Juz 21 Of 30 - Journeying Our Eyes Through The Qur'an

The 21st Juz consists of Surat al-Ankabut (last 23 verses, The Spider), Surat ar-Ruum (60 verse, The Romans), Sura Luqman (34 verses), Sura as-Sajdah (30 verses, The Prostration), and Surat al-Ahzab (First 30 verses, The Confederates). A major theme of the Quran is its juxtaposition of this world in relation to the hereafter. God reminds us of the certainty of death, and the promise of the hereafter, and in this realization lies the purpose of our being in this temporary world, also referred to as the ‘lower existence’. Death is a reminder that we will all inevitably return to Him, so our life here should be one of servitude so as to secure the hereafter. God cautions us in Surah Luqman to be mindful of the death, and the day of reckoning, where none will atone for the other, and warns us not to be deceived by this world.

Innaa Hadha Al Qur'ana Yahdee li-latee hiya aqwamu wo 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 21. '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 this 21st 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 21st of the Qur'an, which consists of the last 23 of Surat al-Ankabut which we started in the last juz, 60 verses of Surat ar-Rum, which is Meccan, 34 verses of Surah Luqman which is also Meccan, 30 verses of Surat as-Sajdah which is also Meccan and includes the first Wajib sajdah of the Qur'an. And lastly, the first 30 verses of Surat al-Ahzab which is a Medinan surah. Over the past few episodes, we have reflected on and expanded on the nature of the Qur'an guidance, a light and revelation to all of us if we are open to its beautiful guidance. In today's episode, we will take a look at one of the main messages of the Qur'an, a message that, surprisingly, until now, we haven't had a chance to address.

This is a view of reality that is ever present throughout the entire Qur'an, never more in one juz versus another, and that is the view and reality of Haqq in relation to seeing the nature of this world and the hereafter. This is the Qur'an's exposition and explanation of truth and its position in one's ideology and worldview. One of the major themes of the Qur'an is the way in which it juxtaposes this world in comparison to the next. This world is nothing but temporary and the afterlife is the real point of life and the real essential life.

The Qur'an, as the word of God is told from the perspective of God. And as such, it's deeply entrenched in a worldview that sees reality as reality. It sees this world for what it is and it sees the hereafter for what it truly is. Let's take a look at verse 64 of Surat al-Ankabut.

Wa maa hadhihi al-hayaat ud-dunya illa lahwun wa la'ib, wa inna ad-dar al-Akhirata lahiya al-hayawan, law kano ya'lamoon (29:64). The life of this world is nothing but diversion and play. But the abode of the hereafter is indeed life itself, had they known! (29:64). One of the most notable points from this verse is that it says that the Hereafter or 'ad-dar al-Akhirata lahiya al-hayawan (29:64), that it is indeed life itself . The word Hayawan used here is an interesting word, because what it means is the real life, the perfect life. And it's saying that the abode of the hereafter is the real life. It's not temporary, it lasts. And it's the very purpose for which we were created. If only we realized it. In verses 56 to 58 Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala also reminds us of the following:

Yaa 'ibaadi alladheena amanu inna ardhi waasi'atun fa iyyaaya fa'budoon (29:56). Kullu nafsin dha'iqat ul-mawti thumma ilainaa turja'oon (29:57). Wa alladheena amanoo wa 'amilu as-salihati la nubawwi 'annahum min al-Jannati ghurafan tajree min tahtiha al-anharu khaalideena feeha, ni'ma ajrul 'aamileen (29:58). O my servants who have faith. My earth is indeed vast, so worship only Me (29:56). Every soul shall taste death. Then you will be brought back to Us (29:57). Those who have faith and do righteous deeds, We will surely settle them in the lofty abodes of paradise with streams running in them to remain in them forever. How excellent is the reward of the workers! (29:58).

When we think about the reality of this temporary life that we will die, it is the fact that nobody can deny. When we look at the verse above, it says, 'Kullu nafsin dha'iqat ul-mawt' (29:57), that every soul, every person will taste death'. This is a fact that nobody can deny in a beautiful hadith attributed to Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq, alayhi as-salam, he comments on how strange we are as human beings.

Every day, every year, every month, we witness others pass away from this world around us. And yet we still waste time despite seeing these reminders on a daily basis. And then he says that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has not created anything quite like death. On the one hand, there is a certainty death, we are all aware of its inevitability and we're all aware that we are going to die, but on the other hand, none of us know when or how we are going to die. And as such, it looks like it's a doubtful thing without certainty. It's something certain cloaked in doubt.

This is what Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq, alayhi as-salam, says about death. The verse mentioned here also alludes to the same thing, which is that we all know will die. Death is the reality that we will be brought back to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala and He is where our destination is. Everything in this life that we do should be done with this in mind, that our return is to Him and Him alone. This means ensuring that we are living a life where we can serve Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala and the servitude to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala should be our first priority.

