Juz 3 Of 30 - Journeying Our Eyes Through The Qur'an

Exploring 30 juz in 30 days by Sister Fatemah Meghji Juz 3 contains the latter part of Surat al-Baqarah and the well-known “Ayat al-Kursi” which contains 16 references to God, the highest number in a single verse. This juz also contains the first 92 verses of Surah Aal Imran, named as such since it discusses the stories of the family of ‘Imran (a), the father of Sayyidah Maryam (a). In this chapter, the story of Sayyidah Maryam’s birth is explored through the prayers of her mother, Lady Hannah (or Anne), and we note how our manhood or womanhood can aid us in our journey to Allah’s proximity.

Inaa 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 Three. '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. Al Salam Alaykum and welcome to our third 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 Koran as we take a brief look at the third Juz of the Qur'an. This juz contains the last thirty-three verses of Surah Al-Baqara and the first ninety two verses of Surah Ali Imran's two hundred verses.

This last part of surah Al-Baqara is particularly notable as it contains the famous Ayat al-Kursi or Verse of the Throne (2:255), which is highly recommended to recite whenever possible. It is said to be Sayyid Al-Ayat or the leader of verses of Surah Al-Baqara, if not the entire Qur'an. And one of the reasons for this may be because it is the only verse in the entire Qu'ran, which contains 16 references to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala using five of his names and eleven of his pronouns.

In summary, the verse establishes the unity of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala and that everything is known to Him and through Him alone. Everything is under His dominion and control. And moreover, running the affairs of the universe does not burden Him in any way. If we are believers who believe in Allah Subhana Wa Ta'ala and Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala alone, actively negating all else, then we have held on to the strongest of handle's or Urwat Al-Withqa.

After Ayat Al Kursi Surah Al-Baqara then goes on to note a few stories related to life, death and resurrection, including Prophet Ibrahim alayhi assalam's debate with Nimrud. Ozair's resurrection and how Prophet Ibrahim alayhi assalam, sees resurrection in action through birds that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala orders him to cut up, who are then miraculously brought back to life through Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. The chapter ends with an affirmation that everything belongs to Allah. He knows everything that we are capable of when it comes to the test that He gives us, when it comes to undertaking the various laws that He has given to us. The last verse contains a beautiful dua for Allah to shower us with his mercy and to forgive us in light of our weaknesses in obeying his commands, a fitting and beautiful way to end a Madinan chapter like Surah Al-Baqara.

Bismillah Al Rahman Al Rahim. Lā yukallifu l-lahu nafsan illā wus'ʿahā lahā mā kasabat waʿalayhā mā ik'tasabat rabbanā lā tuākhidh'nā in nasīnā aw akhṭanā rabbanā walā taḥmil ʿalaynā iṣ'ran kamā ḥamaltahu ʿalā alladhīna min qablinā rabbanā walā tuḥammil'nā mā lā ṭāqata lanā bihi wa-uʿ'fu ʿannā wa-igh'fir lanā wa-ir'ḥamnā anta mawlānā fa-unṣur'nā ʿalā l-qawmi l-kāfirīn (2:286).

Allah does not task any soul beyond its capacity. Whatever good it earns is to its own benefit and whatever evil it incurs is to its own harm. Our Lord take us not to task if we forget or make mistakes. Our Lord place not upon us. A burden as you placed on those who were before us. Our Lord lay not upon us. What we have no strength to bear. Excuse us and forgive us and be merciful to us. You are our master, so helpless against the faithless thought (2:286).

The juz then transitions to the third chapter of the Qur'an Surah Ali-Imran, which is called such due to the fact that it discusses the family of Imran or the house of Imran. This chapter is also Medinan, and much of it revealed around the time of the battle Uhud. And as such, it contains many notable discussions about early Islamic warfare and the struggles that the early Muslims had against their oppressors. Another notable verse is verse three of Surah Ali-Imran, in which there is a very heavy discussion to be had in Qur'anic sciences with regards to the nature of understanding the Qur'an and the nature of its verses.

