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Monthly Qur'an Readings

Session 9

Chapter 7: Surah Al-Araf (Elevation) - Continued…

Verses 94–102

We (God) do not send a Prophet to a land except that We make its inhabitants face misfortune and hardship so they (have reasons to reflect and) perhaps become humble. Then We shift their condition from difficulties to ease (and good as they perceive it) until they become affluent and self-assured and begin to convince themselves that hardship and difficulties were for previous generations only. Then We take them (to account) by surprise while they are oblivious (to such possibility) (see also 6:41–46).

If the people of these towns believed (in God) and acted with conscience and a sense of responsibility, We would have opened up blessings from all around them—from the sky and the earth, in abundance. But they rejected, and, as a result, We make them face the consequences. Do the people of these towns feel that such consequence will escape them while they sleep at night, or go on with their daily routines by day? Are they secure against what God plans? No one should be so self-assured except those who wish to suffer losses.

Does it not occur to those who inherit the earth after its previous inhabitants that if We (God) please, We will take them to account for their sins and make their hearts incapable of comprehending (the truth)? Such were (the human conditions in those) towns whose narratives We bring to you (in the above stories). Surely such messengers came to each generation with comprehensible guidance, but they refused to accept (reconsider) what was rejected before (by their previous generations). This is how God incapacitates the hearts of those who deny the truth. We did not find in many of them a commitment to the bond with God (ahd), and we found most of them to trespass (the limits).

Verses 103–129

(After these generations) We sent Moses to the Pharaoh and his chiefs with Our Guidance, but they rejected it; see then the end results of those who spread corruption. Moses said: “O Pharaoh, I am a messenger from the Sustainer of the Universe; I am prepared to say nothing but the truth about God. I have come with guidance from your Sustainer, and you should let the Children of Israel be free to go with me.” He (Pharaoh) replied: “Produce your evidence that you have come with if you speak the truth.” Moses threw his walking stick, and it turned into a (fearsome) serpent clearly visible. He then spread his hand and it was shining (white with light) to the onlookers (see also Exodus, chapter 4).

The chiefs of the people of the Pharaoh said: “Indeed, Moses is a skilled magician, and he intends to drive us out of our land.” Pharaoh asked: “What is your advice?” They said: “Let him and his brother (Aaron) wait while we announce throughout the cities and towns and bring all skilled magicians to you.” Once they all came, they asked Pharaoh: “We sure expect a reward if we prevail over (Moses).” Pharaoh promised: “Yes, you will be among my favored associates.” They asked Moses: “Will you be the first to cast, or will we?”

Moses said: “You go ahead.” So they cast (their spell) and overwhelmed those in attendance with a fearsome display of sorcery and magic. We (God) inspired Moses to cast his stuff, and it overtook all that was on display of deception—thereby verifying the truth and reducing all they did to nothing. This is how they were put in their place, and they were humiliated. All the magicians prostrated (before God) and declared: “We do believe in the Sustainer of the Universe, the Sustainer of (spoken by) Moses and Aaron.”

Pharaoh objected: “How did you offer such submission without my permission? I think it is a plot that you all have hatched in this city to cause commotions among people and drive them out. Be prepared then for the consequence —I will cut off your hands and your feet for your rebellion and will crucify you all together.”

They all replied: “It is to our Sustainer God that we turn. It is because of our acceptance of the guidance of God that came to us that you now punish us. O our Sustainer God, enable us to have patience and make us approach (our impending) death with full submission (and reliance on You alone).”

The chiefs among Pharaoh’s people counseled Pharaoh: “Will you leave Moses and his people alone to cause disruption in our lands and to deny you and your gods?” The Pharaoh said: “We will kill the sons of Israelites and leave their women alone; we have power over them.” Moses advised his people: “Turn to ALLAH for help and exercise patience. The earth belongs to God, and He makes among his servants whom He wills to inherit the land. In the end those who are conscious (of God) and demonstrate a sense of responsibility (taqwa) will have the upper hand.” His people lamented: “We are being persecuted—before you came and since you have been here.” Moses comforted (and cautioned) them: “It may well be that God will destroy your tormentor and give you a hand in overseeing the affairs of the land. God will then see how you conduct yourselves.”

