48-Suratu’l-Inshirah (The Expansion)

Suratu’l-Inshirah (The Expansion)

فَإِذَا فَرَغْتَ فَٱنصَبْ

Therefore, when you are free (from one task), resume (another task).

(Al-Inshirah 94:7)

This verse presents Muslims with an important philosophy of life. Indeed, a believer should always be active; both their working and resting should be an activity. In other words, believers should arrange their working hours in such a way that there should be no gaps in their lives. In fact, as a requirement of being a human, people should rest as well, yet this kind of resting should be an active resting. For instance, when people whose minds are busy with reading and writing become tired, they can rest by lying and sleeping, but they can also rest by changing the work or activity they do. They may read the Qur’an, perform the Prayer, do physical exercise, or engage in a friendly conversation. After a while, they can return to their normal activity. In sum, it must be the manner of believers that they are always active and remain active by changing activities. That is, they rest by working and work while resting.

If we consider this matter in relation to the service of belief and the Qur’an, it can be said that we enjoy the bounties and blessings that God bestows for nothing in return. God Almighty has created us as humans and has honored us with Islam and with the service to the faith and the Qur’an. This is manifest in the lives of many people among us. For example, many wealthy people who pursue God’s good pleasure and desire to serve both their society and humanity at large rent out houses that accommodate many poor and talented students. Without being content with this, they build hostels for the accommodation of greater numbers of students and open private schools for their education in better and more favorable conditions. In the face of the sincere demands of some “hearts” that desire serving humanity in much broader spheres, God has given them the opportunity to open schools or other institutions of education throughout the world. They taste the pleasure of serving lofty ideals in the highest degrees. In sum, at every point where many have suffered worries about whether there is no longer room for volunteering services, God Almighty has opened new fields of service before them. This means that the meaning of the verse, “When you are free (from one task), resume (another task),” manifests itself systematically in our lives whether or not we are aware of this.

Essentially, believers have no other alternatives than to act in such a manner. First of all, every bounty that God grants to the believers is very great. His creating us as human beings is a bounty; good health is another bounty. Belief and perception of these as God’s bounties with the light of belief is another, greater, bounty. Eating and drinking and anticipating eternal bounties are other great bounties. In fact, everything is a bounty for us; we are surrounded by bounties. However, unfortunately, we cannot appreciate their worth due to our over-familiarity with them and thus fail to give proper thanks for them. While people in many countries suffer deprivations, many others die or are left widows or orphans or without children in pitiless wars, and still many others are in the darkness of unbelief or in the clutches of tyrannical regimes, it is a great blessing that we follow right guidance, have possibilities to fulfill our duty of worship, and do not suffer as much as many before us have suffered because of their belief. Therefore, we should always be active, hasting from one activity to the other, fulfill the duties that fall upon us within the framework of services rendered for God’s sake and for the happiness of humanity, and experience fully the spiritual pleasures that are intrinsic to activities themselves.

Indeed, it is out of question for believers to stop and demand a comfortable, lazy life thinking that there is nothing left to do. What is expected from believers is that they engage in another good and positive activity when they are free from the previous one. They find rest in exertion and make rest the beginning of another exertion; they experience ease in hardships and make ease a propitious ground for overcoming hardships. Believing that the metaphysical and the physical are the two faces of a whole unity or complete each other to form unity, they live without leaving any gaps in their lives.

O God! Guide us to what You love and are pleased with, and may God’s blessings and peace be upon our master Muhammad, the chosen one with whom God is pleased!

M. Fethullah Gülen

47-Suratu’d-Duha (The Forenoon)

Suratu’d-Duha (The Forenoon)

وَلَلآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لَّكَ مِنَ ٱلأُولَىٰ

Assuredly, what comes after will be better for you than what has gone before.

(Ad-Duha 93:4)

Suratu’d-Duha was revealed when Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was having the most distressful days in Makkah. Revelation had ceased to come for a while. Umm Jamil, the wife of Abu Lahab, had come to the Messenger and say in derision: “I cannot see your owner (Lord). He may have abandoned you.”(119) In such an atmosphere, God consoled His Messenger(120) by revealing this surah, in which He says: “Your Lord has not forsaken you, nor has He become displeased with you. Assuredly, what comes after will be better for you than what has gone before” (Ad-Duha 93:3–4). If this verse is interpreted from the viewpoint of the days when it was revealed, the meaning is: “Your every new day will be better for you than the previous one, and your future will be brighter for you than your present.” In fact, history witnesses that it happened so. For his rising star and the map of his mission shined more brightly every new day than the previous. The verses following this and certain other surahs that were revealed after gave this same promise and drew the attention to his bright future. For instance, the Qur’anic chapters al-Inshirah (The Expansion), which mentions some of God’s favors upon the Messenger of God, beginning with the verse, “Have We not expanded for you your breast” (94:1), and al-‘Adiyat (The Chargers) beginning with, “By the charges that run panting; striking sparks of fire” (100:1–2), which points not only to the horses that run panting but also other modern instruments like tanks and various other armored weaponry, became great sources of hope for our master, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. They became so, for even today we picture in our mind and before our eyes a long, glorious history and a brighter future which the shining spirit of Muhammad illuminated and will illuminate, respectively.

In Suratu’d-Duha, the dominion of a community in the realm of spirituality which will follow an individual constraint and distress shows itself in grades. There is also music of sorrow in this surah. But in Suratu’l ‘Adiyat one can hear the loud, resounding sounds of successes and triumphs in physical realm. The Qur’an chooses words according to the meaning and content so extraordinarily that those who are aware of this could not help going into raptures.

The style of the chapter ad-Duha has a unique feature from a psychological perspective as well. For example, God began it with swearing by the forenoon in consoling His Messenger, and then swore by night. Therefore, when we recite ad-Duha (The Forenoon), we feel the shining lights of the sun illuminating the world and are exhilarated. If we can feel this after fourteen centuries in the net of too much familiarity, we cannot imagine to what great extent the leader of all Prophets, upon him be peace and blessings, felt it. May our souls be sacrificed for both he who felt this and He Who made him feel! Also, with the verse, “Assuredly, what comes after will be better for you than what has gone before,” it is stated to the Messenger that his present state of Prophethood is better than the period of his life prior to his Prophethood, and it is promised to him that his every new moment and day will be better than the previous; the future, in which God will manifest more with His Power and Mercy than with His Wisdom, will be brighter for both the Messenger and his community compared to his present distressful days; and the Madinan period of his Messengership—God certainly knew beforehand that he would emigrate to Madinah—will witness the wider acceptance and spread of his Message when compared with the Makkan period. The present, apparently distressful atmosphere surrounding him will change places with the atmosphere of bounties and blessings. All these and many other promises and the promise of a happy end are made primarily to that peerless one of time and space, upon him be peace and blessings, and secondarily to his followers.

