Taraweeh Reflections - Juz 30
Posted: 28 Ramadan 1434, 6 AuguSt 2013
Here are selected verses from the taraweeh recitation for each night with lessons for our lives today.
لَّا يَسْمَعُونَ فِيهَا لَغْوًا وَلَا كِذَّابًا
No vanity shall they hear therein, nor Untruth. (Naba, 78:35)
For most people the idea of having a nice time in a luxurious garden setting invariably involves gossip with friends. And gossip, in order to be fun, easily turns into vain talks and even accounts-which-are-not-so. By promising their total absence in Paradise, the Qur’an is reforming our idea of fun. Paradise is the ideal place. Every possible means of joy will be there. If something will not be there, that is sufficient evidence that that thing is not enjoyable or desirable, regardless of its appearance.
Got it Made?
فَأَمَّا الْإِنسَانُ إِذَا مَا ابْتَلَاهُ رَبُّهُ فَأَكْرَمَهُ وَنَعَّمَهُ فَيَقُولُ رَبِّي أَكْرَمَنِ
As for man, when his Sustainer tries him, giving him honor and bounties, he says (puffed up), “My Lord has honored me.” (Fajr, 89:15)
This is the shallow person. With his very narrow perspective, he sees the achievements in this life as rewards instead of tests. The person in this ayah still remembers God. Many today simply say, “I got it made.” The easily puffed up also is easily turned to despair when going goes tough as the next ayah says.
وَأَمَّا إِذَا مَا ابْتَلَاهُ فَقَدَرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقَهُ فَيَقُولُ رَبِّي أَهَانَنِ
But when He tries him, and thus straitens his provision for him, he says (in despair), "My Lord hath humiliated me!" (Fajr, 89:16)
Immediately after describing these habits the Qur’an adds an emphatic kalla. Nay. Not at all. This is not so. If you accumulated lot of wealth, position and prestige in this world, this does not necessarily mean Allah is pleased with you. If you have none of these, it does not necessarily mean that Allah is angry with you. It is the beginning of wisdom that we stop confusing the test with the test results.
Perspective on Iqra
اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ
Read in the name of your Sustainer, who has created. (Iqra, 96:1).
This is the very first ayah that started the revelations that lasted for twenty three years.
It is a very famous ayah. It is also a greatly misused ayah. We frequently hear that the first Qur’anic command was to read. With that we justify all sorts of activities that go on in the name of education.
The irony is that we stop reading immediately after the word “read.” For the very first command was not simply “Read.” It was “Read in the name of your Lord.” And there is a world of difference between the two.
To understand the difference, we can look more closely at the revelations. The very first revelation consisted of five ayahs. It began with this ayah and ended with, “He taught man what he did not know.” (96:5). The command was not to read anything and everything, but to read with a purpose and a proper perspective. Allah is the source of true knowledge. And the command is to acquire that knowledge.
The remaining ayahs of this surah were revealed sometime later. And here is how the surah that began with the word Iqra ended: “bow down in sajdah, and come close to Me.” (96:19). This is the logical result of reading done in the name of Allah. It impels the person to prostrate himself before his Creator and thus brings him close to Him. We can judge whether we are reading as commanded by seeing if it is producing the result as mentioned in the command.
The entire sequence of revelations ended twenty-three years later. And it is also very instructive to see how that happened. The very last ayah to be revealed said: And be conscious of the Day on which you shall be brought back unto Allah, whereupon every human being shall be repaid in full for what he has earned, and none shall be wronged. (2:281).
This is the ultimate result of reading in the name of Allah. The command to read was clearly leading in this direction, making us lead Hereafter-conscious lives. If our reading is not doing the same then we are not really following the command. It is a great travesty that our current education systems are promoted and justified by invoking this ayah, although they are not at all informed by it.
For a fuller discussion of what is wrong with our current education systems please see, “Rethinking Education.”