This is a thirty-one verse chapter. It is generally accepted that it was revealed in Mecca, however, there is some scholarly debate and many scholars believe that the chapter was revealed in Madina. There are even suggestions that part of it was revealed in Medina whilst the majority was revealed in Mecca. The theme of the chapter is to inform humankind of their true position in the world and suggests that he (each human being) should adopt an attitude of gratefulness. After addressing humankind, the chapter goes on to describe Paradise in great detail contrasting the end results for both the evildoers and the righteous. This chapter is a serene discourse encouraging people to turn to God, obey Him, seek His pleasure, remember His favors, and work to avoid His punishment; and it is sometimes referred to as Time (Ad-Dhar).
Verses 1 – 3 At one time we did not exist
God asks, ‘Was there not a period of time when the human being was nothing, not even mentioned?’ This question requires us to think about where we were before God called us into existence. God creates each human being from a drop of mingled fluid; a combination of both male and female substances. All people were created to undergo a test, thus for this reason God endows the human being with the faculties of hearing and sight. God shows us to the right path, and it is us that make a choice. Will we stay on the right path and be grateful or stray from it thus showing our ingratitude.
Verses 4 – 10 Some qualities of righteous people
We have a choice, and God tells us clearly what the outcome of our choice will be. For the disbelievers, those who chose to stray from the path, God has prepared chains, shackles, and a blazing fire. However, those who choose to stay on the path of righteousness will be in Paradise enjoying its delights.
These people, who will be in Paradise, are the ones who fulfil their vows and dread the widespread terror that will occur on the Day of Judgement. They are also compassionate towards those who are less fortunate. They feed the poor, the orphan, and the captive, in spite of having desire for it themselves. They know within their hearts that they feed them for His sake only and do not expect any reward or gratitude from people.
Verses 11 – 22 For those in Paradise
Thus God will keep them safe from the woes on that Day, and they will be radiant with happiness. They will be rewarded for their patience with gardens in Paradise and silken clothing. There they will recline on couches and feel no scorching heat or bitter cold. The trees of Paradise will provide shade, and the fruits of Paradise will hang in low clusters within easy reach. They will be served from silver dishes and crystal cups, and goblets made from clear silver, filled by attendants with everything they desire or fancy. They will be given a drink infused with ginger from a fountain in Paradise known as Salsabil. Their attendants will be boys of eternal youth, and if you saw them you would think that they were scattered pearls. If you could look around you would see blessings and pleasure, splendor and wealth. The residents of Paradise will wear clothing of fine green silk and rich brocade. They will wear fine jeweled bracelets, and their Lord will give them a pure drink. It will be said to them, ‘This is your reward, and your endeavors (in the world) have been appreciated.’
Verses 23 – 26 Remember your Lord
This Quran has been revealed to you (O Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) gradually according to the circumstances. O Prophet, bear patiently the hardships and difficulties that you may face in the great mission that has been entrusted upon you, and do not yield to any disbeliever so as to give up preaching of the true faith or become inclined to make even the least change in the religious beliefs or the moral teachings to please anyone. Remember the name of your Lord at dawn and in the evening. Bow down to Him at night and exalt His praise in the long hours of the night.
Verses 27 – 31 People are free to choose but bear the consequences of their decisions
These disbelievers love the transitory life of this world and neglect to prepare for the heavy Day that is coming. God created them and strengthened their constitution, giving them all the power that they enjoy. If He so willed he could do away with them and replace them with a different creation. This is indeed a warning.
The Quran is a reminder that makes the truth evident. People have been given free will to make their choices. Those who wish to take heed will benefit from it whilst those who knowingly reject the truth will be severely punished. - islamreligion.com
Fasting, is abstaining from eating, drinking and coitus from daybreak to sunset as a devotional ritual. Allah, the Almighty Says in the Noble Quran (what means):
"O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous." [Quran; 2:183] That is: that you may fear Allah, keep away from His prohibitions, and fulfill His Commands. Prophet Muhammad said: " Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)"[Al-Bukhari]
This means that Allah does not want us to abstain from eating and drinking only, rather, He wants us to refrain from evil deeds and vileness too. The Prophet instructed that a fasting person, if offended or abused, should say: "I am fasting." [Al-Bukhari] By this, as though the fasting person says: "It is because I am fasting I do not return your abuses." The offender at that point may feel embarrassed, and desist.
What is the purpose of Fasting?
