Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Beauty of the Qur’an

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

There is no doubting the beauty of the Qur’an, and upon close examination of the Messages contained in each verse one will begin to see and understand why its beauty is unmatched.

One of the beauties of the Qur’an is that a person can connect the words in a verse and; with each way the words will be put together a person will get a different shade of meaning; and one of the mysteries of this Book is that one meaning will not contradict with the original meaning. For example, in the first verse in Surah Kahf. Allah says;

‘Praise be to Allah, Who hath sent to His servant the Book, and hath allowed therein no Crookedness’. (18:1)

The first part of the verse is clear, i.e. ‘Praise be to Allah, Who hath sent to His servant the Book’. As we all know Allah is The One Who revealed the Glorious Qur’an to His slave, Prophet Muhammad (saw).

When the latter part of the verse is studied, i.e. 'and hath allowed in it no Crookedness’. ‘La hu’ can mean "he" or "it". It is commonly translated to mean the Holy Qur’an; i.e. "it". So if we take the meaning to mean it, that part of the verse will mean that Allah has sent down the Qur’an and it contains no crookedness, defects, etc.

‘La hu’ in the above verse can also refer to Prophet Muhammad (saw). So if we read the and translate that "hu" to mean the Messenger (saw), it will read like this: Praise be to Allah Who hath sent to His Servant the Book; and you will not find in "him" any crookedness.

How will you know what or who Allah is referring to? Remember ‘the Qur’an explains itself’ so the other places in the Qur’an aid in your understanding. This is why no one is authorised to explain the Qur’an.

With reference to the verse quoted above if you want to find support that Allah is speaking of the Qur’an when He attested that it contained no crookedness we can look at the following verse;

It is the Quran in Arabic, without any crookedness therein; in order that they may guard against evil. (39:28)

If you want take the word La hu to mean the Prophet (saw) we can find support for this in the following verses;

‘And Verily, You (O Muhammad) are on an exalted standard of character’. (68:4)
‘that Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and the future’. (48:2)

Look at this one word when expounded upon has so many dimensions.

It is important to understand the flawlessness of the Qur’an; and just as Allah produced a Book free from all kinds of defects; and the Messenger who brought the Book is also free from every form of defects, we too need to make our book, that we are producing (i.e. our book of deeds) pure and as free from as much defects as possible.

When a person requires a character certificate he needs to go to someone in authority such as a police officer. And in order for the policeman to produce the certificate he will go through the records to see whether there were any ‘defects or crookedness’ in the person’s life. So too, on the Day of Judgement; in order to get into Paradise your book will be brought forward to see whether you have defects or good in it.

Prophet (saw) is our leader and exemplar and he was sinless which means that his book will contain no wrong or reprehensive deeds. We must also aspire to purify our personalities so that on that Day our book will be one that we can feel proud of as a book free from records of crookedness will grant us access to the Garden of bliss.

May Allah enable us to understand more and more of His Glorious Words and may He grant us the ability to cultivate our personalities in accordance with what is permissible, so that our book of deeds will be one that contains neither crookedness nor defects.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Az Zahir – The Manifest One

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

Prophet Muhammad (saw) is reported to have said ‘There was Allah and nothing existed but Him. He existed from eternity and there was nothing else’.

Allah is Al Zaahir which means The Manifest One. It must also be noted that Allah cannot be encompassed. The universe cannot ‘contain Him’. For example His Divine Throne alone is more vast than the heavens and earth combined.

‘His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth,’

If Allah is so Vast and Great how then He can be manifested? How can He become apparent to us? Allah speaks to man about understanding Him materialistically from the point of view of the created things in the universe. He says in Surah Ikhlas;

‘And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him’

Nothing can be likened to Him, so it is impossible to conceptualize Him. This is why the Prophet (saw), when asked by a Bedouin ‘where is Allah', he pointed upwards because he did not want limit and conceptualise Allah to a particular space and time in the mind of the Bedouin.

It’s difficult to conceive the Personality of The Divine. Our limited sight cannot grasp Him as He says in His Words;

‘No vision can grasp him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things.’

