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Lessons from Surah Ma’un

20 October 2009 1,418 views No Comment

Lessons from Surah Ma’un

This surah is beautiful in its simplicity and straight-forwardness. Allah describes the characteristics of a disbeliever and hypocrite in a mere six ayat, but at the same time manages to remind the muslims as well. In these ayat is a command from Allah to provide social services, but also a greater command against hypocrisy. At first glance, we may deem that this surah is only meant for the kafir. But quickly, we come to the realization that this surah is a subtle, yet effective reminder for all. Allah asks us if we have seen the one who denies the recompense. Immediately, we think of the kuffar who have so clearly denied the resurrection. The rest of the surah is a description of the characteristics of the disbeliever. However, by the end of the surah, one has to ponder: do I hold any of these characteristics. And if I do, what can I do to remove that hidden hypocrisy? And the answer is clear, alhamdulillah. In these ayat are multiple answers to our dilemma. Let’s take a look!

Allah describes that disbeliever as one who repulses the orphan harshly. When reading this ayah, we usually don’t relate it directly to ourselves, maybe because we don’t know many orphans, or maybe because they already seem well taken care of. However, listen to this: The Prophet (S) said, “The best home among the Muslims is the one that treats an orphan well. The worst home among the Muslims is the one that treats an orphan poorly. I and the one who cares for an orphan will be like these two in Paradise.” The Prophet (S) indicated his two fingers. Subhanallah. So, if you ever have an opportunity to help out an orphan, don’t pass it up!

Another characteristic of the disbeliever is he who does not urge the feeding of the poor. The rewards of feeding the poor are well-known and there are a number of sins which can be repented for by feeding the poor- this itself is an indication of the worthiness of this deed. Set aside some part of your money to give to the poor, make it a routine and be consistent. This money that you spend for Allah’s sake will never go to waste and you will only see it come up in your favor, whether now or later.

“So woe unto those performers of Salat (hypocrites). Those who delay their Salat. Those who do good deeds only to be seen (of men).” In these ayat, the people who delay their salah are admonished. Sometimes we find that when we go out to islamic lectures/events, we are careful about praying our salat on time around other people. But when we’re chilling in our homes, we sometimes delay until it’s almost too late. Our salah is like a contract we have with Allah, with five appointments throughout the day that we need to reach to on time! Allah takes care of us throughout the day, so let’s pray when it’s time.

Allah (swt) mentions the people who do good deeds only to be seen by others and prevent even the small kindnesses. Sometimes we get annoyed and bothered when people ask us for the smallest favors. Even when the favor would not harm or be disadvantageous to ourselves. When someone needs a ride home or when they need to borrow an item, or anything at all, we sometimes find ourselves getting frustrated. Many times, we think that were we put in a position where we had to give help, we would be generous. But when we are actually tested with that, unfortunately we find that we can be stingy. This hypocrisy tends to fall out of our perception, but this ayah is a beautiful reminder. Whatever charity we give, or sacrifice we make, Allah is completely aware of it.  “They ask you what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, Allah is aware of it.” (2:215)

This short, beautiful surah reminds us of the obligations we have, and warns us against hypocrisy. May we all heed this reminder. Ameen.

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