Musings on the Purpose of Fasting

As Ramadan nears its end, I’ve learned something amazing from one of Yasmin Mogahed’s blogs.

In chapter 2, verse 185, God tells us that “The Quran was revealed in Ramadan, and so we should fast therein.” But it is only when we question and ponder over the Quranic commandments do we realize the wisdom behind them. We should think, “Why, what is the relationship between the two?”

I just did, and was hit by an amazing insight.

 

See, our abstinence from food and drink is, but a symbolical gesture.  It symbolizes life in general – the greater abstinence of abstaining from detrimental things that the Quran warns against! Fasting is supposed to firm our resolve in doing just that, once Ramadan has passed away. We could take it as a hands-on training period to develop Taqwa (God-consciousness).

But, fasting only holds purpose when we’re able to relate the two things mentioned in the above verse, when it reminds us of a higher purpose. It is, but a means to an end, and not an end in itself as many Muslims make it out to be.

 

And yet, the Iftar symbolizes that abstaining from the detrimental things seems difficult only in the short-term. In the long term, you will be provided with all that you’ve yearned for – a metaphor for paradise.

Indeed, as the Quran says, there are signs for those who give thought. ❤

 


Related article: 3 Things You Should Avoid This Ramadan To Make It More Spiritually Meaningful!

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Uniting Under a Common Word

Those who were given the Scripture did not divide, until there had come to them the Clear Evidence. Quran, 98:4

But they were not ordained, except to 1) serve God, 2) being devoted to His System, 3) inclining to truth, and that they 4) establish connection (Salat), and 5) contribute towards purity/growth (Zakat). Such is the establishing religion. Quran, 98:5

Do you see any mention of the trivialities in the description of the establishing religion over which sects erupt, fueling hatred & violence? Instead of fighting over differences, Muslims should build upon the foundation of Islam as outlined above, and simply agree to disagree on secondary issues.

Unity is what makes us strong. Who cares whether you place your hands on your belly or on your chest, while praying?

We mustn’t be penny wise, pound foolish. It is extremely important to open our eyes to the bigger picture, folks.

For a detailed analysis, read: United Sects of Islam

Lailatul Qadr: A Different Interpretation

Within traditional Islamic thought, it is believed that the Lailatul Qadr (The night of Power) was the night in which Prophet Mohammad first received divine revelation. Therefore, it is considered to be a “holy” night during which God forgives everyone, accepts all prayers, and is the night in which the destiny of people for the coming year is decided.

Revealingly, this interpretation has almost no basis in the Quran. The Quran only talks about Lailatul Qadr in Ch 97, calling it a night of peace, which is better than a thousand months. However, even if we take the traditional interpretation at its face value, we come across the following problems:

1) If God really accepts all prayers in this night, then why don’t our prayers get answered? For years, Muslims have been praying for Palestine! Why, then, does the situation only deteriorate?

2) Human beings are provided with freewill, and that’s the whole purpose of revelation! There is no point of a test if the outcome has already been decided by God. This is unjust, while God is just.

3) The Quran says that it is a night of peace. What sort of peace? External peace or spiritual peace? If it’s external, then is there such a night in which there is no disharmony whatsoever, with no bloodshed, and every human being fully clothed and well fed? There isn’t.

If it is referring to internal peace, then is there such a night in which every human being feels profound peace within themselves? Again, no such evidence proves this. In fact, that is exactly why the Ulema are unsure of its precise date.

 

Because of these inconsistencies, I don’t subscribe to this interpretation.


In my opinion, Lailatul Qadr is not a specific night in Ramadan. Rather, it signifies the general phenomenon of attaining revelation. Thus, the Night of Power occurs when you have that eureka moment; when you understand something from the Quran.

The reason why it’s called the “Night” of Power is because night is considered to be an idle time in Quranic parlance; a time of seclusion (73:6-7). Thus it is advised that the reader ponders over the Quran at night (73:4), and God, in turn, would bestow upon him a profound message (73:5). Attaining this profound message is what the night of Power signifies, and is thus better than a thousand months of ignorance (97:3)! Receiving this profound message then brings us Islam, or peace, which is the ultimate purpose of revelation (97:5).

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What If Some Religious Figures Came Out With Islamic Handphones?

I just hope I don’t live to see the day where there are “Islamic” cell-phones (and other gadgets) in the market, with “Bismillahs” imprinted on them, and their models being inspired by “Islamic” names. Like a Nokia Ya-sin, or a Samsung Kausar.

