Showing posts with label Time. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Time. Show all posts

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Has Not that Time Come as yet - A stern warning for Believers

Today we share a very important verse, the 16th verse from Surah 57 Al Hadid (The Iron) which was actually revealed for those believers who though had came under the fold of Islam, yet their hearts had yet to develop that attachment to Islam and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ which in fact were the direct commandments of Allah for their guidance to live a life in total obedience. 

However, the purpose of re-sharing it specifically today should be well understood. Although there are more than a billion and a half population of the world is followers of Islam, yet we see a  sizeable section of Muslims devoid of true obedience to the commandments of Allah and have found an "enlightened" version of Islam which compromises many commandments of Allah which they find to hard or difficult to follow, the same way the Jews and Christians have parted their ways with the scriptures given to them, rather have made amendments and added things that allow them an allowance to still follow the practices of dark days when there were no prophets to show the right path to the mankind.

Thus the question is being asked that has not the time come when arrogance should have been replaced with humility and humbleness and true obedience to Allah, rather than following the false ways of the people of the older scriptures and imitating their misleading way of life ?

اَلَمۡ يَاۡنِ لِلَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اَنۡ تَخۡشَعَ قُلُوۡبُهُمۡ لِذِكۡرِ اللّٰهِ وَمَا نَزَلَ مِنَ الۡحَـقِّۙ وَلَا يَكُوۡنُوۡا كَالَّذِيۡنَ اُوۡتُوا الۡكِتٰبَ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ فَطَالَ عَلَيۡهِمُ الۡاَمَدُ فَقَسَتۡ قُلُوۡبُهُمۡ​ؕ وَكَثِيۡرٌ مِّنۡهُمۡ فٰسِقُوۡنَ‏ 
( 16 )   Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient.
Here again, the word "believers" is general, but it does not apply to all the Muslims; it refers to those particular Muslims who had professed the faith verbally and joined the followers of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) though their hearts were devoid of any concern for Islam. They were watching that the pagan forces were bent upon wiping out Islam; they had encircled the handful of Muslims from all sides, who were being made the target of persecution everywhere in Arabia, and thus oppressed the Muslims were fleeing to Madinah empty-handed for refuge; the sincere Muslims were extending to them whatever economic help they could; yet they were, at the same time, engaged in a life and-death struggle with the enemy. But, in spite of this, these people who professed the faith were not being moved at all. So, here, they are being put to shame. as if to say: "What kind of believers are you? At this critical juncture for Islam, is it not yet time that your hearts should melt at the mention of Allah and be filled with the spirit of sacrifice for the sake of His Religion? Can the believers be such that they may 'have no feeling for Islam when it is confronted with hard times, that they may sit un-concerned when they are summoned in the name of Allah, that the hearts may neither tremble out of fear of Allah nor bow to His Command when He Himself should make an appeal for contributions in the Book sent down by Him, declaring it as a loan on Himself and plainly telling that the one who would regard his wealth as dearer than the cause of the true Faith would be a hypocrite and not a believer?”

"  and that they should not be like those who were vouchsafed the Book and then a long time elapsed so that their hearts were hardened? A great many of them are now evil-doers. " That is, "The Jews and Christians seem to have lost fervor and degenerated spiritually and morally hundreds of years after the passing away of their Prophets; but have you already become so depraved that while the Prophet is still present among you, and the Book of God is still being revealed, and not much time has passed over you since you affirmed the Faith, and you have started behaving like the Jews and Christians who have reached this state through centuries of playing and tempering with the Book of Allah and its verses?" 

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: Encouraging Khushu` and the Prohibition of imitating the People of the Scriptures

Allah asks, `Has not the time come for the believers to feel humility in their hearts by the remembrance of Allah and hearing subtle advice and the recitation of the Qur'an, so that they may comprehend the Qur'an, abide by it, and hear and obey Muslim recorded that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said, "Only four years separated our acceptance of Islam and the revelation of this Ayah, in which Allah subtly admonished us,

(Has not the time yet come for the believers that their hearts should be humble for the remembrance of Allah)'' This is the narration Muslim collected, just before the end of his book. An-Nasa'i also collected this Hadith in the Tafsir of this Ayah. Allah's statement,

(Lest they become as those who received the Scripture before, and the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened) Allah is prohibiting the believers from imitating those who were given the Scriptures before them, the Jews and Christians. As time passed, they changed the Book of Allah that they had, and sold it for a small, miserable price. They also abandoned Allah's Book behind their back and were impressed and consumed by various opinions and false creeds. They imitated the way others behaved with the religion of Allah, making their rabbis and priests into gods beside Allah. Consequently, their hearts became hard and they would not accept advice; their hearts did not feel humbled by Allah's promises or threats,

(And many of them were rebellious.) meaning, in action; therefore, their hearts are corrupt and their actions are invalid, just as Allah the Exalted said,

(So, because of their breach of their covenant, We cursed them and made their hearts grow hard. They changed the words from their (right) places and have abandoned a good part of the Message that was sent to them.)(5:13) meaning, their hearts became corrupt and they hardened, and they acquired the behavior of changing Allah's Speech from their appropriate places and meanings. They abandoned acts of worship that they were commanded to perform and committed what they were prohibited to do. This is why Allah forbade the believers from imitating them in any way, be it basic or detailed matters. 

