Project Illumine: Surah al Hadid (Iron)

Part 1: Introduction and Tafsir. Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl introduces a new approach to understanding the Quran, chapter by chapter, the fruit of a lifelong engagement with the holy text of Islam. In this pilot halaqa, he explains how his journey with the Quran developed and evolved over the years and the questions that he engaged from the time of his youth. He presents the methodology he developed and demonstrates it in delving into the meaning of one sample chapter - Surah 57: Al Hadid (Iron). 

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl answers questions on the new Quran halaqa.


0:00 - Clarification on the Arabic of the iron challenge

4:02 - Dr. Abou El Fadl had mentioned part of the dhikr in the Surah, he said, “As we progress, I will let you know in other parts," but I don't think I got that other part. And the other question is the he had mentioned that some verses in the Surah are Meccan, even though the entire Surah is generally Medinan, and I was wondering if he could reference which ones are the Meccan ones, because I think I missed that part, if he mentioned it. The last question is when he says when he said we plant ourselves in a [Arabic], does that mean that a [Arabic] has a direct connection with each Surah and we should look for that connection when we are reading a hadith, for example, or is it just a general entering at the beginning and a momentum for all the Surah chapters? Does it have an individual relationship with each Surah or generally?

16:35 - You referenced that the Prophet had come with a book and a balance. From your perspective, could you summarize what that balance, you think, is?

23:33 - I often think about your writing and your lectures about the Fog of Self Deception. Within the Fog of Self Deception, you spoke about the clarity of vision, and I couldn't help but remember Surah Al-Hadid, in that, it is the sight of iron. And I wonder, are you referring to that in the Fog of Self Deception lecture series, and is your relationship with Surah al-Hadid going back that far in which it will later conduct a concept like the Fog of Self Deception for you?

My second question is, you talked about that in certain chapters that open up with such glorification, you said that the glorification would teach us something about our characteristics. Are these glorifications also part of the dhikr that you're mentioning and the remembrance, does that remembrance and internalizing that dhikr, that remembrance, build our balance with our iron core, as you mentioned or as you had described?

37:03 - I feel like the points about the challenge of adaptability translates to me into a push to explore and learn about the world. Because as the Professor was mentioning, one of the biggest practices is that of habit and boredom. When we have a world around us that is continuously moving. So to have that continuous interaction with the outside world seems to me to be part of the solution to becoming more flexible and adapting in life. I wonder if this is kind of a reading that makes sense, given the focus of this Surah.

46:34 - How do you know if you're on the right path towards mizan? The challenge and specific context of this Surah, the challenge of a hypocrite coming to terms with hypocrisy is challenging norms and habits that sink one into hypocrisy. But it isn't necessarily clear based on one's own context, what the right path is. What is clear is what the wrong path has been. Is the right path something you can know, or is that just something we're perpetually striving towards?

54:48 - In the beginning of the Surah, in ayat seven, the very first word is in the command form, (Arabic). Please, enlighten us on how this command would be followed? Because I think many modern people seem committed to the idea that faith just happens rather than being something that is acted upon or pursued. I know that the topic of mizan was addressed, but considering its placement after (Arabic), wa kitab and then mizan, is there a relationship with mizan and reason as a kind of interpreter of the previous two? In ayat 28, the dual manifestations of mercy, (Arabic). If they're in the relationship between, it seems we're trying to interpret through the lens of the Fatiha. Is there a relationship between that and “Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim”, which are two manifestations of mercy?

1:13:24 - I was wondering, what makes a surah a surah? You can't mix and match things, we saw that today. Now I'm wondering if looking at the surah this way has opened up any meaning for you in terms of the sequence of the Quran and the order they come in and the order they've been preserved.

1:29:06 - I was struck by the challenge in Surah Al-Hadid to believers, typically the Sahaba, when you say, “The Prophet is not going to be around for too much longer. Break the norm, break the ritual, step up.” When you were saying that, I very quickly started thinking about what happened after the death of the Prophet. It wasn't too long before, the Sahaba did start fighting each other, and then later of course we'll have stuff like (Arabic) and they have all that kind of work. So do the Sahaba, do they pass the iron challenge that this Surah asked of them? How should we be rethinking the age of the Sahaba?

1:40:02 - Is there a difference between the morality of laws revealed in the Meccan verses and the morality of laws stated in the Medinian verses? This is a dichotomy that many Islamophobes use.

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