The Qur’an: Allah’s Divine Mercy

The Qur’an: Allah’s Divine Mercy

By Khurram Murad

It is beyond man’s power to comprehend, or to describe, the greatness and importance of what the Qur’an holds for him. Yet, to begin with, you must have some idea of what it is and what it means to you, such that you are inspired to immerse the whole of yourself in the Qur’an, in total commitment, complete dedication and ceaseless pursuit, as it demands.

The Qur’an Allah’s Divine Mercy

What you read in the Qur’an is the word of Allah which He has conveyed to you in a human language, only because of His mercy.

The Qur’an is Allah’s greatest blessing for you. It is the fulfillment of His promise to Adam and his descendants:

There shall come to you guidance from Me, and whosoever follows My guidance no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow. (Al- Baqarah 2:38)

Best Companion

It is the only weapon to help your frail existence as you struggle against the forces of evil and temptation in this-world. It is the only means to overpower your fear and anxiety. It is the only ‘light’ (nur), as you grope in the darkness, with which to find your way to success and salvation. It is the only healing (shifa’) for your inner sicknesses, as well as the social ills that may surround you.

It is the constant reminder (dhikr) of your true nature and destiny, of your station, your duties, your rewards, your perils.

It was brought down by one who is powerful and trust- worthy in the heavens – the Angel Gabriel (Jibreel). Its first abode was that pure and sublime heart, the like of which man has never had – the heart of the Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be on him.

To Get Closer

More than anything, it is the only way to come nearer and closer to your Creator. It tells you of Him, of His attributes, of how He rules over the cosmos and history, of how He relates Himself to you, and how you should relate to Him, to yourself, to your fellow men and to-every other existence.

The rewards that await you here are surely many, increasing manifold in the Hereafter, but what awaits you at the end of the road, promises Allah in the hadith qudsi, “the eye has seen not, nor the ear heard, nor the heart of man ever conceived”, and, adds Abu Hurayrah: read if you wish (in Al-Sajdah 32:17): “No human being can imagine what joys are being kept hidden for them in reward for all that they did”. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Infinite Mercy and Majesty

Most important to remember is that what you read in the Qur’an is the word of Allah, the Lord of the worlds, which He has conveyed to you in a human language, only because of His mercy and care and providence for you:

The Most-merciful, He has taught the Qur’an. (Ar-Rahman 55:1-2)

A mercy from your Lord. (Ad-Dukhan 44:6)

The majesty of the Qur’an, too, is so overpowering that no human being can comprehend it. So much so that, says Allah:

If We had sent down this Qur’an upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled, split asunder out of the fear of Allah. (Al-Hashr 59:20)

This act of Divine mercy and majesty is enough to awe and overwhelm you, to inspire you to ever-greater heights of gratitude, yearning and endeavor to enter the world of the Qur’an. Indeed, no treasure is more valuable and precious for you than the Qur’an, as Allah says of His generosity:

O men! There has come to you an exhortation from your Lord, healing for what is in the hearts, and a guidance, and a mercy for believers. Say: In (this) bounty of Allah, and in His mercy – in it let them rejoice. It is better than whatever they amass. (Yunus 10:57,58)

Hazards and Perils

Rejoice you must, in the mercy and blessing and generosity of Allah. Seek you must, for the treasures that await your search herein. But the Qur’an opens its doors only to those who knock with a sense of yearning, a sincerity of purpose and an exclusive attention that befit its importance and majesty.

And only those are allowed to gather its treasures, while they walk through it, who are prepared to abandon themselves completely to its guidance and do their utmost to absorb it.

It may quite possibly happen therefore that you may read the Qur’an endlessly, turn its pages laboriously, recite its words beautifully, study it most scholarly, and still fail to make an encounter with it that enriches and transforms your whole person.

For, all those who read the Qur’an do not profit from it as they should. Some remain unblessed; some are even cursed.

The journey has its own hazards, as it must, just as it has its own precious and limitless rewards. Many never turn to it, though the Book always lies near at hand, and many are turned away from its gates.

Many read it often, but come back empty-handed; while many others who read it never really enter its world. Some do not find, but are lost. They fail to hear God even among His own words; instead, they hear their own voices or those other than God’s. Still others, though they hear God, fail to find inside themselves the will, the resolve and the courage to respond and live by His call.

Some lose even what they had and, instead of collecting priceless gems, they return with back-breaking loads of stones which will hurt them for ever and ever. What a tragic misfortune it would be if you came to the Qur’an and went away empty-handed- soul untouched, heart unmoved, life unchanged; ‘they went out as they came in’.

