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.
Surah 2 – Al-Baqarah (The Cow)
 Alif. Laam. Meem.
 This is the Book in which there is no doubt, (that it is) a Guidance for those who fear (Allah).
 Those, who believe in the unknown, offer the Prayers and spend out of what We have given them.
 And those, who believe in what has been sent down to you (O Muhammad), and that which was sent down before you; and they believe in the Next World (the Hereafter).
 These are the ones who are on (true) Guidance from their Lord; and these are the ones who are successful.
Except for our Prophet, and maybe a few Muslims of in every age, no one else knows the meaning of these starting letters: Alif, Laam, Meem. But, they sound beautiful when recited properly.
Books get old in 5 years’ time. And, older a book, the more it has errors. But the Qur’an is error free. Also, do you know of any book which says at the start that it can show guidance? The books may be small or big, but this sentence will be missing in them.
The Qur’an guides a scientist as well as a farmer if they fear their Lord – even if a little. The more they are fearful of Allah, the more guidance they will receive from this Book – if they studied it. This is true of Muslims also.
Complete guidance is for those who believe in Allah, in the angels, in Heaven and Hell, who pray, and spend on others.
To spend on others who are in need is a part of faith. It cannot be separated from faith. If there is no charity in a person, there is no faith in him.
These are not new teachings. All older Messengers brought the same truths. Therefore, a Muslim must also believe in the Gospels, the Torah, and Zabur that they were sent down by Allah. They were originally sent down to `Isa, Musa and Da’ud (on whom be peace from Allah). Later, their followers altered them. But still, there are some parts in them which sound like they are from Allah. That is why we respect them and believe in them as originally from Allah. But we do not follow them because the originals have not been preserved, and so there is no certainty about what was there and what was not there in the original.
When the people believe in this way, their inner eyes are opened. They begin to see more than common people see. For example, they see that lot of wrongs are done by the people to each other. So, they come to believe that there has to be a day when people have raised again and questioned for what they did.
It is these guided people who shall be successful in this world and successful in the next world. Success in this world is to be able to lead a life in which there is no sin, in which it is easy to practice Islam, in which there is no dirty behavior in the society; in which there are no drugs, no wine, no gambling, no nudism. Such a society and its true members are successful.
- There must be other Holy Scriptures in your school library. Look into them to find out whether they promise that there is guidance in them.
- What have the Muslims to do to be guided?
- List down the main elements of faith.
- What makes a man do good deeds and avoid sins?
- Will the wealth of a people, big houses, tall buildings, wide roads, clean surroundings, strong military, etc., necessarily required to be successful in this life. If not, then what is true success?
(To be continued)
“You Will Find Me, if Allah so Wills, Among Those Who Are Patient”
By Shohala Hakim
“And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, ‘O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.’ He said, ‘O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.’ And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead, We called to him, ‘O Abraham, You have fulfilled the vision.’ Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. Indeed, this was the clear trial.” (Qur’an 37:102-106)
Above is the conversation between Ibrahim (asws) and one of his sons. Here we see that Allah (swt) asks Ibrahim (asws) to make the most difficult of sacrifices.
There are many kinds of tribulations in this world that leave us at utter loss and dismay, but one of the most painful tribulations for a parent is to lose his or her child. Yet, in the verses above we see a very different reaction from Ibrahim (asws), and more so from his son. Allah (swt) makes it very clear at the end that it was obviously a trial for them. So what exactly makes these people different from us as to how we react to a test from Allah (swt)?
A growing epidemic among Muslims today is the absolute impatience with the decree of Allah (swt). Oftentimes we see negativity in everything that unexpectedly happens to us; we completely lose our cool when afflicted with tribulation. And why do we react this way so often? Perhaps, because our priorities are skewed and we trust ourselves more than we trust our Lord (swt).
