Sura Ibrahim: The Foundation of Faith Explained
Recently, someone gave me a copy of the Bangla book “Kalema Taiyeba” written by Late Moulana Muhammad Abdur Rahim with a comment, “Javed vi, please read this book and comment on it. It is a small 50 page book and it won’t take much of your time. After reading it, I felt like I was not a Muslim all this time, but now I am.”
I said to myself, “Wow! Is that so! I would surely read it then.” So I began.
The first reference that caught my attention was a quote from the Holy Qur’an, which was the verses 24 and 25 from the 14th chapter (sura) called “Ibrahim” meaning “Abraham”. I have read this chapter many times before (of course translations), but it was his translation that drew my attention. Yusuf Ali’s English translation of the two verses is as follows:
“Seest thou not how Allah sets forth a parable? - A goodly word like a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the heavens,- of its Lord. So Allah sets forth parables for men, in order that they may receive admonition. It brings forth its fruit at all times, by the leave of its Lord. So Allah sets forth parables for men, in order that they may receive admonition.” (14:24-5).
The Bangla translation done by Moulana Rahim is as follows:
“তুমি কি লক্ষ্য করনি আল্লাহ্ কিভাবে উপমা দিয়ে দিয়ে বুঝিয়েছেন? কালেমা তাইয়েবা একটি পবিত্র বলিষ্ঠ উত্তম বৃক্ষ যেন। এর মূল (মাটির) গভীরে দৃঢ় প্রতিষ্ঠিত এবং এর শাখা-প্রশাখা মহাশূন্যে (বিস্তীর্ণ)। এটি সব সময় তার আল্লাহ্ - মালিকের আনুমতিক্রমে স্বীয় ফল প্রদান করতে থাকে। (সুরা ইব্রাহীমঃ ২৪ ও ২৫)।
Comparing the translations, it is clear that what Yusuf Ali translated as “goodly word” has been translated by Moulana Rahim as “Kalema Taiyeba”, which is basically few goodly words utterance of a sentence confirming and declaring faith in Allah and His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The declaration of faith or the Kalema Taiyeba goes like this: لا اله الا الله محمد رسول الله
There is no god
is a messenger of Allah.
His whole book is an explanation of this very declaration of faith exploring its in-depth meanings. The author acknowledged the fact that many Muslims declare faith in Islam by simply uttering this declaration of faith or kalema without understanding its core meaning and what it really means. As a result, most of the Muslims are unaware of their duty toward Allah that they promised to follow upon becoming a Muslim.
When I read through the complete chapter (#14) of the Holy Qur’an with this proposed idea in mind to determine if the author translated it correctly and if the meanings comply; with my own astonishment I discovered that this chapter is indeed about faith! And Allah did use this kalema as a parable to explain its depth in its meaning. For instance, when we declare “There is no god” what we are basically saying is we are denouncing anything and everything that claims to be god or supreme power; then immediately when we say “except Allah” we are affirming that Allah is the one and only God who is our Creator and worthy of all praise and glory. Then comes “Muhammad”, which means Muhammad has a purpose; followed by “is a messenger of Allah” meaning he is an apostle of Allah the supreme who have sent him as a mercy and messenger for all mankind to deliver his messages, which is the Qur’an, that contains all the nitty-gritty of a straight way of life that reaches to Allah. No other ‘way of life’ is acceptable to Allah other than what has been sent through him, which is known as Islam – literally meaning submitting to the will of Allah.
Sura Ibrahim (Chapter #14) is all about the foundation of faith. Now let us briefly examine the verses in the chapter in order to understand what is the real message relayed to us.
Allah is telling mankind that the Qur’an is a guide for all of mankind that could lead people out of the depths of darkness (ignorance) into light (correct understanding). In other words, through understanding and implementation of the guidance laid down in this books would result in the “way of life” in following Islam (submission to Allah).
It is an obvious matter that if Allah is the only one creator and sustainer then all that we have in and around us belongs to Him alone. Therefore, believing in Him and following His guidance as laid down in the Qur’an would make one a believer. In contrary, a disbeliever or unbeliever is the one who refuses to believe in One God.
