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Author: Abdullah Budeir (page 1 of 3)

A Prophecized Migration


We tend to overlook the contextual beauty of the Quran. Taking into account when certain ayaat were revealed during the lifetime of the Prophet gives new life and depth to ayaat that we may have otherwise given little thought to.

A beautiful example of this phenomenon of historical context shedding light on a Surah is Surah Ankabut.

The first ayah of the Surah was revealed in the immediate aftermath of an incident that deeply wounded the morale of the budding Muslim community at the time.

One of the companions was brutally burned by coals that were set on his back for refusing to recant his belief in God. The gruesome pain of the incident left many Muslims shaken and wondering what God’s role was in all of the turbulence they were facing.

The first ayaat of Surah Ankabut came and a response to this uncertainty saying:

أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِينَ

Do people think that they will be let go merely by saying: “We believe,” and that they will not be tested? For We indeed tested those who went before them and Allah will most certainly ascertain those who spoke the truth and those who lied.

The Surah starts off by addressing the reality of believers having their convictions tested and then begins narrating the stories of Nuh and Ibrahim with a specific focus on how God saved them from their respective peoples who had turned violently against them.

These narratives not only reinforce patience in the hearts of the believers by pointing to earlier bearers of the faith who soldiered onwards, but also produce hope for eventual deliverance by God.

Nuh was saved from flooding waters and Ibrahim, raging flames, two contrasting elements. This contrast highlights God’s ability to rescue the devout from any harm no matter what form it may take.

Lut, another prophet threatened and eventually expelled by his people, is mentioned right after these stories.

As he leaves the unbelieving city of his people he says:

إِنِّي مُهَاجِرٌ إِلَىٰ رَبِّي إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

I am making Hijra to my Lord surely he is the Mighty the Wise.

This statement by Lut is the only one of its kind in the Quran making it even more fascinating that it’s found in a Surah that was revealed only weeks before the Muslims of Makkah made their own Hijra.

These tested believers were reciting the words of their prophetic ancestor right before they themselves would be commanded to make the same migration that he did, a migration of faith.

This historic parallel fortified their resolve and fostered a strength and willingness to make the perilous journey from Makkah to Madianah once its time had come.

After reminding the believers of the necessity of trials for those who believe, reassuring them with the stories of the deliverance of oppressed prophets before them, and inspiring them with the words of another believer before them who made Hijra, Allah places a particularly interesting verse towards the end of Surah Ankabut, a Makkan Surah.

Makkan Surahs, of course, are not known to discuss, or even mention the People of the Book such as the Jews and Christians yet the ayah,

وَلَا تُجَادِلُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْهُمْ

Argue not with the People of the Book except in the fairest manner, unless it be those of them that are utterly unjust.

is found within it right after the allusion to a coming Muslim migration.

This address solidifies and emphasizes the prophecy of a near at hand migration to a land where there would in fact be Jews and Christians, Madinah.

Imagining these prophetic ayaat being recited on the lips of the companions in the final weeks of the most severe torture in Makkah infuses them with not only more relevance, but also more meaning and power. A power we should all seek to appreciate and grasp as we recite the same ayaat 1400 years later.

A Month of Ease


As Ramadan approaches, we’ll begin to hear the famous ayah about Ramadan more often in khutbahs, lectures, and discussions.

It begins like this:

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ …

“The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was sent down as a guidance to the people with Clear Signs of the true guidance and as the Criterion. So those of you who live to see that month should fast it…”

A lot of times, though, we don’t pay much attention to the rest of the ayah, which contains some beautiful and hidden treasures.

Near the end of the ayah, after prescribing fasting on the believers, Allah says:

يُرِيدُ اللهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ

This ayah is commonly translated as:

“God desires ease for you and does not desire hardship.”

This translation, however, ignores some details in the language. يُرِيدُ اللهُ لكُمُ الْيُسْرَ, with the word لكُمُ instead of بِكُمُ, would have literally translated as so.

However, the word بِكُمُ means “with” or “through,” as opposed to simply “for”.

So while the common translation may be valid, another beautiful meaning is contained in this notable choice of words.

“Allah desires through you ease,” can mean that Allah wants us, the believers, to be a source of ease and aid for humanity. He desires us to be a means of relief for those who are struggling. Another way to put it is that through us, he wants ease to be bestowed upon humanity.

Practically, this means that Muslims should always be looking for ways to benefit and lessen the burden on those around them, being a mercy in any way they can. This service takes self sacrifice, which is what fasting instills.

The discipline imparted into the believers by a regimented month of fasting is expected to bear the fruit of a community of believers willing to serve and help those around them, even if it may be at the cost of their own desires.