Consequently, with the verse, “Assuredly, what comes after will be better for you than what has gone before,” it is also promised to both the Messenger and his community that they will advance from a good state to a better one, from relative good to greater, genuine good, from belief to its practice, from practice to deeper devotion and consciousness of God, from pains to innocent pleasures, from distresses to climes of contentment and exhilaration, and finally from the world to Paradise, eternal happiness, vision of God, and the eternal attainment of His approval and good pleasure.

O God! We ask You for resignation and submission after any of Your judgments about us, the coolness of life after death, the delight of looking toward Your “Face,” and a zeal for returning to and meeting with You, O the Most Compassionate of the compassionate. And may God’s blessings and peace be on our master Muhammad, and on his Family and Companions!

وَلَسَوْفَ يُعْطِيكَ رَبُّكَ فَتَرْضَىٰ

And assuredly He will increasingly grant you His favors one after another and you will be contented.   (Ad-Duha 93:5)

It is more accurate to take the phrase in the sentence “you will be contented” to mean the maqam ar-rida, or “the rank of being pleased with and pleasing to God.” To illustrate, our master Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, came to the world with the full capacity to attain this rank. This attainment was like a seed in his nature in the beginning. Just as a seed buried in the soil germinates, grows, sprouts, and becomes an elaborate tree, by God’s willing, our Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, fully developed his potential to attain the rank of being pleased with and pleasing to God with an indescribable performance and through his extraordinary resolution and efforts, which God bestowed on him. Thus, the verse, “And assuredly He will increasingly grant you His favors one after another and you will be contented,” was glad tidings to him that he would certainly attain to the highest “rank of being pleased with God and pleasing to Him.”

Indeed, the attainment of the rank of being pleased with and pleasing to God is possible for everyone according to their capacity as long as they live in obedience to God’s injunctions and prohibitions and do not waste or use in wrong ways the potential given to them by God.

Also, the Arabic prefix “la,” both in the expression of “wa-la-sawfa” (where the emphatic prefix “la” is used in conjunction with the future particle of “sawfa,” all of which give the sentence a future and certain definite positive and convincing significance) in this verse and in the expression of “wa-la’l-akhiratu” (Assuredly, what comes after, especially the Hereafter) in the previous verse, which is, “Assuredly, what comes after will be better for you than what has gone before,” has the characteristics of both being a particle of oath and an affirmative intensifying particle that is used as a corroborative. Therefore, the happy end of being pleased with God and pleasing to Him is forcefully promised to God’s Messenger in the previous verse, and this promise is corroborated and confirmed in the one under discussion. That is, his Lord, God Almighty, will raise Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, to the highest horizon of all virtues and perfections by perfecting him through pains and innocent rejoices, distress and relief, and he will finally find himself in cascades of contentment as the reward of his physical, spiritual, and intellectual exertions and efforts. This will certainly take some time. But just as his every new moment will be better than the previous one, his final attainment, which will manifest itself in both the world and the Hereafter according to the conditions and features of each, will be indescribable.

Then, there will be no reason for both the leader, the Prophet, and the followers, his community, to have anxiety or to be grieved and worry. The leader will enjoy full satisfaction on behalf of both himself and his community and taste all the enjoyments of attaining to the “rank of being pleased with God and pleasing to Him.” The Eternal One will respond to the attainment of this rank by raising both the leader and the followers to the peaks of contentment and turning drops into oceans and particles into suns, each according to their capacity and by eternalizing them. He will exalt the leader with making him the owner of the “station of glory and praise,” which is mentioned in the verse, “Your Lord may well raise you to a glorious, praised station” (Al-Isra’ 17:79), and bestow on the followers the blessing of reaching the same status according to the capacity of each of them.

O God! Include us among Your servants who praise You often, and resurrect us under the banner of Muhammad, upon whom be peace and blessings.

M. Fethullah Gülen

119  Bukhari, Tafsir 93:2; Muslim, Jihad, 114–115.

120  Bukhari, Fadailu’l-Qur’an, 1.

46-Suratu’l-A’la (The Most High)

Suratu’l-A’la (The Most High)

فَذَكِّرْ إِن نَّفَعَتِ ٱلذِّكْرَىٰ

So remind and instruct (them in the truth) in case reminder and instruction may be of use.

(Al-A’la 87:9)

If we do not consider the reason why this and similar other verses were revealed, some inaccurate interpretations may arise, such as “Why do I continue reminding and instructing since they are of no use!” or “I have gone to them many times, but they do not pay heed,” or “Those people are not qualified to believe; therefore, it is useless to continue preaching them.” The verse says quite the opposite. It teaches those who call people to the truth the way in which they should call them and how they should act toward people. It says to them: “You should continue reminding and instructing; as stated in the verse to follow, it will be of use to those who stand in awe of God and whose hearts have signs of ‘life.’ Therefore, we should incessantly continue to convey God’s Message to others and those whose hearts are not dead will benefit from it.” Despite the verse, “(Despite the commitment and energy you show in striving to help people to believe,) those who willfully persist in unbelief: it is alike to them whether you warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe” (Al-Baqarah 2:6), who knows how many times Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, went to the unbelievers such as Abu Jahl, Utba, and Shayba, whose minds and hearts were shut off the belief, and called them to belief?

Indeed, conveying God’s Message to people and calling them to believe in it is God’s command which must be fulfilled incessantly. While doing this, we should not consider whether people will accept it or not. God Almighty orders His Messenger: “O Messenger! Convey and make known in the clearest way all that has been sent down to you from your Lord. For, if you do not, you have not conveyed His Message and fulfilled the task of His Messengership” (Al-Maedah 5:67). There is a mild warning here: even though you are fulfilling your duty of conveying My Message in the best way possible and without the least negligence, it should once more be reminded that as one with the noblest and highest character and one pursuing the loftiest of aims, you should continue fulfilling your duty in the way you have done so far.”

In another verse, God declares: “You cannot guide to truth whomever you like, but God guides whomever He wills” (Al-Qasas 28:56). The Prophet’s task, as well as the task of those who convey God’s Message in every age, is conveying the Message in the way described in the Qur’an, conscious of the fact that their duty is not securing people’s guidance. It is only God Who guides, Who creates guidance in people’s hearts, and no one else can do this.

Back to the topic, in addition to the meaning mentioned above, the clause “in case reminder and instruction may be of use” also signifies this: Some people will not accept the Message. So in conveying it, we should know in advance that the Message will not be accepted by some and, therefore, not fall into despair. In awareness that it is God Who guides and will guide and that our duty is conveying the Message in the best way described in the Qur’an and followed by our master, upon him be peace and blessings, we should continue fulfilling our duty. Those who stand in awe of God, those whose hearts have signs of life will benefit from the Message.

To sum up, since our master, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was absolutely responsible for reminding, instructing, and exhorting, the conditional clause, “In case reminder and instruction may be of use,” has the meaning of emphasizing the responsibility rather than restricting it. An eloquent, powerful speech, the Qur’an, which was revealed for the guidance and benefit of people, absolutely has the potential and capacity to give benefit. If some do not benefit from it while many others do benefit from it and are guided, that is their problem. Therefore, we should understand the verse in discussion as, “Remind and instruct, because it is definitely of use.”