Disbelief in the One Creator and too much love and attention in this world leads to disbelief of hereafter that results in rivalry between the believers and disbelievers where the disbelievers often attempts to hinder believers in following the path of Allah as prescribed in the Qur’an and demonstrated by His messenger in Sunnah. At this present world today we are witnessing that the disbelieving nations are imposing ban on hijab and nikab (compulsory veiling) on practicing Muslim women hindering them from the path of Allah.
Allah has sent his apostle to teach to his own people in clear manner in their own language so that they could easily understand the message. But those who refuses to follow the guidance Allah allows them to stray on their own conjectures while guiding those who accepts His guidance. He never compels anyone to accept it. This is where mankind has been given the freedom of their choices. A correct choice would yield good results while the wrong choice would result in loss and suffering in the afterlife.
“The Ten Commandments” as it is popularly known was given to Prophet Moses (as) as a sign from the divine engraved on a tablet. Maybe one day this tablet would be found as there is no record of its destruction in the Qur’an as claimed by the Jews. Call to acceptance of Allah as the One true God was the primary message of all the prophets before Muhammad (peace be upon him). From time to time, Allah sent his apostles to deliver the same core message which is the foundation of faith or Kalema Taiyeba – “There is no God, but Allah”. Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) also did the same. However, the mission was incomplete as the kalema was incomplete.
Allah delivers or sends His favors when people acknowledges Him and seeks His help; trial and tribulations falls on us due to our disbelief in Him.
Keeping Allah pleased by following His commands would result in peace and harmony for the believers under full cover of His mercy and protection. Denying His existence and Honor results in His anger followed by terrible punishments.
It is the lack of our understanding that causes us to show ingratitude to the Loving God who created us the first place to worship Him alone. If we do not worship Him the way He wants us to, then we need to understand clearly that He has no need for us.
Again Allah is telling us that He has sent apostles in each and every earlier nation to warn their peoples about their terrible outcome that would result due to their disbelief in Him, but yet they ignored the message and doubted the mission of the apostles. Many powerful nations lived before ours of which we are not even aware of. No one knows about them except Allah. Therefore, Allah is telling us about them through His messages in the Qur’an so that we take heed.
Here we get to understand the nature of the opposing minds what prevents them in believing in Allah. They are reluctant to accept a human being like themselves as an apostle. They normally prefer or expect a super normal being to make such a claim. As a result we see people’s tendency is to bow to any power beyond their control no matter what or who it is. Therefore, they look for UFOs, Aliens or a Superman to bow down to and obey. They are not willing to accept and acknowledge an unseen God whose existence could be felt in intellectual pursuit. Besides, they are also unwilling to adopt any practices of worship that contradicts what they have learned from their ignorant predecessors. They are so comfortable with those meaningless rituals and practices that unless they see a convincing miracle they would not compromise. Many of the prophets did show their people some sort of miracle to convince them; while that worked for some, but did not work for all. Thus, the division remained.
Allah is the source of all power. Nothing happens without His permission, even the miracles that are performed by the apostles. Contesting His existence is not going to help us. Therefore, it is better and wise to put ones faith in Him in complete submission, not partial.
Indeed, there is no reason for our disbelief in Allah. All signs and logic manifests His existence. Everything becomes easy to understand if and when His presence is acknowledged. Disputing it does not solve anything, rather it complicates matters further.
Those earlier nations that disobeyed and rejected the apostles and caused them harm were made to perish by Allah. Those nations no matter how mighty and strong they were did not survive for long. Discovery of skeletons and fossils reminds us of those ignorant nations that used to live before us. The great flooding during the time of Prophet Noah (peace be upon him) caused most the rebellious nations to perish. The Ad people who were giants with great strength ( سورة المائدة , Al-Maeda, Chapter #5, Verse #22) also perished, and so on.
