Instrument for Understanding Qur'an
Dr. Rafiq Ahmad
Remembrance of Allah Ta’ala as a cause of revivification (Ihya) of Qalb.
Whom to remember?
Significance of any particular thing is understood by its relation with some other thing. If a thing ‘A’ to which a particular thing ‘B’ is related, is great, it becomes easy to realize the greatness of ‘A’. On the other hand if a thing ‘A’ to which a particular thing ‘B’ is related, is ordinary one, it is taken ordinarily. For example; a person arrives at the gate of an office and tries to enter it at a time when the entry into that office is not allowed; the gatekeeper does not allow this person to enter and pushes him out, sometimes even disgracefully. Some other person, who recognizes the person who had arrived at the gate, tells the gatekeeper in a very low voice that this person is the chief boss of your office. On hearing this, the gatekeeper loses all his wits and starts perspiring, his voice fumbles, he staggers, his body starts shivering and it takes him some time to regain his senses. Now, ponder for some moments as to why this gatekeeper was overtaken by this sudden change. At one moment he was pushing the person out and at other moment he was shivering in front of the same person. Obviously, the reason is that previously he was not knowing him and afterwards he come to know his reality. Similarly, a person who does not know the value of a diamond and cannot differentiate a diamond from an ordinary stone, treats both the same way, they both look similar to him. When somebody else tells this person the value of a diamond and what kind of treasure he owes, one can easily understand how he will now treat this diamond which he was treating as an ordinary stone just a moment before. Again the same reason, that is at the first instance he was not knowing the real value of this diamond, but after coming to know its value his attitude towards the same thing changes considerably.
From these examples we can understand that one recognises and appreciates the significance of a particular thing only after obtaining the relevant knowledge about that thing. This knowledge of a particular thing is known as Ma’ârifat of that thing.
In the same way, to recognise and appreciate the treasures contained in the glorious Qur’ân, it is mandatory to obtain the Ma’ârifat of the Revealer of the Qur’ân—Allah Ta’ala. This is the reason why most of the people remain ignorant about the immense treasures of the Qur’ân, simply because they either fail to understand or do not try at all to understand as to Whose message this Qur’ân is? It is not enough to say that we know that this is the message of Allah Ta’ala. Had we been true in our claim, our attitude towards the Qur’ân would have been entirely different.
Allah Ta’ala says in the Qur’ân:
ÅöäøóãóÇ íóÎúÔóì Çááøóåó ãöäú ÚöÈóÇÏöåö ÇáúÚõáóãóÇÁõ
"From amongst His slaves those truly fear Allah Ta’ala, who have knowledge”. (35:28)
Obviously, these learned people fear Allah Ta’ala because they have attained knowledge (Ma’ârifat) about Him. In outer nature, we can understand and appreciate through number of colours the finest shades and gradations, but in the spiritual world things are even more subtle and more comprehensive. Who can truly understand it? Only Allah Ta’ala's slaves, who know, i.e., who have the inner knowledge which they attain thro7 acquaintance with the spiritual world. It is only such people who truly appreciate the inner world, and it is they who know that the fear of Allah Ta’ala is the beginning of wisdom. For, such a fear is akin to appreciation and love, appreciation of all the marvelous beauties of Allah Ta’ala’s outer and inner world, ("Allah Ta’ala is exalted in might") and love because of His grace and kindness ("Oft-forgiving”). But Allah Ta’ala’s forgiving extends to many who do not truly understand Him.
The most knowledgeable person in the human history having the highest degree of the Ma’ârifat (knowledge) was Hadhrat Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and at the same time he feared Allah Ta’ala the most. It is narrated in Ahâdith that when Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to recite the Qur’ân in Salah, a sound like that of boiling of something in a utensil emerged from his chest due to the fear of Allah Ta’ala . You can imagine the amount of fear Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was having of Allah Ta’ala, simply because he was knowing Him much more than anybody else.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to weep for whole nights before Allah Ta’ala while reciting the Qur’ân in Qiyaam (standing) in Salâh. Allah Ta’ala had made him the greatest amongst the mankind but irrespective of that he was felt himself the humblest creature before the Greatness of Allah Ta’ala.
