Jumuah lecture on Friday 22 January 2021 (8 Jamadi al-Thani 1442)

Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider

Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town

Today I would like to draw your attention to one particular sentence which we always read in the Arabic part of the Jumuah Khutbah (sermon). This sentence is part of the Holy Quran, namely the last part of verse 42 of Surah Anfaal (chapter 8), which reads as follows:

 لِيَهْلِكَ مَنْ هَلَكَ عَنْ بَيِّنَةٍ وَيَحْيَىٰ مَنْ حَيَّ عَنْ بَيِّنَةٍ ۗ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَسَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

“That he who would perish might perish by clear proof, and he who would live might live by clear proof; and most surely Allah is Hearing, Knowing.”

The word “bayyinah” has been repeated a few times in the Holy Quran. The question I want to address is, what is the role of “bayyinah” in the behaviour of a true believer (mu’min) where, according to these narrations we are supposed to remind ourselves in every Friday’s Jumuah sermon, that life is one with “bayyinah” and similarly, death is also with “bayyinah”.

There are two parts to this discussion:

A.       What is the meaning of “bayyinah” in the Holy Quran?

B.       What is the role or influence of “bayyinah” in our life, behaviour and interaction?


In the Holy Quran, the term “bayyinah” has been used for different meanings. In a nutshell, there are four meanings we can derive from the Holy Quran for the term “bayyinah”.

1.       Sometimes, the Holy Quran uses the term “bayyinah” in the sense of VISION ie. baseerat. An example is the first half of verse 28 of Surah Hud (chapter 11 of the Holy Quran), where Almighty Allah (SWT) says:

قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُ عَلَىٰ بَيِّنَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّي وَآتَانِي رَحْمَةً مِنْ عِنْدِهِ

“He said: O my people! tell me if I have with me clear proof from my Lord, and He has granted me mercy from Himself.”

This is pretty similar to the first half of verse 108 of Surah Yusuf (chapter 12 of the Holy Quran) where our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) says to the people that he commands them to Allah (SWT) on the basis of certainty.

قُلْ هَٰذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللَّهِ ۚ عَلَىٰ بَصِيرَةٍ أَنَا وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِي

“Say: This is my way: I call to Allah, I and those who follow me being certain”

2.       The second meaning in the Holy Quran for the term “bayyinah” is in the sense of EVIDENCE. Verse 42 of Surah Anfaal (chapter 8), cited earlier which we read in the khutbah (sermon) of Jumuah, is used in reference to this meaning. This means that whoever perishes should die based upon clear proof.

Of course, dying here does not refer to natural death of the physical body. Rather, death in this context refers to the death of one’s soul ie. the soul dies in its real sense after having clear proof. Conversely, this verse also makes reference to a person being alive when their soul is alive. This life and death of the soul is based upon clear evidence.

So, the second meaning of “bayyinah” refers to evidence.

3.       The third meaning of “bayyinah” refers to MIRACLES ie. signs of Almighty Allah (SWT). An example is the following excerpt from verse 73 of Surah A’araaf (chapter 7 of the Holy Quran), referring to the she-camel of Nabi Saleh (a.s) being the divine sign:

قَدْ جَاءَتْكُمْ بَيِّنَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ ۖ هَٰذِهِ نَاقَةُ اللَّهِ لَكُمْ آيَةً

“Clear proof indeed has come to you from your Lord; this is (as) Allah’s she-camel for you – a sign.”

Another example of the same meaning is the following excerpt from verse 253 of Surah Baqarah (chapter 2 of the Holy Quran), referring to the miracles which Almighty Allah (SWT) bestowed on Nabi Isa (a.s):

وَآتَيْنَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَيَّدْنَاهُ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ

“And We gave clear miracles to Isa son of Mariam and strengthened him with the holy spirit.”

4.       The fourth possible meaning of “bayyinah” in the Holy Quran is in the first half of verse 17 of Surah Hud (chapter 11 of the Holy Quran), which refers to the PROPHETHOOD of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) as “bayyinah” ie. whoever will be aligned with the appointment by Almighty Allah (SWT) of the Prophethood of Rasulullah (SAWA):

أَفَمَنْ كَانَ عَلَىٰ بَيِّنَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّهِ وَيَتْلُوهُ شَاهِدٌ مِنْهُ وَمِنْ قَبْلِهِ كِتَابُ مُوسَىٰ إِمَامًا وَرَحْمَةً ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ

“Is he then who has with him clear proof from his Lord, and a witness from Him recites it and before it (is) the Book of Musa, a guide and a mercy? These believe in it.”


