Saturday, September 7, 2013

Nouman Ali Khan; Lessons from Surah Ar-Rahman.

I have always been very grateful for people like Ustaz Nouman Ali Khan (NAK). People like him makes teaching Islam to my kids easy & interesting. People like him makes youths excited to go to lectures and learn more about their religion. And trust me, he's a rare breed. It's not easy to get youth to be interested with Islamic lectures. And I don't blame the youth. It's not easy to stay awake during Islamic lectures. It's even harder to comprehend what is the content of the lecture. Most Muslim scholars (at least the Malaysian scholars) give lectures like the whole audience are retirees, grandpas and grandmas. Lectures are very long winded and hardly relevant.

Anyway, Ustaz Nouman Ali Khan was in Malaysia on 5th & 6th September. And we are so blessed to be able to attend all his lectures. Here are some of the points I captured from his first lecture on lessons from Surah Ar-Rahman.
He started the lecture with asking everybody to make the effort to memorize the surah. Make it a family challenge. Surah Ar-Rahman is the 55th surah in the Quran. It has 78 verses. But half of the surah contains the same verse repeated over and over again. So it might not be a mammoth task to memorize the surah. Are you up to it??
Picture is from here.

He started his introduction by explaining the 3 key ingredients of good communication.
  1. Content; say something purposeful, useful and meaningful. Do you realize sometimes people (me included) can talk and talk and talk round the bush and realize after 30 minutes there's hardly any content??
  2. Style; The way you talk to your teens or to your wife or to your student make lots of difference.
  3. Audience
Quran is the perfect speech. It's the best communication in existence. Allah teaches us to speak. Hence, when Allah speaks, He has the best content and style. Every passage in the Quran has an audience. Hence, the style is different when Allah talks to different people - the Jews, the Christians, the righteous people etc etc etc. 

To fully understand the Quran, we have to start with understanding the content, then understand the style of communication and the audience it's meant to be. For example, Surah Ar-Rahman was revealed during the late Makkan period. This was the time when the people of Quraish were getting more stubborn. They were not only indifferent and not interested with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), they were attacking him. That's why Allah repeat this verse so many times. 
47. Fabi-ayyi ala-i rabbikuma tukaththibani
Then which of the favour of your Lord will ye deny?

When you are talking to a stubborn person, you have to repeat the same thing so many times because they are not listening, right? Maybe out of the 20 times, it will go in once.

Before he moved on to the actual surah, NAK also explained the link between Ar-Rahman and the next surah, Al Waqiah. There are 5 key lessons in Al-Waqiah exactly in this order.

1. Highest ranking of people in jannah. Assabiqun assabiqun.
2. People of the right hand. Ashabul Yamin.
3. People of the left hand. Ashabul Shimal.
4. Allah reminded us the list of His creations - things around us that only Allah can do.
5. Allah talks about the greatness of the Quran

Check the 5 key messages in Ar-Rahman. There were exactly the same 5 key messages in Al-Waqiah. In reverse order. Wicked huh?? Is that a coincidence?? Definitely not. In communication, and in teaching, when we want to get our point across, we repeat and repeat the same messages, right? So this is Allah's way of getting his message across.

The uniqueness of Ar-Rahman is it starts with a verse that we can understand the meaning. Not a mutashabihat. Mutashabihat are verses in the Qur'an that are not entirely clear for many, or some people. Like Alif Lam Mim. Or Yaasiin. Or Alif Lam Ra.

Allah starts the surah with a word that we know to allow us to do some deep thinking of the word. Before we move on to the next word. What  does Ar-Rahman means? If you rely on English translation, the most common translation for Ar-Rahman is mercy. But Arabic is such a beautiful language that mercy does not really explain Ar-Rahman.
Ar-Rahman originates from the word ar-rahm. Which means the mother's womb. A child in the womb is taken care of in every way possible. Despite the fact that the mum and the child don't know each other yet. It's the unconditional love of the mother. She will do everything to protect the unborn child. That's what Ar-Rahman means. Allah loves us and takes care of us regardless of what we do. Mercy is usually associated with punishment. We asked for mercy when we are in the wrong side. But Allah is Ar-Rahman regardless of which side we are. Even when we are in the wrong side, even when we forget about Him, Allah loves us. Allah takes care of us. Allah will never abandon us. That's what Ar-Rahman means.

Another important aspect of the meaning of the word of Ar-Rahman is, it means it's happening right now. Like NOW. Allah loves you NOW.  Allah takes care of you NOW.  When we have problems, we pray and think of Allah. We ask his help. But we forget that Allah is Ar-Rahman. We get so overwhelmed with our problem, we forget all the other blessings that we are having right now. So reading the surah should reminds us that whatever situation we are in right now, Allah is there. He is Ar-Rahman. He is right there with us.

We don't appreciate things until it's gone. It's human nature. Remember the recent haze?? Remember how much we take the blue sky and the rain for granted?? In this surah, Allah keeps reminding us, then which of the favour of your Lord will ye deny?
Pic is from here.

Next, Ustaz NAK talked about the last verse of surah Ar-Rahman.
What does tabaraka means? Tabaraka= barakah. Barakah means something that will continue to grow in strength and in stability. It will continue to get better and grow beyond your expectations. Beyond what a human mind can comprehend. He thinks, because of this verse, every Muslim on earth should be an optimist.

Think of barakah from Allah everytime you do a good deed. If our intention of doing anything is for pleasing Allah, we will not expect anything from people. Nobody can discourage us. The true concept of barakah is Allah will bless our effort more than what we think. Even if you think you have messed up miserably. He gave us an example of his Arabic teacher who told him, regardless of whether there are students or not coming to class, he will still come to the class and teach. Because he believes in the concept of barakah. Don't underestimate the value of things that you do. Even the tiniest little thing. Allah will provide you barakah beyond your imagination. 

