Answer to the Call of Guidance

al-quranSurah Al-Baqarah, also known as the peak of the Quran, answers the call of guidance that a believer seeks in Surah Fatihah. With a challenging beginning, it highlights many significant issues.

Prove to Muhammad’s (sa) Prophethood

The Surah starts with the letters Alif-Laam-Meem. These are just letters of the Arabic language and when joined together they do not make any specific word. That is in itself a proof to the prophethood of Muhammad (sa). Prophet Muhammad (sa) was unlettered. An unlettered person can speak words of his language, but he is not able to pronounce and speak the letters of that language. The Jewish community in Madinah, at the time of the Prophet (sa), considered themselves to be highly educated compared to the people of Makkah. Prophet (sa) being born in Makkah, and known to be unlettered, was calling people to Allah’s (swt) religion and using a language that even the educated ones among them could not compete with. That was a clear proof that Muhammad (sa) was receiving a revelation, and that the verses in the Quran were not his own words.

Quran- The Ultimate Truth

In the second verse, Allah (swt) first speaks about a basic, and yet very important belief; to believe that the Quran is without any doubt. That is, a person believes that whatever is in the Book is from Allah (swt) the All-knowing, Who knows what is visible and what is hidden, what has happened in the past and what will happen in the future. He even knows what is in the heart of a person. Nothing is hidden from Him. A person must believe that whatever Allah (swt) has revealed for His servant is definitely perfect for him.

if Allah (swt) has said that dealing in interest is a loss, and we see a great benefit in its dealing, and do not consider it a loss for ourselves, then this means that we do not consider the words of Allah (swt) as ultimate truth

We must believe that if Allah (swt) has said that in His Messenger is a perfect example, then no matter what advances the science makes, or how modern the world gets- indeed the way of the Messenger is still the best, and will always remain the best. An example of not having doubt in Allah’s (swt) Book is that if Allah (swt) has said that dealing in interest is a loss, and we see a great benefit in its dealing, and do not consider it a loss for ourselves, then this means that we do not consider the words of Allah (swt) as ultimate truth and we are still doubtful about it. In short, our actions will determine our belief.

In the second part of this verse, Allah (swt) says that Quran is guidance for those who have Taqwa. This means that not everyone who reads and understands the book of Allah (swt) will get guidance. Today, we see Quran being used for many purposes. Some read it to make scientific discoveries, others use it for amulets, and some others use it to recite at the graves of the pious, hoping they would get help in their matters from the dead people as they are closer to Allah (swt). Hence, not every who reads the Quran is guided, but guidance is for the pious- those who fear Allah (swt) and want to take guidance from His Book.

May Allah (swt) make us among those who read and understand His book purely for His sake. May He guide us to the straight path, and keep us firm on His religion till our last breath. Ameen.

New Lease on Life


My Quran Reflections Journal
Gems from Taleem ul-Quran 2015

Day 23 Reflection
Takmeel Surah Al-Baqarah

My world came tumbling upside down,
Yet on my forehead, there wasn’t a frown!

‘Several arteries and the left main blocked!’
The news left my husband and me, awestruck and shocked!

Indeed towards Allah (swt) we all will return,’ is what I said,
‘Indeed Allah (swt) is with the patient,’ to him I declared!

‘It’s a heart bypass!’ He said worried and scared,
‘Will I make it?’ His next question he shared!

‘Insha’Allah, Allah (swt) will give you Shifa completely,’
I consoled him- ‘Soon you will be well and with your family!’

I saw fear of death on his face, which went pale and white!
I couldn’t glare at him for long, I thought to myself, ‘What if he died? ‘

I remembered Allah’s (swt) favours and countless bounties
We hadn’t asked Him for anything, Yet He granted us with His infinite mercy.

I shrugged my shoulders, and got rid of the negative thought,
Saying ‘Audhubillah’ – I sought refuge in Him and did what is taught.

I spread the prayer mat, and in Sajdah I fell,
Saying ‘Istaghfar’ – I shared with Allah (swt) the thoughts that dwell.

I recalled His kindness and mercy, and that He tests those He loves
I renewed my faith, made Dua to emerge successful and rise above!

