious disease of the heart; it is what led Iblees towards pride, which resulted in Allah’s (swt) disobedience.

The other brother did not react violently; he remained calm and tried to reason with his sibling. He put the entire matter in a proper perspective. This son of Adam said that, “It is not you or I who is better- it is the way we perform our sacrifices for Allah (swt).” This brother after explaining why the sacrifice was not accepted tried to reason with his sibling. He assured his brother, “I shall not lay my hand on you to kill you…” He feared Allah (swt) and would not commit a sin, even though he was being wronged. This was his advice, in a gentle calm manner.

Ibn Qutb describes this as, “What we have here is a case of a peaceful man making clear that his attitude is based on fearing God and implementing His commandments. We must admire the victim’s calmness, reassurance, and the fact that he fears God alone. His gentle words should have been sufficient to quench his brother’s rage, reduce his anger, re-establish the feelings of brotherhood and the reassurance of faith.”

The just brother added a warning- in case his gentle words were not heeded. He said that, “If you murder me, it would only add to all your other sins and you would ultimately be a loser.” The murdering brother would be gaining a double sin. He, the just brother, was staying on the right path at the stake of his life. He was not ready to go against Allah’s (swt) commands.

The narcotic Nafs

“So the Nafs (self) of the other (latter one) encouraged him and made fair-seeming to him the murder of his brother; he murdered him and became one of the losers. Then Allah sent a crow who scratched the ground to show him to hide the dead body of his brother. He (the murderer) said: Woe to me! Am I not even able to be as this crow and to hide the dead body of my brother? Then he became one of those who regretted.”

After all the peaceful persuasion and gentle warnings, the crime was committed. The murderer’s evil soul was able to overrule his good side. Following only his Nafs, removed all obstacles and drove him towards killing. He lost a sibling, a brother who was a friend, a shoulder to cry on, and a companion. More importantly, he lost his after life, as he added that new sin to his earlier ones. Once the deed was done, the crime then took on a physical shape in the form of his brother’s dead body. It began to rot and he did not know what to do. He felt helpless and weak, not because he was remorseful, but because he did not know what to do.

Allah (swt) sent a crow who scratched the ground to show him how to hide the dead body. Once he had hidden the body, he was regretful; not because he killed- but because he realized how useless the crime was. This son of Adam (as) did not gain anything from murder; the killing of his brother didn’t make his sacrifice more acceptable to Allah (swt). He was helpless and weak, in complete loss due to his actions – a result of envy and pride.

Moral of the story

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Transcribed and adapted by Tasneem Vali.

Top three lessons in Surah Al-Fatihah

fatihaSurah Al-Fatihah, also known as the opening of the Quran- is a short Surah, and yet so important that a prayer without it is deemed invalid. Even in this short Surah of seven verses, some important lessons have been highlighted. Below are the top three lessons that can be obtained from this first Surah of the Quran.

Lesson 1: An Introduction to the Rabb

Following are the verses 1-6 of Surah Al-Fatihah

1. In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

2. All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists). 

3. The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

4. The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection)

5. You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything).

In the first two verses, Allah (swt) gives an introduction about Himself. When one reads this Surah, he acknowledges Allah’s (swt) infinite mercy; and then, praises Him by recognizing that He, Allah (swt) is the universal Master- the Master of the whole world. He has not just created everything in it, but He continues to provide His creation in order to attain a meaningful life. He has not abandoned His creation without any intervention. Over all His creation, he is an ever- living authority.

In the third verse, two attributes of Allah (swt) are mentioned. These two attributes encompass all the aspects of compassion and mercy between Allah (swt) and His servants. Therefore, a servant must never be hopeless about Allah’s (swt) mercy and should always turn to Allah (swt) for help and repentance.

In the fourth verse, a very fundamental principle is mentioned based on which our lives are significantly influenced i.e. belief in the Hereafter. This gives man the hope that if he is weak on earth and is suppressed by people, he will be given justice and the suppressor too will be punished because of his oppression. Based on this belief, one restrains himself from doing evil acts. He performs righteous acts hoping for its reward from Allah (swt).

In the next verse, man accepts that he has submitted to Allah (swt). He worships Him alone without associating any partner with Him; and when he needs any help, he turns to Allah (swt) for it. Turning to Allah (swt) for help protects the man from facing the abuse, and a feeling of dependency that he could face if he turns to people begging for help. Allah (swt) has the power over everything; hence a man must turn to Him for assistance.