Yusuf Ali Explanation
Humility and the remembrance of Allah and His Message are never more necessary than in the hour of victory and prosperity.

The men immediately referred to are the contemporary Jews and Christians. To each of these Ummats was given Allah's Revelation, but as time passed, they corrupted it, became arrogant and hard-hearted, and subverted justice, truth, and the purity of Life. But the general lesson is far wider. No one is favoured of Allah except on the score of righteousness. Except on that score, there is no chosen individual or race. There is no blind good fortune or ill fortune. All happens according to the just laws and will of Allah. But at no time is humility or righteousness more necessary than in the hour of victory or triumph.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
I.e., "Should not the remembrance of God and His revelation make them humble rather than proud?" This is an emphatic warning against all smugness, self-righteousness and false pride at having "attained to faith" - a failing which only too often attains to such as consider themselves "pious".

"  lest they become like those who were granted revelation aforetime, " This is apparently an allusion to the spiritually arrogant among the Jews, who regard themselves as "God's chosen people" and, therefore, as predestined for His acceptance.

" and whose hearts have hardened with the passing of time so that many of them are [now] depraved? " I.e., so that now they act contrary to the ethical precepts of their religion: implying that the purpose of all true faith is to make man humble and God-conscious rather than self-satisfied, and that a loss of that spiritual humility invariably results in moral degeneration.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:  for those who lay claim to faith that their hearts submit to God’s reminder and to the truth which has been revealed  [by Him], and these people should not be like those who were given the Book before this; then a long period passed on them until their hearts hardened, and [today] most of them are disobedient."

"Is it not time "  In other words, this time has not come even after the manifestation of various signs and indications which point to the truth of the message of the Prophet (sws)?

" for those who lay claim to faith that their hearts submit to God’s reminder and to the truth which has been revealed " Two words are used in this verse: ذِكۡرِ اللّٰهِ  and الۡحَقّ. Both refer to the Qur’ān. The first refers to its warning and the second to the established facts which it made clear by making them distinct from evil.

" by Him], and these people should not be like those who were given the Book before this; then a long period passed on them until their hearts hardened, and [today] most of them are disobedient." The implication is that even if now these people remain afflicted with doubts and do not pay heed, then it is quite possible that they will encounter the same fate as the one encountered by the Jews before. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:
It is evident from this discussion that there is nothing wrong about doubts arising on some matter relating to the truth; neither is their existence for some time any matter of rebuke. A sincere person can also face this situation; however, if a person by seeking refuge in these doubts keeps lulling the calls of the truth, which arise in him, to sleep and makes them an excuse to adhere to falsehood, then as per the established practice of the Almighty, he is deprived of the very ability to accept the truth. The Almighty does not bear for long a person not giving due importance to the truth. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 8, 216)

Qur'an Wiki: This profoundly touching remonstration by God, the Ever Merciful, urges a complete response from hearts that have been slow to bask in His grace after He has sent them His Messenger calling on them to believe. He granted him revelations that are sure to take them out of darkness into light. He has also shown them enlightening signs in the universe around them and in all His creation. This note of remonstration overflows with tenderness as it arouses in them feelings of His majesty so that they humble themselves when He is mentioned. In this way can they receive the truth bestowed from on high with what it deserves of obedience, submission and obedience to God. This is coupled with a touch of criticism for their slow response: "Is it not time for believers that their hearts should feel humble at the remembrance of God and the truth that has been bestowed from on high."

To this note of urging and encouragement is added a warning against slackening and negligence. It tells them how hearts harden when time passes without refreshment provided by remembrance of God and His truth: "And not to be like those who were granted revelations before them and whose hearts have hardened with the passing of time? Many of these are now transgressors." 

When hearts harden, all they produce is sin and disobedience. The human heart is subject to quick changes, it easily forgets. When it brightens up it is like a ray of light spreading life. Should it stay long without reminders, it becomes blunted, hardened and loses its light. Therefore, it requires constant reminders so that it remains soft and enlightened. It must always be alert so as not to harden. 

Please listen to explanation of the ayat by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan:

May Allah help us understand Qur'ān and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. Aameen.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
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Reading the Qur'ān 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 Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly 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.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
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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Thursday 6 August 2020

Surah Al-Asr - The Time: Exegesis 103rd Chapter of Quran

Sürah Al-‘Aṣr " العصر "  is the 103rd surah with 3 ayahs, part of the 30th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an. The Surah takes its name from the word Al-‘Aṣr occurring in the first verse.

Although Mujahid, Qatadah and Muqatil regard it as a Madani Surah, yet a great majority of the commentators opine that it is Makki; its subject matter also testifies that it must have been sent down in the earliest stage at Makkah, when the message of Islam was being presented in brief but highly impressive sentences so that the listeners who heard them once could not forget them even if they wanted to, for they were automatically committed to memory.

