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Taraweeh Reflections - Night Thirteen

By Khalid Baig

Here are selected verses from the taraweeh recitation for each night with lessons for our lives today.

Juz Fourteen - Surah Hijr and Surah Nahl.

Message of Surah Hijr

Surah Hijr was revealed in the early Makkan period. In fact it contains the ayah that ordered the beginning of public call to Islam. (Hijr, 15:94). It contains stories of the nations of previous prophets. These nations refused to accept the call of the prophets and were destroyed. Stories of Prophets Ibrahim, Lut, Shuaib, and Saleh, may Allah be pleased with them all, are mentioned. The surah ends with two important instructions.

A) Ignore riches of the world

لَا تَمُدَّنَّ عَيْنَيْكَ إِلَىٰ مَا مَتَّعْنَا بِهِ أَزْوَاجًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا تَحْزَنْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَاخْفِضْ جَنَاحَكَ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

[so] turn not your eyes [longingly] towards the worldly benefits which We have granted unto some of those [that deny the truth]. And neither grieve over those [who refuse to heed thee], but spread the wings of thy tenderness over the believers. (Hijr, 15:88)

The riches of this world become a barrier to accepting and following the truth. They are a distraction that could cause a believer to stray from the Straight Path. While we do seek Allah’s blessings in worldly provisions, we should never look at the worldly possessions of others with envy.  This ayah is the strongest antidote to the rat race.

B. Stay the course until the last minute

وَاعْبُدْ رَبَّكَ حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَكَ الْيَقِينُ

And serve your Lord till the Inevitable (death) comes unto you. (Hijr, 15:99)

Our commitment to submit to Allah should not be a fad, a temporary emotional reaction, or a seasonal act (like only in Ramadan). It is a lifelong devotion from which one would not waver despite all the highs and lows of life. The goal is to reach the end of our life in a state of total submission to our Creator.

Surah Al-Nahl

Humble Biological beginnings

 خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ فَإِذَا هُوَ خَصِيمٌ مُّبِينٌ

He has created man from a sperm-drop; and behold this same (man) becomes an open disputer! (Al-Nahl, 16:4)

At many places in the Qur’an we are reminded of our very humble biological beginnings as a check on the tendency to rationalize and philosophize our refusal to obey the commands of our Creator. Remembering how our own life started may give us the perspective so we do not get carried away with our superficial academic arguments. Just visualize a drop of semen arguing with the Creator of the universe.

 How Allah creates

إِنَّمَا قَوْلُنَا لِشَيْءٍ إِذَا أَرَدْنَاهُ أَن نَّقُولَ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ

Whenever We will anything to be, We but say unto it Our word "Be" – and it is. (Al-Nahl, 16:40)

Allah created this world out of nothing. How? Through His command: Be and it was. The resurrection will be the same way.

Asking those who know

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ إِلَّا رِجَالًا نُّوحِي إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ فَاسْأَلُوا أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

We did not send (messengers) before you other than men whom We inspired with revelation. So, ask the people (having the knowledge) of the Reminder (the earlier Scriptures), if you do not know. (Al-Nahl 16:43)

This ayah tells us that those who do not know should ask those who do. While the reason for this is so self-evident, it is amazing how many people insist on doing the opposite when it comes to religious knowledge. People sometimes say Islam does not have a priestly class or a formal church. True, in the sense it was developed by Christianity. However it does not mean that everybody has equal knowledge, or equal right to offer religious opinions regardless of the state of their knowledge. This ayah also informs us that all messengers were men. The essential human equality between the genders (see below) does not call for a negation of their different roles in life.

Most Important Do’s and Don’ts

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ ۚ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

Allah enjoins to do justice and to adopt good behavior and to give relatives (their due rights), and forbids shameful acts, evil deeds and oppressive attitude. He exhorts you, so that you may be mindful. (Al-Nahl 16:90)

This ayah encapsulates the most important Islamic teachings. Three things top the list of do’s: Justice, good behavior, charity. Three top the list of don’ts: Obscenity, injustice, oppression. These are so important to building the Islamic community that we must keep them in front of us all the time. Hence they make an essential part of every Jumuah khutbah.

Essential Equality between men and women

مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

Whoever, male or female, has acted righteously, while being a believer, We shall certainly make him live a good life, and We shall bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions. (Al-Nahl 16:97)

Islam asserts that men and women have separate spheres for their endeavors in this life. But underlying this separateness is a basic moral and human equality. This is mentioned here. When each one of them performs the right deeds based on their station in life, they will get the reward of a pure life here and best recompense in the Hereafter, regardless of their gender.

Calling to Islam

ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ ۖ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَن ضَلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ ۖ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ

Invite (people) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good counsel. And argue with them in the best of manners. Surely, your Lord knows best the one who deviates from His way, and He knows best the ones who are on the right path. (Al-Nahl, 16:125)

This is the essential guidance for anyone engaged in calling others to Islam. We must call others to Islam with wisdom and using the best manners. Even when we have to enter a debate or argument with the non-believers, it must be done in a most beautiful way.