Lesson 2: Asking for the Straight Path

Guide us to the Straight Way.” (Al-Fatihah 1:6)

In this verse, one asks Allah (swt) for His guidance towards the straight path. A person cannot be guided- unless Allah (swt) wills; and no one can be led astray- unless Allah (swt) wills.

Nawwas bin Sam’an Al-Kilabi said:”I heard the Messenger of Allah (swt) say: ‘There is no heart that is not between two of the fingers of the Most Merciful. If He wills, He guides it and if He wills, He sends it astray.’ The Messenger of Allah (swt) used to say: ‘O You Who makes hearts steadfast make our hearts steadfast in adhering to Your religion.’ And he said: ‘The scale is in the Hand of the Most Merciful; He will cause some people to rise and others to fall until the day of Resurrection.'” (Ibn Majah; authentic)

The guided person finds happiness and contentment is this world, as well as, in the Hereafter. He has a broader vision as he believes that his life is not limited to this world, but another life awaits him.

Lesson 3: The path of the righteous people

The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).” (Al-Fatihah 1:7)

In the last part of this Surah, one pleads Allah (swt) to help him follow the path which the righteous people followed- the path which led them to ultimate success and salvation, the path with which they attained the pleasure of Allah (swt). Just after that, one also asks Allah (swt) to protect him from following the way of those who attained the wrath of Allah (swt), and those who were misguided.

May Allah (swt) guide us all to the straight path and make us among those whom He loves. May Allah (swt) protect us from the evil whispers of Shaytan, and give us the strength and courage to hold n to the principles of Islam firmly. Ameen.

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.

Pearls of Peace – An Extract from Surah Al-Fatiha

Pearl-in-a-shell1We praise Allah (swt) Who has blessed us and granted us this beautiful month of Ramadan and such a beautiful opportunity to earn His countless Blessings. May He grant us with the blessings and forgiveness in this month. May He increase the love and bond in our hearts that we have for one another and alleviate the suffering of humankind all across the globe; relief the ones who are going through difficulties and turmoil including ourselves.

Imagine if Prophet Muhammad (sa) was among us and recited the Quran. Imagine if the companions of Muhammad (sa) were to recite the Quran; what type of recitation do you think it would be? It would be miraculously beautiful as it would come from the depths of the heart and true love for the Quran. Hence, that is the kind of recitation one should aspire for.

The theme we have chosen to speak about this year is Pearls of Peace from the Noble Quran. It is the Book of peace and indeed full of the ingredients of peace. Many of us are searching for peace, contentment and happiness so that we can alleviate whatever suffering we are going through, but we have not searched through the pages of the Book of peace; coming from the Owner of peace, AsSalam.

The theme we have chosen to speak about this year is Pearls of Peace from the Noble Quran. It is the Book of peace and indeed full of the ingredients of peace.

Types of peace

There are two types of peace:

  • The inner peace – the peace within one’s heart and mind
  • The outer peace – is amongst one another; within our family, our community, with the Ummah at large, with humanity, and with all the creatures of Allah (swt) and this is the peace we are searching for.

As we search for this peace and we open the Book of Allah (swt), do you know what is the first word of peace that we find? Amazingly: Audhu billahi minash shaytanir rajeem. Analyze the statement. This is the statement of peace. Before you commence with the Quran and its recitation, you need to utter these words because Allah (swt) has declared,

So when you want to recite the Quran, seek refuge with Allah from Shaitan (Satan), the outcast (the cursed one).” (An- Nisa 16:98)

The ways to acquire peace

Without seeking protection of Allah (swt) from the devil, how will we be able to acquire peace? Many of us, when we read the Quran we have no concentration. That’s because the devil has contaminated our heart and our mind. He makes us fight and argue; splits and disunites us. This is why we start off with Tawuz. Let’s remember this powerful supplication and use it.

Now the next most powerful statement: Bismillah hir-Rahman nir-Raheem “In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Most Forgiving Most Merciful.”

This is Allah (swt), this is peace! Peace is connected to the mercy of Allah (swt). Look at the manner He starts. He has told us to start off by saying His Name, acknowledging that He is full of mercy, compassion and forgiveness. If He wanted He could have said, “Say: In the Name of Allah, the Owner of the severe torment and punishment.” He could have said that; but the heart requires that flicker wherein we all have hope in the mercy of Allah (swt).

Pearls extracted from Surah Al-Fatiha

Allah (swt) has chosen to open the Quran with what is known as Surah Al-Fatiha – the Opening Surah.

“(All) praise is (due) to Allah, the Rabb of the worlds.”