This verse lies at the heart of many of these debates, and lengthy commentaries have been written on it. For further reading, you can refer to pages 215 to 244 of volume two of Ayatollah Hadi Ma'rifat Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'an or Allahmah Tabataba'i Tafseer of the verse which is available, on almizan.org in English. Additionally, in Surah Ali-Imran, there is the famous verse that was revealed on the occasion of the mubahala, which is probably why we see discussions of the Islamic perspectives on prophet Isa alayhi assalam and his family discussed comprehensively in this Surah.

Approximately twenty five verses explore the stories of the family of Imran, whom the chapter takes its name from. In biblical literature Yuakim is the name for Imran. According to our Hadith literature, Imran was a prophet of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala to the Bani Israel. However, his story nor his prophethood is directly referred to in the Qur'an. He is mentioned three times in context and in relation to his relationships to others. His family is noted as a family that was chosen due to their exceptional nature. He is the father of Sayyida Maryam, salamullahi alayha, and in ahadith literature he is noted as a descendant of Prophet Dawud, alayhi assalam. He is conspicuously absent from the story in the Qur'an, which describes the birth of his daughter, Maryam, alayha assalam, which we will soon explore.

Stories in the Qur'an are not told without purpose, and as we explained yesterday, even Islamic laws are accompanied with ethical injunctions and holistic way of looking at every facet of Islam. Stories in the Qur'an are also told in this vein, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has chosen to share with us specific stories in the hopes that we take a lesson from them. Their primary purpose is not for us to focus on extraneous details, but rather to reflect on how they can help us in our journey to Allah subhana wa Ta'ala's proximity. The story of Sayyida Maryam, salamullahi alayha, is told here.

Sayyida Maryam, salamullahi alayha, is noted with exceptional reverence in the Qur'an. Her name mentioned 34 times and her being the only woman to be named in the Qur'an. She also noted in the verse "wa astafa-ki a'laa nis'a al alameen" (3:42). Meaning that she has a certain distinction, that she is exceptional and that she has been chosen above on many women of the world. In Ahadith literature, she is famously noted alongside others as one of the four highest women of paradise. According to the narrations reported from Rasul Allah sallal-lahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, Sayyida Fatimah, salamullahi alayha, does hold a higher rank for being the best of women of all times.

The story of Sayyida Maryam, salamullahi alayha, is explored primarily in two places in the Qur'an. Once here and the other in Surah Maryam. This particular passage in Surah Ali-Imran primarily discusses, Sayyida Maryam, salamullahi alayha, and her birth and her upbringing. In it are stories that are exclusively held in the Qur'anic tradition. The spiritual status that she reached was what rendered her worthy of revelation and the miracle of prophet Isa, alayhi assalam's birth. It was not the miraculous fatherless birth that simply granted her the status. But the story begins at her own birth and the way in which she was raised as the daughter of Imran, alayhi assalam.

Let us take a look at the passage in question. Bismillah Al Rahman Al Rahim. ʾinna llāha ṣṭafā ʾādama wa-nūḥan wa-ʾāla ʾibrāhīma wa-ʾāla ʿimrāna ʿalā l-ʿālamīna (3:33). Dhurriyyatan baʿḍuhā min baʿḍin wa-llāhu samīʿun ʿalīm (3:34). Idh qālati mraʾatu ʿimrāna rabbi ʾinnī nadhartu laka mā fī baṭnī muḥarraran fa-taqabbal minnī ʾinnaka ʾanta s-samīʿu l-ʿalīm (3:35). Fa-lammā waḍaʿathā qālat rabbi ʾinnī waḍaʿtuhā ʾunthā wa-llāhu ʾaʿlamu bi-mā waḍaʿat wa-laysa dh-dhakaru ka-l-ʾunthā wa-ʾinnī sammaytuhā maryama wa-ʾinnī ʾuʿīdhuhā bika wa-dhurriyyatahā mina sh-shayṭāni r-rajīmi (3:36). Fa-taqabbalahā rabbuhā bi-qabūlin ḥasanin wa-ʾanbatahā nabātan ḥasanan wa-kaffalahā zakariyyā kullamā dakhala ʿalayhā zakariyyā l-miḥrāba wajada ʿindahā rizqan qāla yā-maryamu ʾannā laki hādhā qālat huwa min ʿindi llāhi ʾinna llāha yarzuqu man yashāʾu bi-ghayri ḥisāb (3:37).

