Here you can find, read, and search for specific segments, and sections in the Removing the Middleman book series. This will be regularly updated with important and relevant verses from the books. If you are interested in purchasing the book(s) click here!
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This is a glossary of all Arabic terms discussed in Volume 1. Please use your web browser's built in find function (ctrl or cmd + F) to search for specific terms.
This opening statement of the Qur’an captures the essence of God and His vision for the world, the purpose of our existence and the created world, and the human yearning for guidance.
These first five verses establish at the very beginning of the Qur’an the key attributes of a person of faith and responsibility, which go hand in hand. God makes us realize that not all matters of the universe are visible to human eyes or accessible to human senses and intellect, and, hence, a willingness to accept the unseen as told by God through the prophets is a key part of having faith and of being a responsible creature of God.
These eleven verses describe the condition of people who habitually disbelieve and persist in their disbelief while abusing people of faith and not lever- aging their God-given faculties of sight, hearing, and comprehension to understand and reflect on the realities of life.
The fact that the Qur’an has 114 chapters containing details of so many topics of interest to mankind shows God’s patience and enduring care for our well-being. It is incumbent on all people of conscience and sensibility to heed to the call of faith in one God and doing good (as reflected in the Qur’an, Bible, Torah, and other revelations), preserve their own existence and surrounding, and pay close attention to the written and unwritten essence of life.
These verses make an appeal to our senses of understanding and fairness that we acknowledge God’s blessings and mercy and serve him. This section also contrasts the rewards for belief and good deeds against the punishments for disbelief and ungratefulness.
We need to think about our ability to draw guidance and examples from nature that will help us to be properly guided. God gives guidance to those who are willing to receive it. And as God said in the Qur’an, “Surely each one of you strives for diverse objectives: (1) Whoever supports others, stays true to his duty (as a human being), and embraces all that is good, God will facilitate his way to success, and (2) Whoever is niggardly, arrogant (considers himself unduly self-sufficient and above others), and rejects all that is good, God will facilitate his ways to hardship and distress” (92:4–12).
These verses comprise the most detailed description of the origin of human consciousness and purpose. Here, we see much more clarity than in the Old Testament, and it also negates some of the concepts that have been propagated in Christianity, Judaism, and other polytheistic religions like Hinduism about the relationships among human beings and the Devil.
Here is a framework for each human being to achieve success in this life. We are to form a partnership with our spouse, nurture our children, understand and follow the guidance of God, and stay within the limits set by Him. The Qur’an and the life of the Prophet Mohammad adequately provide us with all we need to know no matter where we live, what race we belong to, or what our professions are. What we lack are our willingness, adequate understanding, and commitment to act according to human consciousness and God’s teachings!
As we read these verses (and other similar verses in the Qur’an), we need to recognize that these comments and advices apply to Jews as well as to Muslims. Or, God is telling Muslims what not to do by giving examples from Jewish history. Too many Muslims miss this point and dwell on the failures of the Jews. Yet, we are suffering from the same malaise as they did.
Too many Muslims have fallen into the mind-set of thinking they are the chosen or favored people of God, whereas God said consistently to all people—Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike—that accountability will be based on our faith and good deeds and not purely on our individual affiliation with one of the religions and that there is no prior commitment to salvation or Heaven without accountability. As it has been stated in two different places in the Qur’an, calling ourselves Muslims, Jews, Christians, or followers of any other religion is not the determining factor for God’s mercy and forgiveness, but sincere faith in God and doing good things for our fellow men are.
These verses make an appeal to our sense of understanding and fairness that we acknowledge God’s blessings and mercy and serve him. This section also contrasts the rewards for belief and good deeds against the punishments for disbelief and ungratefulness.
As we understand the causes for the abasement and humiliation of the followers of Moses in these verses, we Muslims need to ensure that we do not follow the same path going forward. We need to change our outlook and activities so that we act and behave within the boundaries set by God and His prophets in order to be worthy of God’s blessings and mercy.
