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We are Created from Sticky Mud

Tafsir Surat al-`Alaq

Shaykh Nour Kabbani

10 July 2015 Fenton Zawiya, Michigan

Fajr Suhbah

A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytani 'r-rajeem. Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem. Mashaa-Allah laa hawla wa laa quwatta illa billahi 'l-`Aliyyu 'l-`Azheem. Dastoor yaa Sayyidee, Sultan ul-Awliya. Dastoor yaa Sayyidee, Qutb al-Mutassarrif, madad.

As-salaamu `alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. Alhamdulillah, we have Imam Sahib, a hafiz of Qur'an, and whenever they recite we remember words from Holy Qur'an. Yesterday he recited from Surat as-Saffat and one of the verses was, asta`eedhu billah:

خَلْقًا أَم مَّنْ خَلَقْنَا ۚ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاهُم مِّن طِينٍ لَّازِبٍ

We have created them from sticky clay (mud). (Surat as-Saafaat, 37:11)

That means each one of us is a chunk of mud: me, him, you, we are all mud and if we look into each other we have to see that sticky mud. That means your arm or nose is not falling off, it sticks with mud. Look at the Greatness of Allah (swt)! He fashioned pieces, molds of mud into figures and we are made of Earth, walking on Earth, as the Prophet (s) said:

كلكم لآدم واَدم من تراب

All of you are from Adam and Adam is from Earth. (Abu Dawood)

First: Read in the Name of Your Lord

That means all of us, if we really look into each other and ourselves, we have to see we are only chunks of sticky mud, nothing more; we can not say we are this or that, no, we are just chunks of mud walking on Earth. However, Allah (swt) says in Surat al-`Alaq that when Sayyidina Muhammad (s) got the Message to start spreading da`wah, the religion, Allah (swt) told him, “Now what you need to do is 'read in the Name of Your Lord'.”

اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ

Read in the Name of your Lord, Who created! (Surat al-`Alaq, 96:1)

When it was revealed to him, ‘Read!’ the Prophet (s) did not see himself, he was not aware that he existed, he saw existence is for Allah (swt) only. When people go into deep meditation, they leave knowledge of themselves and start to see everything in Allah's Power and Existence. So when the Prophet (s) was told, 'Read!' and he did not see himself, he said, “I am not a reader”, then Allah (swt) told him, “Don’t read by or with yourself, read in the name of your Lord. You’re still not getting out of the field of your Lord’s Existence, you're going to 'read in the Name of your Lord', not in the name 'Muhammad' (s) or other prophets, the president, king, sultan or the ruler of a country, no. You are going to read in the Name of your Lord, Who....”

Your Lord, Who Created You and Taught You by The Pen

How did Allah (swt) define Himself to the Prophet (s)? “Read in the Name of Your Lord", Who is what? The Provider, The Giver, The Fashioner, Who Admits to Paradise, The Punisher...what Beautiful Attribute did He choose? “Read in the Name of your Lord, Who created.” Created what? Chunks of mud; we are all just sticky chunks of mud. So Allah (swt) is telling him, “Look at the mud I made walk on Earth,” nothing else. Iqraa bismi rabbika ’Lladhee khalaq. “These are chunks of mud I created.”

قْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الْأَكْرَمُ الَّذِي عَلَّمَ بِالْقَلَمِ عَلَّمَ الْإِنسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ

Read in the Name of your Lord who created! He created man from a blood clot. Read! And your Lord is The Most Bountiful, The One Who taught Man by the Pen, taught Man what we did not know.

(Surat al-`Alaq, 96:1-5)

“Read in the Name of your Lord Who created: read and Your Lord is Most Generous, The One Who taught by means of the Pen that which he knew not.” So Allah (swt) created chunks of mud with different roles on Earth and everyone has a different role that Allah (swt) has destined for us. Allah (swt) tells the Prophet (s) “I have created that which you are going to see and that which you are going to call and I have created them to fulfill a role in this life, I have given them knowledge from My knowledge.”

But Be Careful: Human Beings Transgress All Limits

Allah (swt) has blessed and gifted us with divine knowledge, but Allah (swt) is informing the Prophet (s) that you have to be careful of these chunks of mud walking on Earth. Each one of them is going to claim Lordship.

كَلَّا إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَيَطْغَىٰ

No! Indeed Man transgresses. (Surat al-`Alaq, 96:6)

“I created them from mud but they will transgress their limits; they will violate the commands, orders, laws as it is characteristic of human beings to be transgressors. Why? Because we see the knowledge and then we see ourselves as something; we see the knowledge Allah (swt) has given us and think we are now perfect, we are great and so powerful! So Allah (swt) is telling the Prophet (s), “These chunks of mud that I created will claim Lordship, so know what you are in for. You are going to deliver the Message to different hearts with different characteristics and know that each one will claim lordship and think, ‘I am the highest one, no one is higher than me! I have the perfect mind and don't need any guidance.’ They will reject the guidance I bring!”