We ask Allah to make us a means of ease for others and to ease for us our path to him. Ameen.

Interlingual Coherence of Idris



There’s a really cool phenomenon in the Quran where Allah takes non Arab names and essentially translates them into Arabic in a manner that gives an idea of their original meaning.

The amazing thing is, the original meanings are in languages that were not even known to the Messenger at the time.

A fantastic example is the name Idris. Many Arabic linguists argue it has the root letters د ر س, which, in Arabic, alludes to study and dedication.

Idris is known in the Torah tradition as Enoch. The name Enoch, in Hebrew, means one who is well studied or dedicated.

Despite being in a completely different language, the Quran manages to convey the same meaning of the name from earlier scriptures, which, as Muslims, we believe at some point, all originated from the same source.

The congruency here is not at all coincidental, rather it is a sign. As Allah SWT says:

‎نَزَّلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَأَنزَلَ التَّوْرَاةَ وَالْإِنجِيلَ

“He has revealed the Book to you with truth which confirms whatever there still remains of earlier revelations: for it is He who has revealed the Torah and the Gospel”

Souls Like Birds

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When we look to the sky we see birds soaring above our heads with grace. We tend to overlook the Allah’s signs within these magnificent creations, the same signs that he points us towards in the Quran.

In Surah Noor, Allah groups the worship that the birds do with our worship of him, striking an interesting parrallel by using the word من to refer to both creations at the same time, and كل to categorize to both groups as one in Ayah 41 of the Surah. He makes the same comparison even more explicitly in Surah Anaam Poiting to the birds and describing how they are grouped into communities just like humans:

“And there is no creature on the earth or bird that flies with its wings except that they are communities like you”

وما من دابة في الارض ولا طائر يطير بجناحيه الا امم امثالكم ما فرطنا في الكتاب من شيء ثم الى ربهم يحشرون

Of all creatures and creations, why does he specifically choose the bird to draw a similarity with?

To understand this, we must understand exactly who we are as humans from both a physical and spiritual perspective.

In the daytime, when we are awake and going about our lives, our souls reside within our bodies and upon the earth, but at night, as Allah also says in Surah Anaam, he takes our souls and they travel to the skies, in essence making us creatures of both the sky and the earth.

The spiritual element of us, the part that praises and worships God, our soul, comes from the sky, which makes it fitting for Allah to liken us with birds, creatures of the sky, when discussing how both creations worship and glorify god.

When Allah asks us to ponder the creation of the bird he is not only hilighitng the wonder of its physical creation, but also of its spiritual reality.

By indirectly comparing us with birds Allah reminds us that a part of us, our souls, belongs in the heavens. Like the bird, we are part sky and part earth so to speak.

In the Ayah after this Allah immediatley says:

“And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and to Allah is the destination”

 ولله ملك السماوات والارض والى الله المصير

No matter if we are in the sky or on the earth, no matter how high we or the birds ascend, no matter where we travel, we will always be within his kingdom. There is not a moment of time, nor a foot of space, that is outside the kingdom of Allah, and it for this very reason that we should be constantly remembering and glorifying our lord, just as the birds do.

If we do so, then we may hope that our souls are returned home, to a higher place, Jannah.

Shining Lamp


In the Quran we find the messenger SAWS described as سراج منير, a shining lamp. What’s interesting is that the only other context this phrase is found is when Allah uses it to describe the sun.

This parallel description is no coincidence, and in fact holds within it a powerful metaphor.

The indirect comparison of the prophet to the sun, which is the source of light, aptly represents the role of the messenger in relation to his nation.

The mention of سراج منير, with reference to the sun, is proceeded by a description of the moon which reflects the original light of the sun.

The messenger brings divine light and guidance, and it is the responsibility of his nation, the moon, to reflect this guidance in their lives.

Whereas the sun knows no phases and gleams with perpetual perfection, the moon has phases, ups and downs, where it becomes weaker and stronger, yet it never loses its connection and reliance on the sun.

Our Ummah will pass through rough times, but it should always look to the light and guidance of our messenger for a way out, for hope.

Teacher of a Teacher

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Musa is one of our greatest teachers. Allah SWT narrates his stories, and his words to us in the Quran more than any other prophet.

We learn in Surah Kahf, however, that even the the greatest of teachers are also students. Allah commands Musa AS to search for a man who will show him what he doesn’t know, a man who will teach him.

We can only imagine that the the status and knowledge of this man to whom Musa AS was sent to is immense. This great prophet of Allah, this leader of a nation, is told to trek across endless terrain just to find him.

