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Fitnah (The Tafsīr of Selected Verses of Sūrat Āle-‘Imrān)
- Course Outline
“OUR LORD, DO NOT LET OUR HEARTS DEVIATE AFTER YOU HAVE GUIDED US.
GRANT US YOUR MERCY: YOU ARE THE EVER-GIVING!”
Imām Mālik narrates in his Muwatta’ that the Tābi‘ī, Abu ‘Abdullāh al-Sanābihī, said:
I came to Madīnah in the Khilāfah of Abu Bakr al-Siddīq (radhyAllāhu ‘anhu) and I prayed the Maghrib prayer behind him.
In the first two rak‘ah, he recited Sūrat’l-Fātihah and then followed it each time with one of the short sūrahs.
Then Abu Bakr stood up for the third rak‘ah, and I got as close to him as I possibly as could until my gown was almost touching his gown. I heard him reciting Sūrat’l-Fātihah but then this verse too:
رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ رَحْمَةً إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْوَهَّابُ
‘Our Lord, do not let our hearts deviate after You have guided us. Grant us Your mercy: You are the Ever-Giving.
(Sūrah Āle-‘Imran, 3:8)
When you read this narration, remind yourself that we are talking about the Maghrib prayer.
When was the last time you heard or saw someone recite anything other than Sūrat’l-Fātihah in the third rak‘ah of the Maghrib prayer?
Fascinatingly, some of the greatest scholars in our history actually said that this was the du‘ā of Abu Bakr that he would plead to Allah with regularly in a position of the prayer where we don’t expect a du‘ā to be made.
A du‘ā of Abu Bakr showing his fear of FITNAH i.e. his fear of being trialled and tested in the religion in any of its forms.
WE WILL ALL GO THROUGH TRIALS AND TRIBULATION – ALL TYPES OF FITNAH – NO ONE WILL ESCAPE IT.
Not a single soul.
Tests, examinations, stress, trials, problems, tribulation.
No one can escape their own trial and tribulation, whatever form it might take.
If Sayyidina Abu Bakr al-Siddīq is so worried about the tribulations he will face so that he would make du‘ā in the middle of his Maghrib prayer for help and protection, and that the great leader and Imam, ‘Umar b. ‘Abd’l-‘Azīz, who when he was told this narration, exclaimed:
“We will never leave doing this from now on!”
…then we should be concerned about fitnah too!
No one actually wants to experience these things. Everyone would prefer an easy ride. But would Allah jalla wa ‘alā send upon us something that intentionally harms us?
Think of it like medicine. Allah made medicine extremely powerful, giving it the ability to cure your disease when given in the right way, and yet also poison and kill you when used in an incorrect way.
And in Sūrat Āle-‘Imrān, when it comes to every type of fitnah, you have all the problems outlined and the course of treatment diagnosed: a true cure and recovery guide for all those who are suffering.
But what is Sūrat Āle-‘Imrān?
“READ THE TWO LIGHTS: AL-BAQARAH AND ĀLE-‘IMRĀN!”
The magnificent sūrah which is Āle-‘Imrān - the third chapter of the Qur’ān - is a miracle in its own right.
It was described by the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) as a “light” emphasising how it guides Muslims in their times of darkness. He said:
Read the Qur'ān, for it will come on the Day of Standing as an intercessor for its people. Read the two lights, al-Baqarah and Sūrat Āle-‘Imrān, for they will both come on the Day of Standing like two clouds or two shades or two flocks of birds, to argue on behalf of those who would read them.
As the second longest chapter in the Qur’ān, the one which the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would twin with al-Baqarah and recite in his nightly prayers in just two units, there is no doubt that this is one of the most fascinating and unique sūrahs of Allah’s Book.
If indeed Allah jalla wa ‘alā has a name which is the greatest of them all – the Ism al-A‘zam as it’s called – as a number of hadith indicate, then there is no doubt that it is in THIS chapter, in the verse of Sūrat Āle-‘Imrān where Allah says:
اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ
Allah: there is no god but Him, the Ever Living, the Ever Watchful.
(Sūrat Āle-‘Imrān, 3:2)
Few other chapters of the Qur’ān offer as much spiritual comfort to the believers, which makes it especially relevant in our modern time now where Muslims suffer from a number of terrible social and political problems that have led to much oppression, deaths and misery.
It is in this Sūrah which Allah explains His Wisdom, His Plan, and His Promise.
It is this Sūrah which brings understanding and happiness to the believers despite their pain.
It is this Sūrah which when studied properly, will genuinely change your life.
NO OTHER SURAH GATHERS THE VARIOUS TRIALS OF MAN SUCH AS SŪRAT ĀLE-‘IMRĀN!
