An interesting essay on how too much focus on a particular `aqeeda can be a negative thing.

I am honored to share the following insightful reflections and observations, on a topic that is usually approached in a divisive manner, from my esteemed teacher Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi. Although this blog normally serves to share my personal writings and work, I feel that in this case,  Dr Akram took the ideas straight out of my heart and expressed them in words I could never have come up with. So I share them here for my esteemed readers, reproduced from the Nadwi Foundation.

Some Reflections on ‘Aqidah

All Rights Reserved.

© Mohammad Akram Nadwi, Oxford

A creed is a special kind of formal statement of religious belief or collection of such statements. A very good and justly famous creed among the Sunnis is the document known as al-‘Aqidah al-Tahawiyyah. I will be discussing it at some length. First I wish to clarify the framework in which I will present…

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A khutba of the husband’s obligations towards his wife,  using summarised extracts from one chapter of the very good book  “The Fragile Vessels” by Muhammad alJibaly

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Prior to Islam

In societies that had deviated from the straight path women were considered a tradeable commodity. Similarly during the arab period of jáhiliyya prior to the advent of Islam, the woman’s position was extremely poor, being considered part of her father’s or husband’s property. AlHamdulillaah with the coming of the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, the right position of women was upheld and established.

With Islam came the sound way for men and women to deal with each other. Before going over the specific rights of the wife over her husband let’s first look at some Islamic qualities that apply especially between a man and a wife:

  • Good manners

Good manners are a distinctive characteristic of the religion of Islam. Abu Hurayrah reported that the prophet said:

“I have only been sent by Allah to complete the good manners” (ibn Sa`d, alHaakim)

He also said: “The best among the believers are those with the best manners” (Ibn Majah)

  • Truthfulness

Allah swt praises truthfulness in many places of His Book, and condemns liars.

  • Humbleness
  • Mercy and Kindness

The two spouses should show utmost compassion and mercy towards each other. They should be quick to overlook faults and forgive each other. The prophet pbuh said:

“The merciful ones are granted mercy by the Most Merciful (arRahmaan). Show mercy to those who are on Earth, and the One above the heavens will show mercy to you”

  • Avoid arguing and quarrelling

Frequent arguing and quarrelling is a sure way to undermine the ties between the married couple and should therefore be avoided. The prophet is reported to have said

“I am a guarantor of a house on the outskirts of Jannah for one who abandons arguing, even if he is right; and a house in the center of Jannah for one who abandons lying, even if he is joking; and a house in the highest place of Jannah for one who has good manners” (Abu Dawud)

The Obligations

Now lets look at the specific rights of the wife over her husband. The prophet  said:
إنّما النّساء شقائق الرجال

“Indeed women are the full sisters of men”

“I strongly admonish you in regards to the right of the weak ones – the orphan and the woman”

“You have rights on your women, and your women have rights on you”

We have traditions from the prophet (peace be upon him) relating to the rights that our wives have in all the following areas:

  • Protection

Security and safety are most important for a human being. One needs to feel reasonably secure in order to function normally and perform one’s regular tasks: Quran 4:34:

الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَآءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعضَهُم عَلَىٰ بَعضٍ۬ وَبِمَآ أَنفَقُواْ مِن أَموالِهِم

<<Men are caretakers of women, since Allah has made some of them excel the others, and because of the wealth they have spent>>

  • Ghayrah

As a demonstration of a man’s love towards his wife he should have ghayrah for her. Ghayrah is the great concern about her well-being, and the zeal to protect her from anything that might harm her person such as an evil touch, word or look.

  • Avoiding unnecessary suspicion

The prophet said: “When one of you is back from a long journey, he should not suddenly come to his family by night” (Bukhari, Muslim)

  • Safeguarding her secrets

It is greatly prohibited for a man to expose is wife’s secrets, especially in matters of privacy that no person would normally know except the husband, such as birthmarks, reaction to some intimate action etc.

  • Financial Support

One of the husbands major responsibilities towards his wife and family is providing financial support. The prophet said:

“They have a right on you – that you provide them with food and clothing in a fitting manner” (Muslim, Abu Dawud)

This support is in accordance with his capability, Allah swt says (2:286):

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفسًا إِلَّا وُسعَهَا‌

<<Allah does not burden a person beyond his capacity>>

  • Self-sufficiency

A man must seriously view his financial responsibility toward his wife and family. He should not look to others for help before he has exhausted all possible means of becoming independent and self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency brings a feeling of security and dignity to the whole family.

