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Chapter 106: Al-Quraish (The Quraish)
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Chapter 106:

The Quraish

This chapter is a Makkan revelation. Chapter 105, The Elephant, made mention of those people who had launched an attack against the Ka‘bah, the House of Allah, and were themselves annihilated. This chapter speaks of those who guarded the House of Allah with the result that they lived in peace and were free from anxiety regarding their daily sustenance.

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim. In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Li ilafi Quraish 1. For the protection of the Quraish
Ilafihim rihlatash-shtfa’i was-saif 2. Their protection during their journey in the winter and the summer.
Falya ‘budu Rabba hadhal Bait 3. So let them serve the Lord of this House
Al-Ladhi at ‘amahum minju ‘inw-wa amanahum min khauf 4. Who feeds them and gives them security against fear.

Quraish was the name of our Holy Prophet’s tribe. Makkah did not possess cultivable land. It lay in a valley surrounded by barren hillsides — a land that was devoid of food and so its livelihood depended on trade. Syria lay to the north of Makkah and was a cold country while Yaman, a warm country, lay to the south; so in the cold season the Quraish carried on trade with Yaman and visited Syria for trade when the weather was warm.

As they were the guardians of the Ka‘bah they were treated with great respect by all Arabia. Looting and killing and fighting raged in all parts of the country but Makkah enjoyed complete peace because of people’s reverence for the Ka‘bah. So great was the deference shown to the Makkans that when they left their homes on trading expeditions no one hindered them but instead people considered it an honour to serve them just because they were the protectors of the Ka‘bah and this reverential treatment is still accorded to any Arab who comes from Makkah or Madinah.

This chapter speaks of the colossal favour with which Allah, Most High, blessed the Quraish. For a people to flourish two things are necessary: a stable society, and trade and commerce. Further, for this to happen, there are two prerequisites — there must be means for acquiring food and peace must prevail.

Firstly, stable social intercourse cannot exist amongst a people — that is, disparate individuals cannot meet and live together — unless there is peace and provision for feeding themselves. If there is no peace in a city, then people will flee from there. Similarly, if there is peace but no provisions for a regular supply of food, then people will leave their homes in search of jobs and wages. In fact, on many occasions people leave the country itself.

People cannot prosper in trade unless it is done on a regular and continuous basis. Whether in winter or summer, nothing must hinder the free flow of trade. Merchants will derive profit only when their goods are sold regularly. For example, a person sells his goods in a foreign country and then buys merchandise there to be sold in his own country. If the wheels of trade spin like this then profit will accrue. However, if there are problems and the goods remain unsold then loss will result. Another necessity for profitable trade is that travel and transportation should be safe.

Now let us look at the plight of the Quraish. They were living in a land that produced nothing and in which there was no peace. Furthermore, there was no safety on the roads. Under these conditions it was impossible to have social and commercial progress.

Consider now the blessings of Allah: because of the existence of the Ka‘bah in Makkah, the inhabitants enjoyed complete peace; looting and fighting flared in every area but they lived in happiness and peace and could carry on a prosperous trade in all seasons without interruption and with complete safety in their journeys. All these favours are recalled in these two verses: in Li ilafi Quraish (For the protection of the Quraish) and the verse Ilafihim rihlatash-shita‘i was-saif (Their protection during their journey in the winter and the summer) refers to their unbroken flow of trade in every season.

Allah, Most High, reminds the Quraish of His great favour to them, telling them that in order for them to meet and live together as a civilized society and to enjoy an uninterrupted cycle of trade in summer and winter, He has made such provisions for their sustenance that they no longer had to suffer hunger nor want. Secondly, He has protected them from all fears and anxieties. The spectre of hunger disappeared because new friends and business contacts were made during the Hajj season, trade flourished and Allah had so arranged matters that He placed two countries in opposite directions to them so that they could trade during both  summer and winter. In this way, the wheel of trade and profit never ceased turning and their civilization continued to make rapid progress.

As regards peace, whilst the whole of Arabia was in turmoil and destruction, they lived in peace in Makkah. They could go on trading expeditions without fear or anxiety and could travel with their merchandise without let or hindrance. How stupendous was the favour of that merciful Lord to the Quraish in providing for their sustenance and affording them freedom from fear when they lived in such a desolate place and in such a dangerous country.

