Holy Quran · Islam

The Beauty of The Holy Qur’an

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By Navida Sayed, London

The Holy Qur’an is a unique living book like no other conveying a timeless and universal message relevant for all times. What makes the Qur’an unique and distinct is that it can be referred to as a life manual, a study guide and an amazing book of knowledge about the entire universe. There is not a single aspect the Qur’an does not cover relating to the development of humans and social behaviour, foresight about archaeological and scientific discoveries or inventions or prophecies of the past, present, or future. The beauty and wisdom of the Qur’an also provides a source of spiritual healing and is a guiding light for the entire mankind; in relation to this the Holy Qur’an says:

‘…There has come to you indeed from Allah a Light and a clear Book.

Thereby does Allah guide those who seek His pleasure on the paths of peace, and leads them out of every kind of darkness into light by His will, and guides them to the right path.’ (Al Maidah 5:16-17)

Many critics challenge the authorship of the Qur’an and the knowledge of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who was unlettered and dwelling in the Arabian Peninsula 1,400 years ago. Every critical mind boggles at how the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) could have produced a magnificent, deeply insightful book reflecting on every concept, problem and solution and knowledge about the universe?

The truth is that the Holy Qur’an in its entirety is the Word of God revealed to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). It is a miraculous inspirational book because of it eloquence and splendour. The text of the Qur’an has been preserved intact and every word of it has come down to us as free from interference and interpolation exactly in the same original Arabic as it was revealed to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). The Qur’an is the final law-bearing religious scripture revealed by God and what sets it apart from other holy scriptures is that since its revelation, no individual has ever been able to reproduce a single chapter like that of the Qur’an which is clearly foretold in this Quranic verse:

‘And if you are in doubt as to what We have sent down to Our servant, then produce a Chapter like it, and call upon your helpers beside Allah, if you are truthful.’ (Al Baqarah 2:24)

This challenge remains unanswered to this very day.

The Holy Qur’an outlines a golden principle for establishment of world peace. Regardless of theological differences the Qur’an instructs us to promote unity and cohesion by having respect for all religions, their founders and their scriptures. This beautiful teaching of social integration results in mutual respect and understanding between the followers of all faiths.

The intriguing and most fascinating fact about the Holy Qur’an is that it does not contradict modern science but rather supports it. The Qur’an encompasses and encapsulates every scientific phenomenon known to the world, which has been discovered only recently, through the modern advancement of technological equipment. The Holy Qur’an gives foresight into facts relating to the developmental stages of the human embryo. The Qur’an also mentions astronomical facts about stars, planets, moons and the creation of the world in different stages. Modern science has also discovered what the Qur’an told us about the existence of barriers that allow two seas to merge yet maintain their own temperature, density and salinity, for example as is the case of the Panama Canal

There are absolutely no contradictions in the Holy Qur’an whatsoever relating to science, astronomy, geology, archaeology or even history. The Qur’an highlights the true stories of previous Prophets, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jesus and Moses and in relation to this the Holy Qur’an says:

‘Assuredly, in their narrative is a lesson for men of understanding. It is not a thing that has been forged, but a fulfilment of that which is before it and a detailed exposition of all things, and a guidance and a mercy to a people who believe.’ (12:112)

Emphasising on world peace the Holy Qur’an teaches us that this journey begins with an individual, extending to his family and then to the wider society. Once a nation achieves peace, this can contribute to international peace. Every step of this journey has been dealt with comprehensively in the Holy Qur’an in relation to human rights, women’s rights, matrimonial relationships, rights of children and parents, rights of the orphan, rights of neighbour’s and other individuals in society.

Most importantly, the Qur’an teaches that the purpose of life is to worship God alone, and live one’s life according to the way of life prescribed by Him this also includes to live honestly, humbly and modestly. The Holy Qur’an teaches us to be thankful, just, patient and charitable hence fulfilling our true purpose in life, and attaining success in both this world and the next.

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Holy Quran · Islam

Freedom of Speech & Its Limits – Finding the Middle Path

Freedom of Speech & its limits.png

Iffat Mirza, London

The development of the notion of freedom of speech in the West has run parallel to the construction of democracy in its states. Looking at British history, we see that the 18th and 19th centuries were ridden with laws that suppressed any organisation, literature, or activity that was seen as a threat to the ruling order. With laws such as the 1795 Treasonable Practices Act and Prevention of Seditious Meetings Act, the government was able to establish its dominance over the country and limit the consciences of those who dared question their rule. Ideals of freedom of speech were reactions to these laws. Freedom of speech was created in order to facilitate a true democracy, and we can see the direct correlation between the increase in freedom of speech and the progress of democracy.

