Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Historical Background of Revelation of Surah Ar Rum - The Romans

Surah Ar-Rūm is the thirtieth surah with 60 ayahs with six rukus, part of the 21st Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an. The Surah takes its name Ar-Rum from the second verse in which the words ghulibat-ir-Rum have occurred. The term Rûm originated in the word "Romans" and in the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) referred to the Byzantine Greeks (Eastern Roman Empire), hence the title is sometimes also translated as "The Greeks" or "The Byzantines".
The Romans have been defeated in the neighbouring land; but after their defeat they shall gain victory in a few years [Verses 2-3 Surah Ar Rūm]
The prediction made in the initial verses of this Surah is one of the most outstanding evidences of the Quran's being the word of Allah and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) being a true Messenger of Allah. Otherwise how could have Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) predicted the victory for the Romans when they had been defeated overwhelmingly by the Persians and apparently there were no signs of the recovery from the defeat, what to talk of victory over the Zoroastrians

Before we present the translation / exegesis / Tafseer of Surah Ar Rūm, it would be appropriate to understand the historical background under which this surah was revealed. Let us have a look at the historical background relevant to the verses.

Eight years before the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the Byzantine Emperor Maurice was overthrown by Phocus, who captured the throne and became king. Phocus first got the Emperor's five sons executed in front of him, and then got the Emperor also killed and hung their heads in a thoroughfare in Constantinople. A few days after this he had the empress and her three daughters also put to death. The event provided Khusrau Parvez, the Sassanid king of Iran; a good moral excuse to attack Byzantium, for Emperor Maurice had been his benefactor; with his help he had got the throne of Iran. Therefore, he declared that he would avenge his godfather's and his children's murder upon Phocus. He therefore waged a war against Byzantium in 603 A. D. and within a few years, he routed the Phocus' armies and reached Edessa (modern, Urfa) in Asia Minor and Aleppo and Antioch in Syria. When the Byzantine ministers saw that Phocus could not save the country, they sought the African governor's help, who sent his son, Heraclius, to Constantinople with a strong fleet. Phocus was immediately deposed and Heraclius made emperor. He treated Phocus as he had treated Maurice. This happened in 610 A. D., the year the Holy Prophet was appointed to Prophethood.

The moral excuse for which Khusrau Parvez had started the war was no more valid after the deposition and death of Phocus. Had the object of his war really been to avenge the murder of his ally on Phocus for his cruelty, he would have come to terms with the new Emperor after the death of Phocus. But he continued the war, and gave it the color of a crusade between Zoroastrianism and Christianity. The sympathies of the Christian sects (i. e. Nestorians and Jacobians, etc.) which had been excommunicated by the Roman ecclesiastical authority and tyrannized for years also went with the Magian (Zoroastrian) invaders, and the Jews also joined hands with them; so much so that the number of the Jews who enlisted in Khusrau's army rose up to 26,000.

Heraclius could not stop this storm. The very first news that he received from the East after ascending the throne was that of the Iranian occupation of Antioch. After this Damascus fell in 613 A. D. Then in 614 A.D. the Iranians occupying Jerusalem played havoc with the Christian world. Ninety thousand Christians were massacred and the Holy Sepulcher was desecrated. The Original Cross on which, according to the Christian belief, Jesus had died was seized and carried to Mada'in. The chief priest Zechariah was taken prisoner and all the important churches of the city were destroyed. How puffed up was Khusrau Parvez at this victory can be judged from the letter that he wrote to Heraclius from Jerusalem. He wrote:
"From Khusrau, the greatest of all gods, the master of the whole world: To Heraclius, his most wretched and most stupid servant: You say that you have trust in your Lord. why didn't then your Lord save Jerusalem from me?"
Within a year after this victory the Iranian armies overran Jordan, Palestine and the whole of the Sinai Peninsula, and reached the frontiers of Egypt. Concurrently in those days another conflict of a far greater historical consequence was going on in Makkah. The believers in One Allah, under the leadership of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah's peace be upon him), were fighting for their existence against the followers of shirk under the command of the chiefs of the Quraish, and the conflict had reached such a stage that in 615 A. D., a substantial number of the Muslims had to leave their homes and take refuge with the Christian kingdom of Habash, which was an ally of the Byzantine Empire. In those days the Sassanid victories against Byzantium were the talk of the town, and the pagans of Makkah were delighted and were taunting the Muslims to the effect: 
"Look the fire worshipers of Iran are winning victories and the Christian believers in Revelation and Prophethood are being routed everywhere. Likewise, we, the idol worshipers of Arabia, will exterminate you and your religion."
These were the conditions when this Surah of the Quran was sent down, and in it a prediction was made, saying:
"The Romans have been vanquished in the neighboring land and within a few years after their defeat, they shall be victorious. And it will be the day when the believers will rejoice in the victory granted by Allah." 
It contained not one but two predictions: First, the Romans shall be victorious; and second, the Muslims also shall win a victory at the same time. Apparently, there was not a remote chance of the fulfillment of the either prediction in the next few years. On the one hand, there were a handful of the Muslims, who were being beaten and tortured in Makkah, and even till eight years after this prediction there appeared no chance of their victory and domination. On the other, the Romans were losing more and more ground every next day. By 619 A. D. the whole of Egypt had passed into Sassanid hands and the Magian armies (Magi denotes followers of Zoroastrianism or Zoroaster) had reached as far as Tripoli. In Asia Minor they had beaten and pushed back the Romans to Bosporus, and in 617 A. D. they captured Chalcedon (modern, Kadikoy) just opposite Constantinople. The Emperor sent an envoy to Khusrau, praying that he was ready to have peace on any terms, but he replied, "I shall not give protection to the emperor until he is brought in chains before me and gives up obedience to his crucified god and adopts submission to the fire god." At last, the Emperor became so depressed by defeat that he decided to leave Constantinople and shift to Carthage (modern, Tunis). In short, as the British historian Gibbon says, even seven to eight years after this prediction of the Quran, the conditions were such that no one could even imagine that the Byzantine Empire would ever gain an upper hand over Iran. Not to speak of gaining domination, no one could hope that the Empire, under the circumstances, would even survive.

The initial portion of verse 3 spells out the time period of the glad tidings:

فِىۡ بِضۡعِ سِنِيۡنَ

bid`i sinin, and the word bid` in Arabic applies to a number upto ten. Therefore, make the bet for ten years and increase the number of camels to a hundred." So, Hadrat Abu Bakr spoke to Ubayy again and bet a hundred camels for ten years.

In 622 A. D. as the Holy Prophet migrated to Madinah, the Emperor Heraclius set off quietly for Trabzon from Constantinople via the Black Sea and started preparations to attack Iran from rear. For this he asked the Church for money, and Pope Sergius lent him the Church collections on interest, in a bid to save Christianity from Zoroastrianism. Heraclius started his counter attack in 623 A. D. from Armenia. Next year, in 624 A. D., he entered Azerbaijan and destroyed Clorumia, the birthplace of Zoroaster, and ravaged the principal fire temple of Iran. Great are the powers of Allah, this was the very year when the Muslims achieved a decisive victory at Badr for the first time against the mushriks. Thus both the predictions made in Surah Rum were fulfilled simultaneously within the stipulated period of ten years.

The Byzantine forces continued to press the Iranians hard and in the decisive battle at Nineveh (627 A.D.) they dealt them the hardest blow. They captured the royal residence of Dastagerd, and then pressing forward reached right opposite to Ctesiphon, capital of Iran in those days. In 628 A. D. in an internal revolt, Khusrau Parvez was imprisoned and 18 of his sons were executed in front of him and a few days later he himself died in the prison. This was the year when the peace treaty of Hudaibiya was concluded, which the Quran has termed as "the supreme victory", and in this very year Khusrau's son, Qubad II, gave up all the occupied Roman territories, restored the True Cross and made peace with Byzantium. In 628 A. D., the Emperor himself went to Jerusalem to install the "Holy Cross" in its place, and in the same year the Holy Prophet entered Makkah for the first time after the Hijrah to perform the `Umra-tul-Qada'.

After this no one could have any doubt about the truth of the prophecy of the Quran, with the result that most of the Arab polytheists accepted Islam. The heirs of Ubayy bin Khalaf lost their bet and had to give a hundred camels to Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddiq. He took them before the Holy Prophet, who ordered that they be given away in charity, because the bet had been made at a time when gambling had not yet been forbidden by the Shari`ah; now it was forbidden. Therefore, the bet was allowed to be accepted from the belligerent disbelievers, but instruction given that it should be given away in charity and should not be brought in personal use.