O God! Include us among Your servants, sincere and with pure intention, and bestow blessings and peace on the master of those sincere and with pure intention.

M. Fethullah Gülen

45-Suratu’l-Jinn (The Jinn)

Suratu’l-Jinn (The Jinn)

قُلْ أُوحِىَ إِلَىَّ أَنَّهُ ٱسْتَمَعَ نَفَرٌ مِّنَ ٱلْجِنِّ فَقَالُوۤاْ إِنَّا سَمِعْنَا قُرْآناً عَجَباً ﴿١﴾ يَهْدِيۤ إِلَى ٱلرُّشْدِ فَآمَنَّا بِهِ وَلَن نُّشرِكَ بِرَبِّنَآ أَحَداً ﴿٢﴾

They (the jinn) said: “We have indeed heard a wonderful Qur’an, guiding to what is right in belief and action and so we have believed in it; and we (affirm that we) will not associate any as partner with our Lord.”

(Al-Jinn 72:1–2)

The original of the word translated as wonderful is “‘ajaban,” which means “extraordinary and strange.” This strangeness and extraordinariness does not mean legendary or mythical. It refers to the wonders and marvels of the Qur’an or the Qur’an’s exquisite way of expressing things and events. Indeed, the Qur’an presents to us so matchlessly extraordinary and strangely exquisite things that we can be aware of them through the enlivening breaths and illuminating rays of the Qur’an. Without the Qur’an, we would not have been able to detect and understand them. Thus, when some from among the jinn who had certain knowledge of and insight into the truths beyond material existence heard of the Qur’an, they voiced their admiration and appreciation, saying, “We have indeed heard a wonderful, extraordinarily exquisite Qur’an.” Without being content with hearing it, they let themselves be carried away by the Qur’an and believed in it, exclaiming, “We have believed in it.” Since they had certain knowledge of the reality behind material existence and thus were able to remove the veils from things and events and understand to some extent their inner meanings properly, a few verses were sufficient for them to believe.

How many times and in what circumstances did Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, meet with the jinn? I will not touch on this peculiar aspect of the mission of the master of masters whose physical and metaphysical lives are inextricably intertwined. In fact, such an issue, which is beyond our scope of understanding, is not within our responsibilities.

What is important for us concerning this verse and the jinn is that the universal Message of the pride of humankind and jinn, upon him be peace and blessings, includes the jinn as well, and this had to be and was declared in the verse, “Say O Messenger: ‘It has been revealed to me that a company of the jinn gave ear (to my recitation of the Qur’an), then (when they returned to their people) they said: ‘We have indeed heard a wonderful Qur’an, guiding to what is right in belief and action, and so we have believed in it’” (Al-Jinn 72:1–2). Another lesson we should take here is the fact that while many from among the Quraysh obstinately rejected belief in the face of many miracles or miraculous things they had seen, those jinn were very fortunate to believe as soon as they heard just a few verses of the Divine Revelation, and they immediately returned to their people in order to call them to Islam.

O God! Show us the truth as being true and enable us to follow it, and show us falsehood as being false and enable us to refrain from it.

M. Fethullah Gülen

44-Suratu’t-Tahrim (Prohibition)

Suratu’t-Tahrim (Prohibition)

ضَرَبَ ٱللَّهُ مَثَلاً لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ ٱمْرَأَةَ نُوحٍ وَٱمْرَأَةَ لُوطٍ

God presents the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot as an example for those who disbelieve.

(At-Tahrim 66:10)

We may inquire about the Divine wisdom for mentioning the wives of the Prophets Noah and Lot in the Qur’an.

It is understood from the totality of the verse above that the wife of Lot did not believe in Lot and helped people commit their detestable acts. At least, she must have been among the hypocrites who betrayed Prophet Lot, upon him be peace. Hypocrites are worse than unbelievers in respect to their situation in the Hereafter.

Furthermore, Prophet Lot was a foreigner in the community to which he was sent as a Prophet. He did not grow up among them. The verse, “O! Would that I had power to resist you!” (Hud 11:80), indicates this. Thus, if a Prophet who is deprived of the physical power to resist against external attacks is betrayed by one from his own family, especially by his wife with whom he shares his life, the dreadfulness of this betrayal is easily understood. This explains why the Qur’an mentions the betrayal of Lot’s wife.

Similar things can be said of the wife of Noah, too. Reward comes in proportion to the hardship suffered, or hardship is suffered in proportion to the reward expected or given. Therefore, Noah’s wife was in the house of one of the five greatest Prophets of God, which was illumined with Divine Revelation and where there was communication with the realms beyond the heavens. Any member of this home was expected to benefit from the Divine Revelation more than all others, but as stated in the verse, “Though for the wrongdoers it (the Divine Message) increases them only in ruin” (Al-Isra’ 17:82), Noah’s wife saw the light of the Revelation as darkness, turned remedy into pain, and became lost along the way leading to triumph. Mentioning her case will kindle the fire of fear of God in hearts and open the door ajar to the hope of salvation.

There have always been so many people like these two unfortunate women that although they have been brought up in a pure environment, they have not been able to feel the breezes blowing in that environment, have lived with Hellish feelings and thoughts in so warm an atmosphere as Paradise, traveled through unbelief and betrayal in a ground from where the feelings of faith burst up, sided with unbelievers against the Prophets or the Divine Messages conveyed by the Prophets, and tried to extinguish God’s light. Without being able to appreciate the blessings they have been given, they have ruined themselves and transformed their possible benefits into loss. According to the rule, “One who incurs loss and harm knowingly and willingly is not worth pitying and showing compassion;” they have lost the right or worthiness of being pitied and enjoying mercy. In other words, they have lived in the darkness of distance or remoteness in the horizon of nearness to God and have been stuck in black holes in the climates where the sun shines.

O our Lord! Grant us goodness in this world and in the Hereafter and protect us from the punishment of the Fire. Amen, O the All-Aiding!

M. Fethullah Gülen

43-Suratu’t-Talaq (Divorce)

Suratu’t-Talaq (Divorce)

وَمَن يَتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مَخْرَجاً

Whoever keeps from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety, He enables a way out for him (of every difficulty).

(At-Talaq 65:2)

Taqwa (reverent piety and righteousness) means observing the Divine ordinances in every walk of life. Taqwa, therefore, requires obeying both the religious rules and commands and the laws of God’s creation and maintenance of the universe. We may call the former (i.e., obeying the religious rules and commands) internal piety and righteousness, and the latter the external piety and righteousness. These two dimensions of taqwa cannot be separated from each other. However, it is not easy to attain piety and righteousness in both dimensions.

