Pearls of Peace: An extract from Surah Nur

Photo credit: ঘাস ফড়িং / iW / CC BY

Photo credit: ঘাস ফড়িং / iW / CC BY

Surah An-Nur

We now begin Surah An-Nur – the Surah that deals with adultery.

Say ‘no’ to false accusations

Sometimes we forward text messages and share posts without verifying their truthfulness. Allah (swt) warns, “And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes, and reject their testimony forever, they indeed are the Fasiqun (liars, rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” (An-Nur 24:4)

About accusations it has been said it takes a dirty mind to think dirty. We overhear or see something and weave our own stories. What we have concluded might be far from truth. May Allah (swt) cleanse our hearts. False accusations lead to loss of peace, “Verily, those who accuse chaste women, who never even think of anything touching their chastity and are good believers, are cursed in this life and in the Hereafter, and for them will be a great torment.” (An-Nur 24:23) Indulgence in rumours and gossips is taken very lightly, not realising the curse that we are inviting upon ourselves.

Reminder for good

While there is warning for those who accuse chaste people, Allah (swt) offers comfort to the accused. He says, “Verily! Those who brought forth the slander (against Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) the wife of the Prophet (sa)) are a group among you. Consider it not a bad thing for you. Nay, it is good for you. Unto every man among them will be paid that which he had earned of the sin, and as for him among them who had the greater share therein, his will be a great torment.” (An-Nur 24:11) Here is also a reminder to not indulge in such acts due to which on the Day of Judgement people will come and claim their share from our good deeds.

Minding your own business

Let us concern ourselves with “our” lives and not the lives of others. Let us not be of those who take pleasure in gossips and spread it.

Allah (swt) says, “Verily, those who like that (the crime of) illegal sexual intercourse should be propagated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you know not.” (An-Nur 24:19)

The owners and employees of media houses should reflect on what they are promoting. What kinds of shows are on air? Today, families cannot sit together and watch television because family entertainment has been taken over by vulgarity and indecency. Once what used to be censored, is now openly shown on television. As a consequence, we see an increase in crime rate, illicit relations and immoral behaviour.

Quran gives us repetitive reminders of how our choices determine our end. Let us rectify what is wrong within us, and not earn Allah (swt)’s painful punishment in both the worlds.

With the coming of smart phones, we are quick to share small details about ourselves. But when it comes to visiting someone, somehow we are reluctant to inform them of our arrival beforehand. The etiquettes we follow determine whether we will have a pleasant stay or will feel uninvited.

Pay dignified visits

In Surah An-Nur, Allah (swt) gives us instructions on visiting someone’s house, “O you who believe! Enter not houses other than your own, until you have asked permission and greeted those in them that is better for you, in order that you may remember. And if you find no one therein, still, enter not until permission has been given. And if you are asked to go back, go back, for it is purer for you, and Allah is All-Knower of what you do.” (An-Nur 24:27-28)

There is nothing insulting in being refused admittance. Perhaps, the family is engaged in some kind of conflict resolution and they do not want an outsider to sense their house troubles. Understand other’s situation. And when you are welcomed inside, do not prolong your visit. Keep your visits short and sweet; making hosts look forward to your next visit.

Surrender to Allah’s (swt) law

Talking about conflict resolution, some people are not really interested in a compromise or a settlement. Their only concern is what they gain from it. In doing so, they swing between Shariah and manmade laws; whichever offers more gain, they pick it. The word of Allah (swt) (the Quran) and the Messenger (sa) (the Sunnah) are enough to settle disputes. Allah (swt) asks, “Is there a disease in their hearts? Or do they doubt or fear lest Allah and His Messenger (sa) should wrong them in judgment. Nay, it is they themselves who are the Zalimun” (An-Nur 24:50)

The truth is no one loses anything if he surrenders to Allah’s (swt) laws. In fact, that is a means for attaining peace and tranquillity. If not here, then at least we know in the Hereafter such a person will be at peace. The one who does not follow Prophet’s (sa) path has been warned of painful punishment. (refer An-Nur 24:63)

(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 Al-Muminun

pearls4Concentration in prayers is a constant struggle. As much as we would like Khushu in our prayer, it is not there. In Surah Al-Muminun, it appears, “Successful indeed are the believers.Those who offer their Salat (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness.” (Al-Muminun 23:1-2)

Attaining humble submission

It can be attained by turning away from the futile and unnecessary (as we read in the verse after). The futile and unnecessary are time wasters. Someone was asked, “Why do you take off your shoes before entering the House of God?” He replied, “My shoes are the Dunya that I am leaving behind. I don’t need it when I am engaged with my Lord.” We need to empty our heads from the unnecessary concerns and gossips before we get on the prayer rug. Getting rid of such thoughts is impossible, unless we cleanse ourselves. Therefore, Zakat was mentioned next.

