Ramadan lecture by Nouman Ali Khan – Qur’an 5:100 – Filth is Acceptable Today

Today, Nouman Ali Khan is explaining Qur’an 5:100.  This is one in particular that we need to remember more and more as time goes on.  Barak allahu feekum!  😀

(I’m summarizing his speech here for reference, so any mistakes are mine alone.  Any quotation marks signify things that Nouman said unless I’m using quotes for Arabic-English translation of words or phrases.  The link to the video is at the bottom.)  NAK’s speeches / talks are some of the best, imo!

5:100 is part of Surah Al-Ma’idah 9 (The Table).  Verse 100 says:

Qul la yastawi al-khabithu wa at-tayyibu         قُلْ لَا يَسْتَوِي الْخَبِيثُ وَالطَّيِّبُ

wa law ‘a’jabaka kathratu al-khabith          وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكَ كَثْرَةُ الْخَبِيثِ

fa attaqu allaha             فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ

ya ‘uli al-‘albabi              يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

la ‘allakum tuflihun.                 لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

It means:      Say (Muhammad SAW): “Not equal are the evil and the good,

although the abundance of evil might impress you.”

So fear Allah,

O you of understanding,

in order that you may be successful.

“In this ayah…, Allah commands His Prophet to say: “Qul la yastawi al-khabithu wa at-tayyib.”  =  “The filthy and the good and pure are not equal.” “

“The first thing to note is Allah didn’t just say the filthy and the good are not equal.  He told the Prophet to say it because the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Salaam) will be the Representative of Allah determining what is good and what is filthy, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.  So the Muslims have to stay on point and understand that that standard will be the Prophet himself (Alayhi Salatu wa Salaam).”

“A lot of times in this discussion we say society will decide what’s normal and what’s not, what’s filthy and good, what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable.  And the line keeps changing.  So every few years, what used to be unacceptable before is totally acceptable.  In the entertainment industry, what used to be rated R became PG-13, then became PG.  And it was completely unacceptable maybe fifty years ago.  But standards change.  So how far do you take the standards?  Where do you draw the line?”

The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Salaam) has been authorized by Allah to draw that line.  That’s one of the purposes that he’s there.  And so, “Tell them, The filthy and the good are not the same.”

“Wa law ‘a’jabaka kathratu al-khabith”  =  “Even if the multitude of filth impresses you.  Even if it’s got you dazzled.  Meaning filth will be plenty.  And it’s going to be everywhere and you’re going to say, “Everybody’s doing it.  Everybody talks like that.  What are you talking about?  Chill out man.  Why you gotta be weird?”  Because weird is that which is rare.  Strange, unacceptable is that which is uncommon.  And what’s common is acceptable.  So Allah says filth will become acceptable.  But no matter how acceptable it becomes and how common it becomes in society, you can’t forget that filth and good and pure things will never be equal.  What is wrong will remain wrong even if all your friends are up to it.  Even it it’s everywhere you turn.  It won’t make it right.  “Wa law ‘a’jabaka kathratu al-khabith.”

“What kind of people will recognize that though?  “Fa ittaqu allah”  =  Then watch out for Allah.  “Ya ‘uli al-‘albab”  =  people of sound minds, clear thought.  People whose thoughts are not contaminated by culture, not contaminated by the overwhelming onslaught of propaganda, of the blind sheep mentality:  “Everybody’s doing the same thing so it must be the right thing to do.” “

“That cannot be how you think.  You know, there are people who celebrate holidays and they have no clue why they celebrate them.  Mostly because other people are celebrating them.  Don’t become a sheep.  You have to be people of clear, open, deep thought: “Ya ‘uli al-‘albab.”

“La ‘allakum tuflihun”  =  so that you can attain success.  And that’s the final thing:  You see everybody else doing something and you might think they must be doing it because it leads to success.  And Allah says No.  No matter how many people are doing it and no matter how much you think they’re leading themselves to success, you better watch out for Allah and use your thought and stick to the good and pure if you are the people that want to be successful.”

“The final comment from this ayah that I want to share with you is the word iflah  or  اِفلاح.  Allah didn’t say “La ‘allakum tafuzoon.”  = so that you can be successful.  There’s another verb in Arabic for success.  He says tuflihun  or  تفلحون.  

“tafuzoon”  or  تفوزون  =  “to win”, as in “Our team won last week.”  Winning in this sense is something short-term and so is not used in this ayah.  Interestingly, the joy of such short-term wins is also short-lived.

“tuflihun”  or  تفلحون  =  “to win; to achieve success through hard work.”

“Iflah” is used when you farm: when you plant a seed, when you make the soil soft, water it, make sure it gets enough sun, make sure the weeds don’t come, make sure the bugs don’t come…  You word the entire year on this farm, and eventually you see success.  “tuflihun” is used when you put a lot of work into something.”

“Allah is indicating that fighting against the filth and looking for the good and pure in a world that’s surrounded by filth [where] only rarely do you find instances of good and pure, is going to be a lot of hard work and that success will come at a price.  It’s not just going to happen.  You’re going to have to put a lot of work into it: finding good and pure friends, finding good and pure entertainment, finding good and pure things to read, finding a good and pure career, source of income.  Even finding good and pure food to eat.  All of these things are going to take a lot, a lot, a lot of effort on your part.  But it is worth it in the end because you did all of it because you were cautious of Allah and you wanted to attain success.  And you never let your thoughts be cluttered; you remained from ‘uli al-‘albab – you remained from the people of clear and concise thought.”

link to video of lecture


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