The Quran’s Intro…

InshaaAllah…I hope to start reflecting on the Quran by way of writing my reflections. By this, I hope that it becomes a reminder for myself as I can always read them again and again, and as we go through stages in our lives, perspectives may change, wisdom hopefully increases, and experiences enrich our understanding, so I hope that I can also benefit from reading my past reflections and add new ones. May Allah also bless this and make it beneficial for others. Ameen.

This is not tafseer by any means. It is just my own reflections. Anyone can reflect on the Quran. In fact, we are encouraged so many times in the Quran to reflect and absorb it, and put it into actions. That is what I am trying to pursue inshaaAllah ; to reflect, ponder, absorb, and put it into actions.

The Quran begins with surah Al Fatihah. It has many names, and one of them is Ummul Kitab [The mother of the book]. Al fatihah is essentially a dua. It begins with praise of Allah and ends with a plea for guidance that is specified. This is what we utter everyday in our prayers, 5 times a day and more with nawaafil.

It struck me how the Quran’s intro, is a dua, and of course, since it is the speech of Allah, it introduces mankind to Him through His praises. It then teaches mankind to ask of Him, and subhanallah, dua is the greatest act of worship. Allah also is teaching us what to ask for. Guidance should be the number one priority when asking Him for something, for if you are guided, that will suffice you in this life and the hereafter, and if you are not, then…fill in the blanks.

Right after this dua, Allah begins the 2nd surah, Surah Al Baqarah, the longest surah in the Quran. Look at how it begins; with huroof muqatta’aat. It grabs your attention. Imagine you are sitting down and opening up a book you want to read. You read the intro page, then you go to chapter 1. The intro page usually explains the content, or the purpose of the book. Then, the book begins. In writing, they always encourage writers to begin with a bang. Grab the attention or your readers! And there are lists of suggestions on ways to do this.

2:1
Sahih International

Alif, Lam, Meem.

In the Quran, Allah grabs the listeners’ attention with huroof muqatta3aat (disjointed letters). To the first recipients, who were experts at the language, this was baffling. The basic units of their language are being put together in a way that they had never used before, and so it has that ‘begin with a bang’ effect.

2:2
Sahih International

This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah –

Right after this, Allah introduces this book, the Quran, as it is the the very subject of the whole discourse. Right out, Allah states that there are no doubts in this book, thereby assuring the listeners that what they are about to read is solid. When we open any book, we maybe do open it with some skepticism. Maybe we don’t know the author, but we are intrigued by the title of the book, or by the info on the flap of the book jacket, or whatever. When we open the Quran, Allah immediately assures us that this read, is going to be doubt-free. No need to be skeptical, or at unease.

Rayb (translated as doubt) is doubts that makes the heart restless. There are other words used for ‘doubt’ in Arabic, like miryah, shakk, but Allah chose this particular word for this instance. Implication :-

You are opening this book, before you even venture further, rest assured that this book doesn’t have anything that should make you uneasy or have doubts that would make you feel restless. Dive in and read, with this assurance from Allah Azza wajalll.

But Allah also adds, ‘it is a guidance for those who are God-fearing/righteous/God-conscious. People may say,

I’m not convinced by this assurance.

or

I am still skeptical

Allah makes clear that this book guides those who are muttaqeen. Then he describes who these people are in the next 2 ayaat.

2:3
Sahih International

Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them,

2:4
Sahih International

And who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith].

Qualities of a Muttaqeen :
  • they believe in the unseen (pillars of iman/articles of faith)
  • they establish salah
  • they spend from that which they have been given
  • they believe in what has been sent to Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam and what has been sent to those before him
  • they have certainty in the hereafter

So, action items that personally struck me:-

  • establish salah
  • spend from that which you have been given
  • have certainty in the hereafter

Establishing salah includes observing the times of salah, making wudhu properly, not wasting water while doing so, applying the sunnah of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam by doing it once sometimes, twice other times, and thrice other times, and knowing that there is a rukhsah when you are in situations where you can’t find water or can’t use water. Salah is SO important that no matter where you are, what situations you are in, you HAVE to still do it. As a mother, I take this as a responsibility to train my children not only how to perform their salah, but to also understand how important it truly is. It is not to be taken lightly.

I was telling my youngest child, my 6 year old, that when he turns 7 inshaaAllah, he will get to pick a salah to perform. But that salah that he picks, he will have to commit to it forever, no matter what the situation. This was how I trained the older kids to perform salah. I know it’s a bit unconventional, but I find that it has the aspect of graduality and ease in it because they get to have a feel of committing seriously to something, and they get to learn the intricate details of salah without feeling overwhelmed by the different number of rakaahs of the different salawaat. After a few months (it was about 6 for the older kids), I would then let him choose another salah and so on. The objective is that by age 10, this child would have been trained to commit to all 5 salawaat, to pray them in whatever situation without fail.

