The following story is about a family of Prophets. The family is that of Imran (or Al-Imran). It consists of a grandfather named Imran and his virtuous wife whose name was not mentioned. All of the righteous things in this story are because of this great woman who was a grandmother that produced an honorable and faithful family.
Imran and his wife had two daughters. The eldest one was the wife of Prophet Zakareya (AS) (Zacharya). The younger daughter was born long after the first and she is Maryam (AS) (Mary). The elder sister is the mother of the Prophet Yahya (AS) (John) and the young sister is the mother of the Prophet Isa (AS) (Jesus). One cannot help but imagine how great this family tree is and how they used to live together. Their story is a long one. We will divide it into two parts.
We don’t know whether that family was rich or not because it was a simple family. Nevertheless, the most important thing is that it was a faithful family of which had the honor of being mentioned in the Holy Qur’an until the Day of Judgment.
I wonder how our families are nowadays? Are you only concerned with your family’s name and if it is a famous family that has a doctor and a judge? Or is it more important to have a family that is devoted and close to Allah? A Surah in the Qur’an has been named after the Imran family. This shows that Allah mentions families because of their faith and not because of their property.
Oh youth, what is your priority when seeking marriage? Is it the family’s name or its money? Are you concerned with a family whose name is only famous on earth, or one whose name is mentioned in the sky? After all, do you not wish that your family, like the family of Imran, becomes mentioned by Almighty Allah? Or are you only looking for beauty regardless of her religious state? In addition, how does a woman imagine her future husband? Since today's topic is about a faithful family I wanted to remind you about your future plans in establishing a family.
The family of Imran is the last family of the people of Israel with its last Prophets as well because after the Prophet Isa the prophecy ended among the people of Israel. The Prophet Yahya is older than the Prophet Isa by approximately three years. The family of Imran are from the family of Prophets Dawud (AS) (David) and Sulaiman (AS) (Solomon) for the great grandfather of the Prophet Zakareya and Imran is from Dawud and Sulaiman. We can therefore notice that the chain of Prophets is connected to one another and it’s not a coincidence. This can also be seen with Prophet Muhammad‘s grandfather who was the Prophet Isma’il (AS) (Ishmael) and that Prophet Yusuf's (AS) (Joseph) great grandfather was Prophet Ibrahim.
What can be seen from this is that Allah blesses the family that has a religious member and these blessings continue with the offspring. It is a universal rule that any family with a religious person that passed away must have one or more good religious people from the person's offspring. When you see a religious youth you should know that in his family there must have been a religious grandparent or great-grandparents.
The verse “Offspring, one of the other” (Al-Imran: 34) (1) indicates that people acquire faith from one another. Hence, establishing a religious and obedient family guarantees religious offspring.
I direct this to the parents who are worried about their teenagers. Surely, do not worry if you are obedient towards Allah because if your teenager gets lost Allah will bring him back. I have seen this occur in many families that are close to Allah. It is also noticed in many stories in the Holy Qur’an. One of these stories is of the wall which Allah ordered Al-Khidr to build for the two young orphan boys until they get older. This is because of their good father as Allah mentioned in Surat Al-Kahf, which can be translated as, "and their father was a righteous man" (TMQ, Al-Kahf: 82). The adolescence stage will eventually end and they will return once again to their religion.
Let us begin the story with the following verse that can be translated as, "Allâh chose Adam, Nûh (Noah), the family of Ibrâhîm (Abraham) and the family of ‘Imrân above the ‘Âlamîn (mankind and jinn) (of their times)." (Al-Imran: 33). Why did Allah choose them above all people? That is because they are the centre of humanity. Adam is the first father of humanity. Nuh (AS) (Noah) is the second because after the flood all of Adam’s offspring drowned. It addition, Prophet Ibrahim is the father of all Prophets. From his son, the Prophet Ishaq (AS) (Isaac), came all the Prophets of the people of Israel and they are Yaqub (AS) (Jacob), Yusuf (AS) (Joseph), Al-Asbat, Dawud, Sulaiman, Shoaib, Yunus and Ayyub. From the Prophet Ismail came our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The Prophet Muhammad is thus from the family of Ibrahim.