Now we must ask the question why this has once again become a big issue now? Well, the idea of political correctness has taken hold, which many see as an attack on freedom of speech. We have seen recent examples of Boris Johnson’s controversial statements on the burka and Geert Wilders’ proposed Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ‘drawing contest’ (now thankfully cancelled), and once again the debate over freedom of speech has risen again. However, I would argue that both stunts were nothing more than political charades and had very little to do with protecting freedom of speech. It must be clarified to all that freedom of speech is not synonymous with right to hurt. Freedom of speech is a tool that helps us grow as individuals and societies. We must set ourselves boundaries to distinguish what is acceptable and constructive dialogue, and what is simply an excuse to tyrannise.

In any case of conflict or difference of opinions, dialogue is essential to advance as a society, therefore we must welcome an atmosphere of trust and respect where each and every member can share their opinion and worries over any topic, regardless of how sensitive it may be. Yes, freedom of speech is our right, and indeed, a right that must be exercised to ensure true democratic rule.

However, it is also a responsibility that must be taken seriously. We can vocalise our opinions without dehumanising and hurting people. Freedom of speech is not being threatened by those who take offence at hurtful words. It is being threatened by those who defend their bigotry under the shield of freedom of speech. A shield that is increasingly being worn thin. By stubbornly using the guise of freedom of speech to offend others, we are limiting constructive dialogue as we are focussing more on our right to speak rather than our need to speak.

The Holy Qur’an captures the essence of how freedom of speech should be approached by encouraging an attitude of moderation. In Chapter 2, Verse 144, which can be understood as ‘We have made you into a nation which adheres to the middle path…’, God has taught us to strike a balance in all that we do and this will most definitely ensure a peaceful and harmonious society. If this teaching were to be applied to freedom of speech we would learn that freedom of speech is necessary to challenge us and to help us grow. We would learn to see the world from other perspectives and in doing so learn more about our own perspective. But neither would we take it to such an extreme that we are not facilitating conversation, but are instead screaming over each other, resulting in a lot of words with very little meaning. So, it is in treading the middle path that we can do justice to freedom of speech.

Holy Quran · Islam

A Colour That Never Fades

Arfa Blog

 

Arfa Niswan Yassir, Swindon

It is stated in the Holy Qur’an:

 صِبْغَةَ اللَّهِ ۖ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ اللَّهِ صِبْغَةً ۖ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ عَابِدُونَ

Translation: “Say, ‘We will adopt the religion of Allah; and who is better than Allah in teaching religion, and Him alone do we worship.’ (2:139)

Quranic commentary tells us that this verse is about colouring ourselves in God’s colour because His colour is the best. This indeed gives a new meaning to the word ‘colour’ and this is a beautiful expression everyone can relate to. It showcases the beauty of expression of the Holy Qur’an. ‘Colour’ is used so often in our lives in various contexts like the term ‘black or white’, then there are colours of races, flags are represented by colours and patterns. So Allah unites all forms of colour under one best colour that is the colour of Allah!

According to commentary of the Holy Qur’an the Arabic word in the verse صبغہ means dye or colour, mode of a thing, religion, baptism and code of laws.

The commentary also tells us that adopting the colour of Allah is the true baptism, that is, an initiation through which one can try to acquire Divine attributes on a human level and try and be a living manifestation of the same.

Like every other instruction in Qur’an this verse also demands thought and action. By reflecting on it and then putting it in practice we can fulfil the purpose of our existence i.e.  We colour our lives in His Colour. If we make this our goal, our objective and reason to be ultimately becomes our strength. Of course it’s difficult to maintain His colour in the presence of so many tempting colours of the world! However, we can pray and earnestly try for it! Though the colours of the world are tempting but their reality is nothing. So we need to strive to think, ponder and move from the superficial worldly colours to the enduring divine colours i.e. the attributes of Allah which we need to adopt on a human level and try and demonstrate in our lives.

Allah’s colour, His religion, His code of law is what constitutes the Holy Qur’an and it was also Allah’s colour that was demonstrated in the blessed life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).

The process of adopting Allah’s colour is a wonderful journey, journey worth spending all our efforts on! So now is the time to take steps towards Allah before it is too late! To attain His colour should be the greater focus of life towards which all other intentions should be directed. This also means knowing how to keep moving in the right direction during the toughest of times, trying one’s best to keep one’s direction towards Allah.