We already have Islamic banking. Not this, for God’s sake! I might just commit suicide. – Me

6 Convincing Reasons Debunking The Myth of Islam Promoting Hatred of Jews & Christians

Amidst the tragic situation in Palestine these days, a few Muslims seem to have found a way to express their anger and frustration. No, not by constructively doing anything about it, but by bashing Jews and hailing Hitler as a hero! Wrongly equating the actions of the Israeli government with Judaism, they continue generalizing approximately 15 million Jews, painting them all with the same brush!

A few days earlier, as I was browsing through my Facebook news feed, I came across this meme praising Hitler for killing Jews, with the hash tag #Hitlerwasright:

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Exasperated as I was, I tried to maintain my composure and very calm-fully responded to this individual that there are many Jews who condemn the actions of the Israeli government, much like us Muslims who condemn the actions of Jihadist terrorist groups, and so it is naïve to generalize all Jews based on the situation in Palestine. Without taking a minute, he responded back to me quoting the Quranic verse that “asks Muslims not to be friends with Jews”, justifying his bigotry through the Quran!

Checkmate? Probably, if I hadn’t known better!


A common misconception about the Quran is that it promotes hatred of Jews and Christians, and asks Muslims to not be friends with them. Strangely, instead of voicing out against such a misrepresentation of 5:51 (which contains the commandment), some Muslims actually revel in quoting this verse as a means of feeling superior, perhaps. Who needs enemies, when you have such believers? But I guess, that’s the karma of blindly following religious figures.

Here’s the much quoted verse:

O You who have believed! Do not take the Jews and Christians as your allies (Auliya). They are allies of one another. He among you who takes them for allies is one of them. God does not guide the oppressive folks. Quran, 5:51

 

A plethora of lies are sold to the average Muslim to instigate enmity with other faiths, and so I will debunk these points step by step. Point 1 and 2 will explain how the verse above is misrepresented, and 3-6 would expand on further points.

 

1. Aulia is erroneously and inconsistently translated as friends by some translators. However, in Arabic, Aulia is more closely defined as a protector or an ally. It has been used in the Quran to mostly signify that God protects (Wali) the believers through revelation. This is not to be confused with Khaleel, which does mean friend, but is an honor given exclusively to Ibrahim (4:125).

Additionally, Muslims should sincerely ask themselves what they mean when they call their scholars “Maulana”. Are they trying to imply that these scholars are their friends who they hang out with? Hardly! Obviously, by calling these religious figures as Maulana, they mean to imply that these scholars are their protectors – from evil, perhaps.

Keeping the context in mind, it is clear that the verse refers to political allies, and is not about friendship.

 

 

2. The verse, quite specifically, asks Muslims not to take Al-Yahood & Al-Nasaraa as an ally. Now, “Al” in Arabic denotes an address to something or someone specific. If we are to assume that God asks us not to ally with any Jew or Christian, then on the same wavelength, we have to assume that all Arabs are the worst in hypocrisy and disbelief! Yes, it’s a verse in the Quran!

The Arabs (Al-Arab) are worst in disbelief and hypocrisy, and more likely to ignore the Limits that God has revealed to His messenger. God is Knower, Wise. Quran, 9:97

Except, here the “scholars” would be quick to contextualize things, or else their model of praising Arabs as the “chosen” people and equating Arabic culture with Islam would fall flat on its face! It is an inconsistency in approach, and consistency is the only criteria to judge truthfulness.

Taking a consistent view, both verses inform us that *some* Arabs (Al-Arab) are worst in hypocrisy and disbelief, and that Muslims should not ally with *some* Jews and Christians (Al-Yahood & Al-Nasaraa). Quite obviously, it is addressing the Jews and Christians at the time of the Prophet, who continuously broke their oaths, stoking the fires of war against Muslims (5:64) and were thus their worst enemies (5:82).

Common sense would suggest that allying with the enemy would be a sure way to lose the war.

 

 

 

3. The Quran constantly reminds Muslims not to generalize Jews, Christians, and others; but to judge them by their actions:

They are not all the same; among the People of the Scripture is a community standing [in obedience], reflecting and reciting the signs of God during periods of the night and they submit.

They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: These are the reformists! Quran 3:113-114

 

God does not forbid you from being kind, and fully equitable to those who do not fight you on account of Religion, and do not evict you from your homelands. God loves those who lead a just, balanced life.

