Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ: Islamic Monotheism

Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ: Islamic Monotheism

Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ is one of the most powerful short Sūrahs in the Quran. Also known as Sūrah at-Tawḥīd, it is a summary of the core tenets of monotheism. In an authentic narration, it is referred to as one-third of the Quran. The message of the Quran focuses on three primary components of theology; monotheism, revelation, and the Afterlife. One-third of this message is summarized in Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ.

Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ is a Makkan Sūrah according to the majority of scholars. Its theme is purely Makkan in that it focuses on the essential attributes of Allah and clarification of pure monotheism. The scholars differ on whether it has four or five verses, with some schools of recitation counting “He does not beget” and “Nor was He begotten” as two separate verses. Allah knows best.

Virtues of Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ

It is reported on the authority of Abū Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Get together, for I am going to recite one-third of the Qur’an before you.” And those who could get together gathered there. Then the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) came out and recited: “Say: He, Allah, is One.” He then entered (his house). Some of us said to the others, “Perhaps there has been some news from the heaven on account of which he has gone inside (the house).” The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) again came out and said, “I told you that I was going to recite one-third of the Quran; keep in mind, this (Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ) is equivalent to one-third of the Qur’an.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 6:316)

Abū Saʿīd al-Khudrī narrated that a man heard another man reciting “Say He is Allah, the One.” repeatedly. The next morning he came to Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) and informed him about it as if he thought that it was not enough to recite. On that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “By Him in Whose Hand my life is, this Sūrah is equal to one-third of the Qur’an!” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 66: 35)

Pure Monotheism

The core message of this Sūrah is the Islamic understanding of monotheism. Islam is unique in its clear and uncompromising stance on the Oneness of God. Although the majority of religions, and the majority of humans, believe in One Creator, they have several major mistakes in their understanding of that Creator. The beauty of this Sūrah is that it clears up every one of those misconceptions with its four powerful verses.

The Sūrah begins by clarifying that there is only One God, Allah. This clarifies the misconception in many religions that there are one major god and several minor gods. The belief in a pantheon of gods was very common in several ancient religions and still exists in some parts of the world today. This verse makes it very clear that there is only One God.

The second verse clarifies that God is as-Ṣamad. The name as-Ṣamad is difficult to translate into English. An explanation is more suitable here than a translation. The name as-Ṣamad means that Allah does not need anything and everything is in need of Him. It indicates that He is All-Knowing, All-Seeing, All-Hearing, All-Powerful, and Ever-Living. It is a comprehensive name that covers many of the other names of Allah.

The mention of this name in this verse serves several purposes. It clarifies that Allah has the most beautiful names and attributes. It demonstrates the perfect power and might of Allah. And it clears up the misunderstanding that Allah needs our worship, or that we don’t need Him. The first verse clears up the doubts of those who believe in several gods. The second verse clears up the doubts of those who believe God has any weaknesses or is in need of assistance. Several religions portray images of their gods as weak and in need. Islam teaches us that Allah is As-Ṣamad. He needs nothing while we all need Him.

The third verse clarifies that Allah is unique in the sense that He has no descendants or ascendants. He is eternal, has always existed, and will always exist. Several religions preach the idea of a family of gods. Even today, there are many people who believe in concepts like someone being the son of God or the mother of God. These concepts are false beliefs that have no basis in revelation. The true God is eternal, He is not the descendant of anyone, nor does He have any children.

The final verse covers the fourth and final principles of Islamic monotheism; there is nothing like Him. This is a complete rejection of anthropomorphism. This may be the most unique aspect of the Islamic understanding of God. Almost every other religion worships an image of God. That image is often human, or a mixture of human and animal. Muslims reject all such images.

God is beyond our imagination, and nothing we think about could be God. He is unique in every possible way, and therefore it is prohibited to even try to imagine Him. This unique aspect of Islamic monotheism has, over the centuries, causes millions of people to convert to Islam. It makes far more sense to worship a God that is beyond human imagination than to worship an image that people made up.

