Lessons from Surah Al-Mu’minun (Verses 31 – 41)

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Bismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

اللهم صلي على سيدنا محمد وعلى اله وصحبه وسلم

Allahumma salli ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa ala alihi wa sahbihi wasallim

O Allah, send your peace and blessings upon our Master Muhammad and upon his family and companions

This article is a summary of takeaways from Ustaz Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram’s Tafsir Online Lecture on 18th October 2020. Summaries of previous lectures on Surah Maryam, Surah Taha, Surah Al-Anbiya’ and Surah Al-Hajj can be found here. The previous lecture of Surah Al-Mu’minun can be found here.

Recap of Last Week’s Lecture

In the previous lecture, we went through verses 26 to 30 of Surah Al-Mu’minun. We spoke about how Prophet Nuh AS had made a du’a to Allah SWT asking for His aid. Allah SWT inspired Prophet Nuh AS to build an Ark under His SWT’s supervision, protection, guidance, and knowledge.

Prophet Nuh AS and his followers were then asked to embark on the Ark along with a pair of every kind of creature. All of Prophet Nuh AS’s family, except for his wife and his son embarked. His son had rejected his father’s invitation to board the ship, saying that he would climb a mountain to save himself.

We had learnt in Surah Hud previously that Prophet Nuh had made a du’a for his son. Allah SWT had replied saying that his son was not part of his family, as he did not accept Allah’s message even up to the point before he drowned.

Prophet Nuh’s son drowned along with the other disbelievers. Eventually, the flood subsided and the believers on the Ark returned to land, praised Allah SWT and made du’a for a better future ahead.

Was Prophet Nuh a Bad Husband and Father?

Before we proceed to today’s lecture, I would like to address something. Can we say that Prophet Nuh AS was not a good father since he was unable to raise his own son as a believer? Is it right to say that he a poor leader, being unable to guide his own wife to righteousness?

Belief Cannot Be Forced

As believers we know that there are certain Adab that we need to maintain when it comes to noble people in the sight of Allah SWT. Especially so when it comes to the prophets and messengers. These are human beings not unlike us; they have no special powers from Allah SWT to force Hidayah to enter the hearts of anyone – not even their most beloved family members. We saw the same thing with Prophet Ibrahim AS and his father. Prophet Ibrahim had even tried to make du’a for his father, but Allah SWT rejected the du’a, knowing that Prophet Ibrahim AS’s father was not going to believe even if Allah SWT had forgiven him. Even Prophet Muhammad SAW, the best of mankind and the leader of all prophets, had been told:

وَمَآ أَنتَ عَلَيْهِم بِجَبَّارٍ

… And you (O Muhammad) are not (there) to compel them (to believe) … [50:45]

So, we are not to criticise Prophet Nuh AS for his family members’ rejection of Allah SWT’s message. Remember that every human being has a choice of their own. Each person will be held accountable for their own choices.

وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌۭ وِزْرَ أُخْرَىٰ

And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another… [35:18]

Allah SWT tells us that whoever we may be, there is no person who will bear the burdens of another. Whatever sins the people beloved to us may commit is not ours to bear. We are accountable for our own sins.

Leave That Which Does Not Concern You

Do not ever accuse people or criticise them for the choices and mistakes made by the people in their lives – this applies not only to the messengers but also to the people we meet every day. Do not be quick to make remarks about people because of the sins their family members have committed.

Rasulullah SAW reminds us in a hadith that:

مِنْ حُسْنِ إسْلَامِ الْمَرْءِ تَرْكُهُ مَا لَا يَعْنِيهِ

“Part of the perfection of one’s Islam is his leaving that which does not concern him.” [Tirmidhi]

The lives of people are not of our concern. It is the matters of their household. Whether they can manage their wives or influence their children, is not our concern. Whether a child is able to convince his parents to go towards righteousness is not up to us to judge. That is a matter to be left between them and Allah SWT. It is their concern to be dealt with by Allah SWT; it is nothing that concerns us.

We do not even know, had we been put in the same situation if we would succeed. We know that in life, there are many factors that influence and impact a loved one’s choices – regardless of how much we may love them.

For example, when it comes to our own wives, there are many factors: their life before marriage, their family background, their habits and norms, their character, their environment at work and in the community etc.

Each spouse needs to manage their household on their own with their spouse. We have no right to interfere or to judge. Do not choose to increase yourself in sin with that which your tongue speaks about that which does not concern you.

