The 13th Juz consists of Surah Yusuf (last 58 verses), Surat al-Ra’ad (43 verses, the Thunder), and Surah Ibrahim (52 verses). All are Meccan and contain themes of establishing the basic tenants of Islam. In the Qur'an, God uses stories, parables, prose, imagery, rhetorical questions, similitude and allegories to help us separate the truth from falsehood. In this juz, two interesting parables appear. In a delicate way, He uses examples from nature, like the one of the froth/scum on water or the process of purifying gold as is mentioned in Surat al Ra’ad. In Surah Ibrahim, words and beliefs are likened to trees. Both of these mention parables that explain the nature of Truth and falsehood. While falsehood is temporary, Truth is permanent and stable. These parables appeal to our intellect and understanding, so that we may reflect, accept the truth to purify ourselves, and ultimately draw closer to God.
Innaa Hadha Al-Qur'ana Yahdee li-latee hiya aqwamu wa yubashshir Al mu'mineen al-lathi ya'malun al-salihat anna lahum Ajran Kabira (17:9) [Indeed, this Qur'an guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward (17:9)].
Juz 13. 'A'udhu billahi min al-shaytan al-rajim, Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim. I begin in the name of Allah, compassionate to all, merciful to each. As-salaamu alaykum and welcome to the 13th episode in this podcast series titled "Journeying Our Eyes Through the Qur'an, exploring 30 years in 30 days". Today, InshaAllah, we will continue our journey through the pages of the Qur'an as we take a brief look into the 13th juz of the Qur'an, which consists of the last 58 verses of Surah Yusuf, 43 verses i.e. the entirety of Chapter 13 Surat al-Ra'ad, The Thunder and the entirety of Surah Ibrahim, at 52 verses long.
All of these Suwar are Meccan. And so in today's episode we will continue to explore beautiful themes surrounding the truth and the basic tenants of our belief system. Throughout the Qur'an, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala employs many strategies. There are stories, sections of beautiful prose, imagery, rhetorical questions and more. All with the goal of teaching us about guidance and our beliefs. There is Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala speaking in the first person, the second person and third person, and there are switches in between them, which is a technique called Iltifaat. There is also similitudes or examples used were Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala draws parables, allegories and examples from many things.
Sometimes He draws examples from the nature that we see around us. And this is an incredibly Latif or delicate way that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala explains reality or truth. We know that in the Qur'an, the word Ayah, which means sign, refers both to the sentences of the Qur'an, which we commonly translate as verses, and also to the natural world around us. Both of them are intended to take us towards Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala and show us our way towards Him.
Some of the allegories, the 'mathal' used in the Qur'an are particularly beautiful because not only do they discuss some of these natural Ayat around us, but they also use them as allegories to help us understand the nature of truth. One such parable is in verse 17 of Surat al-Ra'ad.
Anzala min as-sama'i ma'an fasalat awdiyatum biqadariha fahtamal as-sailu zabada rabiyaa, wa mimma yuqiduna 'alaihi fi an-nari ibtigha'a bilyatin aw mataa'in zabadum mithluh, kadhalika yadribu Alllahu al-haqqa wa al-batil, fa amma az-zabadu fa yadhabu jufa'a, wa amma ma yanfa'u an-nasa fa yamkuthu fi il-ardh, kadhaalika yadribu Allahu al-amthal (13:17). He sends down water from the sky where the valleys are flooded to the extent of their capacity, and the flood carries along a swelling scum. And from what they smelt in the fire for the purpose of making ornaments and wares, [there arises] a similar scum. That is how Allah compares truth and falsehood. As for the scum, it leaves as dross and that which profits the people stays in the earth. That is how Allah draws comparisons (13:17).
Here, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala is comparing the nature of truth and falsehood to two common occurrences in nature: the froth on top of water and the process of purifying gold.
The verse says that when 'valleys are flooded with water and the water comes together, it forms a scum or a froth at the top of it'(13:17), similar to suds of soap. However, this is a secondary type of impurity and eventually the froth leaves and disappears as the water settles. Similarly, in order to extract and purify gold, there is a purification process and many of the impurities are removed. In both of these scenarios, the impurities eventually leave with the pure substance remaining behind water or gold.