We should rejoice in the universal message of Islam, which is attainable by any man, irrespective of birth, national origin, skin color, or religious background. The true commitment to faith comes in the forms of our firm belief in God, our deep sense of accountability, and our enduring and demonstrated capability to do good deeds on this planet. This fundamental universality is common in all religions and calls to mind the unity of God and His message and the common thread of human well-being through doing good deeds for others. Unfortunately, like people of earlier religions, Muslims of today have fallen into the same trap and have lost the true understanding of and commitment to Islam.
These verses draw attention to critical aspects of disobedience to God: (1) God’s punishment can sometimes take the form of transforming our mental condition to that of an animal (lower than man), and (2) People have the tenacity to ask irrelevant questions only to refuse or delay obeying what they are being asked to do. This never fools God or people of faith and goodwill.
Two key points we need to reflect on are that we have a God-given responsibility to assess what happens around us and that God will take note of what we do or do not do in response to those happenings. Too many of us think that we are responsible only for what we do, but what is equally as important is what we do not do when we should be doing something.
In today’s context, Muslims need to think about three things: (1) Are we misusing our Qur’an in the same way the Jews used to hide and recast the message of Moses, as contained in the Old Testament (Torah)? (2) Are we making false promises to our people, especially to our youth who are inclined to use terror in the name of Islam to achieve temporary fame? (3) The vast majority of Muslims need to under- stand and truly believe in the message that God’s grace to Muslims will come only when we collectively demonstrate genuine faith through education, rightful practice, and righteous deeds.
Nothing can be stronger and more poignant than these verses to help us understand the underlying causes of our current situation. Each and every Muslim needs to get serious about keeping his commitment as a Muslim, and we need to support each other in carrying out our individual and collective responsibilities and keeping from exploiting one another unjustly to Muslims, other nations, and people of other faiths.
We need to respect other religions, especially Judaism and Christianity, knowing that God reprimanded their followers for denying our Prophet, and we should not commit the same mistakes. As God said in the Qur’an, “Repel what is evil with what is good . . .” (23:96). How far away we have moved from following this simple guidance!
It is important for us to begin to focus on what we need to do as opposed to claiming who we are. God recognizes our true nature through our actions and not through our claims. As God observes all we do and does not neglect even an atom-sized bad deed or an atom-sized good deed, we all need to focus a part of our lives on worldly pursuits but at the same time dedicate a part of our time and resources to upholding social justice and human well-being. This balancing act is critical for success and is a true measure of how good a Muslim each of us is today and will be in the future, including in the Afterlife.
This verse is of major significance to Muslims today, as we are very eager to blame others for our misfortunes while we are unwilling to keep our commitments as Muslims—perhaps we are lacking in faith as the Qur’an says! When one declares faith, it is a solemn pledge to God and to mankind. We do not take our commitments seriously, and faith has become a matter of a simple label as opposed to a sincere and deliberate commitment that should be upheld at all costs and at all times. We may fail now and then since we are human, but we need to stay focused and be steadfast in our missions in life and in our commitment to God and mankind.
We need to understand the Qur’an as clearly as we can and avoid any superstitions and evil practices. Over the years, some of these practices have made their way into various Muslim societies; however, these practices need to be curtailed by propagating better understanding of the faith based on the teachings in the Qur’an and on science.
The Qur’an unifies the true guidance from God with mankind and encourages us to follow it with care and commitment. It is equally important to understand the fundamental principles and values on which Qur’anic instructions and recommendations are based, as each generation must learn how to put them into practice in the context of their time and environment. The prophetic tradition says that in each century a reformer will come to the community to provide continued contextual understanding and application of Qur’anic instruction, especially with respect to human interactions and community affairs while the fundamental elements of faith such as the Oneness of God, worship/service, and other pillars of Islam stay constant.
