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.
Now we know what the path is, now we know where we have to go, we ask Allah, “Have there been others who have gone on this path?” When in college, you ask advice for graduates who have already found a job, the ones have already succeeded because people who are with you, you have no guarantees and therefore they have no guarantees.
This surah says: past tense. The path up, the straight path up, the one taken by those You showered favour upon. Past tense. So the real role models of Islam are not the ones alive, are the ones who have gone, because the ones who are alive are as volatile as you and me. The anchors who will not go away are the actual graduates not the students. Graduation ceremony is death. And then the certificate is issued by Allah. And there are some people who Allah already issued their certificate, told us all their transcript. This is what gave them their credit so that they could graduate. Learn from them.
So we ask Allah to show us the path of those who have already gone before. But in the language we say those who You showered favour upon. In other words, we didn’t say the path taken by those who already made it up all the way. Instead of giving them credit, gave Allah credit. The Muslim realizes that this path is really hard, isn’t any way to do this without Allah making it easy. So the Muslim asks, “Ya Allah, who did you make it easy for before?
The word An-amta.
- Come from softness. Something soft and relaxed. Word for cows comes from this. Cows are relaxed. Allah says that I made this path so relaxed for them, will be like cows. Allah says that this is such a hard journey, the more you go up, the more danger you’re in, but with My favour it will be relaxing. And Allah describes these people all throughout the Qur’an. The stories of the righteous, the story of the Prophets, the story that’s mentioned of good people, all this is Allah answering just that one dua of show me the previous graduates.
Apologies for the delay in posting these notes! I haven’t been at home much this past week.
Verse 15: Has the story of Moses reached thee?
- Rhetorical purpose: see Allah bringing solace to the heart of His beloved.
- Makes us ask: What is the station of this creation that when Allah sees his prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) troubled, He reveals a verse to comfort him?
- General point: the story of Moses and Pharoah appears many times in the Qur’an. Very important story. In different junctures we hear different aspects of this story. Many meanings ot this story that are very relevant for our time. One lesson here: some person can attain great status even being in the belly of the beast. Some people wil grow up in societies that in themselves are societies of unbelief, and yet they themselves will be the means for the demise of unbelief.
V16: When his Lord called out to him in the holy valley of Tuwa.
- Allah called out to Moses in this sacred valley of Tuwa. Allah spoke to Moses. Learn from this that there are sacred places. There are places that are special and we deal with special places and special people and times with tadheem (exaltation)
- If Ramadan comes and goes and we don’t have tadheem, our heart is dead. If we don’t have tadheem for jumu’ah, our heart is dead. If we don’t have tadheem for the mosque, our heart is dead. If we don’t have tadheem for our Muslim brothers and sisters, our heart is dead.
- We have to have tadheem in our heart for the Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him. We exalt him. We respect and honour him.
- Saying the name Muhammad is not like saying other names. We are supposed to say Rasulullah and all of his other beautiful names
- To have tadheem means that in our hearts you esteem it.
- If you have a bottle of water with water from spring and bottle with zam zam water, though we shouldn’t waste water and mistreat any of Allah’s creation, we use zamzam in a different way. We are going to pour it in different cups and stand up and face qibla before drinking, and going to say special dua. Will have increased amount of esteem
- When walk in house, different than when we walk in a mosque.
- Tadheem: it translates into respect and honour for these things.
In this week’s class, we finished Surah Naba. This week I was mostly trying to take in what Shaykh Yahya was saying and so wasn’t able to take comprehensive notes. Still, here are a few gems that were mentioned during the session. Till next week…
Exploring the Qur’an (Week 3 Notes)
- 2nd degree of taqwa : to set a barrier between yourself and unlawful things, whether they are internal traits of the heart like arrogance or outward actions like backbiting
- A higher stage of taqwa: not only have you left the haram, the disliked matters, but you leave the doubtful matters too.
Note: Another meaning of doubtful matters: matters regarding which there is a difference of opinion among scholars. In this stage of taqwa, you leave them out of scrupulousness
- Fourth stage: Did what you were asked to do with the permissible. Did you give you the right of gratitude to what you were given?
- Remember: to the degree that you don’t give thanks, the Day of Judgement will be lengthened. So we have to constantly remind ourselves to give thanks, to give thanks, to give thanks
- Zakat of having a car: give people rides when they don’t have a car
- Zakat of having a home: opening it to people to study
- Zakat of owning own medical practice: serving people who are underinsured, or not insured
- If you choose to leave the permissible out of a desire to prefer the next life, it is good.
“Spending in the cause of God is called metaphorically “a beautiful loan”. It is excellent in many ways: 1) it shows a beautiful spirit of self denial 2) in other loans there may be a doubt as to the safety of your capital or any return thereon,: here you give to the Lord of all in Whose hands are the keys of want or plenty; 3) giving, you may have manifold blessings, and withholding you may even lose what you have. If we remember that our goal is God , can we turn away from His cause?
~Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Commentary on 2:245
Today was the first session of the new Seekers Guidance course with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus titled “Exploring the Qur’an. In today’s session, Shaykh Yahya not only taught us about Surah Naba, but he also discussed the importance of constant reflection, the wisdom and knowledge contained within different languages, how we should interact with those who are struggling with faith, the value of good sleep, and how salawat is a powerful way to combat feelings of anxiety and stress, among many other topics. As always, being in his class was a reminder to strive to orient one’s own personal and family life around the principles of constantly learning, reflecting, spending time in nature and seeking to bring about the good, and I’m very very grateful to SeekersGuidance to providing this course in such an accessible format. If you can, please support their Bricks and Mortar campaign here: http://seekersguidance.org/donate/. Selections from my notes are below.