Heart-melting power of the Quran

Friday Khutba by Dr Zahid Aziz, for Lahore Ahmadiyya UK, 14 October 2022

“If We had sent down this Quran on a mountain, you would certainly have seen it falling down, splitting apart because of the fear of Allah. And We set forth these parables to people that they may reflect.” — ch. 59: Al-Hashr, v. 21

لَوۡ اَنۡزَلۡنَا ہٰذَا الۡقُرۡاٰنَ عَلٰی جَبَلٍ لَّرَاَیۡتَہٗ خَاشِعًا مُّتَصَدِّعًا مِّنۡ خَشۡیَۃِ اللّٰہِ ؕ وَ تِلۡکَ الۡاَمۡثَالُ نَضۡرِبُہَا لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّہُمۡ یَتَفَکَّرُوۡنَ ﴿۲۱

“And if there could be a Quran with which the mountains were made to pass away, or the earth were split apart, or the dead were made to speak — indeed, the commandment is wholly Allah’s.” — ch. 13, Al-Ra‘d, v. 31

وَ لَوۡ اَنَّ قُرۡاٰنًا سُیِّرَتۡ بِہِ الۡجِبَالُ اَوۡ قُطِّعَتۡ بِہِ الۡاَرۡضُ اَوۡ کُلِّمَ بِہِ الۡمَوۡتٰی ؕ بَلۡ لِّلّٰہِ الۡاَمۡرُ جَمِیۡعًا ؕ

In these verses, by “mountains” are meant people who are hard set in their ways and beliefs, and when truth is placed before them, and preached around about them they stand in its way like mountains. The first verse indicates that such stubborn opponents of Islam will themselves bow down before the power of the Quran. The only force they will be facing would be that of the Quran, and not any physical force. In explaining the meaning of this verse, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad writes that for a person to be accepted by Allah and to love Allah he must give up all pride and arrogance and thinking of himself as high and mighty, like a mountain falling to the ground. And “splitting apart” of the mountain means that, like a structure or building which is reduced to rubble, he must break his previous wrong pattern of behaviour which identified his personality. The second verse indicates that Allah can make the Quran move mountains out of its way, meaning the opponents of Islam, make it open their hearts, which is the meaning of splitting the earth, and give life to the spiritually dead.

In this khutba I will go through some events which occurred during the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and which show the effect of the Quran on people. The Holy Prophet once mentioned that a time will come when knowledge, meaning the knowledge of the Quran, will be taken away from people. One of the Companions was surprised and said: “How could it disappear from us when we read the Quran and teach it to our women and children?” His question shows that it was a common, daily practice in the generation of the Companions to read the Quran and to teach it, not only to men, but also to women and children. In other words, the Quran was taught to every Muslim, male or female, young or old. The Holy Prophet replied to that Com­panion that the Jews and the Christians still have their scriptures but they do not benefit from them (Tirmidhi, hadith 2653). So when he had said that knowledge of the Quran will disappear he did not mean that the Quran would be lost — people would still possess the Quran — but they would not be deriving any benefit from its know­ledge. It is reported in another hadith that a woman Companion said that she memo­rised Surah Qāf (ch. 50) of the Quran by just hearing the Holy Prophet recite it during every Friday khutba over a period of one or two years (Sahih Muslim, hadith 872, 873). This again shows that women were also keen to learn the Quran.

Another incident is as follows. When Muslims were being persecuted by the Quraish at Makkah before the Hijra, and emigrating to Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia), Hazrat Abu Bakr decided to emigrate also. Just after leaving, he met a man called Ibn Ad-Daghnah who was the chief of another tribe. He asked Hazrat Abu Bakr where he was going, and Hazrat Abu Bakr replied: “My people have turned me out and I would like to travel in the earth and worship my Lord”. Ibn Ad-Daghnah told Hazrat Abu Bakr that a man like him, who was so charitable and helped other people so much, should not leave, nor should he be turned out. So he took Hazrat Abu Bakr back to Makkah and told the Quraish leaders that a man of Abu Bakr’s qualities should not have to leave Makkah. The Quraish leaders accepted that he could stay at Makkah as someone living under the protection of Ibn Ad-Daghnah, but they imposed the condition that if he wants to pray and recite the Quran he must do so only inside his house, and not do it publicly, because, they said: “we fear that our sons and our women might be tempted by it”. Hazrat Abu Bakr agreed to that condition and did not pray or recite the Quran outside his house.  Later on, he built a mosque in the courtyard of his house and started saying his prayers and reciting the Quran there. He could now be heard outside. Since he used to start weeping when reciting the Quran, the women and youngsters of the Quraish passing by would gather and look at him. The Quraish complained to Ibn Ad-Daghnah that Hazrat Abu Bakr was breaking the terms of the agreement which required that he could only say his prayers and recite the Quran inside his house. They told him that they were worried about their young­sters and their women falling under the spell of the Quran. So he should go and tell Hazrat Abu Bakr to either stick to the agreement or to revoke the protection of Ibn Ad-Daghnah over him. When Ibn Ad-Daghnah conveyed this to Hazrat Abu Bakr, he said to Ibn Ad-Daghnah: “I revoke your protection and I am satisfied with Allah’s protection”. Just shortly after that, the Holy Prophet was permitted by Allah to per­form the Hijra and leave Makkah, and Hazrat Abu Bakr went with him. What this incident shows is that the Quraish leaders were afraid that their youngsters and their women would be influenced by listening to the Quran and also seeing the effect it had on Hazrat Abu Bakr of making his heart melt.

