Race towards Jannah – Tarawih Reflections 17

Race towards Jannah - Tarawih Reflections 17

‘Race with one another towards forgiveness from your Lord and towards a paradise which is as wide as the heavens and the earth. It has been prepared for those mindful of Allah.’ [3:133]

In this ayah of Surat Ale ‘Imran, Allah uses the word saari’ – meaning to race or rush. Allah is opening this race for anyone to come and participate, and Imam al-Qushayri commented that there are three categories of people who race. Those who race with their feet; those who race with their himmah (determination and high aspiration); and those who race with regret.

Al-Qushayri said:

People are divided into categories in terms of their race:

The worshippers race with their feet in acts of obedience.
The knowers race with their hearts in acts of worship.
The sinners race with their regrets in tasting the pangs of regret.

So whoever races with his feet will find his reward, whoever races with his heart will find his closeness, and whoever races with his regret will find his mercy.

Those who race with their feet are the ones who put in the effort and are doing their best, and they will get what they are aiming for. Those who race with their himmah, are an even higher rank, because they combine the outward actions with the inward intention. The third category are sinners who have to repent and do tawbah before they can race towards Allah.

Jannah is beyond our wildest dreams

Even though Allah describes Jannah many times in the Quran, it is still far beyond our comprehension. Inshallah when we see it, it will be beyond anything we could have imagined, even with the descriptions.

In the above ayah, Allah says that Jannah has been prepared for the muttaqeen. He uses the word u’iddat, meaning it is already in existence. It won’t be created on the Day of Judgement.

Some people will ask: if it’s already there and it is so vast, how come we can’t see it? It is because we are limited. Humans are still exploring the universe: every time we create a new telescope, we discover new things we didn’t know were there. There are many in the world that are beyond our comprehension and understanding.

Five characteristics of the people of Jannah

The next ayahs give us five characteristics of the people of Jannah.

1) ‘Those who spend (for Allah’s sake) in prosperity and adversity’

There are more verses about spending in the Quran than there are verses of salah. This is because giving away your money is more difficult for the nafs than salah is. This why Allah has mentioned this as the number one characteristic. He is training us to be selfless, not selfish – of course staying within your individual means.

2) ‘Those who control their anger’

This is easier said than done to control anger, but you need to train yourself if you want to be among the people of Jannah. The Prophet Muhammad said ﷺ, ‘The strongest are not the best wrestlers. Verily, the strongest are those who control themselves when angry’ [Bukhari]. In various hadith, he also gave six or seven techniques for controlling your anger.

3) ‘Those who forgive others’

Allah uses the word ’aafeen here, from ‘afwa. This is a type of forgiveness that means you have the ability to retaliate against someone who wrongs you, but you choose not to.

4) ‘Those who are good in their deeds’ [3:134]

The word here is muhsineen, from ihsan – someone who does good all the time.

5) ‘Those who, upon committing an evil deed or wronging themselves, remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins.’ [3:135]

Allah mentions two types of sin here. Fahisha is a sin committed between you and other people – such as stealing, or hurting someone. This is an act where the damage is not limited to you. Then there is dhalamu anfusahum – wronging yourself, i.e. a sin that is just between you and Allah.

Istighfar can delete sins between you and Allah, but it’s not enough if you have affected someone else too. In that case, you will need to try to fix what you’ve done, and ask them for forgiveness.

We should treat these categories as a tick list. Look at your own behaviour and ask yourself if you fulfil these criteria – and if not, what can you do to change that?

Let your actions be guided by the Quran

There is a narration about ‘Ali ibn Hussain (may Allah be pleased with him) – the great-grandson of the Prophet ﷺ – whose servant accidentally dropped a jug on his head while he was doing wudhu. She was terrified of what he would do, and invoked these ayahs.

When she mentioned controlling your anger, Ali responded that he would not get angry with her. At the part about forgiving others, he said he had forgiven her. When she got to the good deeds, he said he would free her for the sake of Allah. See how his actions were guided by the Quran.

We ask Allah to make us and our families and loved ones among the people of Jannah.

Based on the reflections of Shaykh Haytham Tamim

Transcribed by Hana Khan

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.