The verse under discussion uses the concept taqwa in its verbal form to mean keeping from disobedience to God and doing His commands in reverence for Him and in piety. The mood of the verb chosen expresses submission, admission, and adopting the action ordered with the verb used as an indispensable dimension or depth of one’s nature or character. That is, it denotes thinking, acting, and living a life in obedience to God, fulfilling His commands, refraining from His prohibitions, and following His laws of the creation and maintenance of the universe and the laws He has established for life. Thus, drawing the attention to this horizon, which seems difficult to attain, the Qur’an declares: “Whoever keeps from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety, He enables a way out for him (of every difficulty).”

The expression “a way out (of difficulty)” pictures a person who gets stuck in a place and wants and tries to get out. That person does whatever one should in order to escape such a situation and has recourse to every means. This is one dimension of taqwa. However, it is only God Who creates our deeds and brings our efforts to the desired result. If He wills, surely He can save us from any difficulty, but as an aspect of our life and trial in the world, we must do whatever we must in order to attain the desired result. Considering the fact that it is God Almighty Who “enables a way out for him (of every difficulty),” the person who is depicted in the verse as stuck in a place cannot deliver himself from the difficulty no matter what he does to “come out of the difficulty.” But, it is the Causer of Causes Who grants a way out of difficulty for the person who turns to God and seeks refuge in Him. Indeed, the very word, “makhrajan” in the verse means not only “to go out” but also “to bring forth,” and as a noun it means not only “the place of exit” but also “the place from where anything is brought forth.” Therefore, whether we have exerted necessary efforts and expect salvation in return, or if we fall hopeless despite our efforts, we must certainly turn to God and pray. For it is God Who will bring our efforts to the desired result and take us out of every difficulty in which we have been caught. Even though God Almighty has made any attainment dependent on our efforts as a requirement of our trial in the world, no means or efforts can give the desired result. All our efforts are an excuse for God to favor us with the attainment of the desired result and therefore all our attainments are purely favors of God. But since the law of causality has blinded our eyes to this explicit truth, we may be deceived in our views and judgments.

In fact, only an infinitesimal part of even ordinary volitional actions of human beings such as eating and drinking can be ascribed to human beings themselves.(118) For instance, if we consider the stages of the process during which even a morsel of bread is obtained and its process of digestion in our bodies, this reality will reveal itself. In order for a morsel of bread to come into our hands, the existence and delicate cooperation of the sun, the earth with its daily and yearly movements, the air, water, and earth are necessary. In all of these universal acts, human beings have no part at all. Besides, nothing of our bodies that chew and digest bread belongs to us. It is God Who creates our bodies and maintains it. Our bodies work outside of our free will. When we consider everything and every act in the universe from this perspective, it will be clear that everything and every act bears His unique stamp or seal. He is the Unique Creator, Provider, Maintainer, and Owner of the universe and all that lives and occurs within it.

In sum, if we abstain from the unlawful, fulfill the obligatory commands in perfect sensitivity, avoid the dubious as much as possible, and even become cautious with respect to the allowable, and if we observe God’s Practice or way of dealing with His creation—which we also call God’s laws of life and creation and maintenance of the universe—God will then save us from the different degrees of difficulties into which we have fallen. He will also reward us with His favors and blessings and keep us from living a dirty life in the world. He will save us against the agonies and horror of death and the severity of the Resurrection in the other life.

O God! Open us a way out of any difficulties from where we do not reckon.

M. Fethullah Gülen

118  Nursi, The Gleams (Trans.), 2008, p. 164.

42-Suratu’l-Munafiqun (The Hypocrites)

Suratu’l-Munafiqun (The Hypocrites)

وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَهُمْ تُعْجِبُكَ أَجْسَامُهُمْ وَإِن يَقُولُواْ تَسْمَعْ لِقَوْلِهِمْ كَأَنَّهُمْ خُشُبٌ مُّسَنَّدَةٌ يَحْسَبُونَ كُلَّ صَيْحَةٍ عَلَيْهِمْ هُمُ ٱلْعَدُوُّ فَٱحْذَرْهُمْ قَاتَلَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ أَنَّى يُؤْفَكُونَ

When you see them, their outward form pleases you, and (their posture and speech are attractive and effective so that) you give ear to their words when they speak. (In reality) they are like blocks of wood propped up and (draped over) in striped cloaks. They think (being themselves treacherous) every shout (they hear) to be against them. They are the enemies themselves, so beware of them. May God destroy them (they are liable to destruction by God)! How they are turned away from the truth (and pursue evil purposes)!

(Al-Munafiqun 63:4)

This verse mentions some of the characteristics of hypocrites, describing them with both their physical and character traits as follows:

1. The hypocrites are physically noticeable, well-dressed, and impressive in appearance. They maintain this impressive outward appearance, posture, and image only for effect.

2. They are articulate and fluent in expressing themselves; they almost charm people around them with their eloquent speech and writings. When they speak, they can draw the attention of people.

a.      Despite these qualities, hypocrites are like wood blocks propped up and draped over in attractive cloaks. Outwardly they look impressive, but their hearts are very hardened. For as stated in the preceding verse, “a seal has been set on their hearts” (Al-Munafiqun 63:3).(117) Therefore, they do not understand the truth; more precisely, they cannot penetrate into the essence of matters to grasp the truth.

b.      Moreover, they assume that every shout is against them. They live in continuous zigzags; they are sometimes here and sometimes there. Outwardly they pose as believers, but their hearts are closed to the truth. They waste their life in duality. They are, indeed, so indifferent to the religious matters that they are deader than a corpse in the face of the matters to which believers pay great attention. Nonetheless, they seem on the side of the believers at the mosque, battlefield, and out in the street. Due to their hypocrisy, they are weak-hearted. They are constantly in worry that their real identities will be displayed at any moment. Thus, they think every shout or noise they hear is against them.

c.       Hypocrites are hard-hearted enemies of the believers. Instead of operating openly, they disguise their ill-intentions; you never know what they are going to do. They are like scorpions or snakes in the grass; it is difficult to know where and how they will appear to bite.

d.      Therefore, believers must beware of them because these poisonous characters can bite them anytime, at every opportunity. Furthermore, they do that in disguise of doing favor to the society.

God Almighty ends the verse as follows: “May God destroy them (they are liable to destruction by God)! How they are turned away from the truth (and pursue evil purposes)!”

The leading representatives of hypocrisy in the Age of Happiness were people such as ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul, Mughith ibn Qays, and Jad ibn Qays. Like these people, hypocrites look impressive and are well-dressed, and as an attitude well-suited to their hypocritical nature, they have such a weakness for visible ornaments and beautifications that they look far from being natural. Almost all hypocrites have been like them in every age. They are generally addicted to fantasizing and speaking pretentious and inflated words; they are lovers of themselves and of their thoughts, actions, and intelligence. They are “holed” with so many weak spots that they may be seen as narcissists. Even if what they speak is generally nonsense, they speak as if talking about profound matters and try to cover their nonsense with ambiguities and mystifications. But for God’s guidance and warnings, they are almost able to draw the attention of the most insightful people including the scholars who are the successors to the Prophets in their messages. While they themselves are listening to others, they give the impression that they are listening attentively. As a matter of fact, all their manners and acts are but show and ostentation. Their actions and words are all lies and deception. They are so cunning and so expert in deceiving that without God’s special grace, it is not easy to detect them.