So if it is the nature of man to love his Benefactor, then there was no reason for the Quraish not to cherish love in their hearts for that Lord Who was so good to them. Again, if anyone showers such blessings and favours on a nation in making provisions for them to live together in a peaceful community, and also makes such arrangements for them to procure their food that they could travel on trading journeys without interruption and without fear, then it is inevitable that the hearts of that people would be so filled with love for this Benefactor that they would consider it a badge of honour to worship Him and would make more strenuous efforts to improve their relationship with Him so that His favours to them might be multiplied. Furthermore, in seeking to draw closer to Him they should try to inquire into the reasons for the beneficence of that Lord. That is the reason for the command: Fal ya ‘budu Rabba hadhal Bait (So let them worship the Lord of that House).

In other words all these favours came about as a result of one thing — the guardianship of Allah’s House, the Ka‘bah, which was in their city and of which they took care. They were the protective keepers of the Ka‘bah and derived benefit from that. It was Allah’s will that peace and security should reign forever in the Ka‘bah. So whichever people were its custodians, they derived benefit from it, and the reward for their services and for their upkeep of the Ka‘bah was that they became the inheritors of honour and respect.

In short, because of their custodianship of the House of Allah, He provided this barren valley with abundant food and blessed its people with peace and tranquillity in the midst of fear and danger. They are told to consider how well Allah looked after His House and in the face of this evidence they should therefore devote themselves to the service of the Lord of that House with such devotion that they would neither worship nor seek any other god. Instead, He and He alone should dwell in their hearts. So when their hearts become Houses of Allah, then these hearts will be cared for just as the Ka‘bah, the House of Allah, is cherished, and they will receive mental and spiritual benefits. On the one hand they will obtain spiritual nourishment, that is, mystical knowledge in abundance, and on the other hand they will be left safe from the attacks of Satan. If they have to travel to tropical or temperate countries in search of knowledge, even there they will be preserved from the machinations of Satan and so their faith and piety will remain intact. Even more, their intellectual and spiritual knowledge will increase and they will become the recipients of spiritual favours.

In short, in chapter 105, the Elephant, it was stated that any attempt to destroy the Holy Prophet (sas) and his companions was really an attempt to demolish the House of Allah, the Ka‘bah, for Allah dwells in the hearts of the righteous. So those who are engaged in plans to destroy the believers will meet the same fate as that of the Companions of the Elephant, that is, destruction and abasement. On the other hand there is a promise in this chapter that those who build Houses of Allah in their hearts will, like the Quraish, be given abundance of food and will be made free from fear. And this promise was fulfilled to the letter in the case of the Quraish who were merely guardians of the physical House of Allah. How much more will be the blessings if we become custodians of the spiritual House of Allah in our hearts! This the Holy Prophet and his companions did and as a result they were endowed with physical and spiritual sustenance and also peace and serenity to a degree unparalleled in the history of mankind for they were the true worshippers of Rabba hadhal Bait (the Lord of this House, the Ka‘bah).

If today we, Muslims, follow their example and make our hearts the abode of Allah we shall lack neither physical food nor spiritual sustenance and we shall fear no Satan, whether manifest or hidden. Further, to whatever continent we may go in search of knowledge our hearts will never be polluted by satanic insinuations and both our knowledge and faith will increase.

Every day we stand facing the Ka‘bah in prayer as we worship the Lord of that House but we do not realize that there is a deeper significance in prayer in that it is the most effective means of bringing the Lord of that House into our hearts and also making our hearts Houses of Allah like the Ka‘bah.

If we should read the experiences of the saints of Islam and learn how they were lost in love with the Lord of that House with such purity and devotion, spiritual ecstasy will spontaneously surge in our hearts. Once the great saint Rabiah Basri (may Allah’s mercy be on her) set out to perform the Pilgrimage. When she was just a mile away from the Ka‘bah she saw in a vision that it had come to her and addressed her thus:

“You have come to me from a long distance, so I have come here to welcome you.”

Hazrat Rabiah Basri replied:

“I haven’t come for your sake. I have come because of your Lord.”

What a glorious manifestation of deep spiritual knowledge and love for the Oneness of Allah! When we read anecdotes like this our hearts are so filled with rapture that we, too, yearn and pray to Allah that He should grant us the same spiritual blessings.

Next: Chapter 107: Al-Ma‘un (Acts of Kindness)
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