Verses 130–137

We overpowered Pharaoh and his people with drought and reduction in food supply so that they might be reminded; but when good fortune came to them, they would say: “This is by us,” and when any affliction came to them, they would say: “This is due to Moses and his people.” (In reality) whatever befalls them, it is prescribed by God, but most of them are unaware. They refuted further: “Whatever means you (Moses) may bring to charm us, we are not going to believe in you.” So We sent widespread destruction and diseases from locusts, lice, frogs, and blood — evident manifestations (of God’s displeasure) (see Exodus 7:10). Yet they responded with further arrogance; they were a people drawn to evil ways.

When a plague would descend on them, they would appeal to Moses: “Pray on our behalf to your Sustainer with Whom you have a covenant —if you can remove this plague, we will certainly believe in you and will let the Children of Israel go with you.” But whenever we removed such plagues and gave them time (to make good on their promises), they failed (see Exodus 8:11). So We made them face the consequences, and We drowned them in the sea since they denied Our messages, and were deliberately turning away (from such guidance).

We (God) enabled people who were considered weak (and dispossessed) to inherit the land, from its eastern side to the western side, a land We had blessed abundantly (see Genesis 17:8). It was a commitment that God fulfilled for the Children of Israel due to their patience (and perseverance) while We brought down what Pharaoh and his people accomplished and what they built.

Verses 138–147

We (God) brought the Children of Israel across the sea, and they came upon a people (perhaps Amalekites as in the Bible) who worshipped idols. They (the Children of Israel) said to Moses: “Set up for us a god like theirs.” Moses rebuked them: “You are behaving like ignorant people. What these people are engaged in will lead them to destruction, and all they do is worthless. How shall I set up a god other than ALLAH Who has favored you above all others?” (He reminded them): “How God has delivered you from the people of the Pharaoh who imposed cruel sufferings on you—killing your sons and sparing only your women. This was an enormity of trials from your Sustainer!”

We (God) appointed for Moses thirty nights (and days) and added ten more so that his engagement with his Sustainer was for forty nights (and days). Moses instructed his brother Aaron: “Be my representative (during my absence) among the people, behave with righteousness, and do not follow the ways of corruption and mischief.”

Moses came up for Our appointment, and his Cherisher God spoke to him. He said: “My Sustainer, show me Yourself so that I might behold You.” He (God) said: “You cannot see Me, but pay attention to this mountain; if it remains firm in its place, only then you can see Me.” Then his Sustainer God shone His glory on the mountain and made it crumble to pieces; Moses fell down, losing his senses. When he recovered, he declared: “You are the most glorious; I turn to You, and I am the first to accept of the believers!” God said: “Moses, I have elevated you among mankind by My messages and by My Words. Implement what I convey to you, and remain ever thankful. We articulated for you in the tablets guidance and exposition for all matters (of importance). So commit to these with firmness, and advise your people to follow the goodness therein. I (God) will show you the results of corruption and mischief. I will deprive of My guidance those who act with pride on this earth without justification; they will see every sign but will not accept it; they will see the means to correct themselves but will ignore them, and they will see means to corrupt themselves and will latch onto them. Such conditions exist because they actively deny Our guidance and remain ignorant of it (see also 96:6–7). Those who reject Our guidance and Our meeting in the Afterlife, theirs is a pursuit not worth anything. How can they be rewarded except based on what they do?”

Verses 148–156

After Moses (went to the mountain), his people made the body of a calf using their ornaments that produced low-pitched sounds. They took it for worship though they could see that it did not speak to them, nor did it provide any guidance; they were indeed unjust (to themselves). When they (some of them) realized their mistake and sought forgiveness, they said: “If our Sustainer God does not show mercy on us and forgive us, we will be in a state of loss.”

