Have you ever wanted to read and understand the Quran? Have you tried to read it but lost steam? Haven’t got the time? Then, this is the podcast for you!
Surat Al-Mutaffifin – The Cheats
Listen to Dr Musharraf Hussain sharing his thoughts and analysis of Surat Al-Mutaffifin. This is a late Makkan surat, condemning cheating traders and shopkeepers who were dishonest in their dealings with others. This picture of a dishonest person isn’t limited to commercial transactions but is also relevant to people who are dishonest in other aspects of life, both in seventh-century Arabia and today.
The surat, interestingly, doesn’t mention the rope makers, tanners and perfume sellers working in Hijaz. Why does it single out the merchants, bankers and bookkeepers? Possibly because they have more opportunities to cheat, exploit the weak and perpetrate injustices. Recall the financial crisis of 2008, which affected economies around the world. Who was responsible for the that? Such injustices are committed by those who deny Judgment Day and feel they can swindle and cheat without consequence. “Don’t they believe they will be resurrected on a Grand Day?” (4-5).
Surat Al-Inshiqaq – The Splitting Open
Listen to Dr Musharraf Hussain sharing his thoughts and analysis of Surat Al-Inshiqaq. This is a late Makkan surat, of which the central theme is the connection between actions and consequences. It opens by stressing the instinctive obedience of the inanimate; the Sky and the Earth. An indirect disapproval of the Makkans, who refused to obey their Lord despite having intelligence.
Working hard for one’s livelihood is a universal human value. However, to limit life to this is folly; the workaholic is being challenged in this surat. He is advised not to forget the Hereafter and the meeting with the Lord Who is the true Sustainer and Provider. However, those who work hard for their Hereafter are guaranteed progress: “You will develop stage by stage” (19).
Surat Al-Buruj – The Constellations
Listen to Dr Musharraf Hussain sharing his thoughts and analysis of Surat Al-Buruj. This Makkan surat marks the beginning of the second phase of the mission of the Prophet ﷺ, around the third year; the start of tensions. Its central theme is the support of the faithful. The surat opens with a series of oaths, “By the sky full of constellations.” A constellation is a recognisable group of stars which appear to be located close together in the sky, and form a picture of imaginary lines that connect them. Constellations are usually named after an animal, a character from mythology, or a common object. Muslim astronomers discovered several constellations and named them in Arabic, such as Ursa Major, and Ursa Minor. The story of the “diggers of the trench” (4) is recounted in the Hadith collection of Muslim, where the Jewish King of Yemen burnt the Christians of Najran in a trench. This story would have given reassurance to the believers, and a clear warning to the Quraysh, the persecutors.
Surat Al-Tariq - The Night Visitor
Listen to Dr Musharraf Hussain share his thoughts and analysis of Surat Al-Tariq. This is a Makkan surat a with the central theme about the truthfulness of Judgement Day. After taking the oath of the shining stars, people are reminded, "There is a keeper over you" (4). Those who denied the Judgement Day are invited to reflect on their humble beginnings. Where do you come from? The evidence from the shooting stars, the spurted semen and the blooming plants and flowers are perfect illustrations of Allah's ability to bring the living from the dead; a proof of resurrection. The next important question for the thoughtful is, "Where are we going?" A simple statement contains the answer: "Indeed Allah is fully able to return him to life" (8). Finally, the Makkans, who were busy insulting the beloved Messenger ﷺ are warned, "I too have a plan" (16). In the final verse, the Prophet ﷺ is gently instructed to relax.
Surat Al-A’la – The Highest
Listen to Dr Musharraf Hussain sharing his thoughts and analysis of Surat Al-A’la. This is an early Makkan surat, its central theme is the role of the Majestic Quran and the Messenger ﷺ as reminders. By referring to the early Scriptures of Musa and Ibrahim, the Quran makes it clear that this is a continuation of the same mission of past prophets. What blinds humanity to this reality? The answer is the love of worldly life. These verses express contempt for love of the material world since it distracts people from their Lord.
Surat Al-Ghashiyah - The Awe-inspiring Event
Listen to Dr Musharraf Hussain sharing his thoughts and analysis of Surat Al-Ghashiyah. This surat was revealed in the middle Makkan period. The three fundamental doctrines of Islam are emphasised. The Day of Judgement is introduced in an unusual manner: "Has the news of the Overwhelming Event reached you?" This is followed by a harrowing account of what will happen to the disbeliever who toiled, struggled and worked hard in his life but ignored Allah, and never thought about the Hereafter. This is contrasted with the fate of a believer who worked to please his Lord. Humanity is invited to enjoy the delights of Paradise, its elegant surroundings, its comforts and luxuries. The price is strong faith. To conclude, the surat comforts the Prophet ﷺ by telling him not to worry, since he cannot compel people to believe. His mission is to remind: "To Us is their final return, then it will be up to Us to call them to account" (25-26).