(In sha Allah, we will be publishing a summary of Pearls of Peace – a Ramadan lecture series by Mufti Muhammad Ismail Menk. Mufti Menk has a unique way of speaking. This is a humble attempt to transcribe/adapt from the series – all shortcomings are our own and all goodness is from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to accept this from us and enable us to do better, ameen. Remember us in your du’as. You can listen to these lectures here.)
We praise Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala Who has blessed us and granted us this beautiful month and such a beautiful opportunity. May He grant us the blessedness of this month and forgiveness in this month. May He increase the love and the bond in our hearts that we have for one another and alleviate the suffering of all across the globe who are going through difficulties and turmoil including ourselves.
Imagine if Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was among us and recited the Qur’an. What type of recitation do you think there would be? That is the kind of recitation that we should aspire for.
The theme we have chosen to speak on this year is Pearls of Peace from the Noble Qur’an. It is the Book of peace and indeed it is full of ingredients of peace. Many of us are searching for peace and contentment and happiness so that we can alleviate whatever suffering we are going through but we have not searched through the pages of the Book of peace; coming from the Owner of peace, As-Salaam.
As we are searching for peace and we open the Book of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, do you know what is the first word of peace that we find?
Amazingly: A’udhu billahi minash shaytanir rajeem. Analyze that statement. That is the statement of peace. Before you commence the Qur’an and its recitation, you need to utter these words because Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has declared, “So when you recite the Qur’an, [first] seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan, the expelled [from His mercy].” [16:93]
Many of us, when we read the Qur’an we have no concentration. That’s because the devil has contaminated our hearts and minds. This is why we start off with tawuz.
We now look at the next most powerful statement: Bismillah hir-Rahman nir-Raheem “In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.”
This is Allah, this is peace! Look at how He starts the Qur’an. He has told us to start off by saying His Name, acknowledging that He is full of mercy, compassion and forgiveness.
If He wanted He could have said, “Say: In the Name of Allah, the Owner of the severe torment and punishment.” He could have said that but the heart requires that flicker wherein we all have that hope in the mercy of Allah.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has chosen to open the Qur’an with what is known as Surah al-Fatihah – the Opening Surah. “[All] praise is [due] to Allah, the Rabb of the worlds.”
What is the meaning of Rabb? The One Who creates, nourishes, provides, protects, the One Who is in absolute control of every single aspect of entire existence. All praise is due to Him. Praise Him regularly and you will achieve peace.
Immediately after this powerful opening statement, He says: Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. A loser he/she will be who does not receive the mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. May Allah make us from the winners.
Imagine, if He had said, “I am never going to forgive certain people even if they seek forgiveness.” Does He ever say that? Never! Even a person who has committed Shirk, if he seeks forgiveness, Allah says, My doors are open for him, I will forgive him.
Then He says, “He is the Owner of the Day of Judgment.” From this, we learn that we are answerable to Allah. Let us learn not to become judgmental when it comes to one another. Sometimes a person who might appear not to be as religious outwardly is perhaps much more religious within. They may be struggling to adopt the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala one by one just like we are. None of us is perfect. We are all trying. Eradicate your bad habits. Seek the assistance of Allah.
Listen to what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says next, a powerful statement that we utter, “You [alone] we worship and You [alone] we ask for help.” You want peace? Worship Allah alone. Ask Allah’s help and assistance. Remember, He is Rabb-al-Alameen, the Owner of every single aspect of existence.
After that, there is a time for us to make du’a, “Guide us to the straight path.” The path of peace, the path of the pleasure of Allah. If Allah has given us hidayah (guidance) what more do we want? We will be the happiest people in the dunya.
“Amazing are the affairs of a believer! They are all for his benefit; If he is granted ease of living he is thankful; and this is best for him. And if he is afflicted with a hardship, he perseveres; and this is best for him.” [Muslim]
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has always blessed us in every single way yet sometimes we do not realize and recognize, we only pick on certain things that our soul may be desiring and we keep on saying, “Ya Allah! You did not give me this. You did not give me that.” But when you look at the favors of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala they are plenty.
