The Quran is a book of wisdom. The miraculous nature of the Quranic wisdom is it can be appreciated from numerous different angles. We may read volumes of tafseer books and spend a lot of time to understand a certain Quranic verse, and yet it is possible that years later when we ponder over this same verse while facing a calamity or a different circumstance, we may unlock a completely new insight from that verse, which we did not discover during our study and research. Allah says in the Quran:
These are verses of the wise Book [The Noble Quran 31:2]
The Quranic wisdom is so profound that a few verses from surah at-Taha was enough to transform Omar ibn al-Khattab from being a staunch enemy of Islam to the second best man (after the Prophets of Allah) to walk on the face of this earth.
That is why we should never stop pondering over the verses of the Quran. The more we will ponder over them, the more we will unlock their hidden insights, inshallah.
One day while watching a Makkah Taraweeh video (these videos play the recitation and the English translation simultaneously), I discovered a new insight from the following verse:
[Dhul Qarnain] said, “This is a mercy from my Lord; but when the promise of my Lord comes, He will make it level, and ever is the promise of my Lord true.” [The Noble Quran 18:98]
According to the Quranic description, Dhul Qarnain was a mighty but just and righteous ruler. He made journeys in three different directions: to the west, to the east, and finally to the north. The Quran is silent about the direction of his final journey, but many scholars of the Quran are of the opinion that it was probably to the north. Dhul Qarnain continued traveling towards the north until he reached a tract between two mountains. On the other side of the mountains, Dhul Qarnain confronted a nation who did not speak his language. Despite the language barrier, they were able to tell Dhul Qarnain that they intended to give Dhul Qarnain a tribute on the condition that Dhul Qarnain should build a barrier between them and the tribe of Gog and Magog. Gog and Magog used to harm the people of that region by creating mischief and corruption. Dhul Qarnain refused to take their gift, citing that what Allah had blessed him with was better than what they were offering him. He only requested manual labor from them. As per Dhul Qarnain’s instruction, the workers started inserting iron beams between the two cliffs from the bottom. When they reached the top of the cliffs, Dhul Qarnain poured molten copper over the iron beams. Thus a very strong gate was erected, which Gog and Magog were not able to scale anymore. Upon the completion of this project, Dhul Qarnain remarked, “This is a mercy from my Lord; but when the promise of my Lord comes, He will make it level, and ever is the promise of my Lord true.” [The Noble Quran 18:98]
There is a great lesson for us in this concluding remark of Dhul Qarnain. Because in his remark, Dhul Qarnain first thanked Allah, and gave Allah the credit for this monumental work. Second, he reminded people that this wall will be able to protect them only as long as Allah wishes.
Isn’t the humility of Dhul Qarnain amazing? He was an emperor who ruled the East and the West. Yet after building this dam, he did not show any sign of arrogance. Instead, he hastened to attribute this success as a mercy from Allah. Allah has preserved such exemplary humility in His greatest Book.
Even in the times of Jahiliyyah (ignorance), people of most religion would always thank Allah whenever they would achieve something. This was the norm. In our time, however, this trend is becoming non-existent. Rather the trend is to separate God from your achievements.
Today’s society wants you to talk as if YOU have achieved everything. It wants you to talk as if YOU are in full control of your destiny. It makes you believe that if you publicly thank Allah and attribute your success as His Mercy upon you, your will compromise your professionalism.
It is your money, your life, your power, your brain, your effort, your time, your body, your freedom – it is all about YOU and NO ONE ELSE.
Such way of thinking has the basis in atheism and secularism.
And ironically, we Muslims have also been influenced by such way of thinking. I remember many job interviews where I have said, “I earned my degree from University X. Then I did an internship in Company Y”
I did not say Alhamdulillah or anything before I uttered those statements.
Now Allah made me realize the humility of Dhul Qarnain and it hit me.
How can I not praise Allah and thank Him before I say “I earned my degree” when I see millions of children who have been deprived of the opportunity of education? Could I not have been one of them, had Allah willed?
How can I not praise Allah and thank Him before I say “I did internship in company X” when many of my friends, despite trying their best, did not get any internship? Could I not have been one of those unfortunate students, had Allah willed?
How come I am ashamed to thank Allah and praise Him before His Slaves when it is Allah who gave me everything and it is He who will also give me the job?
So, Alhamdulillah, I am trying to change. Now when my Christian boss asks me how I am doing, I answer “Alhamdulillah. I am doing well.”
We should try to change. If we claim to be Muslim, we cannot separate anything from Allah. Allah should be remembered in our thinking, in our actions, in our speech, in our dreams, and in our every breath. After we have put our hope only in Him, and have decided to fear none but Him, there should be no pressure to conform to the ways of secularism and atheism.
There are several benefits of constantly thanking Allah and remembering him in our speech:
First, this is a form of dhikr. Through thanking Allah and attributing our success to Him, we engage in His remembrance.
Second, this is a sign of humility. The life of a true Muslim is nothing about him but everything about Allah. Excluding Allah from our achievement and thinking that our achievement is all about our own effort is the essence arrogance and ungratefulness. Being Muslims, we cannot afford arrogance and ungratefulness. Being Muslims, we firmly believe that we can only try. For the result, we put our trust in Allah. If we fail, we resort to patience. If we succeed, we thank Allah and make our success a means to achieve humility.
Third, constantly thanking Allah is the way to become a grateful slave. Allah loves those who are grateful. And if we are grateful, He will give us more.
Fourth, this is a demonstration that we wear the tag of Muslim with pride. Are you not proud to be a Muslim? You should be. And if you are really proud, then what is preventing you from praising Allah when you have an opportunity to do so? As one Sheikh put it, “I am not only proud to be Muslim, I am also proud of the fact that I am proud to be Muslim [for those who have some knowledge of programming: it is like recursive programming ;)]
Fifth, this is a form of dawah. If my Christian boss suddenly asks me the meaning ‘Alhamdulillah’ and wants to know why we say it, this will be a great opportunity for me to briefly present the beauty of Islam to him.
So my dear brothers and sisters in Islam!
From now on, instead of saying “I have earned my degree”, we should say, “Allah has blessed me with this degree.”
Instead of saying “I have bought a car”, we should say, “Allah has blessed me with a car.”
Instead of saying “I have got a job”, we should say, “Allah has blessed me with a job.”
If we cannot paraphrase a sentence like this, we should simply add Alhamdulillah at the beginning.
Do not miss an opportunity to praise Allah. Praise Allah during your job interviews. Praise Allah during your informal conversations. Praise Allah and His Messenger (ﷺ) before you give a speech. Praise Allah as much as you can-both secretly and publicly.
May Allah make us among the ones who constantly in their speech thank Him, remember Him, praise Him, and glorify Him. Ameen.
The video that I was watching: Makkah Taraweeh video of the 16th Night, Ramadan, 1431. Superb recitation of the last part of Surah Al-Kahf by Sheikh Saud Ash-Shuraim. Mashallah!