As hypocrites are themselves liars, dishonest, and two-faced and are busy deceiving others, they suspect even the most innocent behavior and consider all the words, actions, and movements which stem from the most sincere, innocent, and decent feelings and thoughts as hostile towards them. Since they look at others through the mirror of their scorpion-like poisonous character, they think the most innocent people are deceitful like themselves. In line with the adage that says, “A betrayer is fearful,” the hearts of hypocrites beat with the thought of betrayal while their pulses beat with fear. They are the most dangerous enemies of the believers.

Exposing their inner and outer traits, God Almighty warns the believers to be cautious against the hypocrites while they continue their own righteous manners and behavior in an honest and upright way.

Hypocrites are liable to destruction by God! How they are turned away from the truth and pursue evil purposes! May God preserve us from their evils, tricks, and ploys! Amen, O the All-Aiding!

M. Fethullah Gülen

117  See also Suratu’t-Tawbah 9:87.

41-Suratu’l-Hashr (The Gathering)

Suratu’l-Hashr (The Gathering)

رَبَّنَا ٱغْفِرْ لَنَا وَلإِخْوَانِنَا ٱلَّذِينَ سَبَقُونَا بِٱلإِيمَانِ وَلاَ تَجْعَلْ فِى قُلُوبِنَا غِلاًّ لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ

O Our Lord! Forgive us and our brothers (and sisters) in Religion who have preceded us in faith, and let not our hearts entertain any ill-feeling against any of the believers.

(Al-Hashr 59:10)

First of all, we should point out that the real place where “the human heart” will be free of ill-feelings is Paradise in the Hereafter. If these ill-feelings, which are an important element of humankind’s trial or testing, had been taken from “the heart of human beings” when they are in this world, human beings would have been angels in nature. God Almighty has created human beings and sent them to this world with a nature predisposed to both good and evil. For this reason, even if the ill-feelings were taken out of the human heart in this world, like the cut nails and hair growing anew, they would re-appear. It is because of this reality that God Almighty does not order us to remove ill-feelings from our hearts; instead, in order to teach us that only God is able to remove such feelings from our hearts, He orders us here in this verse to pray to Him, saying, “O Our Lord! Let not our hearts entertain any ill-feeling against any of the believers.” Therefore, what we need to do is to try to remove these feelings, which may be regarded as spiritual thorns that hurt our hearts, through verbal and active prayers. That is, while we do what falls to our will-power in order to be able to remove them from our hearts, knowing that it is God Almighty Who will enable us to do that, we should pray to Him to take them out of our hearts. By doing so, we will be purified from them to be qualified for Paradise, and we hope that God Almighty will be pleased with us.

This verse has a message for us. We should be respectful of our Muslim predecessors. We should neither entertain ill-feelings about them nor remember them with their faults. We should be respectful especially for the earliest generations of Islam, just as the generation following our Prophet’s Companions was respectful for the Companions and the second generation after the Companions was for their predecessors. We should always be respectful for the generations that left us a massive Islamic legacy in Qur’anic interpretation, Islamic jurisprudence and theology, and Hadith.

Another point presented to us in this verse is that everybody gets pleasure and feels pain according to the development their feelings. For instance, if the perceptiveness of a sensitive person is developed well, he or she derives different meanings from every behavior of the person before him or her. That would sometimes cause pain and sometimes be a blessing for that person. From this perspective, we may say that everyone will receive delight and pleasure from Paradise in accordance with the extent of the development of their senses and feelings. It is possible that those people of Paradise whose senses and feelings were not so developed will wish they had developed them while in the world. Or they will ask God to send them back to the world so that their senses and feelings may develop. Therefore, in order to benefit from Paradise perfectly, it is important that ill-feelings such as rancor, jealousy, and enmity are removed from the heart. This verse should be viewed from this perspective as well.

In fact, the verses, “The believers are but brothers” (Al-Hujurat 49:10), and “The believers, both men and women, are guardians, confidants, and helpers of one another” (At-Tawbah 9:71), declare that due to their bonds of belief and their brotherhood in faith, the believers should love each other, be respectful especially toward their predecessors, and ask God for their forgiveness by disregarding some of their possible shortcomings. And they should never feel enmity, hatred, and jealousy toward all other believers, especially toward their predecessors. Those who claim to be the followers of Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, should always think well of other Muslims, speak to and act gently toward them, and always act with feelings of good, as commanded in the verses, “Help one another in virtue, goodness, righteousness, and piety, and do not help one another in sinful, iniquitous acts, and hostility” (Al-Maedah 5:2).

How much we need such consideration and state of mind especially in these days!

O Our Lord! Forgive us and our brothers (and sisters) in Religion who have preceded us in faith, and let not our hearts entertain any ill-feeling against any of the believers. O Our Lord, surely You are All-Pitying, All-Compassionate! Amen!

كَمَثَلِ ٱلشَّيْطَانِ إِذْ قَالَ لِلإِنسَانِ ٱكْفُرْ فَلَمَّا كَفَرَ قَالَ إِنِّى بَرِيۤءٌ مِّنكَ إِنِّيۤ أَخَافُ ٱللَّهَ رَبَّ ٱلْعَالَمِينَ

(The hypocrites have deceived them) just like Satan, when he says to human, “Disbelieve in God!” Then when he disbelieves, he says (to human): “Surely I am quit of you, for surely I fear God, the Lord of the worlds!”

(Al-Hashr 59:16)

One can draw a parallel between hypocrites and Satan. According to this verse, fearing God exists in the nature of Satan. This means that Satan knows God. Nevertheless, he always disobeys and rebels against God despite his knowledge. The exalted words of God warn us against the rebelliousness of Satan in various verses of the Qur’an. Since Satan’s standing in rebellion and disobedience against his Lord’s commands implies his knowledge of obedience and submission to God, this shows that Satan is aware of both what obedience and submission mean as well as his duty of obedience and submission and that Satan rebels against God knowingly and intentionally.

In fact, God Almighty states in Suratu’l-Kahf that, “He (Satan) was of the jinn and transgressed against his Lord’s command” (18:50). Thus, Satan is one of the jinn, who have been created from some sort of fire. It is likely that he was apparently in obedience to God until he was commanded to prostrate before Adam along with the angels. Like the angels, Satan, who belongs to the species of the jinn, was in a position to prostrate before Adam. However, in his nature he had an aspect vulnerable to disobedience, rebellion, and deviation. This aspect of his nature showed itself in the face of the command of “Prostrate before Adam!” immediately, and consequently Satan failed the test and has been lost as a result of opposing the command.

