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COVID-19: Recognizing Divine Control – Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

In this lesson, Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat reminds us of the need to look at the bigger picture. He encourages us to recite and reflect upon Sura al-Mulk (Qur‘an, 67), and looks at several lessons to help us deal with this crisis.

1) Have a good opinion of Allah and expect the best from Him, realizing that everything is under His Power and control. Allah takes care of everything, and will continue to do so. Even this trial contains much good (Shaykh Abdul-Rahim even suggests we make a list!). Indeed, believers find benefit in every circumstance through their response.

2) Relax and don’t they to micromanage—trust in God. Even the companions couldn’t understand some choices the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) made until later.

3) Turn to Allah Most High. Ask him for wellbeing, and “seek assistance in patience and prayer” (Qur‘an, 2:153).

This reminder is part of COVID-19: A Global Islamic Response series. As the Coronavirus pandemic spreads across the world, the Muslim community is struggling to find answers to many questions. Along with the critical advice of health and medical professionals, we are in dire need of Prophetic Guidance. In these videos, Muslim scholars and community leaders from around the world provides clarity in these challenging times on how people from all faiths should view and respond to the current situation. Watch the full playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list….

Just Forgiving–Shaykh Abdul Rahim Reasat

Forgiving someone is perhaps one of the most difficult virtues we are called upon to practice. Shaykh Abdul Rahim Reasat discusses the theme of forgiveness in the life of the Prophets, as well as the Companions.

We all are wounded at some time or another. Some wounds afflict the flesh, sapping our strength and affecting our ability to function as we did before. Usually, the skilled hand of medicine can mend these wounds.

Others, however, are deeper. They cannot be nursed, bandaged or even seen by those around us; yet their pain is just as keenly felt, if not more. Sometimes it is a harsh sentence from a loved one; or the betrayal of a friend; or unfair treatment from others. Whether real or perceived, these wounds are a part of life felt by everyone – even the elite of the Messengers, those of great resolve (Uluʾl-ʿAzm): Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, ʿIsa and Muhammad (Allah bless them and grant them peace).

The followers of Musa frequently said hurtful things about him, despite all that he had endured and done for them, which made it all the more painful. The Qurʿan tells us his pained response to them, ‘My people! Why do you keep offending me when you know that I am the Messenger of Allah [sent] to you?’ (61:5).

When wrongfully accused of being unfair, the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) consoled himself with the knowledge that people have treated other Messengers like this before him. He said, ‘May Allah be kind Musa; he was insulted with worse than this and was patient’ (Bukhari).

The Example of Abu Bakr

If this is the case, then how are we – as believers – to treat those who wrong us and cause us pain? What kind of response should we demand from ourselves? But, more importantly, how can we transform what hurts us into what heals us?

To answer these questions, let us look at a significant event in the life of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace): the false accusation of infidelity which was levelled against his wife ‘Aʾisha, the daughter of Abu Bakr. In this incident and the verses revealed regarding it, are a multitude of lessons for us all, as well as foundational principles for a healthy society. It behoves every believer to study it detail.

In short, ʿAʾisha was accidentally left behind when the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and a group of his followers we returning from a military campaign. She waited where they had camped the night before only to be noticed by Safwan b. al-Muʿattal, a young, righteous man of Quraysh, whose job was to pick up any items the army may have left behind. Upon seeing her he said nothing more than ‘We belong to Allah, and we are to Him returning’ expressing that he realised that the whole scenario was a test from Allah. He then gestured to ʿAʾisha to mount his camel and, without a word or a backwards glance, led her to where the rest of the army had next set up camp.

ʿAbdullah b. Ubayy, the chief of the hypocrites, wasted no time in spreading false rumours about the two; and unfortunately, several of the good believers, in moments of weakness, got caught up in the matter: Hassan b. Thabit, Hamna bint Jahsh, and Mistaḥ b. Uthatha all spread the vicious rumours. They circulated around Medina, causing a great deal of trouble amongst the Muslims for a month until Allah revealed verses exonerating ʿAʾisha. The latter three repented, and were given the punishment for falsely accusing a chaste woman. Ibn Ubayy was not punished because Allah had promised a terrible punishment for him in the Afterlife.

Our focus here, however, shall be on Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, the foremost of this umma, and the father of ʿAʾisha. His virtues and rank in Islam are unrivalled by anyone who is not a prophet, and his close relationship to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is known to all. He was also the cousin of Mistah b. Uthatha, who, incidentally, was also related to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace).