The purpose of fasting is not physical training to endure hunger, thirst and exhaustion; rather, it is disciplining the ego to relinquish the loved for the sake of the Beloved. The loved are the desires of eating, drinking, sexual activities etc., while the Beloved is Allah, the Exalted. Hence, it is imperative to keep in mind when we observe fasting that we do so only for the sake of Allah. It becomes imperative on us to try our best to observe the rites that reflect our obedience to Allah, such as the remembrance of Allah, reading the Quran, supererogatory prayers, charitable deeds and donations, good manners, etc.
Fasting has great significances and aims, which, if carefully considered, instill in us much surprise. Among these significances, we mention the following:
Fasting is linked with true faith in Allah, the Most Exalted; that is why it has been reported that fasting is a secret act of worship since a person may break his fast, if he wishes, by eating, drinking or simply by not making the intention to fast (in which case his fast will not be accepted even if he remains fasting the whole day). Fasting, then, is a hearty, secret worship that concerns only the servant and his Creator. When the servant knowingly gives up the things and acts that nullify the fast, despite his ability to reach them in secret, he gives indeed strong evidence of his certain belief that Allah, the Almighty, watches over him in both his manifest and secret deeds. There is no doubt that in this kind of conduct is a significant training to strengthen faith in Allah.
Fasting is also training for the servant to aspire to the Hereafter since, by fasting, he gives up some of the worldly matters, looking forward to Almighty Allah's reward. By observing the fast, he weighs the profit in terms of the condition in the Hereafter. However, those who measure things in materialistic terms are only concerned with the worldly aspect of fasting. As a result, they think of it as merely deprivation of the pleasures of life, which please the self and satisfy the body. They are not in the least concerned with the other aspect of its significance in the hereafter that constitutes the real reward and the genuine perpetuity. This attitude of their hearts weakens their aspiration for the hereafter and its eternal enjoyment. Third significance
Fasting is a practical embodiment of submission and servitude to Allah, the Exalted, that the servant manifests by eating and drinking at night only in response to the call of his Lord, Allah Who Says in the Noble Quran (what means): “And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night].” [Quran; 2:187]. That is why the fasting Muslim should eat at Iftar (break fast) time, at sunset, and just before dawn (Suhoor, or the per-dawn meal) because continuous fasting (day and night) is forbidden in Sharee'ah (Islamic law).
The act of eating is, therefore, a form of worship of Allah, the Almighty. When dawn starts, Muslims discontinue eating and drinking (and having sex with their spouses) in compliance with Allah’s order, for He Says (what means): “…Then complete the fast until the night [i.e. sunset].”[Quran; 2:187]. In this way, the Muslim is educated about complete servitude to Allah, the Most High, in such a way that when his Lord commands, he complies. It is, therefore, not simply a matter of personal taste, whim and disposition, but a matter of obedience to Allah and implementation of His Commands. Fourth significance
Fasting is similarly a form of education to the whole society since when the fasting Muslim feels that people around him are all fasting, he finds fast no longer difficult, but feels that he is in harmony with the society to which he belongs through worship, the unifying factor of the whole community. Whoever compares voluntary fasting to the obligatory fast in the month of Ramadan perceives a certain difficulty in the former and easiness in the latter due to the aforementioned reasons. That is why Muslims find it very difficult to spend the month of Ramadan away from Muslim environments. - islamweb.net
Whoever relieves the grief of a believer in this world, God will relive his grief in the Hereafter. Whoever relieves the difficulties of a person in debt in this world, God will relieve his difficulties in this world and the Hereafter. Whoever conceals the faults of a believer, God will conceal his faults in this world and the Hereafter. God will aid His servant so long as the servant aids his fellow believers. Whoever follows a path to seek knowledge, God will make the path to Paradise easy for him. When people gather together, in one of the houses of God, to recite the Book of God and study it, tranquility descends upon them, mercy covers them, the angels surround them, and God mentions them to those who are in His presence. Whoever is slowed down by his deeds will not be hastened forward by his lineage.
This is a hadith from among a collection of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, compiled by Imam An-Nawawi. It is a very famous and well-studied collection of forty-two hadiths known as An-Nawawi's Forty Hadith. Its value lies in the fact that the hadiths in this collection cover fundamental aspects of the religion of Islam. Hadith number thirty-six is often referred to as the hadith of righteousness.
However, while it does list comprehensively a number of qualities one would expect to find in a righteous person, it also deals with virtues, rulings, principles, and manners. There are several lessons embedded in this hadith, and each sentence adds an in-depth feature to one very basic principle; that believers are like family to one another. There are certain obligations that believers have towards each other and this hadith, in a different version, states it very succinctly as, ‘Whoever is fulfilling the needs of his brother, God is fulfilling his needs.’