The Qur’an’s blessings are limitless, but the measure of your taking from it depends entirely upon the capacity and the suitability of the receptacle you bring to it.

So, at the very outset, make yourself more deeply aware of what the Qur’an means to you and what it demands of you; and make a solemn determination to recite the Qur’an in an appropriate manner, so that you may be counted among “Those whom We have given the Book, they recite it as it ought to be recited; it is they who believe in it”. (Al-Baqarah 2:121)

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The article is excerpted from the author’s Way to the Qur’an.

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Hadith: The Second Fundamental Source of Guidance

Hadith: The Second Fundamental Source of Guidance

By Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips 

The Prophet’s sayings and actions (the Hadith) were primarily based on revelation from Allah and, as such, must be considered a fundamental source of guidance second only to the Qur’an. Allah in the Qur’an said concerning the Prophet (peace be upon him):

Hadith The Second Fundamental Source of Guidance

It is largely due to the science of Hadith that the final message of Islam has been preserved in it is original purity for all times.

(Muhammad) does not speak from his desires; indeed, what he says is revelation. (An-Najm 53:3-4)

1- Revelation

Therefore, the Hadith represents a personal source of divine guidance which Allah granted His Prophet (peace be upon him) which was similar in its nature to the Qur’an itself. The Prophet reiterated this point in one of his recorded statements,

“Indeed, I was given the Qur’an and something similar to it along with it.” (Abu Dawud)

2- Tafseer

The preservation of the Qur’an was not restricted to protecting its wording from change. Were that the case, its meanings could be manipulated according to human desires, while maintaining its wording.

However, Allah also protected its essential meanings from change by entrusting the explanation of the meanings of Qur’an to the Prophet himself. Allah states the following in the Qur’an regarding its interpretation:

And I revealed to you the Reminder (Qur’an) in order that you explain to the people what was revealed to them. (An-Nahl 16:44)

Therefore, if one is to understand the meanings of Qur’an, he or she must consider what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said or did regarding it. E.g. in the Qur’an, Allah instructs the believers to offer salah (formal prayers) and pay zakah (obligatory charity) in Surat Al-Baqarah:

And establish worship, pay the poor-due, and bow your heads with those who bow (in worship). (Al-Baqarah 2:43)

However, in order to obey these instructions correctly, one must study the methodology of the Prophet in this regard. Among his many clarifications concerning Salah and zakah, he instructed his followers saying “Pray as you saw me pray,” (Al-Bukhari) and he specified that 2.5% of surplus wealth, unused for a year, should be given as zakah.

There are a number of authentic hadiths in which the Prophet gave specific instructions concerning the items and quantities on which zakah was due, as well as the time it is due. Among them is the following narration from `Ali ibn Abi Talib:

`Ali ibn Abi Talib quoted Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying: “Whenever you possess 200 dirhams and a year passes on it, 5 dirhams is to be paid on it. You are not liable to pay anything until you possess 20 dinars and a year passes on it, in which case ½ a dinar is due. Whatever exceeds that will be counted likewise. And no zakah is payable on wealth until a year passes on it.” (Abu Dawud)

3- Laws

One of the primary duties of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was to judge between people in their disputes. Since his judgments were all based on revelation, as stated earlier, they must be considered a primary source of principles by which judgments are carried out in an Islamic State. Allah also addressed this responsibility in the Qur’an saying:

O believers obey Allah, obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. If you dispute about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger. (An-Nisaa’ 4:59)

Thus, hadiths are essential for the smooth running of the law courts in an Islamic State.

4- Moral Ideal

Since the Prophet (peace be upon him) was guided by revelation in his personal life, his character and social interactions became prime examples of moral conduct for Muslims until the Last Day. Attention was drawn to this fact in the following Qur’anic verse:

Surely there is for all of you a good example (of conduct) in the way of Allah’s Messenger. (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Consequently, the daily life of the Prophet as recorded in Hadith represents an ideal code of good conduct. In fact, when the Prophet’s wife,`A’ishah, was asked about his conduct, she replied, “His character was the Qur’an.” (Ahmad)

5- Preservation of Islam

The science of narration, collection and criticism of Hadith was unknown to the world prior to the era of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

In fact, it was due in part to the absence of such a reliable science that the messages of the former prophets became lost or distorted in the generations that followed them. Therefore, it may be said that it is largely due to the science of Hadith that the final message of Islam has been preserved in it is original purity for all times. This is alluded to in the Qur’anic verse:

Indeed, I have revealed the Reminder, I will, indeed, protect it. (Al-Hijr 15:9)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Usool Al-Hadith”.

Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips was born in Jamaica, but grew up in Canada, where he accepted Islam in 1972. He completed a diploma in Arabic and a B.A. from the College of Islamic Disciplines (Usool Ad-Deen) at the Islamic University of Madinah in 1979. At the University of Riyadh, College of Education, he completed a M.A. in Islamic Theology in 1985, and in in 1994 at the University of Wales, the department of Islamic Studies he completed a Ph.D. in Islamic Theology.

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What Do You Know about the Qur’an?

The Fatihah

 

The Qur’an is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. It was memorized by Muhammad (peace be upon him) and then dictated to his Companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it during his lifetime.

Not one word of its 114 surahs (chapters) has been changed over the centuries, so that the Qur’an is in every detail the unique and miraculous text which was revealed Muhammad fourteen centuries ago.

This opening chapter of The Qur’an, the Fatihah, is central in Islamic prayer. It contains the essence of The Qur’an and is recited during every prayer.

Muslims believe the Qur’an to be God’s final revelation.  They believe it is the literal word of God, revealed over many years, to His final prophet, Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.

The Qur’an is full of wisdom. It is full of the wonder and glory of God, and a testament to His mercy and justice.  It is not a history book, a storybook, or a scientific textbook, although it contains all of those genres.

The Qur’an is God’s greatest gift to humanity – it is a book like no other.  In the second verse of the second chapter of the Qur’an, God describes the Qur’an by calling it :

…a book whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are pious, righteous, and fear God. (Al-Baqarah 2:2)

Believing in it is a requirement to be Muslim

The Qur’an is core to Islam.  Believing in it is a requirement.  One who does not believe in the Qur’an, in its entirety, cannot claim to be a Muslim.

The Messenger (Muhammad) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers.  Each one believes in God, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers.  (They say,)  ‘We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers’ — and they say, ‘We hear, and we obey.  (We seek)  Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all)’. (Al-Baqarah 2:285)

Islam has two primary sources, the Qur’an, and the authentic Traditions of Prophet Muhammad, that explain and sometimes expand on that of the Qur’an.

And We have not sent down the Book (the Qur’an) to you (O Muhammad, except that you may explain clearly unto them those things in which they differ, and (as) a guidance and a mercy for a folk who believe. ( An-Nahl 16:64)

The Qur’an was delivered to Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel and revealed in stages over a period of 23 years.

And (it is) a Quran which We have divided into parts, in order that you might recite it to men at intervals.  And We have revealed it by stages. (Al-Israa’ 17:106)

Prophet Muhammad was commanded by God to convey the Qur’an to all of humankind and the responsibility weighed heavily upon him.  Even in his farewell address he called on the people present to bear witness that he had delivered the message.

The Qur’an explains the concept of God, it explains in detail what is permissible and what is forbidden, it explains the basics of good manners and morals, and gives rulings about worship.  It tells stories about the Prophets and our righteous predecessors, and describes Paradise and Hell.  The Qur’an was revealed for all of humankind.

The book in which the Qur’an (the words of God) are contained in is called a mushaf . The Qur’an is considered so unique in content and style that it cannot be translated; therefore, any translation is considered an interpretation of the meanings of the Qur’an.

what do you know about the Qur'an

The world’s oldest Quran manuscript found lately at Birmingham University.

When God sent Prophets to the various nations He often allowed them to perform miracles that were relevant to their particular time and place. In the time of Moses magic and sorcery were prevalent therefore Moses’ miracles appealed to the people he was sent to guide. In the time of Muhammad, the Arabs, although predominantly illiterate, were masters of the spoken word. Their poetry and prose were considered outstanding and a model of literary excellence.

When Prophet Muhammad recited the Qur’an – the words of God – the Arabs were moved tremendously by its sublime tone and extraordinary beauty.

The Qur’an was Prophet Muhammad’s miracle from God. Muhammad was unable to read or write therefore the Arabs knew that he was unlikely to have produced such eloquent words, but even so some refused to believe that the Qur’an was the word of God.  God therefore challenged them, in the Qur’an, to produce a rival text.

And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Qur’an) to Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a chapter of the like thereof and call your witnesses (supporters and helpers) besides God, if you are truthful. (Al-Baqarah 2:23)

Of course they were unable to do so. In contrast to those who questioned the origin of the Qur’an, many Arabs converted to Islam after hearing the recitation. They knew immediately that such sublime beauty could originate only from God.

