Reflection on Juz’ 24 by Luqman Ali

This reflection is part of Sapelo’s Ramadan 2020 series. To read other reflections in the series click here.

By Luqman Ali

The 24th Juz’ (39:32–41:46) of the Holy Qur’an catalyzes a deeply inspiring stream of consciousness between heart, head and body whenever I am blessed with the good fortune to recite its verses. The mellifluousness of its cadences, the lucidity of its guidance and the sublime heights to which it elevates one’s imagination now cut loose from the ephemeral fetters of worldly entanglements all combine seamlessly to heal, fortify, illumine and re-align the vertical and horizontal axes of one’s being and endeavors with the Divine plan.

For those of us who know the story, we can still, after more than 1,400 years, imagine the marvelously discombobulating impact of the recitation of verses from Surah Fussilat (41) by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him here and ever after) upon the wealthy potentate of the Quraysh, Utbah ibn Rabi’ah. The latter had come to persuade the Prophet to abandon his sacred mission with inducements of wealth and power. They offered a psychiatric exorcism of sorts only to find the fuse box of his entire being short-circuited by the voltage of truth to which he’d unwittingly exposed himself. That he reported back to his peers in terms that flew in the face of their consensus of denial attests to the disarming and captivating power of Qur’anic oratory.

“I’ve heard some words the like of which I have never heard before. It is not poetry, by God, neither is it sorcery nor soothsaying … come not between this man and what he is about, but let him be.”

They offered a psychiatric exorcism of sorts only to find the fuse box of his entire being short-circuited by the voltage of truth to which he’d unwittingly exposed himself.

For African American Muslims, I strongly believe that one of the most contextually salient points for reflection in Juz’ 24 is the resource of Divine sufficiency presented to us in the rhetorical interrogative:

Does not Allah suffice His servant, though they frighten you with those other than Him? And whomsoever Allah leads astray, no guide has he. 39:36

Regarding the numerous and diverse apparatus devised to generate fear in us of other than Allah have always and continue to be used to oppress, manipulate, fragment and enfeeble us, this resource is indispensable if we are to heal, restore, fortify and remain resilient in the pursuit of the prophetic dream of liberation and virtue.

Our esteemed forebear in faith, Bilal ibn Rabah (may Allah be pleased with him), recognized and assimilated this Divine sufficiency deriving from it confidence and reliance that enabled him to persevere with indomitable faith despite the persecution he endured at the hands of his erstwhile master, Umayyah ibn Khalaf, and the hostilities he and other Muslims of African descent would later experience in the fold of Islam. Similarly, An-Najashi (may Allah have mercy on his soul), the Abyssinian African king demonstrates Divine sufficiency when he defies the petitions and incentives of the Quraysh to return the Muslim refugees to Makkah preferring instead to recognize and hold fast to the truth that he hears in the Qur’an as being resonant with the sacred word that was Jesus, peace be upon him. We observe this same Divine sufficiency and commitment to truth modeled by Black Muslims in more recent times, most notably Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and Muhammad Ali though there are many others.

In the context of this blessed month of Ramadan, when we are exhorted to pursue Divine favors at the pinnacle of which lies the revelatory experience of receiving the spiritual light of the Qur’an descended upon the heart, how do we attain to Divine sufficiency? How do we irradiate the fog of fear of other than Allah with the light of “Does not Allah suffice His servant…” especially now that the climate of fear has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic?

This 24th Juz’ has clear and unmistakable answers that we would do well to regard as prescriptions that all resolutely Allah conscious people endeavor to live by in emulation of our beloved Prophet Muhammad.

This 24th Juz’ has clear and unmistakable answers that we would do well to regard as prescriptions that all resolutely Allah conscious people endeavor to live by in emulation of our beloved Prophet Muhammad.

First, at the onset of any fear and trepidation, repeat the Qur’an abundantly and incessantly this affirmation:

“… Say: ‘God is enough for me; in Him do all those who rely on Allah put their trust.’” 39:38

Second, when faced with any adversity or affliction say: “Our Lord is Allah” and remain steadfast.

Those who have said, ”Our Lord is God.” then have gone straight, upon them the angels descend, saying, “Fear not, neither sorrow; rejoice in Paradise that you were promised. We are your friends in the present life and in the world to come; therein you shall have all that your souls desire, all that you call for, as hospitality from One All-forgiving, One All-compassionate.” 41:30-32

Third, when faced with despair or feelings of failure in relation to seeking Divine sufficiency or in relation to stumbling and faltering under the weight of trauma, injustice and deprivation, we are to remind ourselves:

Say: ”O my people who have been prodigal against yourselves, do not despair of Allah’s mercy; surely Allah forgives sins altogether; surely He is the All-forgiving, the All-compassionate.” 39:53

Fourth, when confronted by explicit or implicit hatred or prejudice on account of our non-conformity with superficial standards set by self-aggrandizing mortals, remember:

… And He formed you, and shaped you well … 40:64

Fifth, when overwhelmed by a seemingly interminable history of pain, anguish, loss and separation, remember:

Allah shall decide justly, and those they call on, apart from Him, shall not decide by any means. Surely Allah is the All-hearing, the All-seeing. 40:20

Last, call on Allah with deep sincerity as you’ve never called upon Him before, entreat Him, supplicate to Him with the utmost good opinion of Him that you can muster through your spiritual imagination, if not with certainty. For this is the month of accepted good works and fulfilled orisons.

Your Lord has said, ”Call upon Me and I will answer you. 40:60

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Photograph of Luqman Ali

Luqman Ali is the founding director of the U.K.-based Khayaal Theatre (founded 1997) the first multi-award-winning professional English language theatre company dedicated to the dramatic interpretation of Muslim world literature for the stage, radio, film, publishing and education. Before co-founding Khayaal, he spent more than  a decade pursuing the sciences of Islam and the Arabic, Persian and Urdu languages. Through his work as a playwright, theatre producer, lecturer, and imam, he has served communities and societies in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Sudan, Pakistan, Bahrain, Morocco, Kenya, Sweden, South Africa, Denmark, the Dominican Republic and beyond.

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  • JazakhAllahu Khairan

  • Ahsant, Luqman, well-done.

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