Reflection on Juz’ 12 by Besheer Mohamed

By Besheer Mohamed

Juz’ 12 (11:6–12:52) tells us about many prophets, including Noah, Hud, Salih, Lot, Shu‘ayb, Moses and Yusuf (peace be upon them [PBUT]). Of course the lives of the prophets, both in general and as described in this part of the Qur’an, are distinctive in many ways. But one theme that resonated with me was their incredible sabr. 

The patient perseverance of these prophets in the face of persistent adversity, rejection, and apparent failure is both inspiring and humbling. In Surah Hud, the story of Prophet Noah (peace be upon him [PBUH]) begins with an appeal to his people. He says, “I am a clear warner, that you should worship none but Allah. Truly I fear for you the punishment of a painful day” (11:25–26).

His appeal that they worship Allah is rejected by all except a few. Despite this, Noah (PBUH) continues and eventually the rejectors complain, “You have disputed with us a great deal”  (11:32). In fact, Surah al-‘Ankabut says that he remained among them for “a thousand years, less fifty” (29:14). Still Prophet Noah continues to deliver the message, until Allah reveals, “None of your people will believe, except those who had already believed” (11:36).

Similarly, Prophet Hud’s invitation is rejected by most of the people of ‘Ad; Prophet Salih’s invitation is rejected by most of Thamud; and the people of Madyan reject Prophet Shu‘ayb (PBUT; 11:60, 68, 94). 

After many years of persevering with little success, these prophets neither cease struggling, nor resort to means that are not sanctioned by their Lord.

Prophet Lot appeals to his people even as the angels arrive and announce the decision that the city will be destroyed(11:78). Most of us know how the stories of Prophets Moses and Yusuf (PBUT) end, but in this juz’ we are reminded of how their stories begin. In Surah Hud, we learn that Moses was first sent to Pharaoh, who rejected him(11:96–97). The beginning of Surah Yusuf, which is included in this juz’, describes Prophet Yusuf’s years of difficulty, including being rejected and left for dead by his brothers, sold into slavery, sexually assaulted and wrongfully imprisoned.

After many years of persevering with little success, these prophets neither cease struggling, nor resort to means that are not sanctioned by their Lord. 

As a student of both Islamic history and sociology, I have studied those who begin with a righteous cause but turn to questionable or even clearly forbidden methods as they encounter persistent and entrenched resistance. It is often hard for people to continue striving with all their effort and not turn to the tools of Shaytan. It may seem that any tool, no matter how distasteful, must be used to ensure victory, but these prophets offer us examples of another path. Most of their societies never implement the reforms that their prophets invite them to. But the prophets continue to strive until Allah commands them to leave. Their societies remain unreformed, and the work they were first called to do is left seemingly  unfinished.

…[W]e must strive to the fullest, but remain within the bounds of Allah’s commands.

We know that all messengers are eventually granted their reward in the next life for having conveyed the message, but some are granted recognizable success in this life. For example, as Surah Yusuf continues in the next juz’, Yusuf is promoted to a high rank in the court (12:54). But this isn’t exactly the outcome we would predict when he accepts wrongful imprisonment to avoid committing a sin. In addition, Noah spent centuries trying to bring his people to the truth before Allah set him on a different path. 

Perhaps this is a lesson for those who follow in the footsteps of the prophets and strive to make the world better. This is an offer of glad tidings, and a warning: that Allah rewards the believers for striving in His cause but it is His will, and not simply our actions, that determines the outcome. So we must strive to the fullest, but remain within the bounds of Allah’s commands. Therein lies the true success and our reward. And Allah knows best.


This reflection is part of Sapelo’s Ramadan 2021 series. To read other reflections in the series click here.

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Photo of Besheer Mohamed

Besheer Mohamed is a sociologist whose research focuses on the views, demographic profile and size of U.S. Muslim communities. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Cornell University, a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago.

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