Theological Controversies

The message of these verses is very clear. There is only One God. All of Creation depends on Him. He is eternal without ascendants or descendants, and there is nothing like Him. Despite having such a clear and uncompromising declaration of monotheism in the Quran, Muslims across the globe have developed different interpretations of that final principle; there is nothing like Him.

During the first two centuries of Islam, Muslims tended to avoid discussion on this issue and were united in keeping monotheism simple and pure. Once Greek philosophy was introduced into the Muslim world in the third century, Muslims began to overthink these concepts and split up into several schools of thought. Despite these schools of thought all co-existing peacefully throughout most of Islamic history, these differences have become causes of tension and chaos in our times.

Some zealous Muslims have raised these issues again, and in their zealousness they have declared every understanding of this issue deviant, besides their own. Such extremes can be found in every school of thought regarding the names and attributes of Allah. Their arguing and bickering over these interpretations have distracted the Muslim nation from our priorities and caused unnecessary disunity among Muslims.

Furthermore, these different schools of theology have caused doubt to enter the minds of some young Muslims. They wonder why Muslims differ regarding how to interpret the attributes of God, and how such a difference of opinion can exist on such a fundamental issue. This issue requires a much deeper discussion, and cannot be clarified in a few short paragraphs. I hope to discuss it in more detail at a later point if Allah wills it.

For now, I simply want to remind Muslims that our unity is essential. The differences of opinion that exist among Sunnī Muslims on the names and attributes of Allah are a secondary issue. All Sunnī Muslims believe in the four principles laid down in this Sūrah. All Sunnī Muslims agree upon the five pillars of Islam and the six pillars of faith. Our differences in these issues are simply a matter of interpretation. But Allah is infinitely Merciful and Just. So let us trust Allah’s Mercy and not divide the Muslim nation over secondary issues.

The Quran is very clear regarding the concept of monotheism. Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ summarizes this concept perfectly. If Muslims just stick to what is mentioned in this Sūrah, we can keep our monotheism simple and pure. But unnecessary questioning and argumentation over the nature of God’s attributes only lead to problems and disunity. The nature of God’s attributes is a matter that is beyond human comprehension. So it is best that we avoid overthinking this issue, and focus instead on worshipping Allah.

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Sūrah al-Masad: The Fate of An Evil Man

Sūrah al-Masad: The Fate of An Evil Man

Sūrah al-Masad, also known as Sūrah al-Lahab, is an early Makkan Sūrah focused on the topic of the fate in the Afterlife of Abū Lahab and his wife. This Sūrah is very short and powerful and was revealed early in Islamic History after an incident in which Abū Lahab insulted the Prophet (peace be upon him).

The Reason for Revelation

The reason for the revelation of this Sūrah has been preserved in several authentic narrations. Because of this, we know exactly when and why this Sūrah was revealed. Here is one of those narrations.

Ibn ʿAbbās narrated that when the verse ‘And warn your tribe of near kindred.’ (26.214) was revealed, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) went out, and when he had ascended As-Safā mountain, he shouted, “O Sabāhāh!” The people said, “Who is that?” Then they gathered around him, whereupon he said, “Do you see? If I inform you that cavalrymen are proceeding up the side of this mountain, will you believe me?” They said, “We have never heard you telling a lie.” Then he said, “I am a plain warner to you of a coming severe punishment.” Abū Lahab said, “May you perish! You gathered us only for this reason?” Then Abū Lahab went away. So the Sūrah al-Lahab was revealed. (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 65: 4971)

It was the custom of the Makkan people that whenever there was danger, they would climb Mount As-Safā and shout, “O Sabāhāh!” to warn their people about the imminent danger. During the first two years of Islam, the message was propagated privately to individuals. It was not really a secret as people knew the Prophet (peace be upon him) had claimed prophethood and was gaining a few followers, but the message had not been proclaimed in public yet.