Zakat as purification

One needs to purify his wealth, as well as, his thoughts. With evil thoughts in our mind, we get on the prayer mat; going through our conversations with other people or plotting our next rebuttals. We need to work on our temper and control our tongues. Let’s not utter words that will haunt us later. May He make us of those who work on their bad qualities. Ameen.

Purpose of giving Zakat

Allah (swt) commands us to give Zakat so as to replace materialism with generosity. This is how we can get rid of the futile.

Don’t even go near fornication

Then we are advised to stay away from adultery and immorality. The Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever guarantees me (the chastity of) what is between his legs (i.e. his private parts), and what is between his jaws (i.e. his tongue), I guarantee him Paradise.” (Bukhari). Whenever a person falters, he should turn to Allah (swt) in sincere repentance. Chastity of the private parts and the tongue is a trust; whoever loses that trust will lose peace from his life.

Your spouse is entrusted upon you

Therefore, the next trait of the successful ones mentioned is, “Those who are faithfully true to their Amanat (all the duties which Allah has ordained, honesty, moral responsibility and trusts etc.) and to their covenants.” (Al-Muminun 23:8). Spouses are a trust to one another. The verses of God-consciousness (Taqwa) are recited in the Nikah sermon. And wherever Quran mentions the rights of husband and wife, it is followed by a reminder of the Hereafter. Let us not break our trusts and promises; whether they be with other people or Allah (swt).

When a person prays only when he wants to pray and neglects it at other times, he cannot be humble in his prayers. Therefore, it is said, And those who strictly guard their (five compulsory congregational) Salawat (prayers) (at their fixed stated hours). (Al-Muminun 23:9)

Stories of the successful ones

After describing the qualities required to attain success, Allah (swt) narrates the stories of successful people – the prophets and the messengers. He says, “Then We sent Our Messengers in succession, every time there came to a nation their Messenger, they denied him, so We made them follow one another (to destruction), and We made them as Ahadeeth (the true stories for mankind to learn a lesson from them). So away with a people who believe not.” (Al-Muminun 23:44)

Denial leads to destruction

Whether one openly denies the messenger or shows a hypocritical behaviour; such that we declare that we are the nation of Muhammad (sa), but take his Sunnah as a burden. Then we should know that we are inviting destruction. Allah (swt) loosens the rope up to a certain limit and then pulls it. Let’s return to Him before the rope is pulled.

Pray before you are prayed upon

The doors of repentance are opened until death. When death approaches and then man says, “I now seek forgiveness for my sins!” it would not be accepted from him. Allah (swt) says, “Until, when death comes to one of them (those who join partners with Allah), he says: “My Lord! Send me back,So that I may do good in that which I have left behind!” No! It is but a word that he speaks, and behind them is Barzakh (a barrier) until the Day when they will be resurrected.” (Al-Muminun 23:99-100). There are no second chances. This life is our only chance to build our relationship with Allah (swt) and strengthen it.

Allah (swt) questions man about his purpose of creation, “Did you think that We had created you in play (without any purpose), and that you would not be brought back to Us?” (Al-Muminun 23:115) Allah (swt) did not create man for nothing. We have been informed of our purpose of creation and we will be questioned about our time here. Let’s not waste this chance.

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

Transformation to my true self

lotusMany women in my country are driven by cultural stereotypes and nationalism, peer pressure and irrational societal norms. Those who have ‘groomed’ themselves with education and negated cultural slavery, are somewhere trapped in the complicated maze of modernity and westernization. Over and above, those who tend to cover themselves, do it inappropriately by force or misuse the covering garment for illegal purposes.

Till twenty-two years of age, I was not taught the exact conditions, prerequisites, importance and the prescribed method of Hijab, as given in Surah An-Nur, Surah Al-Ahzab and the Sahih Ahadeeth of Messenger (sa). A very rigid socio-cultural way of covering had been taught to me by my elders and family, without the main rules regarding adornment and covering in front of Mahram and non-Mahram men. The very rationale given to me to cover myself did not match the course as outlined in the Quran. Social acceptance was at the core of the cultural teaching of covering and never did I realize that I had to cover because Allah (swt) loved His female servants in that attire and Jilbab, as He loved beauty and modesty!