Abu Hurayrah may Allah be pleased with him, said that the prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said:

وَاللَّهِ لأَنْ يَغْدُوَ أَحَدُكُمْ فَيَحْتَطِبَ عَلَى ظَهْرِهِ فَيَبِيعَهُ ، فَيَسْتَغْنِيَ مِنْهُ ، أَوْ يَتَصَدَّقَ بِهِ ، خَيْرٌ لَهُ مِنْ أَنْ يَأْتِيَ رَجُلا فَيَسْأَلَهُ ، فَيَمْنَعَهُ ذَلِكَ ، إِنَّ الْيَدَ الْعُلْيَا خَيْرٌ مِنَ الْيَدِ السُّفْلَى ، وَابْدَأْ بِمَنْ تَعُولُ
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“By Allah, for one of you to go in the morning, collect firewood, carry it on his back, and sell it to suffice himself and give charity from it: that is better for him than going to a man and asking him – he either giving or denying. That is because the upper (giving) hand is better than the lower (taking) hand. And start (giving) to those for whom you are responsible.”

  • A highly rewardable charity

The messenger of Allah said:

“Whatever a man gives to his wife is a charity (in his record)” (Ahmad)

he also said:

“When a muslim spends on his family, thereby seeking Allah’s reward, it is regarded as sadaqa for him” (Bukhari, Muslim)

  • The best form of spending

A man’s concern should first be about reasonably sufficing his wife and family. It is reported that the messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:

“When Allah gives one of you some good, he should start be spending on himself and his family members” (Muslim, Ahmad)

  • Adequate support is an earned right for the wife

If a man does not financially support his wife in a manner compatible with his financial resources and her needs, she would be justified to take, without his permission, a portion of his money that would suffice her and her children. Aisha rah reported that Hind bint `Utbah came to the prophet and said “Oh messenger of Allah! Indeed Abu Sufyan is a stingy man. He does not give me what would suffice me and my children – except for tht which I take without his knowledge.”

He said:

خذي من ماله بالمعروف ما يكفيك و ما يكفي بنيك

“Take of his money, in a reasonable manner, as much as would suffice you and your children.” (Muslim)

  • The great sin of neglect

The prophet saw said:

“A sufficient sin for a person would be that he neglects those whom he feeds”

  • Providing her with food, clothing and other basic needs

Allah swt says in surat alBaqara 2:233:

وَعَلَى المَولُودِ لَهُ  رِزْقُهُنَّ وَكِسوَتهُنَّ بِالمَعرُوفِ‌

<<And upon the father is their (the mother’s) provision and clothing according to what is reasonable>>

  • Providing a reasonable dwelling
  • The dowry (mahr)
  • Kind treatment and compassion

Allah says in surat an Nisaa’ 4:19:

<<Live with them (your wives) in kindness; even if you dislike them, perhaps you dislike something in which Allah has placed much good.>>

  • Understanding the woman’s different and fragile nature
  • Entertaining the wife
  • Fairness and justice

It is an obligation on the husband to treat his wife and family with fairness and justice.

The prophet pbuh said:

“Avoid oppression, because oppression will result in deep darkness on the Day of Resurrection”

  • Equal turns

Discipline

I’d like to share these beautiful islamic aperiodic patterns with you, created using software researched and developed by two Argentinian brothers (Luis Fernando and Julian Eduardo Molina Abaca) with software / scientific backgrounds.

See more of their research here and here.

You can read more about these patterns and some ongoing scientific research (relating to quasicrystals) at physicsworld.com (requires free registration).

