Each of us has thought of that day. Each of us has wondered how the weight of eternal regret, the burden of inescapable sin, must feel, but none of us has endured it yet. Thankfully, Allah warns us of it in hopes that we’ll never have to.
One of these warnings comes in the form of a striking depiction of Judgement Day’s events, a description complete with grand imagery and powerful emotion.
In Surah Kahf, Allah describes the immaculate rows in which mankind will stand in, silently awaiting their judgments, their final destinations:
وَعُرِضُوا عَلَىٰ رَبِّكَ صَفًّا لَقَدْ جِئْتُمُونَا كَمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ ۚ
They all will be brought before your Lord standing in rows and Allah will say: “Well! You see that you have returned to Us as We created you the first time…”
Allah announces that all of us have been returned to him just as he created us the first time. At this fateful moment, the suspense, the anxiety, is enough to shatter hearts.
Yaqoub’s love for his son is one of the most touching aspects of the Quranic narrative. When he was separated from Yusuf, the tears of grief took his very sight away. After decades of sorrow and longing, his sons found Yusuf in Egypt. Yusuf sent them back with a shirt of his to cure his father’s blindness. Yaqoub detected the scent of his beloved son from miles away as the caravan approached:
وَلَمَّا فَصَلَتِ الْعِيرُ قَالَ أَبُوهُمْ إِنِّي لَأَجِدُ رِيحَ يُوسُفَ
“And as soon as the caravan was on its way, their father said: “Indeed, I find the scent of Yusuf in the air...””
Yaqoub interestingly says: أَجِدُ, I find the scent of Yusuf, but who says that they find the smell of something? You’d expect him to say “I smell the scent,” or “I detect the scent,” but word “find” is used here to represent a deeper emotional meaning.
The opposite of finding something is losing something, just as Yaqoub lost Yusuf. Moreover, to find something you must be searching for it.
The word أَجِدُ suggests that, after all those years, Yaqoub was still searching and longing for his son. He never gave up his hope in Allah, nor the love of his son. So when the caravan finally set out, he found the scent of Yusuf that he had been searching for, as opposed to smelling it. The subtle detail of Quranic word choice reveals such intricate beauty.
It was Ramadan of 2010, after my freshman year of college. After 18 years, I had come to the masjid, willingly, eagerly, without being told. I wanted to change. After many ups and downs in the past years and a spiritual awakening of sorts, I found myself ready to make this Ramadan different from the rest. The imam starts reciting. As we delve deeper and deeper into the Qur’an, I hear the sister beside me start to weep, her body starts shaking besides me. But Why? I didn’t get it. It was just taraweeh. It was just Qur’an, right? Little did I know in that moment, though, that her tears, her shaking, was a crumbling of her heart from the power of God’s words, which at the point I could not understand. But afters seeing her like that, night after night in Ramadan, a fiery passion began to grow. I wanted to break and crumble from the power of the Qur’an, too. I wanted to understand God’s words too. I wanted to be an active listener, an active receiver of His words, too. I wanted to learn and comprehend and transform every time I stood in salah, too.
And so the journey began there. It began with a passion, with a yearning, with a realization that I had spent 18 years of my life doing everything but seeking to learn the one thing that could be the means to my salvation in this world and the next. I found myself begging Allah to help me understand His words, because there was nothing I had heard that was more beautiful. There was nothing that I had read that was more beautiful than it. There was nothing that was more life changing than it.
Almost five years later, I am so humbled and grateful to Allah for opening the doors for me to study His book through Bayyinah Institute’s Dream Program. It truly is a gift that He has given and I pray I am able to appreciate every moment of it and make the most of it. The Qur’an in and of itself is a gift, it’s a huge blessing to us and any opportunity to read it or to study it- whether that be through a local halaqah group or tafseer circle or through programs like Bayyinah etc- it’s truly, truly a blessing and an honor. May Allah make us people of the Qur’an and allow any knowledge that we seek in regards to it, be a means of transformation and betterment of our own selves first and then allow it to transform our communities and societies at large, Ameen.
Sometimes we get caught up in this world. We run towards finish lines that keep moving further away. Entranced by the false glamor of the world, we lose sight of our true direction, our eternal destination.
We’re anxious about our futures, but we limit those concerns to this worldly life, to the dinner, meeting, or vacation that’s coming up. We procrastinate our spiritual development until “tomorrow,” forgetting that one day there will be no tomorrow.
Allah SWT addresses this misdirected mindset in the 45th verse of Surah Kahf using a powerful metaphor:
وَاضْرِبْ لَهُمْ مَثَلَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَاءٍ أَنْزَلْنَاهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَاخْتَلَطَ بِهِ نَبَاتُ الْأَرْضِ فَأَصْبَحَ هَشِيمًا تَذْرُوهُ الرِّيَاحُ
“And strike to them the example of the life of this world as some water which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingles with it and then it becomes dry remnants, scattered by the winds…”
In this Ayah, Allah SWT reduces the importance of the world that we’re furiously scurrying about to pursue, by breaking it into two belittling stages.