إِنَّ هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ يَهْدِي لِلَّتِي هِيَ أَقْوَمُ وَيُبَشِّرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ الَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا كَبِيرًا
Indeed, this Qur’an guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward.
وَأَنَّ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ أَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا
And that those who do not believe in the Hereafter – We have prepared for them a painful punishment.
These V. 9-10 introduce the commands to come in Surat-Al-Isra. These verses are talking about how the Qur’an guides to the way to live this life that results in having the best in this life and the best end in the hereafter. This is guidance that is comprehensive, it is for all aspects of life, it will address all matters in life, these matters are all interconnected since the verse is referring to Tariqa or the path of living this life to arrive at the best end. Allah refers to the Qur’an as a live, dynamic, intelligent Book that surpasses the limitations of time, location, and people, it guides everyone, everywhere, anytime.
Akwamأقوم has five meanings:
- Contains multiple bounties
Verse 9 gives a summary of the best way of life that is to be a believer and do good deeds, they will have multiple rewards, while those who disbelieve in the afterlife they have a horrible punishment prepared for them. The key Allah (SWT) mentions is the lack of belief in the hereafter. When people don’t believe in the hereafter they don’t choose to live according to the best life. Even when people who disbelieve in the hereafter do good it is about self-fulfillment. We have it in us to do good, so people who disbelieve in the hereafter they are hungry to do good, they feel something is really missing in their lives so they will do good deeds to fill that void, but those deeds done without Iman will not help them in the hereafter.
The guidance covers all aspects of life. We can put them into categories:
Relationships- individual with own elements (intellect, emotions, and physical needs), spouses, families, communities, nations, ethnicities/races, among religions,
لَّا تَجْعَلْ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَٰهًا آخَرَ فَتَقْعُدَ مَذْمُومًا مَّخْذُولًا
Do not make [as equal] with Allah another deity and [thereby] become censured and forsaken
This Ayah is talking about those who commit shirk, they take another God alongside Allah or in place of Allah. When people make shirk they are making it themselves according to their desire, and it has no proof for it. The verse begins with negation for several reasons. One is to emphasize that only Allah (SWT) and nothing else is to be worshipped. Also it acknowledges the default of the tendency of shirk among human beings, we must first weed before we seed to be successful, humans have to put in effort to eliminate shirk. Shirk creeps in like weeds, so we must continue to work to remove shirk. The minute we neglect our Iman, the shirk can creep in. This is why we have the prescribed ‘Ibadah, we need to constantly connect to the Qur’an etc. Those who commit shirk and never repent will become condemned and humiliated by Allah and all the creation (madthmumمذموما ), in addition you will be abandoned and forsaken even by those you always relied on when you are at a time of your greatest need for their help (Makhdhulمخذولا ). People today in many religions have a belief in a savior who they have strong faith in and reliance on (Jesus, Buddah, etc.) they will not help these people who committed shirk on the Day of Judgment. So the inverse of this for those who have TawHeed will be honored by Allah and all the creation and they will be saved at the time when we need saved most.
وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا ۚ إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُل لَّهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا
And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.
It is commanded for us to worship only Allah, we are not forced but commanded to do so. Allah (SWT) begins with negating that we worship anything except Him. He begins with negation to eliminate any worship to anything, and then the exception comes for the only truly One worthy of being worshipped. An interesting thing to note is that when the Prophets (AS) command their people they begin with telling their people to worship Allah, and don’t worship anything else. Allah (AWT) when He is telling the expectation He gives the ultimate form of TawHeed, but the Prophets are working with misguided people, so they start with the first thing first worship Allah (SWT) and remove all shirk. The prophets give the message in the way the people can respond to.
Next Allah (SWT) says and to parents excellent treatment. The Qadaa from the first command of worshipping nothing but Allah also applies to the treatment of parents. Allah doesn’t use a verb because he wants all interactions with our parents to be done with Ihsan. Treating parents with Ihsan is an act of worship.
Ihsan إحسانا – Means the most excellent (quality), perfection, Ihsan means it is done in a one way direction, with no expectation or condition from the parents for the excellent treatment. It should be given in all matters of life, and Ihsan should be given to them at all times. Ihsan also means it is done happily. The parents are extremely happy with you when you have truly performed Ihsan.