Recently a young Indian CEO died, possibly from lack of sleep, and it caused a lot of comment on a discussion forum that I read regularly (Hacker News). Although this forum is primarily for IT guys, this story generated a lot of interest because these guys, like so many of us, are very interested in maximizing their day, making the most of the time they have. Carpe Diem and all that. Hence they are very interested in techniques to minimise the amount of sleep required, and the possible side effects thereof.
This phenomena of trying to squeeze in as much as possible into the day manifests itself in many areas. Among parents in the UK there is a culture of trying to give your child exposure to so many activities – swimming, language lessons, maths tuition, horse riding – and the parents spend all their free time shuttling their kids from one place to another.
I myself suffer from this same problem of feeling that I don’t get enough done in the day, that too much is neglected. However, is this not the result of having the wrong priorities? As a muslim the most important thing is to do the right thing, not to do as many things as possible, many of which (frankly) have little benefit in this world, and none at all in the next. If we could just slow down and do a few good things well, that would be so much better for us.

This is a khutba I delivered:

Brothers and sisters we have been born into a society very unlike the societies that our parents, grandparents and older generations were born into.

Science has advanced far beyond what our grandparents could have envisioned and the combination of cheap and instant global communication together with cheap international travel has led to the development of a global monoculture. This monoculture is formed within the most powerful group of all, usually called by its blanket name the West.

This monoculture brings with it a worldview which has the invisible attraction that draws those that would like to have power (or at least, not be weak) towards those that have power.

However, to those that think, this worldview is unattractive. If fact it is often ugly. Even those who promote its views and ethics confess that they invented the ethics themselves. The intellectual cadre within them even promote the belief that those ethics ‘evolved’ for the material benefit of those holding the views. The intellectuals make no claim to have a real set of ethics that all should follow, although the governments send their armies out around the world with the excuse of correcting the morals of the owners of the resources the army are laying claim to.

We are here today because, thank God, we have found and united on a divinely sourced worldview which we all recognise as being the straight path. How did we recognise this worldview of ours, Islam, as divine? Each of us has had our own path to that realisation, but for all of us a pillar (whether realised or not) of our belief is the miracle of the Qur’aan.

The qur’aan was revealed to the prophet Muhammad (SAW) 1400 years ago over a period of 23 years. Its message was so powerful, beautiful and transforming that when the messenger Muhammad told his companions that it was delivered to him by the angel Gabriel, they had no doubt that he was telling the truth. The continued miracle of the revelation of the message of the Qur’aan and the wonderful character and uprightness of its prophet inspired his companions to propagate this divine message.

This message was so evidently divine in origin, inspiring and beautiful that it was treasured and followed by the companions of the prophet, and then their subsequent generations. This amazing message spread across land and sea at astonishing speed to Morocco in the West and China in the East, and spread its light also through the ages across 1400 years. If we estimate 27 years as the average generation gap then this is over 50 generations. From the earliest days of the revelations it was recognised that the message must be preserved exactly as the angel Gabriel delivered it and to this day we have the written Qur’aan exactly as it was written then. The hearts of over a billion people have been illuminated by this divine message.

Amongst the first few ayas revealed to the prophet Muhammad SAW were those ayas from surat al`Alaq:

<<Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created>>

<<Created man, out of a clot of congealed blood>>

<<Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful>>

<<He Who taught by the pen>>

<<Taught man that which he knew not.>>

This beautiful message said that Allah teaches by the pen what we do not know – and amazingly Allah is still teaching us with this message 1400 years later. 1400 years and 50 generations have passed, we live thousands of miles away from the place of revelation, societal structure has changed tremendously and yet every single verse of the 6200 verses in the Qur’aan still fully apply to and transform our lives. This is surely one of the greatest miracles of the Qur’aan.

The Qur’aan was revealed in Arabic for the obvious reason that it be understood by the society within which it was revealed. Also, and not by coincidence, it is the language best suited to carry the weight of this mighty message, and indeed the burden on the language is heavy:

<<If We had sent down this Qur’an upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah. And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought.>>

One of the beautiful facets of classical Arabic ( اللغة الفصحى) is how it carries the concepts expressed in the Qur’aan and how it helps the one who contemplates its meaning to approach what it is intended to say.

We wanted to protect your rights so that you could take that burka off.

So first of all we killed your husband. Still, you didn’t take the burka off and you didn’t even say thank you.

So then we killed your father. Still, you didn’t take the burka off and you didn’t even say thank you.

So then we killed your brothers. Still, you didn’t take the burka off and you didn’t even say thank you.

So then we killed your sons. Still, you didn’t take the burka off and you didn’t even say thank you.