But God does forbid you regarding those who fought you because of your system, and drove you out of your homes, and helped to drive you out. You shall not ally with them. Those who ally with them, then such are the transgressors. Quran, 60:8-9

 

 

4. Even traditional Islam allows Muslims to marry Jews and Christians. Is friendship a more sacred bond than marriage? Then how on earth can the Quran discourage us from befriending them?

 

 

5. Contrary to popular belief, Muslims do not have a monopoly on salvation. In fact, Jews and Christians, much like any other faith, are promised paradise should they “submit to God, do acts of reformation, and expect accountability” (2:62 & 5:69). The very act of claiming sole monopoly on truth and salvation is actually shunned by the Quran, of which, ironically, some Muslims are guilty:

And they claim, “None will enter Paradise unless he is a Jew or a Christian.” This is nothing but their wishful thinking. Say, “Bring your proof if you are truthful.”

Nay, whoever submits his whole being to God, and he is a doer of good to humanity, his reward is with his Lord. Then, no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve. Quran, 2:111-112

 

 

6. The idea of alienating a group of people because of their faith alone is in fact contrary to the Quran, which actually promotes peaceful co-existence among citizens of varying backgrounds:

 

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes so that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the one who is deeply conscious of Him. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. Quran, 49:13

 

Conclusion

If anything, Muslims should be the last to generalize people of other faiths. They are vocal on how every Muslim shouldn’t be stereotyped as a terrorist because of the actions of a few terrorist groups seeming to represent “Islam”, yet generalize and put all Jews in one box because of the actions of the Israeli government and the “super rich bankers that control the world.” I condemn fundamentalist Zionists, just how I condemn fundamentalist Islamists. However, I don’t buy the propaganda on both sides of badmouthing every Jew or Muslim because of the extremist actions of some.

Is it not an act of gross hypocrisy of claiming to be misrepresented, but misrepresenting others at the very same time? But perhaps, it is not hypocrisy. Perhaps, it is just a lack of introspection. A trait so many of us ignorantly possess.

Credits: MuslimVillage.com

Credits: MuslimVillage.com

 

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Back2Quran Ramadan Series: Short Summary of Chapter 11 (Hud)

Chapter theme:

  • The theme is based upon the fact that oppressive systems based on corruption are bound to perish. The messengers warned their respective communities, however they were not to listen. Eventually, their oppressive systems collapsed.
  • It describes different aspects of societies that were corrupt but the chiefs among them resisted change, perhaps because they could not exploit people under the system which the messengers brought.

 

A very short summary of the chapter can be found in the following verses:

Among the generations before your time, only a few were virtuous enough to discourage disorder in the land. We saved those few, whereas those who continued to violate human rights only pursued material riches. And they were guilty of stealing the fruit of others’ labor (and they were requited). V116

Your Sustainer never unjustly destroys a community (for wrong beliefs alone) as long as its people are reformers, setting right their own, and one another’s condition. V117

Chapter Notes:

  • The chapter starts and ends with urging the reader to serve God.
  • More than half of the chapter narrates the account of Nooh, Hud, Salih, Ibrahim, Loot, Shoaib, and Musa. This is the second chapter after Ch 7 to follow such a pattern.
  • Many commandments resemble those found in Ch 10.
  • While chapter 10 was theoretical, Ch 11 outlines the onground reality when you preach God’s system.
  • The chapter starts off by asking the reader not to turn away (Tawalla) and ends with asking him to establish connection (Salat). This shows that Tawallao and Salat are opposites, also confirmed in 75:31-32
  • Nooh’s son was not noble, and thus Nooh could not save him from the punishment. Lut’s wife was not noble, and this Lut could not save her from the punishment. How on earth can we expect prophets to intercede on our behalf then?

Passage Breakdowns:

Passage 1 (1-24)

  • The chapter starts off by reminding the reader to not serve anyone besides God. This sets the tone for the chapter.

 

  • Since every creature on this Earth depends on God for sustenance, It can provide abundantly for everyone if we implement It’s laws. However, we must be honest in our approach because God knows our innermost thoughts. We must not profess belief, rather apply it.

 

  • It is God’s mercy that His Law of Requital does not grasp the oppressors instantly: He gives them time to mend their ways. However, the oppressors deem this delay as a sign that they are not going to be held accountable for their actions, and thus oppress people to gain power. Furthermore, they complicate God’s system by changing it to their benefit, giving them an additional tool to oppress people though religion, and thus disregard their souls.