We do not posses the capacity to behold His Divine Personality. What then does ‘The Manifest’ mean? If you want to see Allah; firstly, you must understand that you must work hard for it. What does ‘hard work’ necessitate? Prophet (saw) is reported to have said;

‘When the dwellers of Paradise will enter Paradise, someone will proclaim: ‘O Dwellers of Paradise, God wishes to fulfil what He promised you’. The companions asked: ‘What is that promise? Has He not filled up our Balance? Has He not brightened our faces and admitted us in the Garden? Has He not saved us from hell?’ At that time, the screen will be lifted and they will be gazing at the Glorious Lord. Nothing will be dearer to them at that time than His sight. This is the greatest reward. At that time they will forget every enjoyment and happiness. There is no limit to this happiness and no example.’

If you remember the women at the time of Prophet Joseph (as); they were so amazed and intoxicated with the sight of his flawless beauty; that they cut their hands in the process of cutting their meat; while simultaneously looking at Joseph (as). And this was a finite being, what about beholding the beautiful Countenance of Allah.

So, in order to access this blessing you must firstly be among the inhabitants of paradise. It is not mentioned in the Qur’an or the ahadith whether Allah will remove the veils between Himself and His servants during the actual judgement process. It is only mentioned that it would occur at the Celestial stage.

This is indeed the pinnacle of all blessings. The inhabitants of paradise will be lost away in the process of gazing at the grandeur of Allah. Nothing else will be of concern and value to them except the beauty of The Lord.

Look at what the little good you do in this world can bring you. Allah has reserved this special blessing for His righteous slaves. Keep persevering and one day, Insha Allah, we will have this blessed opportunity to witness the Divine Personality. Prepare and work towards being on of the blessed ones. All the trials and tribulations you face in this world; look at the end result it can bring if you act in appropriate manner.

We beg Allah to enable us to conduct ourselves in a manner that would qualify us all to be among the blessed and fortunate ones that will have the inequitable reward of beholding the Divine Countenance of the Most Merciful One.

Monday, 14 March 2011

The Status of Prophet Muhammad (saw) in creation

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

A recent (Islamic) publication, in its enthusiasm to label the celebration of the Prophet's (pboh) birthday as bida or innovation in religion, asserts that we are to “make no distinction between (sic) any of the Prophets”.

The topic of celebrating the birthday of the Holy Prophet (pboh) has been the subject of debate in this country (Trinidad and Tobago) as early as the 1930's. It was manifested in the public debates between Haji Ruknudeen and Maulana Nazir Ahmad Semab. Today, the matter is still being debated, with both sides believing that they, only are right, and the other side is misguided. Unfortunately this has become an instrument for disunity and division within the Muslim community as a whole, and even within families in the community.

Of particular note, in this most recent context is the relative status of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pboh), and there is need to establish some key points of reference from the Qur'an and Hadith regarding this assertion, which can by some interpretations border on blasphemy.

Firstly it is important to note that Allah has established rank and relative status among the Messengers that were sent to humankind. He says: ‘Those Messengers We endowed (with status) some above others.’ (2:253). In the case of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pboh) Allah has singled him out and presented him as someone truly superior and honored above all of creation. The Qur'an is replete with references to this point, and for example tells us explicitly;

It is those who believe in him and honor him. (7:157)
Verily, Allah and his Angels are sending blessing on the Prophet. O You who believe, send blessings on him and salute him with great respect. (33:56)
And know that among you is the Messenger of Allah. (49:7)
We have exalted thy name (status). (94:4)
Verily you are on an exalted standard of character. (68:4)
And we have not send you (O Muhammad) but as a universal model for mankind. (34:28)
We have not sent thee but as a mercy to the worlds. (21:107)
Verily those who took the oath of allegiance to you, were indeed swearing allegiance to Allah. (48:10)

These references, and many like them, clearly establish the status of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pboh) above all other Prophets and all of creation. It is to be noted that this is unique to the Holy Prophet, and the followers of other Messengers were never ordered to observe such to the Messengers whom they were sent. To honor him with love and devotion is to do what has been ordained by Allah, and is not sinful as has been insinuated.