Believers always flourish under the protection and mercy of Allah in this world and in the hereafter simply because they have put their trust and faith in Allah and His promise of the day of tribunal or judgment. One may now ask why then the Muslim majority countries are in such a mess today? The answer is very simple; the so called Muslim majority countries have abandoned Islam to adopt secular democracies denouncing faith in Allah thus falling into the traps of Satan, the same trap where the disbelievers to have fallen.
Like the earlier ignorant generations, a segment of our generation too is seeking victory and decision in their goal to implement the New World Order. They too would face a similar fate like their earlier predecessors.
After their defeat in this world their punishment will continue in the afterlife where they will be given boiling fetid water to drink in hell.
Just trying to drink that water would not end the matter, other form of punishments would continue.
Once I was asked a question by a disbeliever who objected by saying that your Allah is unjust if he throws away all the good deeds of a good person. I replied by saying, it would be unfair of one to seek blessing for good deeds from someone whom one did not or does not believe in. Allah is making it clear in the verse above that none of the good deeds are acceptable if the faith in Him was absent. Belief in Allah is the first and foremost requirement for calculation of good deeds for any sort of rewards.
In this verse Allah is drawing our attention to His creation of the heavens and the earth that we are capable of witnessing with our very eyes. How magnificently He created the earth as one of the planets of the solar system all floating in vacuum in the heavens with no pillars or strings on sight to hold them. They are all following their own courses ( سورة الأنبياء , Al-Anbiya, Chapter #21, Verse #33) primarily circling the sun as a nucleus as we also find in the smallest component of the an atom where the electrons are encircling the nucleus a very mechanism that is in existence in pretty much in everything – large and small. Even when we go for hajj (pilgrimage) we circle the Kaaba (the house of Allah), which is the center of the world as proven by the Golden Ratio (1.61803399) theory. Allah applied this ratio in all His creations and planning that clearly shows He was and is the only Lord and the original Creator and a sole Planner.
A perfect creator like Allah would have no problem removing us and add a new creation in our place as he did earlier with the Dinosaurs ( سورة البقرة , Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #30) that used to live on each other causing bloodshed. Furthermore, He has already proven His ability to do so by replacing the earlier nations or generations by us as we have discussed above.
What we are reading here is the future dialogues of the disbelievers on the Day of Judgment when they will blame each other for a way out realizing very well that they were wrong all along. Allah will be in front of them prepared to judge each and every soul resurrected in flesh and blood from the first human being Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) till the last person born before the Day awaiting a decision. The very Lord whom they doubted and denied will be in full presence causing fear and distress in their hearts finding no one to intercede or meddle for them.
Now we are reading a future confession from Iblis - the king of the villains who was transformed into Satan for his disobedience of Allah’s command ( سورة البقرة , Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #34). This Iblis is a notorious character from among the Jinn race ( سورة الحجر , Al-Hijr, Chapter #15, Verse #27) who took up battle against Allah willingly knowing very well that he have no change of winning. He does not compel anyone to follow him, but only “whispers” ( سورة الناس , An-Nas, Chapter #114, Verse #5) into the hearts of mankind thus causing one to fall into his traps. The worshippers of Satan have been given a false “promise” that he is unable to keep that will be a matter of disappointment for his followers on the Day. The members of the Church of Satan, the Illuminati, Freemasonry, etc as well as followers of all the “religions” ( سورة المائدة , Al-Maeda, Chapter #5, Verse #3), all will be deceived by him.
The qualifying condition for being admitted into the gardens of the heavens is to believe in Allah and do righteous acts. Believing Muslims (not all so called Muslims are believers though; see سورة البقرة , Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #8) salute each other with “Salaam!” which means “Peace!”. Muslims in the heavens too will do the same.
