Juz 24 Of 30 - Journeying Our Eyes Through The Qur'an

The 24th Juz covers the last 43 verses of Surah Az-Zumar (The Throngs), Surah Ghafir (The Forgiver), and first 46 verses of Surah Fussilat (The Elaborated)-also containing the first wajib sajdah. In Surah Ghafir was named after a believer from the house of Pharoah. The story describes Hizel, or Ezekiel (English), challenging the Pharaoh's opposition to Moses. The surah describes Pharaoh’s arrogance is what led him to a sealed heart. We can learn from the example of Hizkil working hard in the way of Truth and entrusting our affairs to God and God alone. 

Inna 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 24. Juz 23. '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 24th 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 24th juz of the Qur'an, which consists of the last 43 verses of Surat az-Zumar, which means the throngs. The entirety of Surah al-Ghafir or Surah Mu'min which means the forgiver or the believer and is 85 verses long and Meccan, and finally the first 46 verses of Surah Fussilat which means the elaborated, which is also a Meccan surah. Surah Fussilat is also known as Ha Mim Sajda, as it contains the first Wajib sajda of the Qur'an as well.

For today's episode we will focus on the story of the Mu'min from Surah Ghafir also known as Surah Mu'min. And this is the story of a man whose name was Hizkil or Ezekiel in English. He is not named in the Qur'an, but he is named in the ahadith literature. His story takes place during the time of Prophet Musa, alayhi as-salam. As Prophet Musa struggled with Fir'awn, Haman and his companions. Among Fir'awn's family members however, was a man named Hizkil and it seems as though Hizkil had a significant position with Pharaoh and was somehow related to him. According to some accounts, Hizkil was his cousin.

Although we rarely hear the story of Hizkil, he is a highly regarded figure who several Hadith refer to. Not only that, but a lot of this chapter is dedicated to his story and his preachings as well. One hadith in Shaykh Saduq's al-Amali mentions that Hizkil is one of three Siddiqs, a status which is alluded to in the Qur'an. The other two individuals who are referred to in this Hadith are Habib al Najjar, the man from the outskirts of the city who was mentioned in Surah Yasin and Imam Ali, alayhi as-salam. But of course Imam Ali, alayhi as-salam has a higher status.

In this hadith Hizkil is the third of these three Siddiqs. Another Hadith mentions that Hizkil is of the believers who will return with the Faraj or the arrival of the Imam, ajal Allahu ta'ala farajahu ash-shareef, and all of these ahadith note him as incredibly well regarded. So what is his story and what does the Qur'an tell us about him in this chapter, which is named after him? In Surah Mu'min starting from verse 28, his story unfolds and several passages of his discussions with his people are narrated at length where he challenges Fir'awn for subtly.

And then as the story unfolds, his words become more and more explicit with belief. In the beginning of the story, a conversation of his with Fir'awn is narrated. Where Fir'awn is discussing the idea of killing Prophet Musa, alayhi as-salam. In response, we can see how Hizkil challenges Fir'awn, but not by directly saying that he believes in Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala or that he believes in the message of Prophet Musa, alayhi as-salam, instead he puts forward the idea of freedom of belief and the idea of tyranny being wrong.

In verses 28-29 Hizkil is quoted as saying to Fir'awn, Will you kill a man for saying that My Lord is Allah? While He has already brought you manifest proofs from your Lord? If he's lying, then this liar will be to his own detriment . But if he's truthful, then there shall visit you some of what he promises you. Indeed, Allah does not guide someone who is a transgressor and a liar (40:28). In this phrase, Hizkil is essentially saying that, look if Prophet Musa was lying, then he is going to hurt himself.

But what if he is right? Should you really kill someone just because they're saying that they believe in God? And then in 29, Hizkil continues and he says, "Oh my people today you have power, today you are dominant over the land. But what will happen if Allahs punishment is true and if Allahs punishment should overtake us?" (40:29). In these verses Hizkil is basically warning Fir'awn and the court of Fir'awn of tyrannizing others while they're in a position of power.

