Path towards Enlightenment (912)
Salaam and welcome to another episode of our weekly series titled “Path towards Enlightenment” which is an endeavour to make you and us familiar with an easy and fluent explanation of God’s Final Scripture to all mankind, the holy Qur’an, which was revealed to the Last and Greatest of all Messengers, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
Last week we completed explanation of Surah Zukhruf, and today we begin the next Surah, that is, Surah Dukhan, the 44th in serial order. This Surah was revealed in Mecca and has 59 Ayahs. Dukhan means smoke and the Surah derives its name from Ayah 10 which warns of a clearly visible smoke descending on unbelievers. According to exegetes, it refers to a smoke which will envelop the world before the Day of Judgement, and which will be especially painful for the unbelievers. In its third Ayah the Surah mentions the revelation of the holy Qur’an on a Blessed Night, i.e. the Grand Night of Qadr or Decree, which occurs in the month of Ramadhan and on which all affairs of mankind for the year are determined by God Almighty. The first six Ayahs discuss the Grand Night and its blessings, and thus Surah Dukhan is highly recommended for recitation on the Night of Qadr.
This Surah highlights the mercy that is, the holy Qur’an, addresses the obduracy of the powerful and wealthy oppressors, and draws comparisons between the people of Pharaoh, Tubba, and the Meccan Arab infidels. The people of Paradise will enjoy heavenly bliss while those who were oppressors in this world will suffer the torments of Hell.
Like the previous Surah, Dukhan also begins with the Arabic alphabets “Haa” “Meem”. For the information of our listeners, it is the fourth of seven consecutive Qur’anic Surahs known in plural form as “Hawameem” since they begin with these two letters (that is, “Haa” and “Meem”). The other Surahs of this series are the four previous ones, that is, “Ghaffer”, “Fussilat”, “Shura”, and “Zukhruf” and after “Dukhan” will be followed in serial order by “Jathiya”, and “Ahqaaf”. According to a hadith from the Prophet “Hawameem” constitute the gist of the holy Qur’an, and this series is known as the Crown of the Qur’an and its fragrant flowers.
Let us now listen to Ayahs 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Surah Dukhan:
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ ۚ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُنذِرِينَ
فِيهَا يُفْرَقُ كُلُّ أَمْرٍ حَكِيمٍ
In the Name of God the All Compassionate the All-Merciful
“By the Manifest Book:
“Indeed We sent it down on a Blessed Night, and indeed We have been warning [mankind].
“Every definitive matter is resolved in it (on the Night of Decree).”
If you might recall, as we said at the beginning of “Surah Baqarah”, as well as the Surahs “Aal-e Imran”, “A’raaf”, “Younus”, “Houd, “Ibrahim”, “Shua’ra”, “Ankabout”, “Yaseen”, etc, 29 Surahs of the Holy Qur’an start with the “Horoof Muqatta’at” or seemingly unarranged alphabets whose meaning is known only to God and His Prophet, although some exegetes have tried to interpret them. Surah Dukhan, as we mentioned earlier in this episode, is thus one such Surah beginning with the letters “Haa” and “Meem” in the first Ayah.
The next Ayah indicates the Divine Oath taken by God on the matchless contents of the Manifest Book. In other words, the characteristics of the holy Qur’an as a Heavenly Scripture include its manifest and illuminating contents that emanate from Divine Omniscience. Its form and contents in eloquently flawless language and timeless wisdom are superb and inimitable by any human.
Then Ayah 3 means to say that the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the spotlessly pure and untainted heart of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). It was revealed on the fateful and momentous Night of Decree, as a warning to all mankind. God Almighty appoints Prophets to warn polytheists and wrongdoers. The mission of the Last and Greatest Prophet with the universal message of Islam and this manifest Book, the holy Qur’an, is the last link in the unbroken chain of prophethood. It is true that the Prophets on one hand warned, and on the other hand gave glad tidings, but their calls basically rested on giving warnings to wrongdoers and sinners.
As the next Ayah says, basic issues to happen in the year are determined on the Night of Decree which is recurrent each and every year. The present tense of the verb indicates progression.
These Ayahs teach us the following points:
- According to Islamic teachings, certain days and nights are blessed and important, such as the Night of Qadr or Decree on which the holy Qur’an was revealed to the spotlessly pure heart of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
- The silence and solitude of the night is of special importance for attainment of spiritual values as the pious and the virtuous strive towards human perfection. Thus, the Qur’an, the Prophet and his Immaculate Ahl al-Bayt or Household, have highly recommended worship and prayer at night.
- For a negligent society, warning is more effective than giving good tidings.
- God the All-Merciful accepts the prayers and repentance of His creatures, and decrees their affairs for the year – whether good or bad, depending upon the characteristics and deeds of a person.
Now we listen to Ayahs 5 and 6 of this Surah:
أَمْرًا مِّنْ عِندِنَا ۚ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُرْسِلِينَ
رَحْمَةً مِّن رَّبِّكَ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
“As an edict from Us. Indeed We have been sending [prophets],
“As a mercy from your Lord —indeed He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.”
These Ayahs continue to point at the significance of the Night of Decree, which is actually a Divine commandment that includes the raising of Prophets and the revelation of heavenly scriptures for the guidance of mankind, culminating in the universal message of Islam to Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
As the next Ayah says, this Blessed Night is a source of Divine grace and mercy for all mankind from the Lord Most High, provided they shun vices and strive towards virtue. God’s infinite Mercy necessitates that He does not abandon His servants but send them plans and guides in order to direct them on the path of perfection toward God, Who hears all and everything and Who knows all. In the other words, the world of existence basically emanates from his infinite Mercy, while the human beings, as the best of creation, enjoy His Mercy more than other creatures. In short, guidance of human beings to the right path and salvation requires the role model of the Prophets, the Imams, and the Saints.
These Ayahs teach us that:
- The holy Qur’an is the Wording of God in its entirety, which means not a single word or letter of the Qur’an is from Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
- Mere reading of the holy Qur’an, although beneficial, is not enough, since it requires perfectly knowledgeable persons, such as the Prophets, the Imams, and the Saints to explain and expound its meaning.
- The guidance and grooming of human beings is among the clear manifestations of God’s mercy; although many people deprive themselves of Divine favours because of their disbelief and indulgence in sins.
Now we invite you to listen to Ayahs 7 and 8 of Surah Dukhan:
رَبِّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا ۖ إِن كُنتُم مُّوقِنِينَ
لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ ۖ رَبُّكُمْ وَرَبُّ آبَائِكُمُ الْأَوَّلِينَ
“The Lord of the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them; should you have conviction.
“There is no god except Him; He gives life and brings death; your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers.”
The polytheists make the mistake of believing that the natural phenomena are subject to the power of various deities, whom they worship, although these are nothing but the imagination of their minds. These Ayahs in order to negate such false beliefs, stress that the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them are the creation of the One and Only God, Who Alone is worthy of worship. He, the Lord Most High has no partners. He is the Source of life, existence, provision, and death. He is the Creator of all and everything in the universe, including the disbelievers and their ancestors, who have deviated from the path of truth and rationality. Everything in the world is a manifestation of God’s Majesty, and guides those who properly use their intellect to attain certitude.
From these Ayahs we learn that:
- The Creator, the Owner, and Administrator of the universe, is the One and Only God, and has complete over the entire creation.
- The Sender of the heavenly scriptures is the same Creator of the heavens and the earth; hence the laws of religion are in harmony with the natural laws.
- The disbelievers, instead of adhering to the false beliefs and customs of their misled ancestors, should worship God and obey His commandments.