indeed Allah chose Adam and Nooh and the progeny of Ibrahim and the progeny of Imran above all the nations (3:33). Some of them are descendants of the others. And Allah is all hearing, all knowing (3:34). When the wife of Imran said, My Lord, I dedicate to you and consecration and what is in my belly except it from me. Indeed, you are the all hearing, the all knowing (3:35). When she bore her, she said, My Lord, I have born a female child and Allah knew better what she had born and the male child she expected was no match for the female child she had born. And I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to your care against the evil of the outcast Satan (3:36). There upon her, Lord accepted her with a gracious acceptance and made her grow up in a worthy fashion. And he charged Zakharia with her care. Whenever Zakharia visited her in the sanctuary, he would find provisions with her. He said, Oh, Mary, from where does this come for you? She said, It comes from Allah. Allah provides whomever he wishes without any reckoning (3:37).

Here in the set of verses, there are many points worthy of noting. The first is that the story of Maryam's birth is focused on her and her mother, the widow of Prophet Imran, alayhi assalam. He is absent from the story, and it is said that Imran passed away before Maryam, salamullahi alayha, was born. His wife, Lady Anne or Hannah, in the biblical tradition, sister to the wife of Prophet Zakharia, alayhi assalam, makes a beautiful vow, dedicating her child to the service of God and calling to Him in a prayer that was so beloved to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala that he eternalized it in the Qur'an.

The story of Maryam's birth is interesting because it was expected for her to be the male Messiah that had been prophesized. And when she was born as a female, her mother was surprised. And her prayer and surprise is also noted in this verse. There is an interesting comment here that has caught the attention of traditional mufassiroon and feminists alike, and that is the phrase wa-laysa dh-dhakaru ka-l-ʾunthā (3:36), and the male child is not like the female child.

Some Mufasireen like Allamah Tabataba'i have entered a discussion as to who is speaking in this quote. Is it Lady Hannah who says such a statement or is it Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala? After a short analysis, he concludes that it is Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala who is the one making the statement. So what does it mean for the male not to be like the female? In the Islamic tradition, while gender is not deemed to be the end all be all it is noted as relevant. There are various shar'i rules or legislative rules that differ between men and women. And the statement, which interestingly makes an appearance in the story of female piety, is worth pondering over.

Some suggest that the phrase is demeaning, but a closer look at the statement within the context of the story indicates otherwise. Immediately after stating that the male is not like the female, which, according to mufassireen like Allamah Tabataba'i means that the male child that Hannah was expecting was no match for the incredible female child that was Sayyida Maryam, salamullahi alayha, but immediately after stating this phrase, Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala enters a discussion of the miracles of, Sayyida Maryam, salamullahi alayha, and her prophet Zakharia, alayhi assalam, a male prophet of Allah Sabhana wa Ta'ala was astounded at her piety.

In these verses, we see the incredible trust that Maryam, salamullahi alayha, had in Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala and that she not that all sustenance, both extraordinary, ordinary, physical and spiritual, was from Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. But she believed in the way that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala provides without any measure, abundantly and without human effort. Her piety is so magnificent that upon witnessing miraculous food, which was out of season fruit that was brought to her private quarters by Angels, prophet Zakharia, alayhi assalam, sees this and is immensely inspired, turning to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala imploring him for a pious child. It is here where he receives news of Prophet Yahaya, alayhi assalam, in his old age.

There are times in which we look to the differences between men and women or to statements like these and find them confusing. But within these stories, there is a beautiful lesson for us to pay attention to what matters, and that is nothing other than our servitude and our relationship with Allah subhana wa Ta'ala. Gender is relevant, but it is within our womanhood or our manhood that we seek Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala and proximity to Him, neither of them being obstacles to his pleasure. It was this facet of Sayida Maryam, salamullahi alayha, that made her stand out, among all others. And it is this piety that we seek to emulate not just as women, but as mentioned in Surat Al-Tahrim as an example for all believers in Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.

Wa Al-Hamdulillah Rabb Al-Alameen wa sala allah 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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