Theme of the Surah:
The discourse begins with the theme that the Romans have been overcome and the people the world over think that the empire is about to collapse, but the fact is that within a few years the tables will be turned and the vanquished will again become victorious.

This introductory theme contains the great truth that man is accustomed to seeing only what is apparent and superficial. That which is behind the apparent and superficial he does not know. When in the petty matters of life, this habit to see only the apparent and superficial can lead man to misunderstandings and miscalculations, and when he is liable to make wrong estimates only due to lack of knowledge about "what will happen tomorrow", how stupendous will be his error if he risks his whole life-activity by placing reliance only upon what is visible and apparent with respect to his worldly life as a whole.

In this connection, the Signs of the universe which have been presented as evidence to prove the doctrine of the Hereafter arc precisely the same which support the doctrine of Tauhid. Therefore from verse 28 onward, the discourse turns to the affirmation of Tauhid and the refutation of shirk, and it is stressed that the natural way of life for man is none else but to serve One God exclusively. Shirk is opposed to the nature of the universe as to the nature of man. Therefore, whenever man has adopted this deviation, chaos has resulted. Again here, an allusion has been made to the great chaos that had gripped the world on account of the war between the two major powers of the time, and it has been indicated that this chaos too, is the result of shirk, and all the nations who were ever involved in mischief and chaos in the history of mankind were also mushriks.

In conclusion, a parable has been presented to make the people understand that just as dead earth comes to life, all of a sudden, by a shower of rain sent by God and swells with vegetation and plant life, so is the case with the dead humanity. When God sends a shower of His mercy in the form of Revelation and Prophethood, it also gives a new life to mankind and causes it to grow and develop and flourish. Therefore: "If you take full advantage of this opportunity, the barren land of Arabia will bloom by Allah's mercy and the whole advantage will be your. But if you do not take advantage of it, you will harm only yourselves. Then no regret will avail and no opportunity will be provided to make amends."

This is the general historical perspective under which this important surah was revealed and the theme of the surah which sets forth the mindset for better understanding of the exegesis / tafseer of the surah which will be presented in our next post.

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [3]
  • And the exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran are basically based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [1]
  • In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites. 
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Monday, June 24, 2019

99 Attributes of Allah: Al Kareem - The Most Generous

Al-Karīm  الكريم  is one of the Divine 99 attributes of Allah that explains He is The Most Generous,  The Most Bountiful,  The Most Esteemed,  The Beneficent for if He was not so, we would have never been blessed with so much bounties and blessings we have had today despite the fact most of us do not deserve to have these owing to our sinful lives and thanklessness to Allah.

Let us see how this attribute has been mentioned in the Holy Qur'an with reference to the context:
يٰۤاَيُّهَا الۡاِنۡسَانُ مَا غَرَّكَ بِرَبِّكَ الۡكَرِيۡمِۙ‏ 
O man! What has deceived you about your generous Lord [Surah Al-Infitar 82:6]

In Surah Al Infitar Allah warns that the guardian angels are recording all actions of every human and on the Day of the Judgment these recordings will be presented to Him for Allah alone all by Himself will be the Judge. Allah remonstrates with humankind asking what it is that lures them away from Him.  Allah reminds them that it is He who created them, shaped them and proportioned them. What is it Allah is asking that prevents you from fulfilling your obligations to Him.  He has been gracious and generous towards you, raising you above all of creation.  Allah has assembled humankind and carefully balanced the physical, mental and spiritual aspects.  People should ponder their amazing bodies and minds and this alone should prompt them to show gratitude and respect to Allah.

Al Kareem is from the root k-r-m which has the following classical Arabic connotations:
  • to be generous, giving, beneficent
  • to be highly esteemed, honored, prized, valued
  • to be noble, grand, high minded
  • to be productive, fruitful, and
  • to be excellent, precious, valuable, rare
The Al Kareem attribute has also been used in verse 40 of Surah Al Naml:

قَالَ الَّذِىۡ عِنۡدَهٗ عِلۡمٌ مِّنَ الۡـكِتٰبِ اَنَا اٰتِيۡكَ بِهٖ قَبۡلَ اَنۡ يَّرۡتَدَّ اِلَيۡكَ طَرۡفُكَ​ؕ فَلَمَّا رَاٰهُ مُسۡتَقِرًّا عِنۡدَهٗ قَالَ هٰذَا مِنۡ فَضۡلِ رَبِّىۡ​ۖ لِيَبۡلُوَنِىۡٓ ءَاَشۡكُرُ اَمۡ اَكۡفُرُ​ؕ وَمَنۡ شَكَرَ فَاِنَّمَا يَشۡكُرُ لِنَفۡسِهٖ​ۚ وَمَنۡ كَفَرَ فَاِنَّ رَبِّىۡ غَنِىٌّ كَرِيۡمٌ‏  

The context in the above verse is when Prophet Solomon wanted throne of Queen Saba / Sheba to be brought to him before the Queen arrived to visit him and the throne was there in the blink of an eye. On this favour, the Prophet Solomon thanked Allah. The verse means:
Allah does not stand in need of somebody’s gratefulness. His Godhead is neither enhanced by an iota by somebody’s gratefulness, nor diminished by that amount by somebody’s ingratitude or thanklessness. He is Sovereign in His own right. His Sovereignty is not dependent on His creation’s acknowledgment or rejection. The same thing has been expressed in the Quran through the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him): “If you prove thankless, you and all the dwellers of the earth, (you should know that) Allah is All-Sufficient and worthy of all praise by Himself.” [Surah Ibrahim: Ayat 8]
The same theme is contained in a Hadith Qudsi related in Sahih-Muslim saying:
“Allah says: O My servants, if you all men and jinns, from the beginning to the end, together become like the heart of the most righteous person among you, it will not cause any increase in My Kingdom; and O My servants, if you all men and jinns, from the beginning to the end, together become like the heart of the most sinful person among you, it will not cause any decrease in My Kingdom. O My servants, it is your own deeds which I credit to your account, and then fully recompense you for them. So, whoever receives something good, let him be grateful to Allah, and whoever receives something else, let him curse his own self only”.
Linguistically, a person who is generous and always helping others by whatever he has is also called kareem. Anything held in its own category in high esteem is called kareem. Arabs are used to calling anything kareem if it has a commendable merit or quality. Muhammed, the Messenger of Allah, has said, "Prophet Yusuf is the most kareem of people," meaning in lineage and descent. They may describe something the presence of which can be identified by one of the physical senses as kareem.

So when it comes as an attribute of Allah, one cannot fathom the level of generosity for its is limitless and sees no bounds and is immeasurable. And when He is giving, He gives to all, even to those who do not deserve them. He doles out His benevolence even without being asked. If a suppliant prays Him for forgiveness, one of the signs of His greatness is that He will erase that suppliant's sin if he truly repents, and He records a good deed for him in its place. 

Allah says in verse 261 of Surah Al Baqarah:
"The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like the parable of a grain growing seven ears (with) a hundred grains in each, and Allah multiplies for whomsoever he pleases, and Allah is ample-Giving, Knowing" 
Al Kareem attribute is not only in giving things or wealth or blessings, Allah is generous in forging too. Allah is the One Who deliberately and quite often overlooks. One of the signs of His Greatness is that He forgives whenever He is prayed for forgiveness; Allah has said:
"Ask forgiveness of your Lord; surely He is the most Forgiving" (Quran, 71:10).
And among the signs of His Greatness is that He forgives without reminding those whom He forgives of the types of sins and ugly things they had committed.

The Qur’an is also described as Qur’an Kareem. This means that the Qur’an is full of benefit and virtues. And that it is full of benefits, facts, and guidance, it is full of good things and blessings, it is perfect in every sense of the word, and it is free from any defect or imperfection. It is “Kareem” perfect and free from any defect or imperfection.

