Think about these words from different angles

 [وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ فِى النَّارِ لِخَزَنَةِ جَهَنَّمَ ادْعُواْ رَبَّكُمْ يُخَفِّفْ عَنَّا يَوْماً مِّنَ الْعَذَابِ ]

(And those in the Fire will say to the keepers (angels) of Hell: “Call upon your Lord to lighten for us the torment for a day!”)

1. They didnt ask Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, they asked the keepers of Jahannam to make dua for them, Because Allah had told them,

[اخْسَئُواْ فِيهَا وَلاَ تُكَلِّمُونِ]

(Remain you in it with ignominy! And speak you not to Me!)

So they saw themselves that they are not worthy of asking Allah and supplicate to Him rather they invoke to Him via intermediate.

2. They said ”Call upon your Lord”, and didnt say Call upon our Lord because their faces and hearts cannot comprehend or say ”Our Lord”, they are in the state of shame and humility that they see themselves unworthy of claiming the Lordship of Allah to them rather they said ”Your Lord”.

3. They didnt say remove from us the punishment but they said (Lighten) because they are (Allah’s refuge is sought) despair from the Mercy of Allah.

4. They didnt say lighten the punishment for us forever rather they said ”For a Day”, only one day.

From this it is clear that they are in state of severe punishment, shame and humiliation,

وَتَرَاهُمْ يُعْرَضُونَ عَلَيْهَا خَـشِعِينَ مِنَ الذُّلِّ يَنظُرُونَ مِن طَرْفٍ خَفِىٍّ وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ إِنَّ الْخَـسِرِينَ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُواْ أَنفُسَهُمْ وَأَهْلِيهِمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَـمَةِ أَلاَ إِنَّ الظَّـلِمِينَ فِى عَذَابٍ مُّقِيمٍ

”And you will see them brought forward to it (Hell) made humble by disgrace, (and) looking with stealthy glance. And those who believe will say: “Verily, the losers are they who lose themselves and their families on the Day of Resurrection.” Verily, the wrongdoers will be in a lasting torment.”

Sheikh Saalih ibn ‘Uthaymeen – Liqaa al Maftooh – No. 11 side A

A professor emeritus at the University of Toronto (School of Medicine), Keith Moore is the main author of Clinically Oriented Anatomy, which is the main textbook used for anatomy in medical schools across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.  Every medical student knows of Moore and his blue boxes.  Anyways, Dr. Keith Moore, after reading the Quran, accepted the oneness of Allah (SWT) and the prophethood of Muhammad (SAW).  Check out the following video (~30 seconds) where Keith Moore admits that Muhammad (SAW) was a messenger of God:


 Also, read the following article Dr. Keith Moore wrote about Embryology in the Quran more than twenty years ago!  It’s from: The Journal of the Islamic Medical Association, Vol.18, Jan-June 1986, pp.15-16

A Scientist’s Interpretation of References to Embryology in the Qur’an

Keith L. Moore, Ph.D., F.I.A.C.
The Department of Anatomy, University of Toronto, Canada.
Address all correspondence to:
Keith L. Moore, Ph.D, F.I.A.C., Professor of Anatomy and Associate Dean Basic Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M55 IAB, Canada ———————————————————-

Statements referring to human reproduction and development are scattered throughout the Qur’an. It is only recently that the scientific meaning of some of these verses has been appreciated fully. The long delay in interpreting these verses correctly resulted mainly from inaccurate translations and commentaries and from a lack of awareness of scientific knowledge.

Interest in explanations of the verses of the Qur’an is not new. People used to ask the prophet Muhammad all sorts of questions about the meaning of verses referring to human reproduction. The Apostle’s answers form the basis of the Hadith literature.

The translations(*) of the verses from the Qur’an which are interpreted in this paper were provided by Sheik Abdul Majid Zendani, a Professor of Islamic Studies in King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

“He makes you in the wombs of your mothers in stages, one after another, in three veils of darkness.”

