Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Surat Al-Baqarah - Verse 1

أعوذبِاللَّـهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ
[I Seek refuge in ALLAH from Shaitan - the accursed one]
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

The Discussion of Individual Letters

The individual letters in the beginning of some Surahs are among those things whose knowledge Allah has kept only for Himself. This was reported by Abu Bakr,`Umar, `Uthman, `Ali and Ibn Mas`ud. It was said  that these letters are the names of some of the Surahs. It was also said that they are the beginnings that Allah chose to start the Surahs of the Qur'an with. Khasif stated that Mujahid said, "The beginnings of the Surahs such as Qaf, Sad, Ta Sin Mim and Alif Lam Ra, are just some letters of the alphabet." Some linguists also stated that they are letters of the Alphabet and that Allah simply did not cite the entire alphabet of twenty-eight letters. For instance, they said, one might say, "My son recites Alif, Ba, Ta, Tha..." he means the entire alphabet although he stops before mentioning  the rest of it. This opinion was mentioned by Ibn Jarir.

The Letters at the Beginning of Surahs

If one removes the repetitive letters, then the number of letters mentioned at the beginning of the Surahs is fourteen: Alif, Lam, Mim, Sad, Ra, Kaf, Ha, Ya, `Ayn, Ta, Sin, Ha, Qaf, Nun.

So glorious is He Who made everything subtly reflect His wisdom.

Moreover, the scholars said, "There is no doubt that Allah did not reveal these letters for jest and play." Some ignorant people said that some of the Qur'an does not mean anything, (meaning, such as these letters) thus committing a major mistake. On the contrary, these letters carry a specific meaning. Further, if we find an authentic narration leading to the Prophet that explains these letters, we will embrace the Prophet's statement. Otherwise, we will stop where were made to stop and will proclaim,

The scholars did not agree on one opinion or explanation regarding this subject. Therefore, whoever thinks that one scholar's opinion is correct, he is obliged to follow it, otherwise it is better to refrain from making any judgement on this matter. Allah knows best.

These Letters testify to the Miraculous Qur'an

The wisdom behind mentioning these letters in the beginning of the Surahs, regardless of the exact meanings of these letters, is that they testify to the miracle of the Qur'an. Indeed, the servants (creation) are unable to produce something like the Qur'an, although it is comrised of the same letters with which they speak to each other.1 Az-Zamakhshari said that these letters, "Were not all mentioned once in the beginning of the Qur'an. Rather, they were repeated so that the challenge (against the creation) is more daring. Similarly, several stories were mentioned repeatedly in the Qur'an, and also the challenge was repeated in various areas (i.e., to produce something like the Qur'an). Sometimes, one letter at a time was mentioned, such as Sad, Nun  and Qaf. Sometimes two letters were mentioned, such as 

Ha Mim (Chapter 44 Verse 1)
Sometimes, three letters were mentioned, such as,

Alif Lam Mim (Chapter 2 Verse 1)
and four letters such as,

Alif Lam Mim Ra (Chapter 13 Verse 1)

Alif Lam Mim Sad (Chapter 7 Verse 1)

Sometimes, five letters were mentioned, such as,

Kaf Ha Ya `Ayn Sad (Chapter 19 Verse 1)

Ha Mim. `Ayn Sin Qaf (Chapter 42 Verses 1-2) 

This is because the words that are used in speech are usually comprised of one, two, three, four, or five letters."

Every Surah that begins with these letters demonstrates the Qur'an's miracle and magnificence, and this fact is known by those well-versed in such matters. The count of these Surahs is twenty-nine. For instance, Allah said,

(Alif Lam Mim) This is the book (the Qur'an), wherein there is no doubt (Chapter 2 Verses 1-2)

(Alif Lam Mim. Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He),  Al-Hayyul-Qayyum (the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists). It is He Who has sent down the Book (the Qur'an) to you (Muhammad) with truth, confirming what came before it.) (Chapter 3 Verses 1-3)

Alif Lam Sad. (This is the) Book (the Qur'an) sent down unto you (O Muhammad), so let not your breast be narrow therefrom (Chapter 7 Verses 1-2)

Also Allah said,

Alif Lam Ra. (This is) a Book which We have revealed unto you (O Muhammad) in order that you might lead mankind out of darkness (of disbelief and polytheism) into the light (of belief in the Oneness of Allah and Islamic Monotheism) by their Lord's leave) (Chapter 14 Verse 1)

Ha Mim. `Ain Sin Qaf. Likewise Allah, the Almighty, the Wise sends revelation to you (O Muhammad) as (He sent revelation to) those before you (Chapter 42 Verses 1-3)
There are several other Ayat that testify to what we have mentioned above, and Allah knows best.

Whatever good comes from this post is from Allah alone and any mistakes therein are mine - if found, please inform, ASAP, Insha Allah.