Then the verse ‘And warn your tribe of near kindred.’ (26.214) was revealed. When this verse was revealed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) gathered his tribe and called them to Islam in public. This public call irritated Abū Lahab for several reasons. Abū Lahab was the paternal uncle of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his only paternal uncle who was openly hostile to him.

Abū Lahab was a wealthy businessman, very materialistic and proud, and a staunch follower of paganism. He viewed the call of his nephew as both a nuisance and an embarrassment to his family name. He was also irritated to have been dragged away from his business to hear the message of Islam. It was in this fit of arrogant anger that he blurted the line that would seal his fate, “May you perish! You gathered us only for this reason?”

The Fate of Abū Lahab

Sūrah Lahab was revealed declaring that it was instead Abū Lahab that would perish and face eternal damnation in Hellfire. These five powerful verses were revealed condemning both him and his wife to the Hellfire. The reason why his fire was included is that she too assisted in trying to stop the spread of Islam, and supported her husband in his crusade against Islam.

“Condemned are the hands of Abū Lahab, and he is condemned. His wealth did not avail him, nor did what he acquired. He will burn in a Flaming Fire. And his wife, the firewood carrier. Around her neck is a rope of thorns” (111:1-5)

There are several remarkable aspects to this short powerful Sūrah. Notice that the Sūrah addresses the fate of Abū Lahab in the past tense as if it was already done and over. Even though Abū Lahab was still alive, and would live for another decade, the Quran declared that his fate was already sealed and he would end up in the Hellfire.

Some scholars read into this a type of miracle. The Quran was prophesizing that Abū Lahab would die upon disbelief, even though he could have repented and converted like many others did after it was revealed. The fact that he did not convert is seen as proof that this verse is a true prophecy and the Quran is a miracle.

Allah knows best whether this is the correct understanding of this Sūrah. For me, I see this as a plausible interpretation, but more probable is that Allah addresses this topic in the past tense because He knows everything and time is irrelevant to Allah. Allah knew that Abū Lahab was destined for Hellfire, so He stated it as a matter of fact. Whether this counts as a prophecy or not, Allah knows best.

Dishonorable Mention

Another interesting fact about this Sūrah is that it is the only place in the Quran in which one of the enemies of Islam from the Quraysh is mentioned by name. The Quran rarely mentions the names of any people that lived during the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) lifetime. Most of the verses about his companions or enemies do not contain any names, and we only know whom they are referring to because of the narrations of reasons for revelation.

There is only one companion mentioned by name in the Quran and only one pagan of the Quraysh mentioned by name in the Quran. The companion is Zaid bin Ḥāritha who is mentioned by name in Sūrah Al-Ahzāb. The only enemy mentioned by name is Abū Lahab in this Sūrah. For Zaid, this is a special honor. But for Abū Lahab, this is a humiliating dishonor.

There is an important theological lesson in Abū Lahab being mentioned by name here, related to judgment and Hellfire. The lesson is that we should not say that any individual is definitely in Paradise or Hell unless this is explicitly mentioned in the Quran or Sunnah. While we firmly believe in the salvific exclusivity of Islam, we do not pass judgment on individuals.

It is important that we distinguish between our theology and judgment. Our theology teaches us that believers will enter Paradise, and disbelievers will enter Hellfire. We believe in this firmly, but we do not pass judgment on any individual without clear evidence. At the end of the day, we do not know which Non-Muslim had an excuse with Allah, or which “pious Muslim” was secretly a hypocrite. Because we lack this knowledge, it is best that we remain silent on the fate of any individual that passes away, and we leave their judgment to Allah’s Perfect Justice and Mercy.