 

  • Moreover, they wonder why the messenger does not possess treasures or show them ‘angels’. That is where the fundamental problem lies: They equate spiritual abundance to accumulation of material possessions.

 

  • The attitude of these people is that if a trial comes to them, they abandon all hope in god and reject it. However, if that trial is removed, they are boastful about it as if they themselves were the ones to remove it. This shows their very self-centered approach to life!

 

  • Passage ends by asking: Can the blind and seeing be equal? Or can the deaf and listener be equal? Then how could they receive similar treatment?

 

Passage 2 (25-49)

  • Narration of the account of Nooh: How he tried to reform his community but was met with rejection.

 

Passage 3 (50-60)

  • Narration of the account of Hood: How he tried to reform his community (Aad) but was met with rejection.
  • I believe, Aad represents the religious part of a society that invents dogmas and exploits people for their own benefit.

 

Passage 4 (61-68)

  • Narration of the account of Salih: How he tried to reform his community (Thamud) but was met with rejection.
  • Unique aspect is the ‘she camel’ metaphorically used to represent the poor working class people. It focuses upon the exploitation of these people in a society by restricting them land and it’s produce which should be available to every citizen.
  • Thamud seem to have placed great hopes in Salih which means that he was a respectable and honored person among them. However, that was quickly to change after he preached against their oppressive system.

 

Passage 5 (V69-83)

  • Narration of the account of Ibrahim and Loot: How Loot tried to reform his community but was met with rejection.

 

Passage 6 (V84-95)

  • Narration of the account of Shoaib: How he tried to reform his community but was met with rejection.
  • This focuses on trading justly and equitably. Systems that cheat others eventually collapse.

 

Passage 7 (V96-100)

  • Narration of the account of Musa: How he tried to reform his community but was met with rejection.
  • Firaun represents a tyrant dictator who exploits people. Musa’s encounter with Firaun is the ultimate and holistic challenge against an unjust society.

Passage 8 (101-124)

  • God did not wrong these communities, but they were wronging themselves! Ultimately, they collapsed.
  • God’s law of requital never fails.
  • Do not follow your forefathers blindly!
  • Had God willed, He would have made you one community. Do not divide yourselves over the interpretations of the Quran, like Musa’s people did.
  • Stand firm as you are commanded, and be moderate in all your actions.
  • Do not be intimidated by the oppressors.
  • Establish connection with God (Salat)
  • The accounts of messengers are given to firm your resolve.
  • Labor in God’s cause, and disregard others.
  • Serve and put your trust in Him alone.

 

 

Back2Quran Ramadan Series: Short Summary of Chapter 10 (Younus)

What this project is: This Ramadan, rekindle your spirituality and relationship with God by reading the Quran in a language you understand! To facilitate those who find reading the Quran for the first time daunting, we, at Quranalyze It, will be posting short chapter summaries to get you acquainted with the basic theme and content of a particular chapter. It is important to note, however, that these summaries are no substitute to reading the Quran, and should be used as a bridge towards the Quran, or as an additional tool.

If you like the idea behind this project, and would like to read the summaries of the subsequent chapters in the coming days, then subscribe to our blog to receive an email whenever we publish a new summary. Please read, and share it far and wide!


With chapter 10 starts the A.L.R series that continues until chapter 15. These chapters are very spiritual and persuasive in nature, having similar themes. I would recommend reading these short 5 chapters in one go!

Theme:

  1. The theme of Chapter 10 very much resembles the theme of chapter 6 and is primarily focused over monotheism vs polytheism, with numerous arguments to convince the reader to avoid dogmas and come towards the source (God).
  2. Another theme is the Quran: how people reject it without truly investigating it, it’s divine origins because it confirms your conscience, how people demand the messenger to change it, and being patient while it is being revealed.
  3. Outlines the many shortcomings of man in approaching God: asking for supernatural miracles, being ungrateful, and insincerity.
  4. Critical thinking and reasoning for yourselves is also another prevalent theme
  5. Shows two realms, the physical realm and the spiritual realm. Those who seek to attain only material possessions ignore their soul, and thus eliminate any chance to attain bliss.

Chapter Notes:

  1. Ch 10 mentions Quran for the second time by explaining how we can compare the guidance of Quran to other discourses claiming to guide people to a higher truth (10/31-42). Only Quran truly encapsulates the human condition. This is the first passage detailing Quran’s proof (From Introduction to the Quran: An Existential Reading by Farouk Peru)
  2. Has two calls to mankind.
  3. Freedom of belief is strongly advocated in this chapter.
  4. Narrates the account of Musa, Nooh and Younus (briefly).
  5. Urges people to ponder over the universe and within themselves to attain signs, instead of asking for supernatural miracles.

