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 Anam 1

pearls3As we are seated in our houses in comfort and peace, there are fellow Muslims across the globe suffering for various reasons. Some of them are being tested by famine. Some of them are showered with bombs. Some of them are gripped by civil war. We might not be able to lessen their sufferings, but at least we can make Dua. We need to be sensitive to others people’s pains. May Allah (swt) bring them comfort and relief. Ameen.

“Remind!” for reminder has benefits

Allah (swt) has sent us several reminders through the Quran. These reminders are not merely to be heard, but we also need to pay heed and reform our lives to the pleasure of Allah (swt). The previous nations were much stronger and powerful than us, yet they were perished due to their negligence and disobedience. We need to study their stories so that we don’t repeat their mistakes.

Allah (swt) says, “Have they not seen how many a generation before them We have destroyed whom We had established on the earth such as We have not established you? And We poured out on them rain from the sky in abundance, and made the rivers flow under them. Yet We destroyed them for their sins, and created after them other generations.” (Al-Anam 6:6)

What goes around, comes around

Messengers after messengers were sent but it did not move their hearts. Their hearts were hardened. They would mock the messengers and hurt them. Sometimes today in our gatherings when Shaytan overtakes us, we make fun of the scholars. Remember, if today, we make fun of the messengers or the message that they brought; the scholars and the knowledgeable; the pious and the friends of Allah (swt), then someday, we will be made a laughing stock of. “And indeed, (many) Messengers were mocked before you. But their scoffers were surrounded by the very thing that they used to mock at. Say (O Muhammad (sa)): Travel in the land and see what was the end of those who rejected truth.” (Al-Anam 6:10-11)

Mock at your own risk

Don’t laugh at others. Sometimes, we lose our peace because we made fun of a scholar, a pious person or a friend of Allah (swt). We used the tongue that should be engaged in Quran recitation and Dhikr in abusing someone. We need to seek repentance and make Dua to Allah (swt) to soften our hearts; so that we don’t end up like the perished nations. This is the main purpose of reminders: to guide us and give us a wakeup call.

Further Allah (swt) talks about the reverence of the prophets, Allah’s (swt) message and friends of Allah (swt). The discussion, then moves on to Shirk, i.e., associating partners with Allah (swt). This is the most repeated topic of Surah Al-Anam, since the main addressees of this Surah were the idolaters of Makkah. Allah (swt) says, “And on the Day when We shall gather them all together, We shall say to those who joined partners in worship (with Us): Where are your partners (false deities) whom you used to assert (as partners in worship with Allah)? There will then be (left) no Fitnah (excuses or statements or arguments) for them but to say: By Allah, our Lord, we were not those who joined others in worship with Allah.” (Al-Anam 6:22-23) We need to thank Allah (swt) that unlike some other people who bow before a passing animal or revere an idol, He made us of those who worship the Creator. Alhamdulillah!

This world – a temporary abode

There are some people who say, “You live only once, do as you please.” They do not believe in the Resurrection. Allah (swt) addresses such people in the Quran and says, “And they said: There is no (other life) but our (present) life of this world, and never shall we be resurrected (on the Day of Resurrection). If you could but see when they will be held (brought and made to stand) in front of their Lord! He will say: Is not this (Resurrection and the taking of the accounts) the truth? They will say: Yes, by our Lord! He will then say: So taste you the torment because you used not to believe.” (Al-Anam 6:29-30) Yes, we do live our lives in this Dunya once; but one day we will be resurrected for an eternal life, and we don’t want to lose that.

Turn a deaf ear to the fools

Then Allah (swt) reminds us of how the Prophet (sa) was persecuted by the people of Makkah in the early days of Prophethood. He was called a sorcerer, a magician, a person after position and power, a person after money and so on; yet he remained patient and brought about victory.

Here’s a lesson for us. If the best of the creation was not spared, then how can we be spared? People will spread rumours about us and disturb our peace. Ignore them. Don’t waste your time in replying to them. And please don’t go into depression. Look at what Allah (swt) says, “We know indeed the grief which their words cause you (O Muhammad (sa)): it is not you that they deny, but it is the Verses (the Qur’an) of Allah that the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers) deny. Verily, (many) Messengers were denied before you (O Muhammad (sa)), but with patience they bore the denial, and they were hurt, till Our Help reached them, and none can alter the Words (Decisions) of Allah. Surely there has reached you the information (news) about the Messengers (before you).” (Al-Anam 6: 33-34)

If you are truthful and you have not snatched the rights of others, then Allah (swt) will protect you. As the saying goes, His help is near. Be patient and endure a little more.