These are some of the blessed pearls that we extract from Surah tul Fatihah, we now look at Surah al-Baqarah.
(Alhumdulillah,by the guidance of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and by the ability granted by Him, we have managed to complete the Tafseer of Surah Al-Baqarah from the works of Imam Ibn Katheer raheemullah. You may study the Tafseer post here: Juz 1, Juz 2, Juz 3.)
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala starts off by saying: “Alif-Lam-Meem. This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah.”
You are conscious of Allah you will receive guidance from the Book. If you want to achieve inner comfort never doubt a word in this Book. If you don’t understand something temporarily go and find out, go and ask the scholars and you will learn a lot.
So who are those who are conscious of Allah?
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them” [2:3]. If we could see the Unseen, we would be seeing the mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His sakeena (tranquility) that descends whenever He is mentioned.
Two qualities are required of a believer: establishing of Salah (prayer) and spending out of the provision. Sometimes people who have been given more are stingy. On the other hand, those who have much less give out a lot in the way of Allah. If Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has given you wealth spend it in His way. A person who misses his Salah cannot achieve peace. A wealth that is not spent in the right way does not benefit a person.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then mentions another point, “And who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith]” [2:4]. We definitely believe in the Qur’an. And we also believe in the previous Scriptures. We acknowledge that they are from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala although they have been tampered today. If we are convinced about our meeting with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, we will keep away from sins. Therefore, keep yourself in check.
The Characteristics of A Hypocrite
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then mentions the characteristics of a hypocrite. Know that a hypocrite cannot have peace.
So who are the hypocrites? From their tongues they confess their belief in Allah and in the Hereafter; however, their deeds do not reflect their words. They are in an entirely opposite direction. They think they are deceiving Allah yet they are deceiving none except themselves.
Can anyone deceive Allah? How can we deceive Him when we will eventually return to Him? Therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “In their hearts is a disease.” A person with a diseased heart will never have inner peace. The Prophet ﷺ said,
“Indeed there is a piece of flesh in your body which, if it be sound, then the whole body will be sound and if it be corrupt then the whole body will be corrupt. Indeed it is the heart.” [Bukhari]
If there is a disease within us, we need to diagnose it. Look within yourself and reflect on your qualities. If you have hatred, jealousy, deception and love of the material world in your heart you need to fight it and take it out. This will grant you peace in this world and the Hereafter. Due to this disease, the hypocrites cannot differentiate between right and wrong. This Ramadan purify your heart. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us a heart that is always engaged in His remembrance, ameen.
(Ibn Taimiyyah’s Diseases of the Heart and their Cures is an excellent read on the topic.)
A General Invitation to the Entire Mankind
In Ayah 21 Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gives a general invitation to all mankind to worship Him, “O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous.”
Want to know who to worship? Worship the One Who sends you rainfall, crops and fruits. When you put your forehead and your nose on the ground you are prostrating before the One Who created you. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala mentions worship here because it is through worship that He will grant us peace.
Beware of Iblees
Earlier we briefly talked about the being that snatches our peace away – the Shaytan. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala now talks about his history. “When We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate before Adam’; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers.” [2:34]
We lock up our cars and homes because of a few bad people out there waiting to snatch our belongings. Shaytan has enmity for us. Be on the alarm. Distance yourself from him because what you have in the form of emaan is far more valuable than three coins of gold. Make an effort to protect and look after your emaan. Serve Allah. Get up in the early hours of the morning. Stand up for Taraweeh.
When You Fall, Repent Immediately
Wherever you falter remember this pearl of peace, “Then Adam received from his Lord [some] words, and He accepted his repentance. Indeed, it is He who is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful” [2:37].