Yet, when Allah SWT describes such an amazing and knowledge person, he does so by not only calling him a slave, but by calling him a slave from amongst slaves, the most humbling of monikers.

In this, we learn something profound. The more one increases in knowledge, the more humbled he should be. Knowledge increases one’s ranks, and the highest of ranks we may achieve before the Lord of the Worlds is slave.

Often times, in the present day, we think in opposite terms. As we come to understand more and more, we become fuller and fuller of ourselves, losing sight of the purpose of knowledge itself.

Knowledge is not a goal, rather a path. A path towards guidance. If we treat it as anything else it will consume and destroy us with self delusion. If such great men as Musa were humble before the Lord of the Worlds then it is certainly upon us to take that same attitude.

The Coverer


We know that the creation around us from the green veins of a leaf to the stars that light the sky points to the divine. Allah has adorned our world with signs that hold subtle and profound messages for people of reflection and intellect.

Throughout his book he alludes, with varying explicitness, to these signs, one of the most frequent being the turning of night and day, the covering of light by darkness, and vice versa. These signs point to a creator, and often time symbolize his traits.

This ayah in Surah Zumar is a fitting example:

يُكَوِّرُ اللَّيْلَ عَلَى النَّهَارِ وَيُكَوِّرُ النَّهَارَ عَلَى اللَّيْلِ وَسَخَّرَ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ كُلٌّ يَجْرِي لِأَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى أَلَا هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفَّارُ

He makes the night cover the day and makes the day cover the night, and He has made the sun and the moon subservient; each one runs on to an assigned term; now surely He is the Mighty, the great Forgiver.

Allah describes how he causes the day to cover the night and the night to cover the day as a sign of his glory. He adds to the mention of this sign by relating it directly to his relevant qualities, the mighty, and the forgiving.

The reason why his might is mentioned here is evident, but what about his forgiveness? Why would Allah mention that quality in specific relation to his control over the day and night?

The word غفار, which means forgiver, comes from the root غ ف ر, which means to cover. Just as Allah literally covers the night with the day, he also covers our sins.

When we see the night and the day gracefully passing over each other, we should remember Allah’s power to forgive, and it should serve as a persistent reminder to to never despair in his mercy.


otherworldlyThe Quran often uses words with heavy imagery to solidify the point that it’s making. In Surah Tahrim, Allah consoles the Messenger with regards to a breach of trust among his wives. He shared a secret with one of them and later discovered that they spread it. Allah strongly reprimands the Prophet’s spouses and warns them that if they do not act righteously that he will replace them with women who are purer and better in conduct.

Describing these ideal women, Allah uses many poignant adjectives, of which is the word سَائِحَة, which roughly translates into one who is spiritual, or not interested/invested in the material world.

It comes from the root س ي ح ,which, when taken literally, means to flow, or to pass over, as a river flows over land. Interestingly, سياح, which also derives from this root, means traveler. This makes sense since a traveler only passes through places, and doesn’t stay long, just like the water of a flowing river.

So a سَائِحَة is someone, in this case a woman, whose heart is elsewhere and has no taste or passion for this material world, one who passes through it as a traveller, in accordance to the Hadith of the Prophet SAWS: “Be in this world as if you are a traveler.”

We ask Allah to prevent us from attaching to our temporary world, and to allow us to return home to Jannah safely after passing through the journey of this life.

Eagle’s Nest

Blog CoverThere is no injustice greater, no crime worse than ignoring the signs of Allah after being reminded of them. This crime demonstrates the height of ingratitude, and is akin to carelessly discarding a sincere gift from someone who loves you. In fact, it’s even worse. This gift, guidance from Allah, is essential to our well being, so ignoring it is not only ungrateful, but foolish.

In Surah Kahf Allah addresses the horrifying result of those who commit this crime:

وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنْ ذُكِّرَ بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِ فَأَعْرَضَ عَنْهَا وَنَسِيَ مَا قَدَّمَتْ يَدَاهُ ۚ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَنْ يَفْقَهُوهُ وَفِي آذَانِهِمْ وَقْرًا ۖ وَإِنْ تَدْعُهُمْ إِلَى الْهُدَىٰ فَلَنْ يَهْتَدُوا إِذًا أَبَدًا

And who is more wrong than one who is reminded of the Signs of his Lord but turns away from them forgetting the deeds which his hands have sent forth? Verily We have set veils over their hearts lest they should understand this and over their ears a deafness. If you call them to guidance even then will they never accept it.


Since these people ignored guidance when it was given to them, Allah takes away their capacity to be guided in the future. Even if the Prophet SAWS himself, the best of callers, were to try and help them, they would never be guided.

