by Imam Amin Nathari
Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. Today is the third day of the blessed month of Ramadan 1438/2017: not only a time of fasting, but also one of increased standing in prayer, self-examination, self-improvement and charity. For many Muslims, a cornerstone of each day of Ramadan is our daily reading of an equal portion or juz’ of the Quran. The third juz’ comprises Surah al-Baqarah (ayah 253) through al-Imran (ayah 92).
Among the countless blessings and great rewards that Allah, Highly Glorified and Exalted, has honored us with during Ramadan is the opportunity to reconnect at a deeper level with the Quran, and thereby, gain a greater benefit from the practical application of it in our lives.
The third juz’ contains some of the most often-commented upon Quranic verses, because of the benefits and rewards contained therein: Ayat-ul-Kursi (al- Baqarah 2: 255) and the last two ayats of al-Baqarah (285–286) are two such verses.
“Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He, The Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists…” (2:255)
“The Messenger (Muhammad) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and so do the believers……….” (2:285)
“On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear………” (2:286)
Regarding Ayat-ul-Kursi and the last two verses of Surah al-Baqarah, volumes have been written, explaining the benefits of the ayats, memorizing and reciting them, etc. Specifically, it is reported that Prophet Muhammad, prayers and peace be upon him said “Whoever recites the last two verses of Al Baqarah at night, it will suffice him” (According to Abu Masood al-Ansari and narrated by Bukhari, 4723; Muslim, 807).
The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers, [saying], “We make no distinction between any of His messengers.” And they say, “We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination.” 2:285
Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.” 2:286
Reflecting upon the last two verses of Al Baqarah, (see above) I am reminded that some of the companions of the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with them, upon hearing these verses from the Quran, voiced their concerns about humanity’s responsibility and accountability to Allah. Although the Prophet knew the correct meaning behind the instructions in the verses, he waited for Allah to reveal the subsequent verses that would give further clarity, and remove all doubt and concern and ease their burden. After they accepted the responsibility, then came the clarification lessening the perceived burden, then the subsequent verse: “On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear…”
Often times, because of the challenges of accepting the responsibility to build our communities; addressing the reality of institutional and intra-Muslim racism; building and supporting independent institutions; or any of the myriad challenges we face as Black Muslims in America today, we feel overwhelmed and outmatched. As some might say, that the odds are against us; that we are outnumbered. Yet, I implore us all, in the spirit of this ayah from the book of Allah, “On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it has the capacity to bear.” We would not have been given the responsibility to lead had Allah, Highly Glorified and Exalted, not already empowered us with the capacity and collective ability to do so.
I maintain, and Allah knows Best, that our challenge is not a skill issue, but a will issue. Do we have the will to reclaim the narrative of perseverance that Allah, Highly Glorified and Exalted, has instilled in us. When our ancestors were brought here in the bowels of slave ships, Allah allowed them to bear burdens we cannot begin to imagine, so that we today can be the answer to their prayers, that their toil and suffering would not be in vain and their progeny would produce a generation to bear witness that there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger. Allahu Akbar! This is our time! Let us claim it and own it!
This third juz’ prepares us, by the permission of Allah for the juz’ to come wherein not too long, Allah, Highly Glorified and Exalted, will give the Muslims a lofty, mighty task:
“You are the best of communities ever brought forth for the good of mankind; enjoining what is good, forbidding what is wrong and you believe in Allah.’ (al-Imran 3:110)
When asked about this verse, Prophet Muhammad, prayers and peace be upon him, explained to his companions that this reference to the best of communities meant specifically that Muslims are to be “the best people for people,” meaning for others to look at as an example. This is a noble and praiseworthy objective indeed.
May Allah grant us immense blessings and reward from this juz’ and every juz’ of His Glorious book, and word and every letter in it it, in this Blessed month and beyond. May Allah accept all of our fasting, prayers, charity and good deeds done solely for His sake, in this month and always. Ameen.
Imam Amin Nathari is the Founder of Islam in America Movement (IAM) and Muslim Empowerment Institute (MEI) where he currently serves as National Representative and Executive Director, respectively. He is the author of the new book: The Friday Prayer and The Two Celebrations Made Simple, the first title in the Islam Made Simple™ series. For more information about his work, visit www.aminnathari.com