When Moses returned, he was overcome with grief and anger and said to his people: “Evil and shameful is what you have done after me. Could you not wait until God’s commands were given to you?” He dropped the tablets and grabbed his brother (Aaron) by his head and pulled him toward himself. His brother said: “O Moses (son of my mother), our community considered me weak and disobeyed me. So let’s not make our adversaries relish my predicament, and do not consider me as one of the unjust people.” Moses regained calm: “My Sustainer God, forgive me and my brother, and consider us among those who receive Your mercy. You’re the most merciful of those who show mercy.”

Those who took the calf (for worship), they will face ALLAH’s displeasure and humiliation in this life. This is the nature of how We (God) deal with those who invent such falsehood. But to those who repent after such evil and reaffirm their faith, God is Ever Forgiving and Merciful! As Moses calmed down, he took up the tablets (to share with his people) in which the writings provided guidance and brought mercy for those who truly revered their Sustainer God.

Moses chose seventy men for appointment with Us (God) and were overtaken by earthquake; Moses prayed: “If it was Your will, you could have removed them and me too already. Will you now destroy us for the acts of the fools among us? This was nothing but a serious trial from you! You allow people to go astray as You will, and You guide people as You will. You are our Preserver; therefore, forgive us and show us (again) Your mercy, as You are the best among the Forgivers! Bless us with what is good in this world and in the life to come as we turn to You.” God responded: “My displeasure touches whom I will (as deserved by them), but My mercy is spread to everyone and everything. Such is the norm for those who behave responsibly, support others from their wealth (Zakat), and take Our Guidance seriously.”

Verses 157–158

Those who follow the unlettered (ummi) Messenger whom they find written about in the Torah and the Bible. He (Prophet) invites them to what is right and good, and dissuades them from what is evil; who legislates for them what is pure and good, and prohibits what is impure and bad; who removes from them undue burdens and constraints that have been imposed on them. Those who accept him, honor him, help him, and adhere to the light (guidance) that has been sent down to him, these are the successful ones.

Say (Prophet): “O Mankind! I am a Messenger to all of you from ALLAH Who has the dominion over the universe and the earth; there is no god but God, giving life and dispensing death (to all).” Therefore, have faith in God and in His unlettered Messenger-Prophet who believes in God and in God’s words—follow him so that you can be guided.

Verses 159–171

From the followers of Moses, there is a community who guide themselves to truth and establish justice with such guidance. We grouped them into twelve tribes, as communities. When his people asked Moses for water, We revealed to him: “Strike the rock with your stick”; so out came twelve springs, and each community knew its source of water. We made the cloud to comfort them with shade, sent for them manna and quails, and said: “Eat of the good provisions We have provided for you.” Yet, when they did make wrong choices, they did Us no harm.

(Recollect) what was said to them: “Live in this town and benefit from its resources as you wish; but seek forgiveness and show humility as you enter it. We (God) will forgive your wrongs and give plenty to those who do good.” But those who were prone to do evil changed the instructions for a word different from what they were told. So We sent a calamity from above on account of their evilness (see in the Bible, Numbers 25:1–3, 8–9).

Inquire of them about the town by the sea. There they violated the spirit of the Sabbath—on the Sabbath day, fish will come to the surface, but on other days, they will not surface. This is how We (God) tried them for their repeated failures. A group among them said: “Why should we attempt to guide a people whom ALLAH will destroy or bring severe punishment?” The group (offering guidance) replied: “To avoid the blame of not doing so in the presence of our Sustainer God and in the hope that they might become aware and responsible.” So We protected those who reminded others to avoid evil and took to account those who failed to pay attention to such reminders and who were steeped in evil—an evil punishment befitting their transgression. When they persisted in doing what they were advised against, We (God) declared: “Be as apes, despised” (see also Ezekiel 22:8–15).

And remember when your Sustainer announced that He will send against them, to the Day of Resurrection, people who will subject them to severe torment. Surely God is quick in taking account, but He is ever Forgiving, Merciful! We cause them to divide into groups—some of them drawn to good and some of them otherwise (to evil). We tried them with good fortune as well as misfortune to see if they would turn around.

