The foremost will be foremost

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

“And those foremost, will be foremost.
Those are the ones brought near.”
[al-Waqi'ah: 10-11]

The sabiqun – those who are foremost in good deeds in this world – will be sabiqun (foremost) towards Paradise in the Hereafter. But something I was reading yesterday struck my interest in the next verse. It says that these people, on the Day of Judgement, will be ‘Muqarrabun‘. This means to draw close. However the usual word for that is ‘Mutaqarribun‘ which means to do something in order to get closer to something (i.e. they did deeds to get closer to Paradise). But here it says ‘Muqarrabun‘ which changes the picture completely because now it means that they being drawn close without any effort on their part and instead, other things are being brought close to them. The exertion of effort is reversed.

The foremost in this world exerted their efforts to get near to Paradise although it lies in the realm of another world. So when they reached that world, Paradise was moved and drawn close to them; as mentioned in other verses: “And Paradise will be brought near to the righteous.” [al-Shu'ara': 90]

They no longer need to exert their efforts because it was accepted from them in a past world, wallahu a’lam. Masha’Allah, the language of the Qur’an is just incredible.

[Inspired by a text I was reading in Sh. al-'Affani's book 'Wa-Sabiqun al-Sabiqun']

He turned to you so you could turn to Him.

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

When Ibrahim and his son built the Ka’bah, their du’a included this:

“…Our Lord, and make us Muslims (submitting) to You and from our descendants a Muslim nation (in submission) to You. And show us our rites and turn unto us (in Mercy). Indeed, You are the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.” [al-Baqarah: 128]

The last bit is very interesting because it says ‘tub `alayna’ which means ‘turn to us’ but the term used is the same derivative as tawbah itself (which is what they’re requesting). Subhan’Allah, Ibrahim (as), the close friend of Allah, understood something that most of us don’t understand… There is a step before repentance; a process happens before any of us can repent and that is: Allah first turns to us in Mercy.

This is why in the story of Ka’b ibn Malik (who didn’t go on the Tabuk expedition along with 2 others), Allah says:

“And (He also turned to) the three who were left behind (and regretted their error) to the point that the earth closed in on them in spite of its vastness and their souls confined them and they were certain that there is no refuge from Allah except in Him. Then He turned to them (taaba `alayhim) so they could repent (li-yatubu). Indeed, Allah is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.” [al-Tawbah: 118]

…He first turned to them, so that they could turn to Him in repentance. Subhan’Allah, how merciful is Allah, and how arrogant we can be if we think that our repenting was from our own accord – no, it’s all from Allah `azza wa jall. So let’s learn a lesson from Ibrahim, the khalil (close friend) of Allah, and beg Allah to always turn to us, so that we can keep turning to Him.

‘I don’t think it ends like that.’

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

Shaykh al-Maghamisi mentions an interesting story of a Bedouin who once walked past a man reciting the Qur’an. The man was reciting the verse below from Surah al-Ma’idah:

وَالسَّارِقُ وَالسَّارِقَةُ فَاقْطَعُوا أَيْدِيَهُمَا جَزَاءً بِمَا كَسَبَا نَكَالًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ ۗ
“As for the thief, both male and female, cut off their hands as a recompense for what they committed as a deterrent [punishment] from Allah…” [al-Ma’idah: 38]

But as he was reciting, he made a mistake at the end and closed the verse with, ‘Wallahu Ghafurur-Rahim’ (‘And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful). The Bedouin surprisingly halted and said, “I don’t think it ends like that.”

When the man double checked, sure enough, he found himself mistaken and corrected himself saying, ‘Wallahu ‘Azeezun-Hakim’ (‘And Allah is Powerful and Wise’). The Bedouin replied, “Yes, that’s it.”

 وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
“…And Allah is Powerful and Wise.” [al-Ma'idah: 38]

When the people asked him how he know (since in general, Bedouins weren’t learned or scholarly), he replied:

“Allah in His Might confirmed (the ruling), then He judged by it, and so the hand is cut. But were He to forgive and show Mercy, then the hand would never be cut.”

Subhan’Allah, his understanding of Allah and His Attributes was on-point and because of this, he was able to suss out a mistake even though he was not learned. And for this reason, if a sincere slave knows their Lord well and knows the core Principles of the Deen well, then insha’Allah they will not be misguided easily and they will always have an unease towards things that are not good, proper or authentic. Allah will preserve His Book through various means, even through the hearkening of a Bedouin’s ear.

May Allah increase our understanding and keep us firm on His Path, ameen.

If there is any good in your heart…

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

There is an ayah in Surah al-Anfal that is in the context of War, but the beauty of the Qur’an is such that you can read a verse and it brings a whole new meaning to you than the standard tafsir. Consider this ayah:

“…If Allah knows any good in your hearts, He will give you something better than what has been taken from you, and He will forgive you, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [al-Anfal: 70]

The Prophet (s) was commanded by Allah to say this to the captives taken in war. But it’s also something that we can say to ourselves whenever a worldly benefit is removed from our hands, because let’s face it: we may not be captives of war, but we are captives of the Dunya and this is why a loss devastates most of us. Our hearts become attached to certain things from this world, and this pollutes the pure nature that the heart was created upon. So to purify the heart, Allah will sometimes remove some things from our possession and we suffer a loss. But He `azza wa jall is telling us: if there is goodness in your hearts after this, then there will be no real loss because what Allah gives you in replacement is much much better and on top of that He will forgive and show us mercy for what we endure of the loss.

