Discourse 16: The Qur’an: A Divine Light In The (Spiritually) Dark And Gloomy Nights
عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدِ الْخُدْرِيِّ قَالَ: خَطَبَـنَا رَسُولُ اللٌّهِ قَالَ فِي خُطْـبَتِهِ: أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ، إِنَّكُمْ فِي زَمَانِ هُدْنَةِ، وَ إِنَّ السَّيْرَ بِكُمْ سَرِيعٌ، وَ قَدْ رَأَيْتُمُ اللَّيْلَ وَ النَّهَارَ كَيْفَ يُـبْلِيَانِ كُلَّ جَدِيدٍ، وَ يُقَرِّبَانِ كُلَّ بَعِيدٍ، وَ يَأْتِـيَانِ بِكُلِّ مَوْعُودٍ. فَقَالَ لَهُ الْمِقْدادُ: يا نَبِيَّ اللٌّهِ، وَ مَا الْهُدْنَةُ؟ فَقال: دَارُ بَلاَءِ وَ انْـقِطَاعِ، فَإِذَا الْـتَبَسَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الأُمُورُ كَقِطَعِ اللَّيْلِ الْمُظْلِمِ، فَعَلَيْكُمْ بِالْقُرْآنِ، فَإِنَّهُ شَافِعٌ مُشَفَّعُ، وَ صَادِقٌ مُصَدَّقٌ، وَ مَنْ جَعَلَهُ أَمَامَهُ قَادَهُ اِلــى الْجَنَّةِ، وَ مَنْ جَعَلَهُ خَلْفَهُ سَاقَهُ إِلـى النَّارِ.
It has been narrated from Abu Sa’id al-Khudri that he said, “The Messenger of Allah (S) spoke to us and said, 'O' People! You are in a period of Hudnah and the journey you are on is a fast moving one. You see how night and day make everything which is new, old; (you also see) how they (night and day) make everything far away, near (to you); (you also see) how (night and day) bring forth all the promises (which have been kept).'
Miqdad said, 'O' Prophet of Allah, and what is al-Hudnah?'
The Messenger (S) replied, 'It is the abode of tests and separation. Thus, when the (difficult) events descend upon you like a segment of the dark night, then I advise you to (hold onto) the Qur`an since it (the Qur`an) is an intercession whose intercession is accepted; it is the one which speaks the truth and confirms others (and the truth which they speak). Whoever places the Qur`an in front of him, it (the Qur`an) will lead him towards Paradise; the person who tosses the Qur`an behind him, it will push him to the Hell.”1
In this tradition, the Noble Prophet (S) has stated, “O' People! You are in the period of Hudnah [the explanation of this will follow]; you have been left free in the transient world and have been given free reign to do as you please. The transient world is quickly passing away. The night and day are making all new things old and long forgotten. It is also making all things which may be far away, near (to you) and is making every promise which was kept to be fulfilled!”
It is amazing to see that we are living in a time in which there is no peace or tranquility - everything is being overturned and changed at a fast pace. In the words of the late ‘Allamah Iqbal:
ما زنده به آنيم كه آرام نگيريم موجيم كه آسودگى ما عدم ماست
The upsurges of water are in constant motion (on the ocean), however if they were to be stable and calm, then it would cease to be called a wave!
When a person looks at the world stage of humanity, he would see the infants are quickly becoming young adults; young adults are quickly becoming seniors; and seniors are being carried to the graveyard! The regular announcements made within the community of people who have passed away are actually warnings for all human beings!
In continuation of the tradition, Miqdad asked, “O' Prophet of Allah! What is the meaning of al-Hudnah”?
The Prophet (S) replied, “al-Hudnah means that the transient world is a place of test and examination and a period (which one must pass thorugh) and is a time in which you have been left alone. Allah (SwT) will not bother with you, and in the face of the sins which you commit and the actions which you perpetrate, He will not immediately punish you.”2
After this, the Prophet (S) then issued the following statement which has been mentioned in various books of tradition as an independent saying:
فَإِذَا الْـتَبَسَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الأُمُورُ كَقِطَعِ اللَّيْلِ الْمُظْلِمِ فَعَلَيْكُمْ بِالْقُرْآنِ…
In this tradition, the Prophet (S) advises us that, “If events come upon you which resemble the darkness of the night (events which are full of terror and fear) then hold on fast to the Qur`an…”
But why?? The Prophet (S) answered this question and said, “Because the Qur`an is an intercessor whose intercession is accepted. It is truthful and it is also the one which has confirmed and acknowledged Allah (SwT). The person who places the Qur`an in front of him (keeps the Qur`an in mind before performing any act) will be guided to Paradise by the Qur`an while the person who throws the Qur`an behind him (and disregards this Book) will be led into the hell fire!”
Placing the Qur`an in front and leaving it behind (us) has two meanings:
1. Paying attention to the Qur`an and neglecting the Qur`an.
2. The Qur`an becomes the teacher of the person and not an instrument for his misuse - the person brings himself to the Qur`an and does not want the Qur`an to 'come to him'.
There are some people who, when they have made their final decision in regards to a particular act, then refer to the Qur`an and seek to find a verse which would conform to their ideologies. These sorts of people stick to the verses of the Qur`an which suit their purpose and leave aside all other verses of the Qur`an. Through this, they have actually become a living example of the verse that states:
نُؤْمِنُ بِبَعْضٍ وَ نَكْفُرُ بِبَعْضٍ
“We believe in part of it and disbelieve in part of it.”3
It is clear that such people have thrown the Qur`an behind their backs!
Many of the misled Madhahib (sects) which have come forth within Islam, such as the Wahhabis, are plagued with this sickness.
When a person's theological beliefs become very exact and precise, we see that they try to gather all of the verses of the Qur`an which are decisive in their understanding and choose the verses which have two sides to their meaning and which serve their purpose.