Let us now imagine what Abu Bakr and his family must have endured during this time. The pain this rumour brought on them must have been immense. As must have been the pain he felt on behalf of his daughter and the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) due to his immense love for them. When ʿAʾisha learned of the accusations he expressed that his family had never been accused of such a thing in the jahiliyya, so how was it possible that they do such a thing after having been honoured with Islam?

Not knowing the facts with certainty for over a month must also have taken its toll on him. In fact, as the verses were being revealed, ʿAʾisha – unfazed due to being her being certain of her innocence – noticed fear on the faces of her parents, lest the rumours be proved true.

It is difficult to imagine the full impact of these rumours on Abu Bakr given his social and religious standing, righteousness, great love for ʿAʾisha, and close relationship with the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). However, what is clear is that he must have felt betrayed, and a great deal of anger towards Mistah. Mistah was a close relative – and not only that – but Abu Bakr had been financially supporting him since they left Mecca due to Mistah’s poverty.

Before progressing, it is important to realise that events which hurt us  are always beneficial for us in the long term. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘No Muslim experiences any  tiredness, illness, worry, grief, offence, depression – not even being pricked by a thorn – except that Allah wipes out some of his sins [because of it]’ (Bukhari). Everything benefits the believer. The intelligent believers seek to maximise this benefit.

How Abu Bakr Was Called to Forgive

Abu Bakr did not respond by directing any verbal or physical aggression towards Mistah – which speaks volumes about his virtue and the supreme standard of conduct he imbibed from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) over the years. But, due to the pain caused to him by Mistah, he vowed that he would never give Mistah any more money after that day. This is a very understandable and human response; it embodies the restraint he showed due to the impact of religion on his life, and that he deeply felt the pain of this incident – something which makes his overall reaction even more amazing.

Allah, however, wanted to call him – and by extension, us – to an even higher standard of conduct. He revealed a verse addressing Abu Bakr primarily, but we are more in need of its instructions than he was.

‘Those of great religious virtues and wealth from amongst you should not swear that they will not give [anything] to close relatives, nor the destitute, nor to those who have emigrated for the sake of Allah. So pardon fully and overlook out of kindness. Do you not greatly desire that Allah forgives you? And Allah is All-Forgiving, Ever-Kind’ (24:22).

First, the verse clearly established the great virtues of Abu Bakr, which is a way of praising him, appealing to those praiseworthy qualities, and preparing him for another great quality he can add to these virtues. We should take this as in invitation for us to take on this noble quality too, as we are in much more need of virtues than Abu Bakr.

Next, Allah reminded Abu Bakr of the wealth that he had, which he spent on Mistah. In this is a reminder to us that all that we have is a gift from Allah, and that any favours we do to others are purely from the favour of Allah upon us.

Also, if those who we have been kind to do something to hurt us, then we should think of our sins in the face of the uncountable favours of Allah. Realising this means that we should go out of our way to embody the kindness Allah shows us despite our sins when dealing with those who have hurt us.

Allah then used a very interesting rhetorical device in the verse: He mentioned three qualities of Mistah – being a close relative, being poor, and being someone who left his home, wealth and property, to emigrate to Medina for the sake of Allah. Allah separated each of them with  the conjuction ‘wa’. The effect of this is that we are made to think that there are three individuals being discussed – not one. This a common usage in the Qurʾan, and its purpose here is to highlight each quality as being important enough to make Mistah deserving of the financial support he was getting.

His being related to Abu Bakr meant that Abu Bakr should take care of him for the sake of Allah, and the ties that bind them. In fact, those closest to us can usually cause the deepest pain, as was the case here, but that pain does not end the relationship.

His poverty made him deserving of financial aid because Allah has distributed His blessings amongst His servant so those who have more can give to those who have less. Helping the poor should not be seen as a favour to them; rather, it should be seen as means of thanking Allah for what we have been given.

Emigrating from Mecca to Medina was a great act Mistah did for the sake of Allah, and consequently, Allah praised him by mentioning it, and deemed him worthy of receiving continued financial support from Abu Bakr for it. Leaving one’s home, loved ones, friends, and comforts for the sake of Allah is a difficult experience, and usually riddled with tests and trials. In this is a reminder to us that we should never forget the good others have done, whether it is to us, or in general.

The verse then calls to two monumental character traits: ʿAfuw and Ṣafḥ. The former has a meaning of covering up and looking away from something which is usually given a lot of focus. Khalil b. Ahmad al-Farahidi, the great polymath, genius and authoritative scholar of Arabic, said the word implies not punishing someone who deserves punishment.

