In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 185 (Part 1)
According to Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani, this ayah is an extension of the previous brief ayah and also an assertion of the great merit of the month of Ramadan.
The word shahr [شَهْر] is the time between one hilal to the next hilal. Hilal is the first night’s moon.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala praised the month of Ramadan out of the other months by choosing it to send down the Qur’an, just as He did for all of the Divine Books. Imam Ahmad reported Wathilah ibn Al-Asqa’ radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
أُنْزِلَتْ صُحُفُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ فِي أَوَّلِ لَيْلَةٍ مِنْ رَمَضَانَ، وَأُنْزِلَتِ التَّوْرَاةُ لِسِتَ مَضَيْنَ مِنْ رَمَضَانَ، وَالْإِنْجِيلُ لِثَلاثَ عَشَرةَ خَلَتْ مِنْ رَمَضَانَ، وَأَنْزَلَ اللهُ الْقُرْآنَ لأَرْبَعٍ وَعِشْرِينَ خَلَتْ مِنْ رَمَضَان
“The Suhuf [Pages] of Ibraheem were revealed during the first night of Ramadan. The Torah was revealed during the sixth night of Ramadan. The Injeel [Gospel] was revealed during the thirteenth night of Ramadan. Allah revealed the Qur’an on the twenty-fourth night of Ramadan.”
Ramadan is the only month mentioned in the Qur’an. This is how virtuous it is. We have studied earlier that the word unzela means bringing something down from above. There are two opinions about this unzela. Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu is of the opinion that it means that the entire Qur’an was brought down from Loh Mahfooz [Preserved Tablet] to Bayt Al-Izza [the first sky of this world] in one night of Ramadan. And from there the Qur’an was revealed in bits on the heart of Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam during a period of twenty-three years. The other opinion is that it means that the entire Qur’an did not come down in one instance, but the revelation began in Ramadan. We find evidence for this in the Qur’an.
The night of Ramadan when the Qur’an was revealed was the Night of Power: “Verily! We have sent it (this Qur’an) in the Night of Al-Qadr [Power/Decree]” [Al-Qadr 97: 1] and “We sent it down on a blessed night [i.e the Night of Al-Qadr],” [Ad-Dukhan 44: 3].
Qur’an was revealed in a blessed month (Ramadan), on a blessed night (Layla Al-Qadr), on the heart of a blessed man (Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), carried by a blessed angel [(Jibreel ‘alayhi salaam) Gabriel] by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. If Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has blessed the Qur’an with utmost importance, then what should be our attitude? Should we be complaining: “O God! This is so difficult” or should we be humbled and awed that He “chose” us to come closer to His Book and study it? Shikwa [complaint] is the opposite of shukr [gratitude]. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala loves the Shakireen [the grateful ones].
- We should look at what stops us from coming closer to the Qur’an. Is it our friends? Then we need to change our company. If someone stops us from coming closer to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and preparing for our Hereafter, then such a person does not deserve to be called our friend. Is it our house chores? How much can you keep your house clean and perfect? How many dishes must be tried out for satiating taste buds? How much will you spend (time and money both) on home décor? What will benefit you in the Hereafter? Will you take your house with you? On the Judgment Day, will you be informed of how many dishes you prepared and the crowds you pleased? What really matters? It is a question that we must truly reflect on.
For those who say their jobs and children keep them busy, then clearly your wealth and children have become a Fitnah [test] for you. If a blessing does not bring you closer to your Creator then it is test and we must seek refuge with Him from such blessings. It is not that being closer to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and earning a lawful living is impossible. There are people who have memorized the entire Qur’an while working in a hospital. Being a doctor is the most demanding and service-oriented job, if one can “memorize” the Qur’an with their jobs, we do not know of any other greater achievement. The truth is that we all need to raise our scales. We exhaust ourselves for worldly success, but what about pleasing Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and the eternal success? Let us make our lives simple; simple food, simple clothing, simple homes should become our choice. Let us embrace the minimalist attitude and pay more attention and time to that which is “actually” meaningful. In sha Allah! May He allow us to do the qadr [value] of the Qur’an as it deserves to be valued, aameen.
Why was the Qur’an sent?
Was it sent to be only taken out when someone dies? Or give off your daughter under the shade of the Qur’an when she’s getting married? Was it sent to take false oaths on it? What is the purpose of the Qur’an?
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “…a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion…” These are the three attributes of the Qur’an. It is:
- Huda [هُدًى] meaning guidance
- Bayyinaat [بَيِّنَات] meaning clear proof
- Furqan [فُرْقَان] meaning criterion between right and wrong
Qur’an is guidance for the entire mankind. But we have read in ayah 2 of Al-Baqarah that it is guidance only for the Muttaqeen [the pious]. So, is there a contradiction? Absolutely not! Qur’an is a Book of guidance for all the humans. But who will be guided? There is a condition. Only the Muttaqeen – those who are the righteous will be guided. Who are they? They are those who approach the Book with humility, as a mean to seek guidance from it. On the contrary, it will not benefit those who approach the Qur’an with some other mindset such as finding faults in it, for arguments, for academic debates, to repress people, and so on. Therefore, before studying the Qur’an we must always check our intention and ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to open up our hearts to understanding this Book, aameen.
Secondly, Qur’an is bayyinah. It contains clear and unambiguous signs and unequivocal proof for those who understand them. These proofs testify to the truth of the Qur’an, its guidance, and how it guides to the straight path.
Thirdly, Qur’an is furqan. It is through the knowledge of the Qur’an that one can distinguish between the right and wrong, the truth and falsehood, and the permissible and the prohibited.
It tells us how important it is for us to get associated with the Qur’an; not the mere reading of the Book, but understanding it in depth. The Qur’an communicates to us our purpose in life, the path that we must take and the one that we must turn away from. How carefully do we write our career objectives on our resumes and LinkedIn profiles? How conscious we are on the road so as to not miss our turn or violate a traffic rule? But how mindful are we about the laws of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala? Many of us do not know our purpose in life and are living on the level of animals: wake up, go to work, eat, go to sleep, get married, have children and that is it. Is that all that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala created us for? Is this our purpose to raise families and make money? Many of us do not know the prohibitions. We continue breaking His laws in ignorance or deliberately. We fear the policeman but do not fear Allah? May He guide us, aameen.