Reminder from Sura Al-Araf

Today’s reminder is another based on a passage in Allah’s book. This week is about ayat 157 from the 7th Sura of the Quran which is Sura Al-Araf.

As with these kind of reminders, the lessons we can take from the Glorious Quran is more than a reminder like this can contain but an attempt has been made to summarize them today.

The Ayat itself is translated to say:

Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of their burden and the shackles that they used to wear. Then those who believe in him, and honour him and help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him: they are the successful.

Dear brothers and sisters, the first lesson that we take from this passage is the description given to the Prophet SAWS. We see that Allah SWT describes the Prophet SAWS as unlettered. This is different to the word illiterate as the latter implies someone who is without education. Our Prophet SAWS was the best of teachers and he received the best of education and that was divine education from Allah SWT through the Angel Jibreel.

So why is it that Allah SWT has mentioned that the Prophet SAWS is someone who can neither read nor write? The doubters of the Prophet SAWS of the time would argue that he was someone who was fabricating these verses himself and claiming that they were from Allah SWT. They would also argue that he would spend his time learning other cultures and religions to gather this information and then pass it off as the revelation from Allah SWT.

By describing the Prophet SAWS, Allah SWT is telling us that the Prophet SAWS is innocent of the charges being made against him by those who did not believe his message. Indeed, there is also a lesson there for us in this time and age that someone who did not read nor write has  given the world  complete code of life in the shape of Islam as well as the most reliable masterpiece of knowledge in the shape of the Quran.

It demonstrates then to the average person that this individual is someone special and worthy of further study and often you will hear of those people coming to Islam as being those who did so by studying our beloved Prophet SAWS, our teacher and the best of creation.

The second lesson we can derive from this passage is that of the lesson of Islam as a continuation of the same message.

Dear brothers and sisters, we are often reminded by those who are misguided of the term “our God” or the term “their God”. It implies that Christians and Jews each have their own God that they worship and then we have Allah SWT which our own God that we worship. This is a misconception and something that is addressed in this part of the ayat.

By Allah SWT referencing the Gospel and the Torah, He is uniting the nations together and challenging those who follow the Gospel and the Torah to refute the challenge placed here.

So first of all, the Gospel is the book that is followed by the Christians and the Torah makes up the majority of what the Jews follow in Judaism.

This is telling us then that those who disbelieve in the message of the Prophet SAWS can refer to their own books and find that this is a continuation of the message in those books.

Dear brothers and sisters, how often do we read a book in which the sequel is mentioned? Or that we watch a film in which the next film is already mentioned? Most of the cinema films follow this format in which the film we are watching has a teaser of the next film within it.

Allah SWT gave that to the students of the Gospel and to the students of the Tora, the teaser about the final Prophet SAWS and some got the message and we hear of them embracing Islam and the Prophet SAWS due to this. Listen to prominent inviters to Islam like Dr Zakir Naik and he can reference those verses in the Gospel and Torah that speak of our beloved Prophet SAWS and thus proving this point.

Therefore we need to be mindful of this when we are speaking of the followers of Christianity and Judaism as they are believers in Allah SWT too. We need to be respectful to their beliefs but at the same time invite them to the continuation of their message, i.e. Islam, through the mannerisms taught to us through the lessons of Islam.

And lastly, the point on following our beloved Prophet SAWS is a lesson on the next point that may be made by the followers of the Gospel and the Torah.

Some might say that if those books are also from Allah SWT, why should they follow another Prophet and another book of guidance?

The ayat answers this question for those people. Firstly, by following the Prophet SAWS, they will get more than what they have at present and that is the religion of Islam will specifically enable them to live a life on the right path and assist in their everyday living and help them distinguish right from wrong.

Allah SWT then mentions the burden and shackles that they will be free from. This tells us that just saying they believe in a God isn’t enough, if they do not follow then the commandments sent by Him. They may still be believers in God but their soul will yearn for more, it will feel malnourished and so following the teachings of the Prophet SAWS will relieve them of this burden that their soul feels.

Finally, if there is any doubt about whether to follow the final message delivered by the final Prophet, the ayat concludes by telling us that only those who do so will be the successful ones.

The imam referenced a hadith in which Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “All my followers will enter Paradise except those who refuse.” They said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Who will refuse?” He said, “Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise, and whoever disobeys me is the one who refuses (to enter it).”