This statement is from Sura 39:6. We do not know when it was realized that human beings underwent development in the uterus (womb), but the first known illustration of a fetus in the uterus was drawn by Leonardo da Vinci in the 15th century. In the 2nd century A.D., Galen described the placenta and fetal membranes in his book “On The Formation of the Foetus.” Consequently, doctors in the 7th century A.D. likely knew that the human embryo developed in the uterus. It is unlikely that they knew that it developed in stages, even though Aristotle had described the stages of development of the chick embryo in the 4th century B.C. The realization that the human embryo develops in stages was not discussed and illustrated until the 15th century.

After the microscope was discovered in the 17th century by Leeuwenhoek descriptions were made of the early stages of the chick embryo. The staging of human embryos was not described until the 20th century. Streeter (1941) developed the first system of staging which has now been replaced by a more accurate system proposed by O’Rahilly (1972).

“The three veils of darkness” may refer to: (l) the anterior abdominal wall; (2) the uterine wall; and (3) the amniochorionic membrane (Fig. 1). Although there are other interpretations of this statement, the one presented here seems the most logical from an embryological point of view.


Figure 1. Drawing of a sagittal section of a female’s abdomen and pelvis showing a fetus in utero. The “veils of darkness” are: (1) the anterior abdominal wall; (2) the uterine wall, and (3) the amniochorionic membrane.

“Then We placed him as a drop in a place of rest.”

This statement is from Sura 23:13. The drop or nutfah has been interpreted as the sperm or spermatozoon, but a more meaningful interpretation would be the zygote which divides to form a blastocyst which is implanted in the uterus (“a place of rest”). This interpretation is supported by another verse in the Qur’an which states that “a human being is created from a mixed drop.” The zygote forms by the union of a mixture of the sperm and the ovum (“The mixed drop”).

“Then We made the drop into a leech-like structure.”

This statement is from Sura 23:14. The word “alaqah” refers to a leech or bloodsucker. This is an appropriate description of the human embryo from days 7-24 when it clings to the endometrium of the uterus, in the same way that a leech clings to the skin. Just as the leech derives blood from the host, the human embryo derives blood from the decidua or pregnant endometrium. It is remarkable how much the embryo of 23-24 days resembles a leech (Fig. 2). As there were no microscopes or lenses available in the 7th century, doctors would not have known that the human embryo had this leech-like appearance. In the early part of the fourth week, the embryo is just visible to the unaided eye because it is smaller than a kernel of wheat.


Figure 2. Top, a drawing of a leech or bloodsucker. 
Below, a drawing of a 24 day-old human embryo. Note the leech-like appearance of the human embryo at this stage.

  Figure 3. Left, a plasticine model of the human embryo which has the appearance of chewed flesh.
Right, a drawing of a 28 day-old human embryo showing several bead-like somites which resemble the teeth marks in the model shown to the left.

“Then of that leech-like structure, We made a chewed lump.”

This statement is also from Sura 23:14. The Arabic word “mudghah” means “chewed substance or chewed lump.” Toward the end of the fourth week, the human embryo looks somewhat like a chewed lump of flesh (Fig. 3). The chewed appearance results from the somites which resemble teeth marks. The somites represent the beginnings or primordia of the vertebrae.

“Then We made out of the chewed lump, bones, and clothed the bones in flesh.”

This continuation of Sura 23:14 indicates that out of the chewed lump stage, bones and muscles form. This is in accordance with embryological development. First the bones form as cartilage models and then the muscles (flesh) develop around them from the somatic mesoderm.

“Then We developed out of it another creature.”

This next part of Sura 23:14 implies that the bones and muscles result in the formation of another creature. This may refer to the human-like embryo that forms by the end of the eighth week. At this stage it has distinctive human characteristics and possesses the primordia of all the internal and external organs and parts. After the eighth week, the human embryo is called a fetus. This may be the new creature to which the verse refers.

“And He gave you hearing and sight and feeling and understanding.”

This part of Sura 32:9 indicates that the special senses of hearing, seeing, and feeling develop in this order, which is true. The primordia of the internal ears appear before the beginning of the eyes, and the brain (the site of understanding) differentiates last.

“Then out of a piece of chewed flesh, partly formed and partly unformed.”