Allah (SWT) mentions also when the parents are elderly. This is the time when they are most in need from us. Allah (SWT) also mentions not to even say “uff أف ” to express some negative attitude in serving the parents; this drops our service below the level of Ihsan. He also mentions not to rebuke the parents which are the opposite of Ihsan. Allah (SWT) says instead to use Kareem speech, meaning we express that whatever we have done for them is nothing compared to what we owe them, that we tell them we wish to do more for them.
وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا
And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.”
Allah (SWT) mentions to lower the wings of humility. When we are adults and our parents are old, we are powerful, successful, able to do whatever we want, we should put all of those things at the service of our parents. We approach them with humility, though they may be in a state where they depend on us we treat them like royalty, and we treat them with rahma, love, compassion, and mercy. Treating them with Rahma means not treating them with justice or equality, that we give our parents only what they have given us, we give them without equality, we give them without keeping score.
Here in this verse too that part of our good treatment of parents is to make du’a for them all the time. We get a motivating reminder too that our parents brought us up, we could not have made it without our parents.
رَّبُّكُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا فِي نُفُوسِكُمْ ۚ إِن تَكُونُوا صَالِحِينَ فَإِنَّهُ كَانَ لِلْأَوَّابِينَ غَفُورًا
Your Lord is most knowing of what is within yourselves. If you should be righteous [in intention] – then indeed He is ever, to the often returning [to Him], Forgiving.
Here Allah tells us that He knows what is in our hearts in our core, so sincerity is a must for the good we do to be accepted. None of us is perfect so we have to make repentance. No one should feel that they are no good, or worthless to Allah (SWT), this can lead to despair or people looking for dead or living intercessors which is shirk. Though we have faults we just need to turn back to Allah (SWT) He is telling us He is The Forgiving for those who turn back to Him. He mentions if we are doing righteous deeds and constantly turning back to Him, He is The Forgiving. Being good/righteous is up to us, we have to put in the work.
وَآتِ ذَا الْقُرْبَىٰ حَقَّهُ وَالْمِسْكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَلَا تُبَذِّرْ تَبْذِيرًا
And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveler, and do not spend wastefully
Here we get another two sided command, what to do and what not to do. Here Allah (SWT) tells us to give to our relatives their God-given rights due exclusive to them because of their blood relationship to us. We owe our relatives the maintenance of the connection we have with them. We cannot cut them off, severe our relationship with them. How do we maintain this connection we owe to them. We call them, we visit them, we communicate with them, we support them financially, or give them a gift in a consistent way. Consistency is the key in maintaining the family ties. If we don’t give our rights to or get our rights from those most deserving of it then we won’t give others the rights that we owe them. A lack of family responsibility leads to a general lack of social responsibility. If people are raised in a family that has cut family ties, they will be a person who cuts off all social ties, they won’t care about other people whatsoever. Cutting off family ties generates bitterness and hatred towards other people. People are social beings, we have a drive to socialize, this is why we see so many pets in the society here, and people are cut off from their families so they fulfill this drive to socialize with pets.
Allah (SWT) also extended this idea of treatment of relatives to treatment of the needy or anyone who has lost the basic necessities of life at some point in time. Ibn Sabeel, means someone who has lost their relatives, who has no family, they are called the son of the road because they are on their own. There is no mention of Bint Sabeel, because in Islam there should never come a point where there is a woman with no support system, her father, brother, uncle, husband all are responsible for maintaining her. There is truly something wrong with a society if they have bint Sabeel. Also the use of Ibn (son) of the road means there is a psychological need in this person, they are cut off from family they feel isolated socially, so the right due to the ibn Sabeel, is to make them feel a part of the community along with helping them materialistically. Our society has become technical, so we technically fulfill their need, we materialistically provide for the ibn Sabeel, but we don’t provide for them socially and psychologically so we have not given them their right due. If a traveler knows that he will get his right he will travel without anxiety or stress. People today are stressed when traveling because of this lack.
Allah (SWT) mentions not to overspend on even the halal things. For Muslims they should spend on what is necessary to fulfill a need. The things that are good to spend on we should spend moderately on things we need or spend the minimum to fulfill our need. For things that are unnecessary any spending on them would be considered Tabtheer. If someone is always spending on unnecessary things this is falling under this verse.
إِنَّ الْمُبَذِّرِينَ كَانُوا إِخْوَانَ الشَّيَاطِينِ ۖ وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِرَبِّهِ كَفُورًا
Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful.
