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Quranic Community #7 | Lower your Voice in the Prophet’s Revered Presence

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Being in the majestic presence of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) is no minor privilege. He is the greatest of Allāh’s creation to have existed and will ever exist. The noble Messenger praised some who will come in later generations harbouring “the keenest desire to catch a glimpse of me even at the cost of his family and wealth.”[1] If a glimpse in exchange of your entire possessions is the worthiest exchange, what can be said of the gravity of contempt? After touching on the severity of even unintentionally raising one’s voice level above that of the noble Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), the address is then relaxed. Allāh reassures the outstanding Prophetic community that the opposite conduct also holds true.

Verse 3

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَغُضُّونَ أَصْوَاتَهُمْ عِندَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ امْتَحَنَ اللَّهُ قُلُوبَهُمْ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ ۚ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ

Those who lower their voices when they are with the Messenger of Allāh are people whose hearts Allāh has tested for Taqwa. They will have forgiveness and an immense reward.[2]

Those who hold their voices back from raising them in the presence of the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), addressing him with softness and politeness, are those whose hearts Allāh has tested by selecting them and purifying them for Taqwa. Taqwa is to carry out Allāh’s obedience and to abstain from His disobedience. Such purification is much like the way gold is purified (yumtaḥan) with fire, removing its impurities (the ore) and keeping its essence. These people will be forgiven for their previous sins, which will be overlooked. They will be given the great reward of Paradise (Jannah).[3] ‘Tested for Taqwa’ can be understood as Allāh having purified their hearts such that they have become worthy and accommodating places for the excellent inner circumstance of Taqwa.

Inna’ at the start of the verse is what is termed ḥarf al-ta’kīd or a letter that implies emphasis. The meaning is ‘surely’, ‘certainly’ and ‘without doubt’. ‘They’ (ulā’ik), on the other hand, is grammatically a demonstrative pronoun. It is this exemplary category of people who are worthy of being mentioned for illustration and demonstration.[4] ‘That’ noteworthy group, besides others, are those worth bringing to light.

Verse 4

إِنَّ الَّذينَ يُنادونَكَ مِن وَراءِ الحُجُراتِ أَكثَرُهُم لا يَعقِلونَ

As for those who call out to you from outside your private quarters, most of them do not use their intellect.[5]

Now, addressing His Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), Allāh explains that most of those who call him from behind the apartments[6] are ignorant (juhāl) in the religion of Allāh, and in what he deserves of rights and veneration.[7] This sentence is both a clarification of what preceded and an example of it: “Do not be as loud when speaking to him as you are when speaking to one another.”[8] Embedded within it, moreover, is the reason the previous verses (1-3) were revealed. Such is the remarkable and inimitable construct of the Qur’ān. The derived lesson in verses 1-3 is was outlined before the incident that necessitated the revelation of that lesson, without compromise on the understanding. The use of ‘aktharuhum’ (‘most of them’) is to exclude those who did not call out the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) in the same way.[9]

Verse 5

 وَلَو أَنَّهُم صَبَروا حَتّىٰ تَخرُجَ إِلَيهِم لَكانَ خَيرًا لَهُم ۚ وَاللَّهُ غَفورٌ رَحيمٌ

“If they had only been patient until you came out to them, it would have been better for them. But Allāh is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”[10]

If those who called you, O Mohammad, from behind the apartments were patient such that they waited until you came out to them, rather than calling out to you, that would have been better for them in the Sight of Allāh. This is because Allāh had ordered them to revere and honour you, but Allāh is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. He will forgive those who called you out from behind the apartments, if they desist and repent from this action, and will be Merciful towards them, never punishing them after their repentance.[11]

This welcoming call is one that is likely to entice them towards seeking that forgiveness. According to b. ʿĀshūr, the wording indicates that Allāh had already overlooked this bad behaviour, otherwise He would have explicitly requested their Tawbah. Being part of Islam’s newest cohort of Muslims, they still had a lot to learn. Ignorance can excuse a person from blame in certain circumstances.[12] And Allāh knows best.

Who Taught you ‘Good Action’?