Do not criticise Prophet Nuh AS. If you do so, then you will start to criticise Prophet Lut AS for being unable to stop his wife’s betrayal. You will get carried away and speak of Prophet Ibrahim AS whose father made idols. You would even speak of Prophet Muhammad SAW who was unable to bring his beloved uncle, Abu Talib, to Islam.

Let us live with hearts that are clean and pure, look at what concerns you only. Give constructive comments in a gentle and respectful manner if needed. Leave whatever does not concern you. Do not be too quick to judge others and their family members.

We do not want a situation to come up where eventually their family members who we claim have strayed, may end up being the ones who are rightfully guided by Allah SWT, whereas our own family members may fail in the trials that Allah SWT sent them.

Takeaways from This Incident

Secondly, we may face trials in which we find our loved ones are distant from Allah SWT. As an Insan, we are taught to hope from and ask of Allah SWT. Prophet Nuh AS made du’a to Allah SWT. Whether or not Allah SWT answers your prayers, it us up to Him SWT.

There are times He does not answer our prayers, and times in which He does. For some Prophets, Allah SWT outrightly rejected their requests. Allah SWT did not forgive Prophet Ibrahim AS’ father. Allah did not save Prophet Nuh AS’ son.

We are not prophets; we will not get revelation telling us that our prayers have been rejected. Our responsibility as servants of Allah SWT is to give good advice and gentle reminders, we portray good conduct, and make lots of du’as for them. At the end of the day, Allah SWT is the turner of hearts. It is He who can give Hidayah to whomsoever He wills.

If ever we face such a trial, remember that regardless of how righteous we may be in the eyes of people, we are mere servants of Allah SWT; we do not own anything unless by the gift of Allah SWT. Do not become proud.

You may have excelled in your studies, graduated from reputable schools, and achieved excellent qualifications. You may have earned a high status and found a spouse who is equally well-educated of comparable calibre.

Allah SWT may have gifted you with many children. Even so, not all your children may excel in their studies. Perhaps one or two of them may have learning difficulties. Let that be a sign for you to reflect on yourselves. Perhaps there is something lacking in your fulfilment of your duties as a parent.

Next, surrender yourselves to Allah. Allah SWT wants you to acknowledge your weaknesses and to admit that the One who controls the hearts and determines the future success of your children is Allah SWT – not you.

Lastly, let it be a reminder for you not to be proud. Do not forget yourselves and think highly of yourselves or look down on others. You are weak servants of Allah SWT. You are nothing without Allah’s aid and gifts. If Allah SWT stops something from coming, nothing you can do can bring it to you.

Going back to the story of Prophet Nuh, do not let his son and wife’s disbelief make you think any less of who he was as a prophet of Allah SWT. Even a prophet cannot force someone to accept guidance if they choose to reject it. Leave that which does not concern you and do not criticise others for that which is not theirs to decide.

Continuation of the Story of Prophet Nuh AS

The Generation That Came After

 ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَا مِنۢ بَعْدِهِمْ قَرْنًا ءَاخَرِينَ

Then after them We created another generation, [23:31]

فَأَرْسَلْنَا فِيهِمْ رَسُولًۭا مِّنْهُمْ أَنِ ٱعْبُدُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرُهُۥٓ ۖ أَفَلَا تَتَّقُونَ

So We sent among them a Messenger from among themselves, (saying), “Worship Allah! You have no god other than Him. Will you not then have Taqwa?” [23:32]

The disbelieving people of Prophet Nuh AS had been wiped away by the massive flood. Only the believers that were on the Ark, along with the creatures on it, survived. From these followers of Prophet Nuh AS came a new generation, led by a prophet from amongst them.

Most scholars say that this verse refers to the people of ‘Ad, led by Prophet Hud AS. A minority opinion state that this verse refers to Prophet Salih AS and the people of Thamud. The reason for this opinion is because the verses following the story of Prophet Nuh did not mention any details regarding the prophet mentioned here.

The next Prophet to be named is Prophet Musa AS. So, both these opinions can be valid – and Allah knows best. Perhaps it is both these groups that arose after that, and Allah SWT did not name them because they were both destroyed because of their disobedience to Allah SWT.

Are All People of Power Evil?

