In the final passage of Surah Az-Zalzalah, Allah describes the moment of resurrection and how our deeds will be weighed on the Day of Judgment. The word “yasdur” gives an entire spectrum of meaning that implies that our existence on this earth was no more than a brief stop at a watershed in a desert journey. During this temporary stop, believers and disbelievers live together side by side, but at the end of this journey they will be separated and shown their deeds. It’s a mercy from Allah that none of our good deeds will be forgotten, even if they weigh the equivalent of a speck of dust. On the scales of Judgment Day, good deeds and good intentions, no matter how small they seem in human terms, have the heaviest weight.


Today we focus on the first two ayat of Surah Al-Bayyinah, which have been the subject of many different interpretations. Here, we delves into the meanings of two key words: “munfakkeen”, which denotes “getting separated”, and “al-bayyinah” (The Quran) which means “that which provides clear evidence.” We can conclude that these ayat refer to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself, and how his credibility in his community and his honesty, combined with the delivery of this purified scripture, transformed Mecca (and the world) separating those who are truly and genuinely faithful, from those who disbelieve. This separation took place in this world and will continue in the afterlife.


Surah Al-Qadr is entirely dedicated to Laylatul Qadr, the most noble of nights during the month of Ramadan when the Quran was first revealed. We learn here that the nuances of the phrase “laylatul qadr” in Arabic, which combines the meanings of night of “decree”, “honor” and “power”. This is the night when Allah will decree that the angels execute all His decisions for the rest of the year; when Allah revealed the most honorable words through His most honored angel to His most honored messenger. Finally it is a night endowed with unusual power; a night when all our sincere duaa will be accepted. It is the ultimate night of peace and prayer; one we must take advantage of as the blessed month of Ramadan comes to a close. But above all else, Laylatul Qadr is a celebration of the Quran.


In part 1 of this look into Surah Al-Alaq, we go over the importance of understanding the context in which its ayat were revealed. Here, a narration – verified in Sahih Al-Bukhari – details Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) very first encounter with Gibreel (AS). He recounts how the Angel asked him to read three times, each time holding him very tight. Terrified and unsure of his own sanity, the Prophet rushes home to his wife Khadiga, who, in a beautiful part of this narration, lists all the formidable qualities of the Prophet, assuring him that god will never let him down because of his excellent character and how thoughtful and caring he is to other people.


Let’s focus on Ayat 4-6 of Surah At-Tin. These ayat follow the opening oaths where Allah reminds us of Prophets Eissa, Musa and Muhammad (PBUH) and by association of the messages they carried. In this transition to the heart of the surah, Allah makes a strong statement about how He created man in the most upright fashion, balancing him both physically and spiritually. Those amazing messengers who’s memory was evoked in the opening ayat, are proof that human beings can be sublime; but then the tragedy is that they have allowed themselves to be reduced to the lowest of the low by rejecting Allah’s message. Yet again Allah offers hope to those who pull themselves out of the depths of darkness and, guided by Him, correct the wrongs of the past and do everything necessary to fulfill the conditions of their iman.


Surah Ash-Sharh is one of only four surahs in the Quran that address Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) exclusively. Here Allah consoles His beloved messenger by reminding him that He has elevated his mention within the heavens. The consoling words of Allah in the central ayat of the surah are a message of hope to the Prophet, and by extension to all believers who live their lives in the path of Allah. Allah reiterates that within difficulty there is ease. In fact it is only through trials and toil that we can taste the sweetness of ease and contentment both in this world and in the afterlife.


According to several narrations, Surah Ad-Duhaa came down at a moment of sadness in Prophet Muhammad’s life when no Quran was revealed to him for a few days. When the Prophet starts doubting himself and getting anxious, Allah gave him a beautiful consolation, telling him that he was wrong, that He has not abandoned him and promising him that he will reach the end of his mission and witness its results. These ayat, says Ustadh, are also a message of hope to us. They teach us that sometimes we will experience gaps in our connection with Allah, but that we can always come back.


