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Taraweeh Reflections - Night Eighteen

By Khalid Baig

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

Juz Ninteen - Surahs Furqan, Shu'ara, and Naml

Surah Furqan

Friendships

وَيَوْمَ يَعَضُّ الظَّالِمُ عَلَىٰ يَدَيْهِ يَقُولُ يَا لَيْتَنِي اتَّخَذْتُ مَعَ الرَّسُولِ سَبِيلًايَا وَيْلَتَىٰ لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أَتَّخِذْ فُلَانًا خَلِيلًالَّقَدْ أَضَلَّنِي عَنِ الذِّكْرِ بَعْدَ إِذْ جَاءَنِي ۗ وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِلْإِنسَانِ خَذُولًا

And (be mindful of) the Day the wrongdoer will bite his hands saying, “Would that I had taken a path along with the Messenger! Oh, woe to me! Would that I had not taken so-and-so for a friend! He did lead me astray from the Message (of Allah) after it had come to me! Ah! Satan is but a traitor to man! (Furqan, 25:27-29).

This is direct reference to the case of Uqba ibn Abu Mu'ayt, who accepted Islam then turned back and even spat on the face of the Prophet under the pressure of his friend Ubay ibn Khalaf. Both of them reached an evil end. But the wording is general and is a reminder that we should never accept as friends those people who may lead us away from the path of the Messenger.  If we do we’ll get nothing but regrets in the end. A hadith makes it very clear: “Every one is influenced by his friends, so watch out whom are you befriending.” [Bukhari]

The Qur’an and Us

وَقَالَ الرَّسُولُ يَا رَبِّ إِنَّ قَوْمِي اتَّخَذُوا هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ مَهْجُورًا

And [on that Day] the Messenger will say: "O my Sustainer! Behold, [some of] my people have come to regard this Qur’ān as a thing to be shunned" (Furqan, 25:30)

The reference in my people (Qaumi) is to the mushrikeen of Quraish. But the general wording should give pause to the Muslims whose behavior fits the description. Today we have severed the link between the Qur’an and our daily life. We do not read it, try to understand it, reflect on it, and make it the guiding light for the individual and collective affairs of our life as we ought to do. To the extent that we are deficient in these obligations, we are liable to be accused as mentioned here. May Allah protect us from the Qur’an and the Prophet becoming our accusers.

Portrait of Believers

This surah ends with another snap shot of the character of believers. As mentioned in the reflections on Surah Muminoon, these should not be seen as so many disjointed commands, but as pointers to the desirable personality. These are the people who can affectionately be called the servants of the Most Merciful.

It is also to be noted that the qualities are listed not as goals but accomplishments. These ayahs are not saying, “O believers do this.” Rather they are saying, “Believers are already doing this.” At other places in the Qur’an believers have been praised for virtuous acts though they were not commanded to do them in the Qur’an. Reflecting on this will enlighten us about both the role of the Prophet and that of the Companions. The Companions either learned these directly from the Prophet, Sall-Alalhu Alayhi wa sallam, or as a result of Prophetic training, they developed that mindset that automatically led them to the praiseworthy course of action.

Qualities
They walk humbly (63)
They avoid arguments with the ignorant people. (63)
They spend the nights in worship of Allah (64)
They follow the path of moderation in economic matters. They are neither spendthrift nor stingy. (67)
They respect sanctity of life. (68)
They do not commit fornication or adultery. (68)
They do not bear false witness. (72)
They do not turn deaf and dumb to the words of Allah. (73)
They seek and pray for raising a family based on piety and virtue. (74)

Shuara

Pharoah and Political Islam

قَالَ لِلْمَلَإِ حَوْلَهُ إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَسَاحِرٌ عَلِيمٌ . يُرِيدُ أَن يُخْرِجَكُم مِّنْ أَرْضِكُم بِسِحْرِهِ فَمَاذَا تَأْمُرُونَ

He (Pharaoh) said to the chiefs around him “This man is certainly an expert sorcerer”. He wants to expel you from your land with his sorcery. So what do you suggest?” (Shuara, 26:34-35)

The encounters of Prophet Moses with the Pharaoh are reported in several places in the Qur’an including here. It is obvious that both Pharaoh and his expert advisers were looking at the “problem” of Moses as a political problem. For them it was all about a power struggle. They painted Moses as the leader of a “political Islam” that threatened to drive them from power and fashioned their strategy and propaganda campaigns accordingly. In surah Taha we see them calling Moses as a threat to their superior life style. “Said they, ‘Certainly, these two are sorcerers who wish to drive you out from your land, and do away with your excellent way of life.’” (Taha, 20:63).

This preoccupation with the political analysis became the big barrier that kept him and his advisers from seeing the Truth.

Namal

Self-Righteousness

وَمَا كَانَ جَوَابَ قَوْمِهِ إِلاَّ أَن قَالُواْ أَخْرِجُوهُم مِّن قَرْيَتِكُمْ إِنَّهُمْ أُنَاسٌ يَتَطَهَّرُونَ

But his people’s only answer was this: "Expel [Lut and] Lut’s followers from your township! Verily, they are folk who make themselves out to be pure!" (Namal, 27:56)

The people of Prophet Lut Alayhis Sallam not only invented the heinous practice of homosexuality they also fashioned a propaganda weapon for fighting those who would try to stop them. As quoted above they blamed Prophet Lut and his associates of being self-righteous. With this one word you can stop anyone and everyone from pointing out any wrongs. If you dare to say that what someone is saying or doing is wrong, you will be immediately convicted of being self-righteous. And there is no sin greater than that. In fact after a person has been so convicted, normal logic or common sense does not apply either.

Needless to say the term does not belong in the Islamic discourse. Muslims have had lot of debates in their history on the actions and words of each other. But you do not find the use of this word in these debates. In fact the entire institution of amr bil maroof wa nahi unil munkar, so central to Islam, can be disbanded if we continue to allow the use of this term.