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'Ata' b. Abi Rabah reported that he heard 'A'isha, the wife of the Apostle of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), as saying: When there was on any day windstorm or dark cloud (its effects) could be read on the face of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him), and he moved forward and backward (in a state of anxiety) ; and when it rained, he was delighted and it (the state of restlessness) disappeared. 'A'isha said: I asked him the reason of this anxiety and he said: I was afraid that it might be a calamity that might fall upon my Ummah, and when he saw rainfall he said: It is the mercy (of Allah).
It is narrated that when Satan (Shaitân) was cursed by Allah Ta’ala and was rejected (Murdood), Hadhrat Jibra’eel (AS) and Meekaeel (AS) started weeping, Allah Ta’ala asked them as to why were they weeping? They replied that they were scared of Him. Allah Ta’ala told them to remain like that, and not be fearless at any stage.
Hadhrat Anas (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) asked Hadhrat Jibra’eel (AS) why he had never seen Hadhrat Meekaeel (AS) laughing. Hadhrat Jibra’eel (AS) replied that ever since the Hell (Jahannum) was created, Meekaeel (AS) has never laughed.
These two angels, Hadhrat Jibra’eel (AS) and Meekaeel (AS) have more knowledge (Ma’ârifat) of Allah Ta’ala than any other angel, and that is why they fear Him more, knowing the Greatness of Allah Ta’ala.
Fear of other Ambiya (Prophets) (AS) and Sahâbah al-Kirâm (RA)
Hadhrat Abu Darda (RA) narrates that when Hadhrat Ibrahim (AS), used to offer Salâh, due to the fear of Allah Ta’ala the noise from his chest could be heard at a distance of one Qous (about three Kilometers), such was the degree of fear of Allah Ta’ala in his heart.
Hadhrat Mujahid (RA) narrates that Hadhrat Dawood (AS) wept in Sajdah for forty days so much so that grass sprouted at that site because of his tears. He heard a voice from Allah Ta’ala, “O! Dawood, if you are hungry, you will get food to eat, if you are thirsty, you will get water to drink, if you are naked, you will get clothes to wear. Hadhrat Dawood (AS) had such a cry that the nearby wood caught fire due to its heat. Allah Ta’ala then bestowed upon him Maghfirat (forgive-ness) and accepted his Tawbah. Thereafter Hadhrat Dawood (AS) made a request “O! Allah Ta’ala, my sin should be written on my hand”; immediately the sin he had committed got inscribed on his hand and whenever he used to eat or drink, he used first to weep on seeing his sin on his hand.
It may seem strange to us because of our limited knowledge of Allah Ta’ala. Fortunate are those who recognise and appreciate the Greatness of Allah Ta’ala and behave accordingly. Unfortunately, nowadays we see most of the Muslims are unaware of the Greatness of Allah Ta’ala , His book—the Qur’ân and His messenger Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). If today’s Muslim has to make jokes, he finds himself at ease and liberty to make joke of Allah Ta’ala, His Rasul (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and the Shariat.. Hadhrat Fazal-ul-Rahaman Ganj Muradabadi (RA), a great saint used to say that whenever he utters the name of Allah Ta’ala, he experience such sweetness on his tongue as if sugar has been placed on it. He used to say that he was not making an exaggeration in saying that but was stating a reality. Hadhrat Thanvi (RA) used to say that whenever you utter the name of a citrus food say lemon, your mouth starts watering. If the name of such an ordinary thing is having such an effect to make mouth to water, how is it possible that uttering the name of the Creator and the Cherisher of all of worlds—Almighty Allah Ta’ala will have no effect.