When Queen Sheba received the letter from Prophet Solomon, she is said to have regarded the letter as Kareem:
قَالَتۡ يٰۤاَيُّهَا الۡمَلَؤُا اِنِّىۡۤ اُلۡقِىَ اِلَىَّ كِتٰبٌ كَرِيۡمٌ‏ 
The Queen said:" Know my nobles that a gracious letter has been delivered to me [Surah An Naml 27:29] 

Allah is also "Kareem" in His dealings with His creation. Allah always goes over and beyond what is needed, when He does not have to. He forgives, He follows through and He gives. Al-Kareem is the One Who covers people’s sins and hide their flaws, and this is a Divine Attribute of Allah (Glorified and Sublime be He). Al-Kareem makes man, who is wretched poor and needy, a well-known man. Allah will make this poor, weak, wretched and needy servant someone to be mentioned by concealing his flaws from people and showing them the goodness he has:
And fulfill (your obligations to) My Covenant (with you) so that I fulfill (My Obligations to) your covenant (with Me), and fear none but Me. (Al-Baqarah 2:40)
One could go on and on describing the endless meanings of Al-Kareem for Allah never abandons whoever seeks His shelter and takes refuge with Him: "And will never decrease the reward of your good deeds. (Surah Muhammad 47:35)

The Prophet of Allah has been reported as saying:
‘Allah (the Most High) says, ‘When engrossment with the Qur’an preoccupies a person from making dhikr and asking from me, I grant him better than what I grant to those who ask from Me.’ The Rank of the Word of Allah over other forms of speech is like the rank of Allah over all His creation.” (Abu Sa`eed - At-Tirmidhi)
Now watch and listen to explanation of attributes Al Kareem and Al Akram by Muhammad Tim Humble:
Having understood on the Al Kareem attribute of Allah, the question arises how should we inculcate the quality of being generous and exhibit it in our actions when it comes to dealing with other human beings and our brethren. We can do so by being generous to people, knowing that Allah compensates His servants because He is the ultimate in Generosity. Not simply in money, but in time and simple generosity in attitude. 

The Prophet ﷺ would never say “no” when he was asked for something. The Prophet ﷺ also said: “The generous one is close to Allah, close to people, far from the fire; a stingy person is far from Allah, far from people, far from Paradise; and the generous ignorant person is more beloved to Allah than a stingy worshipper.” (Tirmidhi)

May Allah help s to be generous, oft forgiving and helping to the best of our abilities. Aameen.

You may refer to our post "99 Attributes of Allah" for complete list of 99 attributes of Allah Almighty with meaning and explanation.

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Understanding Islam: Why Man is in Loss? Allah Cautions in Surah Al Asr [Chapter 103]

Sūrah Al-‘Aṣr, the 103rd chapter of the Holy Qur'an, has only three verses - but many of us just read it out as if it does not carry any significance to our lives. But those few who take a time out and ponder over the three verses of the surah come to know that Allah has summed up four attributes of a true believer in this surah which if really understood can change our lives, otherwise man is truly in loss, both in this world and the Hereafter. 

Let us now for once, read this surah giving due attention to each word of it, to start with:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"


By Time.

2. إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ‌

Indeed man is in loss,

3. إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ‌‌

except those:
  • who have faith, 
  • and do righteous deeds, 
  • and enjoin one another to [follow] the truth, and 
  • enjoin one another to patience.
As is evident, here Allah, while taking a vow of the time, has cautioned that 'man' not men is in loss and surely we as individuals are at loss unless we fulfill four preconditions that have been spelt out in the verse 3.

For the most powerful message summed in the surah, this surah is considered the summary of whole Quran by almost all notable classical and modern Islamic scholars including Imam Shafi, Ibn Kathir, and even lately Dr. Israr Ahmed.

These four conditions or pre-requisites are so eloquently explained by Nouman Ali Khan, an emerging Muslim scholar, a Pakistani living in the USA, who has mastered the Arabic language and explained the Holy Qur'an in very easy to understand language, giving examples from our daily lives and stressing home the real message contained in the Holy Qur'an. He has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre of Jordan.

Please listen to Nouman Ali Khan explaining the Surah Al Asr and the four preconditions that guarantee a man to not be in loss and be blessed:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References: | 1 2 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

If you like Islam: My Ultimate Decision, and to keep yourself updated on all our latest posts to know more about Islam, follow us on Facebook

Please share this page to your friends and family members through Facebook, WhatsApp or any means on Social Media so that they can also be benefited by it and better understand Islam and the Holy Qur'an - Insha Allah (Allah Willing) you shall be blessed with the best of both worlds.

Islam and Life of Muslims in Non Muslim Countries: Kenya

Muslims in Kenya, though in minority but constitute about 9-11% percent of the total population of Kenya. Muslims mostly abound the Kenyan coast, while the capital Nairobi has a sizable Muslim population and have several mosques. The majority of Muslims follow the Sunni Islam of Shafi school of jurisprudence. There are also Shia Muslims of Ismailis and Dawoodi Bohra sects.

Muslim presence in lands which constitute present day Kenya date back to the 10th century as archaeological evidence attests to a thriving Muslim town on Manda Island. The Moroccan Muslim traveler, Ibn Battuta, visiting the Swahili Coast in 1331 AD, reported a strong Muslim presence. Ibn Battuta said: The inhabitants are pious, honourable, and upright, and they have well-built wooden mosques.
Ruins of the Great Mosque at Gedi, discovered in 1920s [Photo Wikipedia]

As Islam started to spread and made inroads into the interior lands, there was strong resistance toward Islam by the majority of communities. The resistance was because conversion was an individual act, leading to de-tribalization and integration into the Muslim community going against the socially acceptable communal life. specially resistance by fierce tribes like the Masai. However, embracing of Islam by large portions of coastal tribes in the Nineteenth Century aided in its spread. Although coastal rulers did not send missionaries to the interior, local Africans embraced Islam freely through attraction to the religious life of the Muslims.

Moreover, the ingress of Islam to the interior was aided by the posting of the Muslim agents by Europeans in the 19th century as subordinate labourers to assist in the establishment of Colonial administration centres. Since they were  advantageously placed throughout the country, it brought the Islamic influence to the interior.Each place where a European installed himself, military camp, government centre, or plantation, was a centre for Muslim influence.

The spread of Islam in Kenya came between 1880 and 1930 and Islam introduced new religious values. The ease, with which Islam could be adopted led to conversion. Although most of the conversions were of individuals, there were communities that embraced Islam en-masse. Some of these included the Digo and Pokomo of the Lower Tana region. From these communities Islam slowly penetrated inland.

Maalim Mtondo, a Tanganyikan is credited with being the first Muslim missionary to Nairobi. Reaching Nairobi at the close of the Nineteenth Century. Muslim traders introduced Islam to the western region between 1870 and 1885. The chief Mumia of Nabongo accorded the Swahili traders warm welcome. During an inter-ethnic war, the Muslims assisted Chief Mumia to overcome his enemies. In return, one Idd day, Chief Mumia, his family and officials of his court converted to Islam. Henceforth, Islam spread to the surrounding areas of Kakamega, Kisumu, Kisii and Bungoma.

Kadhi Courts are central to serving Muslim interests in Kenya. These courts existed in the East African coast before colonization. In Kenya, the coast was under the Sultan of Zanzibar. In 1895, he gave the British power to administer the 10-mile coastal strip if they respected the courts. But he retained sovereignty. During the independence talks, the courts were legislated. Kadhi’s Courts in Kenya deal with Islamic matters. The court is composed of a Chief Kadhi and at least three other Kadhis or as may be prescribed by Parliament. Each kadhi’s court is subordinate to the high Court. A Kadhi is proficient in Islamic law. The jurisdiction of these courts is however limited to personal matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. These do not have any criminal jurisdiction.

Prolonged Muslim awareness has led to attraction to Islam, giving the converted a sense of pride. There has been increased social action, building of schools, health facilities, and relief food distribution. Moreover, proselytization is carried out through print media, broadcasting, increased formation of Missionary organizations, and organization of public debates. 

Muslims and Christians have lived together peacefully as compared to other countries such as Nigeria and Central African Republic. Kenya is unique in the sense that despite terror attacks both on Muslim and Christian establishments, there have never been full-blown violence between the two communities. This is perhaps attributed to the national motto Harambee, meaning pulling together. The Harambee philosophy serves as precursors to attaching value to human life irrespective of diverse faith background.

However, recently there have been problems. The civil war in Somalia though has been contained, one of the militant faction Al Shabab has made inroads in Kenya and have been source of dissection in the otherwise peaceful Muslim community and has been responsible for many acts of terror in the country. The youth, who directly or indirectly support the Somali-based armed group Al-Shabab; while others actively work to eradicate extremism within their religious and social milieu. In the latter group there are individuals who oppose Al-Shabab and its ilk.