How Do We Forgive?

This is significant because the Qurʾan does not call us to put ourselves in the life of fire from someone who is actively trying to harm us. Rather, we learned from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) that ‘the believer is not bitten [by an animal] from the same hole twice’ (Bukhari). Practical steps to ensure one’s safety should be taken.

However, this does not mean that one should fixate on the harm others cause us as this usually makes the pain worse and longer lasting. Pardoning someone despite their wrongs is beneficial to one’s mind, body, and soul. Fixating on wound makes one angry, resentful and mistrusting of others. The constant dwelling triggers the body’s fight or flight response, exposing oneself to more stress and illness in the long term. It also prevents one from being a kind, forgiving person who wishes well for all of humanity – which is central to good character and the sunna of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

The latter trait discussed is ṣafḥ, which has a sense of turning oneself from something so one’s side faces it, and not focusing on the cause of pain. Some Qurʾanic philologists have suggested that this implies an underlying sense of kindness which would be the motive of such an act.

The verse then focuses on a very strong motive indeed: self preservation. It asks ‘do you not greatly desire that Allah forgives you?’ We are told to respond to the offences we receive from others in the way we wish Allah to respond to our crimes: forgiveness. There is a great dichotomy in not forgiving the servants of Allah, yet wishing for Him to forgive our sins.

Rather, what is implied in the verse is that forgiving – just forgiving – is a means to being forgiven by Allah. The verse ends with a strong, emphatic statement which can only be understood as a promise of forgiveness and more favours from Allah to those who forgive others: ‘And Allah is All-Forgiving (Ghafur); Ever-Kind (Rahim).’

The word gha-fa-ra – the root of the name al-Ghafur – has a sense of forgiving something that deserves punishment. Coupled with it is a nuance that implies Allah’s hiding one’s faults from others, and protecting one. The name al-Ghafur has a sense that no matter how great the amount of sins one has, nor their severity, Allah is prepared to forgive them.

The name al-Rahim comes from a root which implies a strong, inherent desire to do good to others and to be kind to them, and the name itself suggests that Allah is eternally like this. Exegetes of the Qurʾan mention that coupling these two names together means that Allah not only forgives criminals, but He then goes on to shower His gifts on them too. If that is the case with criminals, how will He be towards the righteous such as Abu Bakr.

Upon hearing this verse Abu Bakr exclaimed, ‘Of course; I do greatly desire that Allah forgives me!’. Thereafter, he not only forgave Mistah, but he actually doubled the amount of money he regularly gave him, and thereby embodying the meanings of the two names too.

All that remains is for us to to ask ourselves how we will respond to those who have hurt us…


Shaykh Abdul Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. He moved to Damascus in 2007 to study and sit at the feet of some of the most erudite scholars of our time, such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish.
In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies in Fiqh, Usul al Fiqh, Theology, Hadith Methodology and Commentary, Shama’il, and Logic with teachers such as Dr Ashraf Muneeb, Dr Salah Abu’l Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr Mansur Abu Zina amongst others. He was also given two licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabr and Shaykh Yahya Qandil.

His true passion, however, arose in the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, considered by many to be one of the foremost tafsir scholars of our time who provided him with the keys to the vast knowledge of the Quran. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic Sciences, Tafsir, Arabic Grammar, and Rhetoric.

When he finally left Jordan for the UK in 2014, Shaykh Ali gave him his distinct blessing and still recommends students in the UK to seek out Shaykh Abdul Rahim for Quranic studies. Since his return he has trained as a therapist and has helped a number of people overcome emotional and psychosomatic issues. He is a keen promoter of emotional and mental health.


Resources for Seekers

 

 

Ramadan: The Incinerator of Sins – Shaykh Abdul Rahim Reasat

Shaykh Abdul Rahim Reasat writes on Ramadan as the month of purification of sins through the fire of fasting, and what this means.

The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qurʾan was sent down as an outstanding, miraculous guidance for humanity; and as unmistakably clear instructions, and as the ultimate criterion [of right and wrong]. So whoever sees the month, let him fast during it; and whoever is ill or on a journey [is excused from fasting, but let him recover its virtue by fasting an equal] number in other days.

Allah wants ease for you – not difficulty. [He has legislated fasting and this dispensation] so that you complete the number [and attain the virtue in full]; and so you may magnify Allah for His having guided you; and so that you do indeed be grateful (Sura al Baqara 2:185).