They will reject guidance like that of our teachers, just as people in the past said, “We are masters on Earth, we don't need any guidance from Heavens.” Allah (swt) is telling the Prophet (s), “Read in the Name of Your Lord Who created,” and some would not accept Heavenly guidance:

أَن رَّآهُ اسْتَغْنَىٰ

He considers himself as self-sufficient. (Surat al-`Alaq, 96:7)

When they saw him, they said, “I am not in need!” This type of person can see only himself, like all of us: we see ourselves and we are the first thing that comes to our minds, no matter how pious or devout we are, we are always thinking about "me". So for example, if I see myself as wealthy, then I feel independent and go over my limits and violate Allah's (swt) commands and orders. Therefore, the first command is to “remember Allah (swt”. When someone is wealthy, his bank account is full of money, his fridge is full of food and he sits in his Lazyboy chair stretching his legs out, relaxing, and he does not remember Allah (swt) easily, but when someone is poor, if he cannot pay his bills, what does he do? He says, “O my Lord, Allah! I need You!” Do you think it is easier to remember Allah (swt) when we get a monthly paycheck of $1,000 or $5,000, $50,000 or $1 billion like .Trump? When we have bills to pay, what do we do? We turn to Allah (swt) and say, “I can't pay my rent this month, we are getting evicted, please help us!”

When we have wealth we say we are not in need of Allah (swt) and put our faith in our own skills, we believe in our own ability to negotiate for profit, thinking, “I don’t need Allah, I have my own perfect mind!” A lot of us are like this: we think we have intelligence, wealth and knowledge. When the human being is given something, he does not recognize from where it has come, he always goes beyond the limit and does not ask Allah (swt) when he is in need. When he sees himself as powerful, intelligent, cunning, he will say, “I am not in need of my Lord.” So Allah (swt) is telling Sayyidina Muhammad (s) this is the characteristic of human beings, to be independent, to trust their wealth and knowledge; Allah (swt) is warning Prophet that they will not give in easily to the Message.

All Life is from Heavens, So Don’t Be Proud of Anything You Do

Mawlana Shaykh Hisham gave the example that life does not exist on Earth, rather it comes from Heavens; when a mother is pregnant, the soul of the baby does not come except from Heavens, so real existence is in Heavens and we are going back to that station. This chunk of mud: a physical body is not the real existence, we are going to leave this body and go back. We’ve had a few brothers and sisters who left this world and they were not just their bodies; the body is fashioned by Allah (swt), Who shaped clay and water into a beautiful Creation. Then Allah (swt) sends the soul’ otherwise, that fetus is stillborn, and the parents return it to the Earth, why? Because our real being is up, it is heavenly. When Allah (swt) sends the soul into the body, there is already something else in it that will do the rest of what Allah (swt) talks about in this surah. If man considers himself self-sufficient, then he must know he will return to Allah (swt). Whenever we have that pride in ourselves, we must remember:

إِنَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ الرُّجْعَىٰ

Verily, our return is to Allah. (Surat al-`Alaq, 96:8)

إِنَّا لِلَّـهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ

Truly we belong to Allah and truly to Him we return. (Surat al-Baqara, 2:156)

And Allah (swt) says:

أَرَأَيْتَ الَّذِي يَنْهَىٰ عَبْدًا إِذَا صَلَّىٰ

Have you seen who forbids the servant when he prays? (Surat al-`Alaq, 96:9-10)

There is something in us that prevents us from connecting to the Divine Presence. When we see our ‘selves’ we are disconnected, we are only seeing ourselves, and what makes do that is the ego, the lower desires, that tells us to continue paying attention to our ‘self’ and not to The One Who created it. “Have you seen that which prevents the servant when he prays?” Whatever is inside us is preventing us from connecting to the Divine Presence. “Did you see if it is pious or if it turned away and left?” So basically what is inside us can order us to do good or bad, and it is not how it is ordering us, but how we see it that causes the problem. If we do good and then become proud, then we are only seeing ourselves. Nowadays this is a sickness in scholars, imams, hafiz, qaris; all of them are doing good, but they see themselves in their actions and they credit themselves. Yesterday, Hafiz Sahib recited innahum kaanoo taatoon min al-yameen, “When they used to come to us from the right side.”

قَالُوا إِنَّكُمْ كُنتُمْ تَأْتُونَنَا عَنِ الْيَمِينِ

They said, “You used to come to us from the right side.” (Surat as-Saafaat, 37:28)

When we prayed and fasted and we were proud of our worship, then Allah (swt) says, “No, you were not of those who surrendered to Allah.”

قَالُوا بَل لَّمْ تَكُونُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ

“No, but you were not Believers.” (Surat as-Saafaat, 37:28)

Also, in Surat al-`Alaq there is the verse of sajda:

كَلَّا لَا تُطِعْهُ وَاسْجُدْ وَاقْتَرِب

No, do not obey him! Prostrate and come closer to Allah. (Surat al-`Alaq, 96:19) [Note: sajda required here.]