In the case of Abū Lahab, we can state clearly that he is from the people of Hellfire. As this is clearly stated in this Sūrah. The same can be said about Pharaoh, Satan, and the leaders of the Quraysh who were killed in Badr. Because in each of these cases, there is clear evidence in the Quran or Sunnah about their fates. Likewise, we can say that certain companions like the Rightly Guided Caliphs and the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) wives are in Paradise, as this too is clearly stated in several narrations.

Those who insult the Prophet (peace be upon him)

A final lesson we can extract from these verses is that Allah is quick to defend the honor of his beloved Prophet (peace be upon him). Those who insult the Prophet (peace be upon him) and try to harm him will face humiliation in both worlds. This was the case of Abū Lahab with the revelation of this Sūrah, and it is the case for any individual who follows in his footsteps until the end of time, besides those who repent.

The story behind the revelation of this Sūrah should serve as a reminder to us all about the rights of the Prophet (peace be upon him). He deserves the highest level of love and respect, and he should only talk about him with the best of manners and etiquette. We should extend this respect to the narrations about his life, and to his Sunnah too. Those who disrespect the Prophet (peace be upon him) may perish as Abū Lahab perished.  

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Sūrah an-Naṣr: Reflections on Conquest

Sūrah an-Naṣr: Reflections on Conquest

Sūrah an-Naṣr was revealed during the late Madinan phase by consensus. Scholars differ regarding the exact time it was revealed, but they agree that it was after the conquest of Makkah. The opening verse of Sūrah an-Naṣr mentions a conquest, and scholars agree that this is the conquest of Makkah. This was most likely the final short Sūrah to be revealed.

The theme of this Sūrah is the aftermath of the conquest of Makkah. There are essentially three main points to extract from this Sūrah. The first is the worldly results of the conquest. The second is the end of the prophet’s (peace be upon him) life on earth. The third is how to handle conquests and victories in a way that is pleasing to Allah.

The Conquest of Makkah

The conquest of Makkah is a truly miraculous event, and one of the proofs of prophethood. In just over two decades of preaching and war, the Prophet (peace be upon him) had conquered Makkah and removed idolatry from Arabia. He had accomplished in two decades a feat that most people would be unable to accomplish in several lifetimes. The fact that Allah assists him in his mission is one of the clearest proofs that Islam is the true religion.

The Arabs at that time also recognized this, including the leaders of Makkah. They all eventually converted to Islam, and after them, Islam spread across the world faster than any other religion in history. Within the Prophet’s lifetime, Arabia had become the land of Islam. In the time of the companions, it spread throughout Persia, Egypt, and Syria. Within a century, it reached the shores of Spain and India. Today, a quarter of the world is Muslim, and the religion continues to spread, despite the political weakness of the Muslims.

The first two verses of Sūrah an-Naṣr draws our attention to this phenomenon. When conquest and victory came to the Muslims, it was followed by thousands of people converting to Islam. Over time, these thousands became millions. Today, almost two billion people claim to be Muslim. The conquest of Makkah was a turning point in our history that marked both the rapid spread of Islam and the end of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) mission on earth.

Mission Accomplished

When Sūrah an-Naṣr was revealed, some of the companions understood that it marked the end of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) life on earth. They understood from this revelation that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had completed his mission, and would be leaving this earth soon. They were correct, as he passed away a few months or years after it was revealed.

This raises a question though in the mind of some readers; why was the Prophet (peace be upon him) so soon after conquering Makkah? Why wasn’t he given time to see the fruit of his efforts as Islam spread through Syria, Egypt, Persia, and other lands? The answer is multilayered. The first answer is that the Prophets (peace be upon them) are given a choice when they want to leave this earth, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) agreed to return to His Creator at that point in time.

Another reason may be that the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) mission was not to spread Islam throughout the world but to establish a community that would do so. With the conquest of Arabia, the Prophet (peace be upon him) had established the most pious and productive community in the world. He left this world knowing that the preservation and spread of his religion were in good hands.