Imagine a dry leaf blown into the air. Its fragile, shriveled, brown frame being toyed with by the wind until it dances its way into a huge, roaring fire. What chance does it stand against the flames? What will remain of it when the fire ceases to burn?

What if this leaf was one of our sins? Out of His infinite kindness, Allah has bestowed the believers a month so blessed that it incinerates all their previous sins just as this fire would burn the leaf – and that is only the beginning of its virtues.

The Fire of Allah

The word Ramadan originates from a root which means “to be intensely hot.” It is also used to describe rocks which have been heated in oppressive heat of the desert sun. Every word in the Qur’an has been specifically chosen to convey a precise meaning. Authorities in the field of Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir), such as ʿAbdullah ibn ʿUmar and Mahmud al Alusi, state that this word was chosen to show that sins are incinerated in the month of Ramadan. In fact, Anas ibn Malik and ʿAisha narrated the same understanding from the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace.

It is also rigorously authenticated that he said: “Whoever fasts Ramadan out faith and expecting [a reward] all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari) Although scholars usually interpret narrations such as this to refer to minor sins, there are many verses and narrations which indicate Allah can forgive anything and everything should He wish to do so.

The above verse continues by telling us that “the months of Ramadan is that in which the Qurʾan was sent down.” One of the many things we can infer from these blessed words is that part of the greatness Ramadan is its being chosen to be the month in which the revelation of the Qurʾan began. This means that the greatness of the Qurʾan adds to the greatness of Ramadan. As is the case with fasting in the daylight hours of the month, and standing in voluntary prayers at night to listen to the recital of the Qurʾan, the two go hand in hand. According to the great exegete, al Qurtubi, listening to the Qurʾan attentively is the quickest way to have the mercy and kindness of Allah shower down upon oneself.

The Purifying Word

Historically, Muslims have used Ramadan as an opportunity to return to reciting, reviewing and reflecting on the Qurʾan, which in turn is a reflection of the manner in which the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace, would recite the Qurʾan to the angel Jibril every Ramadan. In the final year of his life he recited it twice to him in Ramadan.

The resonance of its beautiful words coupled with with the purificatory effect of fasting has a deep impact on the soul. The companions felt the full force of this due to their mastery of Arabic, and the illuminating presence of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace.

To them the Qurʾan was a manifestation of the divine communicating with words of unmatched power, beauty and eloquence. The way in which the Qurʾan touched everyone at that time – friend and foe alike – was a testament its miraculous nature. The verse above reflects this, saying it “was sent down as an outstanding, miraculous guidance for humanity.”

Miracle of Miracles

The word “guidance” in this verse in indefinite. This is used as a rhetorical device to convey how unparalleled and miraculous the Qur’an actually is. Even a cursory look at the first five verses reveals that they are replete with references to the miraculous nature of the Qurʾan, and the favors of the Supreme Being who revealed it. Namely, the accurate description of the zygote and the blessing of the pen.

The former is such a precise a description – despite its microscopic nature — that it is impossible for any human to have known it at the time of revelation or even a millennium later. Who else could have revealed the Qurʾan besides the Creator of everything?

The blessing of the pen is best understood as a blessing of the recording and transmission of knowledge. Without this no-one would have been able to benefit from from the knowledge and experience of previous generations because knowledge would have been limited to that which can be memorized and transmitted verbally. Writing make conveying vast amounts of knowledge over generations possible and easy.

Knowing One’s Way

The word guidance has nuances which are overlooked by many. It is a metaphor comparing the knowledge needed to attain every felicity and success in this life and the next, to the instructions one needs to reach to a desired destination. A roadmap if you will.

This is juxtaposed with being lost and astray – which can happen before one is given sound directions or even after it. This is a metaphor for incorrect beliefs, actions, standards, and notions which distance one to the felicity of this life and the next. The worst scenario is when one is lost yet is unable, or unwilling, to recognize that fact and take the appropriate steps.

Allah said that Pharaoh and his minions “shamelessly denied [the miraculous signs of Moses] whilst their very souls were as certain as could be about them.” (Sura al Naml 27:14)

The Straight Path

Knowing one is on course brings a sense of relief and security – and the biggest concern is to maintain the course and increasing one’s progress and speed to the destination. Hence, the constant prayer in a believer’s life: “Guide us along the great straight way.” (Sura al Fatiha 1:5)

The verse continues by saying that the Qurʾan was revealed “as unmistakably clear instructions, and as the ultimate criterion [of right and wrong].” The word for guidance, hudan, is used twice. The first refers to the miraculous nature of divine guidance, as we have seen. The second relates to the actual instructions which set a believer on course to the pleasure of Allah.