What is the meaning of Rabb? The One Who created, nourishes, provides, and protects, the One Who is in absolute control of every single aspect of the entire existence. All praise is due to Him, Who created you and me and everything in existence. Praise Him regularly and you will achieve peace.

Immediately after this powerful opening statement He says: Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. A loser he/she will be the one who does not receive the mercy of Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) make us from the winners. Imagine, if He had said, “I am never going to forgive certain people even if they seek forgiveness.” Did He ever say that? Never! Even a person who has committed Shirk, if he seeks forgiveness, Allah (swt) says, “My doors are open for him, I will forgive him.”

Maliki yawmi addeen – “He is the Owner of the Day of Judgment.”

From this we learn that we are answerable to Allah (swt). Let us learn not to become judgemental when it comes to deal with one another. Sometimes a person who might not appear religious outwardly is perhaps much more religious within. They may be struggling to adopt the commands of Allah (swt) one by one just like we are. None of us is perfect. We are all trying. Eradicate your bad habits. Seek the assistance of Allah (swt).

Iyyaka nabudu wa-iyyaka nastaeen – “You (alone) we worship and You (alone) we ask for help.”

A powerful statement that we utter almost five times a day.

Do you want peace? If yes, then worship Allah (swt) alone. Ask Allah’s (swt) help and assistance. Remember, He is Rabb-al-Alameen, the Owner of every single aspect of existence.

Ihdina assirata almustaqeem – “Guide us to the straight path.”

This is the Dua that we make for ourselves. The path of peace, the path to attain the pleasure of Allah (swt). If Allah (swt) has given us Hidayah (guidance), what more do we want? We will be the happiest people in the Dunya.

“Amazing are the affairs of a believer! They are all for his benefit; If he is granted ease of living he is thankful; and this is best for him. And if he is afflicted with a hardship, he perseveres; and this is best for him.” (Muslim)

Allah (swt) has always blessed us in every single way; yet sometimes we do not realize and recognize. We only pick on certain things that our soul desires and we keep on saying, “Ya Allah (swt)! You did not give me this. You did not give me that.” But when you look at the favours of Allah (swt), they are plenty.

These were some of the blessed pearls that we extract from Surah Al-Fatiha.

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

 

 

From the Diary of a Revert

diary-copyAs I look out through the window, I recall about how my life was before I met Him. I was born and raised in France till the age of 21. Then I moved to the UK. Many French and European young immigrants (including me) suffer from a social breakdown.

Sometimes, I think about how my life would have been if I had continued my life without Him. Before meeting Him, I was lost like an orphan without parents. But now I know He is there whenever I think of Him. I will never be lost again. Once being a non-Muslim, I am very grateful to Allah (swt) as He called me towards His path and made me a Muslim. Today, the Quran and the Sunnah are my way of life.  Now when I walk on the streets with my hijab, I feel secure and honourable.

When I pray, I ask Him to forgive my sins. May Allah (swt) forgive us. Ameen. I ask Him to protect Islam and guide the non-Muslims towards His path. There is a sense of peace that I feel when I meet my Lord five times a day during Salah. I love to share this feeling with all my Muslim  brothers and sisters around the world.

May Allah (swt) bless our parents and bestow His favours upon them; the favours of this Dunya and the Akhirah. I feel so proud whenever my parents are pleased with me. I am happy whenever my husband is happy. I pray to Allah (swt) to protect all the married couples from Shaitan and bless them with pious children. I thank Allah (swt) for giving me such beautiful and healthy children. May Allah (swt) bless the Ummah of  our  beloved  Prophet Muhammad (sa), the Prophet of Islam. Ameen.

The Ignored Relationship

AS_114Dear Muslim

Every day, I see you picking up your books from the bookshelf and reading them with great attention. You keep reading textbooks and story books for hours and hours, and you don’t realize that someone, who is more deserving of your time, is near you. Every time you come near the shelf, I hope you would ignore others and give me some time. But you pass away, ignoring me. The love and affection I deserve is being poured by you upon strangers.

One day, when you will need them the most, they won’t be there for you. They won’t pay heed to your cries. All those for whom you neglected me will forget you one day. They are strangers. I am yours. I am here to provide solutions to every problem you face. I won’t turn away from you. I am the only one on earth, who would accompany you in your grave and protect you from hellfire. I will tell you how to achieve real success in both the worlds. I will heal your heart whenever you feel depressed and oppressed. All I want from you is to pay some heed to my words. Come to me, and re-establish that very old and true relationship. Insha’Allah, you will be the happiest person on the earth.

 Only yours,

 The Quran