Your God Is So Vengeful

We continued with our Tafseer of surah Al Ma’oon this morning. As usual, after the session, we had a discussion based on the notes they are able to get from it. Before I get on to that, I just want to say that mashaAllah, the effort put in by the brothers and sisters towards Linguistic Miracle is amazing. May Allah reward them abundantly in this life and in the hereafter! AMeen.

Everyday (well, almost everyday) we listen to Ustadh Nouman’s Tafseer podcast for about 30 min max, the kids take notes, I use the notes on Linguistic Miracle, and then I ask them to share their notes. As they share, I would ask them what it means, how that would apply to our daily life or with people we encounter, or just go off tangent and do a whole other discussion. It’s all impromptu. I wish I can document or record these discussions because some of them are really good mashaAllah.

So I thought I’d document today’s discussion.

We were discussing the word da’a in Fazhaalikalazhee yadu’ul yateem (ayat 2).

This is part of the notes in Linguistic Miracle:

Da/’a push someone far away, without expecting that they will push you back. Push someone afar.

to intimidate someone by ‘kicking them out’ of a gathering. I.e. “get out of here!” = da/’a.

Surah AL Ma’oon ayat 2

107:2
Sahih International

For that is the one who drives away the orphan

Then I asked for specific examples of how someone would behave like this towards an orphan. Think Oliver Twist.
H’s example: An orphan is eating a cantaloupe rind and the person takes it away from him, reprimanding the orphan for it. So this person even deprives this orphan of a fruit rind.
Or in the case of the Arabs at that time, treating the orphan like a slave.
I also asked H to recite that ayah that has da’a in it. For a while, he couldn’t recall it, but I know he had gone over it in hifdh. I remember it because Sh Waleed had explained it in one of the AlMaghrib classes, and I remember because he was explaining that the sound of the word even indicates a violent and forceful pushing, subhanallah.
H couldn’t recall it, so I just explained that ayah as, “The people will be pushed into the hellfire with a forceful pushing.”
And all of a sudden, H recalled it,
Yauma yuda’oona ilaa naari jahannama da’a.
On that day, they will be pushed towards the hellfire with a definite pushing.
He still doesn’t remember which surah it came from.
Then I asked them,
“Hmm…so what if someone tells you, ‘Your god is so angry, so vengeful, all He talks about is hellfire!’ what would you say?”
Their replies (I forgot who said what, so it’s easier to just put it in bullet points like this)
  • He talks about rewards too
  • He gives you warnings so you won’t go to hellfire
  • He doesn’t want you to go to hellfire so He warns you

“So how can you explain that He is actually Merciful through His warnings?”

I asked them to explain it. Then I asked for examples.

“You need to know this. You have to give your explanation and then give examples. Explanation and examples are two different things, okay?”

Their examples:

N: Your mother tells you not to touch the hot pots on the stove because she doesn’t want you to burn yourself.

H: a person is running towards a cliff, and someone trips him. He is blind. He trips but is saved from falling off the cliff.

His example didn’t really answer my question but it led to another discussion and another concept that I went ahead and discussed with them anyway.
“Your example is a very good one. It actually gives an example of another concept though. What is it?”
“Punishments.”
“Well, yes, but I’m looking for another answer.”
“Tests.”
“So why are we tested?”
“So we can grow stronger, to strengthen us.”
I wanted to explore this topic a bit further, so I said,
“Ok, you have two people. One person is doing good, and obeying Allah, then Allah tests him. For what?”
“To make him stronger and rise to a higher level/status.”
“Ok, this other person, he is not obeying Allah, then Allah tests him. For what?”
“So, he would do good and be saved.”
I then said,
“So sometimes, this test is like a wake up call. Sometimes it’s just a nudge, like when you get sick. At other times it may be a vigorous shaking, like maybe an accident. But through these tests, we are being called to Allah. Because He wants us to succeed. Allah wants us to go to Jannah. He doesn’t want us to go to hellfire, that’s why He warns us about it.”
I gave an example of my own,
“For example, let’s say H is going to participate in a marathon and I’m one of the organizers and I don’t really want him to win the race. So I will just let him practice without giving him tips and warnings. He does the race and realizes the difficulties at this corner or that corner for the first time and gets stuck or struggles and gets over it but he will be behind by that time and doesn’t reach the finish line in good time. If I want him to win, I’d give him warnings and tips, this corner is dangerous so take extra precaution, do some more extra stamina building training, slow down on that corner etc, and then he wins. I can’t actually just pick him up and put him at the finish line, I want him to win but I can’t do that. He has to do it himself. Same thing, Allah wants us to go to Jannah, but we have to put the effort ourselves, so He gives us tips and warnings. He’s actually rooting for us, cheering us on.”
Then I went to another issue,
“So, He gives us tips and warnings so we don’t end up doing them. We’re not supposed to even go near them. As a parent, I tell you not to do this, do your homework etc etc because I know my mistakes, others’ mistakes and I don’t want you to have to make those mistakes and then struggle through them yourself and then figure it out. I want you to be better than me than other people who have made mistakes. So Allah gives us tips and warnings too so we don’t fall. It’s actually out of wanting so much good for you. It may seem hard to you now, but it’s actually for your own good.”
It’s hard for me to blog about this because in the time between after our discussion and the time I begin to write this post, I had forgotten the minutes of our discussion. So this is like some of it or the gist of it. I wish we had recorded it. Maybe I will do that next time. It would be nice for the kids to be able to listen to it again in years to come.
I think these discussions actually help train critical thinking, as how it’s also done in learning literature. But with these topics, it’s even more, because they relate to us as Muslims living in the west where we are always bombarded with these types of questions. Listening to Ustadh Nouman is a good way to also train our critical thinking as he does a lot of it and shares it with his listeners, mashaAllah. I also want the kids to really have a good grasp on the Quran, because that really is our book of guidance. Without it, we’re like floating dust particles in the air, blowing wherever the air carries us to. Helpless.
Sometimes I feel like our Tafseer sessions are boring for them, but I do hope that at least, if not all of it, they would at least take some things out of it to benefit them long term. It’s easy for me to think that ahh, maybe I should just stop this since they look so bored anyway, but with Allah’s taufeeq, they can benefit from it. I just have to remember to say my Rabbish Rahli dua before I start our discussion. I really need to treat it like a proper halaqa. Sometimes, it happens ‘on the run’ because I want to get the tafseer session in for the day, and sometimes our schedule is chaotic.
Like today, I had hifdh right after Fajr, so we didn’t have our tafseer at our usual post Fajr-before-we-get-up-from-our-sitting-position time. I had gone downstairs and then I called them to do tafseer. The ideal time would be right after fajr. They would bring the Mac upstairs and we would do it where we were sitting. But some days, I have group meetings/hifdh on Skype right after fajr, like today, so then we have to kind of adjust. May Allah keep us steadfast and istiqamah on this and other good things we do. Ameen.
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Categories: Living Islam, Quran, Tafseer, Thoughts | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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