This part of Sura 22:5 seems to indicate that the embryo is composed of both differentiated and undifferentiated tissues. For example, when the cartilage bones are differentiated, the embryonic connective tissue or mesenchyme around them is undifferentiated. It later differentiates into the muscles and ligaments attached to the bones.

“And We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term.”

This next part of Sura 22:5 seems to imply that God determines which embryos will remain in the uterus until full term. It is well known that many embryos abort during the first month of development, and that only about 30% of zygotes that form, develop into fetuses that survive until birth. This verse has also been interpreted to mean that God determines whether the embryo will develop into a boy or girl.

The interpretation of the verses in the Qur’an referring to human development would not have been possible in the 7th century A.D., or even a hundred years ago. We can interpret them now because the science of modern Embryology affords us new understanding. Undoubtedly there are other verses in the Qur’an related to human development that will be understood in the future as our knowledge increases.  

Unfortunately, the figures from this article don’t show up on my blog, so you can see them at:


By Nouman Ali Khan 

Writing about the literary dimension of the Qur’an for an audience that may or may not have background in Arabic grammar and rhetoric can be rather challenging. I’m going to attempt to navigate around technical lingo as much as possible. Building a basic familiarity with the subject is my goal, not presenting it in a sophisticated fashion.

The words AlHamdu Lillah are most commonly uttered from Muslim lips around the world. After the basmalah (the tag name used for BISMILLAHI ALRAHMANI ALRAHEEMI)¸ it is the first statement mentioned in the opening surah, al-Fatiha. One way to explore the beauty, precision , and thought provoking eloquence of the Qur’an’s words is to explore the very choice of each word. Arabic is a rich language full of terms similar in meaning.

Hamd, commonly translated ‘praise,’ has sister terms like shukr, madH and thanaa.

Comparing Madh’, Hamd, and Thanaa’

Madh’مَدح : Praise + Mention of noteworthy qualities and actions attributed to someone or something.

By Comparison

Hamdحَمد :Praise + Acknowledgement of noteworthy qualities and actions done out of genuine love, veneration, reverence, gratitude and appreciation.

Madh can be made for the living as well as the non-living, for beings of intellect (humans, angels, jinn) and animals.

Hamd is exclusively directed at the living & intellectual الحي العاقل .

Madh is possible before a noble deed or after (as a result of it). It is therefore possible to make Madh of a person who may not have done anything good and no good deed may ever have been attributed towards him/her.

Hamd can only be made after a noble/ praiseworthy contribution of some sort.

Thanaa’ is a more eloquent, more impressive, more flattering type of MadH.

Conclusion: By using Hamd instead of Madh or Thanaa’

a. we acknowledge Allah as Eternally living

b. we recognize His attributes and decisions as Hamd worthy

c. There is an element of sincerity in our praise of him stemming from love and reverence.

d. we not only praise His incredible being, attributes & works, we appreciate them as favors for which we are grateful

Comparing Hamd with Shukr

Shukr (thanks) is a consequence of whatever good comes to a person from someone else.

Hamd is a consequence of good that whose effects go beyond an individual favor.

Shukr is exclusively related with favors and doesn’t include appreciation or praise of any noteworthy attributes. For instance you don’t thank someone for being smart or wise or athletic.

Hamd is made because of favors and also over noteworthy attributes even if they don’t benefit oneself directly. For example I say Alhamdu Lillah when I hear that my friend passed his midterms or something.

a. Madh is too wide in scope and using it wouldn’t be precise enough.

b. Shukr is too narrow in scope and using it wouldn’t be comprehensive enough.

c. Hamd as opposed to Shukr & Madh also implies a genuine motive.

The Word ALLAH in alhamdulillah

We looked briefly at the choices that would have represented alternatives to the word Hamd in the divinely revealed phrase AlHamdu Lillah. Let us now take a look at the word Allah itself. It is the unique name of our Lord. We learn through His revelation that He possesses and rightfully owns the best Names and Attributes (thank you Sheikh Yasir for your awesome class!) . Why is it most appropriate to use His unique Name in this phrase rather than AlRahmaan (the exceedingly merciful), Al Khaaliq (the creator) etc.? Simply because any of these names might imply that His Hamd is associated with that particular power or attribute. By using the word Allah, Hamd is acknowledged for Him independent of any of His attributes, OR for all of them simultaneously!