So be patient and submit to the Work of Allah `azza wa jall, as He Knows all :)

May Allah keep replacing our losses with better things, ameen!

Living with the Qur’an – Part 2

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

Part 2 of the notes from the ‘Living with the Qur’an’ webinar:

4. Take the Qur’an as a cure and a healing

Unfortunately, with the advancement of Medicine, we have somewhat come to abandon the great practise of healing and curing with the Qur’an. It’s important to realise that while drugs and medicines can treat ailments and Islam is very much in encouragement of seeking treatment, there are however some illnesses that only the Qur’an can treat, e.g. diseases of the heart such as arrogance, disbelief, jealousy/envy, hatred etc. The Qur’an also treats physical illnesses. The soul is connected to the body and by curing and healing the soul, the body can also be cured because the two are connected. Modern medicine just focuses on treating the physical body, but the Qur’an cures via a more powerful mechanism and pathway: it cures through the soul, mind, and heart – it has a holistic approach.

“And We send down from the Qur’an that which is a cure and a mercy for those who believe…” [al-Isra: 82]

So, part of our living with the Qur’an is our turning to it as a source of healing, whether from a physical ailment or a spiritual disease or a mental distress – even healing from something that might not be recognised as an illness but you find it harming you e.g. a heavy or broken heart, disappointment/disheartenment, low emotion etc. Let it heal you and restore you to full strength and well-being. Make the Qur’an your family doctor or GP!

Point to note: I believe every Muslim should know how to perform ruqyah – curing with the Qur’an. Nowadays it has become a profession, but really, everyone who knows Qur’an has the ability to do it. It’s not difficult. So whenever you are suffering from pain or illness, address the soul with the Qur’an.

[Brief summary of how to perform ruqyah e.g. recitation of al-Fatihah x3 or x7, Ayat al-Kursi, last 2 verses of al-Baqarah, the 3 Quls, Ayah in al-Isra. If suffering from effects of evil eye, magic, jinn/mass, then specific portions of al-A’raf, Yunus, TaHa, al-Baqarah etc – you can search online].

Let us get into the habit of using the Qur’an as a cure and medicine for any and every illness insha’Allah.

“Indeed, this Qur’an is the banquet of Allah, so learn as much as you can from the banquet of Allah. Indeed, this Qur’an is the strong Rope of Allah and it is the clear guidance and it is a beautiful cure, a protection for those who cling to it, and a salvation for those who follow it. Nothing is bent or corrupted except that the Qur’an rectifies it, nor is anything deviated but that it reprimands it. Its marvels do not fade nor is the sweetness of it decreased by the frequency of those who recite it…” [al-Hakim]

It is especially important that as women, we learn how to perform ruqyah so that we remove the need of going to a male raqi, and instead we can do it for ourselves, our female relative, family members and our children; the best ruqyah is the one that a person does for him/herself.

5. Use the Qur’an to become people of insight

The last point I want to talk about is a very deep point about living with the Qur’an – it’s about using the Qur’an to develop our perspectives and develop insight.

Al-Hasan al-Basri: “Adhere to the Book of Allah `azza wa jall, follow what is in it of examples and become a people of insight by it.”

Nothing is mentioned in the Qur’an except that there is a deep lesson or wisdom behind it and it has certain insights to offer. This is why ‘verse’ in Arabic is called ‘Ayah’ – a Sign. Because every verse is a sign from Allah which leads a slave back to Allah. So if you want to seek out the Signs of Allah, then seek out His Verses.

“Indeed, basa’ir (insights, enlightenment etc) have come to you from your Lord, so whoever sees does for the benefit of his soul, and whoever is blind does harm against it…” [al-An’am: 104]

The Signs of Allah will come to a person throughout their life, so it’s important to be awake and attentive to them. We should know that truly living with the Qur’an means living upon Iman and living with insight. Let the Ayat of the Qur’an come alive in your life. For example, many times Allah talks about the creation around us and He says that they are signs for those who reflect and have insight. What does it mean when He talks about the trees for example? Maybe we’re supposed to consider the magnificence of the tree, tall branches reaching to sky, but the roots are embedded and hidden from sight – to teach us that roots are more important than branches i.e. inner is more important than outer. Or perhaps we’re supposed to look at how the leaves fall in winter; like sins falling from a person during the ‘winter’ of their life; their times of hardships…and so on.

There are always signs in our surroundings and we must be attentive to them if we truly want to live with the Ayat of Allah and with the Book of Allah.

This is a vast and extensive topic that I cannot possibly cover in just 1 hour, but I pray that these small pointers serve as a reminder for myself firstly and others and they push forward in taking the Qur’an and really living with it and not just living by it, because there’s a world of difference between living by something and living with something.

May Allah `azza wa jall make His Book the Light of our lives and may He grant us basirah (insight), ameen.