The unfortunate reality is that sometimes we lose grasp on our reality. We live a life based on a fake or a lower reality, forgetting that our real life is yet to come. Even the words in which Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala chooses to use in the Qur'an reflect this idea that the world we live in, the life that we're in, is lower. When we look at the word Dunya, which we usually translate to mean world, it doesn't actually mean world. The literal meaning of the word Dunya is actually a superlative form for the word lower or base. Meaning that the phrase 'Al-Hayat ad-Dunya' doesn't mean the life of this world when translated linguistically, but rather it means the lower life, i.e. our lowest type of existence.

Although this physical world is closest to us, in a sense, it is also the lowest. In our vantage point is sometimes so limited because we only focus on what we see in front of us. In Surah ar-Rum verse 7, there's an incredibly beautiful verse that highlights our grasp of reality.

Ya'lamoona dhahiram min al-hayaati id-dunya wa hum 'anil Aakhirati hum ghaafiloon (30:7). They know just an outward aspect of the life of the world or the lower life, but they are oblivious of the hereafter (30:7). The verse is saying that we often know what's apparent, what's Zahir, what's on the surface level of this lower life, what we can measure. But when it comes to true reality, when it comes to the Akhirah, when it comes to Hayawan or the true life, we're oblivious and we're clueless of this deeper reality.

Sometimes we may wonder, why should we think so much about the hereafter? Why should we think so much about death? It's uncomfortable. It's morbid. Why should we depress ourselves? The truth is that death is our undeniable reality. And how we view death as morbid is unfortunate because that's not what death truly is. And we'll explore this idea in a later juz. For today, however, let's think about this. Why are we encouraged so much to think about and consider death to a higher degree?

The reason for this is that thinking about death leads us to thinking about the afterlife and the greater purpose of our existence. And this belief in the hereafter should impact how we act and what we do. It's how we are supposed to orient ourselves when we witness and see the nature of the world around us, which is temporary and heart breaking by its very nature. There are many signs of our powerlessness in the world and sometimes Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala wants us to realize our powerlessness and wants us to think about death so that we don't lose focus on what's important. In Surah ar-Rum verse 54, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala says the following:

Allahu alladhee khalaqakum min dhu'fin, thumma ja'ala mim ba'di dhu'fin quwwatan, thumma ja'ala mim ba'di quwwatin dhu'fan wa shaibah, yakhluqu maa yasha'a, wa Huwa al-'Aleemu al-Qadeer (30:54). It is Allah who created you from a state of weakness, then He gave you power after weakness, then after power, He ordained weakness and old age. He creates whatever He wishes he is the all knowing, the all powerful (30:54).

The verse here says that we move from vulnerability and weakness as infants to strengthen youth. And then we get older and the weakness comes again. And this is the fragile nature of life. We start off fragile and we end fragile. This is a lesson meant to teach us that we're not in control. We're in the hands of an Almighty Lord created for a world that is not in this one. And with all of these reminders of our destination that we're going to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, we are supposed to stand firm and set our attention on the reality of life. And this is a part of our nature, as it says in the following verses:

Fa aqim wajhaka li id-deeni Haneefaa, fitrat Allahi allatee fatara an-nasa 'alayha, la tabdeela li khalqi Allah. Dhalika ad-Deenu ul-qaiyimu wa laakinna akthar an-nasi la ya'lamoon (30:30). So set your heart as a person of pure faith on this religion, the original nature endowed by Allah according to which He originated mankind. There is no altering Allah's creation. That is the upright religion. But most people do not know (30:30).

And in another verse, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala also says the following. "Fa aqim wajhaka li id-Deeni il-qaiyimi min qabli an yaatiya yawmun la maradda lahoo min Allah, yawma'idhin yassadda'oon (30:43). So set your heart on the upright religion before there comes a day irrevocable from Allah. On that day they shall be split into various groups (30:43).

These verses are reminders for us to pay attention to what really matters, i.e. the reality of life, the hereafter and our relationship with Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. These are the things that the reminders of death take us towards. To close today's episode we'll end with one final beautiful reminder from Surah Luqman from verse 33 to 34.

Ya ayyuha an-nas uttaqoo Rabbakum wa akhshaw Yawman la yajzee walidun 'an waladihee, wa la mawloodun huwa jaazin 'an waalidihee shai'aa, inna awa'da Allahi haqqun fa la taghurrannakum al-hayaat ad-dunya wa laa yaghurrannakum bi Allahi al-gharoor (31:33). Inna Allaha 'indahoo 'ilmu us-saa'ati wa yunazzilu al-ghaitha wa ya'lamu maa fil arhaami, wa maa tadree nafsum madha taksibu ghadaa, wa maa tadree nafsum bi ayyi ardin tamoot, inna Allaha 'Aleemun Khabeer (31:34).

O mankind! Be wary of your Lord and fear the day when the father will not atone for his child nor the child will atone for his father in any way. Indeed, Allah's promise is true. So do not let the life of this world deceive you, nor that the deceiver deceive you concerning Allah (31:33). Indeed, the knowledge of the hour is with Allah. He sends down the rain and He knows what is in the wombs. No soul knows what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it will die. Indeed, Allah is all knowing, all aware (31:34)

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)].

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