Here the people who spend unnecessarily are considered the brothers of Shaitan because to spend wastefully is really cultivating ingratitude in us. If we really valued the money we have then we would not spend it wastefully. It trains us to fulfill our lustful desires immediately; this is the trap of Shaitan to corrupt us. If we are trained to give in to ourselves, and then we are unable maybe to afford what we desire, then we get angry and frustrated that we can’t get it, and then this leads us to be unhappy with what Allah (SWT) has given us. Being wasteful in spending leads us to be ungrateful; it gives us the qualities of the shaitan, so we are like his brother.
وَإِمَّا تُعْرِضَنَّ عَنْهُمُ ابْتِغَاءَ رَحْمَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكَ تَرْجُوهَا فَقُل لَّهُمْ قَوْلًا مَّيْسُورًا
And if you [must] turn away from the needy awaiting mercy from your Lord which you expect, then speak to them a gentle word.
Allah (SWT) is talking about a time where we may be in some circumstances where we cannot give the poor and needy their right due to them. This tells us what to do if we are in these circumstances; we tell them some comforting words. We have to realize that their right is due to them. The right of the needy is a debt on us, we cannot excuse ourselves from it, as Allah (SWT) is telling us.
وَلَا تَجْعَلْ يَدَكَ مَغْلُولَةً إِلَىٰ عُنُقِكَ وَلَا تَبْسُطْهَا كُلَّ الْبَسْطِ فَتَقْعُدَ مَلُومًا مَّحْسُورًا
And do not make your hand [as] chained to your neck or extend it completely and [thereby] become blamed and insolvent.
Here Allah (SWT) describes the attitude of some people who act when it comes to charity as if their hands were chained to their necks. They can’t spend even a penny for anything; they are so attached to their money. Allah (SWT) also mentions the people who spend their money out of control. Both of these behaviors will leave a person blamed and full of painful regret. For the one who spends too much, they will end up possibly in poverty. While the one who is a miser they will destroy all social connections in their attempt to hold on to their money. They also make money their god, they cherish it and adore it. Also on the Day of Judgment they will be in trouble for their misuse of their money.
إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيَقْدِرُ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ بِعِبَادِهِ خَبِيرًا بَصِيرًا
Indeed, your Lord extends provision for whom He wills and restricts [it]. Indeed He is ever, concerning His servants, Acquainted and Seeing.
This verse Allah (SWT) tells us that He is the One who gives the sustenance based on His knowledge. He either gives it in a limited way or gives a lot to people based on His knowledge. We must remember that Rizq is more than just money. The first meaning of Rizq is good manners and character, then come material things, and then come health, family, knowledge and talents. The Prophet (S) used to ask for the good manners and ask to not have bad manners.
وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا
And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.
Here Allah talks about not looking at their children as a materialistic thing. Also it is a kind of shirk, they think they are controlling the Rizq (sustenance). Allah (SWT) is telling us that He gives the sustenance, and that because they have children Allah (SWT) sustains the parents with more because of the children. Here also is a contradiction, because normally we are willing to spend everything for our child, but here people are killing their children due to a firm belief of falling into poverty. In the previous ayat, Allah explains how to manage money to give security from poverty, so there should now be no fear of poverty.
There are also forms of killing the child, not just physically. If we don’t raise our children as Muslims as connected to Allah (SWT) we are killing them spiritually. Allah mentions those without faith as being dead. To spiritually kill them is equal to physically killing them, or actually worse. Imam Al Ghazali said he feared the fake scholar more than the fake doctor, the fake doctor can only physically kill a person, but the fake scholar can misguide people and ruin their afterlife. If we don’t teach the children Adab (good character) then we are killing their character, or morally killing. If we are a tyrant and oppressing them this kills them psychologically. If we give them whatever they want to the point that we get into giving them Haram things this is another form of killing them.
Allah (SWT) says that destroying the kid is the greatest of sins. If we damage the children it goes to the whole society, it goes to the future generations it is a huge sin.
وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا الزِّنَا ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَسَاءَ سَبِيلًا
And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way.
This command is do not even come close to Zina (Adultery) to say don’t come close, means don’t do the action or anything that leads to the action. This is a proof for prohibiting free mixing, and a proof for all gender relations rulings. No makeup, no dating, no flirting, no immodesty etc. Anything that leads to Haram is Haram, so anything that could lead to Zina is forbidden. The list is very long, but is summarized in this verse. Some people go to extremes and don’t let even women come out of the house, which is taking it too far, it should be balanced. As the Prophet (S) said the halal is clear and the haram is clear and between them are ambiguous things, so whoever guards himself from them has saved himself.