Passage breakdowns:

Passage 1 (1-10)

  • The chapter starts off by questioning the reader: Why is it an astonishing thing that a messenger has come to you from amongst yourselves? Jealousy is an enemy of truth.
  • How God operates in the universe is outlined.
  • Only those who don’t expect accountability and are satisfied with the worldly glamor are heedless of God’s signs. These people will never truly attain bliss.
  • While those who acknowledge God’s signs and continuously reform themselves will make themselves worthy of bliss, continuously thanking and praising God for it.

Passage 2 (11-25)

  • It is God’s mercy that His Law of Requital does not grasp the oppressors instantly. He gives them time to mend their ways.
  • When affliction falls upon humans, they immediately turn to God. However, when that affliction is removed, they become ungrateful and plot against God’s commandments as if they had never called God.
  • When God’s signs/verses are conveyed to those who don’t expect to be held accountable, they ask you to alter the Quran to conform to their desires, or that you bring a new book altogether! However, the messenger is not allowed to do this.
  • These folks serve those who bring neither harm nor benefit, and expect them to be intercessors. However, all this is in vain.

 

  • Mankind was united, but they differed. If it were not for freewill, God would have judged their disputes immediately!
  • And they ask the Messenger to come forth with signs, while all the Signs belong to God! (Signs are what you witness within yourself, not externally)
  • First call to mankind: Your rebellion is against yourself! Enjoyment of the worldly life with disregard of Eternity, is but a fleeting delight.
  • Metaphors on how the worldly life is so temporary.
  • God calls you towards the abode of peace! And he guides those who will to be guided to the straight path.

Passage 3 (26-56)

  • Those who do good will attract more goodness (law of attraction). No trace of misery or humiliation will fall upon them.
  • While those who do commit evil will live a life of misery and humiliation.
  • On the day of accountability, the “idols” people had worshiped would disapprove of their service!
  • God controls everything, not the “idols” people serve. How, then, are you so deluded?
  • The majority of people follow nothing but conjecture. And it is God’s law that those who drift away from reason will never acknowledge.

 

  • This Quran is not something that can be fabricated as it confirms what you already possess (your conscience). Therefore, there is no doubt that it from the Sustainer of the Universe.
  • If you can, produce 10 chapters in similitude of Quran to challenge its divine authenticity.
  • But people reject the Quran, before even investigating it sincerely.
  • If they reject you, simply part ways. You are not accountable for them.
  • Those who do not reason can never be guided.

 

  • God does not oppress people, but people oppress themselves (freewill).
  • For every Ummah is a messenger who judged things in justice and never oppressed.
  • Every community determines its own rise and fall. When the time comes, they can neither delay, nor hasten the requital

Passage 3 (57-71)

  • Second call to mankind: There has now come to you Enlightenment from your Sustainer, and a healing for all that troubles your hearts; and guidance and grace to all who embrace it. This guidance is better than acquiring material possessions.
  • Do not invent lies about God, saying this food is lawful and that is unlawful when no such ordinance has been passed.
  • Whatever good or evil you do is recorded.
  • Let not their utterances grieve you. God will honor you.
  • And they say God has taken a son/favorite.

Passage 4 (72-74)

  • Briefly mentions the account of Nooh and how his people rejected him

Passage 5 (75-93)

  • Narrates the account of Musa and how Firaun rejected him. However, at the time of death, Firaun suddenly seemed to acknowledged Musa’s system but that was too late! As a sign, his body was saved (currently in the Cairo Museum).

Passage 6 (94-103)

  • If you have some doubts pertinent to the book, you are encouraged to ask folks who seem to have more knowledge than you.
  • The community of Younus was an exception, in the sense that they adopted belief holistically which benefited them.
  • If God had willed, every human would have believed. How, then, can you force people into accepting your faith?
  • He places confusions in the minds of those who do not reason.
  • If you want signs, ponder over the universe.

Passage 7 (104-109) – A summation of the entire chapter.

  • You have been commanded to set your purpose towards Deen as a monotheist and never associate others with God.
  • Whoever guides himself guides for his own benefit and vice versa.
  • Obey what is revealed to you and be patient until God’s judgment comes towards you.

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