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Taraweeh Reflections - Juz 02

Juz Two

The Middle Nation

وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا
And thus have We willed you to be a community of the middle way, so that (with your lives) you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind, and that the Apostle might bear witness to it before you. (Al-Baqarah 2:143)

Ummatan Waṣaṭan can be translated as the middle nation, the best nation, and an Ummah justly balanced. The phrase captures the essence of Islam, which is to shun all excesses. At other places (e.g. Al-Mā’idah 5:12) the Qur’ān refers to the path it shows as sawā as-sabīl. Abdullah  Yūsuf Ali explains: “The Arabic word sawā signifies smoothness  as opposed to roughness; symmetry as opposed to want of plan; equality or proportion as opposed to want of design; rectitude as opposed to crookedness; a mean as opposed to extremes; and fitness for the object held in view as opposed to faultiness.”

This āyah charters the Ummah to  be a force against extremism. Extremism is a product of ignorance. Given two extreme points on a straight line, anyone can point out where the middle point lies. But a person who cannot see the entire line will also miss the middle point. He may be sitting on an extreme edge, yet congratulate himself for being in the middle.

Our  own  instruments  of  observation and  intellect, wonderful as they are, are simply not up to the task of finding the perfectly balanced course in the complex, ever-changing, multidimensional maze, which is the real life. Yet we know that we do need to find it. Our physical well-being requires that we eat a well balanced diet and follow the course of moderation. Our economic, social, and spiritual well-being similarly demands finding the balanced approach and the moderate course in all these spheres. Our total well-being requires finding the path of moderation for our entire life.

Hence this charter. It says that the middle path is the one shown by the Messenger ﷺ to us so we can show it to the rest of humanity. Paths that deviate from it deviate toward extremism of one form or another—even though they may be slickly packaged as being paths of moderation.

The Prophet’s Role, Our Responsibilities

كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِيكُمْ رَسُولًا مِّنكُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِنَا وَيُزَكِّيكُمْ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُعَلِّمُكُم مَّا لَمْ تَكُونُوا تَعْلَمُونَ
As also We have sent in your midst a messenger from among you, who recites to you Our revelations, and purifies you, and teaches you the Book and the wisdom, and teaches you what you did not know. (Al-Baqarah, 2:151)

See the  repeated reference to  “you.” This āyah describes the  assignments of  the  Prophet  ﷺ regarding us.  That automatically  fixes our responsibilities regarding each one of these tasks. It was his job to teach; it remains our job to learn. It is our job to learn the recitation of the Qur’ān as he taught, to get purified, to learn the Book and wisdom,  and learn whatever he came to teach us. For each discipline, there are unbroken chains of teachers going back to the Prophet ﷺ from whom we can learn. The Qur’ān teachers, sufi masters, scholars, Hadith experts, and jurists are all there as are the books they have produced for our education.

This message is repeated in  An-Nisā’ 3:164 where it begins by saying that “Allāh has surely conferred favor on the believers” by sending the Messenger ﷺ with these tasks. We need to ask ourselves whether we are showing gratefulness for this favor.

When Calamity Strikes

الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ
Who,  when  a  suffering  visits  them,  say, “Verily,  unto  Allāh  do  we belong and, verily, unto Him we shall return.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:156)

While most of us may know these words and use them at the death of someone, their true significance escapes many. The preceding and subsequent āyahs give glad tidings to those who say these words at the time of any calamity declaring, “Those are the ones upon whom there are blessings from their Lord, and mercy as well; and those are the ones who are on the right path.” According to a hadith these blessed words are a special gift of Allāh for this Ummah. That is why we do not find even previous prophets using them.

Their use should not be limited to the occasion of death. According to a hadith, everything that hurts a believer is the suffering mentioned here. Every instance of discomfort is an occasion for saying these words and getting the reward for being patient. The Prophet ﷺ showed by example that the scope of usage of these words extends to small things as well: a thorn prick, an insect bite, a lamp running out of oil, a shoe lace breaking.

 

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Insha'Allah, ISD will be streaming the daily Traweeh Prayer Live from Masjid Ibrahim. This is a great opportunity for those who cannot join in person to watch and listen to the beautiful recitation of Quran by Sheikh Abdel-Hadi.

 

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