AE ART – The Thirteenth Chapter
Allah jalla wa ‘alā says:
“Did you [O Disbelievers] not swear in the past that your power would have no end? You lived in the same places as others who wronged themselves before, and you were clearly shown how We dealt with them – We gave you many examples!” (14:44-45)
There are some Sūrahs in the Qur’ān that end in incredibly dramatic and emotional fashion. Sūrat’l-Mā’idah comes to mind, Sūrah Maryam and quite a few more.
Of course this is all rather subjective (as well as the fact that it can be well argued that all the Qur’ān is emotional and dramatic, but we’re being relative here), but to go further it’s quite rare to find both the juz’ (the chapter) and the Sūrah end in an emotionally intense way at the same time.
The thirteenth chapter and Sūrah Ibrāhīm would be one of those rare examples.
I reckon that in general there are two ways in which people would find certain verses very powerful, emotional and straight to the heart:
(a) because they are intrinsically incredible verses that make your heart shudder, or make your flutter.
The end of Sūrah Ibrāhīm is an excellent example. We have such a powerful statement going out, to such a hurting people: Allah jalla wa ‘alā from verse 42 until the end of verse 52 addresses the Prophet and all the Believers telling them that despite all the setbacks they are facing, despite the struggle, despite the fact that the enemy seems so strong, rich and powerful, just don’t give up. Don’t despair. Allah’s plan will play out. Let these fools enjoy themselves for a while. You have warned them. We have warned them. We’ve given them every chance, we’ve showed them what happens to arrogant nations like themselves, we’ve destroyed them before and we’ll destroy these new pretenders as well again. And after even that, they’ll have to come back to Me to be judged. And then we’ll see who’s laughing. So don’t worry O Prophet and O Believers.
That’s the message in a nutshell. But the language is powerful. And it hits me every time. I struggle to control myself each time I hear these verses recited just because of its intensity.
But there’s a second reason why certain verses hit the mark:
(b) because of some personal connection or experience which make those verses super-relevant or even more impactive.
Most of us can probably think of many examples that we have of these, perhaps related to a certain event in your life, or a death, or something you’ve seen, or you were in a certain place when you heard some verses and so they act like an emotional anchor. I have loads of these myself but this is not the time.
Instead, just imagine you’re listening to these above ten verses, and especially verses 44-45 which I’ve chosen above. You’re a Tunisian. You’re a Libyan. We can even say despite the current turmoil and two steps backwards situation in Egypt, you’re an Egyptian. You’ve lived your entire life with yourself, your friends and family being tortured and oppressed by Pharaonic tyrants who treat their citizens worse than what comes out of their backsides. They become dizzy and super-arrogant with their power and their oppression, despite sitting in the thrones of those whom Allah previously destroyed for that exact reason – such as the Pharaoh himself, perhaps not even a stone’s throw away from where you are at the moment, with his body preserved just as Allah had promised it: “You lived in the same places as others who wronged themselves before, and you were clearly shown how We dealt with them – We gave you many examples.”
Imagine then that a day comes that you never ever thought would come, never ever thought it possible: the day that the Pharaoh himself is overthrown and instead, you are rewarded for your patience and struggle and you see the promise of Allah come true before your very eyes. Mubarak never thought his rule would end. Allah instead said: “Did you [O Disbelievers] not swear in the past that your power would have no end?”
Tunisia and Libya are in the early stages of trying to find their feet in this new found freedom to worship Allah properly as they’ve always wanted. Syria will join them soon, for any state other than the current state created by al-Assad will be an incredible result. And it will happen have no doubt about it.
As for Egypt then after you’ve just read all of the above, you’re probably thinking: well, what just happened there then?
The answer has already been given in my explanation in ART Chapter 4 – basically, we obviously weren’t deserving enough to hold on to power in Egypt and serve Allah and the people like we should have. And our reaction post the military coup, dividing into sectarian lines, and not being unified behind the Believers and Ikhwan’l-Muslimeen in the face of their enemies, is a proof that we weren’t deserving of the honour of carrying of Egypt out of darkness into light.
But does that mean that Allah jalla wa ‘alā will not raise other Muslims to be blessed with that honour? Do you think even we should stop working hard and trying to be those Muslims who will be given that honour? And whatever happens, and however bleak the situation may look when we see our key Muslim countries like Syria and Egypt struggling so hard at the moment to hold on to their Islam, you must know that it will not last. Darkness can never last. Oppression can never last. The Sunan of Allah will ensure this, whether we understand it or not, whether we witness or not, whether our hearts are soothed by it or not.
“Do not think [O Prophet] that Allah is unaware of what the Disbelievers do: He only gives them respite until a Day when their eyes will stare in terror. They will rush forward, craning their necks, unable to divert their eyes, a gaping void in their hearts. So warn people of the Day when punishment will come to them, and when the Disbelievers will say, ‘Our Lord, give us a little more time: we shall answer Your call and follow the Messengers.’
Did you [O Disbelievers] not swear in the past that your power would have no end? You lived in the same places as others who wronged themselves before, and you were clearly shown how We dealt with them– We gave you many examples! They made their plots, but, even if their plots had been able to move mountains, Allah had the answer.
So do not think [O Prophet] that Allah will break His promise to His Messengers: He is mighty, and capable of retribution. One Day– when the earth is turned into another earth, the heavens into another heaven, and people all appear before Allah, the One, the Overpowering – you [O Prophet] will see the guilty on that Day, bound together in fetters, in garments of pitch, faces covered in fire. [All will be judged] so that Allah may reward each soul as it deserves: Allah is swift in His reckoning.
This is a message to all people, so that they may be warned by it, and know that He is the only Allah, and so that those who have minds may take heed.” (14:42-52)
Sometimes, no tafsīr is required. Just let your heart do the listening as opposed to the ears, and live the Qur’ān. Live!