Juz 17 Of 30 - Journeying Our Eyes Through The Qur'an

Innaa Hadha Al Qur'ana Yahdee li-latee hiya aqwamu wa yo-bashir 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 17. '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 17th 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 17th Juz of the Qur'an, which consists of two Surahs: Chapter 21 Surat ul -Anbiya, which is 113 verses long, and Chapter 22 Hajj, which is 78 verses long.

Surat ul-Anbiya meaning the Prophets, is called Anbiya because it contains references to seventeen prophets, 16 of them by name, and an implicit reference to Nabi Isa alayhi as-salam, through a reference to Sayyidah Maryam, salaam Ullahi alayha, giving a grand total of 17. There are only 25 Prophets of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala mentioned in the Qur'an, and the Surah mentions most of them, which is why the chapter is usually referred to as Anbiya. While the Anbiya or the Prophets of Allah are mentioned throughout the entire Qur'an and in various places, they are rarely mentioned in chronological order with their entire stories of their entire lives told in one place, with a couple of exceptions like Prophet Yusuf in Surah Yusuf (12) or Prophet Musa in Surah al-Qasas, Chapter twenty eight.

Usually what Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala does is that He mentions different aspects about these different prophets in different places throughout the Qur'an in order to highlight different aspects of the Prophet's message wherever relevant and appropriate. This strategy is in line with the Qur'an's ultimate goal of guidance and it's serving as a light for us because the point is not topical, but rather the point is guidance.

In this particular chapter, there are a few common threads that we can observe with regards to the discussion of the Prophets and the subjects which they focus on. One of them is the affirmation that these Prophets, these men of God, were human beings. They were men who walked and talked and ate, they engaged in regular human activities and in addition to that, they also received Revelation from Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. Moreover, they were all united in their message which was Tawheed and the 'ubudiyyah - the servitude and the worship of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala.

They are meant to be taken as role models and their stories contain many lessons for us to learn from and emulate. They, too, faced hardships throughout their lives, but it was none other than Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala that they turn to in their times of need and none other than Him who aided them and blessed them in beautiful ways. From their relationship with Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala there are beautiful lessons that we can take.

The second common thread that we see in this chapter and in these stories is that of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala's aid and his beautiful mercy to these 17 Prophets. These stories make up roughly half of Surat ul-Anbiya with its discussions beginning in verse 43 and ending in 91. It could be argued that the focus of the set of verses are the blessings that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has granted to all of these prophets and as mentioned in these verses, it is how He stepped in and intervened to help them through their challenges.

In one notable story of the trials of Prophet Ayyub alayhi as-salam, who is the tenth Prophet to be mentioned in the sequence, a beautiful du'a is mentioned. Despite facing incredible trials, Prophet Ayyub alayhi as-salam, never failed to see the Mercy of Allah, and he was continuously grateful for Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala's blessings. In a very difficult test after suffering property losses, the death of his children and then being afflicted with a physical illness, Prophet Ayyub alayhi as-salam, calls out to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. He cries to his cherishing, nurturing Lord and he turns to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in his time of need. And this instance is quoted and verses 83-84.

Wa Ayyooba idhna darabbahu anni massaniya adh-dhurru waanta arhamu ar-rahimeen (21:83). Fastajabna lahu fakashafna ma bihi min dhurr wa ataynahu ahlahu wa mithlahum ma'ahum rahmatan min 'indina wadhikra lil'abideen (21:84.)"And remember Job, Ayyoub, when he called out to his Lord, 'Indeed, distress has befallen me and you are the most Merciful of the Merciful'. So We answered his prayer and removed his distress, and We gave him back his family, along with others, like them, as a mercy from Us and an admonition for the devout.

First in the set of verses, his du'a or his prayer is quoted, and in this prayer there is a beautiful lesson for us. In this du'a Prophet Ayyub alayhi as-salam, does not even specify the types of afflictions that he has. He mentions them generally simply saying that he is hurting "anni massaniy adh-dhur". Moreover, he does not even ask for them to be removed but he simply says 'Oh Lord, I am suffering, I am hurting and You, You are loving, You are Merciful. You are the most Merciful of the Merciful'.

And this indicates that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in his eyes was the most Merciful of the Merciful, and He would do whatever was fit for Prophet Ayyub alayhi as-salaam. And then in verse 84, we see how Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, of course, answers his prayers and He says "Fastajabna lahu fakashafna maa bihi min dhurr." that We answered his prayer and We removed what was hurting him, We removed his afflictions.

And not only that, but Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala replaces everything that Prophet Ayyub has lost and gives to him more from His Special Mercy because indeed He is the most Merciful of the Merciful. The verse ends off by saying wa dhikraa lil 'abideen. In this story, there is a great reminder for devout worshipers that however great, multiple and varied their afflictions may be, they will be rewarded abundantly if they are sincere and turn to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala regularly, patiently and praying with hope to Him, relying on Him and recognizing His boundless Mercy that has no limitation.

The stories of these Prophets are not mentioned in a vacuum. They are there for us to learn from. In fact, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala indicate that he helps and saves the mu'minin in this exact same way. When he mentions the story of Prophet Yunus,, alayhi assalam, dubbed the man of the fish in verses 87-88, we hear the following verses.