When will you thank us for giving you your rights!

I had to give a khutba at short notice, so I wrote this by piecing together some good pieces on the internet, and adding some insights of my own:

Part I

The importance of patience

In the last ayat of surat-alAsr Allah tells us the importance of encouraging each other to patience.

Being patient is one of the most important attributes of a muslim. Allah mentions it in the quran more than 90 times and has said that the patient gain a great reward, for instance, Allah says in surat Hud:

“Except those who are patient and do good, they shall have forgiveness and a great reward.”

Other ayats relating to patience:

Consider surat alBaqara ayats 152 – 157:

“Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, and be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me.”

“O you who believe! seek assistance through patience and prayer; surely Allah is with the patient.”

(What does it mean when Allah is with you – ‘whoever has gained Allah, what has he lost, and whoever has lost Allah, what has he gained’)

“And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead; nay, (they are) alive, but you do not perceive.”

(This was revealed about those Muslims who were killed at Badr. They were fourteen in total: eight from the Helpers and six from the Migrants.)

“And We will most certainly try you with somewhat of fear and hunger and loss of property and lives and fruits; and give good news to the patient,”

“Who, when a misfortune befalls them, say: Surely we are Allah’s and to Him we shall surely return.”

Now Allah tells us of the great reward for patience:  Those are they on whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord, and those are the followers of the right course.

Also the great reward for the patient is mentioned is surat azzumar:

“Say: O my servants who believe! be careful of (your duty to) your Lord; for those who do good in this world is good, and Allah’s earth is spacious; only the patient will be paid back their reward in full without measure.”

Making du`aa in times of difficulty

There are many du`aa found in the qur’aan. Later in surat alBaqara, ayat 286, Allh teaches us a beautiful du`aa that we can make in times of difficulty:

“Allah does not impose upon any soul a duty but to the extent of its ability; for it is (the benefit of) what it has earned and upon it (the evil of) what it has wrought: Our Lord! do not punish us if we forget or make a mistake; Our Lord! do not lay on us a burden as Thou didst lay on those before us, Our Lord do not impose upon us that which we have not the strength to bear; and pardon us and grant us protection and have mercy on us, Thou art our Patron, so help us against the unbelieving people.”

Types of patience

There are 3 general types of patience:

The first type of patience is when a person works constantly to fulfill obligations and to do righteous deeds.

The second type of patience is when a person abstains from prohibited acts and from evil. Abstaining from prohibited acts requires a great struggle against one’s desires, and takes much patience in refraining from the evil influences of Shayaateen among man and Shayaateen among jinn. Therefore, Allah (S.W.T.) will give great rewards on the Day of Judgment to those who patiently abstained from evil. The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) told us about the people who will receive a special reward: “Seven are (the persons) whom Allah would give protection with His shade on the day when there would be no shade but His shade (i.e., on the Day of Judgment) and among them: a youth who grew up with the worship of Allah, …a man whom an extremely beautiful woman seduces (for illicit relation), but he rejected this offer by saying: I fear Allah….” {Imams Bukhari and Muslim} Prophet Yusuf (S.A.W.) is another example of a person who abstained patiently from the evil lure of the wife of a nobleman of Egypt. Prophet Yusuf chose incarceration for several years rather than committing an evil act.

The third type of patience is when a person practices patience during times of hardship without complaints. One must not complain because Allah (S.W.T.) predestines their hardship. This is the fruit of believing in predestination. Predestination is one of the pillars of faith. (fa akhbirnii `anil-iimaan: qaala: an tu’mina billaahi wa malaa’ikatihi wa kutubihi wa rusulihi wal-yami l-aakhir wa tu’mina bi qadari khairihi wa sharrihi)

Part II

Delay gratification to increase the reward

Patience is about taking the long term view – the intelligent persons approach.

There have even been scientific studies that demonstrate that even in this dunya there are benefits to practising patience and being prepared to wait for an increased reward. One example was reported by the BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A47688178:

A study that was done in the 1960’s by Standford University psychology researcher Michael Mischel. His study demonstrated how important self-discipline is to success.

