Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
Why Not Just Memorize?
When we begin Quran memorization, we usually start with Surat Al Fatihah, a necessary component of our salaat, and then move on to the very end of the Quran and go backwards. Many Muslims have at least the last ten surahs of Juz Amma memorized for frequently using in prayers. But it is not enough to just memorize surahs and parrot them in salah. The point of the Quran is to touch our hearts. Allah Azza Waajal says in the Quran:
أَلَمْ يَأْنِ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَن تَخْشَعَ قُلُوبُهُمْ لِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَمَا نَزَلَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ
Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? [Quran, 57:16]
So in order to really taste the sweetness of prayer, we should at least try to learn something about what it is that we are reciting, and find out how it relates to us personally. The best way to do that is to learn Arabic, and here at Understand Quran you will be taught 50% of Quran in just 9 hours.
As a beginning, I will in sha Allah present here a brief glimpse at each of the last 10 surahs and what they are about, since these are the ones most often recited. This is just so we can motivate ourselves to study further into these Divine words.
The Last 10 Surahs
Surat Al Feel
Even before the message of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ the Kaaba was considered sacred by the tribes of Arabia. This gave a lot of trade and revenue for the Quraysh, the tribe who were custodians of the Kaaba. Abrahah, a Yemeni Christian king, became jealous of this. So to try and divert trade to his land, he built a huge temple in Yemen. Having built it, he invited people to come make pilgrimage to his temple instead of the Kaaba. However, people were still anchored in their lives to the Kaaba, and thus he was not making good business. Moreover, the Arabs made fun of Abrahah’s temple. In fact, one day an Arab went and did toilet in that temple. That was the last straw for Abrahah – he made the decision to destroy the Kaaba once and for all.
Having assembled elephants from Ethiopia, Abrahah made his march towards Makkah. The people of Makkah fled, and as Abrahah went in to attack, Allah protected His House.
As this Surah is being recited, Allah reminds the Quraysh of this favour. He says (translation of meaning), “Do you not see how your Lord dealt with the army of the elephant?” And while the enemy made intricate plans, Allah made sure that their plans were thrown to the dust.
2. Surat Al Qurayish
The Quraysh, even though they were the guardians of the holiest place on earth, were in some ways horrible. They oppressed others; they preyed on the weak and harmed people, they didn’t consider women worth living, and would fight at every opportunity. However, as they were the guardians of the Kaaba, no one else dared to do anything to them. Thus, they were the only tribes in Arabia who could get their business caravans travelling safely to the North and South all throughout the year.
Allah is reminding the Qurayish of the favours of Allah on them despite their rebellion, and this is also an indirect reminder for us to do the same. “So let them worship the Lord of this House – who provides them with food to ward off hunger, safety to ward off fear.” Quraysh is reminded to turn to God alone, and so are we. So as we recite this surah in salaat, we should ask ourselves, ‘Are we using the blessings we have to do things that Allah hates?’
3. Surat al Ma’un
Allah asks, “Have you considered the person who denies the Judgement [or Religion]” – and then Allah says, “It is he who pushes aside the orphan and does not urge others to feed the needy.” This is a good litmus test for all of us about our belief in the Judgement by Allah. Our behaviour to the weak and vulnerable in society is directly proportional to our level of conviction in the hereafter!
“So woe to those who pray but are heedless of their prayer,” This is the part of the surah when our backs would straighten up and our yawns of boredom would be stifled, if we only understood the weight of these words while reciting them. It is not sufficient to just pray and get it over with. We are to have concentration and tranquillity in our prayers, and we need to protect our prayer times.
4. Surat al Kauthar
Al Kauthar is a river in paradise which is a gift to the Prophet ﷺ from Allah. The word also refers to the abundance of blessings which Allah has bestowed on the prophet. So Allah reminds the Prophet not to take heed of his enemies and their insults and injustices, because it is Allah who is giving him gifts, and to focus on praying and sacrificing for his sake.
When someone’s child dies, people are moved by compassion. Not only friends, but even enemies halt their battles. However, the elite of Quraysh hated the Prophet ﷺ so much, that when the Prophet’s child died, they went out celebrating. Some of them remarked, “Muhammad has been cut off” in reference to the fact that he had no son to take his legacy forward. So Allah Azza Waajal said in the last part of this surah (translation of the meaning), “it is the one who hates you who has been cut off.”
[to be continued]