To summarize the realities about Satan and his nature, Satan deviated by not obeying God’s command of prostrating before Adam and was utterly defeated by the rebellious aspect of his nature. The same is always possible for human beings. There are such moments or cases when a human being, that noblest and most honorable of creatures, is defeated by their feelings or impulses such as anger, jealousy, hatred, and lusts that have been inserted in their nature as the elements of their trials and perfectibility, enters upon a way opposite to their conscience and almost deviates from humanity or being truly human. For instance, the feeling of jealousy caused many among the People of the Book to reject Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, and blinded their eyes to him, for they had been expecting that the Last Prophet would appear from among their own nation. The same or similar sort of attitudes may also dominate us momentarily or—may God forbid—continually.

Truly, there are lots of cases where feelings or emotions lead us to the wrong way in spite of reason and logic and where we find ourselves in a delirium unawares. Like this, Satan incessantly lives full of jealousy, hatred, and anger toward humankind. As Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, declared, Satan has never been able to free himself from thinking and remembering: “Humankind was commanded to prostrate before God, and they did and gained. I was also commanded to prostrate, but I did not and I have been lost.”(116) It is likely that he utters screams of rebellion each time he sees human beings prostrate before God, which is the most explicit sign of their obedience and submission to God, and he finds himself in delirium. When the call to the Prayer is recited and the believers move and advance toward mosques to worship and bow down in prostration, Satan runs around in craziness so as not to hear the call to the Prayer.

Every act of human beings which means their obedience to and reinforces their connection with their Lord increases Satan in jealousy, hatred, anger, and delirium. Just imagine a person who is told that his son has been killed by a gang; this leads him to anger with that gang, and his anger increases when he hears that his wife has been kidnapped, and as a result, that person is full of the feelings of vengeance and can be expected to do everything in his power against the gang. Just like this person’s psychology, Satan feels continuous and increasing anger, hatred, and grudges against humankind, and this will continue until the Last Day.

In consequence, even though Satan has as much knowledge of God as fearing Him, he deviated from the Straight Path, defeated by the rebellious aspect of his nature and has been lost eternally.

The hypocrites and unbelievers who are persistent in unbelief and heresy and whose unbelief has been ingrained in their character are no different from Satan. If the word “God” sometimes comes out from their mouths and if they talk about religion and religious life positively, this is aimed at deception. They act with rancor and enmity toward believers and never keep back from searching for the ways to satisfy their anger and enmity. When they are unable to do evil with and inflict harm on believers, they act hypocritically, trying to conceal their hatred and enmity behind their deceptive smiles and gentleness and championing democracy. But whenever they find an opportunity and are able to do whatever they wish to harm believers, they commit all kinds of wickedness in the name of their unbelief. For them, might is right, and democracy is only a fantasy or is acceptable only as long as it serves their interests.

While putting trust in such people is disrespect for the feeling of trust, being in fear of them is distrust in God. Undeterred by satanic unbelievers and hypocrites, believers should always be open and frank toward everyone and act with love and affection, taking refuge in God from such people and their evils.

O God! I seek refuge in You from any distress and grief, and I seek refuge in You from helplessness and feebleness, and I seek refuge in You from fear and stinginess, and I seek refuge in You from being overpowered by debt and overcome by people.

M. Fethullah Gülen

116  Muslim, Iman, 133; Sunan Ibn Majah, Iqamah, 70; Musnad Ahmad, 2/443.

40-Suratu’l-Waqi‘Ah (The Event To Happen)

Suratu’l-Waqi‘ah (The Event to Happen)

فَلاَ أُقْسِمُ بِمَوَاقِعِ ٱلنُّجُومِ ﴿٧٥﴾ وَإِنَّهُ لَقَسَمٌ لَّوْ تَعْلَمُونَ عَظِيمٌ ﴿٧٦﴾ إِنَّهُ لَقُرْآنٌ كَرِيمٌ ﴿٧٧﴾

I swear by the locations of the stars (and their falling). It is indeed a very great oath, if you but knew. Most certainly it is a Qur’an (recited) most honorable.

(Al-Waqi‘ah 56:75–77)

Alas for humanity whose heart has been hardened and covered with rust! Almighty God, Who is the All-Knowing, knows this state of humanity and reveals His Message to them by a tremendous oath.

A human being should feel ashamed at this and shudder while reading the verses with this meaning and message. The Lord of humanity swears and speaks emphatically and repeatedly in order to awake man to the truth of the Qur’an and make them believe that the Qur’an is His most honorable Book or Message.

There are many such oaths throughout the Qur’an. God Almighty swears by the sun, moon, stars, the heavens, and many other things. He swears by His bounties on the earth such as the olive and fig. Mount Sinai, day and night are also among the things by which God swears. There are many mysteries and instances of wisdom in all of these oaths.

In the initial verse of Suratu’n-Najm (The Star), God Almighty swears by a star: “By the star when it rises or goes down (after its rise).” This oath is extraordinarily suited to the subject of the surah in which it is found and in which the Ascension of our Prophet is mentioned. From this perspective, it is possible that what is meant by the star is our Prophet himself, upon him be peace and blessings. Just like a star, he first rose from the created and ascended to the Creator and then returned from the Creator to the created again.

Indeed, without being confused and dazzled in the face of all the most exquisite scenes and beauties he was shown during the Ascension, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, returned to this realm of formations and deformations (or creation and decline) so that he introduces the blessings and bounties bestowed on him to everyone else, taking us toward the horizons to which he traveled. For this reason, interpreting the star by which God swears in the verse as our Prophet is quite appropriate. In addition to his matchless virtues and excellencies, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, returned to creation with many new blessings with which he had been favored during his Ascension. Thus God swears by him in the name of the virtues and excellencies he possesses and the new blessings conferred on him during his Ascension. Just as, according to some interpreters of the Qur’an, God mentions His noble Prophet with the Attributes particular to Him as “as-Sami‘” (the Hearing) and “al-Basir” (the Seeing) in the verse, “Surely he is the one who hears and sees” (Al-Isra’ 17:1), He also gives him the same value in the first verse of the Suratu’n-Najm, in which He swears by him, saying: “By the star when it rises and goes down (after its rise),” and thus alluding to the Ascension of the star of humanity, peace and blessings be upon him, and then his return back to our realm in order to raise us upwards to the horizons to which he traveled.

In the verse, “By the sun and its brightness” (Ash-Shams 91:1), God Almighty swears by the sun and the brightness of the forenoon. In the verse, “And by the night when it has grown dark and most still” (Ad-Duha 93:2), God Almighty swears by the night and its darkness as it is the resting time; and in the verse, “And the day as it reveals it (the sun)” (Ash-Shams 91:3), He swears by the removal of darkness and the appearance of the brightness of day and, therefore, by Divine bounties and favors coming through such changes succeeding each other.

In another place of the Qur’an, the fig, the olive, and the Mount Sinai(115) are sworn by. Mount Sinai (at-Tur) is an important location where Prophet Moses was favored with God’s speech and certain other kinds of manifestations. This favor of God to Moses at Mount Sinai marked the beginning of the revival of a community. Prophet Moses was receiving God’s commands through Revelation, and a community began on the path to awakening to the true life. Thus, God honored Mount Sinai with swearing by it.

