Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,
Assalaamu Alaykum, I'm Zafar Bangash. Welcome to Ramadhan Journey- a program that has been looking at the various dimensions of Ramadhan as well as the noble Qur’an. Just as a reminder, tonight is the night of the twenty seventh and we hope insha’Allah that you would receive all the blessings of the month of Ramadhan as well as also of this night. In particular we want to engage and have been engaging through our discussions with respect to various lessons that we can derive from the noble book of Allah, the Qur’an, whose first few ayaat were revealed to the Nabi in the solitude of the cave of Hira’. Ramadhan of course is also linked with building our taqwa as well as important events such as the Battle of Badr as well as the liberation of Makkah. We have been discussing with Imam Muhammad Al Asi throughout this month various aspects of Ramadhan but more particularly focusing on certain concepts and issues and terms in the Qur’an in order to understand it in its proper context and in their proper meanings. In our last episode we talked about Al Quds and we will continue our discussion about Al Quds which of course is linked with Islamic history as well as Prophetic history after all, all of the Prophets of Allah are Prophets of Muslims and we believe in them and we make no distinctions between them as we are commanded by Allah in the Noble Book. My guest of course is Imam Muhammad Al Asi who's a fellow at the Institute for Contemporary Islamic Thought and the author of many books the most well known which is The Ascendant Qur’an- Realigning Man to the Divine Power Culture, a multi series of tafseer; the first ever attempted in the English language. Six volumes of this tafseer have already been published (and) the seventh is reaching completion and the other volumes will insha’Allah follow soon. Imam Muhammad Al Asi, welcome once again to Ramadhan Journey.
Imam Al-Asi: Thank you for the opportunity to be here with you.
Zafar Bangash: Now in our last episode we talked about Al Quds but since it is a very, very important topic I think we need to discuss the other dimensions of this and in particular in reference of the ayaat of Surah Al Isra' and start of with
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ
Extolled and exalted is He who has taken His conforming subject on a night journey from Al Masjid Al Haram to Al Masjid Al Aqsa the environs of which we have blessed so that We may demonstrate some of Our ayaat to him for He, meaning Allah, is All Hearing and All Seeing (or) nothing escapes His attention nothing escapes His detection. (Surah Al Isra’ verse 1)
Could you please continue and shed some light on these ayaat.
Imam Al-Asi: In furtherance of the information pertaining to Al Quds there is a Surah in the Qur’an the seventeenth Surah called Surah Al Isra'. What has dropped out of usage is that the Surah is also called Surah Bani Isra’eel. It begins with a concentration of meanings about Al Quds and Al Ard Al Muqaddassah, the Holy Land. The first ayah in this Surah says (and) this roughly comes along in English as such
Praise be to He who has… (Surah Al Isra’ verse 1)
The other translations you will find in the other run of the mill translations is
أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا
… taken on a night journey… (Surah Al Isra’ verse 1)
but a more accurate way of putting that is
الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ
… He who has- in a gesture of status giving to His subject- taken him on a night journey from Al Masjid Al Haram in Makkah to Al Masjd Al Aqsa in Al Quds so that we may show him some of our ayaat for Allah is all Hearing and all Seeing. (Surah Al Isra’ verse 1)
Zafar Bangash: I want to point out that when I recited I made a mistake it should be, as you correctly stated, it ended with as samee' al baseer not as samee' al aleem. So I just want to make that correction that I had made the mistake and I seek Allah's forgiveness for that.
Imam Al-Asi: Alhamdulillah we are all humans and the best of those who make their mistakes are the ones who correct them.
Zafar Bangash: Alhamdulillah
Imam Al-Asi: The first thing we notice in looking at this ayah is Allah took the final Prophet in elevating his status to Jerusalem, Al Quds from Makkah. This occurred just before the Prophet was forced out of Makkah to go to Al Madinah. There is a type of implicit message in this because if we were to reconstruct the pressures that came to bare on the Prophet during that time period we find that preceding this his uncle had passed away, his wife had passed away
Zafar Bangash: And these were two strong pillars of support for him in Makkah.
