For one of the classes at IlmSummit, we had the pleasure of going through the Tafseer of Surah Fussilat, Surah 41, with Imam Abdul Nasir Jangda who is an instructor at Bayyinah Institute. Tafseer is something that brings more light to the Qur’an. When you read a one line translation, it simply doesn’t give justice to the full meaning of the ayah. But when you have tafseer, it is as if you just smelled the awakening aroma of chai filling your veins, to open your sleepy eyes and realize what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is really telling you. Captivating isn’t it? Imam Abdul Nasir went into a few key terms in each verse and delved in the meaning of it, and I would like to share some verses that were simply enrapturing.
Each and every Surah is structured in the Qur’an. It’s just a matter of appreciating it in its beauty, coherence, and power. Fussilat means to be detailed, or explained in detail. The theme of this surah is the notion to be lenient and kind to the people and to focus on Tawheed and unity when doing dawah to others. When dealing with a common audience, you need to connect to them and then contextualize the evidence given, i.e. the Quran. Surahs that are before and after this one revolve around developing a person. This surah focuses on dawah; the methodology, prime materials needed, and pitfalls that can occur during it.
“Giving Good news and Admonition (the Qur’an): yet Most of them turn away, and so they hear not.”
Baashir (باشر) comes from the root word meaning skin, more specifically touching skin. In this, it means delivering good news, so much so that you’ve touched them (symbolically). Nadir (نادر) means to scare people, to warn someone of an eminent danger. You usually warn the person whom you care about so deeply because you don’t want them in trouble, just like Allah is warning us in the Qur’an. In this verse there is significance in the order of the words, they are primarily there to motivate and inspire the reader. Look at how beautifully the Qur’an was written, that in every verse there is a specific order or words in which it gives the meaning its unique significance.
“In the case of those who say, “Our Lord is Allah, and, further, stand straight and steadfast, the angels descend on them (from time to time): “Fear ye not!” (They suggest), “Nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of the Garden (of bliss), that which ye were promised!”
This is a very key passage of the Quran. It demonstrates who is in the category of those higher in faith. Those people who committed themselves to their Rabb (protector, sustainer). Istiqama (إستقامة) means to continue to keep something upright and steadfast. Relying on the idea that everything is Allah, who is your number one priority, is what they are committed to. All the time, everywhere this istiqama is what they are keeping alive. Thumma(ثمة) means then (after some time), like a fast forward. This means consistency is going to take time, it is going to require some work and energy, and then you’ll get to steadfastness inshaAllah. And then the angels will descend upon them at the time of their death. Someone can be living in a delusion for their entire life, but the time of death is when everything comes out. When they are honored by Allah, all social status’ go away. When the beginning of the part comes when it is describing how the angels descend on them, i.e. . The beginning of this term is a repetition, which means it flows more because of the extra addition of the same first letter. The increase in letters of the word results in the increase in the meaning of the word. The angels tell them not to grieve about your kids and your wife, Allah will not allow you to be nervous or worry about what lies ahead of you. May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala make us amongst the steadfast. Ameen.
*This was my favorite part, because I remember this video where Br. Wisam Sharieff had a recitation during IlmSummit 2009 where he recites this very same verse! Read the above explanation and then listen here:
“Who is better in speech than one who calls (men) to Allah, works righteousness and says, “I am of those who bow in Islam”?”
This is the centerpiece & core of the surah. Who can be more excellent in speech than the one who invites to Allah (does dawah). True dawah is to call people to Allah. When we call to anything besides Allah, it’s not dawah. So always remind yourself that you’re not calling people to a specific masjid, or a specific school, you are simply calling them towards Allah and always remember the bigger picture. Effectiveness in dawah lies within our actions, we need to have humility and know that there are no titles in dawah. Being common will not cheapen what you present, it will make it effective.
Ah indeed! Are They in doubt concerning the meeting with their Lord? Ah indeed! It is He that doth encompass all things!
This is a complete concluding analysis of the surah. Mirya (مرية) is the type of doubt that you know deep down inside, the information presented to you is actually true but your ulterior motive changes it so it just blinds your feelings. And the last line where it says encompass, it means that He is completely surrounding everything, nothing escapes Him. This is true in that nothing, not even your feelings inside of you will be unknown to Allah, for He knows the type of doubt that lives in those peoples’ hearts, and nothing can truly escape him.