A third possible reason may be to prevent doubt from entering people’s minds regarding the nature of his mission. The prophet (peace be upon him) was sent to call people to Islam. Once his mission was accomplished, he passed away. He did not stay on to enjoy the fruits of his efforts and indulge in the luxuries that the nation would soon inherit. By moving on so soon after fulfilling his mission, the integrity of his mission was preserved, and his enemies could not accuse him of faking prophethood for the sake of worldly conquest and power. Allah knows best.

Praise Allah and seek Forgiveness

The final verse of Sūrah an-Naṣr is very deep. In this verse, Allah commands the Prophet (peace be upon him) to glorify Allah and seek forgiveness. There are many layers of meaning in this powerful verse. The first meaning is that we should attribute all victory to Allah. Whenever we succeed at anything, we must praise Allah and seek forgiveness for our shortcomings. In this way, we remain humble and focused on the obedience of Allah.

A second meaning, which some of the companions understood, was the end of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) life. They realized that Allah is asking him to increase in his remembrance and seeking forgiveness because death was near. This shows the deep intelligence that Allah had gifted the scholars among the companions with. It also teaches us a very important lesson; when we suspect that death is near, we too must increase in our worship of Allah and seeking forgiveness for our mistakes.

A third angle answers a very important question; why was the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked to seek forgiveness, even though he is sinless and guaranteed Paradise. A possible answer to this is so that he remains our perfect role model in these situations. If the Prophet (peace be upon him) is asked to seek forgiveness during times of victory, what about us sinners? It becomes even more important for us to follow in his footsteps and to do so too.

This Sūrah demonstrates the remarkable difference between Islam and other ways of life. When people conquer lands in the name of liberalism, democracy, or false religions, it is often followed by pretentious shows of power, vainglorious boasting, and indulgence in major sins. All of these are considered standard ways of celebrating victory. The believer, however, celebrates victory by thanking Allah, worshipping Allah, ascribing success to Allah, and seeking forgiveness from Allah. While victory boosts the ego of the tyrant, it humbles the soul of the true believer. This shows the stark difference between the priorities of Islam and man-made ideologies.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam, 2 comments
Sūrah al-Kawthar and Sūrah al-Kāfirūn

Sūrah al-Kawthar and Sūrah al-Kāfirūn

Sūrah al-Kawthar is considered one of the proofs of the inimitable nature of the Quran. It is three short powerful verses. Despite its brevity, the Quraysh were unable to produce something similar to it. This stands as historical evidence for the inimitable nature of the Quran. Had it been possible, the Quraysh would have produced a Sūrah like it. That would have been far easier than spending their entire lives at war with Islam.

Scholars differ regarding whether this is a Makkan or Madinan Sūrah. There is evidence to support both views and the issue remains unsettled. I am inclined to the opinion that it is Madinan, because of a narration in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim that indicates it was revealed in Madinah. Allah knows best. Scholars, however, agree that it is comprised of three verses.

The theme of this Sūrah is the statues of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in this world and the next. The Sūrah was revealed because of the accusations by the enemies of Islam that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would have no legacy because he did not leave behind any male children. This is thoroughly refuted by this Sūrah and by history itself. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not leave behind any male children, but he established a nation that continues to honor him and follow him today. This is a far greater legacy than anything his enemies could have produced.

Abundance and Gratitude

One of the lessons we can derive from this Sūrah is the importance of gratitude when tested with abundance. In this Sūrah, Allah tells the Prophet (peace be upon him) that He has granted him al-Kawthar. There are various interpretations of this word but a common one is an abundance in both worlds. The Prophet (peace be upon him) had his needs taken care of in this world so that he could focus on his mission, and he has the greatest Paradise in the next world.

In the next verse, Allah commands the Prophet (peace be upon him) to pray and sacrifice for Allah. This is understood to mean that the Prophet (peace be upon him) should express his gratitude to Allah through worship. There is a very powerful lesson in this. In this world, Allah will test some people with hardship and others with abundance. He may test some people with hardships at some point in their lives and abundance at other points in their lives. Allah knows best who needs which kind of test.

