Archive for the 'quran' Category

The Quran commentary series: 3a

 

Bismillahi Rahman ar-Raheem.

In the name of Allah the most beneficient, the most merciful

In the previous article we completed a series of articles on the ‘basmallah’, which is saying ‘bismillahi Rahman ar Raheem’, and to read that article please click here.

In this article we will start looking at the first surah of the Quran, Al-Fatihah.

What is a Surah?

A Surah is a chapter of the Quran of which there are 114 varying in length with the longest Suratul Baqarah with 286 verses and in contrast the shortest Suratul Kawthar is 3 verses.

Each Surah of the Quran has spiritual and other benefits.

The Quran in addition to being a book of guidance, removing man from the darkness of ignorance, confusion and uncertainty about the truth of his existence on this planet is also a book of many benefits which are conferred upon those who engage in reciting its holy and divine verses. Recitation of the Quran can aid a person in many fields of life including:

  • Dealing with illness.
  • Dealing with depression and sadness (Surah Yusuf, 12th Surah of the Quran)
  • Dealing with poverty (Surah Waqiah)
  • Helping to find a spouse.
  • Bringing peace within a household and ending family discord.
  • Helping to have a pious and blessed family.
  • Helping one to be protected from discrimination, racism and to be respected.
  • Protecting oneself from black magic.

It is a book which in addition to being a book of teachings is also a book of divine blessings, helping those who recite in their daily lives.

What does ‘Fatihah’ mean?

Fatihah means the beginning or opening.

It comes from the Arabic trilateral root of ‘Fa-Ta-Ha’ which means to open or remove an obstacle. It is said that it is named as such because it is the opening of the Quran.

In the Islamic world there are Muslims with the name ‘Faatih’ which can also mean ‘conqueror’ and the female version which sees an ‘ah’ sound at the end i.e. ‘Faatihah’, the name of the Surah.

Its virtues and blessings.

It has various names and titles which include:

‘Umm ul Kitaab’ or the ‘Mother (essence) of the Book (the Quran).

It is also called ‘Saba’ul mathaani’ or ‘The oft-repeated seven’ referring to its seven verses.

This is because it would be for most Muslims the surah (chapter) of the Quran they say the most and hear the most, more than any other.

In certain Islamic schools of thought it is held that unless there is a major obstacle a Muslim man should try and attempt to perform all his five obligatory prayers in congregation in the mosque. Three of those prayers would see the Imam reciting the Quran out loud in prayer namely the dawn prayer (Fajr), the sunset prayer (Maghrib) and the night prayer (‘Isha). Thus if we follow this a Muslim would hear this surah being recited by an Imam 21 times in one week or 1095 times a year.

When in the house of Allah, the masjid (mosque in English) the believer will be surrounded by angels who have been sent by Allah to be amongst the faithful and who would be witness to the recitation of this divine and holy recitation. Wherever the angels are, there are blessings. The angels are made from light and they frequent the houses of Allah, as mosques are called in Islam. Divine blessings including happiness, acceptance of supplications (du’as) emanate from frequent attendance of the house of Allah and companionship with Allah’s servants, the angels.

Fatihah being a surah recited and repeated so often, the Muslim, should form a very intimate and profound connection with it. In this day and age of mass literacy and modern technology in contrast to the previous centuries of mass illiteracy and thus reliance on a few specialized Imams who knew how to read, Muslims across the world can read translations of Fatihah in their own respective languages, contemplate upon its meaning and even read Quranic commentaries on this holy surah. The meaning of Fatihah and its individual verses will be focused on in the next articles following this article. However in brief it deals with acknowledging the lordship, benevolence and sovereignty of God, Allah, over the entirety of creation and man’s reliance upon him for guidance and success, thus carrying on from the theme of man’s dependence on God, Allah, as discussed in this article (click here) where we discussed how man has to seek refuge in his saviour, Allah, from the evil of Iblis (Satan, the devil) who seeks his destruction.

This acknowledges that life will indeed be difficult, a test, full of trials and tribulations, whereupon man will find many challenges and could face ruin both in this world and in the hereafter. Indeed man is inherently in a state of loss, misguidance and failure unless he turns to his creator and seeks his blessings. More in depth coverage of surah Faatihah will follow in the next few articles.

 

Virtues.

