Laa ilaaha Ill’Allah.

May 5, 2009


Nouman Ali Khan:

  • The Qur`an illustrates various paths, journeys to the one truth: La Ilaha IllAllah. These paths are psychological in nature, spiritual in nature, etc.
  • Of the paths portrayed in the ayat of the Qur`an, the one in Surah Fatihah is the most eloquent and the most praised path to God.
  • It is part of our creed to believe that all children have been created with a soul. In Arabic: ruh, fitrah. The fitrah is the disposition within all humans that compels them to be in servitude to a Creator.
    • Therefore, one part of our relationship with our Rabb- our Lord- is already innate within us. It is something we do not need to learn; the part that compels us towards acknowledging Him and His Greatness.
    • We see our fitrah at play in our daily lives. They are present within the ethical values that all humans- regardless of race of upbringing- hold universal. For example, a man in China, and another in India will both agree that lying is wrong. Even if they were never taught this. Lying, stealing, backbiting– these are actions based on ethical values we hold to be wrong. Why? Because our fitrah leads us to these conclusions. Therefore a man in a remote village will agree to this, and so will a posh upper-class lady from the city.
    • Other examples: if someone does you good, you want to show them gratitude; if you see something beautiful, you appreciate it, etc.
  • Of the most important ideas/concepts we all share as humans (because of fitrah) is the idea of hamd: thanks, gratitude, and appreciation. We all, as humans, share the need to show gratitude- but to who ultimately?
  • When we ponder over our existence, our being…our need to show thanks to someone burdens us. The perfection, the beauty we witness on the Earth and in ourselves compels us praise ‘something.’ When we praise the sky and say: “wow, the sky is so beautiful”, or when we praise the ocean and say: “wow, the ocean is so vast and beautiful”, we understand that though we are praising, and attributing beauty to the sky and the ocean– they are not deserving of this praise. But the One that has caused the sky and ocean to be the way they are is deserving of this praise. Even when you see a beautiful painting, you realize it is not the item that is ultimately to be praised, but the person behind it is the one who deserves praise.
  • We realize- Subhanallah- there are so many things we do not deserve, we have not earned. Have you earned the five fingers on both of your hands that allow you to complete the most basic of activities…have you earned the functioning lungs within your body that allow you to live every extra second with every breath…have you earned both your eyes that allow you maneuver each and every second throughout the Earth…have you by your own virtue earned any of your limbs…? What have you earned? Yet you still enjoy all this and more.
  • SubhanAllah, do you not feel the need to show gratitude for all this– but to whom?
    • You may initially thank your parents, but who do you ultimately praise for all this?- your Rabb.

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

All praise is due to Allah SWT, the Lord of All the Worlds.

  • Allah swt first introduces himself to us as: Allah.
  • In Surah Fatihah, we praise Allah swt –our Rabb. Neither the word alKhaliq, nor the word alQudus is used, but the word Rabb is used.
  • Rabb: In language, some words are indicative of a relationship. When we hear child, we think parent. Student? Teacher. Husband? Wife. But words such as wise, what do we think? We don’t think of a compliment. If someone’s an owner, what do they own? If someone’s a Lord…who are they a Lord over? Rabb, too, implies a relationship of sorts.
    • Rabb: master
    • `abd: slave
  • Do these two terms sound positive? No, they bring about negative connotations. We think of tyranny and injustice when we hear the words master and slave. For one, this is due to the fact that we live in America, a country which has had to deal with the terrible past of slavery. But this is how Allah swt introduces himself– as the master; not the Provider, nor the Creator.
  • Why does he introduce Himself with the word Rabb? Because in doing so, we realize: He’s not only my Creator and Provider, but He is my master.
  • Servant vs. Slave:
    • Servant comes from the word service. Think in worldly terms. When you have a job, you provide one service. If you’re an accountant, you’re going to have your 9-5 job and that’s that. You are not required to provide any other services to the firm, except those that go under your accounting job profession. If you’re told to clean the floors, and be a janitor, you can refuse to do so–why? Because that’s not the service you provide; you’re an accountant. And if it’s the weekend and you see your boss at a barbecue, do you still have to listen to him and follow all his orders as if he’s your boss at work? No– why? Because his authority over you is limited. It is limited by time and place.
    • What is slavery? If you are a slave, your boss, the authority over you has no time limits, nor any other restraints. The state of slavery is a constant state; it is not conditional.
    • This is where slavery to God is unique. No one willingly becomes a slave to any human being or object. But people willingly become slaves to their Lord.
  • A question many people struggle with is: Why has God put so much misery on the Earth for humans to deal with? The answer: Do you have a contract with your Lord? Do you have a contract which states what he is obligated to give you….your eyes, your legs, your health, your wealth, your limbs? No, there is no contract stating that you are obligated to have anything. So why do you feel that God is obligated to give total happiness and joy to the world and it’s inhabitants; has He promised you no misery or pain?
  • In this world, the last thing we do is praise, or love our master. But in Surah Faithah, the FIRST thing we acknowledge is our need to praise him- to give hamd.
  • Now you have two choices:
    1. You can be an `abd
    2. You can refuse to be an `abd
  • The Qur`an speaks a lot about wind. What does the wind do? The wind carries seeds and pollens as it blows. The wind is a means by which life is distributed on the Earth. It disperses the seeds across the land, allows the plants to flourish, etc. If the wind suddenly just stopped blowing, than the greenery would go…the animals would slowly go…then we’d go. SubhanAllah- this is the miraculous nature of the wind, and the Qur`an alludes to this in the numerous instances in which it refers to the wind.