Majority of Muslims do not support acts of terror by Al Shabab activities. Recently thousands of Muslims took to the streets on Friday to show solidarity with the victims of a deadly terror attack on a Nairobi hotel compound Tuesday that killed at least 21 people. Locals closed their businesses in capital's Eastleigh suburb, dubbed Little Mogadishu, to join politicians and residents in a march to commemorate victims of the attack on a local hotel compound, claimed by al-Shabab militants, and to condemn terrorism and shun divisive ideology. Barkhado Amina, a shop owner in the heart of Eastleigh, said that Muslims in Eastleigh are always victimized and targeted by police whenever a terror attack occurred. "We are Kenyans, we are not terrorists, two Muslims were killed at Riverside terror attack, we are also crying, if they were fighting for Muslims, they would not kill us, al-Shabab does not have any religion, they are animals," she said.
Kenyan Muslim women offering prayers [Photo]

The crackdown on Muslims is nevertheless equally barbaric. In 2015 Kenyan security forces discovered at least a dozen graves on the outskirts of Mandera town in the province while they were searching for a missing mother of five.  A senior senator from the area and local residents alleged that the graves in fact belonged to Muslim victims killed by Kenyan security forces themselves. “We have been crying that we are being targeted, but report after report, no one comes to our aid; all the human rights groups have said that this is happening,” Fatah said, a resident of the area.

Despite all cases of killing from both sides and activities of Al Shabab, a group of Muslims recently shielded the Christians travelling in a bus when the militants asked Muslims to separate from the Christians. But the Muslims traveling in the bus refused and spared the killing of Christians.

However, all is all not that good when it comes development of areas where Muslims abound.  The Muslims are openly critical of the Kenyan government and what they view as its discrimination against Muslims. Muslim-dominated regions tend to be socially and economically underdeveloped relative to the rest of the country. Despite the inclusion of Muslims in most Kenyan governments, there is a perception that Muslim interests are under-represented politically. The heavy-handed police tactics such as mass-roundups of young men at mosques, have only served to reinforce perceptions of prejudice against Muslims by the anti-terrorism police. 

The curse of Kenyan Muslims today is the lack of leadership to unite some 300 Muslim organizations in the country, in the absence of which there is no central voice of the Muslims to be heard in the corridors of the government. Recently the Kenyan Supreme Court decision to overturn a 2016 High Court ruling allowing Muslim girls to wear the hijab in church-run schools has prompted a renewed round of debate on the role of religion and the place of religious pluralism in the country. This decision has also attracted a raft of criticism, most notably from Senior Counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi, who said it was “inspired by a poisonous evangelical jurisprudence that repudiates the rights of Muslim pupils to wear a hijab”, and described it as an expression of Islamophobia.

Herein under watch a video about the Kenyan Muslims celebrating the Eid al Adha:
Despite all misgivings of Muslims, the government in place is always making endeavors to facilitate Muslims and put  greater emphasis on Muslim representation and empowerment than any other. A notable example of this is Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji, the point man in the war on corruption, perhaps the most important task of the Uhuru presidency. Majority Leader Aden Duale noted that “there is no time Muslims have held so many senior positions in government”, the same as Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala. Similar praise has come from senior Muslim religious leaders and scholars, including for the major investment in infrastructure projects in northern Kenya and the coast.

Author's Note: The data above has been collected from the references as given below. If any one differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

Photo | References: | Main Source:  Wikipedia | Other Sources : | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |
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Friday, June 21, 2019

Surah Luqman: Exegesis / Tafseer of 31st Chapter of the Holy Quran

Surah Luqman is the seventieth surah with 34 ayahs with 4 rukus, part of the 21st Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an. The Surah has been named Luqman after Luqman the Sage, whose admonitions to his son have been related in verses 12-19 of this Surah. According to Islamic traditional chronology (asbāb al-nuzūl), this surah was revealed in the middle of Muhammad's Meccan period, and is thus usually classified as a Meccan surah.

The surah was revealed at a time when the prosecution of Muslims was at its height and the young Muslims were asked that while they should respect their parents in every aspect, the should disobey them if they tried to lead them away from Islam, or compelled them to revert to the creed of shirk and polytheism. The same thing has been said in Surah Al-Ankabut, which indicates that both these Surahs were sent down in the same period. A study of the style and subject matter of the two Surahs on the whole, however, shows that Surah Luqman was sent down earlier, for one does not see any sign of the antagonism in its background though, contrary to this, while studying Surah Al-Ankabut one can clearly feel that the Muslims were being severely persecuted during the period of its revelation. The disbelievers have also been warned about the consequences of their actions and Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, told not to be saddened by their actions.

The focus of this sura, once broken down into its many elements, can be seen as emphasizing principles of moderation. The sura uses the mustard seed analogy to emphasize the degree to which God maintains his purview over man's actions, possibly emphasizing the fact that any evil or good deed no matter how small is recorded and will be brought out by Allah during the day of judgement.

A final point of focus for Surah Luqman comes down to the purpose of Allah's creation. It is stressed how Allah's intention through creation was to better mankind, and His signs are theoretically everywhere, from rain to vegetation. This emphasis once again reminds people of their subservience to Allah while also driving home the idea that man is meant to do good on the Earth. Man's purpose is to serve Allah, while the Earth has been created in order to facilitate man's needs.

Let us now read the translation and exegesis / tafseer in English of the Surah segmented into portions as per the subject matter. For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given at the end and may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"
Rukhu 1 [1-11]
Verses 1-11: The Surah opens with a description of the believers and strongly condemns those who attempt to lead others astray And the initial verses are about the Al Quran, "The" Book of Wisdom, a Guide and a Blessing for the Righteous:
1. Alif-Lam-Mim. الٓمّٓ‏ 
[These disjoined letters are one of the miracles of the Qur'an, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings - see our earlier post for details: Understanding the Holy Quran: Huroof Muqatta’at - Disjoined Letters]. 
The verses 2-7 explain that the Quran bears guidance and a mercy for those who lead a God-conscious life and with the Hereafter as their main focus. These are the ones who will be successful. However there are some people who are without knowledge and pay for distracting tales to lead others away from Allah. Those who distract a believer will find a humiliating torment waiting for them. When the verses are recited they turn away disdainfully as if the words are nothing but heaviness in their ears. Allah repeats His warning saying; tell them there will be a painful torment.
( 2 )   These are verses of the wise Book,
( 3 )   As guidance and mercy for the doers of good
That is, these verses give guidance to the right way and have been sent down as a mercy from God. But the people who can profit by this mercy and guidance are only those who adopt a righteous attitude, who wish to become good, who crave for their own well being, whose quality is that they avoid the evil when they are warned of it, and follow the good when they are shown the ways to it. As for the wicked and mischievous people, they will neither profit by this guidance nor receive any share from this mercy.
( 4 )   Who establish prayer and give zakat, and they, of the Hereafter, are certain [in faith].
The three qualities mentioned here mean are the basic traits of believers which lay foundation for living a good and clean life. (1) They establish the Salat which engenders God worship and piety as a permanent habit with them, (2) They pay the Zakat which strengthens the spirit of sacrifice in them, subdues the love of the world and arouses a desire for the goodwill of Allah, and (3) They believe in the Hereafter, which instills the sense of responsibility and answer-ability.

By possessing these qualities, it allows a believer who is fully conscious of the fact that he is not independent but the slave of a Master before Whom he is answerable for all his activities of life. These righteous people thus are not the kind of the righteous persons who happen to do good just by chance, who may commit evil as often and as freely as they would do good. Contrary to this, these qualities inculcate in them an enduring system of thought and morality owing to which goodness issues forth from them in a regulated and systematic manner, and the evil, if at all committed, is committed just by chance. They do not have any deep rooted motives, which might be arising from their own system of thought and morality and leading them on to the evil way under their own nature impulse.
( 5 )   Those are on [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful.
In order to fully understand the traits of successful people, please To understand the real concept of the true success one should study the following verses of the Quran along with the relevant E.Ns: (Surah Al- Baqarah: Ayats 2-5), (Surah Aal-Imran: Ayats 102, 130, 200), (Surah Al-Maidah: Ayats 35, 90), (Surah Al-Anaam: Ayat 21), (Surah Al-Aaraf; Ayats 7, 8,157), (Surah At-Taubah: Ayat 88), (Surah Yunus: Ayat 17), (Surah An-Nahl: Ayat 116), (Surah Al-Hajj: Ayat 77), (Surah Al-Muminun: Ayat 117), (Surah An-Nur: Ayat 51), (Surah Ar-Rum: Ayat 38).

