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Taraweeh Reflections - Juz 09

Juz Nine

Hardships and Ease

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِي قَرْيَةٍ مِّن نَّبِيٍّ إِلَّا أَخَذْنَا أَهْلَهَا بِالْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَضَّرَّعُونَ. ثُمَّ بَدَّلْنَا مَكَانَ السَّيِّئَةِ الْحَسَنَةَ حَتَّىٰ عَفَوا وَّقَالُوا قَدْ مَسَّ آبَاءَنَا الضَّرَّاءُ وَالسَّرَّاءُ فَأَخَذْنَاهُم بَغْتَةً وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ
We did not send any prophet to a town, but We seized its people with hardship and suffering, so that they might humble themselves; then We transformed the affliction into ease of life, so that they thrived and said (to themselves), “Misfortune and hardship befell our forefathers as well”—whereupon We took them to task, all of a sudden, without their being aware (of what was coming). (Al-Aʿrāf, 7:94-95)

This sūrah narrated stories of many Messengers whose nations refused to  listen to  them and were ultimately destroyed. Here is then a general statement about their behavior. The hardships and ease of life were created by Allāh as a way of shaking them out of their complacency with their ignorant ways.

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Taraweeh Reflections - Juz 07

Juz Seven

The Tyranny of the Majority

قُل لَّا يَسْتَوِي الْخَبِيثُ وَالطَّيِّبُ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكَ كَثْرَةُ الْخَبِيثِ ۚ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
Say, “The corrupt and the good are not equal, even though the abundance of (what is) corrupt may attract you. So, fear Allāh, O people of understanding, so that you may be successful.” (Al- Mā’idah, 5:100)

The term khabīth applies to  all forms of corrupt things, people, and ideas. When applied to things, the āyah means that a little wealth from alāl sources is far better than a whole lot of it from arām sources. Referring to this Sayyidnā Abū Hurayrah said, “One dirham from alāl income that I give in charity is more beloved to me than a hundred thousand dirhams from arām  income.” ʿUmar  ibn ʿAbdul ʿAzīz invoked this āyah when government revenue  was reduced considerably after his economic reforms that eliminated unjust taxes. Some functionaries were concerned about the running of the government. Not he. His response: Fill your rule with justice just as it was filled with injustice before, and Allāh will take care of us. Today we witness wholesale violation of this message in the running of everything from small organizations to big governments. We think that a hundred bucks are better than one, regardless of how they were earned.

The message is general and  cautions us that  in  any situation we should not be swayed by numbers alone. This is the antidote to the tyranny of the majority and the claim to truth of the prevalent. We should never be the ones that go with the flow. We judge all things based on their own merit and not on their popularity or preponderance. Good is what Allāh declared to be good, no matter what the opinion polls say. Wrong is what He declared to be wrong, no matter how many pundits line up in its favor.

Self Reform

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنفُسَكُمْ ۖ لَا يَضُرُّكُم مَّن ضَلَّ إِذَا اهْتَدَيْتُمْ ۚ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
O you who believe, take care of your own selves. The one who has gone astray cannot harm you, if you are on the right path. To Allāh all of you have to return. Then He will tell you what you have been doing. (Al-Mā’idah, 5:105)

Our first responsibility is to reform ourselves for we will stand accountable to Allāh for our own actions and inactions, not of others. Our normal conversations consist of criticizing others. This has a place in the proper scheme of things, when it is part of our conscious effort to promote good and prohibit evil and when it is guided by the Sharīʿah limits on such conversation. But when this becomes our sole occupation, to the exclusion of our self monitoring and accounting, there is a serious problem.

This is not a negation of our responsibility to enjoin good and forbid evil. Rather it assures us that when we have done our job in promoting good, yet people do not listen, then we will not be responsible for their actions. Saʿīd ibn al-Musayyab said: When you have enjoined good and forbidden evil, and you are following the right path, then the going astray of a person despite your efforts will not harm you.”

Denying Life after Death

وَقَالُوا إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا الدُّنْيَا وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمَبْعُوثِينَ. وَلَوْ تَرَىٰ إِذْ وُقِفُوا عَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ ۚ قَالَ أَلَيْسَ هَٰذَا بِالْحَقِّ ۚ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ وَرَبِّنَا ۚ قَالَ فَذُوقُوا الْعَذَابَ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَكْفُرُونَ
They say, “There is nothing but this worldly life of ours, and we are not going to be raised again.” If only you could see when they will be made to stand before their Lord! He will say, “Is this not a reality?” They will say, “Of course, by our Lord, it is.” He will say, “Then, taste the punishment, for you used to disbelieve.” (Al-Anʿām 6:29-30)

This was revealed in Makkah and documents the belief of the pagans regarding the Afterlife. The great intellectuals, scientists, professors, and authors of today who hold and promote this view are no better or  different than  the  ignorant people of the  pre-Islamic Jāhiliyyah society quoted here. All corruption arises from this basic premise that there is no life after this one. If this life is all there is to it, then might must be right because it works and moral principles are meaningless because they require you to give up immediate gratification and many a time go unrewarded in this world.

The second āyah tells us that visualizing the utter shock of those who subscribe to this view when they come face to face with reality after death is the best answer to their philosophies.

Limits on Interactions with the Non-Believers

وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَ الَّذِينَ يَخُوضُونَ فِي آيَاتِنَا فَأَعْرِضْ عَنْهُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَخُوضُوا فِي حَدِيثٍ غَيْرِهِ ۚ وَإِمَّا يُنسِيَنَّكَ الشَّيْطَانُ فَلَا تَقْعُدْ بَعْدَ الذِّكْرَىٰ مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ
When you see men engaged in vain discourse about Our signs, turn away from them unless they turn to a different theme. If Satan ever makes you forget, then after recollection, sit not in the company of those who do wrong. (Al-Anʿām, 6:68)

This āyah sets the  limits on  interaction with  the  non- believers. If in any gathering, truth is ridiculed, blasphemy is perpetrated, or someone is making fun of Allāh and the Prophet, we must not sit in such company, watch or listen to such a program or participate in the chat. If we find ourselves in it, as soon as we realize it, we must show our disapproval by leaving. If this is isolationism then be it. We must isolate ourselves from evil environments  for our own protection.