It is important to repeat how critical it is for us all to do a self-assessment and focus more on what we do and less on what we say or look like. Too many of our children and people in general are taught to do things based on prevailing customs and values derived from pre-Islamic traditions and not on the teachings and values derived from the Qur’an. This and a lack of education, economic empowerment, and well-established civil societies are the major challenges faced by Muslims and the human race at large. The Qur’an is very clear when it says that Muslims are a nation created to benefit humanity so that we can (1) uphold truth and justice, (2) eradicate falsehood and injustice, and (3) establish the worship of God. One wonders how far we have deviated in regard to these three central responsibilities and priorities.
Three fundamental aspects of Islam are pointed out here in contrast to Christianity and Judaism: (1) We must maintain the purity of the divine revelations, (2) All religions should be given proper respect, and (3) We should develop solid counterarguments as opposed to emotional responses in favor of faith.
The following are three important points to reflect on: (1) Evidence of God and the truth is everywhere, and miracles are not needed and should not be demanded, (2) True guidance is in the revealed Books, and we need to follow that guidance, and (3) God only favors those who believe in Him and do good deeds, irrespective of whether they are Jewish, Christian, or Muslim.
Prophet Abraham is a unique individual in the history of mankind. He is considered one of the early followers of true monotheism and is revered by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. While Jews claim that Abraham belongs to them and the Christians claim that Abraham belongs to them, the Qur’an makes the point that he was a predecessor to both of these religions and, as such, could belong to neither. In reality, he believed in true monotheism, offered total acceptance of and surrender (the true meaning of the word Muslim) to God Almighty, and dedicated his life to the betterment of his generation and beyond.
Prophet Abraham is the symbol of a pure monotheistic religion, which was conveyed to all peoples, such as Jews, Christians, and polytheists, by generations of prophets, including Jacob, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammad.
These verses make the universal case for Islam as the religion of all the prophets, confirming the unified theme of Islam to bring all people of all ages to the same way of life. As prophets came throughout time and propagated the same guidance, so should people of all times and ages continue on the same path.
These verses show that Islam has always left a mark of distinction, whether through the matter of selecting the kiblah or through the preference of the middle-of-the-road position on all matters of importance. Muslims who are either very conservative or noncommittal need to reflect on the pragmatic aspects of Islamic teachings and practices.
The Qur’an always asks for reconciliation and agreement, even at a small scale. The Prophet formed alliances with Jewish tribes in Medina and had no problem going to the Christian uncle of his wife Khadija when he was unsure of the incidence of early revelations and prophethood; he compromised in peace treaties, such as Hudaibiya, agreeing to unfair terms for Muslims, all for the sake of peace and prosperity for people of all faiths, and we need to accept the same attitude today. Prophet Mohammad used to be actively engaged with community members and support all moral tenets of his community even before he became a prophet. Too many Muslims are distant from their own communities due to differences in opinion and failure to collaborate or implement necessary changes, and, in countries where they are a minority, they stay distant from the larger community in which they live and thrive. This has to change!
In turning to the Ka’bah, no matter where you are or where you are from, it serves as a constant reminder that the purpose and priorities of all Muslims (or for that matter, any person of faith) are and should be the same: to bring our communities and members together and serve for the common good, as this is the true way to serve God.
These verses begin with advice from God calling for patience and constancy in worship while reminding us that we will be tried in many different ways so that God knows who is the best in conduct and truest in belief. A trial itself should not cause us to despair but to see it as a challenge and opportunity for us to prove our faith in God and our resolve to overcome such trials.
We ought to find a time and place to reflect on our lives, our surroundings, and the purpose of life. The 21st century, filled with unprecedented consumerism, get-rich-quick schemes around the world, and rich nations and rich people flaunting their wealth without respect for their fellow nations and neighbors, makes it very difficult for us to keep a proper perspective on life and what should be our primary pursuits. The Prophet spent a significant amount of time in the cave reflecting and contemplating prior to his prophethood. My questions then to each of us are, where is our cave, and when was the last time any of us went there to think about, reflect on, and make corrections to our lives? Setting proper priorities is extremely important, as we should be focusing on what the Prophet did and how we can follow his lead and not on how he looked or dressed, which some Muslims are totally obsessed with.