Reflection on Juz’ 23 by Abdul Jalil Muhammad

By Abdul Jalil Muhammad

The internationally acclaimed phenomenal lyrical genius Aretha Franklin in 1967 recorded perhaps her most popular song ever – “Respect”. The song speaks about the travails and arduous task of garnering respect from her husband within the hallowed framework of their marriage. Respect, not being found and ever so elusive, she beseeches her soulmate to yield to this one, but yet weighty demand. Her pleas seemingly go unanswered.

If one were to critically summarize the 23rd Juz of the Holy Quran, it could fittingly and aptly be titled “RESPECT”. Allah, through His word and via His messengers and Prophets is imploring His servants in this juz to willingly give Him the due respect that should be tendered to Him by way of worshipping and worshipping Him alone. In conjunction, in this juz, Allah commands His servants to respect His decisions in choosing the prophets He has chosen to serve and lead the people. Just as Ms. Franklin’s wayward husband failed miserably in heeding to her appeals and wishes, so too were the people failing to heed the commands of Allah in Sura 38:30. This ayah depicts this respectless, rebellious, behavior as Allah states: Ah! Alas for My Servants! There comes not a messenger to them, but they mock them!  Though Allah is speaking about the disbelievers and their egregious behavior, we as believers need to look inwardly to determine if we find ourselves disrespecting and mocking the Prophet {Peace and blessings be upon him} as our prophet.  It would bode us well to ask ourselves: Do we respect the commands and mandates that the Prophet has placed upon us? When he enjoins us via his hadith to not get angry, do we mock him by refusing to adhere to that demand and get angry at the slightest thing that comes our way? When a fellow believer sneezes do we offer the words the Prophet {Peace and blessings be upon him} told us to say or do we pitifully find ourselves imitating the Christians by saying, “Bless you.” If we judiciously choose to imitate the Christians then there is an apparent lack of respect for what Allah has commanded us to do throughout the Quran: Obey the Prophet {Peace and blessings be upon him}. Obeying Allah and His Prophet {Peace and blessings be upon him} would behoove us in many ways. One such way is that it can perhaps avert the painful end of those seen in Ayah 31: Don’t they see how many generations we destroyed before them? What a dreadful end for such a simple, innocuous task: Respect (and obey!) Allah and His Messenger {Peace and blessings be upon him}. This juz is replete with one example after another displaying Allah’s grandeur, splendor, and mercy. Ayah 34-35 adequately depicts these noble characteristics. Ayah 34: And we produce therein orchard with date palms and vines, and we cause springs to gush forth therein: Ayah 35: That they may enjoy the fruits of this artistry: It was not their hands that made this. Will they not give thanks?  

Ponder over the disrespect the unbelievers flagrantly spewed in Ayah 47. And when they {Unbelievers} are told, “Spend out of the bounties with which Allah has provided,” the Unbelievers say to those who believe: “Shall we then feed those whom, if Allah so willed, would have fed them Himself?” You are in nothing but clear error.”  

Do we respect the commands and mandates that the Prophet has placed upon us?

Allah states in His book in Surah 37:1-3 

37:1  By those ranging in ranks,

37:2 And those who restrain holding in restraint,

37:3 And those who recite the Reminder

37:4 Surely your God is One

There is a beautiful hadith reported by Aishah found in Sahih Muslim that speaks about the above verse of this juz’.

The Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) sent a companion in charge of an expedition with the Believers. When the salat time came upon them, he would lead the salat, constantly reciting Surah 112 Al-Ikhlas in every salat, saying:” Say, He is God, One.” When they returned, mention was made of it to the Messenger of Allah (). He (the Holy Prophet) told them to ask him why he did this repeatedly (and not any other verses). So they asked him and he said: Verily, it is an attribute of the Compassionate One, and (for this reason) I love to recite it. The Messenger of Allah () thereupon said: Inform him that Allah loves him.

This hadith speaks to the respect and reverence the companion had for this weighty surah. He said he loved to recite it. Naturally, if you love something dearly, surely you have a healthy respect for it. As a result of his respect, reverence, and love for this surah, he was informed by the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) that Allah loves him! SubhanAllah! Imagine that! Being informed that Allah loves you! However conversely, those who lack respect for their fellow human beings, lack respect for others property, and in this case, lack respect for Allah and His exalted word can (and should!) be aptly categorized as arrogant. Pitifully, such people woefully lose the love of Allah and instead are chastised by the Lord of the worlds. Allah gives us a glimpse of this in this juz.

37:33  So, that day they will be sharers in the chastisement.

37:34 Thus do We deal with the guilty.

37:35  They indeed were arrogant, when it was said to them: There is no god but Allah.

To come into full understanding that those who are of the arrogant ones and choose not to have a heightened respect for Allah and His word, ultimately will be the recipients of His chastisement, should make us all shudder and thus quicken our pace in making the Book of Allah a close companion of ours. Brothers and sisters, it’s our choice to make. Allah gives us free will. Let us exercise our will not in the manner of the guilty ones as the ayah depicts. Nor should we continue to be wanton in our behavior as the juz’ details or as Aretha Franklin’s – The Queen of Soul – husband continuously displayed. Ms. Franklin dealt with him by calling out via her record. Worst shall be dealt out by Allah to those who lack respect for Allah, His Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him), our majestic deen and our glorious Quran. May Allah protect us and guide our affairs. Ameen.


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

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Abdul Jalil Muhammad

Abdul Jalil Muhammad is the president of the Deen Intensive Academy, a platform to bring Islamic education to inner city communities. He can often be found giving Jummah khutbahs in the D.C. area where he lives with his wife, Dr. Nisa Muhammad. 

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