Here comes the verse that got me into writing this whole paper that I consider to be the core of all messages on faith. The parable here is of a tree whose roots are firmly fixed and its branches reaching to the heavens. This parable is similar to the fairy tale of “Jack and the beans stock” with the only difference is that it is a made up story but Allah’s message is not. So what is the mystery of this verse in particular? This parable refers to the core declaration of faith as “goodly word” that is so powerful if believed that could lead one to the gardens of the heavens. A magnificent reward is awaiting those who believe and act on the Kalema Taiyeba. Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi said the following in his Tafhim al-Qur'an (The Meaning of the Qur'an) about the meaning of the “goodly word” that he translated as “pure word” as follows:
Though the expression literally means "Pure Word," here it stands for "Truthful Saying and Righteous Creed". According to the Qur'an, this 'Saying' and 'Creed" are the acceptance of the doctrine of Tauhid, belief in Prophethood and Revelation, and in the lift of the Hereafter, for it declares these things to be the fundamental truths. (Surce: http://www.searchtruth.com/tafsir/tafsir.php?chapter=14 ).
Therefore, we see that this goodly or pure word is basically a word of creed, which is about tauhid; in other words, Kalema Taiyeba.
The tree of faith is such that it bears fruit all the time with the glory of Allah.
In the same token, Allah is also giving us a parable of a tree that is unstable and shaky simply because the word is evil – full of false promises that would not materialize. One may argue here that the Satanists become a fan of Satan because they do get some of their desires fulfilled. True, it is only on earth through his magical powers that he possesses, but all his powers will become useless on the Day of Judgment. The Jinns do have certain powers that humans do not have. But even on earth they become powerless against a believer who always seeks refuge to Allah from the plots and ploys of Satan or evil Jinns ( سورة الأعراف , Al-Araf, Chapter #7, Verse #200). There are some Jinn who are believers ( سورة الأحقاف , Al-Ahqaf, Chapter #46, Verse #29).
Here comes the guarantee that the believers will stand firm and strong against the evil as long as the Kalema is believed and practiced.
All the good news comes with warnings. All the favor of Allah will remain as long as the conditions are fulfilled. If we turn our faces from His favors and become ungrateful, He too will turn away from us allowing us to enter the house of perdition.
Again a reminder about the condition of hell as an evil abode.
The Pauline Christians have put up idols of Jesus Christ in their places of worship calling him the son of god, which is a direct violation of what Allah is saying about Himself ( سورة الإخلاص , Al-Ikhlas, Chapter #112, Verse #3). He is specifically and categorically mentioning that their concept of Trinity is a blasphemy and one should desist and abstain from such belief and utterances ( سورة المائدة , Al-Maeda, Chapter #5, Verse #73). The believers too must abstain from erecting statues, idols, pictures and images to show off power and authority as it is done in government offices where the image of head of state is hanged symbolizing power. We must not forget that Islam came to abolish idols and images of every kind. Believers should abstain from creating and erecting statues, idols and images even in the name of art. One would fall into disbelief if does so or approves of it.
Here Allah is explaining whom he considers as a believer and what is expected of them with a guarantee of success.
Allah is bringing the reality of life to us that we perceive as a natural phenomenon, but actually mentored by Allah Himself and all His creations have been subjected to mankind for their benefit so that mankind could worship Allah worry free and with dedication fully relying on Him alone.
In many of the stories of new Muslims who reverted to Islam I often hear about Allah answering their prayers at desperate moments. Many atheists have said that although they never believed in existence of god, they too when in despair call on one god for help saying that it occurs to them very naturally as if that god is there whether we acknowledge Him or not. And the best part is, God responds regardless of ones belief and faith if called without any association of anything with Him invoking Him directly. In that understanding what we are reading in this verse is the confirmation of this matter as a fact that he does respond to our calls if it is free from any type of blasphemy (shirk). But the whole matter turns sad and futile if and when one turns his or her back to Allah after benefiting from His help by returning to their old lifestyle again in ingratitude.
Finally, we are reading a verse mentioning Prophet Abraham or Ibrahim (peace be upon him) on whose name and honor this chapter is devoted. Prophet Ibrahim was an interesting prophet who discovered Allah through intellectual and logical inquisitions. In this verse he is seeking Allah’s protection from worshipping idols that our present day Muslims society no longer objects to. Mindlessly they erect statues and idols in and around the cities and their dwellings forgetting the fact entirely that Islam was establish to do away all type of idol worshipping, may it be in a form of art or recreation or entertainment or beauty. There should be no statues, idols and images of power in a Muslims society or in a Muslim house, period. Muslims bow only to Allah the almighty who is unseen by our naked eyes, but not beyond comprehension.
Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) continued to pray for his future generation to Allah for their safety and security. His future generations are not necessarily from his own families, but also from the family of true believers.
Here is an acknowledgement of a prophet about the ability of Allah who is aware of everything (hidden and open) that is going on throughout the universe. If we pay close attention to this chapter of discussion alone what we see is that the information presented from the past, present and the future randomly yet harmoniously verifying all facts and figures and the things to come. All information is coming from a single source – i.e., Allah as the narrator of the history of creation(s), universe(s), and mankind without any contradiction or discrepancy ( سورة النساء , An-Nisa, Chapter #4, Verse #82).
Ismail and Issac
were the sons of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him)
born out of two different mothers Hagar and Sarah respectively; Ismail being the first born. Descendants of Ishmail are the Muslims today while the descendants of Issac are the Jews. In this connection, Muslims and Jews
are basically cousins in relationship within the same family of Ibrahim (as) as the common father of both the lineages. The
Jews and the Muslims have enjoyed harmonious relationship from the time of our
Prophet Muhammad (s) and lived together in peace. Even today many Jews are
living in the middle-eastern nations under Islamic rules. The division that we
witness today is mainly between the Khazarian
Jews who adopted this religion originating from a location in present day
Our father Abraham, the discoverer of monotheism continued to pray to Allah for himself and for his future generation to keep them obedient to Him by establishing regular prayers. He is also seeking help and protection of Allah for himself, his parents and all the believers till the Day of reckoning that all other prophets after him also used to do. We as believers should do the same in repeating these prayers to Allah for protection and safety.
Those who do not offer their prayers to Allah and do not seek His help and support has been given a temporary respite so that that they could enjoy their life here on earth for a time being as they will be deprived of all the good in the life hereafter.
In the above verse Allah is describing their condition with an example saying that they are so busy with the affairs of this world that they do not have time to reflect on themselves to contemplate on their state of affairs thus resulting in a gap full of void and emptiness that would yield no results for them on the Day.
On the Day of horror when everything will be clear and open like a broad daylight the disbelievers will seek a second chance to do things right, but their appeal will be denied. The last sentence is telling us that all soul did make a promise to Allah before coming to this world that they would obey Allah and do things right. But Satan made them forgetful of their promise to their real Lord; hence the warning and a reminder.
One needs to be mindful on the discoveries we make from time to time. Because all the discoveries we make helps us to understand a matter as a clear signs. For instance, there have been discoveries of many skeletons of the giant human race that existed earlier that dates back thousands of years proving the fact that mankind lived for many years than the scientific counting disproving the theory of evolution and proving the Qur’an correct and a valid historical document. But ironically those findings and discoveries of skeletons disappear and go back to hiding again. The disbelievers are playing hide and seek with science and archeology to keep people in the dark away from their true Lord God Allah.
Allah is fully aware of the attempts made by the disbeliever to hide the truth from people and acknowledging it as their mighty plots, but none of it is hidden from Him.
While acknowledging their plot to be so powerful that it would shake a hill, Allah is promising retribution. Take 9-11 for an example; they have planned a long global war leading to World War 3 with the intention to depopulate the world by destroying the twin towers themselves blaming it all on Muslim hijackers using fake identities; a monstrous plot and a lie. Allah is also reminding us of His promises that He made to us through His apostles. He is prepared for the promised retributions.
He is giving us some hint on how He is going to organize the retribution by telling us that our present day earth and heavens will be changed to a different earth (will be rolled out as a plane) where all the people from the day of Adam (as) till the last day will be resurrected in a physical form again raised from the dead. Bringing a dead DNA back to life in our modern day science clearly shows that it is definitely possible to bring us back to life by Allah.