Imam Al-Asi: That's right. He relied upon them very much in communicating the message of Islam in Makkah. There was also a time period in which revelation was not coming down to him. It was like a hiatus in the sequence of revelations that were being revealed to him. So it was a time of social pressure and a type of internal estrangement that he felt in these combination of circumstances so Allah took him on this journey from Masjid Al Haram in Makkah to Al Masjid Al Aqsa in Jerusalem. Is there a sign in this for future generations that when you feel, (may be), estranged? When you feel that the social pressure is mounting, when you feel there is no place to go then think about this night journey that the Prophet went on from Makkah to Al Quds. Think about this in the sense of being something like twin cities in those circumstances. So whether this inference is correct or whether it’s just positive thinking only Allah knows but that's what happened in our history and the statement is very clear that in a sense the way to relief- because what would happen after the Prophets return to Makkah was that a new chapter or a new time of relief was to unfold. So whether we think about it as preceding times of relief or whether we think about it as an integration of Makkah with Al Quds or whether we think about it as an access because what happened is the Prophet didn't only go from Makkah to Al Quds, he also went from Al Quds to Heaven in what is called Al Mi'raj. So whether this is an opening up of our relief that would come from Allah- however way you approach this there is an unmistakable message and that is that as much as Makkah is Islamic Al Quds is also Islamic. Notice that the timing of this could very well have been a year or so after that the Prophet would have went from Al Madinah to Al Quds to Al Masjid Al Aqsa but the timing of it was that the Prophet went from a stateless environment- there was no Islamic state in Makkah- he went from a non-Islamic state to Al Quds. So whether this is some indication of future in which Muslims are oriented towards Al Quds when they are stateless. In today's world Muslims have around two billion Muslims (and) you can say around almost 1.9billion Muslims in this world don't have an Islamic state and an Islamic order that they can identify with- an Islamic deen of their own. So this can very well be an indicator that in our times much effort and co-ordination for a struggle of having an Islamic state passes through Al Quds, Jerusalem in a sense that it has to be liberated so that we can resume our ideological and political and economic and all of these other responsibilities as we are instructed from on high to do.
Zafar Bangash: We will insha'Allah continue with this discussion which is really fascinating because there are other aspects of Al Quds that we need to talk about as well. We‘ve been talking with Imam Muhammad Al Asi and in particular focusing on Al Quds, the first Qibla of the Muslims and one of the three Harams and that we need to look at it in context of our current responsibilities because of its inaccessibility to us so we will insha'Allah resume our discussion with Imam Al Asi shortly. We are going to take a short break at this time from Ramadhan Journey but please don't go away we'll be right back after these messages.
Asaalaamu Alaykum and welcome back. If you’ve just joined us I'm Zafar Bangash and you are watching Ramadhan Journey and my guest is Imam Muhammad Al Asi who is helping us understand the importance of Al Quds in Islamic and Prophetic history. Imam Muhammad Al Asi welcome back. Before we went for the break we were talking about what you were shedding light on (i.e.) this ayah from Surah Al Isra’ or Surah Bani Isra’eel which Allah refers to as the nightly journey of the Messenger of Allah from Masjid Al Haram to Masjid Al Aqsa and from there on to Al Mi'raj. Please continue with your discussion.
Imam Al-Asi: Let’s follow the ayaat here at the beginning of Surah Bani Isra’eel or Surah Al Isra’.
وَقَضَيْنَا إِلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ فِي الْكِتَابِ لَتُفْسِدُنَّ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَّتَيْنِ
And we have declared in scripture to the Children of Isra’eel that you will cause corruption on earth in your history twice… (Surah Al Isra’ verse 4)
Now there has been a lot of give and take on when the first time was and when the second time is. We’re not going to go into these historical pages at this time, suffice it to say here that Allah's words are very clear.
Zafar Bangash: They don't tolerate any ambiguity.