You will all have heard the well-known incident that the Quraish leaders offered the Holy Prophet certain worldly temptations if he would agree to stop his preaching of the oneness of God. One of their chiefs, ‘Utbah ibn Rabī‘ah, said to them: “I will go to Muhammad and make some proposals to him which if he accepts, we will give him whatever he wants, and he will leave us in peace?” He went to the Holy Prophet and said: “If what you want is money we will gather it for you out of our property so that you may be the richest of us; if you want honour, we will make you our chief so that no one can decide anything except you; if you want kingship, we will make you king. If this ghost which comes to you [meaning the angel Gabriel], which you see, is such that you cannot get rid of him, we will find a physician for you, and exhaust our means in getting you cured, because it often happens that a familiar spirit gets possession of a man until he can be cured of it.” The Holy Prophet heard his offer patiently and then read to him the beginning of ch. 41 of the Quran which is called Ḥā Mīm. ‘Utbah listened attentively till the Holy Prophet finished with a prostration at the end of verse 37. The Holy Prophet then said to him: “You have now heard this. What you now do is up to you.”

When ‘Utbah returned to the Quraish chiefs they noticed that his expression had completely altered, and they asked him what had happened. He said that he had heard words such as he had never heard before, which were neither poetry, spells, nor witchcraft. “Take my advice and do as I do. Leave this man entirely alone for, by God, the words which I have heard will achieve great importance. If other Arab tribes kill him, then others will have rid you of him; if he is successful over the other Arabs tribes his rulership will be your rulership, his power will be your power, and you will be prosperous through him.” They told him that he had fallen under the magic spell of Muhammad. He answered: “You have my opinion, you must do what you think fit.” Hearing the Quran made such a deep impression on ‘Utbah that he gave the Quraish chiefs the advice to leave the Holy Prophet alone to get on with his mission. He returned such a changed man that the Quraish chiefs said he had fallen under the Holy Prophet’s magic spell.

Then there is the well-known event of the conversion of Hazrat Umar to Islam. He was originally a stern opponent of Islam. He was also of a very harsh nature. His sister, whose name was also Fatima, and her husband Sa‘īd ibn Zaid, became Muslims and concealed this fact from Umar. A man called Khabbāb often used to come to Fatima to read the Quran to her. Again, we see from this that women were as much interested to learn the Quran as men were. One day Umar heard that the Holy Prophet Muhammad with forty of his Companions, including women, were gathered in a house. He decided to go there and kill the Holy Prophet. He said: “Muhammad has split up our tribe, mocked our customs and insulted our religion and their gods, so I am going to kill him.” But someone told him: Check your own family first, your sister and her husband have become Muslims. So he went to see his sister and her husband. Khabbāb was there teaching them Surah Ṭā Hā (ch. 20 of the Quran) from some written pages. Hearing that Umar was approaching, Khabbāb hid in another room and Fatima hid the pages under her thigh. But Umar had heard the sound of the reading. He was furious and grabbed her husband. When Fatima tried to defend him, he struck her as well, and she was hurt. She then admitted that they were Muslims and will remain Muslims no matter what he does to them. Umar saw that she was bleeding and was sorry for his action. He then said: “Give me this page which I heard you reading so that I may see what it is which Muhammad has brought.” Reading it, he said: “This is a fine and noble talk.” His enmity to Islam turned into devotion for Islam, and his hatred was changed into admiration just by reading those few verses. Then Khabbāb came out of hiding and told Hazrat Umar that last night the Holy Prophet had prayed to Allah that may Islam be strengthened by the conversion of a certain person or by the conversion of Umar.

Again we see here how a mountain, a proud and haughty man, crumbled and split into pieces when confronted by the Quran, and we also see the crucial role a woman played, who had accepted the truth earlier than him, in his acceptance of Islam. Let us pray that the words of the Quran bring down more mountains and make them humble human beings, ameen.