Taraweeh Reflections - Night Ten
Posted: 8 Ramadan 1434, 17 July 2013
Here are selected verses from the taraweeh recitation for each night with lessons for our lives today.
Sin, Repentance and Forgiveness
وَآخَرُونَ اعْتَرَفُواْ بِذُنُوبِهِمْ خَلَطُواْ عَمَلاً صَالِحًا وَآخَرَ سَيِّئًا عَسَى اللّهُ أَن يَتُوبَ عَلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
And there are others who admitted their sins while they had mixed a good deed with an evil one. It is likely that Allah will relent towards them. Surely, Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful. (Surah Taubah 9:102)
This is part of the commentary of the Qur’an on the Tabuk expedition. It was an extraordinary time. The Islamic state faced a grave threat from the Roman army, which represented a super power of the time. A call for universal mobilization was thus given. The munafiqeen failed to respond. But some true Muslims also failed to show up. What separated these ten people from the rest was their later behavior. The munafiqeen fabricated excuses for their failure. The true believers admitted their mistake without hesitation. Out of these seven Companions tied themselves to the pillars in the Masjid Nabawi as an act of self punishment. These are mentioned here and forgiveness for them is announced here. Three others did not submit themselves to this self-punishment but acknowledged their error when the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, returned. They were subjected to a severe social boycott for fifty days before they were forgiven.
The hypocrites did not get any punishment. But their eternal punishment in the Hereafter was announced here.
We all make mistakes. What distinguishes a true believer from a hypocrite is not the absence of sin, even major sin, but the moral courage to admit it. He would never try to rationalize or justify his sins, leave alone insist on them.
Boundaries Set by Allah
التَّائِبُونَ الْعَابِدُونَ الْحَامِدُونَ السَّائِحُونَ الرَّاكِعُونَ السَّاجِدونَ الآمِرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَالنَّاهُونَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَالْحَافِظُونَ لِحُدُودِ اللّهِ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
(Triumphant) are those who turn repentant (to Allah), those who serve (Him), those who praise (Him), those who fast, those who bow down, those who fall prostrate (in worship), those who enjoin the right and who forbid the wrong and those who keep the limits (ordained) of Allah - And give glad tidings to believers! (Surah Taubah 9:112)
These are the qualities of the true believers who were being contrasted with the munafiqeen in this surah. Each of these qualities demands serious introspection so we can see where we stand.
“Keeping the limits” requires a word of explanation. Our life is complex web of relations and interactions involving ourselves, the world around us, and our Creator. We are subject to conflicting demands and emotions regarding all of them. To achieve a perfect balance in this complex situation is a lifelong struggle. The key to success in this struggle is being fully cognizant of the limits of Allah. For example, our spouses have rights on us, as do our parents. They may sometimes also come into conflict. Earning a halal living is a sacred duty. It can at times also interfere with our other obligations. Serving the humanity is a noble act. What if it causes one to neglect his duties toward Allah? In all these cases the fair resolution of the conflict requires that we not exceed the limits set by Allah in each relationship. Learning the limits, and learning to stick by them in real life, is itself a lifelong effort. But only those can have some hope of succeeding in this effort who are aware of the task itself.
وَمَا كَانَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لِيَنفِرُواْ كَآفَّةً فَلَوْلاَ نَفَرَ مِن كُلِّ فِرْقَةٍ مِّنْهُمْ طَآئِفَةٌ لِّيَتَفَقَّهُواْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلِيُنذِرُواْ قَوْمَهُمْ إِذَا رَجَعُواْ إِلَيْهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَحْذَرُونَ
Nor should the Believers all go forth together [in time of war]: if a contingent from every expedition remained behind, they could devote themselves to studies in religion, and admonish the people when they return to them,- that thus they (may learn) to guard themselves (against evil). (Surah Taubah 9:122)
Tabuk expedition required a general mobilization. Now it is made clear that this was the exception and not the rule. Even during war, there is another very important task that the community collectively has to be aware of. This is the task of Islamic education. This ayah is the foundation stone upon which the entire structure of Islamic education is to be built. All talk of education in the Muslim world that is not informed by this ayah is misguided and a waste --- as is happening today.
The purpose of Islamic education, as laid out here, is to provide that knowledge, guidance, and inspiration that is needed by the community of believers to guard itself from all harmful and un-Islamic practices and continue its journey of life on the Straight Path.