1.Relieving the grief of a believer
This is a lesson in how to attain the help of God by helping one of His servants. Sometimes when a person feels as if he is swamped with difficulty, God, in answer to his supplication, will send help from an unexpected source. Often this source is in the form of another Muslim. The word grief in this hadith refers to a great difficulty or a hardship. If a believer relieves the grief of another believer, God recognizes that act and will reward the person in the Hereafter by relieving the grief, fear, and distress that he or she feels on the Day of Judgment.
2.Alleviating the difficulties of those in debt
Being indebted to somebody is a terrible feeling. That debt is usually of a financial nature and Prophet Muhammad explains to us that alleviating the debt of somebody, who is having difficulties meeting the terms of his debt is an act that is loved by God, so much so that He says He will alleviate that person’s difficulties in this world and in the Hereafter. Helping those in debt can be achieved in several ways, including giving extra time or canceling the debt completely.
3.Concealing the faults of a believer
The general rule that scholars derive from this section of the hadith is that believers should not reveal the faults of their fellow believers. Nowadays we often see or hear some people taking other’s faults as a type of amusement. They mock and ridicule, revealing perceived minor transgressions that may or may not be true. As Muslims, we should be concerned about our own faults not the faults of others and constantly try to improve ourselves. The one who conceals faults rather than reveals them will have his or her own faults concealed by God in this world and in the Hereafter.
4.God will come to the aid of the one who aids his fellow believer
Coming to the aid of fellow believers is something that Muslims should take very seriously. Prophet Muhammad reminded us many times that we should love for our brother or sister what we would love for ourselves. If we truly cared about each other, there would be very few needy people in Muslim communities.
Seeking beneficial knowledge is a very rewarding act. God might make the path to Paradise easy for those seeking knowledge in several ways. They might be guided to Paradise through knowledge, or God might make it easy for a person to benefit what they learn, thus they will walk a path to Paradise, or make crossing the bridge above the Hellfire easy and thus enter Paradise. There are many people who seek knowledge but find no blessings in the knowledge they gain. Therefore the believer should seek knowledge with good and sincere intentions.
6.The virtue of gathering in the mosque
This lesson informs us about a very rewardable and preferred act; gathering in the mosques to recite, listen and study the Quran or to attend lectures and classes. This can result in very specific rewards. They are imbued with tranquility, resulting in relief from the stress and strife that plague modern-day societies, the mercy of God descends as the angels surround them, and God mentions them to whoever is in His presence.
7.Lineage is of no benefit to the one who lags behind in his good deeds
Behaving well and doing good deeds and actions is the key to rewards leading to Paradise. If the believer is lacking in this area, his lineage, meaning his family name, tribe or ancestry will not be of any benefit regardless of their wealth or status.
This hadith a very comprehensive and contains at least seven important lessons. It outlines the morals and manners that should be embedded in the behavior of every believer. It outlines some of the obligations we have towards each other and emphasizes that Islam expects us to treat one another as if we were close family members. Whatever we can do to alleviate the difficulties of another person we should do, with the pure intention to please God. - islamreligion.com
Islam shows great concern for the environment. A number of verses in the Quran and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad have addressed this issue.
Islam’s solution to environmental problems lies in man’s adaptation of the guidance of Islam. Allah has stated that He made all the material objects on earth for man’s use, and not for his abuse.
Allah Almighty has not prevented humankind from enjoying a luxurious standard of living, but this should not be maintained by damaging and abusing natural resources. This is clearly stated in a number of verses in the Quran. Allah says (what means):"But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and (yet), do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corruptors.“ [Quran 28:77]
The Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad contains instructions for Muslims to preserve the environment, which includes not cutting down trees unnecessarily. In this respect, Prophet Muhammad pointed out that there are benefits in planting trees, which will last until the Day of Judgment. This is illustrated in the saying of the Noble Prophet : "If the Last Hour is imminent while one of you has a palm seedling in his hand (which he can plant before it happens), then let him plant it.” [Reported by Ahmad and Al-Bukhari]
Allah has ordained severe punishments for those who damage and abuse natural resources. Allah Says (what means): “Eat and drink from the provision of Allah, and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption." [Quran 2:60] "Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by (reason of) what the hands of people have earned, so He (i.e. Allah) may let them taste part of (the consequences of) what they have done that perhaps they will return (to righteousness).” [Quran 30:41]
Ibn Mas'ood, may Allah be pleased with him, reports, "While we were on a journey with Allah's Messenger he went a short distance from where we had encamped. There we saw a small bird with two of its chicks and caught them. The bird was fluttering when the Prophet came back, so he asked, 'Who has distressed it by taking its chicks?' Then he asked us to return the chicks. There we also saw an anthill and burnt it out. When the Prophet saw that, he asked, 'Who has burnt it?' When we informed him that we had done it, he said, “Only the Lord of fire has the right to punish with fire.”