Though is a mere three versed Sürah, it is very strong in its substance. Imam Shafi’ says that if people thought about Surah Al-’Asr carefully, it would be enough for their guidance. It is a concise but comprehensive Surah, which in three verses, outlines a complete way of human life based on the Islamic worldview.

This Surah is a matchless specimen of comprehensiveness and brevity. A whole world of meaning has been compressed into its few brief words, which is too vast in content to be fully expressed even in a book. In it, in a clear and plain way it has been stated what is the way to true success for man and what is the way to ruin and destruction for him. Imam Shafi has very rightly said that if the people only considered this Surah well, it alone would suffice them for their guidance. How important this Surah was in the sight of the Companions can be judged from the tradition cited from Hadrat Abdullah bin Hisn ad-Darimi Abu Madinah, according to which whenever any two of them met they would not part company until they had recited Surah Al-Asr to each other. (Tabarani)

The more one reads it, the more clearer its subject matter becomes. We have already presented a summary and an overview as to why the man is at loss. We now present the verse by verse translation and exegesis / tafseer in English. You may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles at the end of the post:

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

( 1 )   By time,
Muhammad Asad Explanation:
The term asr denotes "time" that is measurable, consisting of a succession of periods (in distinction from dahr, which signifies "unlimited time", without beginning or end: i.e., "time absolute"). Hence, 'asr bears the connotation of the passing or the flight of time - time which can never be recaptured.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Ie., the complete period of prophethood from Adam (sws) to Muhammad (sws) bears witness. In this period, that the court of justice was set up on the earth for the immediate addressees of the messengers of God and the rebellious among them were punished in this very world. All this can also be stated in another way as: history bears witness. Viewed thus, this word is the name of all the accounts mentioned in the Qur’an that validate the Day of Judgement. The Qur’an has presented evidence from the accounts of ‘Ad, the Thamud, the people of Noah (sws), Lot (sws) and Shu‘ayb (sws) and other similar ones. This evidence is presented here in one word. In fact, this is the evidence of the lesser days of judgement on the greater Day of Judgement. These lesser days of judgement were brought about to validate the greater day to the extent scientific facts are experimentally validated in a laboratory. Besides the evidence found in the world in and around man to substantiate the Day of Judgement, this is the evidence from history on this day.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Al-Asr may mean: (1) Time through the Ages, or long periods, in which case it comes near to the abstract idea of Time, Dahr; (2) or the late afternoon, from which the Asr canonical prayer takes its name. An appeal is made to Time as one of the creations of Allah, of which everyone knows something but of which no one can fully explain the exact significance. Time searches out and destroys everything material. No one in secular literature has expressed the tyranny of "never-resting Time" better than Shakespeare in his Sonnets. For example, see Sonnets 5 ("never-resting Time"), 12 ("Nothing gainst Time's scythe can make defence"), and 64 ("When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced The rich proud cost of outworn buried age"). If we merely run a race against Time, we shall lose. It is the spiritual part of us that conquers Time. See verse 3 below. For the "afternoon" idea see next note.

Mufti Shafi Usmani contends that since ‘Time’ is man’s capital of life, the man himself is the trader. Under normal circumstances, his capital is not a frozen thing that may be kept for a while and used up later when the need arises. The capital is fluid or flowing all the time, every minute and every second. The man who invests it needs to be very wise, intelligent and agile, so that he is able to swiftly and readily reap the profit from a flowing capital. One of the old scholars said that he had learnt the meaning of this verse from an ice-seller whose trade required utmost diligence, and if he were neglectful for a moment, his entire capital would melt away. That is why this verse has sworn an oath by the ‘time’ to indicate that it is a melting capital, and the only way to escape loss is to take every moment of his life as valuable, and use it for the four acts mentioned in the Surah.

Another possible reason for swearing by ‘Time’ may be that the ‘Time’(in the sense of history) bears testimony to the fact mentioned in the Surah. If one thinks on the causes of the rise and decline of individuals and nations, he would certainly believe that it is only these four acts(mentioned in the forthcoming verses) that may ensure the real success and betterment of mankind. Whoever has ever abandoned them has suffered a great loss, as is evident from numerous events recorded by history.

 إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ 
( 2 )   Indeed, mankind is in loss,
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The word الۡاِنۡسَان is not generic in nature. The alif lam affixed to it defines it and the reference is to the addressees of Muhammad (sws) to whom the truth was conclusively communicated and in spite of this they persisted in their arrogance. Loss here refers to loss both in this world and the next. In other words, they will be punished in this world like the other foremost addressees of other messengers of God were, and a great torment awaits them in the Hereafter. They have their eyes fixed on high status, power and the wealth of this world. They think that opposing the Prophet (sws) is earning them a lucrative deal. In reality, they are facing the law of retribution and will soon reach their fate. Hence, they should remain aware that if they persist with this attitude they will end up in loss.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
If life be considered under the metaphor of a business bargain, man, by merely attending to his material gains, will lose. When he makes up his day's account in the afternoon, it will show a loss. It will only show profit if he has Faith, leads a good life, and contributes to social welfare by directing and encouraging other people on the Path of Truth and Constancy.

 إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ 
( 3 )   Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.
In this Surah an oath has been sworn by the Time to impress the point that man is in sheer loss and only those people are an exception from the loss who are characterized by four qualities:

(1) Faith.

(2) Righteous deeds.

(3) Exhorting one another to truth.

(4) Exhorting one another to patience.

Let us consider each of these parts separately in order to fully understand the meanings.

As for the oath, we have explained several times above that Allah has not sworn an oath by any of the created objects on account of its glory or its excellence and wonderful qualities but for the reason that it testifies to the truth which is meant to be established. Therefore, the oath by Time signifies that Time is witness to the truth that man is in sheer loss except for the people who possess the four qualities.

The word time is used for the past as well as for the passing time in which the present, in fact, does not signify any long stretch of time. Every moment, when it has passed, becomes past, and every moment of the future, when it is passing, becomes present, and when it has passed, becomes past. Here, since the oath has been sworn by time absolute, both kinds of time are included in its meaning. The oath by the past time means that human history testifies that the people who were without these qualities, eventually incurred loss, and in order to understand the significance of the oath by the passing time, one should understand that the time which is now passing is, in fact, the time which has been given to every single individual and every single nation to work in the world. Its example is of the time which is allotted to a candidate for answering his question-paper in the examination hall. The speed with which this time is passing can be estimated from the movement of the secondhand in the watch. Even a second is a considerable amount of time, for during this very second light travels 186,000 miles, and in the Kingdom of God there may as well be many things which move even faster than light, but are not yet known to man. However, if the speed of the passing time be regarded the same as of the movement of the second-hand, and we consider that whatever act, good or bad, we perform and whatever occupation we pursue, takes place in the limited span of age that we have been given for work in the world, we feel that our real wealth is this very time, which is passing so quickly. Imam Razi has cited a scholar as saying: I understood the meaning of Surah Al- Asr from an ice-seller, who was calling aloud for the attention of the people repeatedly in the bazar: Have mercy on the one whose wealth is melting away! Hearing what he was crying I said to myself: this then is the meaning of Walasri innal-insana lafi khusrin. The age-limit that man has been allotted is passing quickly like the melting away of ice. If it is wasted, or spent in wrong pursuits, it will be sheer loss to man. Thus, swearing an oath by the Time what has been said in this Surah, means that the fast passing Time is witness that devoid of these four qualities in whatever occupation and work man is spending his limited span of life, he is engaged in bad bargains. Only such people are engaged in good bargains, who work in the world, characterized by the four qualities. It would be just like calling attention of the candidate, who was spending the time allotted for solving the question-paper in some other pursuit, to the wall clock in the examination hall, to tell him that the passing time bore witness that he was causing loss to himself; the candidate benefiting by the Time was he who was using every moment of the allotted time in solving the paper.

Though the word man has been used in the singular, in the following sentences those people have been made an exception from it, who are characterized by the four qualities. Therefore, one will have to admit that here the word man has been used as a collective noun, denoting a class, and it applies equally to individuals, groups, nations, and entire mankind. Thus, the general statement that whoever is devoid of the above four qualities is in loss, would be proved in any case whether it is a person who is devoid of these, or a nation, or all men of the world. It will be just like giving the verdict that poison is fatal for man; it will mean that poison is fatal in any case whether it is taken by an individual, or a nation, or all the people of the world. Poison’s being fatal is an unchangeable truth; it does not make any difference whether one man has taken it, or a nation has decided to take it, or all the people of the world collectively have agreed to take poison. Precisely in the same way this truth by itself is unchangeable that man’s being devoid of the above four qualities brings him loss. The general rule is not at all affected even if one man is devoid of these, or a nation, or all the people of the world agree that they would exhort one another to disbelief, immorality, falsehood and servitude to the self.

Now, let us see in what sense has the Quran used the word khusr (loss). Lexically, khusr is an antonym of nafa (profit); in trade this word is used in the case when loss results from one bargain as well as in the case when the whole business is running in loss, and also in the case when man loses all his capital and becomes bankrupt. The Quran has made this word a special term of its own and uses it as an antonym of falah (true success). And just as its concept of falah is not merely synonymous with worldly prosperity but comprehends man’s true success from the world till the Hereafter, so its concept of khusr (loss) is also not merely synonymous with worldly failure or distress but comprehends man’s real failure and disappointment from the world till the Hereafter. We have explained the Quranic concept of both falah and khusran at several places before which need not be repeated here.

Besides, one should also understand that although according to the Quran true success is man’s success in the Hereafter and real loss his failure there, yet in this world too what the people describe as success is not, in fact, real success but its end in this world itself is failure, and what they regard as loss is not, in fact, loss but a means of true success even in this world. This truth has been stated by the Quran at several places and we have explained it everywhere accordingly. (Please see (E.N. 99 of Surah An- Nahl); (E.N. 53 of Surah Maryam); (E.N. 105 of Surah TaHa); (E.Ns 3-5 of Surah Al-Lail). Thus, when the Quran states conclusively and absolutely that man is certainly in loss, it implies loss both in this world and in the Hereafter. And when it says that only such people are secure from this loss, who are characterized by the four qualities, it implies their being secure from loss and attaining true success both here and in the Hereafter.