A Variety of Ways to Make Hamd of Allah

Arabic offers great flexibility in communication. There are varying degrees of emphasis with which a statement can be made. There are multiple options that can be manipulated in sentence structure. Similar statements can be made such as :

أحمدُ اللهَ

“I praise Allah.”
نَحْمَدُ اللهَ

“We praise Allah.”

اِحْمَدُوْا اللهَ

“Praise Allah!”.

1. All of the above are Jumal Fi’liyyah. This sentence structure necessarily implies the occurrence of an act bound by time. Alhamdu Lillah is Jumlah Ismiyyah which, for one, is a far more emphatic form of declaration in Classical Arabic by comparison. Secondly, it implies continuity, stability and permanence. Another unique feature of the Ismiyyah structure is that it communicates a decisive statement.

2. Jumlah Fi’liyyah exclusively attributes an act to a specific subject. In the suggested alternatives above, ‘I’, ‘we’ and ‘you all’ are the specific subjects respectively. الحمد لله , being a Jumlah Ismiyyah, doesn’t identify the subject which makes it a universal declaration. I, we, you, they, people, animals, rocks, trees, rather all of creation can be understood as the subject! There is another beautiful subtlety here. Whether anyone or anything makes حمد of Allah or not, الحمد is still for Allah!

3. The Jumlah Fi’liyyah renditions above are limited by time and applicability. The original statement is timeless and has universal applicability. Through الحمد للهِ the way in which the praise is made is kept unspecified while in the Fi’liyyah format the praise would be by the tongue.

وَإنْ مِنْ شَيْئٍ إلا يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِهِ ولكِنْ لا تَفْقَهُوْنَ تَسْبِيْحَهُمْ

4. In Jumlah Fi’liyyah there is the possibility of doing an act for an object that isn’t worthy of it. For instance, ‘I paid him’. It may be that ‘he’ didn’t deserve to get paid. In Jumlah Ismiyyah the necessary implication that this praise is actually rightfully placed is naturally implied, ALHAMDULILLAH!

5. In saying الحمد لله , we are also acknowledging that حمد is the property of Allah while this is not implied in alternative fi’liyyah renditions. When using the command form, ’Praise Allah’ instead of Alhamdulillah, there are a number of shortcomings. Firstly, there is the sense that this praise is being asked of the audience. By comparison الحمد لله declares the existence of حمد without dependence on an audience responding to an imperative. The imperative may also imply a response that may or may not be voluntary while Alhamdulillah is an observation of the voluntary praise done by all forms of creation.

Why the ‘Al’ in Alhamdu?

ALHAMDU is definite or proper as I like to call it in my intro course. As Dr. Fadel puts it in his article, the Al serves the meaning

الحمد المعروف بينكم هو لله

The distinguished, universally acknowledge form of Hamd known among you belongs particularly to Allah. The ‘AL’ also serves the implication of ‘istighraq’, a kind of absolute totality (All Hamd is Allah’s). None of these enhancements would come forth in the indefinite version HAMDUN.

Why Not Inna Alhamda Lillah?
Have you ever heard a khateeb say INNAL HAMDA LILLAHI? The word INNA means ‘certainly’ and is used to emphasize a statement. What benefit would there be in NOT emphasizing ALHAMDU LILLAH in the Fatiha? You see, Arabic sentences are divided and categorized from different angles and perspectives. One of these angles is Jumlah Khabriyyah vs. Jumlah Insha ‘iyyah. What this categorization basically means is that statements in the language are either declarative (which can be judged as either true or false) or they are statements communicating an emotion. The latter are a form of subjective communication which don’t necessarily communicate facts, but rather they serve to vocalize feelings and sentiments. When a statement has INNA, it can only serve to be informative and the emotional dimension of it is removed. By not stating the INNA, the phrase retains informative and emotional potential depending on the context. Think of it this way: If a bus whisks by you missing you by half an inch and you say ‘ALHAMDU LILLAH’, you are not really making a statement of fact, rather vocalizing your internal feelings. The emotionally charged dimension of AlHamdulillah is kept intact by not using the INNA.