Following the opening three oaths that compare night and day to the attributes of men and women in Surah Al-Layl, Allah transitions to the central theme of the surah. Here, Allah is saying that our efforts in this world will go in many different directions, some right and some wrong. The order of the verbs Allah uses to describe those on the correct path sums up the moral view of the Quran: If you give, are conscious of Allah and accept the ultimate beauty (al-hunsa) through an unhesitating submission to the truth itself, Allah will surely guide you along the path to janna.


In this video, we look into an oath Allah makes in ayat 7-8 of Surah Ash-Shams. Here Allah swears by the human nafs, the self, that He created in perfect proportions. It is this nafs that Allah inspired within every human being which distinguishes us from other creatures, and that He has given it the capacity to both destroy or protect and save itself. In the context of the previous oaths comparing night and day, these powerful ayat are a metaphor for the tug-of-war between good and evil, light and darkness within ourselves; between our material and spiritual needs. Allah has created this cycle so we can navigate the trials of life, knowing that like the moon, our hearts too go through phases. This constant struggle to purify our souls is the natural order of things.


Today we go into the heart of Surah Al-Balad. Here Allah asks a rhetorical question to the disbelievers of Quraish in Mecca who have shamelessly violated Allah’s sacred land and His messenger Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Can you not see the truth, Allah asks, challenging them to come up with language to match the Quran. Just as He guides the newborn to its mother’s milk, Allah has endowed us with the capacity to choose the right path, but often people refuse to take the difficult road that will ultimately lead to eternal comfort.


The last four ayat of Surah Al-Fajr are arguably some of the most beautiful in the entire Quran. In this video we go over the meaning of the “tranquil” spirit that Allah has honored and has asked to return to Him on the Day of Resurrection. This section is also connected with the surah’s opening ayat through its reference to Hajj. That cleansed soul which left everything behind for the sake of Allah, is now in His company, reaping the fruits of an obedient heart that has submitted itself entirely to its creator


The opening oaths of Surah Al-Fajr have been the subject of over 30 different interpretations. In this video, we try to outline some of them, but we focus primarily on the one I believe is the most compelling; that these ayat are a reference to the Hajj. Here, Allah evokes the spirit of the Hajj, that momentous occasion when we leave everything behind – money, status, ego – to stand before Allah, materially and spiritually naked. The day of nahr (sacrifice) is the culmination of 10 days of struggle performing the Hajj rituals, and marks the moment when we are cleansed of all our sins, ready to start a new life on the path of Allah.


The heart of Surah Al-Ghashiyah is the portion where Allah urges disbelievers to contemplate the world around them with humility. It is as if Allah is telling us to take advantage of the journey we are still on in this world because only then can we be prepared for the life that is coming. Allah then addresses Prophet Muhammad, telling him that since Allah has given every human the capacity to arrive at the truth on his own, his sole responsibility is to keep on reminding people.


Let’s talk about Ayah 8 of Surah Al-A’la. Here Allah promises Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) to make things easy for him and give him the power to withstand the difficulties ahead. The beauty of this ayah stems from the context in which it was revealed in the early years of the da’wa. When Muslims were being persecuted harshly by Quraish, the ayah was a premonition of pending relief. The universal message Allah is sending us, is that we will continue to face difficulties in life but that through our imaan, He will give us the ability to deal with them.


Today we discussed the core of what it means to do “tasbeeh”, to declare the perfection of Allah’s name. It is completely different from saying that Allah is perfect. There is a certain decorum we must follow when addressing our creator and revelation will teach us what the parameters are.


Surah Al-Infitar – Day 5 – Ramadan with the Quran

When we stand before Allah on the Day of Reckoning, we will know what we had “sent ahead”: the good deeds we did in this life that will be waiting to vouch for us when we most need them. Every decision we take is recorded with Allah, waiting for us to read on our own.


