Understanding The Quran – Juz’ 13 (Surah Yusuf v.53 – Surah Ibrahim v.52) Exploring historical relevance, themes, context & lessons learnt

Today Insh’Allah we’ll take a detailed look at Juz’ 13 from the Qur’an which takes in the thirteenth and fourteenth Surah’s – Ar Ra’d and Ibrahim respectively.

Surah 13. Ar-Ra’d

This Surah takes its name from the word (ar-Ra’ad) (thunder) that occurs in v. 13. It is merely the symbolic name of the Surah and does not in any way mean that the Surah deals with the scientific problems connected with thunder.

Period of Revelation

The internal evidence (vv 27-31 and vv. 34-48) shows that this Surah was revealed in the last stage of the Mission of the Holy Prophet at Makkah and during the same period in which Surahs Yunus, Hud and Al-A’araf were sent down. The manner of speech indicates that a long time had passed since the Holy Prophet had been conveying the Message. On the one hand, his opponents had been contriving different devices to defeat him and his Mission, and, on the other, his followers had been expressing a desire that by showing a miracle the disbelievers might be brought to the Right Way.

In answer, Allah impressed on the Believers that it is not His way to convert people by this method and that they should not lose heart, if He is giving the enemies of the Truth a rope long enough to hang themselves. Otherwise, He is able to show such signs as may bring the dead out of their graves and make them speak (v. 31), but even then these obdurate people will invent an excuse to explain this away. All this decisive evidence clearly proves that this Surah was revealed during the last stage of the Prophet’s Mission at Makkah.

Central Theme

The first verse enunciates the main theme of this Surah, that is, “The Message of Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him) is the very Truth, but it is the fault of the people that they are rejecting it.” This is the pivot on which the whole Surah turns. This is why it has been shown over and over again in different ways that the basic components of the Message Tauhid, Resurrection and Prophethood are a reality: therefore they should believe sincerely in these for their own moral and spiritual good. They have been warned that they shall incur their own ruin if they reject them, for kufr by itself is sheer folly and ignorance.

Moreover, the aim of the Surah is not merely to satisfy the minds but also to appeal to the hearts to accept the Faith. Therefore it does not merely put forward logical arguments in support of the truth of the Message and against the people’s wrong notions, but at appropriate intervals it makes frequent use of sympathetic and earnest appeals to win over their hearts by warning them of the consequences of kufr and by holding out the happy rewards of Faith so that the foolish people should give up their obduracy.

Besides this, the objections of the opponents have been answered without any mention of them, and those doubts which are proving a hindrance in the way of the Message or were being created by the opponents have been removed. At the same time, the Believers; who had been passing through long and hard ordeal and were feeling tired, and waiting anxiously for Allah’s succour, have been comforted and filled with hope and courage.

Surah 14. Ibrahim

The Surah takes its name from v. 35 in which mention has been made of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). But it does not mean that it contains the life story of Prophet Abraham. The name is merely a symbol like the names of many other surahs, i.e., the Surah in which Abraham’s mention has been made.

Period of Revelation

It appears from the tone of the Surah that it belongs to that group of the Surahs which were revealed during the last stage of the Makkan period. For instance, v. 13 (“The disbelievers warned their Messengers, ‘you shall have to return to our community or we will assuredly expel you from our land'”) clearly indicates that the persecution of the Muslims was at its worst at the time of the revelation of this Surah, and the people of Makkah were bent on expelling the Believers from there like the disbelievers of the former Prophets. That is why in v. 14 they have been warned, “We will destroy these evil doers,” and the Believers have been comforted as were the believers before them, “and after them settle you in the land” Likewise the stern warning contained in the concluding portion (vv. 43-52 also confirms that the Surah relates to the last stage of the Makkan Period.

Central Theme and Purpose

This Surah is an admonition and a warning to the disbelievers who were rejecting the Message of the Holy Prophet and devising cunning schemes to defeat his Mission. But warning, reproof, censure and reproach dominate admonition. This is because a good deal of admonition had already been made in the preceding Surahs, but in spite of this their obduracy, enmity, antagonism, mischief, persecution etc. had rather increased.

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Filed under Ajiza’ (Sections) of the Qur’an, Islam, Morals & Ethics, Quran Hadith Sunnah

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