Allah says in the Quran (what means): "And there is no creature on (or within) the earth or a bird that flies with its wings except that they are nations (communities) like you." [Quran 6:38]
We infer from the Prophet’s statement and this Quranic verse that all living things are partners to man in existence and they deserve our respect. We must be merciful towards animals and strive to ensure the preservation of different species.
Islam forbids wasting water and using it without benefit. The preservation of water for the nourishment of humankind, animal life, bird life and vegetation is a practice that gains Allah’s pleasure.
In his article "Islam and the Environment," Arafat El Ashi, director of the Muslim World League in Canada, [www.al-muslim.org ] writes, "Human life is sacred in the sight of Islam. No one is permitted to take the life of another person except as life-for-life."
Under Islam, El Ashi states, "It [is] incumbent on every Muslim to contribute his/her share in improving greenery. Muslims should be active in growing more trees for the benefit of all people." Even during battle, Muslims are required to avoid cutting down trees that are useful to people.
Humankind’s stewardship of the earth entails a profound responsibility. Other living species, as mentioned above, are also considered by Allah to be “communities”. Creation itself, in its boundless diversity and complexity, may be thought of as a vast universe of “signs” of Allah’s Power, Wisdom, Beneficence and Majesty. The responsibility of humankind is to keep Allah’s creation undistorted. The environment is a trust presented by Allah to humankind and its abuse is a misuse of Allah’s trust. - islamweb.net
It’s quite interesting that even the grandparents of Jesus (peace be upon him) are mentioned in the Quran, albeit briefly. We know that his maternal grandfather was called Imran, but not much else is known about him. We also know that his maternal grandmother (name not known) prayed fervently for the birth of a child that she could devote to the service of God. In chapter Ale Imran (chapter 3) God says:
"God chose Adam, Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran over all other people. They are descendants of one another. God hears and knows all. Imran’s wife said, ‘Lord, I have dedicated what is growing in my womb entirely to You, so accept this from me. You are the One who hears and knows all,’ but when she delivered, she said, ‘My Lord! I have given birth to a girl’—and God fully knew what she had delivered—‘and the male is not like the female. I name her Mary and I seek Your protection for her and her offspring from Satan, the accursed.’" [Quran 3:33-36]
So what lessons can we learn?
1. You can be among great people for doing things that no one knows about. We do not really know much about Imran. However, God mentions his family among the chosen ones and places his name next to Adam, Noah, and Abraham (peace be upon them)—all magnificent prophets in their own right. God named the third chapter in the Quran Ale Imran—the Family of Imran.
2. Do good without seeking approval and even if people are not appreciative. Going on from the last point—we do not really know much about the actions of Imran. We know he was the father figure in a successful family that is mentioned throughout the Quran, but not much else is known. However, we know he was a pious man. And God-consciousness can make us great, even if people do not appreciate.
3. Make the effort, even if you do not see the end result. Scholars say that Imran died even before Maryam was born, so he did not actually see his daughter grow up to be a great woman. However, he still did his part in setting up a household that was pious, and he encouraged religiosity in his house. He never saw his daughter become one of the greatest women to have ever lived or his two grandsons John and Jesus become prophets or when his son-in-law Zechariah took care of his daughter. He paved the way for that and God rewards him for it.
4. He allowed his wife to make decisions. The wife of Imran decided that her child would be dedicated to the service of God, and there was no hint of any opposition from him. It is quite clear that they were both partners in righteousness that helped one another achieve good deeds—just like how an Islamic marriage should be.
5. Make supplication before a child is born. Mary’s mother is supplicating for her child even before she is born. That is something that we need to pick up today.
6. Be careful—society does affect us. Mary’s mother was from a society that really did not value women. She initially fell into the same trap when she thought giving birth to a baby girl would ruin her plans of letting her child take the path of God, and that is something we are affected by even today. And yet God shatters those stereotypes.
7. Reform in society starts with women—invest in them. God wanted to reform the Children of Israel, and He chose a woman. He chose Mary instead of a man. God is showing us through this that if we truly want to be successful as an Ummah we really need to start investing in our girls and helping them achieve success in both this world and the next.
8. What God gives is always better. The mother of Mary hoped for a son, but she got a daughter. Her daughter ended up being one of the greatest women in history. What God gives us is better for us even if we do not understand.
