By Aftab Ahmad, New Age Islam
12 September 2014
The Quran consists of 114 Surahs that can be divided into two categories: Short Surahs and long Surahs. The long Surahs discuss multiple topics at a time while the short Surahs discuss only one or two related topics at a time. Here we will analyse some of the short Surahs that discuss some basic messages of God and propound Quranic view of the ideal society and the ideal character of a Muslim.
Surah Al Mutaffifeen deals with the dishonesty in commercial and financial transactions by businessmen or traders. Generally the title of a Surah does not imply that the Surah deals with the subject of the title, but the Surah Al Mutaffifeen which means the defrauding, deals with fraud in business transactions. The verses say:
“Woe to those who give less, who when they take a measure from people, take in full. But if they give by measure or by weight to them, they cause loss.”
This is the main theme of the entire Surah. It curses those who do not weigh things honestly and thus cause loss to the buyer or seller. In the following verses, the Quran warns such people of grave torment. It says:
“Do they not think that they will be resurrected?”
The verses say that not only that they will have to stand before God on the Day of Judgment for what they were ‘earning’ but it will also cause a permanent damage to their heart in the world.
“No! Rather, the stain has covered their hearts of that which they were earning.”
Because of that they will not be able to realise the truth and will not be able to behave like healthy human beings. Therefore, the stain in their heart will remain with them as a punishment for their dishonesty through their entire life. The verses also say that those who will do the righteous deeds and do business honestly, they will enjoy all the bounties bestowed on them by God in the Paradise.
Thus, that a verse was revealed to stress the significance of honesty in business shows how much concerned Islam is about honesty in wordly affairs and business transactions. It also indicates that people weighing dishonestly may be doomed to hell no matter how much prayers they offer to God.
Another short verse is Al Maun which means small kindnesses. This verse also deals with the topic of good behaviour and kindness and compassion shown to the needy and the orphans. The verse says:
“Have you seen the one who denies the Recompense? For that is the one who drives away the orphan. And does not encourge the feeding of the poor. So woe to those who pray. (But) who are heedless of their prayer. Those who make show (of their deeds). And withhold (simple) assistance.”
The Surah stresses on the repercussions of two un-Islamic acts: 1) not encouraging the feeding of the poor;2) driving away the orphans. The Quran expresses God’s displeasure to the people who do not encourage feeding of the poor and who drive away or show cruelty to orphans. The Quran further says that the prayers of such persons are only a show or demonstration of their so-called piety because they do not really fulfill their duties to the society. To the Quran, piety and service to mankind are interlinked. A Muslim cannot be called a true believer if he remains unaffected by the sufferings of the people around him or shows cruelty to them.
There is another Surah titled, ‘Al Humazah’. The word means one who mocks others and levels false allegations against someone. The Surah curses those who mock others and make derogatory remarks about others. It also curses those who gather wealth and preserve them for future use. In this verse the Quran especially warns those who gather wealth and sit on it, and also show total regard to and contempt for others. The Quran warns such people of the severe torment in the Hell-fire.
Another Surah al Adiyat also deals with the same topic – love of wealth, though adds to it man’s ingratitude to God for the bounties and blessings He has given to him in the world. Like Qarun, man thinks that he has possessed or acquired the wealth through his own abilities and brain and so does not show gratitude to God. This ingratitude leads him to doom and ruin in both the worlds as Qarun was subjected to.
Surah Al Asr is also one of the shortest Surahs of the Quran but stresses on three most important teachings of the Quran. That a Surah was revealed to stress on these principles or practices shows that these practices are the basic teachings of the Quran and foundation of Islamic ideology.
The Surah stresses on the following practices:
Belief in one God
Practising and preaching patience
Thus Islam apart from belief in one God, preaches righteousness, Truth and Patience.
Finally the Surah At Takathur warns Muslims in particular and the human kind in general of the consequences of the material pursuits. The Quran says that competition in worldly and material pursuits will only lead man to the hell as in course of material pursuits, man turns into a beast devoid of any human or spiritual qualities or emotions causing loss or damage to the humanity and to himself.
Therefore, though the Surahs quoted above are short, together they sum up the basic teachings and ideals of Islam laid out in the Quran. Compassion, kindness towards the needy, the weak and the poor, feeding the poor, encouraging people to practice patience in face of provocation, being humble and unassuming and shrugging off wealth and material pursuits are some of the important teachings of the Quran. Muslims will really be a true messenger of peace and harmony by following the ideals presented in the Surahs mentioned above.
Aftab Ahmad is a columnist for New Age Islam. He has been studying the Holy Quran for some time