His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the fifth spiritual head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community mentioned and explained the aforementioned Quranic verse in one of his Friday Sermons a few years ago. He said:

“By adopting Divine attributes a person gains nearness to God. When a believer imbues God’s colour he or she attain his or her purpose of creation. He or she tries to practice that which God likes and tries and resists what God dislikes. The commandment ‘to adopt the religion/colour of God’ signifies that God has put the capacity in humans to adopt His attributes within their own sphere and to also demonstrate them. For example, man can adopt the Divine qualities of Malikiyyat (quality of being the Master), Rahmaniyyat (quality of being Gracious), Raheemiyyat (quality of being Merciful) and Rububiyyat (quality of being the Sustainer/Nurturer) on human level. Man can adopt the quality of being Sattar (One Who covers the faults of others) and of Wahab (the Bestower), in fact these qualities are sometimes demonstrated in the life of an ordinary person. A true believer imbues the colours/qualities of God to attract His love. It is essential to demonstrate these qualities to attract the love of God, to save humanity from sin and to attain the purpose of one’s creation. Ultimately, this demonstration becomes a source of merit in God’s sight.”[i]

Although this journey of adopting colour of Allah is a most fulfilling spiritual experience, it is not an easy way. It demands sacrifice of worldly wishes and desires, it demands a complete state of fanaa, a state where one is completely absorbed and devoted to Allah.

May Allah deepen HIS colour in our souls! AMEEN

 

[i] https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/2012-08-10.html#summary-tab

Holy Quran · Islam

The Illuminating Verse

Illuminating Verse

Arfa Niswan Yassir, Swindon

Since the past one month this verse (or should I say part of a Quranic verse) remains somewhere at the back of my mind somehow, and every mention of light or Nur makes me think about it. The verse is as given below:

اَللہُ نُوْرُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الْاَرْضِ

Surah Al-Nur verse 36: “Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth…”

The word Nur is found in Arabic, Persian and Urdu. It can be translated as light, transfiguration, manifestation, beauty, gorgeousness etc.
‘The Light’ or Al Nur is also one of the names/attributes of Allah the Almighty.

Light as described by English dictionaries is an entity that stimulates sight, makes things visible. Physics suggests it as energy or particles called photons. But the light being mentioned in this verse requires ‘vision’ rather than ‘sight’. Light as a natural agent also requires us to have sight, similarly Allah’s light Nur also requires something from us i.e. vision!

In the spiritual world ‘light’ is precisely referred to as guidance and ‘darkness’ as absence of guidance or ” This light is not just illumination or brightness but energy as well; positive energy. So this light has a broader meaning than just illumination, it means that in order to make sense of anything in our world we need to absorb this Nur according to our capability and willingness. Just like in order to see anything around us we need the light of the physical world similarly through Allah’s Nur we can make sense of the things going on around us. Light travels in a straight line and for the spiritual path to seek Allah’s light we also need to tread the straight path, which in Quranic idiom is the ‘right path’ Siratal Mustaqeem.
Light in the broader sense can be understood in three contexts:

1. The light around us.
2. The light that is absorbed, i.e. we contain.
3. The light that is reflected (As by the Prophets and spiritually exalted people and through God’s holy books).

The Light Around Us
A true believer must strive to absorb & retain this light through thick and thin that is why the colour of the flag of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) was black! Black absorbs all light, all shades of light. We require a lifetime to absorb and retain this light. Reminds me of a quote by the celebrated 13 century Persian mystic and poet Maulana Rumi:

‘The wound is where the light enters your soul’

Well, basically this depends upon the person, the wound can also be the place from where the entire light could exit as well! Tough and trying situations would have different impact on two different hearts. So a willing heart might find light from any source experience or happening while an unwilling heart might chose to dwell in darkness. But it’s always around!

The Light We Absorb
Shown in our thoughts and actions.

It is written in Mathnawi, series of six books of poetry by Maulana Rumi:

The light which shines in the eye
is really the light of the heart.
The light which fills the heart
is the light of God, which is pure
and separate from the light of intellect and sense.

 Mathnawi 1:1126-7

Light That Is Reflected
Allah’s light is manifested as divine guidance through Holy books revealed by Him, His Prophets, spiritually exalted people who tread His path and reflect His light from which others can seek beneficence.

Further Quranic References of The Light:
In Surah Al-Baqarah verse 257 it is stated: ‘There should be no compulsion in religion…’ The verse goes on to say Allah has sent His religious law (Shariah) to distinguish between right and wrong and in the very next verse Allah states:

“Allah is the friend of those who believe: He brings them out of every kind of darkness into light. And those who disbelieve, their friends are the transgressors who bring them out of the light into every kind of darkness…’

So the believers are promised Allah’s help to move out of darkness into light Nur.

