The Great Struggle – Reflections on Surat al Furqan
This is a Makki surah, which bears the characteristics of the early revelations before the migration to Madinah and the foundation of a Muslim society. Makki surahs focus on establishing belief and questioning the status quo by challenging the community to examine and explore their customs and traditions. Are they in line with the truth or not?
Allah Almighty supplies a variety of proofs and evidences about His existence and Oneness. There are plenty of lessons but one particular ayah, Allah tells the Prophet (peace be on him) that he will be challenged but he should not be put off by this, and instead should keep striving.
Had We willed, We could have easily sent a warner to every society.
So do not yield to the disbelievers, but jahidhum strive diligently against them with this ˹Quran˺. (25:51-2)
What is Jihad?
In this ayah, Allah used the word jahidun, meaning ‘strive diligently’ even though there was no battle in Makkah. It was a period of debate and spreading the message by going from door to door and engaging with the delegations who came for Hajj and Umrah to Makkah from all over the peninsula. There is no record that the Prophet (peace be on him) fought any battles in Makkah. Indeed he was not permitted to fight.
What is the jihad Allah is referring to? It is to struggle against the challenges you face in life. This is the broader meaning of jihad. The common meaning of jihad is fighting on the battlefield to protect your people. Unfortunately, these days the word jihad has negative connotations and associations in the public mind due to groups like ISIS who have corrupted its meaning by adopting it for their un-Islamic practices.
Jihad on the battlefield
The true qur’anic concept of Jihad is the protection of dignity and wellbeing of the community and its borders. It includes having an army to protect your people if you are attacked and to fight with the right conditions.
The Great Jihad
In this ayah, Allah Almighty refers to striving to spread the Quran, not just as any jihad, but as the Great Jihad – Jihadan Kabira. It is the biggest jihad to spread the word of Allah, in the prophetic way.
How do we perform our own Great Jihad in our life?
For those interested in jihad, it is striving to earn a halal living and having a halal job. Being an honest and truthful person is jihad. Improving yourself and being a kind person to your family, friends, neighbours and colleagues is a form of jihad. Conquering your fears and overcoming the obstacles which prevent you from being close to Allah is jihad. Controlling your anger and restraining your desires are jihad, and being meticulous in how you use your hearing, sight and speech in Ramadan and beyond is jihad. Not backbiting. Complying with the commands of the Messenger (peace be on him) is striving towards achieving what pleases Allah and what makes you a better human being.
We ask Allah to enable us to be among those who are always stiving to do what is best and to deter others from doing what is evil. Ameen.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Ramadan Day 11
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March 23, 2023