Even today it is possible to see Muslims moved to tears while listening to or reciting the Qur’an. In fact some people, unable to understand even one word of the Arabic language are moved by the intrinsic beauty of the Qur’an.

After establishing that Qur’an is the word of God and that it is a recitation, it is also important to understand that Qur’an has remained unchanged for more than 1400 years.

Today when a Muslim in Egypt holds his mushaf in his hands and begins to recite you can be sure that in far away Fiji another Muslim is looking at and reciting the exact same words. There are no differences. The child in France holding his first mushaf is tentatively reciting the same words that flowed from the lips of Prophet Muhammad.

The Qur’an is the literal word of God, revealed over many years, to His final prophet, Muhammad.

God assures us in Qur’an that He will surely protect His words. He says,

Verily, it is We Who have sent down the Qur’an and surely, We will guard it (from corruption). (Al-Hijr 15:9)

This means that God will guard against anything false being added or any part of it being taken away.[1] It is protected from tampering and if anyone attempts to distort the meanings of Qur’an, God will guide someone to expose the deception.[2]

Muslims believe that the previous revelations from God, including the Torah and the Gospels of Jesus were either lost in antiquity, or changed and distorted, so it is a source of comfort to them knowing that God’s words – the Quran – are now well guarded.

God sent down the Qur’an, from  above the heavens, to the Angel Gabriel in the glorious month of Ramadan. The story of how this recitation was revealed and how Qur’an came to be available worldwide, with an interpretation of the meanings translated into over 100 languages[3].

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[1] From the Tafseer of Ibn Jareer al-Tabari

[2] From the Tafseer of Al-Sa’di

[3] The Centre for African studies at the University of Pennsylvania claims that the Quran has been translated into 114 languages.

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Al-Fatihah and the Six Principals of Guidance

Al-Fatihah and the Six Principals of Guidance

In the opening Chapter of the Qur’an, Al-Fatihah God says:

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of existence, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful, the Owner (Master) of the Day of Judgment. It is You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help. Guide us to the Straight Path, the Path of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not the path of those who have incurred Your Anger, nor of those who have gone astray. (Al-Fatihah 1:1-7)

Al-Fatihah

Surat Al-Fatihah

Al-Fatihah, is an introduction to the Qur’an itself. Often times introductions contain summaries of the contents that will come after them so it is not surprising that Al-Fatihah summarizes some main principles for guidance in life.

Maintain Objectivity

We read in Al-Fatihah:

“It is You alone we worship.”

From the repetition of this verse throughout each day of our lives we are re-calibrated to focus on God in all of our affairs. It is only through this submission that we can gain objectivity. If it’s about ourselves, it’s not about God. If it’s about power, or wealth, or recognition, or self-healing, it’s not about God. Only in submission can objectivity, or at least as close as possible to it, be sought.

Stay Humble in the Journey

“It is You alone we rely upon.”

To do this is to live a life of humility. The one who only relies upon God knows the true source of their accomplishments and understands their limitations. Their reliance is not focused on themselves and their skills or talents, but on the source of all good, God Himself.

Do What Needs to Get Done to Succeed

“Guide us to the straight path.”

When we want to succeed in life there are always things that need to get done. This part of the Chapter teaches us to seek those means to take the path.

Seek Practical Guidance and Mentorship from Others

“The path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your grace.”

From this part we learn that in the journey of life we need examples we can learn from. Apprenticeship was the traditional model of learning in many societies around the world and is necessary up to today in many fields. Good mentors are priceless on the journey towards any goal.

Avoid Major Obstacles that Stop the Journey

“Not the way of those who have received Your anger.”

In any journey there are obstacles that can completely inhibit one from reaching their goal. They are betrayals of the path. One cannot be a therapist or counselor if they abuse their power and act unethically. One cannot be a teacher if they are sloppy in their academic integrity. One cannot be a leader if they are irresponsible and untrustworthy. All of these mishaps are obstacles that completely block one from their goal. They must be avoided at all costs.

Al-Fatihah: Avoid Misguidance

“Nor those who have gone astray.”

Misguidance is a reality in the sea of information. Some people, the good mentors and advisors, will lead you on the  path and facilitate the journey. Others, the sources of misguidance, will give advice and share information that is inaccurate and therefore negatively affect the journey. These too can become major obstacles and must also be avoided.