وَقَالَ ٱلْمَلَأُ مِن قَوْمِهِ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ وَكَذَّبُوا۟ بِلِقَآءِ ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ

And the Mala’ of his people, who disbelieved and denied the Meeting in the Hereafter… [23:33]

Now we have seen the word ‘Al-Mala’’, in a previous lecture in Verse 24, referring to the upper-class members of Prophet Nuh AS’s community who also rejected the message.

Since then, I have come across this comment made by my listener saying, “Oh all these rulers are so terrible, whoever who holds a high status is sure to be like this. Even since the time of Prophet Nuh AS, they were arrogant and disbelievers!”.

I must disagree with this declaration. Do not make generalisations and assume that anyone with a position of authority is evil. In this verse, Allah SWT specifies which of the Mala’ He was referring to; Allah says the chiefs “who disbelieved and denied”. This meant that not all of them rejected the message – a portion of them did.

There are people of higher status (because of their wealth, social status, popularity, influence) and people of lower status. Amongst each of these groups, there are both good people and bad people.

There are wealthy people who are also honoured by and beloved to Allah SWT. We know of leaders who are noble in the sight of Allah. We also know of poor people, common people, even slaves who are held in high position in Allah’s eyes.

There is a hadith by Rasulullah SAW which tells us about seven people who will be given Allah’s Shade on the Day where there will be no shade but His. The first of these people is a just leader.

In another hadith, Rasulullah SAW says that amongst the first people to enter Paradise is the just ruler. Likewise, amongst the first of people to enter Hellfire is a cruel ruler. So, we cannot generalise all rulers to be cruel tyrants.

Wealth Does not Prevent Obedience

Likewise, for those who are wealthy. We cannot generalise and say that everyone with wealth is a selfish oppressor. We know of many companions of the prophet who were wealthy. Do you remember the hadith (narrated by Bukhari and Muslim) where some poor companions complained to the Prophet SAW?

In the hadith, some of the companions RA said to him SAW, “O Messenger of Allah, the rich have taken away (all the) reward. They observe prayer as we do; they keep the fasts as we keep, and they give Sadaqah out of their surplus riches.”

They complained that the rich were able to donate money while they had none to donate. The rich could buy and free slaves while they were unable to afford one. Rasulullah SAW had replied saying that there was Sadaqah in other ways as well.

They could call towards good and forbid evil, they could make lots of Tasbih, Takbir, and Tahmid. Even being intimate with their spouse would earn them the rewards of Sadaqah.

In another hadith, Rasulullah offered them something that would be worth the rewards of Sadaqah of the rich companions. Rasulullah SAW said, “After Salah, Say ‘Subhanallah’ thirty-three times, ‘Allahu Akbar’ thirty-three times and ‘Alhamdulillah’ thirty-three times.”.

We often practice this. Sometimes, we will complete this Zikr to a hundred by saying ‘La ilaha illallah’ (sometimes adding ‘wahdahu la sharika lah’). The companions who heard this were delighted and immediately started practicing it.

Not long later, they returned saying that the rich companions had heard of this hadith and had started practicing it as well. There was no way for them to compete any longer. Rasulullah said:

 ذَٰلِكَ فَضْلُ ٱللَّهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَن يَشَآءُ ۚ

Such is Allah’s favour: He bestows it on whomsoever He pleases… [62:4]

This is a lesson for us all. Just because someone is given an advantage by Allah SWT, it does not automatically make them less worthy in Allah’s eyes. Wealth and status could be an advantage given to them.

What is important is that if you are amongst the ‘Mala’’, you need to know how to use that advantage given to you. Will you use the blessings to become proud and arrogant? Will you use it to reject people and look down upon them? If that is what you do, then you would be no different from the chiefs of the people of Prophets Nuh and Hud AS, and that would lead you to your own destruction.

But if  that wealth and status is used to please Allah SWT, then you are guaranteed goodness in this world and the next insyaaAllah. Do not be quick to make a sweeping statement regarding people of influence. Wealth and status do not preclude someone from being honoured in Allah’s sight.

Jealous is Permissible in These Cases

To address a statement on a Facebook comment saying, “The believers were jealous of one another, competing and racing with one another to get Allah SWT’s rewards.”. This is true. Is envy permitted in Islam? Yes, envy is permitted. What is not permitted is spite and treachery. In a hadith, Rasulullah SAW said:

“Envy is permitted only in two cases: A man whom Allah gives wealth, and he disposes of it rightfully, and a man to whom Allah gives knowledge which he applies and teaches it.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

In another narration, Rasulullah SWT says the two people are: (1) the wealthy who spends his wealth in Allah’s cause and, (2) the person who fills his night with worship of Allah SWT. If we happen to hear of people like these, we want to envy them and strive to be like them.

