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The reality of the life of this world – Looking at Surah Yunus, Part I

Posted on Aug 15, 2017

This is the first part of a series of articles looking at Ayaat 22-25 of Surah Yunus, which describe the reality of the life of this world, employing very powerful language and imagery. Written by Shafiul Huq.

Verses 22-25 of Surah Yunus touch upon some important themes in a very powerful manner. Some of these themes include the sudden changes that can take place in life, shifting human attitudes with changing circumstances, Allah’s (swt) mercy despite our wrongdoings, the fleeting nature of the life of this world and the everlasting nature of the hereafter.

The language and imagery employed in the verses are absolutely mind blowing. Although a deep appreciation of the verses require knowledge of the Arabic language and cannot be achieved in a brief article, it is still worth highlighting some aspects of the language and aesthetics of the verses which, hopefully, will help us appreciate the verses a bit better.

“He is the One who enables you to travel on land and at sea, until when you are aboard the boats, and they sail with those on board, under a favourable wind, and they are pleased with it, there comes upon them a violent wind, and the wave comes upon them from every direction, and they think that they are surrounded from all sides, they pray to Allah, having faith in Him alone, (and say,) “If You deliver us form this, we shall be grateful indeed” [Yunus:22]

Verse 22 mentions one of the greatest bounties that Allah (swt) has bestowed upon us – the ability to move about on land and at sea. The verse starts off by describing a scene of great happiness – people on board a ship, enjoying a wind that is blowing favourably in the direction of their sail.

However, things change all of a sudden when a strong, unfavourable, merciless wind comes unexpectedly from the opposite direction causing waves to rise from every direction. Then the scene is that of chaos. The people’s happiness vanishes in a moment, and, again:

“they think that they are surrounded from all sides.” 

The imagery is similar to that of being surrounded by enemies on all sides with no hope of rescue.

Image result for japanese boat in storm

For some, the idea of hard times doesn’t cross the mind until such difficulty comes violently knocking at the door. What could we learn about life from reflecting on the many things we personally have not yet lost?

In such a dire situation, the people on board the ship turn to Allah in sincere du’a:

“They pray to Allah, having faith in Him alone, (and say,) “If You deliver us from this, we shall be grateful indeed.” [Yunus:22]

Note the multiple agents of emphasis employed in the du’a that is quoted in the verse:

  1. “La in anjaitanaa” (if you deliver us…): The laam at the front denotes an omitted qasam, or swearing an oath. Almost like: “We swear by You, oh Allah, that if You deliver us from this…”
  2. La nakoonanna” is in the most emphatic form possible in the Arabic language. Almost as in: “We definitely, definitely, definitely will be…”
  3. min al-shakireen” (…of the thankful): Note that the people did not say la nashkuranna i.e. “We will definitely thank you.” Rather they said, “We will definitely be from amongst the thankful.” There is a significant difference between the two. If they said, “We will definitely thank you”, that could mean they would thank Allah (swt) once, twice or a handful of times. Rather they said they would be from amongst the thankful, which means that thankfulness is going to be their state of being – they are continuously going to be in a state of thankfulness, instead of thanking Allah (swt) merely once or twice and remaining heedless the rest of the time!

For these desperate people, it was a strong and passionate du’a reflecting the utter desperation of the people on board the troubled ship:

“We swear by You oh Allah that if You deliver us from this, we shall definitely, definitely, definitely be from amongst the thankful!”

In the next article, we will look at Allah’s merciful response to the du’a and people’s ingratitude despite being shown such mercy.

Shafiul Huq is a Melbourne-based activist. He is also a student of Classical Arabic and Cultural Studies.

Is Islam a “reasonable” belief?

Posted on Aug 1, 2017

The following is part of the transcript to a talk delivered last year at an event in Melbourne titled “Is Islam a reasonable belief?”

[Shafiul Huq speaking]

The question we want to address tonight is not merely a theoretical question that a bunch of (radical) uni students happens to feel curious about.

Rather this question seems to have a very widespread appeal, especially in this particular historical moment – in the era of science and reason.

Political Theatre on again in “Anti-Terror” Raids

Posted on Jul 30, 2017

Raids were conducted by the police and intelligence officers on multiple properties in the Sydney suburbs of Surry Hills, Lakemba, Wiley Park and Punchbowl yesterday, allegedly in disruption of a planned attack to down an aircraft with an improvised device.

The Ideological Underpinnings of Modern Science

Posted on Jul 25, 2017


Many in the da’wah field have at some point attempted to use science to show Islam’s progressiveness, openness to “advancement” and inquiry. But is modern science ideologically neutral? And if it isn’t, is it something to be proud of if someone proved Islam to be true through science, or that Islam brought “science”, in the way it is meant today? Brother Shafiul Haq explores.

Is the “Science” of Sociology Really Universal?

Posted on Jul 13, 2017


Sociology’s claim to objective scientific inquiry was once assumed to be a given. In more recent times, it has come to be thoroughly questioned even within academia itself. With reference to the writing of Sheikh Taqiuddin Nabhani, br Shafiul Haq explores this turn in the questioning of sociology’s universal applicability.

A young Hafidh’s public murder in India and what it says for its Muslim minority

Posted on Jul 12, 2017


Muslims of India have been shocked recently by the latest grisly incident surrounding an innocent Muslim’s public, humiliating death. This time it was a young boy, fresh from completing one of the most noble tasks a Muslim can: the memorisation of the Qur’an. His death is a stark reminder of the precarious situation of India’s large but vulnerable Muslim minority, on whom the screws continue to turn in Modi’s polarised, hate-ridden social experiment. 

Iran’s Khamenei backs Kashmiris “facing oppression”, but supports the biggest tyrant

Posted on Jul 8, 2017


Iranian “spiritual leader” leader Ayatollah Khamenei said on Monday that the Iranian judiciary should “express its firm support or opposition” on international matters, such as the plight of the Muslims of Myanmar and Kashmir. The statement, made before the country’s judicial officials for Iran’s “Judiciary Week”, is mired in hypocrisy as Khamenei continues to fully support the most notorious tyrant of our times, Bashar Al Assad.

Moro Muslims face disaster as Philippines military bombards Marawi

Posted on Jul 6, 2017


Hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the Philippines remain in a precarious situation, caught in fighting between pro-ISIS fighters and a harsh government response that typifies President Duterte’s brutal treatment of the Moro Muslim minority. The city of Marawi has suffered devastation described “like that of Mosul, Iraq” as a result of the military’s constant bombardment of it over the past 2 months in response to an ISIS style and inspired insurgency.

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