Sunday, August 03, 2003

Al-Baqarah (The Cattle)
Chapter 2: Verses 1-5

Guidance for Muttakin
"Alif, Lam, Meem. This is the Book; there is no doubt about it, a guidance for the God-Fearing. Those who believe in what lies beyond the reach of human perception, observe Prayer and give of what We bestow upon them. Those who believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you, and are certain of the Hereafter. Those follow their Lord's guidance, and they shall surely prosper."

The starting verses in Surah Baqarah describe the people who benefit from the Divine Guidance and those who do not. The surah begins by declaring its own divine origin and authority: 'Alif Lam Meem. This is the Book (of Allah), there is no doubt about it' (v 1-2). And the placement of this proclamation at the very beginning sets the tone for the reader. Once the reader is able to comprehend the magnificence of this book, he can now move forward with full reverence, awe, yearning, and a willingness to understand and to submit.

To what purpose has this book been revealed? To provide guidance. Guidance for whom & guidance towards what? To guide the Muttaqin, those who have Taqwa (i.e. possess the quality of piety, God-consciousness, righteous living). It is also meant to guide the seekers who strive to become Muttaqin. It would be prudent to remind oneself at this point that the the scope of developing Taqwa is endless. 'Those who are willing to be guided, He advances them in guidance, and in their Taqwa (Muhammad 47:17).'

The characteristics of the Muttaqin are laid out, next.

"Those who believe in what lies beyond the reach of human perception"(v 3). The concept of the imperceptible is a decisive factor in distinguishing man from animals. Materialistic thinking, ancient as well as modern, has tended to drag man back to an irrational existence, with no room for the spiritual (the unseen), where everything is determined by sensory means alone. What is peddled as 'progressive thought' is no more than dismal regression. Sadly enough like the 'materialistic' Muslim, there also exists the 'progressive' ones who often share the commonality of denying what they can't perceive, whether it be the wisdom behind a ruling in the Shariah or be it the miracles from the life of the Prophet.

Those who "observe prayer" (v 3), revere and worship none but God Almighty. They never debase themselves by worshipping anyone or anything else. They turn to the real and ultimate power in this world, humbling their hearts and souls to Him alone. Their ties with God give them power over other creatures and feed their consciousness with moral strength and fear of God. Prayer is an essential element in the building of a believer's character and shaping his concepts, feelings and behaviours and in linking them directly with God.

"And give of what we bestow upon them" (v 3). This implies a recognition on the part of the believer, that what they own and possess is a gift and favour from God. It is not of their own making. Such a belief brings mercy and benevolence towards the weak and the poor, and mutual fellowship and a true spirit of brotherhood and human community among all. The outcome is to eliminate greed and fill people's heart with compassion and humanity.

"Who believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you." (v 4). This a characteristic of the Muslim community, the rightful heir to, and custodian of, God's message and legacy of all Prophets since the dawn of human life. It allows us to feel proud of being the recipient of God's pure and universal guidance, which remains a bright shining star that is never extinguished, even in the darkest days of human history.

"And are certain of the Hereafter" (v 4). This characteristic of the God-fearing links the present life with the life to come; the beginning with the end; deed with reward. It provokes in man, the feeling that there exists a purpose to his existence. And it reassures him by affirming that full justice is certain to come, and thus inspires man to seek to do good, with total confidence in God's justice and mercy.

The passage aptly concludes with the comment: "Those who follow their Lord's guidance, and they shall surely prosper." (v 5). The believers in Makkah and Medina, adhered to God's guidance and they were successful. For those who wish to follow their footsteps, the route remains clearly marked.

May Allah enable us to be of the Muttaqin.

“Key to al Baqarah” – Khurram Murad pp. 13-14
“In the Shade of the Qur’an” – Syed Qutb vol. 1, pp. 34-37

Understanding the Prophet's Life

Do Not Criticize Food

Abu Huraira (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) never found fault with food. If he had inclination to eating it, he would eat; if he disliked it, he would leave it. [Al Bukhari and Muslim]

Oops! Forgot to say Bismillah

Most of us know what to say, before we start eating. Now what if you forgot; what do we say now. Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) , said, “When any of you wants to eat, he should mention the Name of Allah in the beginning (i.e. say Bismillah). If he forgets to do it in the beginning he should say Bismillah awwalahu wa akhirahu (I begin with the Name of Allah at the beginning and at the end).” [Abu Dawud & At Tirmidhi – Hasan Sahih]

"Collection from Riyad-us-Saliheen" – Imam Nawawi pp 405, 406

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