Wa dhannooni idh dhahaba mughadiban fa dhanna an lan naqdira 'alyhi fanada fee adh-dhulumati an la ilaha illa anta subhanaka innee kuntu min adh-dhalimeen (21:87). Fastajabna lahu wa najjaynahumina al-ghamm wa kadhalika nunjee al-mu'mineen" (21:88).

"And remember the Man of the Fish, when he left in a rage, thinking that We would not put him to hardship. Then he cried out in the darkness. 'There is no God except you! You are Immaculate! I have indeed been among the wrongdoers!" The famous phrase mentioned here by Prophet Younus,, alayhi assalam, as he's in the belly of the whale is the phrase "La ilaha illa ant subhanaka innee kuntu min adh-dhalimeen". Meaning that there is no God but you, O Lord, Immaculate are You. Innee kuntu min adh-dhalimeen. Indeed I have done wrong to myself. Over here Pophet Younus,, alayhi assalam, is speaking about how he should have stayed a little bit longer amongst his people to do what was necessary to save them and to help them in their salvation, in his responsibility as a Prophet. This particular dhikr where prophet Younus,, alayhi assalam, is noting his own shortcomings is dubbed adh-dhikr ul-Younussi or the dhikr of Younus.

It is particularly famous among Ulama, many of whom encourages recitation with the presence of one's heart. In fact, some Ulama of akhlaqh recommend that this phrase be repeated in sajdah multiple times, as many times as is possible. Particularly interesting to note, is that in the following verse, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala says: "Fastajabna lahu wa najjaynahumina al-ghamm wa kadhalika nunjee al-mu'mineen" (21:88). So We answered his prayer and We saved him and We delivered him from the agony that he was in.

But the next part is what we were referring to earlier, where Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala says " Wakadhalika nunjee al-mu'mineen". And it is in this exact way, Kadhalik, that we save the believers, that we deliver the faithful. This tie that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala is making here from the story of Prophet Yunus, alayhi assalam, to us as believers is beautiful. He wants us to connect with Prophet Yunus, alayhi assalam, and for us to realize that even though we may not literally be in the belly of a whale in the way that Prophet Yunus was, in our times of need where we may feel enveloped in darkness, where perhaps we figuratively feel like we're in the belly of the whale in the depths of the ocean. In these times of darkness, He will save us when we turn to Him with absolute Tawheed confessing our wrongdoing and turning to Him in His Absolute Mercy.

These stories of prophet Yunus, alayhi assalam, of Prophet Ayoub, alayhi assalam and of the other prophets mentioned in the series are not meant to be taken in a vacuum. There are lessons for us, and this set of verses ends with another beautiful story. A particularly beautiful one of the story of a pious family, the family of Prophet Zachariah, alayhi assalam, which we will now take a look at.

Wa Zakariyya idhnada Rabbahu Rabbi la tadharnee fardan wa anta khayru al-waritheen (21:89). Fastajabna lahu wa wahabna lahu Yahya wa aslahna lahu zawjah, innahum kanoo yusari'oona fi al-khayrati wa yad'oonana raghaban wa rahaba, wa kanu lana khashi'een (21:90). Wallatee ahsanat farjaha fa nafakhna feeha min roohina wa ja'alnaha wa abnaha ayatan lil'alameen (21:91).

"And remember Zachariah when he cried out to his Lord. "My Lord, do not leave me without an heir, and You were the best of inheritors. So We answered his prayer and gave him Yahya, John and cured for him, his wife of infertility. Indeed, they were active in performing good works and they would supplicate Us with eagerness and awe and were humbled before Us and remember her who guarded her chastity. So We breathed into her Our spirit and made her and her son a sign for all the nations." Over here, the story of Zachariah, alayhi assalam, is mentioned. He was married to Lady Elizabeth or Hannanah in the Arabic tradition, the sister of Lady Anne or Hannah, who was the mother of Lady Maryam, salaamUllahi alayha, and as we mentioned back in Juz 3.

The Lady Elizabeth mentioned here and prophet Zachariah, alayhi assalam, could not have children. And after many years of struggling with infertility, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala mentions here, that He responds to their prayer. He cures Elizabeth over her infertility and He grants her and Prophet Zachariah, alayhi assalam, Prophet Yahaya. Here, old age is no impediment. And though Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala is mentioning His Divine Help and His Mercy to this particular family, He makes a point to mention a few qualities about them that were endearing to Him.

And what's notable about these verses is that they do not just mention the piety of prophet Zachariah, alayhi assalam, but also how the entire family was active in their piety. Using the plural tense, indicating three or more people, the verse mentions that this family were active in good works, meaning the mother, the father and the child. He says: "innahum kanoo yusari'oona fi al-khayrati wa yad'oonana raghaban wa rahaba (21:90)". They were active and doing good. And not only were they active and doing good, but they would make du'a to Us eagerly in awe and they were humble before Us. This family had this beautiful quality together as a unit.

A pious family is indeed a blessing, and we pray that we too can cultivate beautiful and pious families who turn to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in times of need, who trust in Him and who are speedy in doing good work.

As we close the reflections on today's juz, let's take a few minutes and try to reflect on the incredible mercy of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in our own lives and the number of times where He has saved us, where He has intervened in our lives and He's granted us favours from his incredible Mercy and Love in ways that we could only begin to comprehend.

Wa Al-Hamdulillah Rabb 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)

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