The virtues of Faatihah are immense and include:

  • Cure from diseases and illnesses as mentioned by the holy prophet  صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم.
  • Cure from black magic.
  • The fulfillment of prayers, supplications and other needs, through its constant recitation.

This article serves as a brief overview of this, the most commonly recited chapter of the Quran, and the following articles will look at its verses more specifically and some of the lessons to be learnt from looking at them.

All praise be to Allah and peace be upon his final messenger and his noble family, companions, his nation, and all the prophets and their righteous followers.

Ameen.

 

  • Faatih
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Or who answers the distressed one…

Image result for quran 27 62

Is He [not best] who responds to the desperate one when he calls upon Him and removes evil and makes you inheritors of the earth? Is there a deity with Allah ? Little do you remember.

Quran 27: 62

 

Image may contain: 1 person, text

 

Do not lose hope…

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In Spanish / En Espanol:

Eat from the good things…

Quran commentary series: 2c

The final part of the series of articles looking at the ‘basmallah’. The preceding two articles can be found by clicking on here for the first article and here for the second article.

 

In the preceding article, we looked at the name of Allah, its etymology, how it should be pronounced and touched very briefly upon its vast virtue and the benefits received from uttering it. Here in this final article on the ‘basmallah’, we will look at the words: ‘AR-RAHMAN’ and ‘AR-RAHEEM’

The ‘basmallah’ is as follows:

“Bismillahi Rahman ar-Raheem”

 

Which means ‘In the name of Allah the most beneficient, the most merciful’.

 

 

AR-RAHMAN

 

The ‘Ar’ in ‘Ar-Rahman’ is the Arabic definite article, ‘Al’ then merged with the following ‘Rahman’. Certain letters of Arabic which follow the ‘Al’ then see the dropping of the ‘L’ and the merging of the ‘AL’ sound with the first sound of the following word.

For example we do not say ‘Al-Shams’, (The Sun) but we drop the ‘L’ sound and make it ‘Ash-shams’.

These letters are known as the ‘Sun Letters’ or ‘Huroof as-Shamsiyah’ in Arabic.

The name of God in Arabic is said to be ‘Allah’. Allah has other names not just the oft-said ’99 names’ but more than that. These names are also called attributes, but they differ from Allah in some fundamental ways.

One of the names of Allah is ‘Al-Maalik’ which can mean ‘The Owner’.

We can say ‘huwa malik’, i.e. ‘he is the owner’ but we could never say ‘huwa Allah’ (he is God’)

The other names of Allah can also be used in the feminine form, so names of Allah such as ‘Maalik’ (The Owner, ) or ‘Rasheed’ (The Guide) but we can have females with the names ‘Malika’ or ‘Rasheeda’. This cannot be applied to the name ‘Allah’

‘Ar-Rahman’ and ‘Ar-Raheem’ are the two most commonly said names of Allah after Allah itself.

Some scholars have stated that this emphasizes the immensely benevolent and generous nature of Allah and is how we should think of him regularly.

‘Rahman’ has been mentioned 57 times in the holy Quran.

‘Rahman’ is derived from the root tri-lateral consonant form ‘R-H-M’ which in Arabic also means womb, and in Hebrew means ‘caring’ or ‘merciful’.

In Arabic the phrase ‘silaat ar rahm’ means the ‘ties of the womb’ and it is part of Islam to maintain family and blood ties, family unity and closeness is an important part of Islam and may Allah may make all of us have happy and united families. Ameen.

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There is a Hadith Qudsi (statement of Allah paraphrased by the holy prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) which says:

 أَنَا الرَّحْمنُ خَلَقْتُ الرَّحِمَ وَشَقَقْتُ لَهَا اسْمًا مِنِ اسْمِي، فَمَنْ وَصَلَهَا وَصَلْتُهُ وَمَنْ قَطَعَها قَطَعْتُهُ

‘I Am Ar-Rahman. I created the RAHAM (womb) and derived a name for it from My Name. Hence, whoever keeps it (family ties), I will keep ties to him, and whoever severs it, I will sever ties with him.’.

SOUND

It is said with a ‘R’ then with a hard ‘H’ emanating from the throat then a ‘Man’ at the end.

The ‘H’ sound comes from the throat and would be akin to if someone has consumed something hot and spicy such as chilly and wants to relieve some of the pain.

Here is a video on how to pronounce the ‘H’ in ‘Rahman’.

 

It is said from the middle of the throat and one should feel the middle of the throat vibrating when it is said.