As stated above, there are many such kinds of oaths in the Qur’an. In the verse under discussion, God Almighty swears by “the locations of the stars.” The following interpretations have been made concerning this oath:

First: The stars have always been important for human beings because there has always been a relationship between human beings and stars. The minimum of this relationship has been that human beings can determine directions through the stars. The following verse points to this fact, saying: “And (other) way-marks, and they (people) find their way by the stars” (An-Nahl 16:16).

In addition, like the verses of the Qur’an, there are explicit or implicit connections among stars. Through the tongue of their natural order, harmony, functions and appearance, they move our feelings and whisper things related to the truths behind their existence, order, and the general order of the universe. This is another way they function as “way-marks” and provide “guidance” for us. Therefore, by swearing by “the locations of stars,” God Almighty draws our attention to the order, harmony, and magnificent scenes they display. If they were not located where they are, if they had not been established by God in these locations, there would not have been order and harmony in both the heavens and the universe as a whole, and human beings would not have been able to benefit from them.

Second: The present position of the solar system and the universe as a whole and the present formation of the world are the result of the existence of uncountable conditions and their co-existence and cooperation according to extremely sensitive measures. For example, the escape of air molecules and atoms from the atmosphere and the destruction of the balance between the gases forming air destroy the structure of the atmosphere with the result that life extinguishes on the earth. In fact, the cooperation between the earth and sky is very difficult. The molecules and atoms in the atmosphere try to escape into space while the earth tries to attract and hold them. It is God Who holds them together, and they act in obedience to God’s laws. It is said in the Qur’an concerning this: “And He directed (His Knowledge, Will, Power, and Favor) to the heaven when it was as a cloud (of gases), and ordered it and the earth, ‘Come both of you, willingly or unwillingly!’ They said: ‘We have come in willing obedience’” (Fussilat 41:11). Behind this gravitational attraction and other laws is Divine Power.

Indeed, it is very meaningful and apt to swear by the stars and their locations in the heavens, all of which point to the existence and Unity of God. Indeed, the solar system and all other star systems that exist in the universe are all in order, and everything is exactly in its place. Considering the fact that even the clash and split of tiny atoms cause an extremely large explosion, the idea of great celestial bodies running into each other is enough to make one shiver with fear. Though this abundance of star systems appears to be chaotic and disorderly, they are all in a dazzling harmony and order. Behind all this order and harmony in the universe and the laws of attraction and repulsion between the celestial bodies is the disposal of the eternally All-Powerful One. Here, our attention is turned toward this Divine disposal by means of the tremendous oath by “the locations of the stars.”

Third: Another meaning or reality which can be derived from God’s swearing by the locations of stars is that the stars are exactly in their proper places, so much so that studying one particular system will give firm views about other systems in the universe. Moreover, it will be possible to establish dialogue with the systems and found dwelling places there. All of the systems have so properly and harmoniously been established and there are such sensitive connections among them that there is not the least irregularity and disaccord in and among them. Instead, we find a magnificent and perfect order, accord and harmony. In Suratu’r-Rahman (55), God Almighty expresses His quality of ar-Rahman (the All-Merciful) with this order and accord. Besides the Name Allah (God), ar-Rahman (the All-Merciful) is another proper Name of the Divine Being. No one can be named after and called by these two Names. In the Basmalah, which is repeated 114 times in the Qur’an, ar-Rahman is mentioned right after the Name Allah. In Suratu’r-Rahman, which derives its name from its initial verse: “ar-Rahman” (The All-Merciful), all God’s bounties are related to His quality of ar-Rahman. The greatest of these bounties is God’s teaching humankind the Qur’an: “The All-Merciful. He has taught the Qur’an” (Ar-Rahman 55:1–2).

If the messages of the Quran had not enlightened our eyes and worlds, the universe would have remained a common mourning place for us. Then we would have been in horror at the sight of all the creatures in their deadly images. We would never have been able to see the truth of anything, nor would we have been able to understand anything properly. It is through the guiding lights of the Qur’an that we have come to comprehend the meaning of everything in the universe with the instances of wisdom in it, and we have realized that we are the best pattern and summary of creation. We have been able to understand through the light of the Qur’an what modern scientific approach and sciences leave in darkness, and we have been saved from bewilderment and horror. Having penetrated the essence of the Qur’an, we have examined existence and come to realize such things that others are either unaware of their existence or do not recognize them. Indeed, we have detected bright tunnels leading to the realms beyond even through the black holes (in the sky), and we have begun seeing illuminated wherever and whatever we look at with its light.

The All-Merciful God shows us another aspect of His Mercifulness in the following verse, when he says, “He has created human; He has taught him speech” (Ar-Rahman 55:3–4). If we had been dumb, in other words, if we had been unable to translate the articulate language of the universe, which speaks loudly, and, if we had been unable to understand the Divine Speech and instruct each other in it—if we had not been able to see the universe illuminated through His Attribute of Speech and describe it in its brightness, then we would have remained unable to understand and teach anything of the deep meanings and intricacies of the universe.

“The sun and the moon are by an exact calculation (of the All-Merciful)” (Ar-Rahman 55:5). The sun and the moon have been placed in locations with such exact, delicate, and precise calculation, and they have such a position with each other that a magnificent Will-power explicitly displays in their formation, functions, and positions. This is another manifestation of God’s Mercifulness in a different wavelength. If Divine Mercy had not established this order with the most exact calculations, we would have been devastated and lost among the objects colliding with each other. Even though some meteors occasionally fall down the earth, none of them has ever caused a serious problem. These meteors have so far injured neither somebody’s head nor eyes. Therefore, these meteors hit the shield of God’s Grace and are smashed. You may attempt to explain this with the atmosphere or the mass of the dense gases. Whatever physical causes you put forward, they are only the embodiment of God’s Grace. God has established everything in its proper place with the most exact calculations in so marvelous order and harmony that “the locations of the stars” also imply this.

Fourth: The North Star, its place among stars and showing us our direction; the solar system and its position in the Milky Way; the Milky Way and its place among other heavenly systems, splendid in itself but humble in proportion to others; the position of these systems among other bigger systems; the precisely calculated distances between the stars and between the satellites of each star—everything in the universe is a part of the universal harmony and is itself harmoniously established in the sky and works in precise relationship with everything else. “The locations of the stars” also point to these facts.

Fifth: The locations of the stars are approached differently in the West and the East. For instance, Russian scientists call them the locations where the stars have been established. As for the West, they regard the locations of the stars as black holes or white holes. In fact, in addition to the matters that sciences have established and solved, there are so many mysteries or matters that wait to be answered. When an issue is clarified, many new matters emerge. For example, there is an opposition between the atmosphere of the earth and the earth itself. Astrophysicists assert that this opposition or contrast is a complementary factor of the balance on the earth and in space, even in the whole universe. Black holes and white holes are also two opposite elements which are also very important for the general balance in the universe.