[This scenario also serves to establish the critical need for scholarship in Islamic Theology (in addition to Functional Literacy) by persons within the Muslim community who are so inclined. We must be mindful of the fact that an opinion is not a truth until it has been verified, and the Qur'an advocates research and inquiry, and our brethren may do well by themselves; and the community as a whole to heed this call.]

May Almighty Allah create in our hearts undying love for His Beloved as the Prophet (pboh) is reported to have said “Those who will love me from among my followers will be the people after me, of whom everyone will like that, he could see me, at the expense of his family and property”. (Sahih Muslim)

Maulana Dr. Waffie Mohammed

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Constancy and Patience

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

Sometimes a person may have a lot of wealth stored away in a bank but he mat not have a cent in his immediate possession. This doesn’t mean that he is poor since there is some sort of savings stored away.

Keeping this in mind; sometimes we may feel a bit despondent when it comes to the spiritual aspect of our lives. We may wonder why we should attend our weekly zikir sessions when it could be easily done at home.

Before we expound on the above let us make a reference to the life of Prophet Moses (as). Moses (as) attained a very high status in the sight of Allah . He earned the title Kalimullah - The one who Allah spoke to. Moses (as) brought the law for the Israelites and the other Messengers that were sent to them were followers / upholders of the law. This was emphasized by Jesus (as) when he said “I came not to oppose the law but to uphold it”.

One day Moses (as) delivered a very inspirational and excellent sermon to his people and one of those present remarked that Moses (as) is possible the most knowledgeable person on the face of the earth. Moses (as) replied in the affirmative and thereafter Allah revealed to him that there was someone far more knowledgeable than Moses (as) and He instructed him to seek out this knowledgeable person called Khidr. During their travels Khidr revealed to Moses (as) that he didn’t possess the capacity to understand / learn from him and this became apparent during the three different situations they encountered (i.e. the boat, the boy and the wall). (Surah Kahf). Moses (as) displayed his impatience and ‘shortsightedness’.

Why mention this? We may feel at times that we know a lot and that we do a lot, and we are yet to see any benefit or results from our efforts. Always bear in mind that Allah is the One Who bestows and withholds. If perchance you achieve too much ‘religious experience’ early on, it can be harmful and detrimental to you. In Islamic Spirituality if you do a lot and see little or no immediate results then this could be a great blessing from Allah .

There are a lot of people who received religious experiences and behaved in an unfortunate manner and as a result they began to deteriorate and suffered. So while you may feel that all your efforts are in vain; always remember the concept of you savings in the bank; you are in fact storing it away, and it will be of immense benefit to you in the latter stages of your life.

Spiritual effort doesn’t warrant immediate beneficial results. Keep striving and Allah will bestow upon you when He sees fit; as He says in His Glorious Words:

‘Allah knoweth, and ye know not’. (16:74)

Prophet (saw) could not experience the true personality of Angel Gabriel when he first came to him at Mount Noor; because the space/time dimension was not able to accommodate the true personality of the angel. Wherever he looked he saw the presence of Gabriel.

It was only when Prophet (saw) was outside the dimension of space and time he as able to see the archangel in his true form. The same principle is applicable to our spiritual struggles. Our personality may not be fully mature to experience the spiritual realm. Tassawuf is one avenue of attaining knowledge of the unseen and we need to possess the capacity to deal with it.

However this doesn’t mean you should stop, keep on persevering with patience, for the love and pleasure of Allah. Ever time you do a little remember you are getting closer to your Lord.

Take for example the moon. The moon does not generate its own light. Instead it reflects the light of the sun and has the capacity of making bright the dark night. So too, we are tying to brighten up our dark spots by connecting to the light of our Prophet .

Just as the medication a person takes needs time to work so too the spiritual exercises we engage in requires patience and discipline; while it will help to improve our personalities. We are aspiring to get closer to Allah but this requires constancy and patience.

Make the effort and let Allah take care of the rest.