The family of Imran are Zakareya, Yahya, Maryam and Isa (Imran was not a Prophet but the prophethood came from his offspring). We therefore notice from the previous verse that Allah chose Adam and Nuh, the family of Imran and Ibrahim
Yet what is the meaning of the word 'choose' in that verse? Choose means select. This implies that Allah looked into the hearts of His beings and selected the most obedient ones to be His Prophets. This is mentioned in a Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Allah then looked into the hearts of His Prophets and selected the leaders, who are Nuh, Ibrahim, Isa, Musa and our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
We must realize that we are from the group of the selected ones. By selecting the Prophets, He also selected us as Muslims as proof that you pray and so forth. It should then be considered as a form of selection too.
There is also an important meaning that I wish to clarify. When Allah says what can be translated as, “Offspring, one of the other” the meaning here is not the way they are alike in terms of looks but how they resemble each other in their faith, good intentions, their love towards Allah, and being devoted worshippers.
We might also wonder why the Surah was called after the family of Imran. By understanding the events in each Surah of the Holy Qur'an we would understand the reason behind its name. The name of any Surah is related to the events mentioned in it. After all, do you think that the names are random? And who named each Surah in the Qur'an?
Jibril (AS) (Gabriel) used to deliver the verses and the Surah in an ordered arrangement to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
We may also question why Surat An-Nur was given that name. It is not only because it has a verse where Allah says what can be translated as, "Allâh is the Light of the heavens and the earth" (TMQ, An-Nur: 35) because there are many events that are related to that name. This applies to every Surah and we can then choose some and explain whey they were called in that way.
One must know more about the nature of the Surah. For example, Surah Al-Baqara was the first Surah revealed in Madinah. The Surah remained open meaning that Jibril did not deliver its’ verses to the Prophet all at once because in the same time there was other verses from other Surah sent down. It was Jibril that taught our Prophet the arrangement of the verses and Surahs. The Prophet used to meet forty companions that wrote the Qur’an. Some people think that the Qur’an was written after the death of the Prophet, but that is wrong because the companions wrote it in the same arrangement they got from the Prophet. After the death of the Prophet the caliph Abu-Bakr collected all the writings of the companions until the Qur'an was put together.
There is also a misconception that the Sunnah has been written after the death of the Prophet. Just as there were companions that wrote down the revelations, there were others that wrote the Sunnah of the Prophet. The Prophet said: "Write from me the Qur’an but not anything else." The Prophet directed this to the 40 companions who were responsible for writing the Qur'an. The other companions were writing the Sunnah. Is it not logical to preserve the Prophet's Sunnah? Allah says what can be translated as, " Verily, We, it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur’ân) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption)" (TMQ, Al-Hijr: 9) This verse encompasses the Qur'an and Sunnah. After all, Dhikr is religion as a whole. We pray four rak'as, give 2.5 % as Zakat of our yearly income, and all of these details are not found in the Qur'an but in the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Hence, those that wrote the Ahadith of the Prophet are not the same as those that wrote the revelations.
Let us return to Surat Al-Baqara which was revealed in Medina during his first years there. What does this Surah deal with? It deals with the companions who, as a new generation, will establish a Muslim nation. In other words, it will be the beginning of a new nation. After the nation of the people of Israel, a new nation will be established which replaces the previous nation since it is chosen by Allah. Glory be to Allah Who began telling them about the Jews and their grave mistakes in order to learn and avoid making the same mistakes of the people of Israel. As it can be seen, this Surah mentions all of their mistakes. It is the only Surah that mentions all of their wrongdoings. Some of these are their extreme disputes (as in when Musa ordered them to slaughter the cow), their ill-manners and disrespectfulness towards the messengers, disobeying Allah, and being greatly materialistic. They therefore had the most dangerous elements that can be present in a nation. Allah named this Surat 'Al-Baqara' because it describes the problems of a previous nation before Islam more than any other Surah.