Advocate the truth

This also teaches us another lesson. When we receive any information about someone else, if it does not concern us we don’t need to spread it around. And in case that we must share it with others, then we must verify its authenticity first before spreading the word; whether it is true or not! When we are away from Allah (swt), He puts a difficulty in our lives so that we might raise our hands in Dua. The question is: Must we wait for a calamity to strike before we connect with Allah (swt)?

Rags or riches – living with humility is the key

He says, “Verily, We sent (Messengers) to many nations before you (O Muhammad (sa)). And We seized them with extreme poverty (or loss in wealth) and loss in health with calamities so that they might believe with humility. When Our Torment reached them, why then did they not believe with humility? But their hearts became hardened, and Shaytan (Satan) made fair-seeming to them that which they used to do.” (Al-Anam 6: 42-43)

Sometimes, we look at people living in big houses and driving fancy cars; we look at them and conclude Allah (swt) must be really pleased with them to grant such blessings upon them. It is the way of Allah (swt) to open the doors to His treasures and let people enjoy themselves. He then observes their attitude. One would hope it would soften their hearts and make them humble. On the contrary, being blessed with worldly treasures people engage in all kinds of sins. Shaytan beautifies for them their sin. Their hearts become hardened and they do not even realize the evil that they are committing. It is then that they are struck by Allah’s (swt) wrath.

The point is that material possessions do not communicate one’s closeness to Allah (swt). Rather, it is one’s actual connection with Allah (swt) that determines one as the favoured ones. If the connection with Allah (swt) is missing from our lives then everything else is insignificant.

Muhammad (sa), Allah’s (swt) Messenger, owned very little and lived his life in poverty. Yet, he was the most content of the people. You know why? It is because he lived within his means and was generous. He never yearned for the treasures of Dunya. And if ever he was sent some gift or food, he would share it with others, especially the poor. Our problem is that we have increased our wants; which is why we see more and more people taking loans. Then committing suicide for not be able to pay the mountain of debt that they have burdened themselves with. Financial constraint has been noted as one of the reasons for marriage failures. You want peace? Limit your wants. For how long are you here in this world? Learn to live within the sustenance that Allah (swt) has provided you with.

A person sitting high above at the top, with every little blessing of this world within his means, can be destructed by the smallest nudge at the bottom. Ever observed a stack of books? You have meticulously arranged a pile of books. When you are placing the last book on the top, your foot accidentally touches the books at the bottom and there collapses your tower. One small nudge and all is gone. That is how Allah (swt) destructs nations.

Equality rules

Islam prohibits its followers from making money as the sole focus of their lives. When money and things become the criterion for judging someone’s character and status- the ones wealthy are considered as high and noble; while the poor ones are considered as unworthy and low. We learn that the weak and the poor were the first to accept Islam. Then Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (ra) and other rich Muslims spent their wealth in freeing of slaves. In Prophet’s (sa) gatherings, these weak and poor would be seated near to him, listening attentively to what the Prophet of Allah (swt) had to say. The Makkan leaders demanded the Prophet (sa) that if he wished to see them in his gathering, then he first needs to get rid of the weak and the poor. The Makkans were filled with pride and ostentation; they could not envisage being seated next to someone who was once their slave. Allah (swt) said, “And turn not away those who invoke their Lord, morning and afternoon seeking His Face. You are accountable for them in nothing, and they are accountable for you in nothing, that you may turn them away and thus, become of the Zalimun.” (Al-Anam 6:52)

Meet and greet

Further, He said, “When those who believe in Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) come to you, say: “Salamun ‘Alaikum” (peace be on you).” (Al-Anam 6:54) The weak and the poor are to be greeted by the most honourable greeting of the Muslims: Salam-un-Alaykum.

This tells us not to be a racist or judge people according to their skin colour, language or wealth. Don’t underestimate anyone; they might be the first ones to enter Paradise while we will still be defending ourselves in the court of Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) protect us, Ameen.

A person is judged by the company he keeps

One way of protecting our hearts and tongues from doing or uttering the most detested thing is not sitting with those who make fun of the verses of Allah (swt), as He says, “And when you (Muhammad (sa)) see those who engage in a false conversation about Our Verses (of the Qur’an) by mocking at them, stay away from them till they turn to another topic. And if Shaitan (Satan) causes you to forget, then after the remembrance sit not you in the company of those people who are the Zalimun.” (Al-Anam 6:68) In discussions people say, “Hey! We are studying the Quran and trying to understand religion.” But when these discussions are filled with foul language, abuses, mockery and ridicule then there is no Khair (goodness) in them. Get up and leave unless they talk about something else. If one keeps sitting with them, he will be influenced and become like them.

The courage to speak up, stop and leave the gathering of evil results in peace. If they can mock the Book of Allah (swt), tomorrow they will be ridiculing you. May Allah (swt) help us realize the consequences of our deeds, Ameen.

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