After these people, came in their posterity another evil generation who inherited the divine revelation but opted for the vanities of life on this earth and boasted: “We will be forgiven.” They were ready to do the same at the next turn of vanities. Yet a commitment was taken from them in their book that they would speak nothing about God but the truth, and they studied what was in the book. Certainly, the life after is better for those who are mindful and responsible. Do they not then understand?

Those who remain true to the Book (of Revelations) and sustain devotion to God—for them, We do not waste the effort of those who continue to reform themselves. (Remember also) when We (God) shook the mountain towering over them and casting its shadow, they thought it was going to crush them. (We said): “Commit firmly what you have been given and become fully aware of what it contains, so that you can become mindful and be responsible (tattaqu).”

Verses 172–181

(Consider the truth) when your Sustainer brings forth the offspring of the children of Adam, from themselves, ALLAH makes them confirm the truth about themselves: “Am I not your Sustainer God?” They say: “Yes, we do confirm.” (Such is the truth), lest you say on the Day of Resurrection: “We were unaware of this,” or you complain: “It was our forefathers who invented polytheism, and we are but their descendants after them. Would You then make us face the consequence of their untrue conjectures?” This is how We (God) make the guidance explicit so that you may return (to the truth).

Relate to them the affair of him to whom We give Our Guidance, but he walks away from it so that the Devil pursues him and makes him stray in irreversible errors. If We had willed, We could have made him prosper in it but he opted for the material life and pursued his vain desires. Such a person resembles a dog that, if you pursue him, he lolls out his tongue, and if you leave him undisturbed, he lolls his tongue the same way. Such is the condition of those deny Our messages. So retell the narrative, and perhaps they will reflect. Evil is the manifestation of those who deny Our messages, and they oppress thereby none but their own souls.

Those whom God guides are indeed guided, but whom God allows to stray, they are indeed in a state of loss. Certainly many jinns and human beings are destined for Hell—they were gifted with a heart, but they try not to understand with it; they were given eyes, but they try not to see with them; and they have ears, but they do not listen with them—they behave like cattle, or perhaps stray further. They are making no attempt to comprehend.

God has the best attributes, so aspire to imbibe those attributes and leave alone those who disregard such attributes. They will face the consequences of what they do. (Let there be) from among Our creations a group that guides (themselves and others) to truth and pursues justice thereby.

Verses 182—18

Those who deny Our (God’s) messages, We lead them (to their consequences) gradually, in a manner that they do not recognize that this is happening. I (God) allow them respite, but My subtle scheme is ever effective.

Do they not reflect—this companion of theirs (Prophet) is not under any influence; He is simply a warner, making things clear. Have they not seen the dominion of God over the universe and the earth and what ALLAH had created? Could it be that their own term for existence is coming to an end; what other announcement (from God) are they waiting to believe in, after this? Whoever God leaves in error, they can find no guidance. He leaves them alone to stumble around in their arrogance.

They ask you about the Hour (Day of Resurrection), when it will come about. Say: “The knowledge of it is only with my Sustainer God. None but God can me bring it about when the time is due; it will impact heavily on the heavens and the earth, and it will come but all of a sudden.”

They continue to ask you, as if by persistence you will gain insight into it. Repeat for them: “Such knowledge belongs to God alone, and most people do not know.” Say: “I control neither benefit for nor harm to myself, except what God wills. Had I been privy to the unseen, I would have gained much good, and no harm would ever touch me. (Let me repeat), I am simply a warner and a giver of good news to those who believe.”

Verses 189—198

He (God) is the One who created you from a single being, from it its mate, so that he may incline to her. So when he has intimate contact with her, she conceives a weight light enough to move about with it. As it grows heavy, they both call upon God, their Sustainer: “If You bless us with a good child, we will be most grateful.” But once He has given a good child, they begin to assert a partnership with ALLAH from which He has gifted them, whereas God is exalted and pure from such associations. Do they assert them as partners who created nothing and are themselves created? These cannot offer any help to others, nor can they help themselves.