الرَّحْمَانِ الرَّحِيمِ

The Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate

  • arRahman- the incredibly Merciful.
  • Many of us, instead of saying thank you to our Lord, say there is no Lord. Despite this, He swt still gives you more…more health, more wealth, more family, more mercy.
  • Think of someone who for 20 years has been in constant disobedience to Allah swt. Then they realize their mistake, and turn back to their Lord in Taubah.  “The torment will be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein in disgrace. Except those who repent and believe, and do righteous deeds, for those, Allâh swt will change their sins into good deeds, and Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
    • There sins are not only erased, but the evil they did is turned into good. This is the incredible mercy of arRahman.
  • But Allah SWT is not only merciful. Emphasizing Allah swt’s mercy gets many people into trouble. Example: If you are teaching a third grade class and the very first day you are incredibly nice to the students, what will happen the second day? They will take you as the “nice teacher”. They will take advantage of your nice-ness. Therefore you must also assert your authority and be strict.
    • Muslims don’t pray. Why? Because Allah swt is Most Merciful. He isn’t going to punish me. How can he punish me for not praying when there are murderers out there, and rapists out there?
    • The thing is Allah is also All-Knowing. His mercy is unlimited, but it does have conditions.
    • If you think Allah swt is ONLY Merciful, then you open the door to sin and crime.

مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

Owner of the Day of Judgment

  • He is the Owner of the Day of Deen. Deen comes from the word: dayn. Dayn- a loan you must pay back at a certain set time.
  • On the Day of Judgment, we will exclaim:  What is this book, what is wrong with it- it leaves out nothing neither great nor small?
  • Allah swt asks us numerous times: O mankind, what deluded you from your Lord?
    • He swt is asking you what was SUCH a distraction in your life that it took you away from the purpose of your life….that it took you away from your servitude to Him…such a HUGE thing? Was it the distractions of this world– a career, a spouse, family, wealth, cars, games- WHAT was it?
    • And why? What’s greater than this- greater than your Lord?
  • Muslims believe that it is impossible to believe in a god, and not believe in a hereafter. Why?
    • On this Earth, there is injustice. People’s crimes go unpunished. How many men have raped women? How many have murdered? How many have stolen from the weak and poor? People’s good goes unacknowledged. How many good people do not get recognition or thanks for their deeds? Where is the justice in this situation? Is this world just at all then?
    • Example: If a man kills 2 people, what’s the most you can do to him? You can kill him. But how many times can you kill him? Only once; not twice. So is this justice…he killed 2 people, yet he is only being killed once. In this itself there is a sense of injustice.
    • You believe this Earth is created by a God. And we know this Earth has injustice. But our Creator- God- cannot be seen as unjust. Because God is not less than Perfect. He is Perfection; He is Justice. This is where people get STUCK! If God is Perfect, Most Merciful, then WHY is there so much injustice in the world? This is why we believe in a hereafter. There is injustice in the world. But in the hereafter is where we shall see Allah’s Perfection shine; we shall witness his Justice. He is Owner of the Day of Justice- the Day of Judgement.
    • Remember, whatever concept of `adl (justice) we have, comes from Allah swt, who exhibits the absolute characteristic of `adl.

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ

You alone we worship and you alone we ask for help.

