Taraweeh Reflections - Night Seven
Posted: 5 Ramadan 1434, 14 July 2013
Here are selected verses from the taraweeh recitation for each night with lessons for our lives today.
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَا لِكُلِّ نِبِيٍّ عَدُوًّا شَيَاطِينَ الإِنسِ وَالْجِنِّ يُوحِي بَعْضُهُمْ إِلَى بَعْضٍ زُخْرُفَ الْقَوْلِ غُرُورًا وَلَوْ شَاء رَبُّكَ مَا فَعَلُوهُ فَذَرْهُمْ وَمَا يَفْتَرُونَ
So it is that, for every prophet, We have set up enemies,-the devils of mankind and jinn-who whisper unto one another flowery discourses in order to deceive-Had Allah willed, they would have not done it. So, leave them alone with what they forge [Surah An'am, 6:112-113]
The key phrase here is “zukhraf al-qawl ghuroora” which can be translated as “embellished speech” or “varnished falsehood” “by way of deception.” This is the slick talk that has been developed into perfection in the age of the media, sound bites, and spin doctors. These forces of deception will remain there; the task of the truth seeker is to be aware of their ways and not allow himself or herself to be deluded by them.
The next ayah tells us that it is really those who do not believe in the Hereafter that will be persuaded by them. An alive belief in the Hereafter and the concern for our accountability before All-knowing Allah will protect us from their deceptions.
وَإِن تُطِعْ أَكْثَرَ مَن فِي الأَرْضِ يُضِلُّوكَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللّهِ إِن يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلاَّ الظَّنَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلاَّ يَخْرُصُونَ
If you obey the majority of those on earth, they will make you lose the way of Allah. They follow nothing but whims, and they do nothing but make conjectures. [Surah An'am 6:116]
This again emphasizes that matters of truth and falsehood cannot be decided through democracy or opinion polls. Further, the views of most people are based on conjectures and speculation, not on certain knowledge, which can only come through revelation.
وَذَرُواْ ظَاهِرَ الإِثْمِ وَبَاطِنَهُ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْسِبُونَ الإِثْمَ سَيُجْزَوْنَ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَقْتَرِفُونَ
Forsake the outwardness of sin and the inwardness thereof. Lo! those who garner sin will be awarded that which they have earned. [Surah An’am 6:120]
The outward sins are the content of our outward actions like telling lies, backbiting, failure to perform obligatory acts of worship and failure to follow the commands of Allah in dealings and in all transactions. The inward sins are the thoughts, ideas and motives we hide in our heart like arrogance, malice, jealousy, and desire to show off.
Islamic discipline of fiqh deals with the first; that of tassawuf (although it is greatly misunderstood these days) deals with the second. The ayah makes it clear that reforming both our actions and our motives and thoughts is an equal obligation.
وَلاَ تَأْكُلُواْ مِمَّا لَمْ يُذْكَرِ اسْمُ اللّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَإِنَّهُ لَفِسْقٌ
Do not eat that (meat) over which the name of Allah has not been pronounced. This is surely a sin. [Surah Anam, 6:121]
Taking a life, even that of an animal that has been created to feed us, is something that we cannot do on our own authority. That is why it is utmost important that we slaughter that animal by pronouncing the name of Allah and only in the way prescribed by Him. When the pronouncement is left out intentionally, or done by someone who does not believe in Allah in the first place, then that meat is not permissible for consumption.
In this surah, which deals basically with the wrong beliefs of the mushrikeen of Makkah and is meant to explain and assert the truth of Islamic beliefs, it is interesting that the issue of halal and haram meat has been discussed in no less than ten ayahs. This makes it clear that this is not a secondary or peripheral issue.
فَمَن يُرِدِ اللّهُ أَن يَهْدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلإِسْلاَمِ وَمَن يُرِدْ أَن يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَأَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّمَاء كَذَلِكَ يَجْعَلُ اللّهُ الرِّجْسَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ
So, whomsoever Allah wills to guide, He makes his heart wide open for Islam, and whomsoever He wills to let go astray, He makes his heart strait and constricted, (and he feels embracing Islam as difficult) as if he were climbing to the sky. In this way, Allah lays abomination on those who do not believe.[Surah Anam, 6:125]
There is much to ponder here for those Muslims who habitually show allergic reactions to different commands of the Shariah.
قُلْ إِنَّ صَلاَتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِين لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ وَبِذَلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَاْ أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ
Say, “My prayer, my offering, my life and my death are for Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. For Him there is no partner. And thus I have been commanded, and I am the first one to submit.” [Surah Anam, 6:162-163]
This is the definition of the Muslim---or one who surrenders.
يَا بَنِي آدَمَ قَدْ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَارِي سَوْءَاتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا وَلِبَاسُ التَّقْوَىَ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ ذَلِكَ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللّهِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ
O Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness,- that is the best. Such are among the Signs of God, that they may receive admonition! [Surah A'raf, 7:26]
While all other animals have a skin that provides them protection against the elements human beings don't. Monkeys can live without clothing, human beings cannot. Why? It is not that our bodies did not develop our skin--- so thin and fur free that it requires external covering for protection---because of some unexplained evolutionary accident. Rather, our Creator designed it this way so we will always need clothing. He also put in us the sense of shame that forces us to cover ourselves. On the other hand, the first act of Shaytan was to cause Adam and Eve to expose themselves as explained in the ayahs preceding this one.
The address here is to all humanity, emphasizing thereby the universal human need to cover ourselves properly. The Qur'an then warns that Shaytan was not finished after his first attempt for the next ayah says: "Oh Children of Adam! Let not Shaytan seduce you in the same manner as he got your parents out of the Garden, stripping them of their raiment, to expose their shame." [Al-A'raf 7:27].
Those who design, promote, and use the fashions --- especially women’s fashions --- that develop new ways of not covering the body are thus obedient servants of Shaytan, whether they realize it or not.