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The Commandments of Allah

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Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala in His Wisdom and Mercy has revealed to us all the major commandments in one Surah: Surah Al-‘Isra’. The verses, mentioned one after the other, calls for deep reflection. Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala proves the simplicity and elegance of our deen yet again in these verses.

1. “Do not make [as equal] with Allah another deity and [thereby] become censured and forsaken.” (Surah Al-‘Isra’ (17):22)

Ibn Katheer explains in his tafseer that ‘censured’ is ‘due to associating others with Him.’ Associating partners with Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala is shirk. Scholars have divided shirk in two major categories:

1. Shirk e Akbar [Major Shirk]: This involves associating partners with Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala in any form which includes worship of idols, graves, the dead; beliefs that someone other  than AllahAllah Subhanahu-wa-Taala has the power of creation, life and death; loving someone more than Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala thereby placing the will and love of this person above that of Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala; making dua’ and seeking refuge from saints and prostration or praying to someone other than Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala.

2. Shirk e Asghar [Minor Shirk]: This involves riya’ (showing off one’s good deeds) and swearing by other than Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala. This category also includes another form of shirk called Shirk e Khafi [hidden shirk]. The Prophet SAW cites an example of this type of shirk in a hadith related by Imam Ahmad on the authority of Abu Sa’id Al-Khudry,

“It is the hidden shirk; a person stands up in Salaah and tries to make it perfect when he realizes that others are looking at him.”

Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala continues that the one who associates partners with Him is ‘forsaken’. Ibn Katheer says that such a person is ‘forsaken’ because Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala will not help him; He will leave him to the one whom he worships. This is further substantiated by the following hadith:

Ibn Abbas MALE radi-allahu-anhu said: One day, I was riding behind the Prophet SAW when he said, “O boy! I will instruct you in some matters. Be watchful of Allah (Commandments of Allah), He will preserve you. Safeguard His Rights, He will be ever with you. If you beg, beg of Him Alone; and if you need assistance, supplicate to Allah Alone for help. And remember that if all the people gather to benefit you, they will not be able to benefit you except that which Allah had foreordained (for you); and if all of them gather to do harm to you, they will not be able to afflict you with anything other than that which Allah had pre-destined against you. The pens had been lifted and the ink had dried up”. (At-Tirmidhi)

2. “And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.” Your Lord is most knowing of what is within yourselves. If you should be righteous [in intention] – then indeed He is ever, to the often returning [to Him], Forgiving.” (Al-‘Isra’ (17):23,24,25)

Ibn Katheer says in his tafseer, “The idea of worshiping Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala is connected to the idea of honoring one’s parents.” Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala commands us to be dutiful to our parents as Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala has made them the source of our existence [Surah Al-‘Ahqaf (46):15; Surah Luqman(31):14]. Our parents have nurtured and raised us up in ease and in hardship. It is binding upon us to look after them in ‘action’ and in ‘words’. If we have difficult parents, realize that it is a test from Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala and remember Allah’s Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala reward for the patient ones.

In ayah 24, Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala goes on to say, “And lower to them the wing of humility and mercy.” The word ‘wing’ reminds us about birds. Birds protect their young ones by covering them with their wings. In this ayah, the young ones can be understood to be our parents who become weak and dependent as they grow old. This is a role reversal where in the young and strong children now have to protect and be humble towards their parents as they did when we were young. Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala teaches us a dua’ that is full of compassion for our parents at the end of this ayah.

3. “And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveler, and do not spend wastefully. Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful. And if you [must] turn away from the needy awaiting mercy from your Lord which you expect, then speak to them a gentle word. And do not make your hand [as] chained to your neck or extend it completely and [thereby] become blamed and insolvent.” (Al-‘Isra’ (17):26,27,28,29)

Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala follows the command of obedience and honor to parents with the command of just treatment to relatives, the poor, the traveler and the maintenance of family ties. Shaykh Ibn Baaz Rahimullah says that relatives and kindred are the blood relatives on both the father’s and mother’s side in accordance with the verses in Surah Al-‘Anfal (8):57 and Surah Al-‘Ahzab (33):6. The importance of maintaining the ties of kinship is further highlighted in the hadith of the Prophet SAW ,

“The person who breaks the ties of kinship will never enter Paradise.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

In ayah 26, Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala commands us to forbid extravagance and has compared such people as the brothers of the devil (17:27) involving in foolishness and disobedience to AllahAllah Subhanahu-wa-Taala. Qatadah defines extravagance as, ‘spending money on sins in disobeying Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala and on wrongful and corrupt things.’ [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]

Our Prophet SAW has clearly explained in a hadith the proper manner of spending one’s wealth:

‘A man from Banu Tamim came to the messenger from Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala : ‘I have a lot of wealth, a family, children and the refinements of city life, so tell me how should I spend and what should I do? He said, ‘Pay the Zakah on your wealth, if any is due, for its purification will make you pure, maintain your ties of kinship, pay attention to the rights of the beggars, neighbors and the poor.”

Ibn Katheer explains ‘banned’ and ‘insolvent’ in ayah 29: “...nor be extravagant in spending and giving more than you can afford; your paying more than you can earn may lead you to become blameworthy and find yourself in severe poverty.

Nor be extravagant in spending and giving more than you can afford; your paying more than you can earn may lead you to become blameworthy and find yourself in severe poverty.

When you spend more than you can afford, you will find yourself without anything to spend, so you will be worn out (exhausted) like an animal that cannot walk, so it becomes weak and incapable.

4. “And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Surah Al-‘Isra’ (17):31)

Killing children fearing poverty is imitating the people of Jahilliya. To put the disturbed minds of such parents at rest, Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala mentions in this ayah the provision of children first and then that of the parents.

