Continuing with our Ramadan project of the tafsir of Surah Maryam, here are my notes of Shaykh Abdul Nasir’s tafsir of Ayah 1-4. Today’s session was an amazing, amazing class with wonderful reminders about dua, and I’m so excited about learning more about the Surah insha’Allah this month. To watch the lecture in its totality, please see here.
Surah Maryam – Day 2.
- The last note I’ll make about the layout of the Surah, is that as Imam Qurtubi mentions in his tafsir, the first 3/4ths of the Surah talks about the need of people for children.
- In a very subtle way, the Surah tells us it is a human need and desire to want to have a child. Starting with Zakariyya and Maryam and Isa, it goes on with Ibrahim alayhis salaam and his contentious relationship with his father. It talks about Ismael making strong recommendations to his family members. Idris. It talks about that. It mentions Ishaq and Yaqub. This entire chain of father son, father son.
- So it emphasizes, it’s a very subtle reminder of the human need, the human desire for a child.
- And the last 4th of the surah, very harshly denies, refutes, the claim that Allah has a child.
- The first part talks about the fact that it’s human need to have a child, and this is almost an emotional weakness of the human being, and Allah being above and beyond any kind of weakness, it completely refutes this idea that Allah would have a child.
- This surah begins as do 29 other Surahs do in the Qur’an, and that is with the disjointed letters.
Ramadan Mubarak! I hope wherever you are in the world, Ramadan has begun in a joyous beautiful way, and is a month full of gifts, Divine blessings, acceptance of your duas, and multiplication of your works. One of my goals this month is to insha’Allah go through Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda’s Tafsir of Surah Maryam from the Bayyinah Institute’s 2011 Qur’an Intensive. Below are notes from the first session. To watch the lesson (highly recommended!) you can find the video here. As always, all mistakes in notetaking are my own.
Day I – An Introduction to Surah Maryam
- There is a necessary introduction to any surah of the Qur’an. It’s important to discuss When was surah revealed? What were the circumstances of the surah? What is the overview of the surah? What is the primary point/objective of the surah?
- For Surah Maryam, the most important aspect is the time and circumstances of revelation, but there is also something very interesting about its eventual placement in the mushaf. This is surah 19 in the mushaf, and there are observations we can make about where it is placed and the surahs before it and after it.
- This surah was revealed immediately before the 1st migration to Abyssinia. Eastern Africa. To give you a brief synopsis of how that transpired, in the 4th year of Prophethood, Dawah went public. (Before that, dawah was through personal networks, private). And in the 4th year, instruction came from Allah, and permission came from Allah to take the message public. At soon as it went public, the message was met with opposition, cynicism, rejection and denial. That was the immediate response to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, on the public platform.
- Muslims did not give up their faith and beliefs so Makkans resorted to violence and oppression in order to force people out of their belief system. Muslims were the lower class in the eyes of society at that time. When oppression happened, these people did not have powerful relatives, money to bargain their way out of trouble. They were fighting for their lives at that point in time.
- The Prophet peace and blessings be upon him, told people to go to Eastern Africa where there was a king who is very accommodating and generous and kind and noble. There were about 11 people who made the migration, 8 men, 3 women. When the leaders of Quraysh heard these people were leaving, they chased after them. A convoy was designated and they were sent after the Muslims to talk to the ruler and try and get these people back. Muslims had started to live peacefully in Abyssinia and more Muslims were on their way to join them.
- Quraysh came with lots of gifts for the king and for the ministers. The Quraysh eventually came to the king and said there are people who have run away and come here, these are convicted felons, bad people and now they are here. The king says, “I can’t just hand people over to you, need to investigate.” He calls them forward and questions them. They explain that they are simply in Abyssinia to seek refuge. The king refuses the request of the Quraysh and says cannot hand over these people.
- The reply of the Quraysh is that these people have left the religion of their forefathers and that they speak negatively about Christianity and Isa ibn Maryam. The king asks them about this, and they start to recite verses about Isa ibn Maryam, and the king stops them crying profusely, and says that these are the most beautiful words about Isa alayhis salaam he has ever heard. He sends the gifts of Quraysh back and tells the Muslims that they are not simply people in his land, but under his personal protection.
- This occurred sometime in the 5th or 6th year of Prophethood. Commentators of the Qur’an say Surah Maryam was probably revealed in the 4th year of Prophethood. Consensus about this.
- Scholars say that one of the objectives of the revelation of Surah Maryam was that it was revealed as a parting gift and as provision for the Muslims that were migrating to Abyssinia because they were migrating to the land of the Christians.