Arguments Made Against Prophet Hud AS

وَأَتْرَفْنَـٰهُمْ فِى ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا مَا هَـٰذَآ إِلَّا بَشَرٌۭ مِّثْلُكُمْ يَأْكُلُ مِمَّا تَأْكُلُونَ مِنْهُ وَيَشْرَبُ مِمَّا تَشْرَبُونَ

… and to whom We had given the luxuries and comforts of this life, said: “He is no more than a human being like you, he eats of that which you eat, and drinks of what you drink. [23:33]

This is the same line that was used by the chiefs of Prophet Nuh AS’ people. These are also the same words that were used against Prophet Muhammad SAW. This is a common argument used by the rejectors of faith: “Why would Allah send a human being like us to bring us the Message?”.

وَلَئِنْ أَطَعْتُم بَشَرًۭا مِّثْلَكُمْ إِنَّكُمْ إِذًۭا لَّخَـٰسِرُونَ

And if you should obey a man like yourselves, indeed, you would then be losers. [23:34]

These chiefs used their influence to tell the people under their leadership that following Prophet Hud AS would mean that they will be lost. They think that Prophet Hud, someone of lowly status when compared to them, would not be able to bring any benefit to them. At the same time, they did not want to lose their following to the Prophet AS.

أَيَعِدُكُمْ أَنَّكُمْ إِذَا مِتُّمْ وَكُنتُمْ تُرَابًۭا وَعِظَـٰمًا أَنَّكُم مُّخْرَجُونَ

Does he promise you that after you die and become dust and bones you will be brought out alive? [23:35]

 هَيْهَاتَ هَيْهَاتَ لِمَا تُوعَدُونَ

Farfetched, farfetched is what you are promised! [23:36]

إِنْ هِىَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا ٱلدُّنْيَا نَمُوتُ وَنَحْيَا وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمَبْعُوثِينَ

There is only the life of this world: we die, we live, but we will never be resurrected. [23:37]

إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا رَجُلٌ ٱفْتَرَىٰ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ كَذِبًۭا وَمَا نَحْنُ لَهُۥ بِمُؤْمِنِينَ

He is nothing but a man who has fabricated lies against Allah, and never will we believe him.” [23:38]

The chiefs gave their people what they thought were some words of advice. They were not going to believe in Allah SWT’s message, therefore they wanted to convince others to reject it as well.

Even thought his was a whole generation after Prophet Nuh AS, the mentality of the disbelievers is still the same. This same mentality still exists even today amongst disbelievers.

We notice in the Qur’an that there are repeated mentions of the Prophets across multiple Surahs throughout the Qur’an. We know that all these stories serve as reminders, and that there is not redundancy in the Qur’an. Every story has its lessons. What you might notice though, is that every incident mentioned in the Qur’an has a slightly different angle.

For example, even though Surah Hud had discussed the story of Prophet Hud AS, in Surah Al-Mu’minun, the focus is on the accusations being thrown at Prophet Hud AS by his people. They claim that he is a human being unlike them, if they followed him, they would lose, if they have died and decomposed, they will not return alive.

Defense Against Slander

As a result of their actions, Prophet Hud had made the same du’a as that of Prophet Nuh in verse 26:

قَالَ رَبِّ ٱنصُرْنِى بِمَا كَذَّبُونِ

He said, “My Lord, grant me An-Nasr because they have denied me.” [22:39]

An-Nasr we defined previously as success and aid. Prophet Hud AS complained to Allah SWT saying that he had nobody else to rely upon. He had done his job to relay Allah SWT’s message and was thrown accusations and rejection by his people.

We should learn from this. In whatever the problems we may have in life, remember always to turn to Allah SWT. Allah is never distant from His believers for as long as they do not distance themselves from Him SWT. Regardless of how painful life may be, turn to Allah SWT.

In the age of Social Media today, it is easier for us to become aware of what is being said about us. People can easily forward and share messages. In the past, if someone in the neighbouring village were to spread a word of gossip about us, it will likely not reach us.

