Let's Talk Religion: Ep. 10 - Introduction To Sura Dhuha (93) 5/5
'A'udhu bil-Lahi, min al-Shaytan, al-rajim. Bismillah, Al-Rahman, Al-Rahim, wa bihi nasta'een. Wa as-salatu wa as-salam 'alaa Sayyidina wa Nabiyyina wa habibi qulubinaa wa shafi'i nufusina Abil Qasim Muhammad, wa 'aala ahli-bayti at-tayyibin at-tahirin. I begin in the name of God, the most Compassionate and the most Merciful. Peace and everlasting blessings be upon the best of His creation, the last of His Prophets and Messengers, our beloved Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him and his immaculate, infallible, pure progeny the Ahlul Bayt, alayhum as-salam.
Welcome to episode number 10 of our series Let's Talk Religion, and the fifth episode in regards to our conversation on Surat Ad-Dhuha, Chapter 93 of the Holy Qur'an and InshaAllah, the conclusion on this really blessed Chapter that provides us so many practical insights about how to engage and to understand and how to really change our perspective on life and all of the sort of unique manifestations in terms of challenge and obstacles that the Prophet went through, really provide us a lot of motivation hopefully, during the course of our lives to really push through when it comes to the obstacles and hurdles and trials and tribulations of our own.
And just a quick summary, the first several verses of the Holy Qur'an, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in Surat Ad-Dhuha, He swears "Wad-dhuha, Wal laili idha sajaa" (93:1-2) - 'By the brightness of the early morning and by the stillness and the calmness of the night.' And then the Prophet 'alayhi as-salam, is told by Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala about the importance of really prevailing and being persistent during the course of the obstacles that are set in one's way. And he promises that he will always be at the support of those who work for God's sake. "Walal-aakhiratu khairul laka minal-oola, Wa la sawfa y'uteeka rabbuka fatardha" (93:4-5). And that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala is content with the one who strives in His way.
Soon thereafter, the next segment of verses, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala reminds the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, about the unique blessings that he has had the opportunity to attain and be receptive to. "Alam ya jidka yateeman fa aawaa. " (93:6) [Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter?],"wa wa jadaka dhaallan fahada" (93:7)[And find you lost (that is, unrecognized by men) and guide (them to you)?], Wa wajadaka 'aa-ilan fa aghnaa" (93:8) [And find you in want and make you to be free from want?], and so on and so forth, which Allah Subha wa Ta'ala for instance, reminds the Prophet that he was an orphan. He reminds the Prophet that no one knew his presence. They didn't recognize his unique station.
But the Prophet, alayhi as-salam, went through socio-economic challenges during those early days in Mecca. And, in the midst of everything that the Prophet had to go through, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, realize and recognize that his heart was always with God. After that, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in verses 9 and 10, 8,9 and 10, which was talk, which we spoke briefly about last week, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, He tells the Prophet and in reality speaks to every single one of us and remind us about our responsibilities toward our community, our responsibilities toward humanity.
And in conclusion, our conversation this evening, InshaAllah Ta'ala, will be on verse number 11, the last verse in Surat Ad-Dhuha, which Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, reminds us about the importance of being thankful to God for every one of the blessings that we attain from Him.
And just before we get into the text of the verse and the words of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, how many times during the course of this day in particular, and I ask myself this question, was I really in a state of gratitude to God? Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has given us so much, has given us so much, oswe take a look. He's given me guidance, the ability to know. Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has exposed me to the Light of the Messenger Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam. The Prophet, alayhi as-salat wa as-salam, through him, I'm able to know God. I'm able to know myself, I'm able to understand my responsibilities.
Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has blessed me with health, has blessed me with a family, blessed me with children. He has given me the opportunity to live a life, when you take a look at it, in comparison, it's probably, you know, relatively comfortable in comparison with so many individuals all across the world who deal with challenges of homelessness, who deal with challenges of poverty and so on and so forth.
And Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has given me the ability to breathe. Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, has given me the ability to eat, and enjoy what it is that I'm eating. In a Du'a from Imam Zayn Al-Abidin, he says: "Alhamdulil-Lah alladhee ja'alani ashtahi", 'thanks is due to Allah who has given me the ability to crave food during this month of Rajab'. It's very recommended that one fasts. According to a hadith, that the one who fasts, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala will, for instance, forgive all of the sins. Another hadith that speaks about the merits of fasting three days, for instance, during the course of this month. So we get an opportunity to do so, we quickly, opening up the opportunity, one should definitely do so. That when one fasts, we always look forward to the time of breaking our fast and that first bite of food that we take or that first sip of water, coffee or whatever it is that we consume, all of a sudden, that moment of enjoyment is unlike anything else that we experience during the course of that day. "Alhamdulil-Lah alladhee ja'alani ashtahi", thanks due to Allah, who has given me the ability to crave and to taste the food that we consume, that we eat.