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنۡ يَّشۡتَرِىۡ لَهۡوَ الۡحَدِيۡثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَنۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ بِغَيۡرِ عِلۡمٍ​ۖ وَّيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا ​ؕ اُولٰٓـئِكَ لَهُمۡ عَذَابٌ مُّهِيۡنٌ‏ 
( 6 )   And of the people is he who purchase the amusement of speech to mislead [others] from the way of Allah without knowledge and who takes it in ridicule. Those will have a humiliating punishment.
That is, on the one hand, there is this mercy and guidance sent down by Allah, of which some people are taking full advantage, and on the other hand, there are also some unfortunate people living side by side with the fortunate ones, who are adopting this sort of attitude as against the revelations of Allah.

The words lahv al-hadith in the text imply such a thing as may allure and absorb a listener completely and make him heedless of everything else around him. Lexically, there is nothing derogatory in these words, but in custom and usage they apply to evil and useless and vain things, such as gossip, nonsensical talk, joking and jesting, legends and tales, singing and merry making, etc.

“Purchases” alluring tales may also mean that the person concerned adopts falsehood instead of the truth, turns away from the guidance and turns to those things which can neither benefit him in the world nor in the Hereafter. But this is the metaphorical meaning. The real meaning of the sentence is that a person should purchase an absurd and useless thing for his money, and this is supported by many traditions. Ibn Hisham has related on the authority of Ibn Ishaq that when the disbelievers of Makkah could not stop the message of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from spreading in spite of their best efforts, Nadr bin Harith said to the people of Quraish: “The way you are counteracting this man will avail you nothing. He has lived a lifetime among you. Until now he was the most truthful and the most trustworthy person among you. Now you say that he is a sorcerer and enchanter and a poet and a madman. Who will believe all this? Don’t the people know the way the sorcerers talk? Don’t they know the enchanters and the way they conduct their business? Are they unaware of poetry and of the states of madness? Which of these accusations sticks to Muhammad (peace be upon him) by exploiting which you would turn the people’s attention away from him? Look! I will tell you how to deal with him.” Then he left Makkah for Iraq and managed to get from there legends and tales about the kings of Iran and Rustam and Isfandyar and started to arrange tale telling parties to distract the people from the Quran and to absorb them in the tales. The same tradition has been cited by Vahidi in Asbab un Nazul on the authority of Kalbi and Muqatil. And according to Ibn Abbas, Nadr had bough singing girls also for the purpose. Whenever he heard that someone was coming under the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) influence, he would impose a singing girl on him with the instruction: “Feed him and entertain him with your songs so that he is absorbed in you and distracted from the other side.”

“Without knowledge” may be connected with “buys” and also “lead astray”. In the first case, it would mean: The ignorant person buys this alluring thing and does not know that he is buying a ruinous thing at the cost of a highly valuable thing. On the one hand, there are the divine verses which are full of wisdom and guidance, which he can obtain without any cost, but he turns away from them. On the other hand, there are these absurd things, which are disastrous for his morals and he is expending his wealth to obtain them. In the second case, it would mean: He has come out to guide the people without any knowledge: he does not know what burden of sin he is taking on himself by trying to lead the people astray from Allah’s Way.

A person who wants to make fun of the divine revelations by alluring and absorbing the people in legends and tales and music, intends that the invitation of the Quran should be derided and ridiculed and laughed away. He plans to fight the religion of God with the strategy that as soon as Muhammad (peace be upon him) should come out to recite revelations of God to the people, there should be a charming, sweet-voiced damsel giving her performance in a musical concert. On the one hand, a glib tongued storyteller telling tales and legends of Iran, on the other hand, the people should become so absorbed in these cultural activities that they may not be in a mood to hear anything about God and the morals and the Hereafter.

For such People, Allah promises, punishment will be in accordance with their crime. They want to debase and disgrace Allah’s religion, His revelations and His Messenger; Allah will take on them by giving them a disgraceful torment.
( 7 )   And when our verses are recited to him, he turns away arrogantly as if he had not heard them, as if there was in his ears deafness. So give him tidings of a painful punishment.
In verses 8-11, there are glad tidings for those who believe and do righteous deeds that they will stay in Gardens of bliss. It has been said that it is a truthful promise from none other than Allah, the Mighty and Wise. It is He who has created the heavens without visible pillars, set the mountains upon the earth firmly so that they will not shift and spread animals of all sorts throughout the earth. He sends rain from the sky that causes all sorts of vegetable life to grow. It is then asked from the disbelievers that these have been creation of Allah; what have others that you worship created!? The disbelievers are clearly in error.
( 8 )   Indeed, those who believe and do righteous deeds - for them are the Gardens of Pleasure.
( 9 )   Wherein they abide eternally; [it is] the promise of Allah [which is] truth. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.
It is being said that there can be no chance that one may not receive what Allah has promised to give as a reward for faith and righteous deeds. Moreover, Allah’s open promise to bestow this reward is entirely based on His wisdom and His justice. He does not misjudge: it cannot be that He may deprive a deserving person of his reward, and reward a non deserving one instead. The people characterized by true faith and righteous deeds indeed deserve this reward and Allah will bestow this on them only.”
( 10 )   He created the heavens without pillars that you see and has cast into the earth firmly set mountains, lest it should shift with you, and dispersed therein from every creature. And We sent down rain from the sky and made grow therein [plants] of every noble kind.
( 11 )   This is the creation of Allah. So show Me what those other than Him have created. Rather, the wrongdoers are in clear error.
After referring to His creations (verse 10), it is being said Allah alone is the Creator, and yet insist on their being the deities. If somebody has a little of the common sense, he will inevitably think how the one who has no power to create anything, and who has no share whatever in the creation of anything in the earth and heavens, can be our deity. Why should man bow before it and adore it as a deity? Does it possess any power that it could fulfill one’s needs and requirements? Even if it hears one’s prayers, what could it do to answer them when it did not have any power to create anything? For, evidently, afflictions can be removed only by him who can create something and not by him who can create nothing.”

Rukhu 2 [12-19]
From verses 12-19 the discourse changes to the wise man Luqman of the earlier days, whose wisdom was source of inspirations for the people of the time.
Herein Allah says that He gave wisdom to Luqman so that he would be grateful. Whoever is grateful and gives thanks to Allah od does so for his own welfare. Those who are ungrateful and deny Allah’s favors upon them should understand that Allah has no need of their thanks. Luqman counsels his son saying do not attribute partners to God, it is a terrible error.

Allah commands that people be good to their parents, their mothers carry their offspring with great difficulty and usually feed them from their own bodies for two years.  Allah associates gratitude towards Him with gratitude towards parents.  He says be grateful and obey them but stresses not to obey them when they ask you to commit the greatest sin of associating others with Allah.  We should not obey them in matters that go against the commandments of Allah, and do what is right, but at the same time we are expected to treat our parents with care and respect.

Verses 12-19 Luqman tells his son contain that nothing can escape Allah’s knowledge.  Even if it is as small as a mustard seed, or hidden inside a rock or is a minute speck in a vast universe,  Allah can see it clearly and is able to expose it.  Luqman then advises his son to lead a moral and upstanding life and tells him how; establish the prayer, enjoin the good, forbid the evil and bear the trials and afflictions of life with patience.  Do not turn your nose up at people contemptuously; do not walk about the land arrogantly for  Allah does not like the boastful.   Thus walk at a moderate pace and talk in a low voice because God does not like harsh voices like the braying of donkeys.  This is all sage advice for moral behaviour and interaction between people:
( 12 )   And We had certainly given Luqman wisdom [and said], "Be grateful to Allah." And whoever is grateful is grateful for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever denies [His favor] - then indeed, Allah is Free of need and Praiseworthy.
After presenting a rational argument to refute shirk, the Arabs are being told that this rational point of view is not being presented before them for the first time, but the wise and learned people before them also have been saying the same thing, including their own famous sage, Luqman. Therefore, they cannot refute the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) message, saying, “If shirk was an irrational creed, why didn’t it strike so to somebody else before?”