Now, let us consider the four qualities on the existence of which depends man’s being secure from loss and failure.

Of these the first quality is Iman (Faith). Although this word at some places in the Quran has been used in the meaning of only verbal affirmation of Faith (e.g. in (Surah An-Nisa, Ayat 137); (Surah Al-Maidah, Ayat 54); (Surah Al- Anfal, Ayats 20, 27); (Surah At-Taubah, Ayat 38); ( Surah As- Saff, Ayat 2), it has primarily been used in the meaning of believing sincerely and faithfully, and in the Arabic language this word has this very meaning. Lexically, amanu lahu means saddaqa-hu wa tamada alai-hi: affirmed him and put faith in him, and amana bi-hi means aiqana bi-hi: had full faith in him. The Faith which the Quran regards as true Faith has been explained in the following verses:
In fact, true believers are those who believed in Allah and His Messenger, then entertained no doubt. (Surah Al- Hujurat, Ayat 15).
Those who said: Allah is our Lord, and then stood steadfast by it. (Surah HaMim As-Sajdah, Ayat 30).
True believers are those whose hearts tremble with awe, whenever Allah is mentioned to them. (Surah Al-Anfaal, Ayat 2).
Those who have believed adore Allah most ardently. (Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayat 165).
Nay, (O Prophet), by your Lord, they can never become believers until they accept you as judge for the decision of the disputes between them, and then surrender to your decision with entire submission without the least resentment in their hearts. (Surah An-Nisa, Ayat 65).
The following verse is even more explicit as regards the distinction between verbal affirmation of Faith and true Faith; it says that what is actually desirable is true Faith and not mere verbal affirmation of the Faith:
O you who profess to have believed, believe sincerely in Allah and His Messenger. (Surah An-Nisa, Ayat 136).
As for the question, what has one to believe in, in order to have true faith? This has also been answered and explained in the Quran most explicitly. First, it implies that one has to believe in Allah, not merely in His Being but in the sense that He alone is God; no one else is an associate in His Godhead. He alone is worthy that man should worship, serve and obey Him. He alone can make or mar destinies; man should invoke Him alone and have trust in Him alone. He alone can enjoin things and forbid things; man is under obligation to obey Him and refrain from what he forbids. He sees everything and hears everything; not to speak of any act of man, even his motives and intentions with which he has done an act, are not hidden from Him. Secondly, one has to believe in the Messenger, in the sense that he is a guide and leader appointed by Allah: whatever he has taught, is from Allah, is based upon the truth and has to be acknowledged and accepted. This belief in Apostleship also includes faith in the angels, the Prophets, the divine Books and in the Quran itself, for this forms part of the teachings which the Messenger of Allah has given. Thirdly, one has to believe in the Hereafter, in the sense that man’s present life is not his first and last life, but after death man has to be resurrected, to render an account to God of the deeds done in the present life, and has to be rewarded for the good deeds and punished for the evil deeds accordingly. This Faith provides a firm basis for morality and character, upon which can be built the edifice of a pure life, whereas the truth is that without such Faith, the life of man, however beautiful and pleasing outwardly, is like a ship without an anchor, which is at the mercy of the waves wherever they may take it.

After Faith the second quality required to save man from loss is to perform righteous deeds (salihalt). Salihat comprehends all kinds of virtuous and good deeds. However, according to the Quran, no act can be a good act unless it is based on Faith and it is performed in obedience to the guidance given by Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). That is why in the Quran exhortation to perform good deeds is preceded everywhere by Faith, and in this Surah too it has been mentioned after the Faith. Nowhere in the Quran has a deed without Faith been called a good deed, nor any reward promised for a deed performed without Faith. On the contrary, this also is a fact that only that Faith is reliable and beneficial, the sincerity of which is proved by man’s own act and deed, otherwise Faith without righteous deeds would be a false claim refuted by the man himself when in spite of this claim he follows a way opposed to the way taught by Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). The relationship between Faith and righteous deed is of the seed and the tree. Unless the seed is sown in the soil no tree can grow out of it. But if the seed is in the soil and no tree is growing out of it, it would mean that the seed is lost in the soil. On this very basis whatever good news has been given in the Quran, has been given to the people who believe and do good deeds, and the same has been reiterated in this Surah. What man requires to do after the Faith in order to remain secure from loss is to perform righteous deeds. In other words, mere Faith without righteous deeds cannot save man from loss.

The above two qualities are such as must be possessed by every single individual. Then, the Surah mentions two further qualities, which a man must have in order to be saved from loss. They are that the people who believe and do good deeds must exhort one another to truth and to patience. This means that in the first place, a believing and righteous people should not live as individuals but should create a believing and righteous society by their combination. Second, that every individual of this society must feel his responsibility not to let the society become degenerate. Thus, all its members are duty bound to exhort one another to truth and to patience.