- And that tells us that the Qur’an is the ultimate provision for people in all situations and circumstances. SubhanAllah, not only is the Qur’an miraculous, but its revelation is miraculous and its time and situation of revelation is equally as miraculous. The surah, with this exact content and subject matter was revealed at the time when the Muslims were migrating to Christian lands to seek refuge and to be safe, and revealed at the perfect time, most opportune time it was revealed.
Continuing on with the Qalam Institute Seerah Podcast, here are notes from Episode 3.
- Unless you understand the circumstances that were present at the time of the Prophet, you can’t understand the impact that he made, peace and blessings be upon him.
- Understanding the Arabs help answer the question why the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him was sent to these people.
- Basic understanding of this word is that it is something that runs, something that flows. The word Arab would refer to clarity of speech. The opposite is a person who when they speak, they babble. An Arab is someone who speaks clearly.
- The Arabs believed that their speech was superior because it flowed. The word Arab is never used in the Qur’an. Forms of the word Arab are used.
- The Arabs were very clear in their speech, very articulate in their language. Very passionate people. Had great admiration for hilm, being calm and serene.
- Also had chaos around them. Did not a systematic form of economics, government, religion.
I started listening to the Qalam Podcast this week. So far I’ve heard Episode 1 and 2, and what I like about the series is that it is an accessible introduction to the life of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Below, a few notes from the listen.
- Seerah is a literary term. It’s the path someone has walked, traversed
- Seerah is everything that has come to us from the life of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.
- Physical descriptions, family life, military life, all of these things are part of the seerah
Why study seerah?
- Our experience of the seerah is often like a fairytale. About things that happened long ago to people we can’t relate to. It’s done like a story. Or our experience is just hearing a list of facts like a Wikipedia page. We are in need of humanizing the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. We are in need of an immersive approach into his life.
- The healthy Muslim has a balance of the study of different things in their life. A healthy dose of every field in his/her life (hadith, fiqh, Qur’an). The companions of the past, they studied the Qur’an and Seerah in depth. Imam Bukhari, his life’s work is 6000 hadiths. That’s very little. But that’s how in depth scholars would go.
- We have to study seerah to extract practical relevant lessons. The life of the Prophet is a practical science on how to live your life.
- The seerah gives us emotional consolation, morals, values, ethics. It’s not simply about halal and haraam.
- We are told to love the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. What makes you want to obey and follow the Prophet, what makes you want to accept him, study him, is your love for him, peace and blessings be upon him. Can’t love the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him if you don’t even know who he is.
- Familiarity leads to developing love. It’s a natural process. It’s how the human heart works. We as an ummah have become so unfamiliar with the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.
Notes from an amazing lecture on dua and Talking to Allah by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda. Really really beneficial reminders here and I highly recommend hearing the two part lecture in its entirety. To hear the actual lecture, you can find the first part here.
- Dua means to call out, to speak, to address. Supplication is a very big word.
- Talking to Allah gives someone the spiritual nourishment & emotional fortitude to do what is right & what is better.
- We don’t just need to study the seerah, we need to mine the seerah. The seerah is a goldmine, it’s a treasure chest.
- Abu Hurairah is the outcome of a dua the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, made 10 yrs earlier when he prayed for the guidance of the people of Daws.
- “Dua is something very real, very practical. It is a means to talk and communicate with Allah in whatever situation we’re dealing with.
- There are three main etiquettes of dua.
- The first one is to talk to Allah from your heart with sincerity. When you make dua to Allah, just be honest. Be sincere. Be real. Pour your heart out to Allah. Allah accepts dua from a heart that is attentive, that is open, that is turning to Allah. Allah does not accept a dua from a heart that is empty and disconnected.
- The second etiquette is to praise and glorify Allah. Show some appreciation and gratitude for the blessings we have. Start with basics – look around you. One powerful way to show gratitude is through Allah’s Names. Allah instructs us to use His Beautiful Names. Take a few moments to learn some names of Allah and what they mean. Whether stocks, sports stats, we have so much useless information in our heads. We can take a few moments to learn some Names of Allah. So the second step is to use the Names and Attributes of Allah to praise and glorify Him.
- Third step is to send peace and blessings on the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Ingratitude is a disease of the heart & it spreads. So it’s very important to show some appreciation for what the Prophet did. Look at how much the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him sacrificed for us.
- So to recap: be real, talk to Allah, praise and glorify Allah, and send blessings on the Prophet.