Taraweeh Reflections - Night Eleven
Posted: 9 Ramadan 1434, 18 July 2013
Here are selected verses from the taraweeh recitation for each night with lessons for our lives today.
Essential Qur’anic Message
الَر كِتَابٌ أُحْكِمَتْ آيَاتُهُ ثُمَّ فُصِّلَتْ مِن لَّدُنْ حَكِيمٍ خَبِيرٍ .أَلاَّ تَعْبُدُواْ إِلاَّ اللّهَ إِنَّنِي لَكُم مِّنْهُ نَذِيرٌ وَبَشِيرٌ .وَأَنِ اسْتَغْفِرُواْ رَبَّكُمْ ثُمَّ تُوبُواْ إِلَيْهِ يُمَتِّعْكُم مَّتَاعًا حَسَنًا إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى وَيُؤْتِ كُلَّ ذِي فَضْلٍ فَضْلَهُ وَإِن تَوَلَّوْاْ فَإِنِّيَ أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ كَبِيرٍ .إِلَى اللّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ .
Alif , Lām , Rā . (This is) a book the verses of which have been made firm, and elaborated by the One who is All Wise, All Aware. (It teaches) that you should worship none but Allah. (Say): "Verily I am (sent) unto you from Him to warn and to bring glad tidings. Ask your Sustainer to forgive you your sins, and then turn towards Him in repentance - [whereupon] He will grant you a goodly enjoyment of life [in this world] until a term set [by Him is fulfilled]; and [in the life to come] He will bestow upon everyone possessed of merit [a full reward for] his merit. But if you turn away, then, verily, I dread for you the suffering [which is bound to befall you] on that awesome Day. To Allah is your return, and He is powerful over everything.” (Hud 11:1-4)
This book contains clear and firm guidance for the entire life. It comes from the All-Wise, all-Knowing Creator. It provides certain knowledge, not conjectures and speculations. The guidance covers our entire life, not just spiritual life, and promises total success. Those who follow it will also get a goodly enjoyment of this worldly life. Those who refuse to follow it stand to get the terrible punishment when they return to Allah.
In essence the message is to realize the reality of the eternal life to come (akhirah) and lead an akhirah oriented life in this world.
Joys and Pains of this life
لَئِنْ أَذَقْنَا الإِنْسَانَ مِنَّا رَحْمَةً ثُمَّ نَزَعْنَاهَا مِنْهُ إِنَّهُ لَيَئُوسٌ كَفُورٌ .وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ نَعْمَاء بَعْدَ ضَرَّاء مَسَّتْهُ لَيَقُولَنَّ ذَهَبَ السَّيِّئَاتُ عَنِّي إِنَّهُ لَفَرِحٌ فَخُورٌ .إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ صَبَرُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ أُوْلَـئِكَ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ
And thus it is: if We let man taste some of Our grace, and then take it away from him – behold, he abandons all hope, forgetting all gratitude [for Our past favors]. And thus it is: if We give him a taste of comfort after a hardship has touched him, he will say, “Evils have gone away from me”, (and thus) He will become over-exulting, boastful. [And thus it is with most men –] save those who are patient in adversity and do righteous deeds: it is they whom forgiveness of sins awaits, and a great reward. (Hud 11:9-11)
The big barrier to following an akhirah oriented life is the human weakness of being a slave to the present moment. Hardships in the now make us desperate; joys in the now make us exultant because we cannot see beyond the immediate. Patience and righteousness help man overcome this tendency and make us see the bigger picture of life, thereby promising forgiveness for our mistakes and great reward for our good deeds.
It may be noted that the pop culture and the consumerist society thrive on the desire for instant gratification. Marketing experts learn the art of exploiting this human weakness. And with the latest electronic toys, with their click-click and now tap-tap world, where results come in split seconds, this natural human weakness is taken to extremes. While we use them we need to take extra steps to counter these tendencies.
Pursuit of Happiness or Disaster
مَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَزِينَتَهَا نُوَفِّ إِلَيْهِمْ أَعْمَالَهُمْ فِيهَا وَهُمْ فِيهَا لاَ يُبْخَسُونَ .أُوْلَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ لَيْسَ لَهُمْ فِي الآخِرَةِ إِلاَّ النَّارُ وَحَبِطَ مَا صَنَعُواْ فِيهَا وَبَاطِلٌ مَّا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ .
Those who seek (merely) the worldly life and its beauty, We shall repay them in full for all that they did in this [life], and they shall not be deprived of their just due therein. It is they who, in the life to come, shall have nothing but the fire – for in vain shall be all that they wrought in this [world], and worthless all that they ever did! (Hud 11:15-16)
This is again a very powerful reminder that a life led based on the idea that this world is all there is to it is entirely wasted. Good deeds performed without belief and without expectation of reward in the Hereafter are rewarded in this world. Such a person may get luxuries of this life and fame here, but nothing but disaster in the eternal life.
Having the right motives and intentions is so important!
Response to those who mock our religion
وَيَصْنَعُ الْفُلْكَ وَكُلَّمَا مَرَّ عَلَيْهِ مَلأٌ مِّن قَوْمِهِ سَخِرُواْ مِنْهُ قَالَ إِن تَسْخَرُواْ مِنَّا فَإِنَّا نَسْخَرُ مِنكُمْ كَمَا تَسْخَرُونَ .
He started making the Ark. Whenever the chieftains of his people passed by him, they scoffed at him. [Thereupon] he said: "If you are scoffing at us – behold, we are scoffing at you [and your ignorance], just as you are scoffing at us. (Hud 11:38)
There is great support and inspiration here for those struggling to swim against the popular currents. As they know too well, the most visible symbols of an Islamic life are generally also the favorite targets of this popular pressure. Thus we see that in many Muslim countries even such a simple act as growing a beard (or observing hijab for women) are treated as crimes punishable by public ridicule! To go beyond that and challenge any of the established un-Islamic practices qualifies one to be labeled as a fanatic!
This episode from the story of Prophet Noah is so telling. His final act of building the ark was considered proof-positive by his people of him being out of his mind. Building a ship in an area nearly a thousand miles away from the sea! What could be crazier than that! They were having a great time, making fun of Prophet Noah. Little did they realize that soon the Flood would wash away all of their ignorant self-assurance. One can imagine their horror when the end finally came, for it must have been in proportion to their delusion till that point.
We must realize that the most ridiculous thing would be for anyone to leave the Straight Path for fear of being ridiculed by those who are happily rushing on their path to eternal doom. The most laughable act is to trade truth for Falsehood for fear of being laughed at. The craziest deed would be to knowingly disobey Allah for fear of being called crazy!
وَلاَ تَرْكَنُواْ إِلَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ فَتَمَسَّكُمُ النَّارُ وَمَا لَكُم مِّن دُونِ اللّهِ مِنْ أَوْلِيَاء ثُمَّ لاَ تُنصَرُونَ
And do not incline towards those who are bent on evildoing lest the fire [of the Hereafter] touch you: for [then] you would have none to protect you from Allah, nor would you ever be helped [by Him]. (Hud 11:113)
There is a stern warning here that we should never lend any support to the powers of oppression and injustice.
Destruction of Nations
وَمَا كَانَ رَبُّكَ لِيُهْلِكَ الْقُرَى بِظُلْمٍ وَأَهْلُهَا مُصْلِحُونَ
Your Lord is not such that He would destroy the towns unjustly while their people are good in their ways. (Hud 11:117)
This should set our perspective right on the causes of and way out from the destruction going on around the world.