“The very first demand of the wisdom and knowledge, insight and sagacity, granted by Allah was that man should have adopted the attitude of gratefulness and obedience before his Lord, and not of ingratitude and thanklessness. And this gratefulness should not have merely been lip-service but expressed and translated in thought and word and deed. One should have the conviction in the depths of his heart and mind that whatever he has gotten, has been given by God. One’s tongue should always be acknowledging the favors of God; and also practically, one should be trying to prove by carrying out His commands, by avoiding sins, by striving to achieve His good-will, by conveying His blessings and favors to His servants and by fighting those who have rebelled against Him that he is really a grateful servant of his God.”

“The one who is ungrateful and unbelieving, his unbelief is harmful to his own self. Allah does not lose anything. He is Independent and does not stand in need of anyone's gratitude. The gratitude of someone does not add anything to His Godhead, nor does anyone’s ingratitude and disbelief change the reality that whatever the servants have gotten, has been granted by Him. He is self- Praiseworthy whether someone praises Him or not. Every particle in the universe bears testimony to His Perfection and Beauty, His Creativity and Providence, and every creature is paying homage to His glory perpetually.”

A few words about Luqman: Luqman was well known as a wise and learned man in Arabia. He has been mentioned in the poetry of the pre- Islamic poets. Some educated Arabs also possessed a collection of the wise sayings of Luqman. According to traditions, three years before the Hijrah the very first person of Al-Madinah to be influenced by the Prophet (peace be upon him) was Suwaid bin Samit. He went to Makkah for Hajj. There the Prophet (peace be upon him) was as usual preaching Islam to the pilgrims coming from different places, at their residences. When Suwaid heard his speech, he submitted, “I have also gotten a thing similar to what you preach,” When the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked what it was, he said, “The roll of Luqman.” Then on the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) insisting, he read out a portion of it, whereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “This discourse is fine, but that which I have is better still.” Then he recited the Quran to him, and Suwaid admitted that that was certainly better than the wisdom of Luqman.
( 13 )   And [mention, O Muhammad], when Luqman said to his son while he was instructing him, "O my son, do not associate [anything] with Allah. Indeed, association [with him] is great injustice."
This particular admonition from the wisdom of Luqman has been cited here for two reasons: (1) He gave this admonition to his son, and obviously, no one can be insincere to his own children. A person may deceive others, may behave hypocritically towards them, but no one, not even a most depraved person, will try to deceive and defraud his own children. Therefore, Luqman’s admonishing his son thus is a clear proof of the fact that in his sight shirk was indeed the most heinous sin, and for that very reason he first admonished his dear son to refrain from this iniquity. (2) The second reason for this narration is that many parents from among the disbelievers of Makkah were compelling their children to turn away from the message of Tauhid being preached by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and remain steadfast on the creed of shirk, as is being stated in the following verses. Therefore, those foolish people are being told, as if to say, The well-known sage of your own land had wished his children well by admonishing them to avoid shirk, now you should judge it for yourself whether you are wishing your children well or ill when you compel them to follow the same creed of shirk.”

In other words when a person worships others than his Creator, he debases himself as well as makes it deserving of the punishment. Thus, the entire life of a mushrik / disbeliever becomes zulm / great injustice in every aspect and at all times and his every breath becomes an expression of injustice and iniquity.

14-15 Rights of mother and the parents: 
( 14 )   And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.
The verse does not mean that the child should be suckled necessarily for two years. In Surah Al- Baqarah it has been said: “The mothers shall suckle their children for two whole years, if the fathers desire the suckling to be completed.” (Ayat 233). Ibn Abbas from these words has concluded, and other scholars have agreed with him in this, that the shortest period of pregnancy is six months, for the Quran at another place says: “....   His bearing (in the womb) and his weaning took thirty months.” (Surah Al-Ahqaf: Ayat 15).
( 15 )   But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do.
The same instructions with regard to parents is given in Surah Ankaboot (29:8) "We have enjoined upon man kindness to his parents, but if they exert pressure on you to associate with Me in My Divinity any that you do not know (to be My associate), do not obey them. To Me is your return, and I shall let you know all that you have done."

According to Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Abu Daud and Nasai, this verse was sent down in respect of Saad bin Abi Waqqas. He was in late teens when he embraced Islam. When his mother, Hamnah, daughter of Sufyan bin Umayyah (niece of Abu Sufyan), came to know that her son had become a Muslim, she said, “I will neither eat nor drink nor sit in shade unless you disown Muhammad. The rights of the mother are superior even according to Allah’s command. Therefore if you disobey me, you will be disobeying Allah too.” Saad was perplexed and came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and told this entire story. At that, this verse was revealed.

The other admonitions of Luqman are being narrated here to imply that like the basic beliefs, the teachings pertaining to morals that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is presenting, are not anything new in Arabia.

In verses 16-19 Advice of Luqman about moral behavior and interaction: 
( 16 )   [And Luqman said], "O my son, indeed if wrong should be the weight of a mustard seed and should be within a rock or [anywhere] in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Indeed, Allah is Subtle and Acquainted.
In this there is a subtle allusion to this that whoever will enjoin good and forbid evil, will inevitably have to face and undergo afflictions and hardships in the world.

Herein it is warned that nothing can escape Allah’s knowledge and His grasp. A seed in the rock may be hidden for you, but it is known to Allah. A particle in the heavens may be very distant for you, but for Allah it is very near. A thing lying in the layers of the earth may be lying in darkness for you but for Him it is in full light. Therefore, you cannot do anything good or bad, anywhere or any time, which may remain hidden from Allah. He is not only aware of it, but when the time for accountability comes, He will place before you a full record of each act of yours.

In the end of the verse, two attributes of Allah have been mentioned:

اِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَطِيۡفٌ خَبِيۡرٌ‏ 
Allah is Subtle and Acquainted
( 17 )   O my son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination.
وَلَا تُصَعِّرۡ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمۡشِ فِى الۡاَرۡضِ مَرَحًا ​ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخۡتَالٍ فَخُوۡرٍۚ  
( 18 )   And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.
Mukhtal in the original implies a person who has a very high opinion of himself, and fakhur is the one who boasts of his superiority over others. A man becomes haughty and arrogant and vain in his gait only when he is puffed up with pride, and wants that others should feel his superiority.

"don ot walk through the earth exultantly: What is actually meant by this is to reform the state of the self under which a person walks haughtily. The haughtiness and arrogance of a person inevitably manifests itself in his gait and style of walking, which shows the state of his mind and also the cause of his pride and haughtiness. Wealth, authority, beauty, knowledge, power and such other things cause a man to become proud and vain, and each of these gives him a special style of gait. Contrary to this, manifestation of humility in the gait is also the result of one or the other morbid mental state. Sometimes the hidden conceit of the self of a man takes on the form of ostentatious humility, piety and godliness and this is shown by his gait; and sometimes man really feels so embittered by the frustrations of the world that he adopts a sick man’s gait. What Luqman meant to say is this: “Avoid these states of the mind and self and walk the gait of a simple, honest and noble person, which neither shows any vanity and haughtiness nor weakness nor ostentatious piety and humility.”

The taste of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) great companions in this regard can be judged from a few instances. When Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) once saw a man walking with his head hung down, he shouted out to him, saying, “Walk with your head raised up. Islam is not sick.” He saw another person walking like a weak, sick man, and said, “Wretch! Do not sully our religion” Both these incidents show that in the sight of Umar religious piety did not at all require that one should walk cautiously, like the sick man and show undue humility by one’s gait. Whenever he saw a Muslim walking such a gait, he would have the apprehension that it would misrepresent Islam and would depress the other Muslims. A similar incident was once met with by Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her). She saw a person walking as if run down and exhausted. She asked what was the matter with him. It was said, “He is one of the reciters of the Quran (i.e. a person who remains engaged in reciting and teaching the Quran and in worship).” At this she said, “Umar was the chief of the reciters of the Quran, but as it was he would walk with a firm foot, and he would speak with force and strength, and he would give a good beating if he had to.”
( 19 )   And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys."
This does not mean that one should always speak in a low voice and should never raise one’s voice. By citing the braying of the donkeys, it has been clearly indicated what some of the tone and voice in speech is meant to be discouraged. One kind of lowness and loudness, roughness and softness, of the tone and voice is that which is needed under natural and genuine requirements. For example, when speaking to a man close at hand, or to a small group of the people, one would speak in a low voice, and when speaking to a man at a distance or to a large number of the people, one would inevitably have to speak loudly. Similar is inevitably the difference in tones depending on the occasion and situation. The tone of praise has to be different from the tone of condemnation, and of the expression of goodwill from that of indignation. This thing is in no way objectionable. Nor does the admonition of Luqman imply that one should always speak in a soft and low voice and tone regardless of the occasion and requirement. What is objectionable is that one should shout oneself hoarse and produce a voice like the donkeys’s braying in order to bully and debase and browbeat the other person.