Surah At-Takwir – Day 4 – Ramadan with the Quran

On Judgment Day we are not only accountable for what we know we did in this life, but also for the consequences of each and every action, whether good or bad.


Surah ‘Abasa – Day 3 – Ramadan with the Quran

Some people ask: Why do I need Islam? Many times, questions like this come from a concept called “istighnaa” (feeling self-sufficient and in no need of anything).


Surah An-Nazi’at – Day 2 – Ramadan with the Quran

An explanation of the six distinct sections in Surah An-Nazi’at that parallel each other both thematically and linguistically. To me, it reinforces Allah’s indisputable authorship of the Quran.


Surah An-Naba – Day 1 – Ramadan with the Quran

Allah structured Surah An-Naba in perfect literary symmetry centered on Judgment Day. In this video, watch how those who sarcastically question the afterlife in the beginning of the surah, are left speechless on the Day they had denied throughout a life spent in forgetfulness and disobedience.

As the month of Ramadan approaches faster than most of us realize I thought it would be best to write something briefly about the idea of being respectful and loving towards one another despite our differences. The believers, in their attitudes towards one another are described with phrases in the Qur’an like

رحماء بينهم ,

loving & caring towards one another

أذلة على المؤمنين,

humble and pride-less in their dealings with other believers

إنما المؤمنون إخوة ,

that they are nothing but a band of brothers.

يؤثرون على أنفسهم ولو كان بهم خصاصة ,

that they give preference to others over themselves even when afflicted with starvation themselves

فألف بين قلوبكم فأصبحتم بنعمته إخوانا

That He caused a surging love to make its way into your hearts then thus you all transformed, only by His blessing and grace, into brethren.

They are described as making the prayer that preserves that brotherhood. I would like to share a piece of that prayer with you:

ولا تجعل في قلوبنا غلا للذين آمنوا ,

Do not allow for ghill to be furnished in our hearts for those who’ve believed.

The Arabic word غل has a number of implications including

شدة العطش والحرارة
,an overwhelmingly intense feeling of thirst and burning. They would say

أغل إبله أساء سقيها فصدرت ولم ترو

That so and so did ghill to his camel meaning didn’t quench her thirst and she was still dispatched (meaning out in the desert) without being replenished.

Figurative meanings were used derived from this image for someone carrying two sets of meanings, depending on the morphology used,

a. شدة الحسد والحزن والحقد والضغن
intense burning feelings of jealousy, grief (because of someone), hatred, malice and harboring a grudge.

b. الغش والخيانة

To cheat and be disloyal and dishonest

Perhaps, and Allah knows best, both stem from the image popular among the Arabs regarding that camel. Its master did cheat it and abuse it while all its done is be at his service. And of course as a result it is experiencing the intense heat and thirst that is eating away at it from within.

In the Qur’an believers beg Allah not to harbor these feelings towards each other. May He include us amongst those whose hearts remain clean of ghill.

On the one hand there are the people who benefit from the work I do and others whose contributions are far greater and far more valuable. I see the change people have experienced in their lives and sincere love and sincerity they have towards people like me despite having never met me. I’ll run into people like that at a program or on the street and take du’as from them. I’ve been handed cards and artwork lovingly drawn by beautiful children who can’t believe I popped out of a screen into real life. And I’m sure others in my place have experienced these beautiful loving gestures from our blessed ummah. I’ve met scholars, da’ees and activists whose love of deen and love of serving it oozes out of them and just being in their presence is inspiration. These are the gifts of Allah to our ummah and may Allah protect and preserve them, always.

Yet on the other hand I’ve seen ugliness in this ummah from a unique vantage point. I’ve seen an eagerness to be quick to judge, to make the worst assumptions, to allege without understanding the facts, to be waiting to pounce at the opportunity of finding another’s mistake, to speak so easily and casually of the faults of another ripping their dignity to shreds as we bite into our meals, to dismiss and disassociate, to declare kafir, deviant, hypocrite, corrupt and more. I’ve seen enough that I can relate to many who are in this space trying to do something good for their community just give up and say, “I can’t take it anymore, I don’t want anything to do with this.” I’ve met activists and Islamic workers around the world who’ve asked me the painful question, “how do you deal with Muslims and still carry on?”