1.This opinion was mentioned by Ar-Razi in his Tafsir who related it to Al-Mubarrid and several other scholars. Al-Qurtubi also related this opinion to Al-Farra' and Qutrub. Az-Zamakhshari agreed with this opinion in his book, Al-Kashshaf.In addit ion, the Imam and scholar Abu Al-`Abbas Ibn Taymiyyah and our Shaykh Al-Haf iz Abu Al-Haj j aj Al-Mizzi agreed with this opinion. Al-Mizzi told me that it is also the opinion of Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Surat Al-Baqarah

أعوذبِاللَّـهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ 
[I Seek refuge in ALLAH from Shaitan - the accursed one]
 بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Surat Al-Baqarah - The Cow


As the opening surah (Al-Fatihah) sums up in seven beautiful verses the essence of the Qur'an, so this Surah sums up in 286 verses the whole teaching of the Qur'an.

Virtues of Surat Al-Baqarah

In Musnad Ahmad, Sahih Muslim, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa'i, it is recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said,

Do not turn your houses into graves. Verily, Shaytan does not enter the house where Surat Al-Baqarah is recited.)1

Abdullah bin Mas` ud said, "Shaytan flees from the house where Surat Al-Baqarah is heard." 2
"Shaytan departs the house where Surat Al-Baqarah is being recited, and as he leaves, he passes gas."3

"Whoever recites ten Ayat from Surat Al-Baqarah in a night, then Shaytan will not enter his house that night. (These ten Ayat are) four from the beginning, Ayat Al Kursi (Verse 255), the following  two Ayat (Verses 256-257) and the last three Ayat."4 "Then Shaytan will not come near him or his family, nor will he be touched by anything that he dislikes. Also, if these Ayat were to be recited over a senile person, they would wake him up."5

Further, Sahl Bin Sa'd said that the Messenger of Allah said,

Everything had a hump (or, high peek), and Al-Baqarah is the high peek of the Qur'an. Whoever recites Al-Baqarah at night in his house, then Shaytan will not enter that house for three nights. Whoever recites it during a day in his house, then Shaytan will not enter that house for three days.)6

Abu Hurayrah said, "The Messenger of Allah sent an expedition force comprising of many men and asked each about what they memorized of the Qur'an. The Prophet came to one of the youngest me among them and asked him, 'What have you memorized (of the Qur'an) young man' He said, 'I memorized such and such Surahs and also Al-Baqarah.' The Prophet said, 'You memorized Surat Al-Baqarah' He said, 'Yes.' The Prophet said, 'Then you are their commander.' One of the noted me (or chiefs) commented, 'By Allah! I did not learn Surat Al-Baqarah, for fear that I would not be able to implement it.7 The messenger of Allah said,

(Learn Al-Qur'an and recite it, for the example of whoever learns the Qur'an, recites it and adheres to it, is the example of a bag full of musk whose scent fills the air. The example of whoever learns the Qur'an and then sleeps (i.e Lazy) while the Qur'an is in his memory, is the example of a bag that has musk, but is closed tight.)8

Usayd bin Hudayr said that he was once reciting Surat Al-Baqarah while his horse was tied next to him. The horse started to make some noise. When Usayd stopped reciting, the horse stopped moving about. When he resumed reading, the horse started moving about again. When he stopped reciting, the horse stopped moving, and when he resumed reading, the horse started to move again. Meanwhile, his son Yahya was close to the horse, and he feared that the horse might step on him. When he moved his son back, he looked up to the sky and saw a cloud radiating with light that looked like lamps. In the morning, he went to the Prophet and told him what had happened and then said, "O Messenger of Allah! My son Yahya was close to the horse, and I feared that she might step on him. When I attended to him and raised my head to the sky, I saw a cloud with lights like lamps. So I went, but I couldn't see it." The Prophet said, "Do you know what that was" He said, "No." The Prophet said,

(They were angels, they came close hearing your voice (reciting Surat Al-Baqarah), and if you had kept reading, the people would have been able to see the angels when the morning came, and the angels would not be hidden from their eyes.)9

Imam Ahmad said that Abu Nu`aym narrated to them that Bishr bin Muhajir said that 'Abdullah bin Buraydah narrated to him from his father, "I was sitting with the Prophet and I heard him say,

(Learn Surat Al-Baqarah, because in learning it there is blessing, in ignoring it there is sorrow, and the sorceresses cannot memorize it.)

He kept silent for a while and then said,

(Learn Surat Al-Baqarah and Al 'Imran because they are two lights and they shad their people on the Day of Resurrection, just as two clouds, two spaces of shade or two lines of (flying) birds. The Qur'an will meet its companion in the shape of a pale-faced man on the Day of Resurrection when his grave is opened. The Qur'an will ask him, 'Do you know me' The man will say, 'I do not know you.' The Qur'an will say, 'I am your companion, the Qur'an, which has brought you thirst during the heat and made you stay up during the night. Every merchant has his certain trade. But, this Day, you are behind all types of trade.' Kingship will then be given to him in his right hand, eternal life in his left hand and the crown of grace will be placed on his head. His parents will also be granted two garments that the people of this life could never afford. They will say, 'Why were we granted these garments' it will be said , 'Because your son was carrying the Qur'an.' It will be said (to the reader of the Qur'an), 'Read and ascend through the levels of Paradise.' He will go on ascending as long as recites, whether reciting slowly or quickly.)"10

A part of this hadith is also supported by other hadiths. For instance, Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Umamah Al-Bahili said he heard the Messenger of Allah say,

(Read the Qur'an, because it will intercede on behalf of its people on the Day of Resurrection. Read the two lights, Al-Baqarah and Al 'Imran, because they will come in the shape of two clouds, two shades or two lines of birds on the Day of Resurrection and will argue on behalf of their people on that day.)