If you invite them to guidance, they will not follow you. It is the same whether you call them to guidance or remain silent. Those whom you invoke besides God are subservient to God just like you. If you feel you speak the truth, then go ahead and call upon them—see if they answer you. Do they (these idols) have feet with which they walk, or hands with which they hold, or eyes with which they see, or ears with which they hear? Say (Prophet): “Invoke your gods, try to prevail over me, and give me no concession. My friend is God Himself Who inspired this Book, and He befriends those who subscribe to goodness.” Those whom you invoke besides God cannot help you, let alone helping themselves. If you invoke them for guidance, they hear you not. You might feel they are looking at you, but they see nothing.

Verses 199–206

Have broader perspectives and avoid quick judgements, work to establish goodness, and do not be influenced by those who are ignorant. If the Devil (or men of evil intent) attempts to influence you with dissention or deviation (from truth), resort to ALLAH, who is Ever Hearing and Knowing. Those who are conscious and responsible (taqwa) when the Devil attempts to influence them immediately become mindful, and they can recognize (their faults), whereas those who align with the Devil continue to increase in such deviation without resisting.

When you do not bring them a sign, they ask: “Why don’t you demand it (from God)?” Reply to them: “I only follow what comes from my Sustainer God.” This narrative is a sign and a proof, a guide and a source of mercy for those who believe. When this Qur’an is presented, pay attention to its message and reflect on its meaning (in silent contemplation) so that you can partake in its mercy. Be conscious of your Sustainer God within your inner core with awe and humility and in a voice pleasant during morning hours and evening hours, and do not allow yourself to be without such conscious mindfulness.

(Think of those) who are in the presence of your Sustainer God—they are not proud to serve God, they glorify and honor God immensely, and to God they are wholeheartedly devoted.

Chapter 8: Sura An-Faal (Spoils of War)

Verses 1-4

In the name of ALLAH, the God of Mercy, the Endower of Mercy!

They (faithful) ask you (Prophet) about spoils (anfaal) from battle. Say: such resource is for ALLAH and His prophet (i.e., for common good). Therefore, be mindful of God and your responsibility to one another (taqwa), settle your differences and align with God and His prophet, if you claim to have faith.

True believers are those whose hearts are full of awe when God is remembered among them and when God’s guidance and revelations are discussed; these increase their faith and affirm their trust in God. These people establish worship of God (as part of their daily living) and dedicate part of their resources for the benefit of others. These are the markers of real believers who will be elevated in the presence of God, receive God’s forgiveness, protection and a dignified provision (in this world and in the hereafter).

Verses 5-10

As your Sustainer God led you out of your own home to establish the truth, there were a group of believers who were unwilling participants – they were contending among themselves about the nature of what was about to unfold and they were acting as if they were driven to their death, an outcome they felt certain.

ALLAH committed to help you overpower one of the two parties while you were more willing to take on the party less armed; but God wished to establish the truth of His word and to root out the deniers of His grace so that God can make faith and goodwill to triumph while falsehood and evil come to nothing, even though those who sin against God and humanity desire otherwise.

When you beseeched God for His help, He answered thus: “I will commit one thousand angels to assist you, coming one after another.” God announced this as a measure of good news and to comfort your hearts. Help and Victory is only granted by God who is Mighty and Wise.

Verses 11-19

ALLAH made slumber (nu’as) descend on you to make you feel secure and send down rain from the cloud to cleanse yourself (of doubts and thirst) and to take away the evil from the Devil – all these to restore confidence in your hearts and firm up your stance. God revealed Himself to angels and said: “I am with you (and the faithful); so, help those who are believers. I will weaken those who deny faith. So, strike them on their neck and smite every fingertips of them.” This is the result of their denial and opposition to God and His Messenger. God is firm in taking accountability. This treatment is for them to taste the consequence of their conducts; (eventually) the deniers are destined to Hell Fire.