In our previous discussion, we noted how raising one’s voice above the Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) can render all of a person’s actions obsolete. Some may internally feel this is a ‘disproportionate’ outcome for a ‘minor’ misdeed. But in fact, it is entirely fathomable and obvious. Think about it: before we received the noble Messenger’s (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) guidance, what knowledge of Iman did we possess and what objectively constituted ‘good action’ and prescribed worship? Allāh says:

وَكَذَ‌ٰلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ رُوحًا مِّنْ أَمْرِنَا ۚ مَا كُنتَ تَدْرِي مَا الْكِتَابُ وَلَا الْإِيمَانُ وَلَـٰكِن جَعَلْنَاهُ نُورًا نَّهْدِي بِهِ مَن نَّشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا ۚ وَإِنَّكَ لَتَهْدِي إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

Accordingly, We have revealed to you a Rūh by Our command. You had no idea of what the Book was, nor faith. Nonetheless We have made it a Light by which We guide those of Our slaves We will. Truly you are guiding to a Straight Path.”[13]

It is none but the Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) who taught us how to worship and introduced those very good actions that we fear becoming null and void in the first place! His veneration is intrinsically linked to the validity of our actions. How, then, can those actions stack up if the director to those actions is not venerated?[14] Disrespecting the Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) is in fact deriding the idea that we have done Islamically ‘good actions’, hence they cannot stand.

Without doubt, the Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) is intensely kind and compassionate, but this kindness should never be exploited or seen as a license to diminish his awe and presence or allow it to be taken for granted. Since you had not found the Messenger of Allāh in the Masjid addressing his duties towards the community, you should have assumed that he was either with his family or in seclusion with his Lord and left him alone.[15]

The Recurring Address to the Believers

How does it make you feel to hear “O you who have believed” repeated again and again? It is repeated five times in al-Ḥujurāt alone and up to 87 times in the glorious Qur’ān. The companion Abdullah b. Mas’ud says:

إذا سمعت الله يقول) :يا أيها الذين آمنوا (فأرعها سمعك: فإنه خير تأمر به؛ أو شر ينهى عنه

If you hear Allāh saying ‘you who have believed’ then listen, since it is either something good you are being commanded to do or an evil you are being told to stay away from.[16]

Being addressed through the identity of Iman in the Caller makes us feel attached to the Caller. We are His slaves and have Iman in Him. The call is very much a personal one. It has the bearing of a command but undertones of honour and love. If you were to say to someone, “I know you to be a person of virtue, honesty, and trust. Can you look after my belongings?” What will their reaction be? When you hear, “O you who have believed”, this is you being called, praised, and loved, and simultaneously asked to live up to an expectation and commitment!

It further informs that the One advising is advising in truth, for He is the Truth. It shows that such advice is of significance to Him and thus what follows cannot be received flippantly. It is a crucial warning or instruction. With due diligence, concern, and self-evaluation, the addressee should ask why Allāh is reprimanding those who have raised their voices. Was it me? Was it something I did?

Effort breeds Taqwa

Imam Ahmad reports that a letter was written to ‘Umar (raḍiy Allāhu ‘anhu) that asked:

Leader of the believers, what is better: a man who does not crave sin, nor acts upon it, or a man who craves sin, but does not act upon it?” ‘Umar replied, “Those who crave sin and do not act upon it.” Then he quoted the verse of al-Ḥujurāt: “People whose hearts Allāh has tested for Taqwa.”[17],[18]

The analogy of metal ore mentioned in the Tafsir applies squarely onto the heart. For the ore of one’s heart to be melted away, it must be subjected to the intensity or ‘heat’ of desire. If withstood and resisted, that heart will accommodate Taqwa as per the verse. The word ‘imtaḥana’ is on the template of a ‘hyperbolised’ verb, implying that such a process is severe and painful.

Who is not struggling with one desire or another that is unique to that person? Use the intensity of your tribulation as a yardstick to determine what Allāh will reward you for the most and which, if resisted, will likely purify your heart the most. Allāh has given you the opportunity to say no to those unique desires and earn rewards from Him. Perhaps through your avoidance, you end up reaching greater levels than those not struggling to begin with!

Consider the seven who will be shaded under the throne of Allāh on a day when there is no shade but His. Have you ever asked yourself what the common action was that grouped them in that same place and situation?

