Juz 16 of the Holy Qur'an consists of three Meccan surahs: the last 36 verses of Surah Kahf, the entirety of Surah Maryam, and the entirety of Surah Taha. This juz touches on the concept of how Allah (swt) is in control of everything, including our free-will, how He provides our rizk, and how He intervenes in our lives. When we examine the life of Prophet Musa (as) in the beginning of Surah Taha, we see all of these concepts come together. When Musa’s (as) mother placed him in the river, she was nervous, but she had faith that Allah (swt) would take care of him. Allah (swt) made sure to move the river in such a way that the basket with Musa (as) in it would reach Pharaoh's palace. It is here that free-will comes into play. Using their free-will, Asiya, and eventually Pharaoh fell in love with baby Musa and decided to raise him. In this story we can see that while Allah (swt) is in control of everything, He has also provided us with free-will to decide our own destiny.
Innaa Hadha Al Qur'ana Yahdee li-latee hiya aqwamu wo yo-bashir Al mu'mineen Al-lathina 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 16 '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. Assalamu Alaykum, and welcome to the 16th episode in this podcast series titled "Journeying Our Eyes Through the Qur'an, exploring 30 juz 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 16th juz of the Qur'an, which consists of the last thirty six verses of Surat Al-Kahf, the entirety of all ninety eight verses of Chapter 19 Surat Maryam and the entirety of Surat Taha which is one hundred and thirty five verses long.
Yet again, all of these Surats are Meccan. In the previous episode we discussed a du'a and the ways in which Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala grants believers rizq or sustenance, which is in line with what is best for them. In today's episode, we will explore how it is that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala intervenes in our lives, providing this rizq and how he is in control of everything, even with free will at play.
In yesterday's episode, we mentioned a verse repeated in the Qur'an 10 times, and that is that "he expands and limits the rizq for whomever he likes however he pleases."
"Yabsutu ul-rizqa liman yasha"(29:62), in this verse and others like it, we see how Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala expresses that he is the one in ultimate control of everything. This concept can sometimes become difficult for many of us to understand when we take into consideration free will another foundational belief that we have, especially when it comes to the fact that we will all be held accountable one day. But the question arises that if we are choosing whatever it is that we do in this world from our own free will, then how is it that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala can take credit and say that he is planning and orchestrating everything, providing us rizq even in times where it seems like it's coming from somebody else who is exercising free will?
In order to explain this concept, we are going to take a closer look at the story of Prophet Musa, alayhi assalam. Although the story of Prophet Musa alayhi assalam is mentioned many times throughout the Qur'an, the most detailed account occurs in this chapter Surat Taha (20) from verses nine to ninety-eight, the way in which the story is told is rather beautiful, with a beautiful literary technique telling us the story of Prophet Musa, alayhi assalam, through God's perspective and his eyes.
The verses begin by telling us that when Prophet Musa alayhi assalam, enters the Sacred Valley of Tuwa he speaks to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. And of course we know Prophet Musa, alayhi assalam, is famously known as kalim Ullah, or the one who spoke to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. Here he receives the message of prophethood, along with two miracles to take back to the people of Fir'awn.
But while Prophet Musa alayhi assalam, is speaking to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, he supplicates with the famous du'a that almost every khatib begins with: "rabbi shrahli sadri wa yasirli amri"(20:25-26), and he also asks Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala for Haroun alayhi assalam his brother as a support for him. When Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala speaks back to him and responds to him and tells him that his request has been granted, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala goes on a tangent and He reminds Prophet Musa, alayhi assalam, of all of the blessings of Prophet Musa's past.
But He tells it through His i.e. the Divine's perspective. He mentions what He did to help Prophet Musa, alayhi assalam, throughout his life. This perspective of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala as He tells the story of Prophet Musa, alayhi assalam, to Prophet Musa, alayhi assalam and the various ways in which He protected Prophet Musa, alayhi assalam, is astounding. And it gives us a practical way of looking at the story of free-will and God's planning together in action. Let's look at some of the verses below.
Qala qad uteeta su'laka ya Musa. Walaqad mananna alayka marratan ukhra, idh awhahyna ila ummika ma yooha. Ani qudhi feehi fee at-tabooti fa qudhi feehi fee al-yammi fa alyulqihi al-yammu bi as-sahili ya’khuthhu a’duwwun lee wa’aduwwun lah, wa-alqaytu ʿalayka mahabbatan minni wa litus'naʿa ʿala ʿayni. Idh tamshee ukhtuka fataqoolu hal adullukum ’ala man yakfuluhu faraja’anaka ila ummika kay taqarra ’aynuha wa la tahzana wa qatalta nafsan fa najjaynaka min al-ghammi wa fa tannaka futoonan falabithta sineena fee ahli madyana thumma ji’ta ’ala qadarin ya Musa. Waistana’tuka linafsee. (20: 36-41)
He said, "Moses, your request has been granted. Certainly we have done you a favor, another time when we revealed to your Mother whatever was to be revealed, put him in the casket and cast it into the river. Then the river will cast it on the bank and he shall be picked up by an enemy of mine and an enemy of his. And I made you endearing and that you may be reared under my watchful eyes. When your sister walked up to Pharaoh's palace saying, shall I show you someone who will take care of him? Then we restored you to your Mother that she might not grieve and be comforted. Then you accidentally slew a soul in defense, whereupon we delivered you from anguish and we tried you with various ordeals. Then you stayed for several years among the people of Midian. Then you turned up as ordained Oh Musa and I chose you for Myself." (20:36-41)
As Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala speaks to Musa alayhi assalam, in this passage, he says that when Prophet Musa, alayhi assalam, as a child, it was Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala who ensured his safety.
First, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala gives a divine inspiration to the mother of Prophet Musa alayhi salaam, to put him into a casket and to cast him into the river. And of course, we all know the story of what plays out and how the wife of Fir'awn, Asiyah alayhi assalam, picked him up at the Bank of the River. Here we see the revelation of Allah subhana wa Ta'ala to prophet Musa's Mother, but also the fact that Prophet Musa's Mother from her own free will did it. And then that Fir'awn and Asiyah pick up Musa, alayhi assalam, and choose to save him also from their own free will.
We start to see how both the free will of people and Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala's planning, are at play together. How is it that the Nile, took Prophet Musa, alayhi assalam, right where he needed to go? Right where people would find him at the right time in order to ensure his safety. How did he not drown? And then the verse says something really interesting. It says, that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala made Prophet Musa alayhi assalam endearing: "wa-alqaytu ʿalayka mahabbatan minni" (20:39). Cast upon you a love from me. Literally what this means is that he threw onto Musa a type of love.
In the commentaries, some mufassireen discuss this phenomenon and say that when people saw Prophet Musa, alayhi assalam as a child and as a baby, they fell in love with him. First, the midwife who helped Prophet Musa alayhi assalam's Mother, give birth. She was working for Fir'awn and she didn't reveal the birth of Prophet Musa alayhi assalam to Fir'awn soldiers because she felt this love for him. And then even Asiyah and Fir'awn himself. It was this cuteness or this nature of Prophtet Musa, alayhi assalam, that was a part of his salvation, causing people to fall in love with him when they saw him. Again, here we see Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala's plan and how it doesn't contradict free will, but rather works with free will.
And we see how Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala not only created the variables, but He uses what He knows of how people would act with their own free will in the story to orchestrate a certain outcome. He desired what He wanted and He planned. And so we see that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala takes credit for all of this and He even takes credit for this free will at the end of the day, our free will is, after all, reliant on the Lord who granted it to us.
It is not of our own accord. We cannot choose not to have free will. We are given it. The verses then go on to show how Prophet Musa alayhi assalam, was reunited with his mother and sister after being separated. And many of us will know the story of how, as a baby, he wouldn't accept milk from any of the wet nurses and his sister, who was watching over him, seeing the opportunity here, proposed that they try her mother and as such, Prophet Musa, alayhi assalam, was secretly reunited with his birth mother, who was incredibly stressed, and in this way, we see how Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala describes it.
He says that he restores Musa alayhi assalam, to her so that his mother would not grieve and that her eyes would be comforted. At that, we can see that the planning of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala and his control over the affairs of the world is such that all variables and factors are under his control.
Like whose milk Prophet Musa alayhi assalam, would have drunk from. Like the weather, like who our parents will be, the laws that govern this existence, like the laws of physics and other matters. These are all precise measurements that are under the control and under the knowledge of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala.
On the other hand, we as humans, we do have our free will where we choose to do something or not to do something. And this in turn is also something that is under Allah's control in the sense that he provides us with this free will. So when Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala decrees something, He decrees the existence of these variables and these factors at a certain time and place, without canceling free will, but just knowing what we will do with free will.
Another example of how we can see this at play in the story of Prophet Musa alayhi assalam, is when he's near Mount Sinai with his family. We see that Prophet Musa alayhi assalam was walking to get some firewood, when he saw a fire lit in a tree and he walks towards it with his own free will. Here we can see again how the variables were perfectly set up in a way that Prophet Musa alayhi assalam came to this spot via his own free will.
The analogy of divine decree and human will is similar to a human being who is able to lift one of his legs from the ground but cannot lift both of them from the ground at the same time. These stories in the Qur'an serve a great purpose, as we witness them through the eyes of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in the Qur'an. In a powerful way, we can see how Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala's planning and our free will, work together and come to life seamlessly in the story of Prophet Musa alayhi assalam, as it does every day in our lives.
As you go through the various passages and stories of the Qur'an, the beautiful and inspiring qasas (stories) in which there are so many lessons to think of, consider this point: how do these stories teach us about Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala? How do they teach us about concepts of destiny, free will and God's intricate planning? And as another question, if you were to retell a story of your life from the perspective of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, how would He tell it differently than you would?
Wa Al-Hamdulillah Rabbi Al-Alameen, wa salla Allahu alaa nabiyyina Muhammadin, wa alihi al-tayibeen, al-tahireen. Wa assalamu alaykum, wa rahmatullahi, wa baraktu.
Rabbana La tuzigh Qulubana (3:8) [Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate (3:8)]