Surah Al-Isra/Surah Bani Israel
Etiquette With One’s Own Parents and Family
Who deserves kind speech from us, the most? Our parents! If your parents are alive, exert yourselves in being of service to them. If they have passed away, make du’a for their forgiveness and an elevation of their status in the Hereafter. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala make us and our children a source of continuous charity for the parents, ameen.
Our parents and the household was chosen by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. No child picks his own parents. Therefore, families are one of the tests decreed. Children are a test for their parents, and parents are a test for their children. Remember the phrase: As you do so shall be done unto you. Be kind to your parents; give them your love and respect, and above all give them your time.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy,” [17: 23-24].
Uff is a word uttered in rebuke. We should remember they are our parents. They fed us, looked after our needs, raised us, made arrangements for our education and upbringing, and did whatever they thought was right for us.
If we feel they have failed in some aspects then we should let it go and forgive them. Look at how this instruction of good treatment is followed by a du’a. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala instructs us to say,
“My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small,” [17: 24].
When we feel cold towards our parents we should go back and read Islamic history. Read up stories of the Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum and learn how they were with their parents. Some of them had non-Muslim parents yet they never dishonored them. Some of them were oppressive yet the Companions never lost their good conduct.
Child Abuse By Parents
Talking about parental tyranny it is becoming common to come across incidences of child abuse even in Muslim societies. Today, being a parent is not enough. One must beseech Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for their own uprightness. If we are not upright ourselves what would we be teaching our children?
Parents complain of their children not respecting them, have you reflected on your own behavior? How do you speak to them? How do you carry yourself around them? May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala make us responsible and upright parents, enable us to fulfill the rights of people that are due upon us, ameen.
Spend On Your Relatives, the Poor and the Traveler
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
“And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveler, and do not spend wastefully,” [17: 26].
After spending on one’s own family, a person must look at the needs of his relatives who might not be wealthy, poor people and a traveler who is a stranger in a new land. Even though begging is despised never rebuke a beggar. Utter a kind word and turn away.
Next, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commands us not to be wasteful. Extravagance is one reason why people are unable to give in charity. We spend so much on ourselves in superfluous things that we have little left to give in Allah’s way. Wastefulness is ingratitude. We should not indulge in the worldly life so much that we lose our focus – the Paradise.
Spend in Moderation
Not being wasteful does not mean living like a miser, “And do not make your hand [as] chained to your neck or extend it completely and [thereby] become blamed and insolvent,” [17: 29].
Islam recommends choosing the middle path. Neither be extravagant nor stingy. Keep a balance. Spend on your needs and occasional indulgences. We learn in a hadeeth that the best dinar that a man spends is a dinar that he spends on his family [Muslim].
Why are we stopped from extravagance? It is because extravagance instills haughtiness,
“And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height. All that – its evil is ever, in the sight of your Lord, detested,” [17: 37-38].
Why be haughty and demean others by means of our wealth when everything is from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala?
Say that Which is the Best
“And tell My servants to say that which is best,” [17: 53]. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commands us to be careful with our words which is why we see that one of the treasures of Jannah would be “no foul speech” [see: 78: 35].
“Indeed, Shaytan induces [dissension] among them. Indeed Shaytan is ever, to mankind, a clear enemy,” [17: 53]
Shaytan, the known enemy of mankind, provokes us to gossip, backbite, slander, and hurt others. Let us not waste the resources that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala blessed us with, in doing evil deeds. Let us busy our tongues in reciting the Qur’an, praising Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and calling people to His path. Let us consider another person’s reaction before we open our mouths. Let us remember the angels near us recording every word that we speak and every deed that we perform. Let us be people of shukr and not those of kufr (ingratitude).
Don’t Turn Away from Allah
How does someone become a person of kufr? By turning away from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala despite enjoying all His favors, “And when We bestow favor upon the disbeliever, he turns away and distances himself,” [17: 83]. What are the repercussions of distancing from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala? He loses hope, “and when evil touches him, he is ever despairing,” [17: 83].
A believer should live his life between hope and fear. Hope that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will forgive me and the fear what if He doesn’t. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab radhiAllahu ‘anhu would say, “If it were announced from the heaven: ‘O people! You are all entering Paradise except one,’ I would fear to be him; and if it were announced: ‘O people! You are all entering the Fire except one,’ I would hope to be him.”
Change Your Company
The Surah begins with a mention of some youth who lived under a tyrant leader. Because of their community’s deviance from the right path, the youth decided to leave them and sought refuge in a cave.