While most of us know that we need to handle the test of hardship with patience, we often forget that abundance is also a test. When tested with an abundance of anything, the way to pass this test is through gratitude, worship and using those blessings in a way that is pleasing to Allah. This lesson is repeated many times in the Quran, especially in the stories of David and Solomon. The focus in those stories is always on gratitude. The lesson is simple; when Allah blesses us, we must respond with gratitude through worship.

The final verse is a prediction that the person who started this slander will be forgotten about and cut off from history. This prediction came through as we do not know who this person is, nor does anyone care. There is a lesson in this for those who try to humiliate or insult the Prophet (peace be upon him). They too will be forgotten when it is all over.

The Virtues of Sūrah al-Kāfirūn

Sūrah al-Kāfirūn was revealed in Makkah during the early Makkan Phase. There is consensus about this because the reason for revelation has been preserved in an authentic narration. Sūrah al-Kāfirūn is a short Makkan Sūrah made up of six powerful verses. Its theme is the uncompromising message of Islam, and the refusal to mix that message with falsehood in any way.

It is narrated that some of the leaders of the Quraysh offered the Prophet (peace be upon him) a compromise. They offered to worship Allah for one year, and in exchange, the Muslims should worship the idols for a year. This offer shows that they clearly did not understand the purpose of the message of Islam and its uncompromising stance on monotheism. Sūrah al-Kāfirūn was revealed as a response to their ridiculous offer.

There are various virtues narrated about this Sūrah. It was the habit of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to recite this Sūrah in the two units of prayer before Fajr, as well as in the Witr prayer. (Ibn Majah 5:1202, 5:1226) The many narrations about the Prophet (peace be upon him) reciting it indicates that it is a Sūrah he often recited in many Salahs. We can establish from this that it is recommended to recite this Sūrah in these prayers, and Allah knows best.

It is also narrated that this Sūrah is equal to a quarter of the Quran in value, but scholars differ over the authenticity of this narration. If it is true then it could mean that reciting it earns the reader the reward of reciting a quarter of the Quran. It could also mean that the message of this Sūrah summarizes the message of a quarter of the Quran. Allah knows best.

The Uncompromising Message

This short Sūrah teaches us never to compromise on the purity of our religion. We should never water down or change any of the fundamentals of our religion to please the disbelievers. This is clear in the wording of the Sūrah and its response to the Quraysh. We do not worship the idols that they worshipped, and they did not worship Allah properly the way we do. They have their religion and we have ours.

This message is very relevant to our times. Although nobody is really trying to push Muslims back into idol-worship today, there is a strong movement to get Muslims to compromise their religion and follow their desires. Liberalism revolves around the worship of one’s desires and pursuit of unbridled lust. The message of Islam gets in the way of their animalistic goals. Because of this, there is a strong push for Muslims to water down their religion, creating a fake liberal Islam in the process.

As believers, we need to take a clear stance on this. They have their way of life and we have ours. We will not compromise the fundamental beliefs and morals of our religion to please people. The pleasure of Allah is our priority and it matters more than anything else. This message does not negate the importance of Fiqh evolving and changing from time to time and place to place. That is a necessary part of our religion, and is done according to Fiqh principles, not the desires of disbelievers.

The focus here is on our beliefs and morals. These do not change, and we must remain firm and uncompromising on these no matter how much society pressurizes us to change. At the end of the day, we do not worship the desires that they worship, and they do not worship Allah whom we worship. They have their liberal way of life, and we have our pure true way of life.

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Sūrah al-Māʿūn: Small Deeds

Sūrah al-Māʿūn: Small Deeds

Scholars differ over whether this is a Makkan or Madinan Sūrah. The majority classify it as Makkan and a few as Madinan. Some scholars argue that the first half was revealed in Makkah, while the second half was revealed in Madinah. I am inclined towards the third opinion, even though it is a minority opinion.