Hadhrat Yahya (AS), the son Hadhrat Zakarya (AS) often used to weep because of fear of Allah Ta’ala. The constant flow of tears down his cheeks had created grooves on his cheeks. Once Hadhrat Zakariya (AS) told Hadhrat Yahya (AS) that he had prayed to Allah Ta’ala (AS) to give him such a child who will soothe their eyes but you are all the time weeping. Hadhrat Yahya (AS) replied "O! my dear father, I have heard from Hadhrat Jibra’eel (AS) that there is a valley between the paradise and the hell and only those will pass that valley safely who often remained in tears because of the fear of Allah Ta’ala.” Hadhrat Zakariya (AS) told his son Hadhrat Yahya (RA), "O! my dear son, then weep as much as you can."
After Ambiya (AS), it were Sahâbah-al-Kirâm (RA) (The companions) who had utmost degree of Ma’ârifat of Allah Ta’ala. During the day they used to fight their enemies with tremendous courage and strength; the enemies used to shiver on seeing them but these brave people were always having their hearts palpating fast due to the fear of Allah Ta’ala. Despite the hectic day’s work, it was only the fear of Allah Ta’ala which was snatching their sleep during the night. They used to make Istigfaar (invoking forgiveness) for most part of the night.
Hadhrat Abu Bakr (RA) on seeing a bird said,
"It would have been very nice for me if I were a bird like this and I were not a man, “ because he knew that a man has to appear before Allah Ta’ala, and this thought was too painful for him.
Hadhrat Abu Dhar (RA) used to say, it would have been better if he were a tree. Hadhrat Aisha (RA) used to say that she would prefer for herself to become non-existent than to face Allah Ta’ala on the Day of Judgment.
From these few examples of Ambiya (AS) and Sahâbah al-Kiraam (RA), we should understand as to what was the degree of fear of Allah Ta’ala in their hearts and how much they had the Ma’ârifat of the Greatness of Allah Ta’ala. They were not only having the fear of Allah Ta’ala but were having His extreme love also. Here, one may say that how is it possible to have the maximum fear of somebody and maximum love of the same person at the same time. This is very simple to understand, firstly one should know that fear is of two types, fear of snake is of different nature and fear of father is of different nature. One is having the fear of father and at the same time one loves father, one's father beats one but one knows that he is doing it for one's betterment, that makes it different from the fear of a snake, at the same time it shoud be remembered that the pains one's father is taking for one's well being, that makes one to love father despite fearing him.
Similarly, those who recognise Allah Ta’ala, fear Allah Ta’ala and also love Him, the degree of love and fear depends upon the degree of their knowledge of Allah Ta’ala.
Allah Ta’ala says in the Qur’ân:
æóÇáøóÐöíäó ÂãóäõæÇ ÃóÔóÏøõ ÍõÈøðÇ áöáøóåö
"But those of Faith are overflowing in their love for Allah Ta’ala”. (2:165)
First quality of a true believer is that he fears Allah Ta’ala and second quality is that he loves Allah Ta’ala more than any other thing. Hadhrat Hassan Basri (RA) used to say that one who recognises Allah Ta’ala, loves Him. A Muslim has to understand that Allah Ta’ala is the only one Who deserves love. This Muhabbat (Love) of Allah Ta’ala adds a unique quality to a Muslim’s character. Those who are devoid of this Muhabbat are dry, their lives are arid and fruitless. One can appreciate this only after tasting the sweetness of this Muhabbat of Allah Ta’ala. May Allah Ta’ala bestow this treasure upon all of us. It was this Muhabbat of Allah Ta’ala which made Sahâbah al-Kirâm to offer great sacrifices for its sake. They understood the fact that the entire universe including their own lives and properties had no value when compared to a single sip of this Muhabbat of Allah Ta’ala. After tasting this wonderful wine of Muhabbat of Allah Ta’ala they easily got prepared to sacrifice their everything for achieving this.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to pray Allah Ta’ala as:
Çááåã Åäí ÃÓÃáß ÍÈß æ ÍÈ ãä íÍÈß
"O Allah Ta’ala: bestow me with Your love and love of those who love You”.