The study began with a group of children 4 years old. He optionally offered them one marshmallow immediately, but instead if they could wait for him to return later, they could have two marshmallows instead. He left for approximately 20 minutes. His theory? The children that could wait would demonstrate they had the ability to delay gratification and control impulse, both significant and important traits for attaining wealth and being financially successful. As you would expect, some children took one marshmallow, and other children decided to wait and received two later.

Fourteen years later, the simple study demonstrated the significant differences between the two groups of children. The children who delayed gratification and waited until Dr. Mischel’s return were more positive, persistent when faced with life difficulties, more self motivated and were able to delay immediate gratification in order to pursue their longer term goals.

The children who chose 1 marshmallow didn’t fare as well. They were more indecisive, mistrustful of others, less self confident and often more troubled in general. They were more obviously unable to delay immediate gratification.

Comparing the SAT scores of the 1 marshmallow students to the 2 marshmallow students showed that students that chose 1 marshmallow scored an average of 210 points lower (range is 600 – 2400 – AL) than the 2 marshmallow students. Why? 2 marshmallow students are able to sacrifice immediate activity in the interest of more focused study time for a longer term benefit. The one marshmallow students were far more impulsive resulting in higher distraction and less focus on their school work. They fell for the old “Hey let’s go out, you can always study later“.

Lack of impulse control has proven to result in less successful marriages, low job satisfaction, bad health, overall frustration in life. All of these result in something that has significant negative impact on being wealthy: low income.

Car loans etc.

It is very clear in Islam that interest is to be totally avoided, so be patient and wait until you can buy the car with cash.

How to practice patience

Patience can be learnt, and it grows and builds upon each smaller act of patience. Try to slow down a little, don’t expect everything to be done really quickly.  Anas ibn Maalik related that the prophet said:

التأني من الله العجلة من الشيطان

Acting slowly, biding one’s time is from Allah – haste is from Shaytan.

I talked about when you have patience Allah is with you. What happens to those who do not pay due attention to Allah?:

<<And he whose sight is dim to the remembrance of the Beneficent, We assign unto him a shaytaan who becometh his comrade;>>

surat azzukhruf:36

that is, they will find themselves in the company of a shaytaan.  What that means is that they will experience whispers suggesting wrong thoughts, that they be disobedient to Allah by committing sins. Therefore it is very helpful to maintain patience we should regularly remember Allah, be that through adhkaar, ihsaan – being aware that Allah is watching you as explained by Gibril as, reading the quran. When we remember Allah we are helped to be patient when bad things are happening to us.

The prophet’s advice for dealing with anger:

Hadith – Sahih Bukhari 8.136,

Two men abused each other in front of the Prophet while we were sitting with him. One of the two abused his companion furiously and his face became red. The Prophet said, “I know a word (sentence) the saying of which will cause him to relax if this man says it. Only if he said, ‘I seek refuge with Allah from Satan, the outcast.’ ” So they said to that (furious) man, “Don’t you hear what the Prophet is saying?” He said, “I am not mad.”

Hadith – Sunan of Abu Dawood,

AbuWa’il al-Qass said: We entered upon Urwah ibn Muhammad ibn as-Sa’di. A man spoke to him and made him angry. So he stood and performed ablution; he then returned and performed ablution, and said: My father told me on the authority of my grandfather Atiyyah who reported the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) as saying: Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution.

Hadith – Sunan of Abu Dawood,

The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said to us: When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down.

IBM develop ‘most realistic’ computerised voice

The voice is made even more convincing because it has been programmed to include verbal tics such as “ums”, “ers” and sighs….

So while IBM struggle to make the computer seem more human, humans in call centres are instructed to follow scripted conversations as closely as possible.

I’m wondering, will man race more quickly to be robot, or the robot to be the man?

We need to pay more attention to our heart and souls, the hyper-rational mind is favoured too much.

Imam alGhazali in his book The Revival Of the Religious Sciences إحياء علوم الدّين has a section on the manners of reading/reciting the Qur’aan – آداب تلاوة القرآن .

This is a very brief summary of the main points from the third chapter of that section, The Internal Actions during Recitation –  أعمال الباطن في تلاوة القرآن .