O people of faith, when people who deny faith (truth and justice) march against you in war, do not turn your backs to them. If you turn your backs – unless to maneuver in battlefield or to join a party of yours, know that you will incur God’s displeasure and get closer to Hell Fire which is an evil destination. (Recognize that) when you fought them, it was God who was fighting them and when you engage them, it was God who was engaging them so that God can confer to the faithful a benefit directly from Himself. God Knows and He Hears!

This is how God will weaken the resolve of those who disbelieve. If you (denier of truth) have sought a decision, victory has been granted (to the believers) and if you desist (in future) it will be better for you. But if you return (to fight), We too will return, and your numerical superiority will not change the outcome, since God is with the believers.

Verses 20-28

O People of Faith, align with ALLAH and His Messenger and do not turn away while you hear; don’t be like those who hear but do not respond. Surely the worst among God’s creatures, in His view, are the ones that do not hear, do not speak and do not comprehend. Had God known any good in them, He would have helped them to hear but even if they are made to hear, their aversion for good turns them away (from truth).

O People of Faith, respond to God and His Messenger when he calls you to guidance that enriches your lives, be cognizant that God intervenes between your soul and your heart (to inspire and to guide) and He will gather you all to Him. Be mindful that afflictions and trials may not confine itself to those who are unjust to the exclusion of others (who consider themselves otherwise good) and God is fully capable of requiting.

Remember when you were few in numbers, deemed insignificant on earth and fearful that others will destroy you by force, God sheltered you, strengthened you with His help and gave you wholesome sustenance and support that you may be thankful.

O People of Faith, don’t be unresponsive to God and His Messenger, and unfaithful to your trust (to establish truth and justice) while you have been endowed with the knowledge. Also, be aware that your material possessions and your family could be a source of trials and temptations and with God is the finality of all rewards and contentment.

Verses 29-35

O People of Faith, if you are mindful of God and your responsibilities to each other (tattaqu), ALLAH will endow you with capacities to distinguish (truth vs. falsehood), give you distinction, remove your evils and protect you. God is without limit in His grace. People without faith (your adversaries) were devising a plan to restrain you in your place or kill you or drive you away – this they planned and God planned as well. (Always know that) God is a better planner!

When Our (God’s) revelations and guidance are presented to them, they say: “We have heard. If we wish, we could produce similar things – these are nothing but ancient stories.” Then they say: “God, if is this truly from You, can bring on us a calamity from the sky or inflict on us a chastisement that is severe.”

God would not chastise them while you (Prophet) were among them; and God would not chastise them while giving them opportunity to seek forgiveness. Notwithstanding, they have no reason to feel secure from displeasure of God when they actively restrain people from worshiping in the Sacred Mosque (Kabah) and they are not its legitimate guardian. Such guardianship belongs to those who are mindful of God and responsible to fellow human beings (taqwa), but they are mostly ignorant (of such ideals). Their worship in this House is nothing but whistling and clapping of hand.

Verses 36-40

Those who persist in denial of ALLAH endeavor with their wealth and their person to restrain people from God’s guidance. They will go on spending and exerting as such until a time when they will regret it and they will be exhausted. Those who deny the truth will be driven together towards their evil consequences (hell) so that God can separate the evil from the good, keep the evils together to lead them to their common evil consequence (hell). They are the ones who have compromised their lives.

Say to those who deny faith if they disavow, God will forgive them; but if they return (to hostilities), then their fate will be similar to previous generations of deniers. You should resist and go to war (if needed) to put an end to all forms of persecutions and restore all pursuits of life (deen) to God’s Way. Again, if they disavow their denials, God surely sees what they do. But if they return (to persecute you), then rest assured that God is your Patron and Protector, the Most Excellent Patron and the Most Excellent Helper!

***Excerpt from Volume 4: Personal Accountability – Removing the Middleman Series, by Rashed Hasan. Copyright by Author***

July 2024

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