What About Lillahilhamdu?

In Hajj season we say ALLAHU AKBAR wa LILLAHI ALHAMDU! We reverse ALHAMDU LILLAH with LILLAHI ALHAMDU. This is a form of TAQDEEM in Arabic grammar and serves to color a sentence with a shade of exclusivity, ‘ Hamd belongs ONLY to Allah’. It is appropriate particularly on the occasion of Hajj because that blessed house was misused for Shirk so in response a strong denial of it is implied even when we say LILLAHI ALHAMDU. This TAQDEEM also serves the function of IZAALAT ALSHAK ‘removing doubt’. Why now say it this way in the Fatiha then? The context of the Fatiha is not one that demands the removal of doubt. Also, exclusivity exists in response to a challenge to the original statement. If somebody is attributing Hamd to Allah and other than Him, he or she should be taught that Hamd is ONLY for Allah. The Fatiha is not a response in debate with those who falsely associate with Allah. But we do find LillahilHamdu in the Qur’an. Interestingly, it appears in Al Jathiah: 36

(فلله الحمد رب السموات ورب الأرض رب العالمين) الجاثية (لآية 36)

The context, unlike fatiha is one where disbelievers who credit life and death to other than Allah. Here, the exclusive, emphatic mode of declaration is more befitting so we see LILLAHILHAMDU. The Fatiha declares certain universal truths that are completely in line with the embedded fitrah (natural pre-disposition) you and I are born with. In our fitrah there is no competition between belief and disbelief, tauheed & shirk, iman & kufr. Rather our faith is an unchallenged manifest truth seeded deep within our conscience. In Fatiha, this truth is therefore uttered in a fashion (ALHAMDULILLAH and not LILLAHILHAMDU ) that doesn’t even indicate the existence of an alternate point of view because within our genuine conscience, there isn’t one.


1/3 of the Quran

May 17, 2007

Chapter 112 a.k.a. Surat al-Ikhlas (Sincerity) is well-known to many of us. Some people would ask Rasoolullah (SAW) about Allah (SWT) and in response, Surat al-Ikhlas was revealed in Makkah. For many it is the surah we recite most-often in our prayers. However, do we recite it so often because of its length and conciseness or do we recite it for its virtue and reward? What is the translation of the meaning of Surah al-Ikhlas?

Verse 1: Say, He is Allah, the One
Verse 2: Allah, the eternally Besought of all
Verse 3: He begets not nor was begotten
Verse 4: And there is none comparable unto Him

What is the value of this surat? Rasoolullah (SAW) asked the Sahaba, “Would any of you be able to recite a third of the Quran in the course of a single night?”
The Sahaba responded, “Who would be able to do that, O Rasoolullah?”
After reciting Surat al-Ikhlas, Rasoolullah (SAW) continued that it is worth a third of the Quran (this story can be found in Bukhari).

Subhana’Allah, we can be granted the reward of reciting one-third of the Quran by reciting these four short ayat. Indeed, Allah (SWT) is the most merciful. Indeed, Allah (SWT) is Ar-Rahman!

Why is Surat al-Ikhlas worth one-third of the Quran? From reading the Quran, one can realize that it is divided into three parts: legal rulings, narrations, and tawheed. Surat al-Ikhlas comprises the Names and Attributes of Allah (SWT) as it covers tawheed and the oneness of God.

Let us attempt to explain some of this beautiful surat. We can do this by concentrating on two Names of Allah (SWT) mentioned here, Al-Ahad and As-Samad. According to Imam al-Qurtubi, Al-Ahad affirms the oneness of existence that cannot be shared by anyone thing or anyone else. Similarly, Imam al-Qurtubi explains As-Samad as “the One whose dignity and sovereignty reaches the extent where all things in existence depend on for all their needs.” Surely, this quality cannot be ascribed to anyone except Allah (SWT) as it is only He who is Perfect in all of His Names and Attributes.

