Diploma in Qur’an and Tafsir Studies I explores the first half of Juz’ Tabarak from Surah al-Mulk to Surah al-Jinn. These are some of the most powerful surahs in the Qur’an. Despite all the advances in education, science and technology, the level of thinking of people has fallen drastically. The people do not think anymore – they either don’t have the time to think or they do not know how to think. If at all they think, their thinking is very shallow and narrow – i.e. very superficial. But what differentiates humans from animals is their ability to think deeply and broadly. If man does not think that way he becomes like an animal or even worse, as described in the Qur’an.
How do we become people who think and how can we sharpen our thinking? No doubt it is only through engaging with the Qur’an intimately that we can become people who think. Qur’an urges us to think, reflect, ponder, explore, see, hear, read, research and imagine. It also teaches us how to do these with the advice and the examples of the greatest of thinkers of all time such as Ibrahim (AS) – the beloved of Allah (SWT) and Muhammad (SAW) – the messenger of Allah (SWT).
These surahs of the Qur’an are the ideal places to start as the surahs therein are succinct, yet with very deep and profound meanings that would shake and change the thinking of the people. This course is suitable for every Muslim.
Module 1 – Introduction to Juz’ Tabarak + A Detailed Tafsir of Surah Al-Mulk
Surah Al-Mulk is one of the most powerful surahs in the Qur’an. But what is the secret behind the power of this surah?
The Surah starts by describing the greatness, power, dominion and sovereignty of Allah (SWT) and goes on to describe the natural world, hinting that there is a great connection between the two. Then, two types of people described – those who are losers and those who are winners.
They will say, ‘If only we had listened, or reasoned (used our minds), we would not be with the inhabitants of the blazing fire,’ [Surah Al-Mulk 67:10]
But there is forgiveness and a great reward for those who fear their Lord though they cannot see Him. [Surah Al-Mulk 67:12]
Is this the key to the message of this surah – that we should develop our minds to see Allah (SWT) although the eyes cannot see Him; that we should use our minds and reflect on the Ayaat (signs) of Allah (SWT) both in the Qur’an and in the universe; and how does Surah Al-Mulk help us to achieve this?
Module 2 – A Detailed Tafsir of Surah Al-Qalam
It appears to be a time of the year when some ridicule is trying to be hurled at the Prophet (SAW) and the Muslims. This is not a new occurrence but is as old as the advent of the Prophet (SAW). It is a coincidence that Surah Al-Qalam is to be explored this weekend together with Surah Al-Mulk in the first of a year-long series of seminars. Surah Al-Qalam is the response of Allah (SWT) to the ridicule and abuse made towards His Messenger – Muhammad (PBUH) by the disbelievers and the hypocrites.
Like Surah Al-Mulk which starts by powerfully exalting Allah (SWT), Surah Al-Qalam starts by Allah (SWT)’s exaltation of the Messenger (SAW).
Nun. By the pen! By all they write! Your Lord’s grace does not make you [Prophet] a madman: you will have a never-ending reward–– truly you have a strong character–– and soon you will see, as will they, which of you is afflicted with madness. Your Lord knows best who strays from His path and who is rightly guided. So do not yield to those who deny the truth–– they want you to compromise with them and then they will compromise with you–– do not yield to any contemptible swearer, to any backbiter, slander-monger, or hinderer of good, to anyone who is sinful, aggressive, coarse, and on top of all that, an imposter. [Surah Al-Qalam 68:1-13]
Oaths are often used in the Qur’an. They are connected to what follows in that Surah. In this instance, Allah (SWT) swears by the pen and what is written by the pen. Is there a relationship between the pen and what is written here in this Surah? According to Shaykh Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi and others there is a very strong relationship. The oath is there to make people understand that men of letters (those who write) know for sure that what the Prophet (SAW) came with (the Qur’an) is not something a mad person or a liar or a lunatic could come up with and that the Prophet (SWT) could never be a mad person or a lunatic or liar because “you are on an exalted standard of character” (ayah #4). The rest of the Surah then elaborates on this argument. The Surah ends with:
The disbelievers almost strike you down with their looks when they hear the Qur an. They say, ‘He must be mad!’ but truly it is nothing other than a Reminder for all peoples. [Surah Al-Qalam 68:51-52]
This Surah is as if it has been revealed to us fresh from the heavens with regards to the incidents of the past weeks. What better opportunity can we have to explore this Surah in detail and have a greater understanding of the Prophet (SAW) than to study it with one of the foremost Islamic scholars and thinkers of the Western world today? Furthermore, if one cannot attend the seminars in person they can access it live online from anywhere in the world and follow it with their family and friends. In these seminars you will study the intricate and subtle but very important connections between words and ayahs within the surahs to gain a well rounded and deep understanding of the Qur’an, which is very rare these days to find. No amount of reading books or listening to talks can compare to studying with a qualified scholar and a teacher of this calibre even for a short time.
Module 3 – A Detailed Tafsir of Surah Al-Haaqqah
Why Is The Hereafter More Obvious Than The Present Life?