Ayatollah Jawadi Amuli in his topical tafsir "Qur'an in the light of the Qur'an" discusses this verse in detail, saying that here the water or the rain is the truth and the truth is the Qur'an, the Kalam Allah an absolute Haqq. He explains that when someone is looking at the water and if it has froth at the top of it, it can be more eye-catching. You look at the water and all you see is the froth on the surface. It seems to cover the water or in this example, it seems to cover the truth.
However, it is temporary. Falsehood is like this froth that is on top of the water or on top of the truth. It may seem appealing, it may seem eye-catching, it may make trends, we may be fooled into thinking that this froth is somehow significant, but froth and other impurities are temporary, and this is the nature of falsehood. Falsehood does not have a basis. And therefore, by its nature, it does not stay behind, it does not remain.
In this allegory, water is represented by the truth or the Qur'an. The true understanding of the Qur'an, which is truth, is what is intended. But when water or truth pours forward, or when we try to understand the truth of the Qur'an, sometimes there are misunderstandings that we have. But these misunderstandings and falsehood are like the froth or the froth of allegory, which are accidental and not truly intended. This froth and these falsehoods are not there to stay, and they disappear with a true understanding of reality, like the understanding that comes with our own purification, with pondering, with referring to the explanations by the Holy Prophet, Sallal-lahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, and the Ahlul Bayt, and subsequently from scholars of tafsir.
In this way, these misunderstandings and froth can be cleared. Moreover, as we pass to the Akhira, only Haqq remains and everybody will finally see the truth and the water will remain, the truth will remain with the falsehood and the froth disappearing as it has no permanency.
What this verse essentially points to is the permanent nature of truth and the impermanent nature of falsehood. This stable nature of truth and the unstable nature of falsehood is also spoken of again in a different parable later on in the same Juz in Surah Ibrahim.
Alam tara kaifa daraba Allahu mathalan kalimatan tayyibatan ka shajaratin tayyibatin asluhaa saabitun wa far'uhaa fi as-sama' (14:24). Tu'ti ukulaha kulla hinin bi idhni Rabbiha, wa yadribu Allahu al-amthal lil-nasi la'allahum yatadhakkarun (14:25). Wa mathalu kalimatin khabithatin ka shajaratin khabithatin ajtuththat min fawqi al-ardhi ma laha min qarar (14:26). Yuthabbit Allahu alladhuna amanoo bilqawli ath-thabiti fi il-hayat id-dunyaa wa fi il-akhirati wa yudillu Allaahu adh-dhalimin. Wa yaf'alu Allahu ma yasha' (14:27).
Have you not regarded how Allah has drawn a parable? A good word is like a good tree, its roots are steady and its branches are in the sky (14:24). It gives its fruit every season by the leave of its Lord, Allah draws these parables for mankind so that they may take admonition (14:25). And the parable of a bad word is that of a bad tree uprooted from the ground, it has no stability (14:26). Allah fortifies those who have faith with a constant creed in the life of this world and in the Hereafter, and Allah leads astray the wrongdoers and Allah does whatever He wishes (14:27).
Allamah Tabataba'i, when explaining this verse in Tafsir al-Mizan mentions that the term 'Kalimatun tayyibatun', which is often translated as a good word, is not just speaking of any words that a person uses, but rather it is speaking of words that stem from a true belief that is rooted in Haqq or reality. It is these words that a person uses based in truth, based in reality, that have the qualities mentioned later on in the verse.
They proliferate and multiply. Their foundations are strong and steady because they are rooted in truth. And these beliefs of Haqq are far reaching. On the other hand, corrupt words, based on corrupted beliefs and falsehood have no such quality. They are unstable and unreaching. From both of the examples explored above, we see how Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala uses both of these beautiful examples. Bringing in nature to expand on the nature of Haqq, showing that while falsehood is impermanent, truth is permanent.
We pray that we are able to build our foundations and Haqq and truth and that we are able to take lessons from these poignant parables. Wa Al-Hamdulil-Lahi Rabbi Al-Alameen, wa salla Allahu alaa nabiyyina Muhammadin, wa alihi, al-tayibeen, al-tahireen. Wa as-salamu alaykum, wa rahmatullahi, wa baraktu.
Rabbana La tuzigh Qulubana (3:8) [Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate (3:8)]