I didn’t want my husband or myself to wallow in self-pity,
I reminded him of Allah’s (swt) promise that, He will always be…

…With those who are patient and those who find strength in Salah,
I smiled at him and helped him do Wudhu to run towards Falah!

Together we prayed, we cried, we spoke to Allah (swt) and we found peace,
My husband was now ready for the surgery, and to get a new life’s lease!

The strength that Allah’s (swt) words gave us in this trial is unreal!
It cannot be expressed, just felt – because no words are substantial!

Before he left for the operation, he held my hand and said,
“I am now tension-free and to Allah (swt) I have pledged.

If I am given another life, it will be spent in His obedience,
His worship will be my motto, and I will bear everything with patience!”

“Alhumdulillah,” I said, while wiping the tears in his eyes and mine,
“Do not stress yourself, Insha’Allah you will be back, healthy and fine!”

He hugged me one last time, before he lay on the stretcher,
“I have made Dua for you sincerely,” he whispered in my ear!

I couldn’t stop my tears; I was very scared and didn’t want him to go,
I asked him to be brave, although he was being braver than me though!

He said, “Won’t you ask what I asked Allah (swt) for you? Shouldn’t I recount?”
I kept quiet, he said, “Oh Allah (swt) grant her Jannah without any account!”

He left me dumb-founded and courageously went for the surgery,
“Ameen. Oh Allah (swt), and, please, in Jannah make him accompany me!”

I burst into tears, and remembered Allah’s (swt) promises in Al-Baqarah,
I waited patiently, prayed sincerely and found solace in Salah!

Alhumdulillah, Allah (swt) has mercifully granted a new life to my husband,
And as a result of this test, He has made our love for each other exuberant!

Passport to Jannah

Passport to Jannah

Image courtesy

My Quran Reflections Journal
Gems from Taleem ul-Quran 2015

Day 17 Reflection
Al Baqarah (2:40-123)

The story of Bani Israel got me thinking –
There’s so much in my faith that needs fixing!
“Chosen by Allah!” what status they had?
They still couldn’t be grateful, isn’t that sad?
They were given messengers and miracles,
Yet they perpetually failed to set good examples.
They got so many chances, not just one or two,
They kept denying the truth. What about me? What about you?
“We are Muslims” – is there any status that is bigger?
Yet the state of our Ummah isn’t getting any better.
This “tag” itself is not a “passport to Jannah” –
We have to earn it by following the Quran and Sunnah.
Neglecting our prayers and holding people high,
Doing Shirk unknowingly, what if tomorrow we die?
Our Sadaqahs and charities are full of display,
We are earning Allah’s (swt) wrath and His dismay!
Our fasts are more of feasts, but we don’t perceive.
Who are we cheating? Is it Allah (swt) we deceive?
Dealing unjustly, lying to people – friend or foe.
Is it not a Zulm on ourselves – indeed it is, a woe.
Ya Allah (swt), save us from selective obedience and confusion,
Please, give us inner light to accept the Deen without hesitation,
Oh, Allah (swt), spare us from being deceptive and being proud.
Help us in our last journey, when we depart in our shroud.
Do not make this Dunya, Ya Rabb, our biggest concern,
Make us work for our final abode, to which we shall all return.
Aameen, Ya Rabb!

Our Twin Enemies

Picture credits:

Picture credits:

My Quran Reflections Journal – 6
Gems from Taleem ul-Quran 2015

Day 11 Reflection
Surah Al Baqarah (verses 48-59)

Mental enslavement signifies that one is a slave of a particular mindset: your thinking reflects your slavery and is manifested in your actions as well.

Let’s pause and ponder: are we mentally and physically enslaved as well? Just like Bani Israel had the wrong focus, which resulted in wrong choices, are we falling in the trap of enslavement to our twin enemies – Shaitan and our Nafs? Do we consider ourselves free individuals, because we follow the prompting of our Nafs and Shaitan? We are in fact victims of self-delusion!

Time for some serious retrospection! Let’s change our focus in life and find refuge in patience and prayer, Insha’Allah.

