The Qur’an for Young Hearts
[This is part of a book under preparation. A few starting pages were missing during the earlier installments].
Herewith we offer a simple paraphrasing of the Qur’an, some notes and exercises for our young readers. Note that:
- What follows is not a translation but a simple narrative of what the passage is saying.
- This is also not a proper commentary. It tries to introduce you to the Qur’anic themes, subjects and topics.
- This is also not the ‘Message of the Qur’an.’ It is an effort to bring young minds closer to the Qur’anic concept, themes and messages.
- It is to prepare you for an understanding of the Qur’an, which you will have to attempt sooner or later.
Al-Fatiha (The Opening)
I seek Allah’s shelter from Satan the accursed.
Note: Since we cannot fight the unseen Devil, we ask for Allah’s shelter. He will take care of the Devil. Like a barking dog in the lane. You cannot go on silence it. It keeps barking at you. What’s the solution? Ask its master to control it. In the like manner, we say seek Allah’s shelter from Shaytan.
In the Name of Allah, the Kind, the Merciful
Note: Remember that all beginnings end in a blessing if started in the name of Allah. So, at every little thing we do, we say, “bismillah.” When you say “bismillah” before meals, Shaytan stops sharing your food and bolts away.
 All praise for Allah the Lord of the Worlds.
 The Kind, the Merciful.
 Master of the Day of Judgment.
 You alone we worship and Your help alone we ask for.
 Show us the straight path.
 The path of those You favored.
 Not of those You were angry with, nor of those who lost the way.
We know our world, but which are the worlds that the Qur’an mentions? It is the world of humans, animals, Jinn; world of the good, world of the wicked, world of scientists, world of sportsmen, world of the Devils and the Angels. There are many worlds.
He is a Lord whose kindness comes in torrents, like huge waves, and continuously rains upon us, bathes us, and covers us, and all creation.
But his unlimited mercy for us does not mean we can wrong others. He is equally kind to others, whether they are Muslims, or non-Muslim, whether Christians or Hindus, whether human beings or animals; whether plants or oceans. Therefore, if we are unjust to others, we could face punishment on a day of examination of our lives. Our good deeds will be given away to those we wronged.
The Day of Judgment is necessary. There is so much injustice in our world; so much tyranny, so much oppression.
Therefore, we worship Him alone, seek His help alone, – in all our matters, big or small. We may co-operate with each other, while doing good, avoiding evil, or solving problems, and use the best material means possible, but, for a good result, we depend on Allah alone. Without His help, we cannot achieve success.
But, life is so tough, so full of evil people, so abundant with the wrongly guiding men and women. We need to be guided, every moment, every time we do something, small or big. So, we pray to Him to keep guiding us, all day long, every new day, throughout our lives.
O, Allah! Guide us to an easy, straight path with no crookedness in it. Yes, the path of those whom You blessed, not of those who earned Your anger, nor of those who lost the way that leads to You.
Finally, we need to be guided to Paradise.
- Count the Names and Attributes of Allah in this Surah.
- Have you come across words of Prayer better than this Surah, in any literature, holy or not, in any language? Compare and answer explaining what is missing in Prayer-words other religions.
- Would you like to improve upon this Surah? If so, can you suggest what can be added?
- What is the meaning of ‘we seek Your help alone?’ Does it mean we cannot ask help of any human being?
- Just who can show us ‘hidaayah’? Can a Peer, Sheikh, Imam, guide us to the Path of Guidance?
- Can you state two or three reasons why Day of Judgment is necessary?
Understanding these Verses:
These two beautiful verses are so important that the Prophet was given them from a treasure beneath the `Arsh, when he visited the heavens during his night-journey. No Prophet was given anything so valuable before him. Therefore, the Prophet said that it will be sufficient (against harm) for a man who recited them every night.
In these two verses, Allah teaches us what to believe in. We must believe in our Messenger, and in all those things in which our Prophet Muhammad believed, and the believers in him believed. We do not behave like some others, to take an example. Their Holy Book says, “Do not drink wine,” but they drink barrels of it. We truly and unconditionally believe in our Prophet, just like his earliest Companions did. This makes us one party: the party of Muhammad consisting of the earliest ones and the latest ones. What an honor to belong to this party!
We all – every one of us – believe in what the Messenger and his first followers believed in. So we believe in Allah as our Lord, we believe in all his angels, and, in all Messengers mentioned in the Qur’an. We do not say like those who say that they believe in Moses, but do not believe in Jesus. They actually curse him and say that he is drowning in faeces in Hell. They also do not believe in Jibril. They will not name their children as “Jibril.” Some others say that they believe in Jesus but not in Prophet Muhammad. But we, the Muslims say that we believe not only in Moses and Jesus, but we believe in those Prophets also who were Israeli Prophets. We do not condemn any. We believe that all Prophets were one party, and we belong to that party. What an honor to be in this party!
We are a people who, when we hear an order from our Lord, we immediately accept and obey. Having obeyed, we now make the Du`a that may our Lord forgive us. So our Du`a is not empty words, nor saying “Aameen, Aameen” from behind an Imam, not understanding anything, and quite inattentive. Not like that. We obey Allah in all things and then ask Him. And when we ask, what do we ask? No, not worldly things. Death can come any time. We ask for forgiveness. After all, sooner or later we will be returning to Him, our Lord.
And to obey Allah is not a difficult thing. He does not ask us to do what is not in our power. Allah has promised us that He will not overburden us. He reminds us that if we have done good, we will be rewarded for it, and if we have done evil, it is a burden upon us.
No one will bear our burden but ourselves. Some say that Jesus will bear the burden of sins of billions of his followers, so that those billions will enter Paradise without being held to account for any crime they committed in their lives. Allah tells each of us, that we will have to bear the burden of our sins, ourselves.