Rukhu 3 [20-30]
Verses 20-26 are an admonition wherein Allah asks, Do you not see that everything in the heavens and earth is for the benefit of humankind.  It is self-evident but there are still those who would argue about it.  When they are told to follow God’s guidance they respond by saying that they will not but will instead follow the path trodden by their forefathers.  They say this even when Satan is inviting them to step into the Fire.  Those who submit to the will of God and live a righteous life have grasped the most trustworthy handhold, because the outcome of every matter is with God.

 If they disbelieve, do not let it grieve you (O Muhammad) for to Us (God) is their return and We will then inform them of the reality of their deeds. God knows what their hearts contain. We (God) grant them enjoyment for a little while but in the Hereafter they will be driven to an unrelenting punishment. If you ask them who created the heavens and the earth they would say ‘God’, but then they associate partners with God in worship. By acknowledging that God is the creator of everything, and then worshiping created objects, they establish proof against themselves! God is the Creator and Owner of all that is in the heavens and the earth. He needs nothing from His creation and is the Only One worthy of praise.

In that Verses 20-24 explain main reason of misguidance is the blind following of one's forefathers:
( 20 )   Do you not see that Allah has made subject to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth and amply bestowed upon you His favors, [both] apparent and unapparent? But of the people is he who disputes about Allah without knowledge or guidance or an enlightening Book [from Him].
“Who disputes about Allah” means the one who wrangles and disputes about questions such as these: Does Allah exist or not? Is He One God alone, or are there other gods also? What are His attributes and what is their nature? What is the nature of His relationship with His creations etc.?

For these it said that they neither have any means of knowledge by which they might themselves have observed or experienced the reality directly, nor do they have the guidance of a guide available to them, who might have guided them after observing the reality, nor do they possess a divine Book, which might be the basis of their belief.

It is also added that it is not at all necessary that the forefathers of every person and every family and nation should have been on the right path. The mere argument that a particular way of life had been bequeathed by the elders cannot be a proof of its being right also. No sane person can commit the folly that he should blindly go on following the way of his forefathers even if they were not rightly guided, and should never bother to find out where the way is leading him.
( 21 )   And when it is said to them, "Follow what Allah has revealed," they say, "Rather, we will follow that upon which we found our fathers." Even if Satan was inviting them to the punishment of the Blaze?
( 22 )   And whoever surrenders his face to Allah while he is a doer of good - then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold. And to Allah will be the outcome of [all] matters.
“Whoever surrenders his face to Allah”: Who submits himself wholly to the service of Allah, entrusts all his affairs to Him and makes His guidance the law of his entire life.
( 23 )   And whoever has disbelieved - let not his disbelief grieve you. To Us is their return, and We will inform them of what they did. Indeed, Allah is Knowing of that within the breasts.
This means to say, “O Prophet, the one who refuses to listen to you, thinks that by rejecting Islam and insisting on unbelief he has harmed you, but in fact he has not harmed you but harmed only himself. If he does not listen to you, you need not bother yourself about him at all.”
( 24 )   We grant them enjoyment for a little; then We will force them to a massive punishment.
( 25 )   And if you asked them, "Who created the heavens and earth?" they would surely say, "Allah." Say, "[All] praise is [due] to Allah "; but most of them do not know.
Most of the people do not know what are the inevitable results and demands of accepting Allah as the Creator of the universe, and what contradicts it. When a person acknowledges Allah as the Creator of the earth and the heavens. He should also acknowledge that Allah alone is the Deity and Lord: that He alone is worthy of worship and obedience: that He alone can be invoked for needs, and no one other than Him can be the Law-Giver and Ruler of His creation. To acknowledge one as the Creator and another as the deity is contrary to reason and a contradiction in terms, which can be upheld only by an ignorant person. Likewise, it would be a contradiction in terms to believe in one Being as the Creator and to regard another from among the creation as remover of hardships or as a deity and possessor of power and authority and sovereignty, which no reasonable person will acknowledge and accept.

لِلّٰهِ مَا فِى السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ​ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ هُوَ الۡغَنِىُّ الۡحَمِيۡدُ‏   
( 26 )   To Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and earth. Indeed, Allah is the Free of need, the Praiseworthy.
Talking of Allah's greatness and His immense attributes, the verses 27-30 explain that if all the trees on earth were pens, and the oceans were ink, replenished by seven more oceans, the writing of Allah’s Words (signs and creations) would not be exhausted. It is as easy for Allah to create and resurrect every living being as it is to create and resurrect a single soul. Allah is All-Hearing and All-Seeing. Do you not see that Allah makes the day follow the night, one after the other, over and over in a precise pattern? The sun and the moon also spin in their orbits according to Allah’s plan. Allah knows very well what you do. Allah is the truth and what they call upon besides Him is falsehood. He is the most High and the most Great:

وَلَوۡ اَنَّ مَا فِى الۡاَرۡضِ مِنۡ شَجَرَةٍ اَقۡلَامٌ وَّالۡبَحۡرُ يَمُدُّهٗ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِهٖ سَبۡعَةُ اَبۡحُرٍ مَّا نَفِدَتۡ كَلِمٰتُ اللّٰهِ​ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ عَزِيۡزٌ حَكِيۡمٌ‏ 
( 27 )   And if whatever trees upon the earth were pens and the sea [was ink], replenished thereafter by seven [more] seas, the words of Allah would not be exhausted. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.
“Words of Allah”: Allah’s creative works and the manifestations of His power and wisdom. This very theme has been presented in Surah Al-Kahf: Ayat 109 a little differently. A person might think there is exaggeration in this, but if one considers the matter a little deeply, one will feel that there is in tact no exaggeration whatsoever in it. All the pens that can be made from the trees of the world and all the ink that can be provided by the oceans of the world, which are replenished by seven more oceans, cannot perhaps help prepare a complete list of all the creations in the universe, not to speak of all the manifestations of Allah’s power and wisdom and creative works. When it is impossible even to count all the things found on the earth only, how can one bring into writing all the creations found in this limitless universe?

Here, the object is to make man realize that no creature can become a deity and an associate in the works of Allah, Who has brought into being such a vast Universe, Who is administering its affairs and Whose powers and resources are limitless. Not to speak of becoming an associate in the administration of this vast Kingdom, it is not within the power of any creation to obtain a mere nodding acquaintance with the minutest portion of it. How can then one imagine that one or the other creation can have any share in the divine powers and authority on the basis of which it may answer prayers and make or un-make destinies?

مَا خَلۡقُكُمۡ وَلَا بَعۡثُكُمۡ اِلَّا كَنَفۡسٍ وَّاحِدَةٍ​ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ سَمِيۡعٌۢ بَصِيۡرٌ 
( 28 )   Your creation and your resurrection will not be but as that of a single soul. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Seeing.
Of the two attributes of Allah : “He is hearing every sound in the universe distinctly at one and the same time, and no sound can absorb his hearing so completely that He may hear no other sound. Likewise, He is seeing the whole universe in each of its details as to thing and event at one and the same time and nothing can absorb His sight so completely that He may see nothing else. The same precisely is the case concerning the creation of men and their re-creation also. He can re-create instantaneously all the men who have been born since the beginning of the creation and will be born till the end of time, His creative power is not absorbed so completely in the creation of one man that He may be unable to create other men at the same time. For Him the creation of one man and of the billions of men, therefore, is equal and one and the same thing.”
( 29 )   Do you not see that Allah causes the night to enter the day and causes the day to enter the night and has subjected the sun and the moon, each running [its course] for a specified term, and that Allah, with whatever you do, is Acquainted?
That is, nothing in the world, whether the sun or the moon, or any other star or planet, in the universe, is eternal and ever-lasting. Everything has a term for it and can function only till its expiry. Everything has a beginning in time before which it was not there and an end in time after which it will not be there. This means to imply that such temporal and powerless things cannot become the deities of men.

