The Significance of Surah Az-Zumar
Praise to Allah ﷻ, who has guided us to this; and we would never have been guided if Allah had not guided us.
(Al Qur’an; Chapter 7: Verse 43)
Our beloved Prophet’s ﷺ character was the Qur’an, as Aisha (RA) described him. His attitude, his demeanour, his actions, his appearance, all reminded the people of the Qur’an. And that was because he was a true companion of the Qur’an. He would recite it very often; at night, during the day, even on the streets. But there were some surahs the Prophet ﷺ would recite daily, or nightly; and Surah Az-Zumar was one of them.
Aisha (RA) may Allah ﷻ be pleased with her, said, “The Messenger of Allah used to fast until we would say, `He does not want to break fast,’ and he would not fast until we would say, `He does not want to fast.’ And he used to recite Bani Isra’il, and Az-Zumar every night.” [An-Nasaa’i]
He would recite Surah Az-Zumar every night. Now the question arises, why specifically Surah Az-Zumar every night, as opposed to the rest of the Qur’an? What message is in Surah Az-Zumar that the Prophet ﷺ wanted to be reminded of it every single night?
Let’s take a look.
Surah Az-Zumar is a Makkee surah, it was revealed before the migration to Madina. It was revealed right before the first migration to Abyssinia, when the opposition against the Muslims was very severe. Believers were being tortured just because they proclaimed that they believed in One God. Their faith was being tested. And so the believers needed a reminder, and the disbelievers a warning.
The message and theme of Surah Az-Zumar is ‘Sincerity to Allah ﷻ’:
Indeed, We have sent down to you the Book, [O Muhammad], in truth. So worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion.
(Al Qur’an; Chapter 39: Verse 2)
Say, [O Muhammad], “Indeed, I have been commanded to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion. And I have been commanded to be the first [among you] of the Muslims.”
(Al Qur’an; Chapter 39: Verse 11-12)
The believers are given motivation throughout this Surah, to worship Allah ﷻ alone, and be exclusively sincere and loyal to Him. They are motivated by forgiveness and reward. They are motivated by the fear of the Aakhirah (Hereafter). The believers and disbelievers are shown a vivid scene from the Day of Judgement. On that day, there will be two factions; one group that will driven to Paradise in an honourable manner, and another group that will be dragged to Hellfire in humiliation. This is to remind all people, whether believing or disbelieving, of their final outcome. Will you be of the group heading to Jannah? Or will you be of the group heading to Hellfire? Your actions and your beliefs now, in Dunya (this world) determines where you have saved your seat.
The disbelievers are told that on the day of Judgement, even if they possess two times the earth, in value, they will not be able to ransom themselves from the evil punishment of that Day. All they needed to do in this world was have Iman (faith) in Allah ﷻ and His Messenger ﷺ . We learn here that Iman is more valuable than the weight of two earths. Think about it. If you had the whole earth emptied out, and inserted with gold until it was completely full, multiplied that by two, that would not equal the value of Iman! Subhan’Allah! Iman is so valuable, yet few know of this. It is the mercy of Allah ﷻ that He ﷻ has made it part of our Fitrah (natural disposition) as human beings, to believe in One God. Yet, we continue to fall short.
This is Allah ﷻ, He does not burden a soul with more than what they can bear. He will not command us to do something we cannot do. Rather:
Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity.
(Al Qur’an; Chapter 39: Verse 286)
In Verse 53 of Surah Az-Zumar, Allah (SWT) gives hope to mankind:
Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.”
(Al Qur’an; Chapter 39: Verse 53)
This ayah is the epitome of Allah’s ﷻ mercy. Allah ﷻ calls those who transgress against themselves, “my servants”, despite their transgression. The title, my servants, is one that embodies honor and this shows that despite erring, a believer remains beloved to Allah ﷻ. Those who transgress against themselves – whether it be shirk (associating partners with Allah ﷻ), zina (adultery), lying, stealing, or any other major sin – should never lose hope in Allah! Why? Because He forgives all sins – major and minor. All you have to do is return to Him, and seek His forgiveness. As Ulamaa’ (scholars) say, regret is tawbah (repentence).
This Surah is a surah that reminds us of our purpose, reminds us of the mercy of Allah ﷻ and reminds us of our destination. This is the perfect Surah to recite while going through hardship, but also when conveying the message of Allah ﷻ, the Qur’an.
Indeed, We sent down to you the Book for the people in truth.
(Al Qur’an; Chapter 39: Verse 41)
This Qur’an was sent down to the Prophet ﷺ. Why? So that he conveys this Qur’an to people – All people. The Qur’an is not only for Muslims, rather all people on earth. This was the mission of the Prophet ﷺ. It was a difficult mission, but a mission to be completed. And this is why Surah Az-Zumar
was such a good reminder for the Prophet ﷺ, that regardless of the opposition, the threats and the oppression, the message will prevail and reach fruition. All our beloved Prophet ﷺ had to do was remain steadfast, exclusively sincere and loyal to Allah ﷻ.
The reminders in this Surah are also for us – to be sincere and loyal to Allah ﷻ alone, and to convey this message of deen (religion) to the people. Yes! Our mission and purpose is to also convey this message of Qur’an, in obedience to Allah ﷻ.
Now I leave you with this question: What are you doing to ensure that this Qur’an is being spread to all people?