Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending!


وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا

Allah (swt), at the end of Surah Al Furqan, Surah number 25-twenty five, has a passage describing those who are the slaves of Ar-Rahman. Allah (swt) has many names; He can call people slaves of Allah (swt); slaves of the Creator, slaves of the Wise, but when He calls them slaves of Ar-Rahman, it is as though He is suggesting that these people have a relationship with Him based on His endless, and unimaginable love, mercy and care. So, the slaves of the One who cares a lot; the slaves of the One who loves a lot; the slaves of the One who shows mercy unimaginably. That means these people are special people. The people Allah (swt) is describing at the end of this passage are very, very special people. All believers are special, but these are extra super-duper awesome special.

Hawnan- Fly high, but lower your wings!

Now, the first quality that is described of these people that earns them the title of Ibad-ur-Rahman (slaves of the most Merciful) الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْ‌ضِ هَوْنًا is- that these people walk on the earth with humility. Hawnan- softly, acknowledging their weakness. You know, when we accomplish things, we feel a sense of strength and power and empowerment; and those are the moments in life where we are supposed to acknowledge our weakness. This is number one.

Hawnan also suggests that you don’t demonstrate your strength in front of others. Allah (swt) talks about this on many occasions in the Quran. For example- lower your wings before your parents. What does that mean? This means you’re an adult, you have a career, you have money, you have your own house, and you have a car; whereas, your parents are retired, they’re old, so obviously you’re in a position of strength and they’re in a position of weakness. But you don’t need to flap your wings too much; instead chill out and act humbly in front of them. Inculcate the act of humility.

A great man is always willing to be little

I travelled and there was a brother who picked us up from the airport, drove us around everywhere and just took care of everything. This guy was literally like a servant, driving us around all over the place, for food, for lectures, for this, for that. “Anything else I can do? Can I get you some water? Can I do this, can I do that?” Super humble brother. At the end of the trip we found out the guy’s worth 700 million dollars. I couldn’t fathom, like, how does it work? Where do you get such kind of humility from? I know people who make a hundred thousand dollars and think they own the world. They go a little bit over six figures and this guy’s humility just shattered me, like how in the world could it be? And I was reminded وَعِبَادُالرَّ‌حْمَـٰنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْ‌ضِ هَوْنًا

They learn to walk on the earth with humility.

With humility comes wisdom- Keep it with you!

Humility is also not just a demonstration of financial strength; it’s also an undue demonstration of physical strength and intimidation. It can also be a demonstration of your ability to out-talk someone. Maybe you’re a very aggressive, outgoing person; you can really put somebody in their place, especially in a public setting. You need to chill out and hold back from that because that’s an expression of arrogance. You are overpowering someone with your tongue. You can overpower someone and put someone in their place with your mouth. You know something about a field, an area and you want to stub somebody with your knowledge.  Don’t do that! It’s good for you that you know, but you don’t have to prove yourself a genius at every juncture.

For example, a teacher’s job is not to prove to his students that he knows. A teacher’s job is to try to teach. And, you don’t have to tell everybody your credentials all the time. You don’t have to do that. Just be yourself, and be humble before people. As a matter of fact, try to hide your capability if it’s going to be a source of intimidation for others. This is Hawnan.

But then, there’s the other part of it, I love this part. وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا . Every word deserves a little bit of attention here, so I’ll give each word its due, Insha’Allah. Idha is “when”, not “if”. It means the situation that is about to be described is inevitable. It will happen. You will run into this situation. What is this situation? خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ. People who don’t control their emotions; people who are obnoxious; people who are outrageous in the things they say or the way they act; when such people address you. And, it will happen. You will have to deal with difficult people in life; it is one bitter reality of life. There’s no way around it.

Now the other point to ponder is- you won’t go seeking difficult people or talking to them; they will come and address you. So they’re the subject of the verb, suggesting that you’re not even looking for trouble, the trouble came looking for you. And it will.

Peacefully- say or sway!

So, just because you’re not looking for it, doesn’t mean it won’t come. وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ When the ignorant, the uncontrolled, the uncivilized address them, they say— now there are two translations possible here. It could be understood as they say, “peace out, maybe this is not a good time, maybe we should talk another time.” They walk themselves out of the conversation. They don’t hear something stupid and say, “You know how stupid you are? Let me put you in your place.” No. Peace. They don’t engage in any argument. When they hear something ridiculous, they don’t get involved- they just say, “Peace.” Nowadays, it’s not just about you talking to somebody in a conversation, but this could even be a WhatsApp group. This could be a Facebook post. This could be a YouTube video made about you, or some trolling comments underneath. Just leave it alone. Salaaman.

And especially in private settings, when you’re interpersonally exchanging conversation with someone and they get out of line- you should just back off. Sometimes, this might happen in the Masjid; you are going to the Masjid and an elderly fellow might get a little aggressive with you. “You don’t know how to pray! Why are you standing like that?Astaghfirullah, you’re wearing a t-shirt!” They’ll just go at you like that and you’re like, “Watch it, old man! I don’t need this!” And you walk away. No. Say peace, make Dua for the uncle, let him keep yelling and go somewhere else and pray. Go into another corner and pray- that’s it! Leave it alone. Don’t let it get to you.

It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it!

The other meaning of قَالُوا سَلَامًا is they speak peacefully. So, Salaaman could be considered a Haal, or what you call in English, an adverb. The way you would think of that is they’re talking to you aggressively, angrily, in a very arrogant tone, in a very offensive tone, almost in a way that they’re trying to probe and get a reaction out of you. But you are speaking peacefully. You don’t let them get under your skin. You learn how to control your emotions in this conversation. And it’s not even that- you have to go out of your way like “Urghhh holding back, it’s so hard to hold back.” No. You develop the kind of tolerance where you just let it roll off the top of your skin, don’t let it get underneath, don’t let it get to you, and you just deal with it in a very reasonable, rational way. This is actually Dawah in itself. And, Allah (swt) says that He loves these people.

Allah (swt) will describe later on the other qualities of believers. Like, they pray all night, Qiyam-ul-Lail, Tahajjud prayer. And, He gives other descriptions of them, but the first description of them is that they are humble. They don’t put others down and when others are putting them down, they deal with it in a peaceful fashion. But if, they don’t know how to deal with it, they say, “Peace” and walk away. May Allah (swt) give us the strength of character; and really, the common sense and the wisdom to act on this verse when the situation arises. These verses, the recitation of them is easy, talking about them in a video is easy, listening to it is easy, but when the situation happens in your family, when the situation happens among your friends, when the situation happens at the Masjid or at the college, then living on this verse becomes a different story altogether. May Allah (swt) give us the wisdom and the sensibility to act on this verse as required. Ameen.

Transcribed for Hiba by Amal Abdullah

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.)