So the Qurʾan guides through the general trajectory of its message, and through the specific directions it provides us. Therefore, there is no redundant repetition in the verse. These directions are primarily characterized as being “abundantly clear.” Anyone can recognize them, their logic and the nourishment they provide the heart and soul. The arguments are convincing, and the commands and prohibitions are all for the benefit of those accept them – despite them sent for humanity at large.

The Realization of Love

Take fasting, for example. Let alone the health benefits it provides the human body, fasting is a means to attaining taqwa; a quality which greatly endears one to Allah, until one is beloved to Allah. In fact, it is the central reason given us in the previous verse for the legislation of fasting.

It also fosters empathy within a believer. As sunset approaches, the fierce hunger within him opens up a realization of what others, less fortunate than one endure daily due to their circumstances. It is not an accident that charity is greatly emphasized in Ramadan. This empathy for the poor and the shared acts of fasting and night prayers also strengthen the sense of unity and brotherhood among believers.

Fasting also makes one appreciative of the blessings of food and drink. The thirst one feels while busy at work. The biting hunger that gets stronger as the day progresses. Both lead a believer to realize his neediness before Allah, and act as a reminder of the perspective Allah wants us to have in life: Allah Akbar. – Allah is more important than anything else.

In turn, He has promised special rewards for such acts. In fact, even the door of Paradise which people who fasted will enter from is called al Rayyan, meaning “someone whose thirst is completely quenched.”

Fast and Draw Near

Other commands are also just as clear in their logic and effect on a person. Whether it is Zakat which begins the purge of miserliness from oneself, or the good character which is the very foundation of happiness in life, or the Hajj which makes one realize he is part something greater than the mundane routines of his life.

Not only does the Qurʾan give these clear and logical directions, it also lays down a standard of morality which is rooted in our ultimate benefit; which, in Qurʾanic terms, is referred to as the Furqan. The ultimate criterion between right and wrong. Had right and wrong been left in the hands of humans it would have been subject to the whims of individuals and societies – changing as often as the weather. Anyone who wanted to justify a crime could do so due to the absence of an ultimate moral authority: how else could the likes of Firʿawn justify genocide?

However, Allah’s declaration of certain acts to be right or wrong has permanently answered the question of what is beneficial or harmful for us. Take wine for example. There are many benefits associated with it according to the Qurʾan itself, but ultimately its harm greatly outweighs them, so He commanded us to refrain from it.

Command and Dispensation

The greatness of the Qurʾan contributes to the greatness of Ramadan by virtue of the fact that it was revealed within it. When understood properly, the greatness of Ramadan lies in the huge opportunity it presents for us to draw closer to Allah. How? The verse continues with the answer: “So whoever sees the month, let him fast during it; and whoever is ill or on a journey [is excused from fasting, but let him recover its virtue by fasting an equal] number in other days.”

The command to fast the month is deeply profound, as it shows the beauty in the way Allah legislated matters in the Qurʾan. Had he said “fast during the days of Ramadan,” the legal implications would have been the same those of the actual choice of words; meaning that most people would have been commanded to fast the entire month.

However, people living in extreme latitudes for whom the time from one sunset to the next can be weeks or months, would not have been able to fast the whole month. Each day could be weeks long, so the verse would not apply to them.

But, by saying “So whoever sees the month, let him fast during it,” everyone, in all locations, is addressed by the verse. And in this is an indication that those living in extreme latitudes should calculate the days of Ramadan and fast accordingly, just as the Companions were commanded to calculate the prayers and pray accordingly during the abnormally extended days of Dajjal. (Muslim)

After Hardship Comes Ease

In order to gain as much benefit from this month, everyone is commanded to fast. However, at times people are placed in situations which makes fasting extremely difficult or impossible, so Allah granted a dispensation to those who are ill or traveling to alleviate their difficulties. This dispensation is actually mentioned in the previous verse, but it is repeated here after mentioning the greatness of Ramadan, lest someone think that one must fast in it no matter what his situation may be.

Subsequently, Allah apprises us of something of the wisdom behind this dispensation: “Allah wants ease for you – not difficulty.” With these words He told us that His rulings reflect His infinite kindness and mercy: we are made morally responsible to obey Him, and that leads to the place of ultimate ease – the Garden of Eden.

But, if applying His commands and prohibitions becomes difficult for us, then He has legislated dispensations which lift the difficulty from us until we can bear them once more. From this we can see that those who cannot fast in Ramadan are not bereft of its blessings because Allah always wants to manifest His kindness and mercy on us.