ذٰ لِكَ بِاَنَّ اللّٰهَ هُوَ الۡحَقُّ وَاَنَّ مَا يَدۡعُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِهِ الۡبَاطِلُ ۙ وَاَنَّ اللّٰهَ هُوَ الۡعَلِىُّ الۡكَبِيۡرُ 
( 30 )   That is because Allah is the Truth, and that what they call upon other than Him is falsehood, and because Allah is the Most High, the Grand.
The real Sovereign is Allah. He alone is the real Owner of power and authority over the creation and its disposal.  “He is the Highest of all before Whom everything is low, and He is the Greatest of all before Whom everything is small.”

Rukhu 4 [31-34 ]
Finally the concluding verses 31-34 warn the mankind to fear that Day when no father shall avail his son nor a son his father. And let not the Shaitan deceive you concerning this fact
( 31 )   Do you not see that ships sail through the sea by the favor of Allah that He may show you of His signs? Indeed in that are signs for everyone steadfast and thankful.
Here in this verse, two qualities, that is steadfast, thankful, are mentioned. It is they who recognize the reality by these signs, they come to understand Tauhid clearly and stick to it firmly. The first quality is that they should be patient and steadfast: they should not be fickle but fine and persistent: they should remain steadfast on the righteous belief under all circumstances, pleasant or unpleasant, difficult or easy, favorable or unfavorable. They should not have the weakness that when the hard times come they Stan imploring Allah humbly, and when they change into good times, they forget Allah altogether. Or that, to the contrary, they should worship Allah in good times and start cursing Him when touched by afflictions and misfortunes. The other quality is that they should be grateful: they should not prove ungrateful and thankless: but appreciative of favor and should remain perpetually disposed from within to render thanks to the one who conferred the favor.
( 32 )   And when waves come over them like canopies, they supplicate Allah, sincere to Him in religion. But when He delivers them to the land, there are [some] of them who are moderate [in faith]. And none rejects Our signs except everyone perfidious / treacherous and ungrateful.
The two qualities, perfidious, the ungrateful, mentioned at the end of the verse are the antithesis of the two qualities mentioned in the preceding verse.

A treacherous person is he who is utterly disloyal and who has no regard for his promise and pledge, and the ungrateful he who does not acknowledge the good and the gains and the benefits received by him, and even behaves rebelliously towards his benefactor. The people having these qualities return to their disbelief, their atheism and their polytheism without any hesitation as soon as the danger has been averted. They do not admit that they had perceived some signs in their own selves as well as outside themselves of Allah’s existence and of His being only One when overwhelmed by the storm, and their invoking Allah was in fact the result of their recognition of the same reality. The atheists among them explain away their act, saying, “It was a weakness which we manifested in the state of confusion and bewilderment, whereas there exists no God, Who might have saved us from the storm: we in fact succeeded in escaping by virtue of such and such a device and means and resources.” As for the mushriks, they generally say, “We had the succor and protection of such and such a saint or god and goddess available to us by virtue of which we escaped.” Therefore, as soon as they land on the shore, they start giving thanks to these false gods and presenting offerings at their shrines. They do not bother to think that when they had lost hope, there was none beside Allah, the One, whom they might have implored and invoked for help.
( 33 )   O mankind, fear your Lord and fear a Day when no father will avail his son, nor will a son avail his father at all. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth, so let not the worldly life delude you and be not deceived about Allah by the Deceiver.
That is, “The relationship of a person with his friend, or his leader, or his spiritual guide, etc. is not that close and intimate as the relationship that exists between the children and their parents. But on the Day of Resurrection even the son and the father will not be able to help each other. The father will not have the courage to come forward and say that he may be seized instead of the son for his sins, nor will the son have the nerve to say that he may be sent to Hell instead of the father. How can then a person expect that one will be able to avail something for the other there? Therefore, foolish is the person who spoils his Hereafter in the world for the sake of another, or adopts the way of sin and deviation by dependence on others. Here, one should keep in view the theme of verse 15, in which the children have been admonished not to accept deviation in the matter of the faith and religion on behest of the parents, though in affairs of mundane life they are duty bound to serve them as best as they can.”

Here by “Allah’s promise” is meant promise of Resurrection, when the court of Allah will be established and everyone will be called to render an account of his deeds.

The deceiver may be Satan or a man or a group of them, or even man’s own self. The reason for using this comprehensive and meaningful word in its absolute form without identifying a particular person or thing is that for different people there are different means that cause them deception. Any particular means or cause that deceived a person to be misled and misguided from the right way to the wrong way, will be deluder in his particular case.

“To deceive about Allah” are also comprehensive words, which include countless kinds of deceptions. The deceiver deceives one man with the idea that there is no God at all, and another man with the idea that God after making the world has handed over its control and administration to the men and is no more concerned with it; he misleads another one, saying, “There are some favorite ones of God: if you attain nearness to them, you will surely win your forgiveness whatever you may do, or may have done, in the world;” he deceives another one, saying, “God is All- Forgiving and All-Merciful: you may go on committing sins freely, and He will go on forgiving each sin of yours.” He gives another person the idea of determinism and misguides him, saying, “Everything that you do is preordained: if you commit evil, it is God Who makes you commit it: if you avoid goodness, it is God Who makes you avoid it.” Thus, there are countless types of such deceptions with which man is being deceived concerning God. When analyzed, it comes to light that the basic cause of all errors and sins and crimes is that man has been deceived concerning God in one way or the other, and that is how he has been misled to some ideological deviation or moral error.

This verse is, in fact an answer to the disbelievers’ question as to when the Hour of Resurrection will come, which they asked when they heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) mention it and the promise of the Hereafter, again and again. The Quran has answered this sometimes by citing the question and sometimes without citing it, because the addressees knew what they were asking. This is one of those verses which answer the question without citing the question itself.
( 34 )   Indeed, Allah [alone] has knowledge of the Hour and sends down the rain and knows what is in the wombs. And no soul perceives what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul perceives in what land it will die. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.
The last verse is, in fact an answer to the disbelievers’ question as to when the Hour of Resurrection will come, which they asked when they heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) mention it and the promise of the Hereafter, again and again. The Quran has answered this sometimes by citing the question and sometimes without citing it, because the addressees knew what they were asking. This is one of those verses which answer the question without citing the question itself.
The first sentence: “Allah, with Him is the knowledge of the Hour”, is the real answer to the question. The four sentences that follow constitute the argument to support it. The argument means this: “O man, you do not have the knowledge even about those things with which you are most closely and intimately concerned in life. How then can it be possible for you to know as to when will the whole world come to an end?

  • Your prosperity and adversity mainly depend on the rain. But its control and regulation is entirely in the hand of Allah. He sends down the rain whenever and wherever and in whatever measure He pleases and withholds it whenever he pleases. You do not at all know how much of the rain will fall at a particular place at a particular time and which land will remain without it, and which land will be adversely affected in spite of it. 
  • Your wives conceive by your own sperm-drop, which perpetuates your race in the future, but you do not know what is taking shape in their wombs, and in what form and with what good or evil it will emerge. 
  • You do not even know what you are going to meet with the next day. A sudden accident can change your destiny; but you are unaware of it even a minute before its occurrence. 
  • You do not know where your present life will eventually come to an end. Allah has kept all this information within Himself alone; and has not given you any knowledge of any of these. You actually desire that you should have the knowledge of each of these things so that you may make necessary preparations beforehand, but you have no other course open to you than to depend only on Allah’s decree and disposal in these matters. 
Likewise, about the end of the world also there is no alternative but to rely on Allah’s decree and decision. The knowledge of this also has neither been given to anybody, nor can it be given. Here, another thing also should be understood well, and that is: This verse does not give a list of the unseen and hidden things, which are known to no one but Allah. 

Here only some of the most apparent things have been pointed out only to serve as an illustration. These are the things with which man is most deeply and intimately concerned, yet he is unaware of them. From this it would be wrong to conclude that these are the only five unseen and hidden things which are known to no one but Allah. As a matter of fact, ghaib applies to every such thing which is hidden from the creation but is in the knowledge of Allah, and such things are countless and limitless.

In the Surah, a number of attributes of Allah have been mentioned. See our earlier post for details on these and all 99 Attributes of Allah 

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Surah Luqman with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [3]
  • And the exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran are basically based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [1]
  • In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites. 
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