By Shaykh Anwar Muhaimin
A wise man once said: “The story of life is about God and you. How you are towards God, yourself, humanity and the animate and inanimate things. It’s not about this group, that skin color, that religion, etc. It’s about what you do, day in and day out.”
In Surah 38, Allah says: “Say, [this Qur’an] is a great message from which you turn away. I had no knowledge of the exalted assembly [of angels] when they were disputing [the creation of Adam]. It has only been revealed to me because I am a clear warner.” (38: 67-70)
As we reflect on the verses of the Qur’an this blessed month, we are reminded of what the reality of life is. Allah leaves no ambiguity in this matter. All souls are here by the permission of their Creator. They are here for a prescribed time, and they return to their Lord when they have fulfilled their purpose. There is no such thing as someone leaving “before their time.”
There are no affairs, plots or plans that escape the awareness of Allah. All human affairs, the good of the righteous as well as the evil of the oppressor, all of these matters are recorded and will be played back by the Lord of all Creation. No one will escape the Divine decree. People will one day stand before their Lord in Judgment.
The very first verse of Surah Sad refers to the Qur’an as “containing the reminder.” This reminder is the constant message, delivered by all of the Prophets of Allah throughout time, that people have a Lord who is watching over them. This message may sometimes be skewed and folks may forget that life as we live and experience it is not an accident or a mistake. Life instead has an ultimate purpose and that purpose has been determined by Allah. We are here to fulfill Allah’s promise, purpose and plan. The blessing of Ramadan and our efforts to reconnect to the Qur’an are discovered when we are reminded of this. Time and time again this is a recurring theme in the this juz’.
In the early verses of Surah al-Saffat, Allah describes one of the scenarios on the Judgment Day in the most vivid manner. “They will say, ‘Woe to us, this is the Day of Reckoning!’ [They will be told,] ‘This is the Day of Judgment which you used to deny.’ [The angels will be ordered], “Gather the ones who committed wrong, their kinds and what they used to worship other than Allah, and lead them to the path of the hellfire, and stop them; indeed, they are to be questioned.” [They will be asked], “What is wrong with you? Why do you not help each other?” But they, that day, are in surrender. And they will approach one another, blaming each other.” (38: 20-27)
The surah then proceeds to relay the experiences of some of the Prophets as encouragement to the Messenger and a reminder to all who follow him. These stories of devotion, perseverance, dedication and sacrifice capture the essence of the way of the believers. When reading these stories, we are reminded of our ancestors who preceded us in faith in our cultural context in the United States. Their stories of sacrifice, devotion and faith are not unlike the stories of the Prophets that we read in this surah.
The believers therefore walk with a resolute faith that, in the end, all of the affairs of people will be set straight. “There’s nothing new under the sun,” because the nature of belief and disbelief never change — only the actors do. No one can escape the Accounting, and the believers are reassured by this. The wrongdoers will always be taken to task because they too have a Lord who is watching over them.
“This [is so]. But indeed for the transgressors is an evil place of return — Hell, which they will [enter to] burn, and wretched is the resting place. … They will say: “Our Lord, whoever brought this upon us — increase for him double the punishment in the Fire. And they will say, “Why do we not see men whom we used to count among the worst? Is it because we took them in ridicule or has our vision turned away from them?” Indeed, that is in truth, the quarreling of the people of the Fire.” (38: 55-64)
May we be satisfied with the promise of Allah and may we turn to Him as our source of comfort. Ameen.
Shaykh Anwar Muhaiman serves as an imam and educator at the Quba Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is documented to be the first African American Hafiz of Qur’an. At the Quba Institute, he established Salatul-Tarawih during the Holy Month of Ramadan, which passed 37 years of uninterrupted practice.