Fearing their community and feeling lost, they prayed to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala,
“Our Lord, grant us from Yourself mercy and prepare for us from our affair right guidance,” [18: 10].
And Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala answered their prayer and protected them by making them sleep for several years.
One reason for losing one’s peace is being in the wrong company. We see people around us doing stuff contrary to the Qur’an and Sunnah, and we don’t see a way out for ourselves. In such moments, we should remind ourselves of the story of these strong young men. They migrated for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Their migration was not for any worldly need but to protect their own emaan.
See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, is a powerful statement! Another stirring statement is Garbage In, Garbage Out.
Our brains have the ability to instantly process everything that we come across. If we read or watch filth then that is what is going to come out from our mouth. We will no more be conscious of what we are uttering or doing.
Consider, for example, you pass by a masjid and you see people entering in flocks. You have an urge to follow them. You enter the masjid and you are spiritually uplifted. Now you are with your friends. They offer you a glass of alcohol and you refuse it. They insist you have a sip. You refuse but they push you. You give in and take a sip. You begin enjoying your drink. What happens next? You are addicted.
Change your company and reform yourself. Protect your eyes, mouth and ears. Avoid juicy stories and vice. This is why our Prophet ﷺ taught us to ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for beneficial knowledge and protection of our eyes and ears. The youth did not just distance themselves from the wrongdoing people but also made du’a. Never leave du’a, it is your mean to connect with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and ask for goodness.
When You Make An Intention, Preserve it By Saying In Sha Allah
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
“And never say of anything, ‘Indeed, I will do that tomorrow,’ except [when adding], ‘If Allah wills.’ And remember your Lord when you forget [it] and say, ‘Perhaps my Lord will guide me to what is nearer than this to right conduct,” [18: 23 – 24].
Man Has Been Given A Choice
It is a mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that He has informed man of both the truth and the falsehood. Mankind has been given a choice to follow whatever they desire,
“And say, ‘The truth is from your Lord, so whoever wills – let him believe; and whoever wills – let him disbelieve,’” [18: 29].
Beware these choices have consequences, “Indeed, We have prepared for the wrongdoers a fire whose walls will surround them. And if they call for relief, they will be relieved with water like murky oil, which scalds [their] faces. Wretched is the drink, and evil is the resting place,” [18: 29].
While one is free to pick their path, they are not free to escape the punishment. Every action of man is being recorded in a book,
“And the record [of deeds] will be placed [open], and you will see the criminals fearful of that within it, and they will say, ‘Oh, woe to us! What is this book that leaves nothing small or great except that it has enumerated it?’ And they will find what they did present [before them]. And your Lord does injustice to no one,” [18: 49].
To save oneself from such an end, one must hasten to seek repentance because sincere repentance is the only thing that can wipe our bad deeds. When you have shed sincere tears of repentance, compete to increase your good deeds. Don’t waste time because we will be in need of a lot good deeds in the Hereafter. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala bless us with the steadfastness in our repentance, ameen.
Don’t Be Quarrelsome
How merciful is Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala? Not only does He make us aware of the right and the wrong, but He is also willing to forgive our wrongdoings if we turn to Him. But how ungrateful is the man, forever complaining and quarreling,
“And We have certainly diversified in this Qur’an for the people from every [kind of] example; but the man has ever been, most of anything, [prone to] dispute,” [18: 54].
We argue over Allah’s commands and Prophet’s tradition showing disrespect and ingratitude to both of them. We should immediately surrender to the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala as soon as we learn about them.
Pay Heed to Allah’s Ayaat
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us, this is the right path come here. But we turn away.
“And who is more unjust than one who is reminded of the ayaat of his Lord but turns away from them and forgets what his hands have put forth? Indeed, We have placed over their hearts coverings, lest they understand it, and in their ears deafness. And if you invite them to guidance – they will never be guided, then – ever,” [18: 57].
When a person chooses to ignore Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala too is not interested in guiding such a person.
On the contrary, the one who loves Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, He opens his heart to comprehend more and more of the beneficial knowledge. Today, when one learns of a football match in their city or perhaps a lawn launch we leave every other, worldly task and run to be the first ones to stand in the queue. But when the call for prayer is given from the mosque and we are promised a greater reward for standing in the first row with the angels, we sit back and turn our attention to something else. How ungrateful man really is!
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala make us of those who run towards an invitation to do good. May He not make us of those whose hearts have been sealed, ameen.
(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s Peace of Pearl Series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013.)