by Osman Umarji
The juz begins by continuing the theme of jihad. The last juz ended by describing those who are exempt from fighting due to illness, weakness, or being financially incapable of going out. The 11th juz begins by Allah blaming those who make excuses for fighting and struggling in His cause, and He singles out the wealthy to begin with. He says that the wealthy make excuses and prefer to stay behind with the women and Allah says that they do not understand (9:93)
This ayah seems very applicable to our society today, particularly the wealthy Muslims of California and the US. How many Muslims fail to participate in Islamic endeavors and dawah due to being so busy acquiring wealth and falling in love with the dunya? Allah says that these rich people who profess Islam just do not understand. What is it that they do not understand? For one, they do not understand the reward and value of what Allah has in store for those who work. Second, they do not understand the purpose of this life, believing that it is all about getting rich and enjoying luxuries.
Later in the surah, Allah tells the Prophet to “Take charity from their wealth, which is a cleansing and purification for them, and pray for them…”Do they not know that Allah accepts their repentance and charity and that He is indeed the One who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.” (9:103-104)
In this ayah we are reminded about the true meaning of giving charity. While we may believe that we are the ones helping noble causes, the reality is deeper than that. Yes, it is true that by giving our wealth and time for good deeds is helping the ummah, we are really helping ourselves. The charity that we give is a means by which we purify our wealth and lives. Allah blesses and increases the sustenance of those who spend for His sake, and prepares a greater reward for them in the next life. While one may think that the sustenance Allah provides means financial gains, this is a rather superficial and simple understanding. Those who give charity for the sake of Allah may receive not only more wealth in the future in ways that they cannot perceive, but they also gain peace of mind, happiness in the home, and an understanding of this life. We should keep this in mind and give charity in all its forms.
A few pages later, Allah describes those people whom He has forgiven from the Muhajireen and Ansar and those who followed the Prophet during the battle of Tabuk. He also mentions that He has forgiven another 3 people who stayed behind and did not go out for the battle. Their story is not recalled in the surah, but rather it has been collected in the hadith and is worth sharing a portion of it as it is rather profound.
The Prophet called upon the Muslims to go out for the battle, but many stayed back without legitimate excuses. Amongst them were three companions, most notably Kaab ibn Malik. He kept delaying preparing for battle until the Prophet and the Companions had left and he was too late. When the Prophet returned, most of the people who stayed back made fake excuses. However, three of them, including Kaab, felt shame for not going and refused to lie to the Prophet. Kaab knew that if he lied that Allah would know he is lying and that the Prophet may come to know as well. He made no excuse and the Prophet told all the companions to boycott speaking to him until further notice (which ended up being 50 days). During this time Kaab was continuously seeking forgiveness from Allah and His messenger, and was sincerely crying and doing his best to win back the love of the Prophet. Finally, after 50 days, the Prophet received wahy to accept Kaab’s apology and announce that Allah has accepted his tawba. This story, which I recommend you read in detail, has so many deep lessons and my heart shakes when I hear this verse recited. Imagine that although Kaab committed a huge sin by being lazy and missing the call for jihad, that his story and name are remembered by billions of Muslims till the end of time. Allah revealed his story and makes the whole ummah bear witness to the fact that He has forgiven Kaab and is pleased with him for his truthfulness. This is why the next ayah reads “O believers, fear Allah and be with those who are truthful.” (9:118-119).
Dear reader, stop and reflect on this for a moment. That no matter how grave our sins may be, sincere repentance and truthfulness will wipe everything away. Truthfulness is one of the most importance attributes of the believer, and the Muslim can never be a liar as the Prophet stated in a famous hadith. How do we react when we do something wrong? Do we admit our mistakes or do we make excuses? Do we sincerely ask Allah and those whom we may have wronged to forgive us? May Allah make us like Kaab, who understood the meaning of truthfulness and repentance.