Thanks is due to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala for in reality, so many things. The ability for me to use the restroom without it being painful. Sorry to get graphic or disgusting, but think about that for just a moment. How many people in the world, they suffer from illnesses that something as simple as going to the bathroom and excreting out the water that you drank during the course of the day is actually painful for them. Alhamdulil-Lah, so many of us don't have to deal with that challenge, don't have to deal with that pain.
Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has blessed us with so much. And it's really important that we are in a state of gratitude to Him, often in all of this. Which is why in the last verse in Surat Ad-Dhuha, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, He states "Wa amma bi ni'mati rabbika, fahaddith" (93:11). 'And as for the Blessings of your Lord, and as for the Blessings of God that He has bestowed upon you, proclaim them, speak about them'.
And it could be understood in a wide variety of different ways. Amongst the ways is that when you have a blessing that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has given you, there's nothing wrong with sharing that news with other people. You got accepted into a new university programme, you got accepted to college, you got a new job, purchased a new car, you bought a new home, so on and so forth. You got married, you had children.
All of these things are blessings of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, "Wa amma bi ni'mati rabbika, fahaddith" (93:11). It's ok to tell other people, it's ok to share your good news, so to say, because believing brothers and sisters, they're not going to feel jealous when something good happens to you, but they're going to enjoy and celebrate that moment with you and they're going to feel happy with your happiness. Of course, not in a way that we demean others by talking about how much money that we made and flaunt to others about our wealth or about our new car or about our new home.
There's a difference in terms of the way that we proclaim the blessings of our Lord, and that requires a certain etiquette. But perhaps in the deeper, sort of more spiritual dimension, really understanding what this verse means. It's not about going on Facebook or on Instagram and Twitter and telling everyone about the great things that happen to you. It's about you engaging in a conversation with your Creator. That's me, prostrating to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in darkness of the night, saying 'Oh Allah, thank you for giving me all of these blessings.' Or you, when you walk outside or tomorrow morning when I leave my home and I'm walking to the train station and I see the beauty of the sun rising above me and I see the clouds passing by. I thank Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala for giving me beauty even in the sight of something that is so natural.
I give this example quite often, but think about this for just one moment. Every single day when you go to your local grocery store, to go and buy fruits and vegetables and so on and so forth, it could be such that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala created only one type of fruit and only one type of vegetable. When you take a look at the uniqueness of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala's creations, He gave us variety and He gave us diversity.
And in the midst of that variety and diversity, there are different colours. You have mangoes which are green from the outside, orange from the inside. You have bananas, which are yellow or green. You have apples, you have dates, you have figs. You have kiwis, you have strawberries, and blueberries, and raspberries, and so on and so forth. You get what I'm saying.
That, in the midst of taking a look at your local grocery store, that variety and that diversity of colour, even that is attractive to the eye. Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala could have made things, you know virtually a lot you know, more boring than they are right now. And you see the beauty actually, in the uniqueness of the Creation of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, that God did not have to make the rising of the sun or the setting of the sun attractive to the eye, no matter how many times we see it. But He did.
You see the yellow and you see the purple and you see the red in the horizon as the sun sets or as the sun rises. There's some beauty to that, there's something calming about that, there's something therapeutic about it. God didn't have to do that, but He did. And I don't know His wisdoms, but the very least, we can be thankful to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala that, is something that takes place every single day, that's so attractive to the eye. Alhamdulil-Lah!
All thanks is due to Allah and all praise is due to Allah, who has given us the most simplest of reasons to be thankful to Him. But often times we're forgetful or negligent because we're so distracted, we forget the end goal. It's why when you go back to the verse that states "Wa amma bi ni'mati rabbika, fahaddith" (93:11). Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala states that as for the Blessings of your Lord, meaning of our Lord. That remember, that every good thing that happens and every blessing that is bestowed upon you, remember that it comes from Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. Be God-Conscious, I'm reminding myself before anyone else. Don't think that I accomplished this because of me, but remember that this is a gift that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has given me.
And at the very least, that every gift that He has given me comes a responsibility. And the least of those responsibilities is to be thankful. Take a look, it's natural. That if Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has given me health, I should be thankful for it, if He has given me wealth, I should be thankful for it. If He has given me a spouse I should be thankful for it, if He has given me children I should be thankful for it. If He has given me heat in the cold I'm thankful for it, if He has given me air condition in the heat, I'm thankful for it, everything.
And it's really important that we sort of just sit back and recount some of those unique blessings that God has given me today. How many afflictions has He diverted from me on this day. "Wa amma bi ni'mati rabbika, fahaddith" (93:11). Proclaim the Blessings of your Lord by means of thankfulness. And when you go towards some of the Ahadiths and the traditions of Ahlul Bayt, alayhum as-salam , the famous Prophetic narration states 'Man lam yashkuru an-nas, lam yashkuru Allah.' But the one who does not thank other people, does not thank Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala.
But thankfulness is not only for God but when someone does a favour for you for instance. Someone comes to your support, be thankful. Say thank you! to them. The one who is not thankful to the people is not thankful to Allah, because God often sends these individuals as agents and vessels to really do His work, often times in support of you and I. So when someone provides you and I support, let us be thankful and demonstrate a sense of gratitude to them.