So in the first surah, Allah (swt) is telling Sayyidina Muhammad (s), “You are going to be with chunks of mud that are proud.” Even if we are a supervisor or a janitor we are proud, thinking, “I don’t want to carry the mop, you carry the mop!” So Sayyidina Muhammad (s) started his mission and we have to see ourselves following his footsteps, so where did he start? By reading, “Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem,” and what did he see? Chunks of mud! What about them? “They are proud in the good and the bad they do.” So Allah (swt) is saying, “Be careful! These people have all this inside of them and they don't obey what is in them.”

If we follow the way the surahs were revealed, we have to know which was the first, second, third surah sent, etc. So the path is to begin in the Name of Allah Almighty, and not to be proud of anything that we do. The next surah is:

ن ۚ وَالْقَلَمِ وَمَا يَسْطُرُونَ

Noon! By the Pen and that which they write. (Surat al-Qalam, 68:1)

The Prophet (s) is telling us there is something inside us that wants to claim lordship, and some scholars said the Arabic letter Noon represents the nafs, ego, and the Pen is the means to acquire knowledge. What do we use to acquire knowledge? The mind, which imprints in your ego images of your existence. We are born knowing nothing; the baby does not know anything about existence from the mind and what exists is imprinted by our mind on the ego, just as the Pen (ego) draws or imprints on the Tablet (mind). The mind makes us write or draw existence, wa maa yasturoon, so first the journey is to know the nafs and the mind will teach the ego what is around it.

Then we continue the journey with the third surah to come down, then the fourth, etc.: we start the journey in the same way as the Prophet (s) did. When we begin, we start with Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem, with the letter Baa; we start our journey with the Name of our Lord, Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem and we know what is inside us will prevent us from connecting to our Lord, and that whatever prevents us uses our mind to imprint on our nafs, and it will take us either toward or away from the Divine Presence! So wa maa yasturoon, we ask Allah (swt) to make us of those who continue on the Path and who don't get proud of the favor that Allah (swt) gave us, and we thank Him for what He granted us, and we ask to return to Him as submitters with the Pious Ones!

Benefits of Reading Holy Qur’an in the Order in Which it was Revealed

SubhaanAllah, there is a path we can follow--al-Muzzamil then al-Muddathir--but where do we start on that path? We can follow the path of the Prophet (s) and first we begin with Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem and recognize the pride within ourselves, then we can go down further with the surahs in the order they came down. The last verse to come down is:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ

Today I have perfected for you your religion. (Surat al-Maa’idah, 5:3)

So the Holy Qur'an was revealed in succession and if we don't travel this entire path we are not going to reach perfection. This is the guidance: it is not haphazard, we start reading in that order. Why did the Prophet (s) say, “Put this verse after this chapter?” arranging it all a certain way? It is in steps and levels. We can not start with Surat al-Baqara and then change randomly to another surah, because then we would be losing the guidance. If you plan a trip to Florida and choose which states to drive through, you wouldn’t go to North Carolina first and then Ohio; no, we must go in order.

We can read the Holy Qur'an chapter-by-chapter in the order in which they were revealed, until we reach the last verse, “Today I have perfected for you your religion.” Google the arrangement of the chapters to see which came first, second, third, up to all 114 surahs. The third I believe was:

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُزَّمِّلُ قُمِ اللَّيْلَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

O Shrouded One! Stand [in worship] at night, except for a little. (Surat al-Muzzammil, 73:1)

ya ayyuha ’l-muzzamil, “O, the one covered by cloth”, by bad characteristics, the ego, the mind. The surah tells us we will start shedding our human characteristics: qum al-layla illa qaleela, “Stand up, don't sleep anymore!” Sayyidina `Ali (r) said we are all asleep, that when we die we wake up, then we understand what we have missed. The third chapter is to know about the ego inside us, to stand up and wake up; Allah (swt) is telling us to wake up in the darkness, because no knowledge is ignorance, darkness. Are we waking up in the darkness or just a little bit? If we wake up for half of it, it means “get some knowledge”. Maybe we wake up (to worship Allah) for half the night or maybe more, and recitation of the Holy Qur'an is going to take the darkness away.

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُدَّثِّرُ قُمْ فَأَنذِرْ وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ وَثِيَابَكَ فَطَهِّرْ

O Wrapped One! Stand and deliver the warning, glorify your Lord, and purify your garments!

(Surat al-Muddathir, 74:1-4)

The next chapter is ayyuha ’l-mudaththir, qum fa andhir, “Stand up and warn”, but whom? Warn yourself! Wa rabbuka fa kabbir, “Magnify Allah (swt) and belittle yourself.” Don't see kings and presidents as having power over you; the more you praise Allah (swt) the more you will find that others have no power over you, then, wa thiyyaabak fa tahhir, clean your clothes.

We are in Tariqah, but we don't know where to begin. I did not know until I heard Mawlana talk about it and so we have to know now there is pride in ourselves and we must ignore that pride and get closer to Allah (swt). We ask to get closer to Allah (swt) and not to obey ourselves and that we submit and make sajda at the end of the surah.

Wa min Allahi t-tawfeeq bi hurmati 'l-Fatihah.


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