And he's saying, look if Musa is wrong and that's to his own detriment. We can't kill someone for just saying that they believe in God. You can also see that in these verses Hizkil is playing devil's advocate in a sense, as the surah unfolds and the verses continue, they become more and more interesting because in response to this, Fir'awn actually becomes a little defensive. And he says:

Qala Fir'awnu ma ureekum illaa ma ara'a wa ma ahdeekum illa sabeela ar-Rashad (40:29). I just point out to you what I see to be advisable for you and I only guide you to the way rectitude to what is good (40:29). This is really interesting because you can see that even Fir'awn puts up a defensive mechanism. He is trying to soften what he is saying since Hizkil has somehow challenged him and pointed to the evil of his words and his deeds. But as we already know, Fir'awn was arrogant. He did not have any intellectual humility, and he closed himself off to the guidance or the possibility of guidance in verse 35, it says:

Alladheena yujaadiloona feee Aaayaati Illahi bighairi sultaanin atahum kabura maqtan 'inda Allahi wa 'inda alladheena amanoo, kadhalika yatbahu Allahu 'alaa kulli qalbi mutakabbirin jabbar (40:35). Those who dispute the signs of Allah without any authority that may have come to them, that is greatly outrageous to Allah and to those who have faith. This is how Allah seals the heart of every arrogant tyrant (40:35).

The verses clearly indicate here that arrogance and the denial of the truth is what has led to the ceiling of his heart and the hearts of tyrants. As the story unfolds and the verses move on, we see that Hizkil advice becomes more and more explicit to Fir'awn and to the people as he boldly declares his faith and preaches to the people in the following passage.

And he who believed said, O my people follow me. I will guide you to the way of right conduct (40:38). O my people, this world is only temporary enjoyment and indeed the hereafter that is the home of the permanent settlement (40:39). Whoever does an evil deed will not be recompensed except by the like thereof. But whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer, those will enter paradise being given provision of their end without account (40:40). And O my people, how is it that I invite you to salvation while you invite me to the fire? (40:41). You invite me to disbelieve in Allah and associate with Him that of which I have no knowledge and I invite you to the Exalted in Might, the perpetual forgiver (40:42). Assuredly, that to which you invite me has no response to a supplication in this world or the hereafter, and indeed our return is to Allah, and indeed the transgressors will be the companions of the fire (40:43). And you will remember what I now say to you, and I entrust my fear to Allah. Indeed, Allah is all seeing of His servants (40:44). So Allah protected him from the evils they plotted and the people of Fir'awn were enveloped by the worst of punishments (40:45). The fire they are exposed to morning and evening. And the Day the Hour appears, it will be said, make the people of Fir'awn enter the severest punishment (40:46).

In this set of verses, we see the efforts that Hizkil has put in, and moreover, we see his acknowledgment and perfect belief. He first acknowledges the core idea that brings anybody towards religion, and that is the recognition of death and what is beyond. That this life is simply passing us by. That it is temporary and there is an everlasting life awaiting us, a hereafter where we will be held accountable for our actions. This realization is really a core component of belief. And after that he moves on to establishing the oneness of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala that He is our Lord, that we're returning to Him and that will be held accountable to Him.

Lastly, he warns of the outcome of the transgressors and oppressor's that with this accountability, transgressors and oppressors like Fir'awn and Haman will be punished. But alas, their hearts are closed. When he sees that his words are not working, that his preaching has no effect, he says a beautiful phrase and this phrase, 'wa ufawwidu amri ila Allah, inna Allaha baseerun bi'l'ibaad'(40:44). I entrust my affairs to God, I do Tafwid, indeed Allah is all seeing and He is well aware of everything with regards to his servants.(40:44).

This phrase is also a recommended Du'a to recite especially when it comes to trusting in Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in anything difficult. And when we recite this phrase, we are quoting Hizkil and his Du'a made when facing the tyranny of Fir'awn. In response to this Du'a Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala notes that Hizkil was saved, but Fir'awn and his followers who are not. There's a difference of opinion as to whether or not he was murdered by Fir'awn or if his life was spared. Some scholars opined that he was saved. As this verse indicates this and they take it in a literal way that Hizkil was saved, whereas Fir'awn wasn't. Others like Allamah Tabataba'i in Tafsir al Mizan contend that Hizkil faith is what was saved and that Fir'awn may have murdered him for his belief as he was particularly known for his torture.

But regardless of Hizkil, worldly end, what we do know is that he was a man of impeccable status, that his end was Jannah, that his end was beautiful and that his faith was saved. He strove for truth and he struggled to guide those around him. He defended Prophet Musa, alayhi as-salam, in whatever way he could, standing up against Fir'awn and speaking the words of Tawhid, despite it costing him a lot. And we pray that we can too learn from the example of Hizkil, working hard in the way of truth and entrusting our affairs to God and God alone. As we come to the end of this beautiful month, let's take some time to reflect on these stories of the Qur'an and the example of Hizkil and his beautiful sacrifice.

Rabbana La tuzigh Qulubana (3:8) [Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate (3:8)]

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