On the opposite side, there are a people who are students of the Qur`an and they say, “Our final decision is that which the Qur`an tells us.” These types of people take the guidance of the Qur`an when they need to solve any difficulty and are a living example of the verse of the Qur`an that reads:
فَلاَ وَ رَبَّكَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّى يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لاَ يَجِدُوا فِي أَنْـفُسِهِمْ حَرَجاً مِمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَ يُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيماً
“But no by your Lord! In actuality, they do not believe until they make you a judge of that which has become a matter of disagreement among them, and then do not find any straitness in their hearts as to what you have decided and submit (to you) with entire submission.”4
We have all heard the saying record in Nahj al-Balagha which states:
أَلإِِسْلاَمُ هُوَ التَّسْلِيمُ.
“Islam is Taslim (complete submission).”5
Thus, as long as a person does not submit completely in the presence of the Qur`an, he shall not be considered as a true Muslim!
It is not appropriate for a person to impose his own beliefs upon the Qur`an and in actuality, this is a form of egotism since the Qur`an clearly tells us that, “We must submit entirely to it - both its outer content and its inner purport.”
With all of the emphasis that exists in regards to the importance of the Book of Allah (SwT), still the Qur`an does not hold an essential and deserving status within our lives as it should. If only we paid as much attention to the Qur`an and the exegesis of it as we do to the study of rhetoric and expression (of the ‘Arabic language)…
Without doubt, we all believe and accept that:
وَ لاَ رَطْبٍ وَ لاَ يَابِسٍ إِلاَّ فِي كِتَابٍ مُبُينٍ
“There is nothing wet or dry except that it is recorded in the manifest book.”6
There are people, such as the Wahhabis, who only give importance to the letters of the Qur`an and exhert much efforts to recite it (properly), however they have nothing to do with its contents! When the recitor of the Qur`an recites many verses of the Qur`an in one breath, they would shout out, “Allah, Allah” (as a form of encouragement to the reciter), however when the moving verses regarding the Day of Judgement are recited, since the recitor did not recite then in one breath, there is no encouragement!
Truly, amongst us, the Qur`an is oppressed!
The Qur`an must be our text book and we must have discussions on the exegesis of this book such that we sit and see what it is that the Qur`an has to say to us - not what we have to say about this book!
The important point is that we must have firm belief that the more work that is done on the Qur`an and its understanding, the more we will be granted a Divine light, purity and a new understanding of this Book as the illumination of a person's mind comes about when he works with the Qur`an.
There are three important responsibilities which must be fulfilled in regards to the Qur`an: recitation; understanding the contents; and more important than all - acting upon the contents!
- 1. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 74, pg. 177
There is a long discussion in relation to the tests of Allah (SwT), however we shall allude to just some of its angles at this point.
1. Why does Allah (SwT) need to test people?
Isn't the process of examination enacted so that we can recognize and have a better knowledge of those people or things which are unknown and obscure to us and so that we can judge the level of a person's lack of knowledge? If this is the case, then Allah (SwT), whose Knowledge encompasses all things and who knows all of the inner and outer secrets of everyone and everything in existence is already aware and knows everything - so then why test us? Is there something that is hidden from Him that He must test us to bring it forth?
The answer to this important question must be sought out from the Islamic sources.
When we refer to the books written on this topic, we see that the meaning of examination in relation to Allah (SwT) has a different meaning to the examination which we understand in this physical world. For us, the examination process is so that we develop a better understanding and so that we can remove any sorts of doubts and ignorance. However in relation to the tests of Allah (SwT) it is a form of nurturing.
In reality, the test of Allah (SwT) is similar to the work which a horticulturalist, who has a great deal of experience, carries out in which he would place the ready to grow seed into the ground which has been made ready for sowing. This seed, by making use of the natural gifts of water, light, etc… would start to grow and develop.
During all of its stages of growth, it would fight against the challenges which it comes across and would battle with various things happening around it such as the strong winds, the cold weather and the burning heat of the sun. It would then stand strong until a beautiful flower blooms from its branch or until a huge tree full of fruit is brought forth so that it is now able to continue its life on its own and put up with all sorts of difficulties which it may come across!
When soldiers want to look strong and powerful in terms of their military prowess, they go forth in military manoeuvres and simulated wars and challenge themselves with thirst, hunger, heat, cold, difficult circumstances and demanding impediments so that they can be conditioned and tempered - and this is the meaning of the examinations of Allah (SwT).
2. The Tests of Allah (SwT) are Universal
Seeing as how the order which is present in the life of the world of existence is one of a spiritual evolution to reach perfection and cultivation of the spirit and all living creatures which exist are traversing this path, and even the trees bring forth their hidden potentiality when they bear fruit, we see that starting with the Prophets and reaching to all other people, according to the general law of spiritual evolution all must face the Divine Tests and must make use of their talents and abilities in order to blossom and bloom and to reach to perfection.
3. The Ways of Testing
The verses of the Quraf1an bring forth many examples of people who have been tested and it clearly mentions their trials which include: fear, hunger, loss of their wealth, death of their children and even death of the Prophets! In addition, the commandments of Allah (SwT), and generally speaking from the point of view of the Quraf1an, even some dreams, are all a part of the testing process of Allah (SwT). In general, all of these things can either be “good or bad” - and all of them are classified as tests of Allah (SwT):
وَ نَبْلُوَكُمْ بِالشَّرِّ وَ الْخَيْرِ…
“And We shall surely test you with evil and good…” (Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 1, pg. 526)
- 3. Surat al-Nisa (4), verse 105
- 4. Ibid., verse 65
- 5. Nahj al-Balagha, Short saying 120
- 6. Surat al-Anam (6), verse 59