But sometimes we forget, and do something by mistake. So, at the end of this Surah, we make Du`a that Allah forgive us; not for what we did intentionally, but for what we did by mistake.
We also ask Allah that He make things easy for us; and not like for those of the past, who, when they sinned, and sinned a lot, and everybody was sinning all the time, then Allah overburdened them with his tough commandments as immediate punishment. For example, He ordered (as in the some holy literature) that if an unclean woman sits on a bed, the bed sheet becomes unclean, it must be washed, even if she did not dirty it; just the touch was enough to make it unclean.
Now, what should we supplicate for? When people make Du`a, they ask for lowly, worldly things.But we pray to Allah that He does not press upon us difficult commandments. In other words, we are promising that we shall not be sinning against Him and inviting hard rulings as punishment upon ourselves.
At the end of this Surah we ask for pardon, which is not simply cancelling out of the punishment; but we ask for even more. We ask for forgiveness, which is removal of the sins from the Records, thus concealing them from other people on the Day of Judgment – a Day of shame for many.
By saying in their Du`a, “You are our Protector,” the believers bind themselves to Allah and are as if saying, “We are Your party.” What an honor to be of His party.
So it is natural that they should ask for victory over those who hate Allah, hate Islam, hate His Messenger,hate the believers in Him, and hate the Truth.
We do not wish to enter into a situation of war. Our Prophet has asked us not to face wars, unless attacked; and so, we make Du`a that He take care of those who hate theTruth. The fight is between Him as one Lord God, and others, whoever their god or gods are.
End of the Surah, All praise to Allah, Lord of the worlds.
The Darkest Hour and the Coming of Dawn:
Preparing for Ramadan
Yasmin Al Mogahid
According to a well-stated proverb, the darkest hour is just before the dawn. And although astronomically the darkest point is much earlier, the truth of this proverb is metaphoric—but in no way less real
So often we find that the darkest times in our lives are followed by the most precious. Often, it is at the moment when everything looks broken that something least expected lifts us and carries us through. Did not Prophet Ayoub lose everything one by one, before it was all given back and more.
Yes. For Prophet Ayoub, the night was real. And for many of us, it seems to last
forever. But Allah does not allow an endless night. In His mercy, he gives us the sun. Yet there are times when we feel our hardships won’t cease. And maybe some of us have fallen to such a spiritual low in our deen (religion) that we feel disconnected from our Creator. And maybe for some of us, it’s so dark, we don’t even notice.
But like the sun that rises at the end of the night, our dawn has come. In His infinite mercy, Allah has sent the light of Ramadan to erase the night. He has sent the month of the Qur’an so that He might elevate us and bring us from our isolation to His nearness. He has given us this blessed month to fill our emptiness, cure our loneliness, and end our soul’s poverty. He has sent us the dawn that we might find from darkness – light. Allah says:
He it is Who sends blessings on you, as do His angels, that He may bring you out from the depths of Darkness into Light: and He is Full of Mercy to the Believers. Qur’an, 33:43))
And this mercy extends to all who seek it. Even the most hardened sinner is told to never lose hope in God’s infinite mercy. God says in the Qur’an:
Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. For Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Qur’an, 39: 53)
Allah (swt) is the Owner of mercy, and there is no time when that mercy is showered more upon us than in the blessed month of Ramadan. The Prophet has said regarding Ramadan: “Its beginning is mercy, its middle is forgiveness, and its ending is liberation from the Hellfire.” (Ibn Khuzaymah, al-Sahih)
Every moment of Ramadan is a chance to come back to Allah (swt). Whatever we are now going through in our lives is often a direct result of our own actions. If we are humiliated, or feel low, it is our own sins which have lowered us. It is only by Allah (swt) that we can ever hope to be elevated. If we are consistently unable to wake up for Fajr, or if we find it increasingly difficult to stay away from haraam (the forbidden), we must examine our relationship with Allah (swt). Most of all, we must never be deceived. We must never allow ourselves to think that anything in this world succeeds, fails, is given, taken, done, or undone without Allah (swt). It is only by our connection to our Creator that we rise or fall in life, in our relationship with our world—and with all of humanity.
But unlike humanity, our Creator doesn’t hold grudges. Imagine receiving a clean slate. Imagine having everything you ever regret doing erased completely. Ramadan is that chance. The Prophet told us: “Whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari)
So given this unparalleled opportunity, how can we best take advantage of it?
Two often overlooked issues to keep in mind are:
Know why you are fasting
Many people fast as a ritual, without truly understanding its meaning. Others reduce it to a simple exercise in empathy with the poor. While this is a beautiful consequence of fasting, it is not the main purpose defined by Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain Taqwa (God-consciousness).” (Qur’an, 2:183)
By controlling and restraining our physical needs, we gain strength for the greater battle: controlling and restraining our Nafs (our soul’s desire). When fasting, every hunger pang reminds us of God—the one for whom we have made this sacrifice.
By constantly remembering Allah (swt) and sacrificing for Him, we are made more aware of His presence, and in that way we increase our Taqwa (fear and consciousness of Him). The same thing that prevents us from the sin of sneaking in food while no one else is watching trains us to avoid other sins while no one else is watching. That is Taqwa.
Don’t make fasting just hunger and thirst
The Prophet has said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink.” (Al-Bukhari)
The Prophet also warns us: “Many people who fast get nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night get nothing from it except wakefulness.” (Darimi)
While fasting, understand the whole picture
Remember that fasting is not just about staying away from food. It is about striving to become a better person. And, in so striving, we are given a chance to escape the darkness of our own isolation from God.
But like the sun that sets at the end of the day, so too will Ramadan come and go, leaving only its mark on our heart’s sky.