‘AR-RAHEEM’

‘Ar-Raheem’ is said to have the same meaning as Ar-Rahman, but whereas the benevolence and caring nature of ‘Ar-Rahman’ extends to the whole of creation, that of ‘Raheem’ is said to extend to the believers, those who are closer to Allah, those who love him and obey him as opposed to those who do not care about him or have open enemity towards him.

These two names of Allah are the ones said by Muslims the most after ‘Allah’ itself, for without them many things are not possible, for example prayer (salah) is not complete without it. For Muslims they thus should have at the forefront of their minds the benevolent and generous nature of the Most-High, and if He Himself is like this, generous and benevolent then surely they too should attempt to replicate this and be generous to the creation.

The prophet Muhammad صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم has been called by Allah as ‘Rahmatul lil ‘aalameen’.

 

Image result for prophet muhammad rahmatul lil alameen

Those who follow the way of the holy prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم will have to follow his way of being generous, caring. Sending prayers (salawaat/durood) on him also brings the pleasure of Allah and blessings upon the one doing so.

We pray that the benevolence of Allah the Most High continues to shower and increase upon mankind and upon the followers of the holy prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم and upon us and our families.

We affirm that Allah is ‘Ar-Rahman’, the Most Generous and ‘Ar-Raheem’ the Most Generous to the believers.

Whereas Allah is ‘Ar-Raheem’, the Shaytan (Iblis, the Devil) is in contrast ‘Ar-Rajeem’ (the thrown away, the rejected).

Iblis seeks our harm, to destroy our lives, our families, our marriages, problems in our work, conflict, hatred.

Allah tells us to respect our families, our spouses, our colleagues, refrain from conflict and abuse.

  • Faatih.

 

*This is the final part of the articles on the ‘basmallah’. The next article will focus on the first surah (chapter) of the holy Quran, Al-Fatihah.

The Quran commentary series: 2b

 

In the previous article, which you can read by clicking here, we started discussing the ‘basmallah’ which means uttering ‘Bismillahi Rahman ar-Raheem’ meaning ‘In the name of my Allah the most beneficient, the most merficul’. We covered the words ‘bi’ (by/with/in) and ‘ism’ (name) now in this article I will focus on the word ‘Allah’.

 

Every thing has a name, for without a name, how can we speak of it or if ‘it’ be a person how can we speak to him or her?

A name identifies, describes.

Names are important, for without names there is nothing but chaos and confusion. They are a fundamental basis for humans to function. ‘Oh Adam, pass me the …..{no name/unspecified thing}’, or ‘Oh Adam, our daughter {no name} needs milk.’, ‘Oh Sara, which daughter?’

So names are essential for our existence.

What is the name of the most important being in existence, the most important one in our lives, the one who created us, to whom we owe our very existence and being? What is the name of the one to whom we owe everything, our lives, our health, our family?

His name is ‘Allah’

Image result for name allah

Root/etymology

Some, especially amongst the non-Muslims, believe that ‘Allah’ is a compound consisting of ‘Al’ (Arabic for ‘the’) and ‘ilah’ (Arabic for god or deity). In contrast to the many other deities worshipped by the ancient Arabs of the past, that ‘Al-ilah’, which is pronounced ‘Allah’, (the two words being merged).

The Muslims state that the name ‘Allah’ is the proper name for God.

The word ‘Allah’ existed before Islam and was used by the Jewish and Christian Arabs and is still today. The name of the father of the prophet Muhammad MHMD was ‘Abdullah’ (slave of Allah)

Arabic is a sister language of other Semitic languages such as Hebrew and Aramaic. The word which the ancient Hebews used as the personal name for God was ‘Yahweh’, but they also used the words ‘El’ or ‘Elohim’ which contain the ‘vowel’ + ‘L’ sound that we see in ‘Allah’. The word for God in Aramaic is either ‘El’ or ‘Elaha’ or ‘Elahi’.

The closest languages to Arabic include Hebrew and Aramaic.

The Jewish Arabs, Christian Arabs, monotheistic Arabs, polytheistic Arabs during the time before the holy prophet Muhammad all called ‘God’ as ‘Allah’. There was no dispute over this.