In Surah Al Taubah, verse 32 Allah states:

‘They desire to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths; but Allah will permit nothing expect that He will perfect His light, though the unbelievers may dislike it.’

Hence this light is always there around us, willing hearts can absorb it and reflect it as well. Allah explicitly states that no human activity can put this light out, this is an affirming statement for us.
This light, this Nur is the bigger purpose of life, this light is happiness, this light is the real beauty that we need to develop in ourselves and find in others, this light is the objective of life, this light is the destination. This light can be absorbed & retained with total surrender. Only then we can actually ‘reflect’ the light to others. Just disliking darkness is not enough to travel towards light we need to tread the straight path, which is the ‘right path’.

 

Holy Quran · Islam · Trust in Allah

Is Not Allah Sufficient For His Servant?

Is not Allah sufficient for His servant-BLOG

Arfa Yassir, Swindon

Allah, the Supreme Being, is fully aware of the weaknesses and short comings of His creation. Though we may, as humans, over-estimate or under-estimate our powers at times, Allah knows how helpless human beings are, how weak at heart or mind we may become. Also only He knows our true potential. We may become weak when we encounter tough times, we may become arrogant over our success but this glorious Quranic verse gives us the right attitude in life. Allah states:

“Is not Allah sufficient for His servant?…’[i]

This is the mind-set and attitude a believer must maintain in his or her thought and action at all times. In tough and trying times these affirming words from Allah save us from helplessness and depression and give us peace and confidence. They make us mindful that neither our skill, planning, worldly resources, people, power nor influence can save us but only Allah can! Hence no matter how tough the situation gets we will not lose hope knowing that Allah will help us find a way. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) is known to have said:

‘Were you to put your complete trust in Allah, He would provide for you as He provides for the birds. They issue forth hungry in the morning and return filled in the evening.’[ii]

Allah is sufficient for His servant not only for physical needs but also for spiritual needs. He has been sending His Prophets to all people. For the most perfect and complete spiritual nourishment He blessed the world with a Prophet for all the peoples of the world, and for all times, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) and revealed the Holy Qur’an to him.

In times of success and achievement the words of the Quranic verse help us keep our feet on the ground because we realise we owe our success to Allah. It is only because of Him that we have been able to do anything at all, as He is sufficient for His servant.

Of course in no way does this verse imply that we should stop using our skills and struggle for worldly resources, what it teaches is to bear in mind that after putting the best of our effort into something the results may only be achieved with Allah’s help. Many times we see in our personal lives that even though we use all resources at our disposal we still cannot achieve what we aim for because Allah does not will so. And many times we know that we cannot do something or something is not possible still we are able to achieve our goal only because of special help from Allah.

If we ponder a little we may see that this verse demands two things from us:

Firstly, to actually believe firmly and realise that Allah is enough for His servant.

Secondly, to become a true ‘abd’ or servant of Allah so that He shows His helping hand for us.

I read in a Quranic commentary that we must reflect on and think over Allah’s attributes. This helps us understand the Divine powers and in turn helps us to imbibe His attributes in our character on a human level and have the vision to see His attributes in action around us. For example Allah’s attribute Al Kafi, ‘The Sufficient’ is very helpful in this regard.

To become a true servant of Allah we are blessed with not only the complete code of conduct in the Holy Qur’an but also the fact that the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) was a personification of the Holy Qur’an and he was indeed the perfect example of a true servant of Allah for all times. Through these blessings we can try and colour our souls exactly how Allah wants us to.

The current worldwide spiritual head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad explained this subject in one of his Friday sermons and said that when help is needed it is only God Who has the real power to help, and He provides it. This is a most significant point which a true believer should always have in view, whether the help sought is on personal level or communal. But it is seen that in practice people do not pay as much attention to this as they should. Most of us say that our needs are met by the grace of God. However, if we ponder over our words in-depth we will note that we consider various means as the sources of accomplishing our tasks.  [iii]

In conclusion, let’s take further inspiration from the lives of some Prophets of Allah. History witnesses numerous examples of Allah being enough for His servant. Prophet Ibrahim (peace be on him) left his wife and son alone in desert as per Allah’s command knowing that Allah is sufficient for His servant. Prophet Yusuf (peace be on him) thanked Allah for his faith even though he was in prison knowing that Allah is sufficient for His servant. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) never gave up his cause in the face of the strongest opposition and lack of resources knowing that Allah indeed is sufficient for His servant.

 

[i] https://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=543&region=E2&CR=

 

[ii] https://www.alislam.org/library/hadith/on-certainty-and-trust/

 

[iii] https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/2014-11-28.html