According to contemporary commentators, “the locations of the stars” also point to quasars and pulsars. White holes are extremely intense sources of light and energy. Today, these can easily be observed and established. Scientists say that white holes are like fields where other stars and systems will grow and develop. Truly, these holes have such strong and magnificent energy that even if the Milky Way disappears all of a sudden, one white hole can be the source where another Milky Way will grow by God’s Will and Power. These have been established at the heart of the universe in such harmony that they perform their tremendous duties in the most exact or precise fashion.

Indeed, one of the apparent influential elements in the order of the universe is “the locations of the stars.” Russian scientists regard these as the places where starlets are grown and develop. Their view is important as it shows that the Qur’an points to a fact fourteen centuries before it was established by science, and, therefore, it is the Word of Him Who is the All-Knowing and Whose Power is able to do everything He wills.

Sixth: Black holes are formed when heavy stars collapse as a result of electrons losing their energy. After a black hole has formed, it can still absorb mass from its surroundings. They absorb other stars and merge with other black holes, thus super-massive black holes are formed. Even though the stars that collapse do not lose anything of their mass and weight, their bodies shrink and turn into gigantic black holes. They absorb but do not give light. Time accelerates at that point. Just as some puzzling things happen when the objects caught by a whirlpool are lost, certain mysterious things occur in black holes. For example, if the solar system approached one of these black holes, it would be swallowed up like a morsel and disappear. Thus, some of the astrophysicists call these black holes “locations of the stars.”

Seventh: We come across in the Qur’an that Prophets are also meant by the term “star.” For example, in Suratu’t-Tariq (86:3) the term, “an-Najmu’th-Thaqib,” which means “the bright, piercing star,” is interpreted as referring to Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who pierces into hardened hearts and opens the closed doors to penetrate inside. Each Prophet was the star of the heavens of his time that enlightened it. Those who follow their lights rise to the heavens of happiness and come into contact with God Almighty. So by swearing by “the locations of the stars,” God Almighty may be drawing the attention to the dazzling positions of, for example, Prophets Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus and our Prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon them all.

Eighth: I would like to point out another aspect of this expression. The Qur’anic verses are called “stars” as well. The interpreters of the Qur’an say that the Qur’an was revealed “in stars after stars.” Each Qur’anic verse has its own place both in the Qur’an and in God’s sight. Since we are unable to perceive the power and comprehensiveness of the Divine Speech in the Qur’an, God Almighty swears by the position and place of the Qur’an in His Attribute of Speech due to its matchless value and importance. So swearing by “the locations of the stars” has almost the same meaning as “Qaf. By the Qur’an most sublime” (Qaf 50:1). Moreover, there is a special place for the Qur’an in the Supreme Preserved Tablet (al-Lawhu’l-Mahfuz) as well. For it was in the Supreme Preserved Tablet until it was sent down on the Night of Power (Laylatu’l Qadr) to the heaven of the world. Only those whose sight could reach it could be aware of it. From this perspective, “the locations of the stars” point to the locations of the stars (verses) of the Qur’an, which is the translator of the book of the universe and the work of God’s Will and Power. Hence, the Qur’an is regarded as another cluster of stars—a cluster of stars that makes the stars in the universe known. Indeed, there is a similarity between the Qur’an and the universe. God declares: “We have surely sent the Qur’an down on the Night of (Destiny and) Power” (Al-Qadr 97:1). Every friend of God (wali) who is able to observe the Supreme Preserved Tablet of Truth can observe and study the Qur’an there as a whole. In sum, by swearing by “the locations of the stars,” God Almighty swears by this lofty position and location of the Qur’an.

Ninth: Another location of the Qur’an, which caused Archangel Gabriel to gain the designation of trustworthiness, is the trustworthy heart of Gabriel. Therefore, swearing by “the locations of the stars” may also be swearing by the heart of Gabriel and other trustworthy hearts.

Tenth: It may well be that “the locations of the stars” refer to the pure heart of our master Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, and those of his sincere followers.

Eleventh: The pure hearts and consciences of believers who adopt the Qur’an as the essence of everything and of their lives and feel that God speaks to them anytime they recite it may be among the locations by which God swears. May God purify our hearts, too, as He purified the hearts of our pure, sincere predecessors, making them the hearts by which God may swear.

It is due to all these and many other similar meanings or realities that God Almighty swears by “the locations of the stars.” And He declares that this oath is a very great, important oath.

We believe in the mysteries unknown to us, too, as we believe in the known ones, and we affirm the Divine declaration, “It is indeed a very great oath, if you but knew,” with all our hearts.

M. Fethullah Gülen

115  See Suratu’t-Tin 95:1–2.

39-Suratu’r-Rahman (The All-Merciful)

Suratu’r-Rahman (The All-Merciful)

رَبُّ ٱلْمَشْرِقَيْنِ وَرَبُّ ٱلْمَغْرِبَيْنِ

He is the Lord of the two easts and the Lord of the two wests.

(Ar-Rahman 55:17)

This verse denotes the final two points or limits of east and west. For instance, the sun rises and sets at different points in winter and summer. On the longest day of the year in summer, the sun rises and sets at the farthest points while it rises and sets at the two nearest points on the shortest day of the year in winter. Thus, when the year is divided into two marked by the beginning of spring on March 21st and the beginning of fall on September 23rd in the northern hemisphere, these beginnings are also the beginnings of the earth’s movements around the sun with the result that the former is the beginning of day’s being longer than night, and the latter is the beginning of night’s being longer than day. Between these two points of beginning are many other points where the sun rises and sets at different times. Referring to this fact, the Qur’an says: “He is the Lord of the two easts and the Lord of the two wests.” Indeed, considering all these points of the sun’s rising and setting, the Qur’an declares: “So, I swear by the Lord of the points of sunrise and sunset…” (Al-Ma‘arij 70:40). When considering the two easts and the two wests, we can also refer to the fact that every point of the sun’s rise in a hemisphere is the point of its setting in the other, and every point of the sun’s setting is the point of its rise.

In addition, there are many other celestial bodies which rise and set, the positions and movements of which are connected or related to the earth. Also, the earth rotates around the sun, and together with its system, the sun moves in the Milky Way toward a final point appointed or destined for it. These movements also present to us two different easts and wests. The movements of the earth in the solar system and the sun in the Milky Way remind us of God’s Power and bounties. The Power is a guarantor of the existence of Paradise and eternal happiness, and bounties refer to God’s answering and meeting our physical and spiritual needs; therefore, we should always be thankful to God Almighty. From this perspective, the easts and wests or the sun’s repeated rise and setting always remind us of God’s Power and bounties and our duty of thankfulness. Aware of this, we fill with gratitude and are fully alert to the reality of, “Then, which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?” (Ar-Rahman 55:18).

God knows best and to Him is the return and homecoming.

M. Fethullah Gülen