The Grace of Our Lord

Next, we are given the reasons why such great kindness has been shown to us in His giving us this blessed month, the blessed fast, and the much-needed dispensation. “[He has legislated fasting and this dispensation] so that you complete the number [and attain the virtue in full]; and so you may magnify Allah for His having guided you; and so that you do indeed be grateful.”

What we understand from these words are multiple points of wisdom behind these rulings. Fasting and the dispensation have been legislated so we attain all the benefits of this month in full. Even those who miss fasts due to illness or traveling attain the full fruits of Ramadan by the infinite generosity of Allah.

Had he willed he could have compelled us to fast no matter what the circumstances; or not given those who miss fasts in Ramadan its full rewards. Rather, He compensated for our deficiency with His kindness just like He wants us to be towards those less fortunate than us. What love, what kindness, and what greatness there is in this!

Reasons to Be Grateful

The next wisdom we can draw from the verse is the Allah did all this so we praise Him for having guided us – an act which He then rewards us for. There are many levels of guidance. The guidance from disbelief to faith. The guidance from ignorance to knowledge. The guidance from what harms us to what benefits us. The guidance to the blessings of Ramadan. The guidance to fasting and the dispensation for those who cannot fast.

For all this and more, it is fitting that we magnify Him by declaring His transcendence beyond imperfections (tasbih) and affirming that He possesses all perfections (tahmid). This is how we are to respond to His kindness, as well as gratitude.

The particle لَعَّلَ used in the verse normally expresses a hope for something, but what is understood from the context here is that there are so many reasons for us to be grateful that it is actually expected that we constantly thank Him for all of them. They range from the removal of our sins, to the blessings of the Qurʾan, to the benefits of fasting, to the ease He wishes for us…The list goes on.

May Allah enable us to thank Him always, and make this Ramadan our best, and most fruitful Ramadan yet. And may each subsequent Ramadan be better for us than the previous one. Amin.


Shaykh Abdul Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. He moved to Damascus in 2007 to study at the feet of some of the most erudite scholars of our time, such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish.

In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies in Fiqh, Usul al Fiqh, Theology, Hadith Methodology and Commentary, Shama’il, and Logic with teachers such as Dr Ashraf Muneeb, Dr Salah Abu’l Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr Mansur Abu Zina amongst others. He was also given two licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabr and Shaykh Yahya Qandil.

His true passion, however, arose in the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, considered by many to be one of the foremost tafsir scholars of our time who provided him with the keys to the vast knowledge of the Qur’an. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic Sciences, Tafsir, Arabic Grammar, and Rhetoric.

When he finally left Jordan for the UK in 2014, Shaykh Ali gave him his distinct blessing and still recommends students in the UK to seek out Shaykh Abdul Rahim for Qur’anic studies. Since his return he has trained as a therapist and has helped a number of people overcome emotional and psychosomatic issues. He is a keen promoter of emotional and mental health.


Life, The Universe and Everything – Shaykh Abdul Rahim Reasat

Shaykh Abdurrahim Reasat discusses how the burning questions of the soul and the satisfactory answers to them are predicated on the existence of a Creator.

Forty-two…!

It took Deep Thought, a super-computer built by hyper-intelligent beings, seven and a half million years to arrive at the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything – and the answer was … forty-two. Upon hearing this, Arthur Dent, the protagonist of the novels titled The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is thoroughly disappointed. He then embarks on journey to find the Ultimate Question to make sense of the answer.

Despite the humor of this plot twist (forgive me), two important points can be inferred:

    1. The burning question present in the soul of every human being: “What is the purpose of my existence?”
    2. The inability to reach a satisfactory answer without recourse to the being who created Life, the Universe and Everything.

The Souls Yearns for Answers

To the atheist, such as the author of the above work, we are nothing more than an unlikely result of an extremely improbable sequence of explosions, chemical reactions and mutations. To this mind, seeking purpose, direction, and meaning in life is akin to going fishing in the Sahara Desert: an exercise in futility.

Despite this, the same question gnaws at this type of person too. The amusements and distractions of life busy the mind, but the soul still yearns to find its place in existence. For some, this is a yearning which drives them to find their purpose in life, and for others it is an uncomfortable sensation to be numbed.