You can see that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) had maximum amount of love for Allah Ta’ala but still he asks for more and more of it, not only that but he also asks to have love of those who love Allah Ta’ala.
Fear and love are functions of Qalb. If the Qalb is alive and functioning properly, it will have these properties. Unfortunately, today the Muslims are almost dead as far as their Qalb is concerned and hence void of this fear and love of Allah Ta’ala. Its absence keeps them away from the treasures of the glorious Qur’ân.
It has been earlier mentioned that remembrance of Allah Ta’ala is one of the important causes of revivification of Qalb, which is the instrument for understanding the Qur’ân. This remembrance of Allah Ta’ala will be effective only when it is combined with the extreme fear and love of Allah Ta’ala, keeping in view His Greatness and immense bounties upon us. For obtaining these qualities of fear and love of Allah Ta’ala, one should spend some amount of time in the company (Suhbat) of those whom Allah Ta’ala has given these qualities, otherwise, it is very difficult to achieve these things.
Remembrance of death and sense of accountability as a cuae of revivification of Qalb
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said that:
Qalb gets rusted. He was asked by his companions y as to how can this rust be removed from the Qalb. Rasulullahe replied, the rust of the Qalb can be removed by two things viz; remembrance of death and recitation of the Qur’ân. (Baihaqi)
Remembrance of death plays a very effective role in purifying the heart. Allah Ta’ala has created man as a very wonderful creature. Despite having excellent qualities, man has also some characteristics contrary to excellent and one of them is negligence. It would have been very difficult for man to commit a sin if this negligence would not have existed. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) says that a Mumin (true believer) does not remain a Mumin during the time he steals or indulges in adultery .There is a consensus among the scholars (Ulema-e-Haq) that one does not become a Kaafir (disbeliever) by committing a grave sin. But the above mentioned Hadith states that a Mumin does not remain Mumin during the time he steals or commits adultery. Commentators of Hadith have given the explanation that it is impossible to commit disobedience of Allah Ta’ala in the presence of Imaan. In other words we can say that when a Mu’min commits a grave sin, his Imaan is present but he becomes negligent about it. It is during this period of negligence that he dares to commit disobedience of Allah Ta’ala. Prerequisite of Imaan is that one has firm belief that Allah Ta’ala is always watching and is always present wherever one may be. In presence of such a firm belief, how can a Mu’min dare to commit a sin? Obviously it is his negligence which makes him to commit a sin resulting in rusting of his Qalb. Unfortunately most of the Muslims today spend their whole lives under the dark clouds of this negligence (Gaflat). This negligence is the root cause of deteriorating condition of the present day Muslims and their unawareness about the treasures of the glorious Qur’ân. It has been many times stated that the instrument for understanding the Qur’ân is the Qalb and that the sins committed cause rusting of the Qalb and hence depriving it of its ability to understand the Qur’ân. Here we can understand that a Mu’min commits a sin when he is negligent of the basic belief of Imaan that Allah Ta’ala is seeing, is present and that he has to appear before Him for accountability on the Day of Judgment.
Since Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has been the most kind to his Ummah, he (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has very kindly taught the Muslims that if they want to get rid of the rust on their Qaloob in order to get it revived, they should constantly remember death in abundance. Every one of us must have experienced the softening of heart on the death of any of our close relative. One experiences a strange change in his heart. Man is such a negligent creature that he even forgets this absolute reality of death which he witnesses now and then. This negligence is indeed horrible. This negligence hardens his Qalb and he gets busy with mundane affairs to such an extent that his Qalb loses all its excellences. The death of some near and dear one reminds him of the short life span of this world life and the everlasting life in the Hereafter. At the same time death makes him to remind the horrifying incidents which he has to experience after death. It makes him to remind that he has to leave his children, wife, parents and other relations who are most dear to him and for whom he is working day in and day out. It makes him remind the luxurious bungalows and all its luxurious decorative things will remain behind and won’t accompany him in the grave. These painful thoughts definitely soften the hardened hearts.