Zina has so many negative consequences. In societies that have Zina as common, the family structure is broken down. When the family structure is broken down then the society becomes angry and violent. People don’t feel connected or respect to their parents. Marital relations which is supposed to be a private act, becomes a public act. More Zina means more illegitimate children which means more strain on the societies resources. It breaks down marriage, when people have many relationships without any responsibilities they don’t like having relationships with responsibilities.
Allah says it is Fahisha, which means it is a public sin. It is the kind that will spread and infect other people. Allah (SWT) says it is an evil way, we all have this reproductive desire, but to satisfy it this way (Zina) is the worst way to do it, it is evil, will never satisfy the desire and will cause so many problems. It is unacceptable logically, morally, Islamically, it destroys human relationships. It leads to objectification of the opposite gender by both sides. They see them not as human beings, but as objects to satisfy their desire.
وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ ۗ وَمَن قُتِلَ مَظْلُومًا فَقَدْ جَعَلْنَا لِوَلِيِّهِ سُلْطَانًا فَلَا يُسْرِف فِّي الْقَتْلِ ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مَنصُورًا
And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly – We have given his heir authority, but let him not exceed limits in [the matter of] taking life. Indeed, he has been supported [by the law].
No soul is to be killed except by Allah’s (SWT) permission. It has to be done institutionally, through a judicial system. This means never killing innocent people No suicide is allowed, because no one has the right to take their own life. It also means no killing is allowed based on suspicion; it can only be done through due process. The Prophet (S) said “avoid applying the legal punishments through finding doubts.” All other systems besides the Islamic are unjust. Killing a soul has many forms, people who experiment on people, or who start war without a just cause, or when countries use weapons of mass destruction that kill without any considerations for innocent people.
The default for any soul, living thing, is to not be killed except for a just right. Allah (SWT) has made a soul something sacred, unless there is a just right. To kill an animal requires a reason, for eating, or to save people. To kill a human being requires even more evidence for it to be just, the death penalty would only be justified for someone who has committed pre-meditated first degree murder. The right of a soul is to be sacred, never killed, unless the other right of justice comes to override the first right.
If someone was killed unjustly then their heir has the authority to seek justice, and they cannot go beyond justice, so they can’t try to pay the person back more or with more suffering than they experienced. The death penalty is the right of the heir/guardian of the murder victim. They can forgive it, or ask for it to be rightly implemented; it is not the state’s right. In Islam the victim’s family is first compensated, and they can have the just death penalty implemented. In Qisas (death penalty) the judge or government cannot go beyond justice and cannot go against the victim’s wishes.
Even in our fitrah we know a soul is sacred. This is why we see war veterans coming back with post-traumatic stress disorder because they have taken life. Their own soul is disturbed by the killing they’ve done in the war, and they cannot get over it.
In Islam there are only five crimes that Islam have prescribed punishments. These five are called the hudud: life for a life, stoning the adulterer, amputating the hand of the thief, lashes for the slanderer, and lashes for the alcohol drinker. When we look at these they are justified. When it is mentioned to amputate the hand, it is referring to a professional thief, someone who has made it their choice of living to steal from others. Amputating the hand is the best punishment, it is a deterrent, and it removes the means of stealing from the thief. It brings total security for property. We see in the Muslim world, though there is extreme poverty, people are able to leave their stores unlocked while they go to pray. While in western societies there is theft everywhere. Theft is so widespread that it is accepted and expected, so people have to take responsibility for not being robbed, we have to buy locks and alarms and so on.
The Islamic criminal law is the best justice system. Allah (SWT) says the Qur’an guides to what is best, so even if people take part of what the Qur’an teaches and apply it, then it will still work though only part of it being used. If a people with Iman take it all comprehensively, this will produce the ideal society. The contrary is when people use manmade laws that contradict the shari’ah then it will never work. Also if Muslims don’t apply the shari’ah consistently then they will not get the ideal society. Allah (SWT) says that in Qisas there is life for you. People are free to enjoy life, their rights are protected, and their lives are protected.
The punishment for adultery is very harsh, because for someone who is married, and has a halal outlet for their desires, for them to go and commit adultery, cheat on their spouse this is truly cruel and evil. The punishments in Islam are to uproot the crime, to remove it from society. Stoning is a very strong deterrent if people witness a stoning they will reflect on it; in addition the society has many guards against adultery, no free mixing between the genders, no flirting, no dating. This system means that adultery will either never happen, or will be kept hidden from society. Adultery is a great evil, it destroys families and society. It removes the compassion from the families because the family is broken. This is why we see disbelieving people going to do a lot of charity work because they have this compassion (rahma) in them that wasn’t channeled into their families.
وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا مَالَ الْيَتِيمِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ حَتَّىٰ يَبْلُغَ أَشُدَّهُ ۚ وَأَوْفُوا بِالْعَهْدِ ۖ إِنَّ الْعَهْدَ كَانَ مَسْئُولًا
And do not approach the property of an orphan, except in the way that is best, until he reaches maturity. And fulfill [every] commitment. Indeed, the commitment is ever [that about which one will be] questioned.
Orphans in Islam should be wealthy, because Islam teaches that they are to be provided for, and they should have inheritance, endowments, and community support. Allah (SWT) here is telling people not to even come close to messing with the wealth of the orphan. People used to try to marry orphans into their family so they could get some of their inheritance, Allah (SWT) here is saying even if you bring them into your family then don’t even come close to their wealth. Allah (SWT) said in surat-AnNissa that those who consume the wealth of the orphan are consuming fire, to emphasize the evil of this exploitation of the orphan. Some scholars believe that any wealth that belongs to something that cannot provide for itself is considered a Yateem (orphan). That would mean this verse is referring to all wealth that is provided as donations or endowments must be treated this way. At times Allah (SWT) says do not do an act specifically, like do not murder or do not cheat the scales in business. When Allah (SWT) mentions any social ills He says do not approach them. The reason is some evils affect only individuals, but social ills have a mass multi-layered effect on the society. Taqwa fails in two areas, money and lust, once a person starts to indulge in these areas they will lose control and end up indulging in these sins. The exception in approaching the Yateem’s money is only to improve it, to make it grow or increase until they are mature.
Allah (SWT) also mentions in this verse to fulfill covenants and promises. There are moral principles that accompany any covenant that we establish. Say for example we intend to start a business as a form of ‘ibadah and plan to give extra profits as sadaqah. If the person after getting success from Allah (SWT) changes and starts to go back on what they intended then this is part of breaking the covenant. Allah (SWT) may ruin the business, or may increase it which allows them to further their sin and destroy their hereafter. الْعَهْد means a covenant, of any kind including the intention behind some act. If with the business example the person’s children would inherit it and not fulfil the covenant, this could lead to blame on the parent for not passing on the covenant and blame on the children for not keeping the covenant.
We have so many things we intend or plan to do, and we fall short in this. If we start anything with certain intentions and expectations these are a covenant with Allah (SWT) then if we change after some time then we could be breaking that initial covenant. The reasons the covenant doesn’t continue often is because a lack passing on the message. This is one reason that Ibraheem (AS) was Khaleel Allah, it is because he passed on his covenant to his offspring, and he even made a contingency plan by praying for Allah (SWT) to send a Prophet to renew his covenant (Muhammad). Ibraheem had tried to convey the message in Iraq, Sham, and Egypt and failed in those heavily populated areas. This is part of why Mecca was chosen because it was a pure place, free from the establishment in those other heavily populated areas. In cities or populated areas there is always an establishment and they always resist the Message.
We should be conscious of what we intend with Allah (SWT) so we don’t break the covenant. The greatest covenant we took was when Allah (SWT) gathered all of our souls and asked Isn’t He our Rabb? We testified yes, we then fulfill that in our lives by believing, submitting and especially when we make Hajj.
وَأَوْفُوا الْكَيْلَ إِذَا كِلْتُمْ وَزِنُوا بِالْقِسْطَاسِ الْمُسْتَقِيمِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا
And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with an even balance. That is the best [way] and best in result
Things that we exchange must be based on standard managements. This is the way to have just exchanges. It makes for honesty in the society when people are honest in business. This verse refers to the quantity and the quality; the quality must be measured, by examining the properties of the material, the merchant must be open about the quality and quantity. The Prophet (S) said when it comes to the basics of life, it is ok if the buyer takes some advantage of the seller, as long as both the buyer and the seller were satisfied, this is also why the Prophet (S) forbade people buying from the seller and then selling it for a higher price to make a lot of profit. He allowed no middle man. We see this for example in this country we produce enough grain to feed the world, but the government buys the grain and controls the prices. It is obvious the good in this, all people have access to necessities, and there is honesty and trust in the society. وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا means that the final end will be best, so on Judgment Day they will be successful, it also refers to the best goal, best moderate result. Different groups will work for different goals and ends, usually they are going to extremes, Allah (SWT) gives us the best goals and ends.
وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۚ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَٰئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُولًا
And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.
Allah (SWT) mentions our tools for gaining knowledge, eyes, ears, intellect. This verse is telling us to only pursue things that are ‘Ilm, meaning only pursue things that have proof for them. If the proof stands for something then it is ‘Ilm. Things that are not ‘Ilm are things that don’t have proof, so falsehood, fiction, fantasy, a lot of social theories, and philosophical ideas, suspicion, don’t have any proof yet people can waste their lives on these things. Allah (SWT) is ordering us to seek knowledge ‘Ilm. When people use secular science people think that it contradicts religious sciences. This is contrary to the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) gives us so many empirical proofs for the religious sciences. The secular, non-religious people will deny anything from the unseen world, they only accept material causes. Allah (SWT) is saying this not the case. There are empirical evidences for the unseen. We see organization in the universe this causes us to ask why it exists, this why can only be answered by the unseen. When we see this proof for the existence of the unseen things, then when a Messenger comes with a Book that gives us more explanation of the unseen then we must accept it. When people don’t rely on proofs this leads to the destruction of life and the afterlife of people. This verse is telling us if there is anything without any proof then don’t waste time on it.
The senses collect information, the information is processed by the brain, and this information is given value by the Fuadh/heart. Knowledge is given value and we behave towards according to that value. The seeds of the value are already present in the Fuadh from Allah (SWT). These seeds are the Fitrah. The values we have compliment what is in our Fitrah, the meanings resonate with the Fitrah in order for us to give it value, if something doesn’t resonate then we don’t value it. Sometimes the people corrupt their fitrah so they value the wrong things. Here we see the difference between internal motivation and external motivation. Internal motivation is coming from our Fuadh, and external is coming from outside influences. We will be asked about what is coming from our heart.
When atheist or secular people make claims about reality or religion, they use the tools of their senses, but they don’t have the connection to the fitrah. They don’t have a reference or criteria. Knowledge is that which guides people, it must come from the Creator to be legitimate, and otherwise any human can say their intellect has decided this or that and it should be just as good as any other human using the same tools.
We will be asked how we behaved with the knowledge we have, or if we didn’t get the knowledge we need (Knowledge of the Deen) then we will be asked why didn’t we use the tools to get it.
وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا ۖ إِنَّكَ لَن تَخْرِقَ الْأَرْضَ وَلَن تَبْلُغَ الْجِبَالَ طُولًا
And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height
Walk is not the only thing meant by this verse, it means going around in our daily lives. This going around leads to accomplishments, these accomplishments should never lead to us becoming arrogant, and self-centered. Whatever our accomplishments are, they should be expressed in service to Allah and humanity. Most of the time we are moving in an arc on the earth, the only way to move straight would be to fly or to tunnel through the earth, if we could surpass our physical limits, then we could maybe be justified in being arrogant, but we cannot. The word Kharq means to damage things, people have a tendency to damage things to get short-term, selfish benefits, we should never think that this is good. We need to do things the right way, without damaging everything around us. Also if we try to transcend the limits by Allah (SWT) our bodies can’t handle it, we damage ourselves. Allah (SWT) has made the earth ideal and nice for us, when we alter the earth for our greed it leads to harming ourselves.
List of Values mentioned in Surat-Al-Isra needed to produce the best life:
- Values around faith and worship- TawHeed, No Shirk
- Values around knowledge and learning- Don’t pursue that which you have no knowledge
- Values around family, kinship, and society- Excellence to parents, give to relatives, No zina
- Values around media and communication
- Values around economy and money- Don’t overspend, Don’t be miser, give full measure
- Values around prevention and health
- Values around rights and responsibility (security)- give to poor and needy, Don’t kill children for fear of poverty, No Murder, No taking wealth of orphan, fulfil covenants
- Values around beauty and art
- Values around the environment- Don’t walk on the earth arrogantly
In order for life to be good it has to be measured by these values. When a society is claiming to have a good life, then it must be measured against these values. These are precise criteria. Allah (SWT) introduced these values in v. 9-21 of this surah. He builds these values on what is mentioned in these verses:
- Having a good hereafter
- Getting the good things, and not the bad we ask for out of ignorance
- Day and night remind us that time is going forward
- To give us the best life here and in the hereafter
- We have accountability we have our record, these values give us a good record
The life needs to be valued based on humanity and what human beings need, this is determined by the One who created human beings.