Moreover, why was Surat An-Nur given that name? It could be because there is a verse in which Allah says what can be translated as, "Allâh is the Light of the heavens and the earth" (TMQ, An-Nur: 35). However, it has many other verses which are approximately more than 90. This Surah teaches us how to protect our society from getting lost. It gives the punishment of adultery and the prohibition of accusing any woman in her honor unless there are four witnesses and if she is innocent the accuser's punishment is 80 whips. It also mentions the importance of quickly marrying the youth, entering homes with permission, the obligation of wearing a head scarf, and lowering one's gaze. If everything in the Surah is applied then the society will be guaranteed righteousness, and will thus become bright. Who is this source of bright light? It is Allah, because "Allâh is the Light of the heavens and the earth".
Furthermore, where will this light be? It will be, "In houses (mosques) which Allâh has ordered to be raised (to be cleaned, and to be honored)" (TMQ, An-Nur: 36). This means the mosques. In addition, upon whom does this light descend? It will descend on, "Men whom neither trade nor sale (business) diverts from the Remembrance of Allâh (with heart and tongue)" (TMQ, An-Nur: 37). Anyone who refuses to walk in this light should consider the following verse that can be translated as, "Or [the state of a disbeliever] is like the darkness in a vast deep sea, overwhelmed with waves topped by waves, topped by dark clouds, (layers of) darkness upon darkness: if a man stretches out his hand, he can hardly see it! And he for whom Allâh” (TMQ, An-Nur: 40).
Let us also explore Surat An-Nisaa. Why was it called Surat An-Nisaa'? The Surah talks about the weak and powerless people on earth. In the beginning it talks about the orphans and then about the Muslim minorities that are living in the land of the disbelievers. The Surah conveys a message of justice and Allah chose women as an example. The Surah talks about justice and it is as if Allah is saying that whoever can establish justice at his home, which is with his wife, and then he can establish justice on earth.
As I have previously mentioned, we should try to understand why a certain name was given to each Surah. This is important as until now, there is not a book in the Islamic library that specializes in analyzing each Surah and the significant of their names.
I mentioned how some Surahs were named for the sake of Surat Al-Imran that we are currently discussing. This Surah talks about the period of time between the battle of Badr and the battle of Uhud and the events that occurred afterwards.
Allah gave victory to the Muslims in the battle of Badr for they were selected by Him. When the battle of Uhud came they disobeyed the order of the Prophet (PBUH). Will they no longer be selected then? Allah actually gave them another opportunity to be selected once again not to fall in the same mistake. Hence, Almighty Allah wanted to inform them about the story of this family and His selection for them.
I wanted to show you that if you have certain characteristics then Allah will select you to be obedient until you pass away. This is the meaning that I want to convey to you in this lesson. We will all further notice this when we go through the events and the meanings of the Surah. Therefore, we started with the verse, "Allah chose". As I have mentioned, Allah chose us as Muslims and His love for us is great when we contemplate on how He has chosen us. Let us see:
The population of earth is about six and a half billion. You were selected to be from the one billion and quarter who are Muslims.
About half a billion or less of the Muslims don’t pray. You were selected to be with those who pray.
From the three fourth of those who pray, you were selected to be from the quarter who pray in mosques.
He chose you to keep this selection by attending religious lessons. Surely that is a mercy from Allah, and He supports you by keeping you obedient. For example, if you sinned and repented, Allah will select you again.
Hence, the aim of this lesson is on ways that will help you keep this selection.
Surat Al-Imran was revealed after the battle of Uhud when the companions took off and disobeyed the Prophet’s orders. Allah wanted to show them that they made a mistake and that He wanted to select them once more in order not to err again. Thus, the Surah shows the characteristics of people who are chosen by Allah. This is the environment of the Surah and the main reason for its revelation. Yet, there is also another reason. This Surah has been sent down during the first big clash between the Muslims, Jews and Christian.