Moving on, he spoke about the 2nd and 3rd verse in the surah. The 2nd verse talked about guidance. The 3rd talked about creation. Why are the verse in that sequence? Why guidance first then creation? Not the other way round?
islam on Why Sura Ar Rahman starts with the divine attribute of "Ar Rahman"?
Pic is from here.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the best human being and the best teacher ever existed in this world. He also had the best curriculum to teach the Quraish. The Quran. Allah revealed the Quran in Arabic. The language of the Quraish. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taught them for 12 years in Makkah. And the Quraish still insisted they didn't get it. They mocked Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). They called him stupid and crazy. They tortured him. They did all sort of nasty things to him. They questioned his message. They challenged him regarding the day of judgement. They insisted he need to prove it. You kept telling us about the day of judgement (akhirat). But we cannot see it. Prove it to us. 

One only need proof because one don't have trust. Ustaz NAK gave an example. If you are in a building, and there's fire drill announcement. You don't see any smoke. Will you run and save yourself or you wait until you see the proof? Most likely, you will heed the advise and take the safety measures, right?? Why?? Because you trust the announcement come from the reliable source. The source with authority. You don't need proof once you have the trust. Does it make sense?? He said, only animal believe when they see it. Human will believe when they understand. You don't need to see to believe.

Anyway, the Quraish's arrogance and stubornness made Allah angry. But Allah is Ar-RAhman. Even when Allah is angry, Allah still loves us. Allah revealed this surah to answer the skeptics. The revelation of the Quran was an act of love from Allah to the mankind. If you want to find Allah's love, read the Quran. Establish a personal relationship with the Quran. Bit by bit. It take 23 years for Allah to reveal the whole Quran to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). So take your time. But be consistent. Start somewhere. It will change you, your perspective and your lifestyle. 

In the 2nd verse, Allah said; Allamal Quran. He has taught the mankind the Quran. He doesn't specify who. Just mankind. That means Quran is open to everybody.Teach Quran with love. Not hate. Stop using Quran to debate unnecessarily. Allah teaches us Quran because we are forgetful.. And we are continuously looking for love. Allah sends us the highest gift from above. The Quran. And He provides us the best teacher to teach us the Quran. Him, the Ar-Rahman. So are you accepting the gift?? If you do, Allah will make it easier for you. Go on. Start now. Pick up the book.

PS. This is my personal notes. I might misunderstood certain things. And missed out some points. Do correct me if I am wrong. And do add on if there are stuffs I missed. Let's learn together.

25 comments:

  1. Assalamu'alaikum wrwb,

    Thank you for sharing this. I'm sure many would benefit from this, insha Allah. I hope you don't mind me sharing this with friends :)

    Jazakillahu khair!

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  2. MasyaAllah... you repeated everything he said! Well done!

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  3. Jazakillahu Khayran sister.
    Brilliant summary.

    My understanding of 3rd ingredients of effective communication is more towards 'knowing your audience' which effects not just the style, but also the contents conveyed.

    The information I conveyed to a project stakeholders & engineers are tailored for each. One is abstract but exciting, the other is very detailed & boring. Swapping one for the other is a recipe for disaster. :)

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  4. Salam sis,

    I have been looking for this for sometime.

    I have just memorized the surah, it took about 1 month, Alhamdulillah.
    Now I understand why Allah wants me to memorize it. It really answers my heart spot-on.

    May Allah blessed you Sis. Jazzakillah Khayran.

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. Thanks for thè summary

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  7. This is a very beautiful writing and the effort to summarise this is even more appreciated. Thank you, barakallahu feekum

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  9. Jazzakillah Khayran im only 10 and this helps a lot to memorize it

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  10. Wonderfully noted , beautifully written, awesome effort !!!!!! May Allah bless u

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  11. Nouman Bhi , I am zahid Mehmood from Pakistn , I really impressed from your way of Teaching of the Holly Quran , I am a English teacher and often teach the student about how to Learn the Holy Quran , just like as You teach the others , How we can duvide the subjects and Verses also like Ayat tul Qursi,Sir in some subject or Surah I need your help , to teaching the Quran especially Pakistani Nation , and I have one complain to you if you donot mind , Sir you often laugh when you take and say about Pakistn , we are ignorant people but if you teach us then We will be Thankful to you , I mostly read and listen your lectures ,
    If you feel my complain then I am Sorry ,

    ReplyDelete
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  14. Salam..how many times is the verse...which of the favours of your Lord will you deny mentioned in surah rahman

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  15. Salam..how many times is the verse...which of the favours of your Lord will you deny mentioned in surah rahman

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  16. Thank you for uploading this.
    I am trying to memorize this surah now. I am almost halfway. And have been reading it everyday some few days. It takes away all my worries.
    And make me think of how much Allah cares and loves. And that I should try more to love this book.
    Jazzakallahu khair.

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  17. Thank you for uploading this.
    I am trying to memorize this surah now. I am almost halfway. And have been reading it everyday some few days. It takes away all my worries.
    And make me think of how much Allah cares and loves. And that I should try more to love this book.
    Jazzakallahu khair.

    ReplyDelete
  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  19. Alhamdulillah, this helps me understand the surah much better. Thank you very much

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  20. 31 times 'which of the favours of your lord will you deny'is mentioned started from verse 13. The unfo you have given is very helpful bro. Jazakhallah khair. May Allah swt reward you.

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  21. 31 times 'which of the favours of your lord will you deny'is mentioned started from verse 13. The unfo you have given is very helpful bro. Jazakhallah khair. May Allah swt reward you.

    ReplyDelete
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