In fact, if it does eventually reach our ears, we may not even know if it was true in the first place. We can easily brush it off. Today, people take screenshots and use the exact words said as evidence. We are more vulnerable and prone to getting attacked by malicious words.

The asatizah of today must face all sorts of new challenges. In the past, they would teach in the front of the room and if a student were to whisper something about them to another student, it would likely not reach them. They would be able to pass it off as misinterpreted words.

Today, someone who wants to criticise an asatizah can do so freely and openly. He can use a pseudonym and hide his identity and then make open and public criticism. What human being would not get hurt by such an attack? Learn from the stories of Prophet Nuh and Hud AS.

Surrender it to Allah SWT. Even if we were to write a carefully worded statement to defend ourselves, it might only make things worse. Conversations might explode, one person criticising another person might blow up into one whole tribe defending themselves against another whole tribe in a battle of words. Things might get nasty. Let it go.

Make the du’a above. ‘Rabbinsurnii bimaa kazhabuun’; “My Lord, grant me An-Nasr because they have denied me.” Leave it to Allah. Allah alone will defend and protect those who are oppressed. Do not flood your mind with worries and concerns.

Do your part and leave what is left to Allah SWT. Focus on your responsibilities of this world. Perform your worship to your utmost best for Allah SWT. Whatever people choose to say about you, know that it is up to Allah SWT to save you.

Prophet Hud’s Prayer was Answered

 

قَالَ عَمَّا قَلِيلٍۢ لَّيُصْبِحُنَّ نَـٰدِمِينَ

Allah responded, “Soon they will be truly regretful.” [23:40]

فَأَخَذَتْهُمُ ٱلصَّيْحَةُ بِٱلْحَقِّ فَجَعَلْنَـٰهُمْ غُثَآءًۭ ۚ فَبُعْدًۭا لِّلْقَوْمِ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ

So the loud Scream seized them according with the truth, and We made them into Ghuthaa’. So far away are the wrongdoing people. [23:41]

What is Ghuthaa’? Some scholars translate Ghuthaa’ as foam in the sea formed by waves crashing against the shore. Others say that it refers to the rubbish and debris that floats on the surface of seawater.

The people of ‘Ad were destroyed swiftly and without any opportunity for escape. Just like that, they became like corpses floating on the sea.These people were said to be distanced; they are distanced from Allah’s Mercy, from is Forgiveness, His Guidance, and His Protection.

These were a people who chose to blatantly reject faith. They were cruel towards the messenger of Allah SWT, and they were cruel to themselves. They were distanced from Allah SWT and any chances of being saved by Allah SWT.

Final Takeaways

In conclusion, we need to choose who we want to be. Do we want to be amongst the people who are arrogant and refuse to hear the truth, those who outrightly reject the signs of Allah and who accuse those who give reminders of nonsense? These are the people who are distanced from Allah SWT and brought to destruction out of their own actions, Na’uzhubillah min zalik.

Alternatively, we can choose to be like the other group, that seems weak in their lack of influence and status, who are often criticised and mocked. However, when it comes to their relationship with Allah SWT, their hearts are filled with Iman and they are never distanced from Allah SWT’s Mercy and Protection. The choice is ours to make.

In this month of Rabiul awal, let us take advantage of this blessed month of the birth of the Prophet SAW to refresh and replenish our Iman. Let us reignite the love in our hearts for Rasulullah SAW. Busy your tongues with Salawat upon the prophet SAW.

May Allah SWT make us amongst the people who have strengthened relationships with Allah SWT. May our hearts be filled with Iman and Taqwa. May we become people who have full faith in Allah SWT always, regardless of what trials may come to us. Ameen.

Thank you, my dearest brothers and sisters. May we meet once again at the same time and place next week. I love all of you and treasure our companionship for His sake.

 

——————–

Summary by: Arina Adom

Arina Adom is a lover of learning who takes on the world with an open mind. Resourceful and adaptable, always ready to take on new challenges. Comfortable working with diverse groups of people, yet able to work independently. Thrives under pressure. Currently seeking a meaningful career that enables her to impact lives directly and bring about positive changes in the lives of others in the community.

Arina graduated with a degree in Science ( Hons ), Life Science from NUS. She is currently taking a diploma in Quran and Sunnah Studies from Al Zuhri.

Arina Adom – Linkedin Profile


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