There was also a Christian group that came from Nagran, which is a region in Yemen. They came to Madinah to debate with the Prophet about Isa (Jesus). Obviously, these people came from Yemen and had no place to stay in Medina. Hence, the Prophet let them stay at the mosque (imagine his mercy). He built for them a place in the mosque to stay in during their visit to Medina. Can you imagine how forgiving Islam is!. Allah Almighty and the Prophet (PBUH) wanted them to like Islam and this is the aim of Islamic propagation. Allah wanted Surat Al-Imran , with the name of a family from the biggest families of the Jews and Christians, to be sent down during their stay. Allah wanted to show them the importance of this family and its connection with Allah.
I am still moved with the fact that the Surah talks about one family. I wonder how our homes are today, and how our youth and their superficial relationships with their families are. I wonder if anyone among us aims to make his family strong and connected to Allah, and to make sure his parents are obedient to Allah. Are those from your main goals?
When you establish your own family, will you strive to build one that is close to Allah? Will you seek to marry a religious partner? We want homes that will be mentioned in the sky not only on the earth. Allah bestows His goodness on families such as the family of Imran who chose a pious wife.
One may wonder what someone who is married and has a family that is far from Allah could do? In such situations it is important to make Du’a (supplication) because it is Allah Who will guide either the wife or husband. Youth should also ask Allah to guide their parents and if they continue to obey their parents then Allah will answer the prayers.
I have seen many examples of such youth who, despite that their religious knowledge was not much, wanted their parents to be guided and have achieved what they wished for through their devotion, their prayers, and their good treatment towards their parents. However, what saddens me is that there are religious youth who have no relationship with their not-so religious parents. I hope that they would try to help them and ask Allah in order to reach a positive result. I certainly wish that our families would become like the family of Imran.
Some might regret their marriage and wish that they would have chosen a better pious person. Hence, whoever wants to marry, please choose carefully and don’t only be satisfied by beauty because a person's internal state is more important. I would like to further clarify that you should not marry any religious girl that is not equal to your social level because the social level is also a part of Islam and religion.
Zainab Bent Gahsh had been divorced from Zayd Ibn-Haretha because there was a difference in their social level. She then married the Prophet (PBUH). Equality is required in religion and social level so they should be close. Yet, the financial issue is not a priority because someone obedient will make you more obedient and will make her family close to yours.
Let us start the events of the story of the family of Imran. This family was in Palestine and the people of Israel were living there which was occupied by the Romans. They were unfair, they hated whoever believed in Allah, and severely punished the people of Israel. As we mentioned before in the story of the Prophet Musa, when the faith increases Palestine becomes liberated. Yet, when faith decreases, Palestine gets occupied once again by a tyrant. In that period of time, people's faith was low and the family of Imran was almost the only believing family in that place. Almost all of the people of Israel were far from Allah while the Romans occupied Palestine.
We will start by Imran’s wife. We will be surprised to know that this woman's devotion will liberate Palestine. From her offspring will come the one who will liberate al-Aqsa mosque. This woman had an old daughter who was married to the Prophet Zakariya who was old as the verse states what can be translated as, "He said: "My Lord! Indeed my bones have grown feeble, and grey hair has spread on my head” (TMQ, Maryam: 4). He was a Prophet but not a young one. This family was concerned with bringing kids to liberate Palestine and al-Aqsa mosque, especially since their elder daughter had no children.
O youth, after thirty years you will be of Imran’s age and you will wish that you would have done something for Palestine while you were young. Many of those who get older regret that they could not do anything for Palestine while they were younger or that they could not do anything for Islam. Who will do something for the victory of Islam?