To make it easier, I am the one who is giving the option of which prayers to choose from. Usually, I start with Zuhr and asr because of the timing. I had asked Z yesterday, and he mentioned maghrib. I’m still thinking that over, trying to see if that is a good salat to start with, especially with time changes and what not. We’ll see inshaaAllah.

Establishing salah also includes striving for khushoo, which is a continuous and daily struggle for me. Subhanallah..there is so much to establishing salah. It’s really not just praying it 5 times a day. It’s fulfilling the rights of salah by observing all the other details associated with it. This is the establishment of salah. have I established my salah? To be completely honest, no. I have yet to be a muttaqeen then.

To spend from what you have been given is to basically share your blessings. Rizq encompasses more than just money. Rizq also includes health, talents, time, skills, comfort. For me, as I’m not a breadwinner, spending money is sometimes a bit complicated due to logistics. However, that is no excuse for me not to spend of what Allah has given me. I have time and energy and skills and talents that I can ‘spend’ in the way of Allah. As a mother, raising my children that are hopefully pleasing to Allah is also a spending, for any parent knows how much time, energy, effort h/she puts to do this. These children are what are going to be left behind as the future. They are our future, and for us, certainty in the hereafter, would imply that we raise our children, keeping in mind that these will be our continuous deeds, and that we will stand before Allah and be accountable for this huge responsibility.

That is what keeps me somewhat grounded in raising my children; that I will stand before Allah, and He will ask me if I fulfilled my responsibility towards them. Did I violate their rights? Did I honestly raise them while putting my best effort? Did I seek His and their forgiveness when I err or do violate their rights?

I know I err everyday in raising them. This is also my daily struggle. May Allah help me. Ameen.

It’s important to note that Allah uses the word yooqinoon when it comes to akhhirah. It then means ‘having certainty in the hereafter’ not just ‘believing in the hereafter’. What does that imply?

To me, from what I have learned from Taleem and from Ustadh Nouman’s tafseer, that implies that the hereafter is so certain to you that it is as if you actually see it in front of you. This visual imagery to me, is so deep and profound. Imagine that you have this tunnel vision where you see the hereafter everywhere you go, whatever you do. You are in a social gathering, and you are exercising your tongue. In the course of that, you see the hereafter, Jannah and jahannam. Would you control what you say or do in this social gathering when you see jannah and Jahannam ? or, you see yourself standing before Allah, being questioned by Him. As you are about to open your mouth, you see this. Will you say what you are about to say? You are about to yell at your kids. You see yourself answering to Allah for this action. Will that ‘sight’ be overpowering enough to stop you in your tracks? You are about to speak ill about someone. You see the Qantarah, and you see yourself losing all your good deeds to this person you spoke ill of, and after crossing the sirat with succes and avoiding falling into the hellfire, you are being stripped away of your prized good deeds one by one, until you tremble because you now realize you are going to be turned back from the qantarah towards the hellfire. Jannah is so close, oh so close! You’re almost there! Are you then going to speak ill about this person? Will you risk this happening to you just to vent your frustration and anger?

Easier said than done. But you gotta do what you gotta do. So do it.

2:5
Sahih International

Those are upon [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful.

If you can do all these things, then you are of the muflihoon (the successful). falla7 means a farmer, but just like there are many words for ‘doubt’ in Arabic, there are also more than one word for ‘farmer’ in Arabic. Fallaa7 refers to the farmer who after sowing his seeds, toils everyday to water them, make sure they grow well, keep the pests away, weed the area, keep the plants protected, and not miss a day of taking care of these plants, because if he does, he will not get his harvest. This work requires persistence, patience, perseverance, determination, sacrifice, discipline. But, if a person persists through this, at the end, he will reap the harvest inshaaAllah, and so he is the muflihoon.

Like I said before, ‘easier said than done’. No doubt, the action items I listed above can be such struggles for us. Just establishing salah is a daily struggle, 5 times a day at that. Spending from what you have been given can be a real struggle, because human beings tend to develop a sense of entitlement to their blessings, and claiming that this is their God-given right, so why should they expend of it and trouble themselves through that spending? Having certainty of the hereafter is hard. I mean, how easy is it to have that hovering image of the hereafter with you everytime you do or say something? You have to have this high level of awareness and consciousness within you. Because it is the unseen, it tends to get side-swiped or forgotten easily as we get on with the busy-ness of our daily chores and tasks. Seriously. It’s not easy.

Allah knows that. Thus the significance and beauty of the use of the word muflihoon in describing these people whom He has described as Muttaqeen in the beginning. When you are conscious of Allah all the time, it should be easier to maintain this discipline and perseverance inshaaAllah, and as you exert your effort in maintaining this, you are like that farmer who dilligently tends to his crops everyday till harvest time. It’s hard work. But these are the people who then receives the guidance that is sought and asked for in surah al Fatihah and then mentioned again in the beginning of this surah, surah Al Baqarah.

There is this cycle of

Guidance -> Muttaqeen -> more guidance -> Muflihoon

May Allah give us tawfeeq to be of the muttaqeen and attain more guidance and reap our harvest when the time comes. Ameen!

 

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