Sisters and brothers, Allah (SWT) has created everything beautifully. Some things are complex in their beings and workings, like our bodies. The creation of the heavens and Earth is even greater than that. Some things, like water, are relatively simple, yet it is the foundation of all creation on the earth. This is similar to Islam, so complex that scholars debate the meanings of a single word, yet also so simple and beautiful in its ease and depth.
Juz’ 18 (23:1–25:20) begins with Surah al-Mu’minun, a classic Meccan style chapter that provides guidance via laws primarily. “Qad Af-lahal mu’minun.” Using the emphatic past, Allah says, “Successful indeed are the Believers.” (23:1) SubhanAllah! What follows are descriptions or traits of Believers. Careers, (the availability of) wealth, status, and lineage – those things that we tend to allocate too much importance to, are not mentioned. Rather, Allah in His divine way of relaying the most beautiful things in the simplest terms, mentions salah, turning away from vain talk, paying the zakat, guarding our chastity, being faithful to our trusts, and again, strictly guarding our prayers. “These are indeed the inheritors. Who shall inherit The Paradise. They shall dwell therein, forever.” (23:10–11)
SubhanAllah, look at the simplicity of what’s being commanded of us. Observe the rituals and have good character, specifically good speech. Vain talk is mentioned in many ayaat and ahadith. In this surah, we are reminded that avoiding this is a trait of the truly successful ones. It is also essential to a proper fast.
SubhanAllah, look at the simplicity of what’s being commanded of us. Observe the rituals and have good character, specifically good speech.
Zakat is enjoined on us in the five pillars of Islam. It should therefore be no surprise that it is a fundamental characteristic of the truly successful believers. We should be sure to properly calculate our zakat and distribute it in a manner that is pleasing to Allah, seeking His pleasure. With proper intentions, we know that we suffer no loss in this transaction – only gain. When we look at the amount of what’s being asked of us, we calculate from net assets (after expenses). SubhanAllah, it’s such a simple task that has such a magnificent reward.
This juz’ and surah reminds us to guard our chastity. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said (in paraphrase) that if we can guard two things, we will enter Paradise. These two things are the tongue and the private parts. Both are clearly mentioned at the beginning of this juz’ in Surah 23:5–7.
As a Medinan surah, Surah al-Nur deals largely with etiquettes and character. This is also essential to our daily struggle as Muslims. During Ramadan, we should place special attention to areas where we can improve. The surah begins with reminders of how we should conduct ourselves and the manners that we should practice and avoid as Muslims. It’s a reminder that in addition to the rituals mentioned at the beginning of the juz’ (23:1–10) that likewise, our character is of the utmost importance.
Al-Islam is a simple and beautiful way of life. Its demands are few and its rewards are beyond our imagination.
The great slander of Aisha (RA) is mentioned in this surah. We are informed of how even those close to us can say horrible things about us, as well as create strife and division in our community. The previous surah says that the successful ones are those that avoid vain talk. In this surah, we see what happens when we fail to observe this. And while major slanders like those mentioned in this surah are generally easy to avoid, we should use Ramadan to be on the lookout for the small things we may say that can still have lasting and undesirable effects. We have all been guilty of this and we should all be very vigilant in guarding against slander and backbiting.
They are sins to avoid but they also eat away at our good deeds. Thankfully, Allah is Most Merciful. In ayah 24:10, Allah states, “And had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy on you, and that Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, the All Wise.” And in ayah 24:38, “That Allah may reward them according to the best of their deeds, and even more for them out of His grace. And Allah provides without measure to whom He wills.”
Al-Islam is a simple and beautiful way of life. Its demands are few and its rewards are beyond our imagination. During the month of Ramadan, Allah (SWT) multiplies every good deed we do for His sake. No deed is too simple or too small. By these deeds and those mentioned in the beginning of Surah al-Mu’minun, we pray that Allah accepts from us and brings us closer to Him. In ayah 16 of Surah al-Furqan (25), the last surah of this juz’, Allah states, “For them there will be therein all that they desire, and they will abide. It is a promise binding upon our Lord that must be fulfilled.”
Alhamdulillah, for this opportunity to share my reflection of Juz’ 18 with you all. May Allah accept and make it beneficial for all of us. May Allah bless this platform (Sapelo Square), its founders, staff, and volunteers. May Allah make us among those that support this effort, making it a premier institution for generations to come. May Allah accept our Ramadan and remove from it any of our shortcomings. May we be among those who excel in what remains of it. Prayers and peace on our beloved Prophet Muhammad, his family members and the righteous ones until the Day of Deen.
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Nasr Nance is the founder of Idris’s Pieces (idrispieces.com), a personal care and wellness company that focuses on products from Africa and its diaspora. He is also a licensed Q Grader and works as the Quality Control Manager for Red Bay Coffee, a black-owned coffee company in the California Bay Area. He holds a Masters in International Development from Tulane University. An outdoor enthusiast, Nasr loves hiking, fishing, and foraging.