  1. فهم عظمة القرآن و علوّه و فضل الله – Understanding the greatness of the speech of Allah and the favour of Allah in sending the Qur’aan
  2. التعظيم للمتكلم – Appreciating the greatness of the speaker, Allah
    • Whenever we start reciting the Qur’aan we should first bring to mind the greatness of Allah and feel how we should be so careful of how we approach it. Just as not every hand can touch the Qur’aan (ie. without wudu’) so also not every tongue is fit to read the letters of the Qur’aan (sura alwaaqi`ah).
  3. حضور القلب و ترك حديث النفس – Presence of the heart and leaving the talking of the nafs (self)
  4. التدبّر – Contemplation
    • Only think about the Qur’aan and not the sound of the Qur’aan coming from yourself
    • Recite with tarteel so that you have time to concentrate on the meaning
    • Ali said:  لا خير في عبادة لا فقه فيها و لا في قراءة لا تدبّر فيها (there is no good in worship that has no understanding in it, and no good in reading (the Qur’aan) that has no contemplation in it)
    • If you can’t pay sufficient attention in the first reading then read the ayat again, unless you are praying behind an imam
  5. التفهّم – You should investigate the appropriate meanings of the ayats , the descriptions of Allah, the actions of Allah such as the creation, the descriptions of the prophets
  6. التخلّي عن موانع الفهم – Keeping away from the actions which prevent understanding such as
    • Concentrating on the correct recitation of the letters rather than the meaning of the ayas
  7. التخصيص – Understanding that the messages are aimed at yourself
    • Orders
    • Forbiddings
  8. التأثّر – Allow the heart to be affected with the results of his reading
    • Sadness
    • Fear
    • Hope

    Whatever level your understanding reaches, the overriding emotion should be خشية fear, apprehension. This is because largely when we see an ayat of forgiveness it is followed by conditions, for instance surat Taa Haa<<But indeed, I am the Perpetual Forgiver of whoever repents and believes and does righteousness and then continues in guidance.>>

  9. الترقّي – Progressing – ascend to the level of listening to the speech from Allah and not himself
    • Level 1 is when the slave judges himself to be reading to Allah from in front of Allah and Allah is looking towards him and listening to him. The slave has a state of questioning (سؤال), adulation (تملّق),  pleading (تضرّع) and praying humbly (ابتهال).
    • Level 2 is when the slave feels in his heart as if Allah sees him and he (Allah) is addressing him and saving him with his bounties and favours.
    • Level 3 is when the slave sees in the speech the speaker and in the words the descriptions so he does not look to himself or his recitation or even to the relation between the bounties and the giver of the bounties. Instead he restricts himself and his thoughts to deep concentration on the speaker  (Allah).
  10. التبري – Distancing yourself – when you recite ayats of praise for those who do goods you don’t account yourself amongst them but instead ask Allah to put you amongst them, and likewise when you recite ayats about wrongdoers you associate yourself with them and ask Allah to forgive you.

This is the content of a khutba about سورة العصر (the chapter in the Qur’aan called surat al`ASr).

  • students here are from the more intelligent of their generation
  • in 2010 the quran is the foundation of our deen
  • also fundamental to our deen is the 5 times salat during which we recite quran in arabic
  • the combination of the above puts an onus on us to understand as much as we can from what we recite
  • Allah does not burden a soul with more than it can bear. Each of you need to assess what level of understanding you should be aiming to achieve. <<But those who believe and work righteousness,- no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear,- they will be Companions of the Garden, therein to dwell (for ever) >> surat ul a`raaf 7:42

With that in mind and with the encouragement of the Messenger of God Muhammad صلّى الله عليه و سلّم (peace and blessings be upon him) we should memorise what we can of the Qur’aan and try our best to understand it. The صحابة (companions of the prophet) used not to memorize further Qur’aan until they had put into action the last ten ayas that they had learnt. From that we can deduce that we should concentrate on memorising and understanding the short suras so as to make sure we are focusing on the most urgent elements of the message that Allah has sent to us. Today I am going to explain the meaning of a small sura to you and help you to focus on the key arabic words so that when you recite it in your prayers ( صلاة) you can be aware of and attend to its meaning.