Imam Al-Asi: That's right. There's no question about the meanings of these ayaat. Allah says to the Children of Isra’eel
وَلَتَعْلُنَّ عُلُوًّا كَبِيرًا
… you will reach unprecedented heights in your worldly status. (Surah Al Isra’ verse 4)
I, (in my humble understanding of this ayah), say that in our current world configuration political, social, military, etc. the Children of Isra’eel as they define themselves have reached this summit of what you may call worldly recognition in as far as their control of power, finances and government, etc. Now the ayaat go on to tell us that
فَإِذَا جَاءَ وَعْدُ أُولَاهُمَا بَعَثْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ عِبَادًا لَّنَا أُولِي بَأْسٍ شَدِيدٍ
In the first preponderance of Israeli power in the world they will be terminated by our subjects or when the first time of their preponderant power position in the politics and in the proliferation of things of influence comes to pass We will send against you subjects of ours who have a tremendous, (what you may say), military power... (Surah Al Isra’ verse 5)
When this happened in history is not of concern at this time. People have the freedom of thought to refer to this in their own reference books. The point that concerns us here is the second power preponderance of Bani Isra’eel. I think this is in reference of their current occupation of Al Quds and of the Holy Land. Then Allah says
فَإِذَا جَاءَ وَعْدُ الْآخِرَةِ لِيَسُوءُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ
… when the second promise comes to pass as your second political preponderance in the world is obvious the final promise to you (is that due to), once again, Our subjects (i.e.) those who conform to Us and comply with Us is going to spoil your influence in this world, it is going to be spoiled, (in a sense) and is going to be dis-reputed, (in another sense)… (Surah Al Isra’ verse 7)
I think this is in the making in today's world. We have Islamic assertion and we have Islamic self-determination. This Islamic assertion and self-determination is part of that word in the Qur’an ibadan lana i.e. Our subjects- these are the ones who are going to terminate this influence and this preponderance, disproportionate as it is concerning Bani Isra’eel. I want to mention here that the ayaat in the Qur’an speak about Bani Isra’eel; they don't speak about Yahud (or) about the Jewish faith. They speak about an ethnic, a tribal and a racist definition of who the Children of Isra’eel are. We all know Isra’eel is in reference to Jacob who is the son of Is’haq (alayhima as salaam) so it is as if the words of the Qur’an are specifically and deliberately pointing to today's racist, tribalist, exclusivist, expansionist, aggressive enclave that is known as the Israeli nation state or as some people refer to it Israel.
Zafar Bangash: It's not referring to all of the Jewish people, Yahud is not used.
Imam Al-Asi: No it’s not. This is how fair the Qur’anic wording is because the Qur’an is Allah's words so He knows even though they may not be the majority or they may fluctuate between majority and minority only Allah knows the accurate count but in the Jewish context there will be Jews themselves who are either on the liberal left or on the orthodox right who will be opposed to this formulation of a racist, exclusivist, aggressive and expansionist occupation nation state as we have in today's bloody history ever since 1947 and 1948 of the Israeli occupation of Al Quds and the surrounding Holy Lands with the buffer states that they have in that general region who act like junkyard dogs guarding the Israeli occupation and usurpation of the Holy Land.
Zafar Bangash: I also quickly want to touch on Al Quds day that is being announced by Imam Khomeini nearly three decades ago, its significance and what Muslims ought to be doing on this day.
Imam Al-Asi: Yes. The late Imam Khomeini (may Allah rest his soul in eternal peace) designated the last Friday as the global day of Jerusalem, Yawm Al Quds Al Aalam. This simply is an accurate definition of the means of power because we know that fasting in a sense is a demonstration of Allah's power and of Allah's presence in Muslim’s psyche (and) in Muslims' society so it’s going to take Allah's presence with us to liberate Al Quds and because the month of Ramadhan is a month of heightened awareness and sensitivity to Allah's power presence which is the component of the definition of taqwa it becomes very meaningful to designate one of the last days of Ramadhan as a day for Al Quds. Al Imam's choice of that day was the last Friday of Ramadhan because Ramadhan is a month of Islamic socializing and Jum'ah is a day of Islamic socializing so when you combine the meaning of the last Jum'ah with all the accretions of the benefits of the month of Ramadhan (i.e.) when you combine a month and a day of socialization and concentration on Allah then that should become a demonstration of the Muslim's will to do Allah's will and Allah's will is to cleanse the Holy Lands of racism, of tribalism, of capitalism and all the ills that have concentrated themselves and have become a threat to Islamic self determination.
Zafar Bangash: We'll have to stop there. This is very fascinating. Thank you very much. We've been talking to Imam Muhammad Al Asi, reflecting on the month of Ramadhan in particular Al Quds which is extremely important to Muslims as well as Al Quds day (that) Muslims observe on the last Friday of the month of Ramadhan as Imam Khomeini (may Allah rest his soul in peace) had designated and there are rallies observed throughout the world- Muslim as well as non Muslim world. That is all the time we have for this particular episode of Ramadhan Journey. We hope that you have been journeying with us through this month and have found this program thought provoking and informative and we hope you will join us on another episode at the same time. Thank you. Wa Salaamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
We desire to expand and build on the designation of the day of Al Quds (designated by the late Imam Al Khomeini to be commemorated on the last Friday of Ramadhan in recognition of the suffering meted out to the Palestinians and the oppressed peoples of the world), and will be insha'Allah be running a weekly additional Khutbah on Al Quds. We pray that Allah raises the awareness of people regarding the suffering of the people of Quds and the other oppressed peoples so that the designation of the last Friday to ensconce the realities in the lives of oppressed people in our minds will culminate into a daily occurrence.