Truth is the antonym of falsehood, and generally it is used in , two meanings:
(1) A correct and right thing which is in accordance with justice and truth, whether it relates to belief and faith or to mundane affairs.
(2) The right which is obligatory on man to render, whether it is the right of God, the right of man, or the right of one’s own self. Thus, to exhort one another to truth means that the society of the believers should not be so insensitive that falsehood may thrive and things against justice and truth be done in it, and the people be watching everything indifferently. On the contrary, it should be a living, sensitive society so that whenever and wherever falsehood appears, the upholders of the Truth should rise up against it, and no member of the society rest content with only himself adhering to truth, righteousness, justice and rendering the rights of others, but should exhort others also to adopt the same way of life. This is the spirit that can ensure security of a society against moral degeneration and decay. If a society becomes devoid of this spirit, it cannot remain secure from loss, and eventually even those people are also affected by the loss who might in their own way be adhering to the truth, but were insensitive to violation of the truth in their society.
The same has been stated in Surah Al-Maidah, thus: Those who adopted the way of disbelief among the children of Israel were cursed by the tongue of David and of Jesus, son of Mary, because they had grown rebellious and become transgressors: they would not forbid one another to do the wrong deeds they committed. (verses 78-79). Then the same idea has been expressed in Surah Al-Aaraf, thus: When the children of Israel totally forgot the teachings (of observing the Sabbath), We seized with a severe scourge all those who were transgressors, and We saved those who used to forbid evil (verse 165); and in Surah Al-Anfal, thus: And guard against that mischief which will not bring punishment in particular to the mischief-makers alone from among you. (verse 25). That is why to enjoin what is good and to forbid what is evil, has been enjoined on the Muslim community as a duty (Surah Aal-Imran, Ayat 104) and the community which performs this duty has been declared to be the best community (Surah Aal-Imran, Ayat 110).

Besides exhorting to the truth, the other thing which has been declared as a necessary condition for keeping the believers and their society secure from loss is that the members of the society should enjoin patience upon one another. That is, they should enjoin upon one another to bear with fortitude and steadfastness the difficulties, hardships, trials, losses and deprivations which befall the one who adheres to the truth and supports it. Each one of them should encourage the other to bear up against adversity steadfastly.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
In the coming verse, it is categorically stated how a person can secure himself from loss. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… Though this approach is pointed out in a few words, however such is the judiciousness and comprehensiveness of style adopted that if a person deliberates on it, he will come to know the individual and collective obligations which are imposed on him and his eternal salvation depends on discharging them.
A little deliberation shows that the real purpose of the Qur’an is to guide man to this straight path and to organize the individual and collective lives of a person in order to achieve success in the Hereafter. In other words, the message which is conveyed by one hundred and fourteen surahs of the Qur’an has been succinctly put forth in three verses of this surah. It is to this very fact that Imam Shafi‘i has pointed by saying that if people only read Surah al-‘Asr while reflecting on its contents, it will suffice for them. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 530)

Īman (faith) is an ancient religious term. The root امن is also found in Hebrew and means considering something to be true and relying on it. The word آمين (amen) is made from this word and through it we corroborate something. In the Qur’an, iman has been used in this meaning. Thus if something is accepted with the certitude of the heart, then this is called iman. The foundation of this word is iman (faith) in God. If a person accepts the Almighty such that he submits his heart and mind to Him to the utmost, then in the terminology of the Qur’an, he is a mu’min (believer).

It is this very essence of faith on account of which the Qur’an demands from a person that besides substantiation from the heart, his words and deeds should also testify to it. Thus it calls every act of virtue emanating from iman and an essential quality of a believer. The mention of righteous deeds after faith is a kind of elucidation. It is like coordinating something specific and general. Imam al-Farahi writes:
… Thus the conviction which exists with all the conditions and corollaries of humility, trust and acknowledgment is called faith. And a person who professes faith in God, in His signs, in His directives, submits all that he has to Him and is happy on all His decisions is called a mu’min. (Al-Farahi, Majmu‘ah tafasir, 347)
No doubt, in the eyes of the law, every person who professes faith in Islam with his tongue is a Muslim. The extent of his faith can also not be ascertained as far as the law is concerned; however, as far as true faith is concerned, it is never static. A person grows stronger in faith when he remembers God and hears His revelations and witnesses His signs in the world within him and in that around him. The Qur’an (14:24) has compared faith to a tree whose roots are deep in the soil and branches spread in the vastness of the sky.

Same is the case of one’s faith growing weaker. Thus if a person instead of making it stronger through sound knowledge and righteous deeds does acts which are against the requirements of faith, it grows weaker, and in some cases is totally wiped out. Some verses such as (167:3) ہُمۡ لِلۡکُفۡرِ یَوۡمَئِذٍ اَقۡرَبُ مِنۡہُمۡ لِلۡاِیۡمَانِ (on that day, they were closer to disbelief than belief, (3:167)) point to this aspect.

It is evident from this that both faith and righteous deeds are essential to one another. Thus just as righteous deeds are necessary for faith, similarly faith is necessary for righteous deeds. At all places, the Qur’an has stated professing faith to be the very first condition for salvation. In Surah al-Nur (24:39), the deeds of people who are devoid of the treasure of faith are compared to the mirage found in a desolate desert which is a mere eye-wash. A thirsty person jumps towards it thinking it to be water but when he draws near, he comes to know that what he thought as waves of water were actually grains of shining sand.