9. Accept what God gives and do your best with it. As soon as realization hit the mother of Mary, she immediately supplicated for her daughter again after birth. She accepted what God had given her, and she immediately went about preparing her daughter for the task. Whatever we get in life, we need to learn to make the best of it. Just like Mary turned out more suitable than any other man, we don’t know what it is that will turn out the best for us.
10. The supplication of a mother is powerful. Mary’s mother made supplication seeking refuge from Satan for Mary and her offspring. Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said that the only two human beings who were not touched by Satan were Mary and Jesus. Subhan Allah (How Perfect is God!), what power the supplication of a mother carries! - islamreligion.com
The translation of the Arabic word Ummah is nation. However, it means more than a country with borders; it is a fellowship of men women and children united in their love for One God and their admiration for Muhammad, the Prophet of God.
There is much scholarly discussion about this chapter and the one before it, The One Wrapped in Garments. This is a fifty-six verse chapter that begins by addressing Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, directly and goes on to remind the disbelievers of the consequences of their lack of faith. The first seven verses are generally accepted to have been revealed in the very early period of revelation in Mecca, whilst the rest of the chapter was revealed after Prophet Muhammad began to spread the message from God.
Scholars differ as to the exact circumstances surrounding how the revelation of this chapter began. Some say that after Prophet Muhammad received the first revelation in the cave at Hira, he hurried home to his beloved wife Khadijah; he was trembling and overwhelmed and asked her to cover him in his cloak. Other scholars say that after the events in the cave, the revelations did not begin again for some time. One day Prophet Muhammad saw the angel who had visited him in the cave sitting on a throne between heaven and earth. The sight terrified him, and he ran home quickly asking to be covered up securely.
Verses 1 – 7 Wrapped in his cloak
Prophet Muhammad is addressed from on high. Oh you enfolded in your cloak, the time has come for you to arise, stand up and begin to warn the people. Warn them of the consequences if they remain in disbelief. Having given the instruction to warn others, God gives Prophet Muhammad some instructions to observe in his own life. The first of these is to proclaim God’s greatness. God is the greatest, and only He deserves to be glorified.
Prophet Muhammad is then directed to maintain cleanliness and physical purity. In Arabic the expression, to clean one’s garments, means maintaining purity of heart and high moral values. Hence it carries this meaning as well. The one who delivers the message needs to be perfectly clean so that he can save those who are tainted while allowing nothing to taint him.
Next, he is directed to stay away from all filth, which refers to polytheism or idolatry, and everything that exposes one to God’s punishment. And Prophet Muhammad is told that whatever favor he does it should be for the sake of God and without any selfish motive, that is, not to expect some worldly benefit in return. Finally, he is advised to be patient and steadfast because the task he is being entrusted with is difficult and requires sacrifice.
Verses 8 – 31 The obstinate disbelievers should take heed
God makes reference to an opponent of the Quran, a man He refers to as created alone. He is not named but is generally accepted to be al-Waleed ibn al-Mugherah, who after inclining toward the Quran denied it publicly in order to gain the approval of the Meccan leaders.
He was given abundant resources, wealth, and sons, and a life of comfort and ease. Yet he hoped for more. God says that will not happen because he persistently denied the revelations. Instead of what he desires he will face arduous calamities. Indeed God knew what he thought and deliberated about regarding how he could discredit Prophet Muhammad. He plotted devilishly and ferociously. He behaved arrogantly and turned his back on the truth saying this Quran is just sorcery from long ago and is merely the word of a man.
Because of his behavior God will drive him into Hell, and He asks what will make you understand exactly what Hell is. God explains. It is a place that allows nothing to remain and leaves nothing unburned. It shrivels human flesh, and there are nineteen angels guarding it.
Verses 32 – 56 The disbeliever’s foolish attitude
God swears by the moon, the departing night, and the shining dawn that indeed the Hellfire is one of the mightiest scourges and a warning to humankind; and a warning to those who choose to go ahead or to lag behind. Every soul will be responsible for what it has earned. Those who receive their record in their right hand will be in the gardens of Paradise, and they will question the guilty. "What brought you into Hell?" The guilty will answer, "We did not pray or feed the poor. We wasted time in vain talk and denied the Day of Judgment until death overtook us." The guilty will have no intercessors that can help them in any way.
God questions why the disbelievers would turn away from the reminder. They flee from it like frightened donkeys running from a lion. Each one of them expects a scripture to be sent down to them personally and unrolled before his very eyes! But no! The fact is that they do not fear the Hereafter. This Quran is an admonition and a reminder, so whoever wishes to take heed must do so. It is He alone Who should be feared, and it is He alone Who is able to forgive sins. -islamreligion.com