This sura is سورة العصر and there are six key words that we should memorise the meaning of:

  • عَصْر      (`ASr) Time
  • خُسْر      (khusr) Loss
  • ءامنوا    (aamanuu) Believed (from إيمان Eemaan, faith)
  • صالحات    (SaaliHaat) Good deeds
  • حَقّ     (Haqq) Truth, Right, Reality
  • صَبْر    (Sabr) Patience

<<By time>>

The word `ASr has multiple meanings amongst them:

  • time
  • epoch/ages
  • the declining day
  • the afternoon prayer which is called `ASr

Brothers and sisters we often hear talk of the scientific miracles of the Qur’aan but I think we overlook much greater miracles than these. I’ve already mentioned how the Qur’aan has emanated its light across the entire globe and 50 generations of people. We overlook the amazing miracle that anything exists at all! How is the universe sustained from nano-second to nano-second, and from aeon to aeon. How is it that we, our exact persons, came into existence? Why were our souls picked to live on this Earth out of the infinite possibilities? Surely the natural state in the absence of God is nothingness. Because everyone takes these phenomena for granted we overlook how extraordinary they are.

Time itself is amazing. Without time there would be no cause and effect. Without time the concept of knowing the past but not knowing the future would not exist. There would be no memories and no plans. The Qur’aan makes reference to the creation, the beginning of time, and the end of time. Also the creation of mankind on this Earth and yawm alqiyaama (يوم القيامة) the end of mankind on this Earth. Allah describes our own personal paths through time, from birth to death. Allah سبحانه و تعالى tells us that He is the not only the Creator (الخالق )but also the Beginning and the End (الأوّل و الأخر ).

Time acts as a veil (حجاب, Hijaab) between ourselves and our destinies. We often look to the heavens as a veil between us and Allah, but what about the subatomic world and its subatomic nature? These all act as veils between us and the reality of Allah, الحقّ alHaqq.

In this ayat Allah is swearing an oath as to the strength and verity of the message he is about to give us. He swears By Time, the message the follows is true and of utmost importance. So what is this message? There is a warning and also good news.

<<Indeed, mankind is in loss>>

Allah emphasises that in the absence of other actions man is at a loss. He is making a metaphor that on judgement day our good and bad deeds will be weighed up just as an accountant weighs up profit and loss. The key word to memorise here is khusr خُسْر meaning ‘loss’.

<<…… and those who reject the Signs of Allah,- it is they who will be in loss >>

Signs of Allah means here not just the verses of the Qur’aan but all those natural phenomena that we can witness and contemplate both in the universe around us and within ourselves. Allah commands us in the Qur’aan to think and to contemplate.

All will be at a loss except…

<<Except those who believe and do good, and enjoin on each other truth, and enjoin on each other patience>>

To make a profit for the last day we have to do good deeds and mutually encourage truth and patience. For our Salaat we should focus here on

  • ءامنوا they believe, from the root word إيمان belief. We should have faith which is complete, pure and sincere. It should be
    • declared with the tongue
    • felt with conviction in the heart
    • acted upon
  • صالحات  good deeds. We should do good deeds for the sake of Allah alone. Remember, deeds are accounted for according to our intentions. The companions of the prophet SAW used to run out into the road if they thought someone needed help outside, solely to gain reward with Allah.
  • حَقّ   has multiple meanings, amongst them truth, reality and right (as in one’s rights). It is also one of the names of Allah.We have to mutually encourage each other to the truth, to giving each other his rights/due.
  • صَبْر  patience. It is having patience that separates the men from the boys. We need patience in:
    • fulfilling our daily acts of worship (`ibaada, عبادة)
    • avoiding temptations
    • accepting hardship and afflictions
    • having gratitude for everything (shukr, شكر). The prophet said

How amazing is the affair of the believer. Everything is good for him – and that is for no one but the believer: If good times come his way he is thankful and that is good for him, and if hardship comes his way he is patient and that is good for him.

We should also notice that as the ulema have pointed out to us, even the order of the words carries meaning. First we must believe, and then do good deeds with the good intention of the believer to act for Allah’s sake. We should uphold the truth and our brothers and sisters rights, and should have the patience to put up with the difficulties that standing against the flow and decay brings with it.

So brothers and sisters for those of you who don’t already know it, I strongly encourage you to learn the meanings of these six words and to contemplate their meaning whenever you recite this sura in your Salat. There are many resources available for you to go and learn this in your own time over the course of the next week or so.