The reason for this is because the first half of the Sūrah clearly seems to address the Quraysh. But the second half talks about people who are lazy in the prayers and pray for show. These are the hypocrites, and they did not exist during the Makkan Era. Hypocrites only propped up during the Madinan Phase. The fact that half of Sūrah al-Māʿūn addresses the pagans of Makkah, while the other half addresses the hypocrites supports the view that it is half-Makkan and half-Madinan. Allah knows best.

The theme of Sūrah al-Māʿūn is that small acts of kindness and caring for others form fundamental parts of our religion. The religion is not restricted to theology or ritual acts of prayer. Both of these are crucial and essential. But it is also important for the believer to develop a sense of mercy for the creation, and to dedicate a part of his life to taking care of those who are less fortunate.

The Rejecters of the Religion

Allah begins the Sūrah by asking whether we had seen those who rejected the religion. This is referring to the pagans of Makkah, or the hypocrites of Madinah, according to different interpretations. Either way, Allah is drawing our attention to some of the qualities of the rejecters of the truth.

But then the qualities He uses to describe them are not the ones people generally expect. He does not describe them as those who lie against God or don’t pray. These descriptions can be found elsewhere in the Quran. These verses draw our attention to another quality of the disbelievers; apathy towards the poor.

Allah describes these rejecters as people who mistreat orphans and discourage feeding the poor. These points drive home the fact that Islam is a social religion. Our religion focuses not only on our relationship with the Creator but also on our relationship with each other. The believers are one brotherhood and they feel for each other.

Caring for the creation of Allah, and the children of Adam drives a believer to make feeding the poor and caring for orphans a fundamental part of his life. The rejecter, on the other hand, doesn’t care about anyone besides himself. This isn’t true for every disbeliever, as there are exceptions to every rule, but it is a general quality described in these verses. Those who actively deny Allah His Rights will easily deny the Creation their rights as well.

Praying For Show

The next set of verses draws our attention to the importance of intention and quality in our ritual acts of worship. Allah condemns those who pray for show and those who pray lazily. When we pray, we are not doing Allah a favor. We are fulfilling our purpose in life and enriching our own souls.

Salah is the single most important act of worship in Islam. It solidifies our faith, strengthens our relationship with Allah, protects us from immorality, and serves as a means of forgiveness for our daily minor sins. Without Salah, we can easily go astray. This is why abandoning the Salah is directly linked to disbelief in various narrations.

Due to its central importance in Islam, Salah cannot be treated lightly or done in a haphazard manner. It is an act of conversation with the Creator. Therefore, it deserves our purest intention, full attention, and best effort. Praying for show and praying lazily are qualities of the hypocrites. So the believer should strive to avoid these qualities always.

The Small Deeds

The Sūrah ends with a reminder that the hypocrites overlook small deeds. This means that they regard small acts of kindness as insignificant and do not bother doing them. They may even mock a believer who takes out time to do the smaller good deeds.

We see this in our society when believers are mocked for taking time to remember God at work, eating with their rights hands, or even washing properly after using the bathroom. Despite these being obvious acts of piety, modern society scoffs at these concepts as insignificant and a waste of time. The obsession with wealth and fame makes them question the purpose and benefit of these acts of worship.

For the believer, however, there is no such thing as a small deed. Every act of kindness and every little ritual we do assists us in fulfilling our purpose in life. Allah blesses the smaller deeds and grants them lasting effects, high rewards, and often uses them as a reason to forgive His servants for their sins. Knowing this, the believer never neglects the smaller deeds. They are a crucial part of our religion. Together with the bigger deeds, they form part of the perfect comprehensive way of life; Islam.

To learn more Tafsir of the Quran, check out my ebook Themes of the Quran, currently on sale at half price here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam, 1 comment