Sinners and the disbelievers will be bound together in groups separating them from the believers.
Their torment will begin from that Day by burning in a garment of fire.
It won’t take much time for Allah to take account for each individual.
Finally in the conclusion of the chapter Allah is referring to the Qur’an as a message for mankind to take warning from and get to know and recognize Allah as the One True God, which is what tauhid is all about, reverting back to Kalema Taiyeba. This book Qur’an is the last and the final message from Allah revealed to His last and final apostle Muhammad (s) (See سورة الأحزاب , Al-Ahzab, Chapter #33, Verse #40 and سورة محمد , Muhammad, Chapter #47, Verse #2)). Therefore, in order to obey Allah we need to obey Prophet Muhammad (s) ( سورة الفتح , Al-Fath, Chapter #48, Verse #29), i.e., his Sunnah justifying the Kalema – “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” who ought to be followed.
Kalema Taiyeba is completed by Allah by inclusion of Prophet Muhammad (s)’s name and designation; as no more prophet will come to remind mankind. As a substitution to this process, Allah has given mankind the Holy Qur’an guaranteeing its protection from all possible corruptions. Therefore, mankind is free to inspect this book by reading it trying to understand the meanings instead of just judging it by the cover.
From the above discussion we can now safely conclude that the goodly word or pure word is sufficient enough for one to earn paradise. Islam is all about words and utterances followed by actions based on those utterances with understanding of their meaning. We become a Muslim by uttering the kalema; we recite words of Allah from the Qur’an; we recite the Qur’an and Darood in our prayers as taught by our Prophet (s); we make vows and intentions with words; etc. Therefore, it is all about ‘pure and goodly words’ that centers around - لا اله الا الله محمد رسول الله .
Now here comes the final blow. The original verse # 24 in Arabic is as follows:
ألم تر كيف ضرب الله مثلا كلمة طيبة كشجرة طيبة أصلها ثابت وفرعها في السماء
Now pay attention to the bold part of the ayat and read it! It SAYS “كلمة طيبة “ (Kalemat Taiyebat)! All the translators and interpreters of the Holy Qur’an missed to notice that these two words are actually referring to the same Kalema Taiyeba which is the foundation or the declaration of faith in Islam. Unnoticeably, all the named and famed scholars translated these words as goodly word, pure word, পবিত্র বাক্য, etc thus overlooking the fact that this ayat or verse is actually talking about the first condition of becoming a Muslim. In Arabic “كلمة” means “word”; and “طيبة” means “good”. Therefore, when they translated the words they just simply translated these words as well over looking the fact that these two words in particular were not to be translated without making it clear that this is referring to same kalema we recite to become a Muslim. As a result, when they did their tafsir or interpretations they missed it as well. But not Moulana Rahim!
This also proves that our basis of learning Islam from translated sources could leave us with many loop holes that could lead us to misunderstandings. And this particular case proves that. All Muslim must learn Islam from the original Arabic sources after learning the language thoroughly. Without Arabic, a Muslim is incomplete.
Moulana Muhammad Abdur Rahim wrote many books on Islamic topics during his lifetime that are quite popular. I would suggest that we familiarize ourselves with his ideas, thoughts and understandings about Islam by collecting and reading his works on various topics. Khairun Prokashoni is the primary source for all his books where Late Moulana Rahim’s youngest son Tarek looks after his publications. This publisher is known and reputed to be the publisher of authentic and quality Islamic books in Bangla. If one is interested in getting a copy of the book that motivated me to write this paper may collect a copy from the book stores at Katabon Masjid book market or directly from the publisher –
কালেমা তাইয়েবা। মওলানা মুহাম্মাদ আবদুর রহীম (রহঃ)। আই, এস, বি, এনঃ ৯৮৪-৮৪৫৫-০০-০ । খায়রুন প্রকাশনী। ফোনঃ ৭১১৫৯৮২, ৮৩৫৪১৯৬, ০১৭১৫১৯১৪৭৭, ০১৭১২১৮৫০০০ ।