Taraweeh Reflections - Night Fourteen
Posted: 11 Ramadan 1434, 20 July 2013
Here are selected verses from the taraweeh recitation for each night with lessons for our lives today.
Juz Fifteen - Surah Isra.
This juz begins with Surah Isra (also known as Surah Bani Israel). The very first ayah establishes the permanent, irrevocable importance of Masjid Aqsa for Muslims. It refers to the miraculous night journey of Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, from Makkah to Jerusalem and from there to the high heavens for a meeting with Allah, Most High. The second part of this journey is known as Mi’raj or Ascension. This second part is mentioned later in Surah Najam (53).
The five daily prayers were ordained during Mi’raj and are referred to in ayah 78 in this surah.
This event took place toward the end of the Makkan period and signified the beginning of a new era where Islam would be established as a state. Thus important commandments for collective life were given in this surah in ayahs 22-39.
لاَّ تَجْعَل مَعَ اللّهِ إِلَـهًا آخَرَ فَتَقْعُدَ مَذْمُومًا مَّخْذُولاً
DO NOT set up any other deity side by side with Allah, otherwise you will find yourself disgraced and forsaken. (Isra, 17:22)
ذَلِكَ مِمَّا أَوْحَى إِلَيْكَ رَبُّكَ مِنَ الْحِكْمَةِ وَلاَ تَجْعَلْ مَعَ اللّهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ فَتُلْقَى فِي جَهَنَّمَ مَلُومًا مَّدْحُورًا
This is part of that knowledge of right and wrong with which thy Sustainer has revealed to you. Hence, do not set up any other deity side by side with Allah, lest you be cast into hell, blamed [by yourself] and rejected [by Him]! (Isra, 17:39)
The list begins and ends with the reminder that we must not worship anyone except Allah alone. Tauheed is the cornerstone of Islamic life and shirk (polytheism) is its exact opposite.
Corrupt practices have corrupt ideas behind them and to remove the corruption form our lives, we must begin with the purification of our ideas and beliefs. Thus tauheed is the all important concept and a talk of good deeds is meaningless without it.
وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلاَّ تَعْبُدُواْ إِلاَّ إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلاَهُمَا فَلاَ تَقُل لَّهُمَآ أُفٍّ وَلاَ تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلاً كَرِيمًا وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا
Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and do good unto your parents. If any one of them or both of them reach old age, do not say to them: uff (a word or expression of anger or disgust) and do not scold them, and address them with respectful words. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: "My Lord! bestow on them your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood." (Isra, 17:23-24)
These ayahs set the bar for kindness to parents so high that no one can ever be complacent about it and think that they have done all that they should have done. And to compensate for our shortcomings, we should be regularly praying for our parents as mentioned in the second ayah.
It should be kept in mind that parents have rights even when they are non-Muslims. In the hierarchy of rights, parental rights are the greatest among all the rights of other human beings. But they are subservient to the rights of Allah. Thus one cannot revoke obedience to Allah under the command of his or her parents. Although even in that situation politeness is required.
وَآتِ ذَا الْقُرْبَى حَقَّهُ وَالْمِسْكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَلاَ تُبَذِّرْ تَبْذِيرًا إِنَّ الْمُبَذِّرِينَ كَانُواْ إِخْوَانَ الشَّيَاطِينِ وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِرَبِّهِ كَفُورًا
And render to the kindred their due rights, as (also) to those in want, and to the wayfarer: But squander not (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the satans; and the Satan is very ungrateful to his Sustainer. (Isra, 17:26-27)
There are two related terms used in the Qur’an regarding improper spending. Tabzeer, used here, is spending on projects for which no spending is justified. Israf, mentioned elsewhere, is spending extravagantly for permissible purposes. Both are condemned. Unfortunately, both are very common in the Muslim world today. Witness the extravagant spending in weddings and celebrations so common today one might think that it was normal or fine.
Killing children for fear of poverty
وَلاَ تَقْتُلُواْ أَوْلادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلاقٍ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُم إنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْءًا كَبِيرًا
Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide sustenance to them and to you, too. Killing them is a great sin indeed. (Isra, 17:31)
This also refers to abortions. While the ayah refers to the economic motive, as it was the common motive in pre-Islamic Jahilya, it is obvious that killing for other reasons is no more permissible. Birth control for fear of poverty, as a personal or national project, is also prohibited in Islam.
Adultery and Fornication
وَلاَ تَقْرَبُواْ الزِّنَى إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَسَاء سَبِيلاً
Do not even go close to fornication. It is indeed a shameful act, and an evil way to follow. (Isra, 17:32)
Islam does not just prohibit all extra-marital sex, it also closes the doors that may lead to it. The problem today is that while societies claim that they want to eliminate adultery, they insist on leaving open all the channels that lead to it. It is in direct violation of this command that today’s media based commercial and cultural propaganda campaigns have put the inviting picture of a woman on every square inch of available space.
وَلاَ تَقْتُلُواْ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللّهُ إِلاَّ بِالحَقِّ وَمَن قُتِلَ مَظْلُومًا فَقَدْ جَعَلْنَا لِوَلِيِّهِ سُلْطَانًا فَلاَ يُسْرِف فِّي الْقَتْلِ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مَنْصُورًا
And do not take any human being’s life – [the life] which Allah has willed to be sacred – otherwise than in [the pursuit of] justice. Hence, if anyone has been slain wrongfully, We have empowered his heir [to exact a just retribution]; but even so, let him not exceed the bounds of equity in [retributive] killing. Surely, he will be helped. (Isra, 17:33)
Killing is permitted only in the execution of a legal sentence or in a just war or in individual, legitimate self-defense. The overriding concern for justice demands that we avoid excesses in both directions: in letting murderers go unpunished or going beyond limits in punishing the murderer and even others merely suspected of capital crimes.
وَلاَ تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولـئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْؤُولاً
And pursue not that of which you have no knowledge; verily, [your] hearing and sight and heart – all of them – will be called to account for it [on Judgment Day]. (Isra, 17:36)
This is banning idle curiosities, vain pursuits, and all pointless uses of our faculties of sense and intellect. This is the stuff that fills up most of the modern media and countless hours in Internet surfing, chatting, and texting. Our use of our faculties must be made with a heavy sense of responsibility and accountability before Allah.
وَلاَ تَمْشِ فِي الأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّكَ لَن تَخْرِقَ الأَرْضَ وَلَن تَبْلُغَ الْجِبَالَ طُولاً
And walk not on earth with haughty self-conceit: for, verily, you can never rend the earth asunder, nor can you ever grow as tall as the mountains! (Isra, 17:37)
This is meant to cut the megalomaniacs of all grades to size. A six foot tall human being walking arrogantly on the face of this vast earth, in comparison to which he is nothing more than a spec, makes an interesting spectacle. Let us be honest--- and be humble.