 
Taraweeh Reflections - Juz 05

Juz Five

Fundamental Law of Business Dealings

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُم بَيْنَكُم بِالْبَاطِلِ إِلَّا أَن تَكُونَ تِجَارَةً عَن تَرَاضٍ مِّنكُمْ ۚ
O you who believe, do not devour your wealth among yourselves by false means, unless it is trade conducted with your mutual consent. (An-Nisā’, 4:29)

 

This is the fundamental law of Islam for all financial dealings. It  declares all  exploitation unlawful and  stipulates two conditions for the acceptability of financial dealings. A) It should be a fair trade and B) it should be with free mutual consent. Trade includes sales, rentals, and employment of labor. It excludes interest transactions, since it is exchange of money for time and not for any valuable property. Deception and coercion also invalidate a transaction. All financial laws of Islam are governed by this fundamental law. Consent is so important that even charitable donations collected through pressure techniques are impermissible in Islam.

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Taraweeh Reflections - Juz 04

Juz Four

Muslim Unity

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
And hold fast, all together, unto the bond with Allāh, and do not draw apart from one another. And remember the blessings which Allāh has bestowed upon you: how, when you were enemies, He brought  your  hearts together,  so  that  through  His  blessing  you became brethren; and (how, when) you were on the brink of a fiery abyss, He saved you from it. This is how Allāh makes His signs clear to you, so that you may take the right path. (Āli ʿImrān, 3:103)

Unity is a subject discussed often in Muslim circles. The problems caused by its absence at every level, from small local communities to the worldwide ummah, are too vivid to be ignored. Unfortunately we talk about unity the way we talk about the weather; something that is happening to us. We take no responsibility for it and thus assure that the sorry state of disunity will continue.

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Taraweeh Reflections - Juz 03

Juz Three

Real Charity

الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ لَا يُتْبِعُونَ مَا أَنفَقُوا مَنًّا وَلَا أَذًى ۙ لَّهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
They who spend their wealth for the sake of Allāh and do not thereafter mar their spending by stressing their own benevolence and hurting (the feelings of the needy) shall have their reward with their Sustainer, and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve. (Al-Baqarah, 2:262)

Here is the definition of real charity in Islam; it must be given solely for the sake of Allāh.

It is easy to find the rich in all societies engaged in works of charity. They may do it to feel good, to advertise their generosity, to show their superiority over the receivers of their help, or just enjoy the praise it will bring. What is difficult is to give in charity to please Allāh alone without any of these incentives. The success of charitable fundraising  methods  that employ these incentives is sufficient proof of this fact.

The Qur’ān is emphatic that such tainted charity will bring not reward but punishment in the Hereafter. It is a matter of great concern that despite that, such methods are finding widespread use in the Muslim community.

Concern for Hearts Swerving

رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ
O our Sustainer! Let not our hearts swerve from the Truth after You have guided us; and bestow upon us the gift of Your grace. Surely, You, and You alone, are the Grantor of bounties in abundance. (Āli ʿImrān, 3:8)

As the previous āyah states, this is the dua of those who are firmly grounded  in  knowledge. They never become complacent with their īmān (faith), as they are fully aware that one’s īmān is one’s most precious treasure and needs to be carefully guarded. Further they know they cannot guarantee its protection themselves as their hearts can come under the influence of Satan or their own inclinations towards evil, so they must turn to Allāh to seek His help in doing so. Additionally they appeal to the gift of Allāh’s mercy in seeking this help as it is not a payment for their deeds. They beg for it, claiming no entitlement. Needless to say, it is unimaginable that anyone consciously making this duʿā will knowingly engage in such enterprises as may pose danger to his imān.

Creation of Jesus

إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَىٰ عِندَ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ ۖ خَلَقَهُ مِن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ
Surely, the case of ʿĪsā ( Jesus), in the sight of Allāh, is like the case of Adam. He created him from dust, then He said to him, “Be”, and he came to be. (Āli ʿImrān, 3:59)

This is the simple truth about the creation of human beings in general as well as that of Prophet Jesus. Evolution scientists rejected the first and have gone to complex and convoluted theories as  an  alternate explanation.   Christians  rejected the second and have gone to complex  and unfathomable explanations about trinity and divinity of Prophet Jesus. To each we must ask: Based on what evidence do you reject the obvious, simple and straightforward explanation  given here? Have you unearthed any facts—hard facts, not conjectures— that  would show  the impossibility of the assertion made here?

The Interfaith Dialogue

قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْا إِلَىٰ كَلِمَةٍ سَوَاءٍ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلَّا نَعْبُدَ إِلَّا اللَّهَ وَلَا نُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضًا أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ ۚ فَإِن تَوَلَّوْا فَقُولُوا اشْهَدُوا بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ
Say, “O people of the Book, come to a word common between us and between you, that we worship none but Allāh, that we associate nothing with Him and that we shall not take human beings for our lords beside Allāh.” Then, should they turn back, say, “Bear witness that we are Muslims.” (Āli ʿImrān, 3:64)

This sets both the basis and the tone of the interfaith dialogue that Islam called for fourteen centuries ago. It is good that some Christians and Jews are showing active interest in interfaith dialogue today. Muslims must take part in it while making sure it remains within the parameters established here.

 
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