Before saying anymore, I would like to clarify that this post is NOT meant, I swear by Allah, as a sliding comment towards anyone. It is however meant to defend some people. I’ve met with Dr. Zakir Naik. I love and respect him. I’ve met Dr. Farhat Hashmi and I love and respect her. I’ve met Javed Ghamdi Sahib and I love and respect him. I’ve met Maulana Tariq Jamil and I love and respect him. I have the honor of knowing people like Shaikh Hamza Yusuf, Dr. Yasir Qadhi, Mufti Menk, Dr. Tariq Ramadan…the list goes on and on and I have love and respect for these great individuals, the ones I have named and the ones I haven’t. I can say with complete honesty that I disagree with virtually every one of them on one matter or another, and sometimes passionately. That, in no way, takes away my love and respect for them. If they asked for my help, I’d stand by them because they are sincere servants of Allah and if I don’t see eye to eye with them on all things and even sometimes fundamental things, the fact that they are my family in faith will not be shaken. I will discuss with them candidly, disagree with them, compliment them on the work that they do, pray for them as I hope they do for me.

It was Shaikh Hamza Yusufs videos in the nineties that while watching them I first thought to myself, I wish I knew Arabic. His videos made me laugh and cry and love Islam. I started praying more regularly as a result. I believe not a prayer I perform goes by that he doesn’t get sadaqa jaria for. Dr. Yasir Qadhi, I feel, is like my older brother. I learn from him, admire his rigorous scholarship, find myself in awe of his divinely gifted genius and truly believe he’s an invaluable asset to the ummah. I’ve listened to hours of Dr Farhat Hashmi, Maulana Tariq and Javed Ghamdi Sahib. They’ve each benefited me tremendously and uniquely. I wholeheartedly love Mufti Menk. He’s officially the coolest human being I know and the personal gift he’s given me (that shall remain personal), I will be indebted to him so long as I live.

I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve benefited from these and more wonderful people. Some people like to think that means I wholeheartedly endorse all that they ever say or they endorse all that I ever say. This silliness needs to stop. Standing by someone isn’t a blanket statement about agreeing with all of their ideas. I’ve learned from my non Muslim professors at the University. I’ve learned from western academics writing research papers on the Qur’an. We have to grow up as an ummah and realize that knowledge and benefit can only truly be acquired when we bring a respectful, critical, inquisitive, sincere and transparent attitude to our learning. I will continue to ask questions without hesitation, criticize without shame and benefit without worry of ‘endorsement’ but here’s the thing. You won’t know anything about it my criticisms or disagreements because that is part of my personal journey as a student and that is completely different from who I am as a teacher. Some people turn disagreements between public figures into something of a sport. Well I’m not playing that game. I will publicly speak about what I feel is far more valuable; the word of Allah, as opposed to what I do or do not endorse of anyone else.

I study the Qur’an with my team to the best of my ability. I try to teach what I’ve learned to the best of my ability. You are completely free to disagree with what I’m saying. It is at the end of the day, a human attempt to understanding Allah’s words better. I pray that Allah counts that effort as a sincere one. Take the good from people and leave what you’re not convinced of. If you want to turn that into a crusade of saving the ummah from the mistakes of xyz, so be it. The rest of us have better things to do with our lives like worship Allah and learn something of benefit. I love the old Arab saying

من طلب أخا بلا عيب بقي بلا أخ

Whoever seeks a brother without flaw is left without a brother. I endorse this message. Okay bye.

I haven’t taught ”Accused’, one of my favorite story night programs after a long break in Manchester UK tonight in about forty minutes. Just posting because I’m excited and I hope to get this program recorded and posted online sometime in the near future. Shout out to Manchester for all the love. EIC people. 7pm!