Despite there being disputes as to how only ‘Allah’ should be worshipped and certain acts constituted ‘shirk’ (idolatry or making partners with God) between the early Muslim Arabs and polytheist Arabs. Despite there being differences between the early Muslims and Christians on the nature of the Trinity or the allegation that Jesus (peace be upon him) was the ‘son’ of Allah. Despite there being certain monotheist Arabs (‘Hunafa’ in the Islamic tradition) they did not use a name other than ‘Allah’ for the supreme creator. It is the word for God in Arabic, as the word ‘God’ in English is used by Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists and others.

Sound

It has three main sounds.

 

‘A’.

The first vowel ‘A’ or ‘A’ preceded’ by a ‘hamzah’

Image result for hamza letter

A hamzah.

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Before we recite the Alif, we have to say the Hamza. The Hamza is from the lower part of the throat and you should be able to feel the bottom of your chest being worked.  Alif in Arabic is produced by moving the mouth open slightly wide and down (American English pronunciation is flawed because they open their mouth execessively wide and should instead focus on also dropping the jaw slightly as in the sound ‘Uh-huh’) and exhaling air and then quickly saying the second sound.

‘L’

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The second sound is the ‘L’ sound which linguists classify as a ‘lateral’. You should press the tongue to slightly behind your upper teeth and hold it.

The ‘L’ or ‘Lam’ sound is not momentary but uttered when raising the tongue to the upper part of the mouth immediately behind the teeth and  then maintained when lowering the tongue.

 

‘HA’

Image result for HA arabic

The final sound is the soft ‘HA’.

As the tongue is lowered from the top of the mouth it continues to 1: Make an ‘L’ sound to get the double ‘L’ in ‘Allah’ then makes an ‘A’ sound and then a final very soft ‘H’ sound which is not followed by any vowel.

To get the correct pronunciation find a Muslim or Arab who has learnt how to say the name of ‘Allah’ properly, and failing that you can find videos online or an online teacher or language exchange partner.

Many south Asian Muslims make mistakes when uttering the name ‘Allah’ by overemphasizing the ‘LL’ and not adding the very soft and subtle ‘H’ sound at the end.

This is the most important word in the universe and great care should be taken to learn how to pronounce it properly.

 

VIRTUES

The name of ‘Allah’ is the most powerful word and name in the entire universe, in the seven heavens and earths. It is a divine name whose utterance causes divine blessings to be endowed upon the one say it. It is encouraged to say it in abunance. Many of the great ‘awliyah’ (saints) of the past have said this holy and divine name tens of thousands, if not more every day.

The name of ‘Allah’ is often said in conjunction with other words such as ‘bismillah’ (in the name of Allah) or ‘A’udhubillah’ (I seek refuge in Allah), nevertheless it is constantly on the tongues of the pious, for it is He, the Most High, the Most Exalted for whom we exist, for whom we live and why we have been placed on this earth, to love him, to revere him, to thank him, to praise him and to earn his love by following commands and loving others including his beloved and holy messenger, Muhammad MHMD, who has been described as ‘rahmatul lil ‘aalameen’ (a mercy to the worlds).

The more frequently the name of ‘Allah’, the more blessings there are upon the one saying it.

 

From Abu Sa`id al-Khudri, the Prophet MHMD said, upon him peace:

“No people mention ALLAH but the angels surround them, mercy covers them, tranquility descends on them, and ALLAH mentions them to those who are with Him.” (Muslim, at-Tirmidhi)

Modern life can be stressful, here in London it is said that officially (let alone unofficially) one in four of Londoners have what is medically classified as ‘depression’. Those who are heedless of their creator, the Most Generous, will not receive the same amount of generosity as the ones who constantly remember him, call upon him, and praise him.

When you say ‘bismillah’, you are saying that you are performing an act in the name of the Master of the Heavens and the Earth, the One who can do all things, the One who has power over all things. You are saying that you are performing an act in the name of the One who created you, the One to whom you will be held to account on the day of judgement, that day of reckoning when men will have to answer for their deeds during their very short stay in his temporary, transient, and harsh residence called the earth.

Oh son of Adam, oh Muslim, engage in frequent invocation of Allah, in frequent utterance of his name and upon doing so you will witness much blessings flowing in to your life. Be grateful to the One who has given you countless blessings including that you are aware of and that you are not.

  • Faatih

 

*In the next article in the Quran commentary series we will complete our focus on the ‘basmallah’ by looking at the words ‘Rahman and ‘Raheem’

Instructions in the Quran


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