Dear brothers and sisters, there is a lesson in here for us. We need to strive not only to rest on our belief in our faith but to follow the Sunnah, i.e. the lessons of the Prophet SAWS. By doing so, we can then hope to be the successful as is mentioned by Allah SWT in this ayat.

May Allah SWT enable us to be mindful of these lessons, may Allah SWT enable us to benefit from the lessons in the Quran and may Allah SWT reward us for the effort in understanding the lessons in the Quran.

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Understanding and Contemplating the Quran

Dear brothers, the topic of this weeks’ khutba is contemplation of the Final Testament of our Creator – the Quran.

As Muslims, we are instructed to ponder on the words of the Quran. Allah SWT mentions this in Sura Al-Furqan, ayat 30 in which it is translated as saying:

And the Messenger has said, “O my Lord, indeed my people have taken this Quran as a thing abandoned.

Dear brothers, the scholars are in agreement that in this context, the understanding we need to take from this ayat is that the abandonment that is being spoken of is the lack of understanding and contemplation of the meaning behind the words of the Quran.

But let’s break this point down further. There are 114 suras in the Quran. Chapters as we translate it to being. This is not strictly the best English word to describe Sura. But more importantly for this khutba, we have 6236 ayats in the Quran. This is translated as verses. Again this is not strictly true and this point is explained further.

The word Ayat is not verse dear brothers. If we look at the literal translation of this word then we see that it actually means ‘evidence’ or ‘sign’. That means that within this Quran, we have 6236 signs for us to contemplate on or evidences for us to think about! This is a remarkable statement of fact.

Allah SWT tells us of the above in the Quran and the following ayat demonstrates this as it is from Sura Saad, ayat 29 and it is translated as saying:

This is a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, that they might reflect upon it’s verses (or ayats) and that those of understanding would be reminded.

So dear brothers, if we know that there is a sign within each small ayat of the Quran then we need to ask ourselves, what is preventing us from gaining access to the most important thing in all our existence.

This Glorious Quran is divine, it is out of this world and it is our connection to Allah SWT, the universe and beyond. What is it that is therefore preventing us from pulling out all the stops and dedicating our lives to understanding this book?

Again we can refer to a Sura of the Quran. Ayat 24 of sura Muhammed is translated as saying:

Then do they not reflect upon the Quran, or are there locks upon their hearts?

Dear brothers, nobody in this room wants to be referenced on the Day of Judgment as being of this group mentioned.

The Quran has a direct connection to your heart. It has the ability to move you, to inspire you and to change you unlike anything or anyone in this world. We can start this journey today and inspire to becoming at one with this miracle in our lives.

According to Hadith, the Prophet SAWS said to Abdullah ibn Masood: “Recite for me the Quran”. He said: “O Messenger of Allah! Should I recite to you and it was revealed to you?” He said: “Yes, for I like to hear it from others.” “I recited Sura an-Nisaa until I reached the ayah, “How will it be then, when We bring from each nation a witness and We bring you O Muhammed as a witness against these people?” He then said: “Stop now.” I found that his eyes were tearful.

Dear brothers, the hadith mentioned here demonstrates the power of the Quran even on the best of creation. We need to aspire to having this reaction when we listen to the Quran also.

So with that being said, what follows are 3 tips for understanding the Quran:

  1. Always purify your intentions. This was the khutba last week and it is about sincerity in intention.
  2. Use a reliable translation and commentary if you don’t understand Arabic. We have some in our masjid and online on our site. And on the topic of internet references, YouTube is now a rich source of knowledge on the Quran. Channels such as Quran Weekly are great as well as video series called the Quranic Gems.
  3. And lastly, don’t give up. The Quran consists of around 80,000 words which may sound daunting. However, by learning only 125 words you will know the meaning of half that number. In other words, 125 unique words are repeated 40,000 times. Learn another 125 words and you will know the meaning of 7 of every 10 words in the Quran. Dear brothers, a 250-word list is what stands between us and knowing most of the words of the Quran. Google 250 Quran Words to get a free list online and begin today.

And in conclusion to this khutba, Sura Al- Baqara, ayat 281 is translated as saying:

And fear a Day when you will be returned to Allah. Then every soul will be compensated for what it earned, and they will not be treated unjustly.

May Allah SWT unlock our hearts for the Glorious Quran. May Allah SWT drive us to understand the Quran and may Allah SWT reward us for our understanding of the Quran.

Ameen wal hamdullilahi rabilalameen.

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