  • If you have a test, what do you do? You study. If it’s in a couple of days, you shut yourself from the world and you study non-stop. If you don’t know what to study, who do you ask? You ask the professor. You find out from the source what you need to study. You don’t make up your plan of what to study and do that. Why? Because than all your efforts would be a waste of time, because it is not what the professor was testing, or what the professor wanted.
    • So how do we worship Allah swt? Let’s sing for him. Let’s dance for him. This is what other people do (ie: Hindus, Christians).
    • But we find out for ourselves FROM God what He wants from us. How do we know what to do? We go to Him.
    • “We enslave ourselves willingly to You.”
    • “O Allah help us because we don’t even know how to serve you WITHOUT you.” Look at our pathetic state.

اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ

Guide us on the straight path.

  • Guide us:
    1. to
    2. through
    3. and along (the straight path).
  • You don’t just want Him to guide you TO the path, but through it. And then you want Him to to be with you the whole time while you are on the path.
  • Throughout history, many battles have been going on.
    1. Women vs. Men: If you try to make laws/ rules between women and men, they will NEVER be objective. Because either a man or a woman will be making the rules and decisions. It is not possible to be objective. If a man makes a judgment, he’ll be inclined towards what a man wants. The same is the case if the woman was making a decision. Who can dictate justice then between the two? Only God is capable of doing this. Because He is beyond man and woman, and He is neither. Therefore in the Qur`an, Allah swt legislates justice between man and woman.
    2. Labor vs. Capitol (Boss vs. Worker): There is a constant conflict between the two. The boss will ask the worker to work more for less pay. The worker will ask for more pay and less hours. Where is the compromise? Who can be just? Only Allah swt.
    3. Government vs. the People: The govt will ask for more taxes. The people will argue for less tax. The govt will want more control. The people will want less control.
    4. Body vs. Soul: This is the greatest of conflicts. Our bodies have appetites and physical pursuits, material pursuits, etc. “What do I drive? What do I wear? How do I look? How much do I want to make?” Then we have our spiritual pursuits- of the soul. We have a void within us. We have a void within our hearts. We ask: “Who created me? What’s my purpose? What’s after death?”
      • People fall into 2 extremes. They are either VERY materialistic (body), or either very philosophical (soul).
  • Siraat: It comes from the word for sword.
    1. straight
    2. long
    3. wide
    4. dangerous
  • Mustaqeem: straight. Linguistically, the word is specifically used for “vertically straight.”
    • We are asking Allah swt to guide us towards a path UP. “Guide us UP to you- vertically that is.” So when we ask Allah swt in this surah, we ask Him to take us away from the Earth and its vanities and guide us towards Him.
    • Also, when we ask in this surah, we ask Him swt to raise us (this is in a vertical direction as well). “Allah swt will raise you in your ranks (Quran).”
    • Allah says: those of you who believe- what is wrong with you? Are you content with the worldly life as opposed to the life of the hereafter?
  • Nasta`een: we seek Your help. Comes from the root word which means “to be engaged in something- something that you can’t complete. Therefore you ask somebody to help you.” So we’re trying to be good Muslims, but we acknowledge that without Allah swt we cannot fulfill this. We need His help.
    • “The Lord will only help you…only when you put in the effort.” Across the Qur`an, this is the norm. Allah swt won’t help us, if we don’t help ourselves.
    • People get stuck thinking, God doesn’t love me, or He hasn’t blessed me because I’m in such and such position. Or they think: forget God, I’ll do it all myself. I don’t need Him.
    • We need to be people of thoughts AND actions. Some people have thoughts (knowledge) but NO action. Others have lots of action, but NOT proper thoughts (knowledge). Therefore, you will see people doing actions that they think are Islamic, but they are not.
    • Example: If you’re reading more tafseer (gaining more knowledge), it HAS TO translate into action. You should be praying more qiyaam ul layl. If you’re not changing in your actions, then there’s an evident imbalance between your thoughts and your actions. Islam aims to achieve the balance.
  • In the Qur`an, two terms are always related: Rabb and guidance. The Rabb will give you guidance if you ask Him. YOU NEED TO TRULY SEEK GUIDANCE FROM THE QUR`AN.
  • When you appreciate human literary beauty, then you realize the perfection of divine literary beauty. So be well read, and understand literature. It will help you appreciate the Qur`an.
  • If you want to learn anything, ask Allah swt, and He swt will make it easy for you. Learn for the Sake of Allah swt and He swt will help you. Arabic is the language of the Qur`an, it is the language of the Propeht saw and the language of all our pious predecessors– so learn it, and ask Allah swt to help you learn it.
  • Read the Qur`an and love the Qur`an. Make the Qur`an your hobby.

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