Ibrahim (asws) and his son were in a complete state of submission to their Lord—they had an undeniable certainly that their Lord, Al-Lateef (the Gentle, the Subtle), would never hurt them, that they were in the good hands of Al-Wali’ (the Protector). To make it clearer, Imam al-Ghazali (may God have mercy on him) said that it does not matter what situation you are in, what matters is what you make out of that situation. This means that we need to realize and be confident in what really matters. Our priority is to be successful in terms of the Akhira (afterlife). Our priority is to be in obedience to Allah (swt) in every living condition possible.
Allah (swt) exists when we are unwell and when we are well. He (swt)
exists when we are poor and when we are rich, when we are sad and when we are happy. So what difference does our state make when, in every state, Al-Hayy (the Living God) is ever-present with us? Can’t a poor person be more beloved to Allah (swt) than a rich person because of his mindfulness of Allah? Can’t a person with cancer be more beloved to Allah than a healthy person because of her love for Allah (swt)?
We don’t have knowledge of the unseen. We don’t know what His plans for us are. But the knowledge that Allah (swt) did convey to us through His messengers is that the only thing that has any value in His sight is our Taqwa (mindfulness of God). And the moment we internalize this, our problems of Dunya (this life) will begin to look insignificant. How can outward and arbitrary tribulations be tribulations when we know that these events, by no means, can take us away from His obedience?
Some may ask, well if Allah has already decreed everything for us, then what’s the point of life anyway? Yes, whatever Allah (swt) has decreed will come to pass, but the point is not what Allah has decreed, the point is our reaction and response to whatever Allah (swt) decreed for us.
Let us consider the example of Aasiya (may God be pleased with her): it was decreed that she would marry Pharaoh, but her forbearance and absolute conviction in the hereafter brought her so close to Allah (swt) that Allah showed her her house in Paradise. So next time we face a dead end in life, let’s remember that the situation at hand is not important. The importance actually lies in the fact that Allah (swt) has given you a chance to prove your love for Him.
And why should our priority be the Akhira and not the Dunya? Because whether good or bad, our life will come to an end very soon, but the hereafter is eternal. After 50 years it won’t matter if you got accepted to Yale or not. What’s going to matter for eternity is our relationship with our Lord. We all want to go to Jannah (Paradise), but the even the thought of death makes us uncomfortable.
Perhaps that is because, deep inside, we know that we are not serious enough about our permanent abode. Most of us get worried out of our wits when we can’t hand in an assignment on time, but we couldn’t care less about the call of the Adhaan (the call to prayer) five times a day. We log onto Facebook every day, but we forget to open the book of Allah as often. Allah (swt) is not being unfair to us, we are being unfair to ourselves by mixing up our priorities.
Our Prophet was never disquieted or agitated in a moment of tribulation. Even in the most difficult day of his life, he ended his prayer by telling Allah, “So long as You are not angry with me, I don’t care.” Agitation at the tribulations around us is inconsistent with the characteristic of believers.
“It is He who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers that they would increase in faith along with their [present] faith. And to Allah belong the soldiers of the heavens and the earth, and ever is Allah Knowing and Wise.” (Qur’an 48:4)
We need to internalize the fact that we come from Allah (swt) and we will return to Allah (swt). We have to remember that we are in good hands. It’s strange that we love and trust our parents so much, yet we do not fully trust Allah’s plans for us — whose plan it was in the first place to send us to these safe hands.
We know with utter conviction that these two temporary guardians (our mum and dad) will take care of us, yet we don’t believe our real and eternal Guardian will take care of us. He took care of us before we had our parents. He took care of us when we were in the wombs. He (swt) took care of us when we couldn’t even ask for anything. If He took care of us through all this, how can we think He will forsake us now and not give us what is best for us?
Brothers and sisters in Islam, let us be mindful of our Lord and straighten our affairs with Him. The result to this will be that He (swt) will straighten the rest of our affairs for us, perhaps in ways we’re not going to quite understand.
“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” – (Qur’an 2:153)