“We have surely granted you (unceasing) abundant good;
So pray to your Lord, and sacrifice (for Him in thankfulness).
Surely it is the one who offends you who is cut off (from unceasing good, including posterity).”
~The Holy Quran, 108: 1-3
According to commentary regarding the occasion for revelation pertaining to this verse, Allah sent it down in response to a man known as al-As ibn Wail al-Sahmi. Al-As ibn Wail al-Sahmi attempted to verbally debase Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), by stating that he was a man without posterity, or offspring to carry his name on in future generations. You see, the Prophet had three sons who had all died and during that time period it was looked down upon if a man did not have a male offspring to carry his name. Allah assured the Prophet (pbuh) in the 3rd verse that, on the contrary, it would be those person(s) who offended him (the Prophet) that would be cut off from His abundance and their future progeny.
One of the beautiful miracles with respect to the verses of the Quran, is that while there was a specific issue to address at the time it was revealed there is also a clear and personal understanding that the reader can receive for their own benefit today. When I read the first verse, it’s Allah advising that he has granted ME unceasing, abundant good; whether I am aware or unaware. When I do come to the realization of the many favors that have been bestowed upon me, the second verse is a reminder that I must show my gratitude by praying to Him and making sacrifices for His sake. I interpret that to mean that 1) I must pray, which may require sacrifices at times and 2) I must make regular sacrifices in my everyday life that do not pertain to the prayer. For instance, if I am working my 9 to 5 and it is time to pray I have to heed the call. That may require that I do so openly instead of in an area that is considered secluded. Therefore I had to sacrifice my privacy in order to show my gratitude to God. Think about it. If I didn’t pray because I was concerned about what others may think and feel, how is that showing thanks? How is that showing deference to God above all others? Instead I would be deferring to His creations rather than the one who Creates. That is what I would call backwards thinking. Just as silly as me thanking my brother for birthing me while my mother stands off to the side. For one, my brother did not birth me. Secondly, he has not the ability to even do so! Imagine how dumbfounded my mother would be. Of course Allah does not get confused or dumbfounded as He knows our every action before we even make it. He does not want for anything while we are the beggars in need. So me choosing not to pray does not take away from Him in the least; truly it would only hurt my own soul.
Of course making sacrifices for the sake of God is not limited to just prayer but to all matters of life. If you are striving to become closer to God you cannot do so without accepting that you are in servitude to Him. A relationship of Master and slave that benefits the slave as opposed to the master, as is the case within the secular world. You weren’t under the impression that slavery had ended, now were you? Yes it is alive and well all over the world. So why not be a servant for God instead?
For the third verse I must quote the Quranic commentary which reads: “… it (these verses) indicates the importance of loving the Prophet and the dire consequences of hating him as well as the idea that true posterity or legacy lies in belief and deeds, not children, for the Day of Judgment is the Day when neither wealth nor children avail, save for him who comes to God with a sound heart (16:88-89).” In addition to the explanation of the third verse previously provided, my interpretation today is that anyone who offends me, as long as I am a person who prays and gives thanks to God on a regular basis, will be cut off.
My insight could be wrong but that is simply how the Quran speaks to me at this time. Perhaps a few years from now I will have a vastly different perception of these three verses. For now I am content with the information I have expressed above.
I am grateful to have the ability to give thanks to Allah for the abundant good that He has given me.
Yes. Yes I am.