Day 12 Reflection
Surah Al Baqarah (verses 60-62)

Obligation, Not an Option!

We cannot be selective in our obedience and love of Allah (swt), if we are truly the guided ones. When truth reaches us through authentic sources – the Quran and the Sunnah – there’s no room for complacency, arrogance and disobedience. Action, implementation and application of Allah’s (swt) commandments are an obligation on a believer, and not a mere option!

A believing heart is the one, which listens and obeys, understands and implements, applies and exemplifies through excellent conduct that is taught by our Mahboob (the Most Loved), Maqsood (the One Sought) and Matloob (the One Desired) that is Allah (swt) in the Quran and by His Messenger in his Sunnah.

One also has to be clear that Allah (swt) is the ultimate and exclusive source of help for us. Any confusion, hesitation or clarification should be directed towards Allah (swt) alone, and we must have faith that He will help us, Insha’Allah.

“Oh Allah, You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help.” (Al-Fatihah 1:5) Ameen.

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Baqarah 3

Gold_and_pearls_neckbandAs we look into these pearls of peace, we ask Allah (swt) to grant us the peace that we are so desperately searching for, along with contentment of the soul. Remember as long as we follow that which Allah (swt) has told us we will be at peace. The moment we deviate from the instructions of Allah (swt) our peace will be snatched away. Today, we are going to understand a few verses that talk about money matters.

Charity in secrecy

Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Do not render in vain your Sadaqah (charity) by reminders of your generosity or by injury, like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men, and he does not believe in Allah and in the Last Day.” (Al-Baqarah 2:264)

If Allah (swt) has given you wealth and you spend it in Allah’s (swt) way, don’t brag about it or make the poor person feel shameful. Be humble. Offer gratitude for your wealth that you are among the givers and not takers.

Spend with love for Allah (swt)

Moving further, Allah (swt) teaches us the etiquette of spending in His way. He says, “O you who believe! Spend of the good things which you have (legally) earned, and of that which We have produced from the earth for you, and do not aim at that which is bad to spend from it, (though) you would not accept it save if you close your eyes and tolerate therein. ” (Al-Baqarah 2:267)

What happens during our annual cleaning ritual? We select the most ragged and worn out clothes, broken pieces of crockery, expired cosmetics or medicines and rotten food and give it to our housemaid, satisfied in our hearts that we have done our duty! Will we accept if anyone presented us such a gift? Keep your eyes on the treasures of Jannah and have a big heart. Share from what you pick for yourself.

Islamic business transactions and family dealings

When one goes to a financial institution, there are systems and procedures that must be followed. In the Quran, Allah (swt) has explicitly stated how our contracts and business transactions should be. When we don’t abide by these procedures, we suffer loss and have regrets.

Log in black and white

After a person passes away his heirs come and claim such and such property to be theirs. But where did the father write it? They say, “Well! He didn’t write it but he told me this is yours.” If the father wants to gift a certain property to one of his children, he must write it down and sign it in the presence of witnesses. People give loans to their family members and the debtor forgets to return the money. This small mistake gives birth to family feuds where both the parties are slandering one another. Many business deals fail because the terms were not written down and attested. Remember that word of mouth has no worth in a court where today even signed documents are being challenged.

Allah (swt) elucidates the procedure for business transactions in verse 282, “ O you who believe! When you contract a debt for a fixed period, write it down. Let a scribe write it down in justice between you. Let not the scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so let him write.” Look at how Allah (swt) is teaching us a gem for attaining long term peace. Today, family relations are sacrificed for a few hundred thousands. Both the parties consider themselves to be correct.

A lesson by our Prophet (sa)

Once the Prophet (sa) heard an argument near his door, people were debating over something and its ownership. The Prophet (sa) said: “I am going to judge between you based on the evidence that is before me. And if I am to rule that something is yours yet it is not yours and you know it is not yours then it is piece of fire. It is up to you to take it or leave it.” Both of them left it. They said, “It doesn’t belong to us.” They got worried that in case we take it, it might be a piece of fire. Remember, if you choose to let go of the feud, Allah (swt) might reward you with Paradise in return.

(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.)