The word أَكِنَّةً is used in the ayah to illustrate the inaccessibility of their hearts to guidance. Interestingly, أَكِنَّةً is also used to describe an eagle’s nest that is high up in the mountains beyond the reach of anyone, a place totally inaccessible. Imagining a heart that closed off should frighten any believer.

It is possible that these people might hear, or even understand guidance, but it will never truly penetrate their hearts, and they won’t be profoundly moved by it, deeming them spiritually decapacitated, paralyzed, and doomed.

Further, Allah says he places a وَقْرًا in their ears, which can be translate as a deafening object, but is more specifically used to describe the phenomenon of ears popping when climbing high. Continuing the imagery of a tall, unreachable mountain, the wording suggests that these people will hear things ,but won’t be able to comprehend or understand them clearly. They will stumble along lost, many times not even realizing it, as they assure themselves of their own righteousness.

What’s more is that the two senses, or faculties, which Allah blocks are the heart and the ears, both essential to guidance. The ear receives the speech of Allah, and the heart accepts and acts on it. With these senses blocked, these people are essentially left wandering blindly in a valley of wolves. Time is the only thing between them and eternal doom, and this is because when Allah graciously gave them guidance they recognized it, accepted it, but then justified turning away from it.

May Allah protect us. Ameen.

Responsibility for Growth

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Arabic has a unique system of flexibility where root letters can be inserted into different patterns to convey varying aspects of meaning. For example, the root letters ن ز ل, when inserted into a specific pattern, generate the word نَزّلَ which means to send something down over time, but when used in a different patten, without the shadda, generate the word نَزَلَ, which means to send something all at once.

This nuance in meaning is conveyed by the differing patterns or “families” that these words are placed into. Each of these “families” is made up of set members, or forms, utilized for different purposes. For example, each family has a dedicated form for each past tense, present tense, and negation.

Arabic has a specific rhetorical device for emphasis which is based on this concept of members and families. This device pairs the past tense form with the idea form of a word in order to add intensity. The idea form of a word is a noun which conveys the concept of performing an action and isn’t bound by a tense like a verb. For example, the word “sprinting” conveys the idea of running or moving fast.

“I scolded him a scolding” is an example of this device which pairs the idea of scolding, with the past tense, scolded. Although it may sound awkward in English, it produces emphatic meaning in Arabic.

This device can only be used, however, when both the past tense and idea version of the word originate from the same family. Referring back to the earlier example, the family which contains the past tense form, نَزّلَ, necessitates that the idea form be ًتَنزيل. Each past tense form from a specific family must be used with a corresponding idea form from the same family.

The Qur’an, however, intentionally breaks this rule in order to convey beautiful and profound meaning. In Surah Nuh Allah says:

وَاللَّهُ أَنْبَتَكُمْ مِنَ الْأَرْضِ نَبَاتًا

Allah has caused you to grow as a growth from the earth


This ayah is an example of the rhetorical tool we described. Looking at a rough English translation we can extrapolate that this ayah refers to Allah’s role in initiating and nurturing human growth, given that he causes all things. Interestingly, however, the past tense, َانبَت, and the idea version, نَبَاتً, are from different families, a contradiction to the grammatical rule we mentioned mandating that their families must match. In this case, the reader would expect اَنبَت to be paired with َاِنبَات. Why isn’t that the case here?

As we stated earlier, differing pattens or families that root letters are placed in to implicate subtleties in meaning. In this case, the past tense, اَنبَت, suggests someone actually growing something or causing it to grow. This correlates with Allah’s control and power over our organ systems, his provision of our sustenance, and his maintenance of an environment that allows us to physically grow.

The idea version of this verb here, نَبَاتً ,however, follows a pattern or family which implicates unprovoked or autonomous growth.

So what does this abnormal pairing of families indicate? What is the purpose behind it?

Here, the pairing of the two forms indicates a dual responsibility for human growth. Allah causes us to physically grow and provides us with the opportunities to grow spiritually through guidance. On the other hand, we are responsible for fostering our personal growth by making our best efforts in character development, and by appreciating, accepting, and putting to use the guidance that Allah grants us.

Through the unconventional pairing of these patterns, Allah underscores our personal responsibility in the own growth process. Someone could be given the best environment, but still turn out as a disappointment because of  failure on their end, and that’s why, نَبَاتً, individual growth, is crucial alongside the guided growth of Allah, اِنبَات.

We ask Allah to allow us to fulfill our responsibility for personal growth and development and to continue to nourish us with his love and guidance. Ameen.



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