The next surah in the juz is Surat Yunus. The surah covers briefly the story of Prophet Yunus, but devotes most of its attention to various subjects, including the stories of other Prophets. There is a beautiful ayah in the first page that should cause man to reflect over the innate nature of the universe, particularly the concept of time in itself. Allah says in the ayah 5 that is “He who made the sun as a source of shining glory and the moon to a light and measured out the stages of the moon so that you would all know the passing of years and time. Allah made them only in truth. He explains his signs in detail for those who understand.
Praise be to Allah who created the sun, moon, and time for our sake. We all know that time is a creation of Allah, and that time does not pertain to Allah. This is how He knows the past, present, and future, because in reality all these terms are limited to the domain of human life that He created for us. But more importantly is the fact that Allah explains that one of the reasons for creating the sun and the moon is so that mankind would be able to count time and the years. Think about this blessing for a moment. How would life be if it was one huge day? How would we be able to evaluate our progress and development? How would we know what happened in the past accurately? So many questions come to mind if we try to imagine a world without days, nights, months, and years. By Allah creating for us the sun and moon, we are able to have days and nights. Furthermore, we are able to use the sun for warmth, to grow food, and as a source of energy. We are able to use the moon for calculating time, as a light in the evening, and to admire its beauty as well. But most importantly, we are able to use the concept of time as a way to look back at our day, week, month, and year and ask ourselves: What have I accomplished? What have I done for my dunya affairs? What have I gathered for the Day of Judgment? What will I do in the upcoming days and years? All these questions allow the human to chart his progress or digression, and allow one to change his/her actions in the future. Allah creates so many blessings for us, how many of us use them appropriately and thank Him for them?
Then the surah continues by posing scenarios as to how people react in various circumstances: By believing, by not liking what’s in the scripture, being tested by hardship, and more. One ayah stands out that should be highlighted. In ayah 21 and 22, Allah describes how He allows us to travel by land and sea so that you even are able to board ships. They sail with the wind, enjoying the breeze, and then suddenly a severe wind and storm comes and waves from everyone begin crashing and they think they are being surrounded and overwhelmed. Then they sincerely call upon Allah saying “if you save us from this, surely we will be grateful and thankful.” However, after we save them, they continue transgressing without being true (to Allah). O people, verily your transgression is against yourselves. This is only a life of temporary enjoyment, then to Us you will return and We will inform you of what you used to do.”
Ponder over this ayah for a while. How many blessings of Allah have we enjoyed? How many times has Allah showered us with health and wealth, and how many times has He tested us with sickness or financial difficulty? Whenever we get sick, we always make duaa that Allah heals us. And sometimes if our sickness is severe, we even make oaths telling Allah we will be better people if we are made healthy. Are we true to our promises or do we return to our same state of affairs? Do we realize that this life is nothing in time or value compared to the eternal life and reward in the hereafter? This ayah is a reminder to all of us to wake up and remember the reality of the dunya, and to renew our commitment with Allah to be grateful to Him for all the blessings we have been given by properly worshipping Him.
The last ayah to discuss, although the surah contains much more, is ayah 57. “O mankind, indeed an admonition has come to you from your Lord. It is a cure for what is in the hearts and guidance and a mercy for the believers.” This is the Quran in the most eloquent yet simple words. One sentence. It is a guidebook from the Creator to the created, and it is only a mercy to those who believe in it. It is a mercy for the Muslims in this life and the next. The Quran is also a cure for everything in the hearts and chests. Think of all the ailments of the heart from anger, jealously, envy, hatred, impatience, pride, confusion, and unhappiness. The Quran heals the one afflicted with any ailment, even physical pain (any following proper medical advice). The thing that is truly sad is that most people do not see the Quran this way. The Muslims look at it as a book that, if read, has “blessings” which they define as hasanat (good deeds) Allah will give them for each letter recited. While this is true, it is missing the whole point of the Quran: to mold and shape the believing reader into the best human possible whose heart is pure, humbled to Allah, and follows the laws and lifestyle that Allah promised us is best for us. Is this how we read the Quran? If not, the time has come to reevaluate our understanding and approach to the book of Allah. It is truly a mercy for those who approach it in this fashion.
May Allah make us from those who read, ponder over, act upon, and reform our character by the Quran.