By Osman Umarji
The greatest ayah in the Quran presents itself in the beginning of the 3rd juz; Ayat-ul-Kursi (2:255) . After reading this ayah, how can one help but be overcome by a feeling of awe, respect, and humility towards Allah. We can hardly go 24 hours without sleep and rest, and if we work really hard, we get burned out after a few nights. However, Allah, is never in need of a break, rest, nap, or sleep while He maintains the heavens, the planets, and watches over every living creatures’ needs from the bee to the ant to the human. One of the valuable things we can gain from this ayah is indeed the statement of the pious that “before you sin, do not look at the small size of your sin, but look at the majesty, power, and magnitude of whom you are transgressing against.”
The surah then goes on to talk about many laws, amongst them, the rulings on interest and debt. When hearing the ayaat (277-279) discussing interest and the punishment of dealing with it, my heart trembles and I ask Allah to always provide me with enough halal wealth so I never approach taking loans and perhaps falling into paying (or taking) interest. Allah tells the believers “if you cannot leave your dealings with interest, then be ready for war against Allah and His messenger.” Who could possibly want to engage in combat with Allah??? This is a huge reminder to me as a Muslim in the US, that leaving interest is a major struggle since the entire economy is based on it; however, this is a test Allah has put before me, and it seems much easier than dealing with starvation, physical oppression, famine, and war.
Surat-Aali-Imran, the Family of Imran, is the 3rd surah in the Quran. It was revealed after the migration to Medina. It has multiple themes, amongst them are the following:
1. The Islamic Belief System (Aqeedah)
2. Dealings and Dialogue with the People of the Book (Jews and Christians)
3. The Battle of Uhud and lessons for the Muslims
The beginning of the surah has a verse that one can ponder over for hours and days. “He is the One who has fashioned you in the womb however He willed. There is no deity worthy of worship other than Allah, the most Exalted in Might, the most Wise.” (3:4)
This verse should make the believer thank Allah for how Allah created him or her. In Allah’s infinite wisdom, He made us each unique in our physiques, wealth, and intellect. One should never wish that Allah made them more handsome, beautiful, rich, or intelligent. The reality is, you have no idea how you would behave had Allah made you different. Perhaps you would have been arrogant if Allah made you wealthier or stronger and you would have wronged others. Perhaps had Allah made you weaker or poorer, then others would have oppressed you. If Allah had make you think in a different way, perhaps you would have wandered off into some other belief system outside of Islam. The bottom line that the Muslim should understand: Allah is Just and Infinitely Wise, and He created you in a certain way, in a certain context to test you appropriately with the opportunity to succeed and gain His pleasure. Say “Alhamdolillah” and thank Him that He didn’t test you with something that you could not handle.
Then Allah describes the attributes of the people of paradise. He lists their qualities as being patient, truthful, obedient, generous, and as seeking forgiveness in the early hours of the day. Ask yourself if you fit this description. Are we patient with our families; whether when our parents tell us to do something, when our spouses argue with us, when our siblings misbehave. Are we patient in times of distress? And as for the other qualities; when is the last time we woke up 10 minutes before Fajr and asked Allah to forgive us for our mistakes.
The surah continues and tells us the story of the birth of Mariam and the difficulties of her father Imran and mother in conceiving her. Finally, her mother promises to Allah to dedicate the live of her child for the sake of Allah. Eventually, when Mariam is born, she is sent to Jerusalem and raised by the righteous people in the masjid, and as we all know, eventually gives birth to Isa. The story is beautiful and touching, but what can we learn and apply from it? One thing we can all do is to make a similar oath to Allah like that of Mariam’s mother: Make a promise to Allah that you will dedicate the life of one of your children for the sake of Allah. Insha Allah each of us will have many kids, but promise to Allah that you will push and aid one of them in becoming a scholar of tafseer, hadith, a hafiz, etc. If we are sincere about wanting a new generation of rightly guided Muslims, we know the decision lies in our hands as to how we raise our kids. May Allah guide us and our children.
The last ayah to discuss is ayah 83. “Do they seek other than the way of life Allah has chosen, while everything in the heavens and earth has already submitted itself to Allah, willing or by compulsion, and to Allah they will return.” This question is a reminder to the Muslim reader about their commitment to Allah. We know that the planets, stars, moons, the molecules, the atoms, and even the electrons in the universe have all submitted to the will of Allah. They all follow the laws of physics and chemistry that have been placed in the universe. But do you, the human being with an intellect and freedom to choose, willingly submit to Allah? After knowing everything you know about Allah, about the false systems that man has fallen prey to, have you decided to sincerely follow the guidance that will make your life, in this world and the next, successful?
We ask Allah to allow us to submit to the truth willingly and happily, and grant us the understanding that the words of Allah are indeed best for our lives.