Ibn Katheer says, “This ayah indicates that Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala is more compassionate towards His servants than a father is to his child….

The prohibition of killing children is also mentioned in a hadith in Bukhari and Muslim:

‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said, “O Messenger of Allah, which sin is the worst?” He said, “To appoint rivals of Allah when He has created you.” I asked, “Then what?” He said, “To kill your child, lest he should eat with you.”…..’

5. “And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way.” (Surah Al-‘Isra’ (17):32)

Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala not only forbids zinaa but everything that could lead to it too. ‘Zinaa’ does not refer to penetration alone, but includes zinaa of the eyes (looking at haraam), tongue (talking haraam), ears (hearing haraam), hand (touching haraam) and feet (walking towards haraam). Shaytaan entices us to fall into these minor traps leading us to the major sin.

A very powerful dua’ prescribed by the Prophet SAW to protect one’s chastity is

“O Allah, indeed I ask of you guidance, God-consciousness, chastity and self-sufficiency.” (Sahih Muslim)

6. “And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly – We have given his heir authority, but let him not exceed limits in [the matter of] taking life. Indeed, he has been supported [by the law].” (Surah Al-‘Isra’ (17):33)

The Messenger of Allah(SAW) said,

“The blood of a Muslim who bears witness to La ilaha illallah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, is not permissible (to be shed) except in three cases: a soul for a soul (i.e., in the case of murder), an adulterer who is married, and a person who leaves his religion and deserts the Jama’ah.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

This hadith explains the meaning of ‘right’ mentioned in the ayah. Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala says that for the person who has been wrongfully killed, his heir has the authority over the killer and is helped against the killer by Shari’ah and divine decree. AllahAllah Subhanahu-wa-Taala, the Most Just, has not left any scope of injustice to the kin of the wrongfully killed. The heir has the authority to kill the murdered in retaliation, or to forgive him by accepting diyah (blood money) or to forgive him without any payment. At the same time Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala commands the heir not to go to extremes by mutilating the murdered or taking revenge on any other than the killer. [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]

7. “And do not approach the property of an orphan, except in the way that is best, until he reaches maturity. And fulfill [every] commitment. Indeed, the commitment is ever [that about which one will be] questioned.” (Surah Al-‘Isra’ (17):34)

In an authentic narration, the Prophet SAW says,

“I and the one who looks after the orphan are in Paradise like this,” and he (peace be upon him) interlaced his two fingers.”

Raising an orphan does not merely mean to support financially, but to also give them emotional support, love and Islamic guidance. 

Raising an orphan does not merely mean to support financially, but to also give them emotional support, love and Islamic guidance.

In Surah An-Nisa’(4), ayah 6, Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala explains the manner in which the orphan’s wealth has to be dealt with. Further, Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala emphasizes the need of fulfilling covenants. Ibn Katheer explains, “….fulfill everything that you promise people, and the covenants that you agree to because the person who makes a covenant or promise will be asked about it.”, as mentioned at the end of this ayah.

8. “And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with an even balance. That is the best [way] and best in result.” (Surah Al-‘Isra’ (17):35)

Islam prohibits every type of fraud and deception. Ibn Katheer, in the explanation of this verse says, ‘Do not try to make it weigh less nor wrong people with their belongings. Weigh with scales which are not distorted and which do not cause confusion. That is good for you in your daily life and your ultimate end in the Hereafter.’

9. “And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.” (Surah Al-‘Isra’ (17):36)

This ayah has been interpreted in many ways: `Ali bin Abi Talhah MALE radi-allahu-anhu reported that Ibn `Abbas said: “This means) do not say (anything of which you have no knowledge).” Al-`Awfi said: “Do not accuse anyone of that of which you have no knowledge.

Muhammad bin Al-Hanafiyyah said: “It means bearing false witness.” Qatadah said: “Do not say, `I have seen’, when you did not see anything, or `I have heard’, when you did not hear anything, or `I know’, when you do not know, for Allah will ask you about all of that.” In conclusion, what they said means that Allah forbids speaking without knowledge and only on the basis of suspicion, which is mere imagination and illusions. As Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala says: “Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins.”(Surah Al Hujurat(49):12) [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]

Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala goes on to say that the ears, the eyes and the heart of every human will be questioned on the Day of Judgment as to how did they use these faculties gifted by Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala.

10. “And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height.” (Surah Al-‘Isra’ (17):37)

Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala forbids His servants to strut and walk boastfully or to act in a proud manner as it resembles the tyrant oppressors. It was narrated from ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb via his father and grandfather that the Prophet SAW said:

“On the Day of Resurrection, the arrogant will be gathered like ants in the form of men. Humiliation will overwhelm them from all sides. They will be driven to a prison in Hell called Bawlas, with the hottest fire rising over them, and they will be given to drink of the juice of the inhabitants of Hell, which is teenat al-khabaal.” [At-Tirmidhi, 2492; hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 2025]

Arrogance is the characteristic of Iblis. His arrogance was the cause of disobedience to Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala. When we are proud about ourselves, we feel a sense of superiority. We should immediately remind our self that such acts are detested by Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala. We should also realize that we are mere humans created in lowly form (Surah Al Qiyamah (75):37) and ultimately slaves of Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala. We should remember that the source of our pride is from something that Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala has blessed us with and instead of arrogance we should show our gratitude to Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala.

Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala admonishes the arrogant ones further saying that no matter how proud they are, they will never be able to tear the earth or reach the height of mountains once again showing the Power and Might of Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala!

Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala concludes the list of ten commandments by revealing that the above are the things He detests (17:38) and it is His Wisdom that He has revealed it to mankind.(17:39) Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala, in His Mercy for His slaves, has laid down all the dos and don’ts of Islam in a simple manner so that we can understand and implement it.

But, the question is, “ARE WE LISTENING?”

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