“The Hereafter (Aakhirah) is more obvious than the present life although people don’t realise it. Everything in this life points to The Aakhirah – it is more obvious than ones own existence. Allah (SWT) has called the resurrection and afterlife ‘The Reality’ and called the present life ‘delusion’, ‘play’, ‘conjecture’, ‘diversion’, ‘amusement’ and ‘deception’…”
Today many people think that the Resurrection and the Afterlife are tales made up by the ancients to keep the society in check and to exert their authority on the general masses, and that these are superstitions in which the people should no longer believe. No doubt that the abuse of some religions have led people to this conclusion. However if one looks at the Qur’an, the Hereafter is expressed in such terms that one will have no doubt whatsoever that it is the Reality and that without it, nothing has any meaning and also that the whole universe points to that Reality. Our birth, life and death points to that reality; so is our speech; vegetation and animals; rain, thunder and storm; our self-reproaching souls; the sun, the moon, the earth and the stars; oceans and mountains – everything points to the Creator and to the Reality – The Resurrection and The Hereafter.
But how (will they fare) when we gather them together against a day about which there is no doubt, and each soul will be paid out just what it has earned, without (favour or) injustice? [Qur’an 3:25]
Allah! There is no god but He: of a surety He will gather you together against the Day of Judgement, about which there is no doubt. And whose word can be truer than Allah’s? [Qur’an 4:87]
Look, then, at the imprints of God’s mercy, how He restores the earth to life after death: this same God is the one who will return people to life after death – He has power over all things[Qur’an 30:50]
We, Muslims are reminded of this Reality in every prayer when we recite Surah Al-Fatiha and say <<Master of The Day of Judgement>>. However our outlook, attitude, thinking, behaviour, aspirations and actions are not very dissimilar to the people around us who deny the Reality and say
There is nothing except our life on this earth, and never shall we be raised up again [Qur’an 6:29]. Why is this so?
The seminar on Surah Al- Haqqah – The Inevitable Reality – deals with the question of Resurrection and Hereafter that every human being must confront. It also gives us valuable clues as to why we Muslims today are seemingly not focused on the Hereafter despite being told that
Verily the Hereafter will be better for you than the present[Qur’an 93:4]
Module 4 – A Detailed Tafsir of Surah Al-Ma’aarij
“Surahs come in pairs in the Qur’an. The pair of Surah Al-Haaqqah is Surah Al-Ma’arij. Surah Al-Ma’arij deals with the Day of Judgement and The Hereafter from another perspective.” – Shaykh Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi
Surah Al-Ma’arij – the twin half of Surah Al-Haaqqah. Surah Al-Ma’arij also deals with The Day of Judgement and The Hereafter but from a different perspective.
Module 5 – A Detailed Tafsir of Surah Al-Nuh
Nuh (AS) is one of the five special prophets chosen by Allah (SWT). The others are Ibrahim (AS), Musa (AS), ‘Eesa (AS) and Muhammad (SAW). Nuh (AS) lived for over a thousand years and his mission was unique:
He said, ‘My Lord, I have called my people night and day, but the more I call them, the further they run away: every time I call them, so that You may forgive them, they thrust their fingers into their ears, cover their heads with their garments, persist in their rejection, and grow more insolent and arrogant. I have tried calling them openly. I have tried preaching to them in public and speaking to them in private.’ [Surah Nuh 71:5-9].
His story shows how much he cared for his people despite their constant opposition and rejection for 950 years. To pursue a mission like this for such long time is no easy task. Even his own family rejected him. Therefore Allah (SWT) has made his life an example for the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his followers to emulate in patience, persistence, perseverance and concern for the people:
He said, ‘My people, I am here to warn you plainly. Serve God, be mindful of Him and obey me… [Surah Nuh 71:2-3].
So how do we follow him in the 21st century Britain?
Surah Nuh – The Struggle of The Prophets
Module 6 – A Detailed Tafsir of Surah Al-Jinn
Jinn, Black Magic and Exorcism – What Is The Reality?
On the day He gathers everyone together [saying], ‘Company of jinn! You have seduced a great many humans,’ their adherents among mankind will say, ‘Lord, we have profited from one another, but now we have reached the appointed time You decreed for us.’[Qur’an 6:128]
We sent a group of jinn to you [Prophet] to listen to the Qur ‘an. When they heard it, they said to one another, ‘Be quiet!’ Then when it was finished they turned to their community and gave them warning. [Qur’an 46:29]
Men have sought refuge with the jinn in the past, but they only misguided them further.[Qur’an 72:6]
There are so many stories of “Jinn Possession”, “Black Magic” and “Exorcism” in the Muslim communities. However very few know what the reality of these situations are. Very often gullible people are exploited for profit by charlatans who pretend to be religious. But what is even more disturbing is to see some religious people carrying strange beliefs about the Jinn because of ignorance, here-say, legends, tradition, culture and “experience”.
No doubt there are so many confusing questions about the Jinn. But who do we turn to for answers? Do we go to “professional exorcists” or to knowledgeable and pious Islamic scholars who are the inheritors of Prophets and Messengers?
Allah (SWT) revealed Surah Al-Jinn to the Prophet (SAW) as guidance on this matter.