There Is an Instruction Manual

Unsurprisingly, the best place to look for the answer is in the instruction manual. Allah, out of His pure generosity, did not leave us to figure things out on our own after creating us. Rather, He sent us books and Messengers with answers and solutions to what we find ourselves in. The Qurʾan addresses the purpose of creating humanity on multiple levels – but the explicit reasons are given in three verses. Each of them is a facet of one unified purpose.

Before looking at these verses, it is important to understand that Allah is perfect, and far beyond needing or benefiting from us or anything we do. This is clearly expressed in the hadith narrated by Abu Dharr al Ghifari in which the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, quoted Allah saying, “My servants, you cannot cause Me any harm, nor can you benefit Me in any way!” (Muslim). Why create all this then? In order for Him to manifest His kindness and mercy upon us.

The first of the three verses can be found in Sura Hud: “Had your Loving Lord willed He would have made humanity one nation [united in faith; but He chose to give them a free will, so they disagreed with each other,] and they continue to disagree – save those who your Loving Lord was kind and merciful to. For that great, lofty purpose did He create them…” (11:118-119)

Khalifa of Allah

The first of these two verse alludes to what can be seen as a secondary reason for our creation: a test. Had Allah willed, He could have created humanity stripped of free will, compelled by their very nature to obey and worship Him as the angels do. In fact, the angels actually considered their lack of free will something which made them fitter for the role of the Khalifa of Allah (Vicegerent) on earth, who would do His bidding, and manifest His commands.


So, if we were created to be the recipients of the kindness of the most generous being in existence, why were we not created in Paradise, instead of being sent to earth first?


The reason for this is that they were guaranteed to obey. But a being with a free will, an ego, desires, and physical and social motives to disobey would likely end up committing the worst of deeds – not the best. Allah simply replied that He knew what they did not, before actually showing them that there are many things they did not know (2:30-33).

The consequence of having a free will, and the option to embrace divine guidance or reject it meant that humanity disagreed with each other – most of them choosing other than what is in the ultimate benefit due to the worst kind of myopia.

Others, however, chose divine guidance as their ship, and consequently remained afloat, benefiting in this life with the protection and care of Allah, and ultimately in the afterlife with unending, indescribable pleasure which neither slackens, nor does it lose its charm. All this is a manifestation of His mercy and kindness, without which they would not have made this choice.

The Ultimate Manifestation of Mercy

According to some of the greatest exegetes of the Qurʾan, including Mujahid, Qatada and Al Dahhak, the next verse tells us that this ultimate manifestation of mercy and kindness is the very reason Allah created us. To express this, the verse employs the use of the demonstrative pronoun ذلك – usually used to refer to something far – in a metaphorical sense to show high, tremendous, and remarkable it actually is.

So, if we were created to be the recipients of the kindness of the most generous being in existence, why were we not created in Paradise, instead of being sent to earth first?

There are many answers to this – all of which highlight the supreme wisdom of Allah. What serves our purpose here is the fact that the good – at the very least deserve to be rewarded for their choices and deeds, and those who are wicked deserve punishment for their deeds. Allah could forgive the latter group and give the former more than what they deserve; all of this would be a manifestation of mercy.

Therefore, it is necessary to show what each individual is deserving of. Some, like the atheist, will chose to disobey and turn completely away. others will bend over backwards to obey. And between the two extremes will be many others inclining one way or the other.

All this is known to Allah. But to display His justice we have been placed on earth to manifest these choices and deeds so none can say in the afterlife that someone was sent to the wrong place.

Worship as a Test of Will

The means to showing which stations of Paradise or Hell people should be in is simple: a test – which, we can now see, is a secondary purpose of creation.

The test is simple: belief in Allah and all which He commands one to believe in, and worship. The word for worship in Arabic,ʿibada, has an implied sense of being abject, abased and humbled before Allah. Once one is firmly in this state the “sweetness” of faith takes hold of a person, and he would hate to leave it just as someone would have to be thrown in Hell (Bukhari).

The reason being is that at this stage one is in tune with his purpose in life, which is clearly expressed by the second explicit verse in Sura al Dhariyat: “And I have not created Jinnkind and Mankind for any reason but to worship Me.” (51:56)


Performing one’s prayers, giving charity, being truthful, and other such deeds are all representations of one’s submission to the command of Allah.


This worship is not restricted to prayer, Hajj, fasting, etc. Rather, is it a tailor made test suited to each individual. Performing one’s prayers, giving charity, being truthful, and other such deeds are all representations of one’s submission to the command of Allah, yet the matter does not end there.

Following the way of the Messengers – which is the best possible approach in all matters – leads one to becoming beloved to Allah; the highest of goals, and one of the signs of success in the test.