On the very first page of this sūrah, we are given an incredibly stark warning: that the majority of people will suffer greatly from fitnah, and possibly even deviate. This is because Allāh tells us that only very few will do the right thing, otherwise known as the “al-rāsikhūna fil-‘ilm” who have only been mentioned in the Qur’ān in this chapter:
هُوَ الَّذِي أَنْزَلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ مِنْهُ آيَاتٌ مُحْكَمَاتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ وَأُخَرُ مُتَشَابِهَاتٌ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ زَيْغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ ابْتِغَاءَ الْفِتْنَةِ وَابْتِغَاءَ تَأْوِيلِهِ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِنْ عِنْدِ رَبِّنَا وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّا أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ
It is He who has sent this Scripture down to you [O Prophet]. Some of its verses are definite in meaning – these are the cornerstone of the Scripture – and others are ambiguous. The perverse at heart eagerly pursue the ambiguities in their attempt to make trouble and to pin down a specific meaning of their own. Only Allah knows the true meaning. Those firmly grounded in knowledge say, ‘We believe in it: it is all from our Lord’ – only those with real perception will take heed.
(Sūrat Āle-‘Imrān, 3:7)
Yes, the “al-rāsikhūna fil-‘ilm” or “those firmly grounded in knowledge” are our saviours. We have to learn how to be like those very few! And that is what this sūrah is all about: reminding us of all the dangers and tribulations that we will come across in life, in all shapes and manners, and giving us the solution on how to protect ourselves each time.
This is the only chapter of the Qur’ān that warns us of something very dangerous: the misunderstanding of the Qur’ānic message and how to view its verses and act upon them.
This is also a unique sūrah which gathers the most amount of fitan – tests and trials – in one place, warning us and helping save us from:
- the fitnah of going astray in our ‘aqīdah
- the fitnah of theological deviation, or theoretical or creedal deviance
- the fitnah of wealth
- the fitnah of desires
- the fitnah of greed
- the fitnah of being slandered
- the fitnah of being in authority
- the fitnah of doubt in our scriptures
- the fitnah of establishing power by seeking help from the enemies of Allah
- the fitnah of knowledge
- the fitnah of Shaytān
- the fitnah of being weak-minded
- the fitnah of apostasy
- the fitnah of disunity
- the fitnah of the Saved Sect mentality
- the fitnah of interfaith
- the fitnah of poverty
- the fitnah of cowardice
- the fitnah of hypocrisy
- the fitnah of pessimism, and much more
These various fitan are expressed in a myriad of beautiful ways in this chapter. On one hand, it can range from the direct language of Allah ‘azza wa jall telling His prophet what kind of du‘ā to say for protection. On the other hand, these fitan are expressed in a detailed story about the House of ‘Imrān where a young vulnerable girl comes under huge difficulty, pressure and attack to eventually pull through and thrive. Her success brings forth one of the greatest miracles of Allah – ‘Eesa ‘alayhis-salām – who taught the people how to survive another unique set of tests and trials which he himself went through.
Whatever the mode and manner of warning, the explanation of this great chapter will leave you breathless.
Frankly, if we were to keep it real, there is not a practising Muslim on this planet that fears anything more than losing his or her faith in a time where political, social and theological pressures upon us is forcing thousands to lose their religion. We all know someone close, or know someone “big”, who has fallen. That is the nature of fitnah. And in this single-weekend seminar “Fitnah – The Tafsīr of Selected Verses of Sūrat Āle-‘Imrān” we hope we will equip our students with a Qur’ānic template on how to protect ourselves from as many tribulations in life as possible.
Few keep it as real as Shaykh Abu Eesa Niamatullah, and in teaching this class which he has been preparing for over five years, and as someone who is already well known for his many writings on tafsīr and his ART series, you really cannot afford to miss this class when it comes to your city!
In this seminar, you will:
- identify all the key tribulations that Allah tests His servants with
- enjoy and benefit from Āle-‘Imran’s unique stories and incidents
- memorise a template to protect yourself from all fitnah
- taste the sweetness of one of the most rhythmic sūrahs in the Qur’ān
- hear and practice your own recitation of the Book of Allah
- receive an introduction to the principles of tafsīr
- be given the confidence and rules on how to interact powerfully with the Qur’ān yourself
- be introduced to the science of translation and its limitations
- study classical tafsīr positions of the most famous verses you’ve heard before
- be amazed at linguistic and rhetorical miracles hidden in the verses which you cannot normally access yourself
- more than anything else: discover beautiful gems you never realised existed which can only come from modern tafsīr from qualified scholars interpreting the lessons and guidance in the light of our current reality.
In the tafsīr of the key verses of Sūrat Āle-‘Imrān, we believe you will enjoy but more importantly benefit in a small time frame from an experience with the Qur’ān which will be second to none, and leave you with the tools to protect yourself and others for the long road ahead which is the Journey of Life.
الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّكَ فَلَا تَكُنْ مِنَ الْمُمْتَرِينَ (60)
This is the truth from your Lord, so do not be one of those who doubt.
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- Bushra Haseeb, Calgary
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