“I have only created jinns and men, so that they may serve Me.” (51:56)
This addresses our purpose in life. We have been made to serve Allah. Everything else is a diversion and a distraction.
“No bearer of burdens can carry the burden of another. Man can have nothing but what he strives for…” (53:38-39)
This passage emphasizes our personal responsibility and its limitations. It is particularly important in this society where privilege trumps hard work.
“And we have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember. Then is there any that will receive admonition?” (54:24; many repetitions)
This passage reminds us that the Qur’an is an accessible book of guidance.
“Every matter, small and great, is on record. As to the righteous, they will be in the midst of gardens and rivers, in an Assembly of Truth, in the presence of a Sovereign Omnipotent.” (54:53-55)
This passage emphasizes that everything is recorded and that there is an accountability in place for each and every action. Nothing slips the attention of Allah. Those who are righteous will be rewarded.
Has not the time arrived for the Believers that their hearts, in all humility, should engage in the remembrance of Allah, and of the Truth which has been revealed (to them)? And that they should not become like those to whom was given Revelation aforetime, but long ages passed over them and their hearts grew hard? For many among them are rebellious transgressors.” (57:16)
I feel, in this passage, that we are being asked to “be real”, to recognize that this is no time for hesitancy, laziness, or rebelliousness. We too often take Islam for granted and profess to be Muslims but refuse to follow the basic premises. We imagine ourselves as impervious to the tribulations of those who came before us. We put too much stock in the idle “isms” of the day (socialism, communism, capitalism) not realizing how incomplete each of these are. We have been given the Truth of Islam, yet dawdle in trivial pursuits.
We put too much stock in the idle “Isms” of the day (socialism, communism, capitalism) not realizing how incomplete each of these are. We have been given the Truth of Islam, yet dawdle in trivial pursuits.
First, in this juz’, people are invited to believe in the One True God, or Islamic tawhid (absolute monotheism). People are reminded of the Hereafter and warned that after death there is no second chance to accept the truth. False pride (often masquerading as nationalism and racism) and intransigent adherence to foreign philosophies are the reasons previous generations rejected their prophets and were punished by Allah. The Day of Judgment will inevitably come. In Juz’ 27, the unbelievers (in Mecca) are criticized for ridiculing the Prophet and falsely accusing him of being a madman or sorcerer. This was intended to diminish the status of the Prophet Muhammad himself and nullify his message. In Juz’ 27, the Muslims are advised to be patient in the face of such criticism and degradation. We must rise above the fray. We cannot get sucked into the dilemma of the hour — be it the threat of a third world war from conflicts in Ukraine, the current lack of technical expertise in Africa and its persistent underdevelopment, or the inordinate amount of time devoted in much of the world to sport and play. We have to keep our focus on our Islam and remain constant.
Juz’ 27 of the Qur’an then begins to address the issue of preaching Islam privately or in public. Surah An-Najm is the first passage that the Prophet Muhammad openly preached, at a gathering near the Ka’aba, which greatly affected the gathered unbelievers. They were criticized for believing in their false multiple gods and goddesses. They were admonished for following the religion and traditions of their ancestors, without questioning those beliefs. Allah alone is the Creator and Sustainer and does not need the “support” of false gods. Islam is consistent with the teachings of previous authentic prophets such as Ibrahim and Musa It is not a new, foreign faith but rather the religion of our forefathers being renewed. This is an important point, because a large number of YouTube videos call African-descended people back to their traditional religion as a way of expressing their Pan-Africanism. Juz’ 27 emphasizes here that fealty is owed to the one God (Allah), not to our ancestors (as if they are gods). Our traditional religion is monotheism. If we stick with this, we will be among the winners. The unbelievers are deluded and will eventually face Judgment for their false beliefs.
Surah Ar-Rahman is an eloquent passage that elaborates on Allah’s mercy, and repeatedly asks the rhetorical question: “Then which of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?” To me, this is about maintaining an attitude of GRATITUDE to Allah at all times. Allah provides us with guidance on His path, an entire universe established in balance, with all of our needs met (our real needs, not our wants!). All Allah asks of us is faith in Him Alone, and we will all face judgment in the end. Those who put their trust in Allah will receive the rewards and blessings promised by Allah. It seems to be a pretty simple equation: Follow the rules, get the rewards.
The final section of Juz’ 27 was revealed after the Muslims had moved to Madinah and engaged in battles with the enemies of Islam. The believers are encouraged to support the cause, with their funds and their persons, without delay. One should be willing to make sacrifices for a larger cause, and not be greedy about the blessings Allah has bestowed upon us. All of the resources we have belong to Allah anyway. Whatever we have is just a temporary gift from Him. Life is not about play and show; our suffering will be rewarded. We should not be like previous generations and turn our backs on the truth of Islam when it most counts. The ancestors cannot save us from the fate we have constructed for ourselves here in this life.
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Dr. Fatimah Jackson, Ph.D., is a professor of biology and the director of the W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory at Howard University, She is the recipient of the 2020 Charles R. Darwin Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Jackson is the first woman of African descent to receive this prestigious award from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. She received her Ph.D., M.A., and B.A. from Cornell University. Her research on the study of African human genetics, human–plant coevolution, particularly the influence of phytochemicals on human metabolic effects and evolutionary processes, and in population biological substructures in peoples of African descent.
Dr. Jackson has taught at several universities including Cornell University, University of California – Berkeley, and University of Maryland – College Park (where she is Distinguished Scholar-Teacher and Professor Emerita). She has been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Georgia and University of Khartoum in Sudan, and she was a Senior Fulbright Fellow in Egypt.