This faith consists of five things:

1. Belief in God

2. Belief in the Angels

3. Belief in the Prophets

4. Belief in Divine Books

5. Belief in the Day of Judgement

In the terminology of the Qur’an, it refers to every deed which is in accordance with God’s wisdom on which the universe has been created and according to which He governs it. All its bases are found in the norms of intellect and human nature and the shari‘ah of God has been revealed to guide mankind towards these righteous deeds.

This is the obligation of preaching which the Qur’an has imposed on all its followers. This is because man does not merely live in isolation; he is also a member of a family or a citizen of a society. This is a very natural aspect of his existence. He requires the existence of a family not only for this material life but also for his moral and spiritual life. Thus on this basis he is directed here to not remain negligent of the betterment of his surroundings.

This obligation is mentioned as a part of righteous deeds as their explanation because this is a natural requirement of one’s love for the truth. A person very vehemently wants people to love what he himself loves.

The way this obligation is mentioned shows that it is from among the basic requirements of faith. If a believer does righteous deeds and also fulfills this requirement of faith, then these verses guarantee him security from any loss in the Hereafter and he will gain the eternal kingdom of Paradise.

The words حَقّ (haqq) and صَبْر (sabr) mentioned in the verse need deliberation. The Almighty did not say: “they urged others to righteous deeds.” On the contrary, His words are: “they urged one another to the truth and urged one another to remain steadfast on it.” What is the reason for this? Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

This style has not only included in it what is found in the first part, it has also made very important additions to it: iman is included to the utmost in al-haqq because it is the right of God and in fact the greatest right of God. Similarly, righteous deeds either relate to the rights towards God or rights towards human beings; hence righteous deeds are also included in haqq. It is evident from this discussion that believers do all these things as an obligation, urge others to adopt them and also counsel others that discharging these obligations is no easy a task; it requires patience and forbearance. Those who do not have this characteristic will find it very difficult to carry out these obligations. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 536)

The word تَوَاصَوۡا also needs consideration. It is evident from this that the circle of this preaching is one’s own immediate surroundings and relationships. Thus the preacher and the preached are not distinct from one another. Every person at all times acts as a preacher as well as an addressee to this preaching. At some instances, the Qur’an has also called it amar bi al-ma‘ruf and nahi ‘an al-munkar. In other words, what is ma‘ruf according to nature and intellect as well as religion and shari‘ah should be urged upon those who live in our immediate surroundings and people should be stopped from what is regarded by these as munkar.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Faith is his armour, which wards off the wounds of the material world; and his righteous life is his positive contribution to spiritual ascent.

If he lived only for himself, he would not fulfill his whole duty. Whatever good he has, especially in moral and spiritual life, he must spread among his brethren, so that they may see the Truth and stand by it in patient hope and unshaken constancy amidst all the storm and stress of outer life. For he and they will then have attained Peace within.

Summing up, this Surah lays down the important principle of guidance for the Muslims that inviting other Muslims to keep to the true faith and good deeds is as much necessary as their own submission to the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. Without sincere efforts, to the best of one’s ability, to invite others to the right path, one’s own good deeds are not enough to one’s salvation. Especially, if a person does not take care of the spiritual and moral welfare of his wife, children and family and turns a blind eye to their unrighteous deeds, he is blocking his way to salvation — no matter how pious he himself might be. Therefore, the Qur’an and the Sunnah make it obligatory upon every Muslim to do his best to invite others to the good deeds, and warn them against the evil acts. Unfortunately, let alone the general public, many learned people are lax in this matter. They think it is sufficient for them to be concerned about their own moral and spiritual well-being. They are not concerned about the well-being of their family and children. May Allah grant us the ability to act upon this verse.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sürah Al-‘Aṣr with English subtitles:

You may refer to our Reference Page "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, explanation and exegesis of other chapters of the Qur'an.

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
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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. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly 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.  [2]
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
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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Thursday 23 April 2020

Ramadan 1441 AH / 2020 - Fasting In Different Times

Alhamdolillah, Ramadan 1441 AH / 2020 is here and most of the Muslims will start to fast from Friday tomorrow while more will commence fasting on Saturday due to sighting of moon. It is the sacred month in which the Holy Qur'an was revealed and it is the month in which fasting has been prescribed for the Muslims.

For many reverts, this may be their first Ramadan and I wish them to be lucky to be experiencing their exposure to a month full of blessings and bounties.