After the sin was committed, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala taught Adam ‘alayhi salaam how to seek repentance. The devil leads us astray. Admit your error. Regret your sin. Ask Allah’s forgiveness and promise not to do it again.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala doesn’t hold anything against you when you have asked for forgiveness. In the last hours of the night, He is calling out, “Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness so that I can forgive him?” But we are snoring at that time. In Ramadan, we are worried about our Sahoor, “How many minutes are left? Why did you wake me up so late?” Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is calling out, “Is there anyone seeking forgiveness so I may forgive him?” And we are busy with our bowl of porridge. How long does it take to say, “O Allah! Please forgive me?”
(We have done transcription of Dr. Farhat Hashmi’s study of the book: When Will You Repent. You can find all the posts along with the lessons here.)
There are so many things that we are seeking. Repeat your du`a list every day before Him. Don’t lose hope. There will come a time when everything that you ever wanted will be marked off your du`a list. That is the Qudrah of Allah. Even if you have to wake up every night for years, do it. Our problem is that we lose hope or not make an effort. At that moment, we are more worried about the temporal pleasure of our belly.
Remember the Favors of Allah
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then talks about the children of Prophet Yaq`oub ‘alayhi salaam, “O Children of Israel, remember My favor which I have bestowed upon you…” [2:40].
Let’s pause here for a moment.
Has Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala not favored us? We are Muslims. We are alive. We can listen to the words of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. We have a house, food and families. Has Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala not given us countless blessings?
People read this ayah and associate it with the Children of Israel that ‘they’ have forgotten the gift of Allah upon ‘them’ so Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is reminding ‘them’ in the Qur’an. We don’t realize that there is a lesson in it for ‘us’. What is the point of pointing fingers at others when we have forgotten countless gifts of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ourselves?
Be thankful for what you have; your parents, your spouse, your children, your house are all gifts of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Be pleased with what you have and be patient with your tests. Perfection is only in the Hereafter. Focus more on your own life than what people have and you will achieve peace.
Seek Help through Prayer and Patience
Ayah 45 says, “And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah].” In Ayah 153 it was said, “O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” Little something goes wrong in our lives and we are willing to break our relationships. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commands us to be patient. Seek His help to handle your matters like a mature person.
Hearts – Harder than the Stones
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then talks about the hardness of the heart, “Then your hearts became hardened after that, being like stones or even harder” [2:74]. Some people, no matter what happens in their life they won’t offer Salah, turn to Allah or make peace with themselves and others. There are stones from which rivers gush forth. But man’s heart does not soften to turn to Allah or forgive people. There is no goodness in his heart. Therefore, we should ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to soften our hearts in this blessed month.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala knows what’s in our hearts, as He says, “But do they not know that Allah knows what they conceal and what they declare?” [2:77] We can run and hide from a human being but can we run from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala? That is not possible. When we realize this, we will achieve the peace that we are seeking.
The Duties Assigned by Allah
Then we learn about the duties that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has prescribed not only on the Children of Israel but also us. He says, “And [recall] when We took the covenant from the Children of Israel, [enjoining upon them], ‘Do not worship except Allah; and to parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good [words] and establish prayer and give zakah’” [2:83].
How do we treat our parents? What have we done for the orphans? How do we speak to the beggars? Even if you don’t give them anything at least say a kind word.
Two more things that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala took in His covenant with the Children of Israel were, “Do not shed each other’s blood or evict one another from your homes” [2:84]. Look at where the Ummah is today. It’s Muslims against Muslims. Why are we allowing others to do the dirty job?
Stay Away From Magic
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then talks about magic. A person who uses magic has lost his emaan. Whoever has cast a spell has engaged in Shirk. “It was not Suleiman, who disbelieved, but the devils disbelieved, teaching people magic…” [2:102]. Let us learn one important lesson from this. When something goes wrong in our life, we cannot blame others that someone must have cast a spell. Evil Jinns inspire people to say evil things that will destruct families. Don’t be deceived by evil Jinns.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala allow us to look through His Book of peace to attain peace in our lives, ameen.