All praise is for the Creator, the Cherisher, the Sustainer, the Loving and the Most Merciful! He guided me, and I was able to dive thoroughly into the origin, history, logic, benefits and the immense reward of covering myself. Haya, the central theme had never occurred to me like it did, as I leafed through the pages of various books and commentaries of Surah An-Nur and Surah Al-Ahzab.

If I look back to my teenage years, I have emotionally suffered solely because of the lack of knowledge of Deen I had. I was struggling to develop an identity for myself amidst false attachments to the Dunya and addiction to people. Having been obese and exceptionally tall, I received remarks and comments that made my soul shriek out. Indirectly, the evil of self (Nafs) and Satan’s planning were well-tuned; I turned to flaunting, showing off, weight loss, obsession with body talk, idealizing female celebrities and what not. What I had observed and learnt in that age hindered my learning about my Deen. My priorities and attitudes as a girl were exactly defying what my Rabb had taught in His Quran.

If I look back to my teenage years, I have emotionally suffered solely because of the lack of knowledge of Deen I had. I was struggling to develop an identity for myself amidst false attachments to the Dunya

After the transformation, I have found my soul and understood the Fitrah I was born with. I was programmed to naturally incline towards modesty and beauty, and Hijab means both. I can be myself with my outer garment and face veil (Jilbab and Niqab). I was concerned about social approval when thinking about how my dress should be before.

Now, I just feel awe-inspiring and extremely content when I think about how Allah (swt) loves me and will reward me in Jannah for covering myself. Hijab has set me free from cultural slavery, age old traditional myths, and the modern and westernized traps of Satan. It has healed me from the identity crisis I was suffering from. I am a twenty-four years old Muslim woman, and I wear the Hijab (Jilbab or Chador), just to please my Creator, Who sent the Quran as a manual/code of conduct.

When a baby is born, it needs support and guidance to live. Can a machine be operated without reading its manual? How can a human being, Allah’s (swt), the Creator’s best creation, thrive without reading, understanding and acting as per the manual revealed by the Creator Himself? How can a Muslim woman dress or carry herself without reading that manual? The Quran and Hadeeth are for us to learn, implement and share with others.

Allah (swt) empowered me with Hijab to wake me up from the slumber I was in; denying the reality of my Fitrah, Haya and the Akhirah. I understand life and Deen very clearly from under my Jilbab. Many of the infections I was suffering from on a spiritual level have been healed, Alhumdulillah!

I want to be the beloved of Allah (swt) and one of the hints Allah (swt) has given me in the Noble Quran to seek His pleasure is to cover myself. He is my Creator, my Owner! He loves to see me covered like a precious pearl; then why shouldn’t I remove the doubts and regrets in my heart about the rigid, irrational ways of society that go against the guidance He revealed through Prophet (sa).

I see many sisters stuck in the same mental state and frustration of preferring culture over religion. Allah (swt), the author of Noble Quran, wrote in the introductory chapter of the Quran,

“This is the Book (the Quran), whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious and righteous persons who fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden) and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained).” (Al-Baqarah 2:2)

This is the book, for you and me, in which there is absolutely no doubt. If we don’t understand this, we will never be able to defeat the doubts that are stored in our minds. I had a doubt in my mind that the Quran restricts the woman, but rather it sets me free. We need to crush these doubts and replace them with the illumination Quran gives us regarding the Hijab, even if we start step by step. One must do it by first understanding it herself and then the need to do it. We are the servants of Allah (swt) and we need to seek His pleasure in everything we do.

After the transformation, I have found my soul and understood the Fitrah I was born with. I was programmed to naturally incline towards modesty and beauty, and Hijab means both.

The laws and guidelines in the Quran and Hadeeth regarding Hijab have to be followed first and foremost due to total submission to our Rabb. Lastly, the way this Hijab acts as a reality check, it helps me monitor my actions outside and inside my home. It defines me from the core of my soul; it gives a title to my personality and it empowers me as a woman. It teaches me to grow, learn, write, implement and teach all for the love of Allah (swt). One of the automated reminders this transformation gives me is to repent and turn back to Allah (swt).

To my sisters in Islam, our lost souls belong to Him! Initiate and embrace Hijab. Begin by drawing near to Allah (swt) by a span of your hand! It was reported by Abu Hurairah (ra) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Allah (swt), the Exalted and Glorious, said: I am as My servant expects Me and I am with him as he remembers Me. By Allah, Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His servant than how one of you would be on finding the lost camel in the waterless desert. When he draws near Me by the span of his hand, I draw near him by the length of a cubit. And when he draws near Me by the length of a cubit, I draw near him by the length of a fathom. And when he draws near Me walking, I draw close to him quickly.” (Bukhari)

I am being myself and this is where I belong!