Surat al-Ikhlas is the perfect answer to Muslims who ascribe a shape and body to their gods. Indeed, Allah (SWT) is free of any resemblance to creation. We cannot worship an idol made out of gold, as this is not god. Allah (SWT) has no partners and He has neither children nor parents. A scholar was once sent to medieval Europe to debate a Christian priest. The Christian king greeted the scholar and the scholar met the king and priest with smiles and asked the priest how his family was doing. Unfortunately, the priest practiced celibacy and had no family. The king’s face turned angry as he said to the Muslim scholar, “Do you not know that this man is a priest. He has freed himself of such needs and impurities.” The scholar responded, “Subhana’Allah, how can your priests be free of these qualities and needs and then you assign them to Allah (SWT).”

We all should strive to learn and love Surat al-Ikhlas. Rasoolullah (SAW) appointed a man to lead the prayer for a group of the Sahaba when the group was traveling. The Sahaba complained to Rasoolullah (SAW) that the appointed man would always finish his recitations with Surat al-Ikhlas. Rasoolullah said, “Ask him why he does so.” The Sahaba asked the man and he responded, “I do so because it mentions the qualities of the Beneficent, and I love to recite it (in my prayer).” Rasoolullah (SAW) said to the Sahaba, “Tell him that Allah loves him” (this story can be found in Bukhari and Muslim).

However, when reciting this surat, we must remember we cannot recite this in lieu of reciting an entire one-third of the Quran. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah wrote that indeed one would receive reward to the same degree of reciting one-third of the Quran for reciting Surat al-Ikhlas. However, this would not be the same reward for reciting an actual one-third of the Quran.

Regardless, we all need to love and understand the great blessings of this beautiful surat. It teaches us pure and undefiled monotheism, the true way of Islam. This is what we need to teach others when we do dawah. When talking about Islam with non-Muslims, we should always bring everything back to tawheed. Surely, there is only one God, the Most Merciful, the Most Beneficent.

[Taken in part from Shaykh Salman al-Oadah]

Surat al-Asr

April 20, 2007

So, today I figured I’d give some reflections on what appears to be so many people’s favorite Surah to recite in their salaat. My own reflections aren’t really worth too much, so I’ll make more references to other people’s. Surat al-Asr (Surat #103 in the Holy Quran) is very short, only three verses, and is considered a Makki surah. A translation of the meaning of the Surah is:

Verse 1: By (the token of) time.
Verse 2: Verily! Man is in loss.
Verse 3: Except those who believe and do good works, and enjoin on each other truth, and enjoin on each other patience.

I want to share an awesome analogy Br. Nouman Ali Khan made to this surat when he came to speak at Hopkins. Imagine that you are asleep and yet you are drowning in water. You don’t realize that you are drowning since you are asleep so you cannot save yourself (Verses 1-2). Now, imagine you wake-up and acknowledge and realize you are drowning (Verse 3: except those who believe). Now that you realize you are drowning, you have to try to start swimming for your survival and salvation (Verse 3: and do good works). Nevertheless, consider that you realize when you are drowning, that your family and friends are chained to you. Therefore, they are taking you deeper in the water with them. What do you have to do? You have to try to wake them up so that they realize you and them are both drowning (Verse 3: and enjoin on each other truth). Now, consider this, one of your uncles is a very heavy sleeper. He refuses to wake-up. What are you going to do? Would you give up and let him take you down? No! Of course, you would continously try to keep waking this uncle of yours up until you either survive or die (Verse 3: and enjoin on each other patience).

What an awesome analogy of Surat al-Asr! I love this analogy. Imam Shafii (rahmatullah) had stated that if only people truly considered this Surat well enough, it would suffice enough for their guidance. Abdullah bin Hisn ad-Darimi Abu Madinah narrated that whenever any two of the Companions met they would not part company until they had recited Surah al-Asr to each other (found in Tabarani). Insha’Allah, we all can benefit greatly from this awesome Surah!