Calls to Revise the Qur’an
وَإِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُنَا بَيِّنَاتٍ قَالَ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَرْجُونَ لِقَاءنَا ائْتِ بِقُرْآنٍ غَيْرِ هَـذَا أَوْ بَدِّلْهُ قُلْ مَا يَكُونُ لِي أَنْ أُبَدِّلَهُ مِن تِلْقَاء نَفْسِي إِنْ أَتَّبِعُ إِلاَّ مَا يُوحَى إِلَيَّ إِنِّي أَخَافُ إِنْ عَصَيْتُ رَبِّي عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ
And when Our clear ayahs are recited unto them they who look not for the meeting with Us say: Bring a Qur’an other than this, or change it. Say (O Muhammad): It is not for me to change it of my own accord. I only follow that which is revealed to me. Lo! If I disobey my Lord I fear the retribution of an awful Day. (Surah Yunus 10:15)
The calls to “reform” or revise the Qur’an keep coming to this day. Sometimes they use the euphemism of reinterpretation for revision. There is nothing modern or novel about them. Their motive is the same and our answer is the same as given here.
The Reality of This Life
إِنَّمَا مَثَلُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَاء أَنزَلْنَاهُ مِنَ السَّمَاء فَاخْتَلَطَ بِهِ نَبَاتُ الأَرْضِ مِمَّا يَأْكُلُ النَّاسُ وَالأَنْعَامُ حَتَّىَ إِذَا أَخَذَتِ الأَرْضُ زُخْرُفَهَا وَازَّيَّنَتْ وَظَنَّ أَهْلُهَا أَنَّهُمْ قَادِرُونَ عَلَيْهَآ أَتَاهَا أَمْرُنَا لَيْلاً أَوْ نَهَارًا فَجَعَلْنَاهَا حَصِيدًا كَأَن لَّمْ تَغْنَ بِالأَمْسِ كَذَلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ وَاللّهُ يَدْعُو إِلَى دَارِ السَّلاَمِ وَيَهْدِي مَن يَشَاء إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ
The example of worldly life is just like the water We sent down from the sky, then the vegetation of the earth grew with it, which is (meant to be) eaten by men and cattle, until when the earth took on its ornament and was fully adorned, and its people thought that they had control over it, Our command came to it at night or by day, and We turned it into a stubble, as if it had not been there a day earlier. This is how We elaborate the verses for a people who reflect. And Allah summons to the abode of peace, and leads whom He wills to a straight path. (Surah Yunus,10:24-25)
This life is temporary and to get a full appreciation of what that means, one only needs to look at the plants in one’s backyard. How they sprout, grow to full vigor producing flowers, fruits and vegetables that please us and then wilt and disappear. And sometimes, when it is Allah’s will, they may not even go through their normal lifecycle.
The real abode of peace and unmixed happiness is the Hereafter. And Qur’an calls the humanity to that perfect bliss. The path leading to it is the Straight Path.
No Compulsion to accept Islam
وَلَوْ شَاء رَبُّكَ لآمَنَ مَن فِي الأَرْضِ كُلُّهُمْ جَمِيعًا أَفَأَنتَ تُكْرِهُ النَّاسَ حَتَّى يَكُونُواْ مُؤْمِنِينَ
And if your Lord willed, all who are in the earth would have believed together. Would you compel men until they are believers? (Surah Yunus 10:99)
قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَاءكُمُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ فَمَنِ اهْتَدَى فَإِنَّمَا يَهْتَدِي لِنَفْسِهِ وَمَن ضَلَّ فَإِنَّمَا يَضِلُّ عَلَيْهَا وَمَا أَنَاْ عَلَيْكُم بِوَكِيلٍ
"O mankind! The truth from your Sustainer has now come unto you. Whoever, therefore, chooses to follow the right path, follows it but for his own good; and whoever chooses to go astray, goes but astray to his own hurt. And I am not responsible for your conduct." (Surah Yunus 10:108)
These two ayahs set it straight. We invite the humanity to the Straight Path. Our job is only to deliver the message, not to compel or manipulate people into submission. Neither force nor fancy un-Islamic attractions or methods are to be used for this dawa mission because its purpose is not to win converts but to discharge our responsibility of delivering the message in its pure, unadulterated form.