We now begin Surah Hud – named after Prophet Hud, the messenger sent to the people of ‘Ad.
People of ‘Ad were huge and dwelled in carved mountains. This Surah contains lessons for those who shy away from working in the path of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. They are worried about their sustenance and the worldly competition that distracts them. Shoo those Shaytanic whisperings away because Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has promised sustenance. He says,
“And there is no creature on earth but that upon Allah is its provision, and He knows its place of dwelling and place of storage. All is in a clear register,” [11: 6].
If He provides for an ant and a bird, would He not provide us? However, it does not mean to sit at home and do nothing. One has to work for a living but not make it the sole purpose of their lives. Work sincerely and ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to open up paths for you.
Don’t Depend on Yourself
Do not depend on your intellect alone. Depend on Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala instead. Don’t be arrogant because arrogance was the cause of the destruction of previous nations. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
“They said, ‘O Nuh, you have disputed us and been frequent in dispute of us. So bring us what you threaten us if you should be of the truthful.’” [11: 32].
They were asking a Prophet of Allah to bring punishment upon them. And it was answered! Floods swallowed them up. Why invite trouble?
Do not say, “Let me see what happens if I divert.” Stay on the straight path.
Be Humble, Accept Your Mistake
When one corrects someone, they are attacked by all kinds of statements as a rebuttal. Someone might say, “Who do you think you are?” Shu’ayb ‘alayhi salaam faced a similar situation, as we learn,
“They said, ‘O Shu’ayb, we do not understand much of what you say, and indeed, we consider you among us as weak. And if not for your family, we would have stoned you [to death]; and you are not to us one respected,’” [11: 91].
What kind of a statement is that? May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us from arrogance, ameen.
What is the cure of arrogance? Do shukr and acknowledge the supremacy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala because whatever we have today is from Him. Let’s not become people against whom others invoke Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala because He gives us time to change our ways but when we remain adamant that is when His wrath descends. May He save us from destruction, ameen.
Practice What You Preach
Having said that we should also not become those who command others to do good and themselves do the entirely opposite. How will anyone listen to us when we don’t walk the talk?
The Messengers were the first to act out a command. They submitted to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala before reaching out to people. Shu’ayb ‘alayhi salaam said,
“And I do not intend to differ from you in that which I have forbidden you; I only intend reform as much as I am able,” [11: 88].
People who live disciplined lives and have good conduct do not even need to give long lectures, shout and scream at people to get some work done. People see them and are motivated to follow.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala bridge the gap between our speech and our actions, and allow us to live conscious lives, ameen.
Wipe Out Sins With Good Deeds
When a believer commits a sin, he is filled up with remorse. This is a sign of emaan. It is a mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that He informed us beforehand about the major and the minor sins. However, this does not give one a license to continue in their minor sins. If one does not avoid minor sins, then one day they will fall for the major ones. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us all, ameen.
If a person commits a minor sin, the Prophet ﷺ advised us to follow it up with the good deed. This is done in order to wipe out its effects. In Surah Hud, it appears,
“And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember,” [11: 114].
Many people appear religious outwardly but they have some hidden bad habits such as pornography. How can one get rid of these habits?
First, exercise your willpower. Go cold turkey. But if a person finds himself weak, he keeps reverting to the sin after repentance then such a person should increase his good deeds. Add a lot of voluntary prayers, recitation and thikr in your routine such that you have no time for laghw (non-beneficial) matters.
Read the Qur’an to Strengthen Your Heart
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala narrates the stories of past nations in the Qur’an first to enlighten us about them. These stories are also shared in order to give us comfort and solace that look there were people before you who endured many intense challenges, if they persevered and were victorious, so would you too if you rely on Me and follow My commands.
“And each [story] We relate to you from the news of the messengers is that by which We make firm your heart,” [11: 120].
A similar ayah appears in Surah Yusuf, “There was certainly in their stories a lesson for those of understanding,” [12: 111]. A person can learn a lesson through the hard way by not paying heed to advice, or they can learn through an easy way by reading up on lives of other people and staying away from what could destroy them.
Let’s begin one of the most beautiful stories in the Qur’an, the story of Yusuf ‘alayhi salaam. This story is bound to leave you teary-eyed.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
“We relate to you the best of stories in what We have revealed to you of this Qur’an although you were, before it, among the unaware,” [12: 3].
In Prophet Yusuf’s story, we learn about the evils of jealousy; brothers harming their own brother out of jealousy. A jealous person cannot live in peace. He destroys his own peace and that of others. We should remember that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has decided who gets what. Therefore, instead of being jealous of what someone has we should rather make du’a to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to bless us with something better and make us of the grateful ones.
Another cure of jealousy is that instead of looking at what people have been gifted we should see what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has given us. Perhaps, there is something that we have and they don’t. For example, a sister might be married but the person that she is married to doesn’t respect her or provide her any emotional support. On the other hand is a sister who is not married but her parents are kind and loving.
Jealousy blinds us. When evil thoughts come to your mind, seek the refuge with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala from the cursed Shaytan.
Be Discreet in Your Matters
Prophet Yusuf ‘alayhi salaam saw a dream that eleven stars, and the sun and the moon are prostrating him. When he narrated this dream to his father, his father warned him,
“O my son! Do not relate your vision to your brothers or they will contrive against you a plan. Indeed Shaytan, to man, is a manifest enemy,” [12: 5].
Here is an important advice for us. Do not share everything with others especially your plans because Shaytan uses your loved ones as a tool to harm you. Do not talk about it unless you have achieved your task completely. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us from jealousy and causing harm to others, ameen.
Seek Refuge with Allah
One of the names of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is Ash-Shakoor. He is the Most Appreciative of His servant’s deeds. When sin becomes accessible to a person and that person chooses to stay away from it for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala elevates such a person in status. We see this in the story of Prophet Yusuf.
A beautiful, wealthy woman tried to seduce him in the privacy of her house. There was nothing that could stop them besides the fear of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Yusuf ‘alayhi salaam replied,
“[I seek] the refuge of Allah. Indeed, He is my Master, who has made good my residence. Indeed, wrongdoers will not succeed,” [12: 23].
What a response!
One of the people who will be shaded on the Day of Judgment will be those who were invited to commit a sin with everything facilitated and they refused for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. No matter how many necessary precautions are made, one cannot hide from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. We are always in His sight. He is also aware of what we conceal in our hearts. Those who abstain from immorality live a far happier life. When your nafs inspires you to commit a sin, think for a moment: how will I face Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala; where will this take me? Live a clean life with a clear conscience. You will be in peace.
Remember Allah Wherever You Are
Prophet Yusuf was thrown in jail for a sin he never committed, yet look at his contentment: He said,
“My Lord, prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. And if You do not avert from me their plan, I might incline toward them and [thus] be of the ignorant,” [12: 33].
It requires a heart of gold to be at peace while being in prison without committing any wrong. He remained there for seven years, worshipping Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and inviting people to goodness.
(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s Peace of Pearl Series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013.)