One of the important causes as well as the effect of the negligence is development of distant hopes.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) says in a Hadith:
"I fear two things that may overcome you, first—obedience of the desires of Nafs (self) and second—the distant hopes (Tooli-Amal)”. (Mishkat Sharief)
Satan (Shaitân) takes full advantage of this quality of negligence of a man and involves him in distant hopes. The distant hopes mean that a person thinks in his inner thoughts of great ambitious plans which he hopes may get fulfilled in the coming decades, but at the same time forgetting that the present day may be his last day. He enjoys the thoughts of these future plans (in air) least realizing that he is wasting his time and that Satan (Shaitân) and his self (Nafs) are keeping him away from the Reality.
When Imâm Ghazzali (RA) wrote the chapter of "Akhlaaqi-Razeelah — ‘Despicable Morals’" in his famous book “Ihya-ul-Uloom”, he kept this bad quality of distant hopes on number one in the list of human despicable morals. When I read this in the early years of my life, I got surprised to see this at the top of the list and other bad qualities like pride, jealousy, greed, back biting etc below it. I could not understand it at that time, but later on as I gained some experience, I had no words to praise the depth of Ilm (know-ledge), this great man of Islam (Imâm Ghazzali R.A) was having as he has rightly placed this on number one. I could also appreciate by the grace of Allah Ta’ala, that this bad disease of distant hopes ruins a Muslim. A person who gets this disease of distant hopes, is always having false hopes about his future, lives in a fool’s paradise. These distant hopes keep him away from Allah Ta’ala, and from the real life—The Hereafter. He remains busy in materialistic things least realizing that they are not going to last. He gets no time to explore the treasures of the Holy Qur’ân. He boasts of his worldly status, worldly knowledge and worldly gains. He is like a person who constructs a huge beautiful building on a bridge, feels proud of it and takes rest in that building very comfortably. He is satisfied and fell secure in this building. Suddenly a strong wave arises from the river, strikes against the bridge and engulfs it and this man’s false paradise. Then this person realizes that every thing in this world was a nightmare. He wakes up to the realities at a time when it is too late and of no use to him.
Most of us know the story of Shaikh Chilly. He becomes a very rich man in a few minutes and marries a very beautiful lady in his thoughts while carrying a tin of oil on his head (as he was a very poor porter). He gets lost in his thoughts feeling so much joy that he shakes his head in happiness and the tin of oil falls down and collapses and all his hopes are dashed to ground. We laugh at him whenever we narrate this incident, but if we go a little deeper in ourselves with sincerity, most of us will definitely find that we are no different than Shaikh Chilly. We will find out that we too also think like Shaikh Chilly. Then what is the difference? There appears to be no difference. May Allah Ta’ala make all of us to understand this point and cure us of this fatal disease of Tooli Amal. The ultimate result of both these despicable morals i.e., distant hopes and negligence is the cause of the rusting of the Qalb. This rusted Qalb remains blind to the realities revealed in the Qur’ân. The remedy lies in the remembrance of death. A person who remember death cannot think of distant hopes and cannot afford to be negligent of his basic duties which include knowing Allah Ta’ala, His Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and understanding of the Qur’ân.
How to remember death
Every night when you go to bed, switch off the lights, close your eyes, when it is absolutely calm in the room, start thinking about death as this -- it may be my last night, I may not get up from my bed tomorrow. What will happen then? My children, wife and parents etc will remain behind. All my property will remain behind. My clothes will be taken off. I will be helpless in the hands of few people who will wash my body. I will wrapped up in a simple white cloth (Kafan). I will then be put in a closed box (Taboot) and buried in the darkness of the grave. The grave will be closed and I will be alone there. Nakeer and Munkar—the two angels) will come and will question me. What will be my fate that time? What will be my fate on the Day of Judgment and so on and so forth.
lnsha-Allah Ta’ala after a few days only one will appreciate the softening of his heart which one needs for understanding the Qur’ân.
DARUL ULOOM ILAHIYAH
INSTITUTE OF ISLAMIC RESEARCH
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