These six simple principles derived from Al-Fatihah serve as signposts for every believer in their journeys throughout life. Mentors and advice will always vary. Sometimes we will have access to good teachers and sometimes we will not.

Regardless of the circumstances we can always hold these principles in front of us so that we can be guided through the divine guidance of the Most High. They should be brought to mind when we read Al-Fatihah in our daily prayers and throughout our lives.

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Source: safacenter.org

*These principles were abstracted from the Tafsir of Ibn ‘Ashur.

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The Qur’an and Our True Identity as Muslims

What does it mean to be Muslim? Put differently, what does make one worthy of being Muslim? What role does the Qur’an play in your life and identity as Muslim?

Two most important things every Muslim must know to do justice to the Book of God, the Qur’an: who is truly a Muslim and what the word ‘Muslim’ means, what defines our identity as Muslims.

Human beings who do not know what humanity is and what the difference is between man and animal will inevitably indulge in behavior unworthy of the human race and attach no value to being human.

Similarly, people who do not know the true meaning of being Muslims and how a Muslim is different from a non-Muslim will behave like non-Muslims and will not be worthy of being Muslims.

Identity of Muslim

Every Muslim, adult or child, should therefore know what it means to be a Muslim, what difference being a Muslim must make to his life, what responsibilities devolve on him, and what limits are set by Islam within which a man remains a Muslim and by transgressing which he ceases to be a Muslim.

Islam means submission and obedience to God. To entrust yourselves completely to God is Islam. To relinquish all claims to absolute freedom and independence and to follow God’s will is Islam.

To surrender yourselves before the sovereignty of God is Islam. If you bring all the affairs of your lives under God you are Muslims and if you keep any of the affairs in your own hands or entrust them to someone other than God you are not Muslims.

To bring your affairs under God means to accept unreservedly the guidance sent by God through His Book, and His Messengers.

It therefore becomes necessary to follow only the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah. Muslims follow no authority other than that of God, whether it be their reason or customs.

In every matter they seek guidance from God’s Book, the Qur’an, and His Messenger (peace be upon him) to find what they should do and what they should not do. They accept without hesitation whatever guidance they get from there and reject whatever they find opposed to it.

Such total surrender to God is what makes one a Muslim.

Source of Guidance

By contrast, people are certainly not Muslims who, instead of following the Qur’an and the Sunnah, obey the dictates of their own reason and desires, follow the practices of their forefathers, accept what is happening in society, and never bother to ascertain from the Qur’an and Sunnah how to run their affairs, or refuse to accept the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah by saying: ‘They do not appeal to my reason’, or ‘They are against the ways of my forefathers’ or ‘The world is moving in an opposite direction’. Such people are liars if they call themselves Muslims.

The moment you recite the word: ‘La ilaha illa Allah and Muhammad rasulu Allah’ (There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger) ) you accept that the only law you recognize is the law of God, only God is your sovereign, only God is your ruler, only God you will obey, and only the things given in God’s Book and by His Messengers are true and right.

It means that as soon as you become Muslims you must renounce your authority in favour of God’s authority.

Consequently, you have no right to say, ‘My opinion is this, the prevalent custom is this, the family tradition is this, that scholar and that holy person say this.’

In the face of Allah’s word and His Messenger’s Sunnah, you cannot argue in this manner. You should judge everything in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah; accept what is in conformity with them and reject what runs counter to them, irrespective of the people who may be behind them.

It is a contradiction in terms to call yourselves Muslims on the one hand, and, on the other, follow your own opinions or the customs of society or some person’s words or actions as against the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Just as a blind person cannot claim to have eyes, nor a deaf person to have ears, so a person who refuses to subordinate the affairs of his life to the dictates of the Qur’an and the Sunnah cannot call himself a Muslim.

Once Being Muslim…

No one who does not want to be a Muslim can be compelled to be one against his will. You are free to adopt any religion you like and call yourselves by any names you like.

But, once having called yourselves Muslims, you must fully understand that you can remain Muslims only as long as you stay within the bounds of Islam. These bounds are: to accept the word of God and His Messenger’s Sunnah as the ultimate criteria of truth and justice and to consider everything opposed to them as wrong.

If you remain within these bounds you are Muslims, but if you overstep them you cease to be part of Islam. To continue, in such circumstances, to consider yourselves and call yourselves Muslims is tantamount to both self-deception and deception of others.

Whoever so judges not according to what God has sent down, they are the unbelievers. (Al-Ma’idah 5:44)

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s Let Us Be Muslims.

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