The Prophet then said,

(Read Al-Baqarah, because in having it there is blessing, and in ignoring it there is a sorrow and the sorceresses cannot memorize it.)11

Imam Ahmad narrated that An-Nawwas bin Sam'an said that the Prophet said,

(On the day of resurrection the Qur'an and its people who used to implement it will be brought forth, preceded by Surat Al-Baqarah and Al 'Imran.)

An-Nawwas said, "The Prophet set three examples for these two Surahs and I did not forget these examples ever since. He said,

(They will come like two clouds, two dark shades or two lines of birds arguing on behalf of their people.)12


It begins (verses 1-29) by classifying  men into three broad categories, depending on how they receive Allah's message.

This leads to the story of the creation of man, the high destiny intended for him, his fall, and the hope held out to him (verses 30-39).

The story of the Children of Israel (Prophet Jacob) is then told according to their own records and traditions - what privileges they received and how they abused them (verses 40-86), thus illustrating again as by a parable the general story of man.

In particular, reference is made to Moses and Jesus and their struggles with an unruly people: how the people of the Book played false their own lights and in their pride rejected Muhammad, who came in the true line of Prophets (verses 87-121)

They falsely laid claim to the virtues of Father Abraham; he was indeed a righteous Imam, but he was the progenitor of Ismail's line (Arab) as well of Israel's line, and he with Ismail built the Ka'bah (the House of Allah in Makkah) and purified it, thus establishing a common religion, of which Islam is the universal exponent (verses 122 - 141)

The Ka'bah was now to be the center of universal worship and the symbol of Islamic unity (verses 142-167)

The Islamic Ummah (brotherhood) having thus been established with its definite center and symbol, ordinances are laid down for the social life of the community, with the proviso that righteousness does not consist in formalities, but in faith, kindness, prayer, charity, probity, and patience under suffering. The ordinances relate to food and drink, bequests, fasts, jihad, wine and gambling, treatment of orphans and women, etc, (verses 168-242)

Lest the subject of Jihad should be misunderstood, it is taken up again in the story of Saul, Goliath and David, in contrast to the story of Jesus (verses 243-253)

And so the lesson is enforced that true virtues lies in practical deeds of manliness, kindness, and good faith, and Allah's nature is called to mind in the sublime Ayah al Kursi, the Verse of the Throne (Verse 255). (verses 254-283)

The Surah ends with an exhortation to Faith, Obedience, a sense of Personal Responsibility, and Prayer (verses 284-286)

This is the longest Surah of the Qur'an, and in it occurs the longest verse (282). The name of the Surah is from the Parable of the Heifer in verses 67-71, which illustrates the insufficiency of carping obedience.

When faith is lost, people put off obedience with various excuses; even when at last they obey in the letter, they fail in the spirit, which means that they get fossilized, and their self-sufficiency prevents them from seeing that spiritually they are not alive but dead. For life is movement, activity, striving, fighting against baser things. And this is the burden of the Surah.

This Surah was revealed in Madinah.

Whatever good comes from this post is from Allah alone and any mistakes therein are mine - if found, please inform, ASAP, Insha Allah.

1. At-Tirmidhi said,"Hasan Sahih.".

2. This Hadith was collected by An-Nasa'i in Al-Yawm wal-Laylah, and Al-Hakim recorded it in his Mustadrak and then said that its chain of narration is authentic, Although the Two Sahihs did not collect it.

3. Recorded by Ad-Darimi in his Musnad.

4. Recorded by Ad-Darimi in his Musnad.

5. Narrated by Ibn Mas'ud.

6. This Hadith was collected by Abu Al-Qasim At -Tabarani, Abu Hatim Ibn Hibban in his Sahih and Ibn Marduwyah.

7. Recorded by At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah.

8. This is the wording collected by At -Tirmidhi who said that this Hadith is Hasan. In another narration, At-Tirmidhi recorded this same Hadith in a Mursal manner, so Allah knows best.

9. This is the narration reported by Imam Abu Ubayd Al-Qasim bin Salam in his book Fada'il Al-Qur'an.

10. Ibn Majah also recorded part of this Hadith from Bishr bin Al-Muhajir, and this chain of narrators is Hasan, according to the criteria of Imam Muslim.

11. Also, Imam Muslim narrated this Hadith in the Book of Prayer.

12. It was also recorded in Sahih Muslim and At -Tirmidhi narrated this Hadith, which he rendered Hasan Gharib.

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