Attaining Deep Humility

Persevering in worshiping Allah despite being in difficult situations is precisely why Allah chose Adam and his children for the role of Khalifa, and not the angels. This voluntary worship through thick and thin – with all the stumbling and apologizing that humans are prone to – is greater in the sight of Allah than the worship of those who have no choice.

It is the charity of the poor given to those needier than them. It is kindness shown to those who have wronged one. It is the forgiveness one chooses for those who have oppressed him. It is the resistance of someone against his miserliness when spending on others. It is the seemingly irrational trust on has in Allah when everyone and everything leads others to conclude otherwise. It is the gratitude one feels when seeing that others have less than one. It is the patience which one fortifies himself with when the difficulties of life rain down on one. In short – it is the divinely sanctioned, prophetic response to what one is tried with.

One may ask, “How does one attain this deep, humbled state before Allah?” The answer is given to us the third verse which explicitly answers the question we first started with. In Sura al Talaq, Allah says, “It is Allah who perfectly created seven unimaginable skies, and of the earth an equal number of layers – His rule is absolute throughout – so that you realize that Allah can do anything whatsoever, and that Allah has full knowledge of every single matter.” (65:12)

This verse is an invitation to know something of Allah’s greatness through His creation. The word khalq in Arabic means “to be created according to a specific plan.” Therefore all of existence has been perfectly created in the way it should be according to His knowledge and wisdom. Neither we, nor anything else in the rest of the universe, are the products of an extremely improbable sequence of explosions, chemical reactions and mutations.

The Cosmos Invites Reflection

Realizing that Allah made everything with no help, no raw materials, and no failed attempts, gives one certainty in the fact that He is capable of anything. The entire cosmos in an invitation to reflect and realize this, as well as a challenge to find imperfections of design within it – if, that is, one can understand it fully in the first place (67:3-4).

Seeing the complexity of the the earth and its movements harmoniously synchronized with the merging of the day into night, and night into day, reveals that the Creator must also know everything in order to be able to create such an amazing system perfect for your needs (57:6)

The light of the sun, the flight of birds, the growing of seeds into plants, the descent of rain, the burning of fire, the pollinating winds, the creation of life through mere procreation. They all point to His perfection, knowledge and power.

The universe itself is a sign to make one realize his abjectness before Allah, which in turn spurs him to worship His Loving Lord knowing that He has created all this for him. This turns the burning question in his soul into a response to the divine command. All this so Allah can manifest His kindness onto His servants.

The Answer Through Human Eyes

Shaykh Ahmad ibn Ataʾillah, the great saint and scholar of Alexandria, put it quite succinctly: “He has made serving Him obligatory on you – but in reality He has only made it obligatory for you to enter His Garden.”

There is a certain degree of overlap between the implications of the verse from Sura al Talaq and that from Sura al Ḍhariyat. The former leads one to knowledge of Allah, and His attributes; whilst the latter was interpreted by Mujahid, the student of ʿAbdullah ibn ʿAbbas in Qurʾanic exegesis, to mean “for any reason but to know me.” This would then be the embodiment of ihsan, or worshiping Allah as though one sees him, as alluded to in the famous Jibril hadith in Sahih Muslim.

What is interesting is that following the Qurʾanic sequence of these verses gives us the answer we were looking for from Allah’s perspective. And working backwards, it gives the same answer seen from human eyes.

So the answer, then, is considerably more profound and satisfying than “forty-two.”

Photo by Ali Arif Soydaş on Unsplash


Shaykh Abdul Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. He moved to Damascus in 2007 to study and sit at the feet of some of the most erudite scholars of our time, such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish.

In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies in Fiqh, Usul al Fiqh, Theology, Hadith Methodology and Commentary, Shama’il, and Logic with teachers such as Dr Ashraf Muneeb, Dr Salah Abu’l Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr Mansur Abu Zina amongst others. He was also given two licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabr and Shaykh Yahya Qandil.

His true passion, however, arose in the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, considered by many to be one of the foremost tafsir scholars of our time who provided him with the keys to the vast knowledge of the Quran. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic Sciences, Tafsir, Arabic Grammar, and Rhetoric.

When he finally left Jordan for the UK in 2014, Shaykh Ali gave him his distinct blessing and still recommends students in the UK to seek out Shaykh Abdul Rahim for Quranic studies. Since his return he has trained as a therapist and has helped a number of people overcome emotional and psychosomatic issues. He is a keen promoter of emotional and mental health.