Surah Al-Asr

Quran & Tafseer / Sunday, August 17th, 2008

Discussion of Surah Wal-Asr (by Maulana A.S. Desai)

We are discussing the Surah Wal-Asr. Allah swears an oath on Time to make a very firm statement. The statement is: ‘That man is in a great loss.’ Very unique is the tanwee that comes on the word Khusr. In Arabic when a tanwee is used, it can denote two meanings or functions. One is, when it indicates the largeness of something. Elsewhere in the Qur’aan Allah says: Walahum Azaabun Aleem. On the word Azaabun there is a tanween, which signifies a great azaab. In Arabic the tanween is used to magnify something. Here it refers to the loss of two things: One is dunya (worldly) loss and the other is loss in the Akhirah (Hereafter). Spiritually as well as materially. A question is posed as to how is man at a loss materially. Logically when we look around us, following up on the events of this world, we see the vast amount of wealth in circulation today. Never before was there so much wealth. Allah has given the kuffar a great amount of wealth. So how is it said that man is losing materially. Man has advanced so much medically, scientifically, technologically, etc.

A Muslim should never judge success or loss in terms of wealth, worldly possessions or material gain. We don’t judge a persons character, standard of living or his way of life, by looking at how much advancement he has made. You judge him by his character. This is the mistake we Muslims make.

In the hadith Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) says that Allah Ta’ala gives this world to those whom He loves and to those whom He does not love. But Deen Allah gives it to only those whom He loves. So Allah gave us Deen which means He loves us. This is how we can gauge a persons achievements, his spiritual life. That is why we say money means nothing to a Muslim. We judge our success in this world according to how much we have pleased Allah Subhaana wa Ta’ala. Today the most amount of wealth lies with the kuffaar, Nasaarah and Yahood, but they are not successful. They control most of the worlds wealth. We know it in the depths of our hearts that that person is a kaafir, a Nasaarah or a Yahood and he cannot be successful in the Eyes of Allah. Don’t ever make this mistake to consider your success in this world in terms of finance or material possessions.

We give advice to our husbands and perspective husbands. What is the secret to keeping your wife happy in your marital life? By supplying her with money, jewellery and material possessions? I can tell you one thing that by giving her all those things will only create bigger difficulties in your life. In order to keep your wife happy, show her good (ahlaak) character. When I say good ahlaak it does not mean that you smile and speak nice words. It means that your spiritual life is of a good standard. The way you speak to her, the way you tolerate the things she do and the way you react to her. That is your spiritual character that Rasoolullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said I have been sent to perfect noble character.

For us, that may seem to be a strange statement. Noble character is perfection. What does Rasoolullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) mean by ‘he came to perfect noble character’? It means that Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) came and gave us theoretically, on paper, this is your noble character of Islam. He gave us the good qualities (ahlaak), the noble traits which we must develop, and the evil qualities to abstain from. The perfection comes when we know how to develop it. We know pride is evil and humility is a wonderful quality. In spite of knowing
it, how many of us have achieved in getting humility into our hearts. So Rasoolullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) came and taught it to us and show it practically. Look at the wonderful way that he lived with his wives.

Coming back to success, remember that our success is not measured in terms of finance or worldly possessions, it is measured in terms of your iemaan, your character, your taqwah (piety), the spiritual achievement that you have attained in this world. Allah Ta’ala says man is in a great loss, obviously spiritually he is in a loss because there is so much darkness. Never ever in the history of this world was there so much evil and sin as we witness today. Even during the era before Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) which was called the Zamaani jahiliyah, even in those days I don’t think there was so much filth as you will find today. Has all the advancement in the world helped in eliminating this evil? No. This proves a point here where Allah Ta’ala says there are four things a man must do to eradicate this evil in which he has fallen into.

1) Iemaan

2) Practice good deeds

3) Encourage one another towards haqq (truth)

4) Encourage each other towards sabr (patience)

The aayat has got such a deep meaning; we don’t have the time to really go into the details. The first step onto the road of success is iemaan. As long as a person remains a kaafir (non-believer), there is no success for him. A question many Muslims ask, we see may kuffaar doing so much good in this world. They do even more good than what Muslims do. They help the underprivileged people, the poor, the destitute, those in poverty, they counsel those who are in difficulty and stress, so much that their whole life goes in serving humanity. But they lack one thing and that is iemaan. How Allah Ta’ala will deal with then in the Akhirah, only Allah knows. Our Ulema said that what Allah will give them is success in this dunya (world), e.g. the greatest success for them is fame. Allah makes them so famous; they become legends and are remembered for thousands of years. But in the Akhirah there is no share for them. Some Ulema are of the view that in the Akhirah, Allah will give them a lighter punishment than the other kuffaar. Normally, as my Shikh says, that in cases of this nature, we say Allah will deal with them as He wishes and as He knows. We are not mandated to enter in this field and to argue and debate as to what would be the outcome of these people.

Firstly we need iemaan. Secondly we must do righteous deeds. Let us bear in mind that righteous deeds is not only salaah, Zakaat, fasting, your hajj etc. These are all righteous deeds but it consists of much more. Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) says that when you meet your Muslim brother and you smile at him, that alone is an amale saalih (righteous deed) for which you will get reward. The sahaabah asked him what if they don’t have money to give in sadaqah (charity). Rasoolullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) replied and said to smile in the face of your Muslim brother.

This will become a real test to the iemaan of a Muslim when you are (I won’t say enemies, because Muslims don’t become enemies) in disagreement with your Muslim brother. There is an argument between the two of you. Now you see him coming from the one side as you are walking towards him. The test of your iemaan is to see if you can show him a smiling face. Greet him and smile at him. It sounds simple, but ask those people who find themselves in that position, when you have a person who has expressed his enmity to you and here you meet him and must show him a smiling face. This is really a test. Amaale saalih is a very vast area in our Deen. Islam doesn’t select certain amaal. Allah Ta’ala then encourages one another towards these same amaal. So it is not only doing your own amaal, but you have got to encourage others as well. It is very important to spread the Deen. If me and you are content to confine ourselves to our own ibaadat and we are not worried about the next Muslim, our wives, children, neighbours, then this will lead the Deen to become weaker. When these amaal are spread in the community. We don’t say you must spread it internationally, we find Muslims are spreading it in their own small way in the suburbs, in the community, and it builds a strong ummah (nation). We end off with a dua, Ya Allah make us among those people who have Iemaan, who have amaale saaliah, and who practice on encouraging good and maintaining sabr. Ameen thuma ameen.

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