Hope is found in the youth of today's nation who will work to benefit this Ummah by calling people to Allah, teaching the holy Qur’an, helping his friends, to advance the Ummah by an invention, and so forth. There are certainly many opportunities and a big hope. The family was concerned with giving birth. This was not the aim itself since they already had a daughter but the aim was far greater than that. Imran and his wife wanted children to liberate al-Aqsa Mosque. There were no youth in the family and they were the only believers in Palestine.
I wonder if our youth today are concerned in their life to give victory to Islam and to witness the statement 'no god but Allah' to fill the earth. This religion is certainly unique because Muhammad’s nation essentially differs from all the previous ones. The previous nations achieved their victories through great miracles. On the other hand, Muhammad’s nation achieved its victory by its youth and women who lived for their religion. With them the miracle can come true and the earth could be changed. There will no longer be any great miracles in our days.
Victory will come with people who divorce life. That does not mean that they get isolated from life but that they keep it out of our hearts. Look at what the companion Ali when spoke to life, “I have divorced you three times.”
Victory comes when youth divert from their limited aims (marriage, kids and job), which are not necessarily prohibited, to greater ambitions, such as going to the highest level in paradise, and spreading the belief of "no God but Allah" all over the earth. Obviously, this cannot take place in one night. It gradually develops by listening to many lessons, worshipping more, getting closer to Allah, performing Umrah (minor pilgrimage) and Hajj (pilgrimage), and devoted fasting during Ramadan, repenting from the sins, and so forth. Hence, things progress from one development to another until you achieve your dream of seeing Islam glorified.
The concern of Imran's family is religion and not only bearing children. It was the solution to liberate Palestine since there were no other Muslims but they. They were old and so they asked Allah to give them a child who would one day fight and defeat the Romans.
Imran’s wife started asking Allah. Although Imran was a righteous man, her involvement was greater than his which is evident since her story is mentioned in the Qur'an. She was old and her daughter was married to the old Zakariya. Hence, she must be too old. However, her dream was the liberty of al-Aqsa Mosque so she greatly wanted a child.
The surprise came. She felt the baby and as it came in verse 35, she said what can be translated as, “(Remember) when the wife of ‘Imrân said: "O my Lord! I have vowed to You what (the child that) is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services (free from all worldly work; to serve Your Place of worship), so accept this from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing." (TMQ, Al-Imran: 35). When she said “to be dedicated for Your services” it means he is for Allah, and we infer that her intention was truly sincere.
O youth, if there is any one devoted among you and honest in his devotion then Allah can change the course of history for him.
Our dedications are usually only for life, but look at her dedications. This was the first time Allah taught us how this lady dedicated something only for Him. She wants the boy to live inside al-Aqsa Mosque until he liberates it. Her intention is clear from the beginning since she will not keep her son but she wants him to live inside al-Aqsa. Thus, the beginning of the liberty of al-Aqsa Mosque is through devoted believers who are successful in their land.
Can you see how precious Islam and al-Aqsa mosque are?
Imran's wife stresses that the child is only for "Your services". This means that he is only Allah so she has no desires for him. He is librated for Allah. The opposite of librated is a slave. Anyone who lives for his desires is a slave to them, “Have you (O Muhammad) seen him who has taken as his ilâh (god) his own vain desire?” (TMQ, Al-Furqan: 43). Not the literal meaning of worship is intended her but some do run after their desires like it's a god, such as those who are endlessly running after money.
If you want to be free, then the Westerners call for freedom and accuse us from the East that we oppress women to wear the scarf, have too many restrictions, and prohibited liberty to spread. On the contrary, they are the slaves because whoever did not belong to Allah only will belong to something else that is less.
For example, someone can be a slave of a certain woman. Another can be a slave of his desires and the other of a cigarette even if he knows how bad it is but he cannot leave it because he is so weak. Hence, the peak of liberty is when you belong to Allah.
The feeblest person on earth is the one who is so far from Allah. A person may be feeble towards wine, cigarettes, drugs or women. The truly liberated person is the one who belongs to Allah. He has no chains. He is free and strong.
1) TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah:Ayah) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.