And the Prophet, alayhi as-salam, continues: 'Wa man lam yashkuru al-qaleel, lam yashkuru al-kathir.' And the one who is not thankful for the little things, certainly won't be thankful for the big things, because again, we enter into a state of attachment to this dunya, forgetting that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala is the Creator and the Sustainer and the One who is the the Sole Provider of all of the beauty in all of the blessing, in all of the uniqueness, in terms of reward, in terms of opportunity, in terms of potential which you and I, we gain. So the one who was not thankful for a little, won't be thankful for a lot.
'Wa tahaddath bi na'mati Allah.' So talk, proclaim and speak about the Blessings of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, and you will find that, it's thankfulness to God. And that the one who does not proclaim God's blessings, the one who does not speak about the uniqueness of that which God has given us, has performed an act of disobedience to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala.
Other traditions, they state that amongst those things which we should be thankful for, is the Holy Qur'an. This beautiful book of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, that again, at the very least we're thankful for. And after fulfilling that very basic responsibility of being thankful to Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, for having the book and it is our responsibility to read the book, to study the book, to learn from the book. But we need to take small steps, because so many of us and I remind myself, we don't engage with the Holy Qur'an the way that perhaps we should be.
Amongst our traditions, they state that amongst those things which need to be thankful to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala for, include the Blessing of Prophethood of Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, and the ability for me to know the Prophet. 'Alhamdulil-Lahi alladhee ja'alani min ummati Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam .' All Praise and All Thanks is due to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, who made me amongst the followers and amongst the community, the greatest of God's creations. That's our Master, our beloved Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam.
The ability to thank Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in itself requires us to be in a state of thankfulness to God. What do I mean? That the opportunity that you and I have to be in this discussion right now where we're talking about the Blessings of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, and the ability for me to remember God's Blessings, and the ability for me to speak out God's Blessings and for the ability for me to stand in front or sit in front of you, in front of this computer that I'm sitting in front of right now talking about God, that also requires for me to be in a state of thankfulness.
The ability for me to think about the Blessings of God requires for me to be thankful for the ability to think. Which is why in that famous conversation between Musa, alayhi as-salam, and Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, God, He asks Musa, 'Oh Musa, what does it mean to be thankful?' To which Musa, alayhi as-salam, says 'Oh Allah, true thankfulness is to be thankful for the ability to be thankful.' Again, the depth and of the understanding of what that means.
And we have another hadith from Imam Al-Sadiq, alayhi as-salat wa as-salam, which he states that you cannot attain true thankfulness until you realize that every time you are thankful, you should be thankful again. Until virtually submit to the fact that my entire life should be in demonstration of gratitude to your Creator. That's deep! Just think about what that means, and I think about how negligent I am on a day to day basis, where I don't enter into a state of cognizance where I'm really thankful and I'm really grateful for everything that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has blessed me with.
Because, you know, ritualistically, many times we are taught that after one concludes prayers, you should enter into the state of prostration and state Shukran lil-Lah. Growing up, we were taught that after the performance of any one of our prayers, we should enter into the state of prostration and say 'Thank You Allah' seven times for instance, ten times, a hundred times, whatever it is. And probably when I was a kid, ended up doing it until now. I still have this habit.
And not until a year, a year and a half ago, my daughter was three years old perhaps, she came and she said 'Baba, why are we saying thank you to Allah?' She, as I was trying to teach her to pray with me. And I said, 'You have to be thankful to Allah for everything.' She said 'What?' And I realized that ritualistically for the last 20 years I have been saying 'Thank You Allah, Thank You Allah, Thank You Allah,' without ever being specific for what it is that I'm actually thankful to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala for. My daughter had to teach me.
That often times again, so ritualistically we engage in conversations, and in Du'a, and prayers, and supplication, and so on with our Creator, without any sense of real meaning and conviction. So let's go back, really sit down and be in a state of contemplation and reflection every day, even if it means just a moment after our prayers, or before our prayers, and truly be thankful to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. Enter into a state of gratitude with our Creator. "Wa amma bi ni'mati rabbika fahaddith" (93:11). For Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala states within this verse "and as for the Blessings of your Lord and openly proclaim them". Amongst those ways is to be in a state of true gratitude to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala
This concludes our conversation on Surat Ad-Dhuha. Please see the conclusion of our series, Let's Talk Religion, my dear brother Sheikh Mahdi Hazari, this upcoming Wednesday and InshaAllah over the next couple of weeks and months. Hope to see you again soon as we continue our conversation of insights from the Holy Qur'an and from the tradition of the Messenger Muhammad and Ahlul Bayt 'alayhum as-salam.
Wa al-Hamdulil-Lah Rabb Al-'Aalameen, wa salli-Llahumma 'alaa Muhammad, wa 'alaa ahli at-tayyibin, at-tahirin.