However, this year, we are observing this sacred month in a very different time when almost the entire world is plagued by the deadly Corona Virus, which has taken a heavy toll of human lives and so far over 100,000 thousand have perished while over two million are still under the grip of this virus. Due to this virus, many rituals specific to this holy month will not be there and those newly reverted Muslims will not have a chance to see their first Ramadan being observed with full religious zeal and fervour,like:
The regular prayers and specially the Taraweh prayers may not be held in the masques for the fear of contraction of virus and holding of prayers as during this month, mosques are generally jam packed as every Muslim wants to collect as many blessings of Allah. Unfortunately, the Masjid al Haram, the Khan e Ka'bah in Makkah will be empty which is otherwise jam packed during the month of Ramadan as Muslims from all over the world come here to observe fasts right in the Home of Allah. May Allah take away this pandemic from us and let us be flock the mosques once again. Aameen.
The joint Iftar on streets of Muslim countries will be missing. Even in Makkah and Medina where the locals take it as an honour to have fast of others opened by bring from home lavish food and drinks for those fasting. 
Likewise the joint arrangements at the time of Sehr / Sahoor, the time to eat to keep the fast in the pre morning will be missed out too. 
But times would change, In Sha Allah, and we hope to see the next Ramadan without coonavirus and hope to revive our age old traditions specific to Ramadan.

Coming back to the month of Ramadan and observing of the fasts. Herein under are the references from the Holy Qur'an and excerpts from Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) regarding the observance of fasts:

The three consecutive verses of Surah al Baqarah, Chapter 2, verses 183-185 command believers to fast as it had been decreed upon people people:
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous (Al Qur'an Surah Al Baqarah: 183)
[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] - then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] - a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess - it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew. (Al Qur'an Surah Al Baqarah 2:184)
The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey - then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful. (Al Qur'an Surah Al Baqarah 2:185)
The Prophet of Allah has been quoted as saying while addressing his companions on the last day of Sha`ban:
"Oh people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a month in which is a night better than a thousand months; month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (this month) shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time. It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Heaven. It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer's sustenance is increased. Whoever gives food to a fasting person to break his fast, shall have his sins forgiven, and he will be saved from the Fire of Hell, and he shall have the same reward as the fasting person, without his reward being diminished at all." [Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah]
Citing the importance of the month of Ramadan, `Abdullah ibn `Amr quoted the Messenger of Allah (saw), saying: 
"The fast and the Qur'an are two intercessors for the servant of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. The fast will say: 'O Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires during the day. Let me intercede for him.' The Qur'an will say: 'I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.' And their intercession will be accepted." [Imam Ahmad]
Sahl ibn Sa'd reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw): 
"There is a gate to Paradise that is called Ar Rayyan. On the Day of Resurrection it will say: 'Where are those who fasted?' When the last [one] has passed through the gate, it will be locked." [Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim].
Having emphasized the importance of fasting, let us see what rewards and bounties have been reserved for those who fast to please Allah:
Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward, each good deed receiving then times its like, up to seven hundred times. Allah the Most High said, 'Except for fasting, for it is for Me and I will give recompense for it, he leaves off his desires and his food for Me.' for the fasting person there are two times of joy; a time when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, and the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of musk." [Imam Bukhari]
Please watch the video below by Nouman Ali Khan Quran scholar, Islamic modernist, exegete and educationist, on the subject:

From all of us at Islam: My Ultimate Decision, a very happy Ramadan to all Muslims of the world and readers of our blog. May Allah forgive our sins this Ramadan, protect Muslims all over the world,  liberate occupied Muslim lands of Palestine and Kashmir, and bless us the countless bounties of fasting. Aameen

To know more about fasting and importance of month of Ramadan, please consult our reference page: Ramadan - A month of fasting and Blessings. You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.

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Sunday 9 December 2018

If We Only Had Time

Sometime back, I visited my city of birth and had plans to call on one of my long lost friends. When I had just reached my guest room, I received a message that my friend had passed away moments ago. I was simply stunned to read the message - but he did not have time more than what was granted to him. I went to his funeral and was thinking that while I had come for some other purpose but Allah had actually called me to  attend my friend's funeral.

We commence each day of our life with renewed vigour and aspirations to do many things. Most of us are worried about earning more than yesterday to realise many of our unfinished plans or to buy a better living for our family and children. And most of our lives is spent in such pursuits. But what we normally forget is the bitter fact that while we may have wealth, would we have TIME?

Life is all about time, not wealth, for Allah has promised us that He would make arrangements for our sustenance and living. But He never promises us to give TIME for it may run out of our lives in the click forward of second showing hand of of our watches.

Stressing the importance of time for the Muslims, the Almighty Allah says in the Holy Quran: “By time, indeed, mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” (Quran, Surah Al Asr 103: 1-3).

Surely indeed, those who make best use of their time and are never ignorant of their prayers, and righteous deeds to please Allah by remaining on the straight path and helping others and always keep in mind that time may run out of their lives at anytime - a time that will come unannounced. So a true Muslim should be ready all the time to face the day when the time will stop clicking for him.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has been quoted as saying: “Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth before you become old; your health, before you fall sick; your wealth, before you become poor; your free time before you become preoccupied, and your life, before your death” (Musnad Imam Ahmad). All these five things hinge on time. For as long as all is going well, we do not know of the hard times that can befall on us at any time. This cautions us to be ready not only to brave out bad times, bad health, or loss of wealth and last of all the time when the life may end suddenly.

So be ready for the end time and always pray for your forgiveness, continuously seek repentance for one's sins or follies and times aimlessly spent in leisure that took us from remembering Allah. Remember, Time is running out !!

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