A just ruler; a youth who grew up with the worship of Allāh; a person whose heart is attached to the Masājid; two men who love and meet each other and depart from each other for the sake of Allāh; a man whom an extremely beautiful woman seduces him (for illicit relation) but he (rejects this offer and) says: ‘I fear Allāh’; a man who gives in charity and conceals it (to such an extent) that the left hand does not know what the right has given; and a man who remembers Allāh in solitude and his eyes become tearful.[19]

By the dictates of ‘you reap what you sow’, there must be a common denominator between them. B. Rajab al-Hanbali mentions:

“These seven on the exterior did different actions, but each gather under a single meaning. This is their struggle against their own selves, and them defying their desires. This firstly needs intense practice alongside prevention against what one’s desires, irritations, or greed call towards. Enduring this inflicts severe hardship on oneself and immense pain. The heart almost burns from the fire of desires or rage when it billows, if they are not extinguished through carrying out those desires.

Without doubt the reward of being patient when that heat intensifies in that standing (the Day of Judgement). When there is no shadow in which people can shade themselves and find protection from the sun, those seven will be in the shade of Allāh. Correspondingly, they will not experience pain as a result of that day’s heat, as a reward for their patience when they (had already) experienced the fire of desire or rage in the Dunya.”[20]

Pure Physical actions can Purify the Spirit

Notice how Allāh mentions the purification of hearts alongside the lowering of the voice in the Messenger’s (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) presence despite one being physical and the other being spiritual. Perceptibly, our physical behaviours, actions, and even appearances have an impact on our spiritual state. Speech will impact the heart, and ‘spirituality’ – or rather ‘Taqwa’ – is not necessarily something you can easily perceive. Giving charity is not thought of as a typical ‘spiritual’ action but it nonetheless increases Taqwa, as does honouring the parents, walking to the Masjid, performing Hajj, and so on. The way we behave with people around us in everyday life will have an impact on our hearts. The heart can be purified by good action as it can by reflection. After speaking about defrauding people financially – a physical transaction – Allāh says:

كَلَّا ۖ بَلْ ۜ رَانَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِم مَّا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ

No indeed! Rather what they have earned has rusted up their hearts.[21]

The opposite is also true. Good actions of all sorts increase Taqwa, and Taqwa increases good actions of all sorts until a person enters a cycle of doing good, which increases his or her Taqwa, which then drives him or her to do better – and the upwards cycle continues!

And Allāh knows best. All praise and thanks are due to Him alone.

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] Muslim

[2] Al-Qur’ān 49:3

[3] Jami’ al-Bayān fi Ta’wīl al-Qur’ān, Imam al-Tabari

[4] Tafsir Al-Taḥrīr wa al-Tanwīr, b. ʿĀshūr

[5] Al-Qur’ān 47:4

[6] This verse and the one that follows were revealed concerning a group of people, a tribe of Bedouins called Banu Tameem who came calling the Messenger of Allah (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) from behind his apartments saying: ‘Mohammad, come out and meet us.’ See Reasons for Revelation.

[7] Jami’ al-Bayān fi Ta’wīl al-Qur’ān, Imam al-Tabari

[8] Al-Qur’ān 49:2

[9] Tafsir Al-Taḥrīr wa al-Tanwīr, b. ʿĀshūr

[10] Al-Qur’ān 49:5

[11] Jami’ al-Bayān fi Ta’wīl al-Qur’ān, Imam al-Tabari

[12] Tafsir Al-Taḥrīr wa al-Tanwīr, b. ʿĀshūr

[13] Al-Qur’ān 42:52

[14] Tafsir al-Ḥujurāt by Sheikh Mohammad Metwali al-Sha’rāwi

[15] Tafsir al-Ḥujurāt by Sheikh Mohammad Metwali al-Sha’rāwi

[16] Al-Zuhd wa al-Raqā’iq, b. al-Mubarak

[17] Al-Qur’ān 9:3

[18] Mentioned in Tafsir al-Qur’ān al-‘Athīm, b. Kathīr. There is discontinuity in the chain of transmission as Mujahid did not meet ‘Umar (rady Allāhu ‘anhu), but the meaning of the narration is true.

[19] Bukhari and Muslim

[20] See Fath al-Bāri by b. Rajab al-Hanbali – translated to the author’s best effort.

[21] Al-Qur’ān 83:14

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About Ahmed Hammuda

Ahmed Hammuda is a regular contributor at Islam21c. His interests lie in Qur'anic Tafsir and the field of Middle East Affairs and how they reflect on Muslims living in the West. He is an Electrical Engineer by trade and has been involved in various Da'wah activities over the course of his education and working life. He has transferred the same analytical approach required in engineering into a careful and measured approach in his views and positions.

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