These are the four meanings for the term “bayyinah”, but if you put them altogether, you get to something common. If you look at “bayyinah” in the sense of vision (baseerat), or “bayyinah” in the sense of proof, or “bayyinah” in the sense of miracle, or “bayyinah” in the sense of Prophethood, the common denominator between them all is that “bayyinah” brings certainty (yaqeen).

“Bayyinah” provides certainty. This then becomes clear when we read the last part of verse 42 of Surah Anfaal (chapter 8), cited earlier, which says that whoever dies and lives, does so with a proof which causes certainty:

 لِيَهْلِكَ مَنْ هَلَكَ عَنْ بَيِّنَةٍ وَيَحْيَىٰ مَنْ حَيَّ عَنْ بَيِّنَةٍ ۗ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَسَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

“That he who would perish might perish by clear proof, and he who would live might live by clear proof; and most surely Allah is Hearing, Knowing.”


There are two aspects to explore here.

1.       Bayyinah brings stability in life;

2.       Bayyinah brings purpose to life


Firstly, “bayyinah” (evidence which brings certainty) is extremely important, because this brings stability in life. If we accept something through being convinced with clear proof, then naturally, one’s interaction with people will be very different, as one will move with confidence, fearlessly and without doubt, as you are clear on why you are moving in a particular direction.

Therefore, Almighty Allah (SWT) says in verse 125 of Surah An’aam (chapter 6 of the Holy Quran):

فَمَنْ يُرِدِ اللَّهُ أَنْ يَهْدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ ۖ وَمَنْ يُرِدْ أَنْ يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَأَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّمَاءِ

“Therefore (for) whomsoever Allah intends that He would guide him aright, He expands his breast for Islam, and (for) whomsoever He intends that He should cause him to err, He makes his breast constricted and narrow as though he were ascending upwards.”

Expanding the chest over here refers to Allah (SWT) providing that great favour of yaqeen (certainty) to accept Islam. Hence, Islam becomes an integral part of his deep conscience and existence. This verse then goes further to explain the converse ie. Allah (SWT) takes away this yaqeen from the one whomever He decides to, resulting in a person’s chest becoming narrow, as if he is climbing to an altitude where the oxygen becomes very thin, causing suffocation!

This basically means that life is one of suffocation and full of doubt, unless you have a foundation in life based upon firm conviction (yaqeen) described above.


Imam Ali (a.s) very beautifully explains that “when your heart is tight (suffocating with stress), then you should go to visit the cemetery (ziyarat of kabrastaan)”! What does this mean? You are already feeling stressed and then you should visit the graveyard? Surely, this will suffocate you further?

Not at all…as this constricted feeling in your chest is due to lack of yaqeen (certainty), but when you go to the graveyard, it reminds you that this world is a short-lived place. It is nothing more than a temporary abode, and the final destination is the cemetery, which is unavoidable!

The realization of the final destination brings you peace and certainty! We also read this in verse 28 of Surah Ra’ad (chapter 13 of the Holy Quran):

أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

“Now surely by Allah’s remembrance are the hearts set at rest.”


The second important role of “bayyinah” in our life, from the perspective of clear vision, is that it brings purpose in our life. What is the difference between a human being who has a belief in a religion compared to a human being who does not believe in any religion or ideology? The one who is a believer, that this life has an origin and that it has a destiny, clearly has a philosophy to his/her life. Such a person captures the meaning of life.

There is a very beautiful Hadith narrated from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) where he says “may the mercy of Allah (SWT) be upon the person who knows where he is coming from, where he is in, and where he is going to.” Such a person knows his origin, his present state, and the final destiny.

For such a person, this life is not a waste of time filled with simply eating and enjoying. Verse 115 of Surah Mu’minoon (chapter 23 of the Holy Quran) refers:

أَفَحَسِبْتُمْ أَنَّمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ عَبَثًا وَأَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْنَا لَا تُرْجَعُونَ

 “What! did you then think that We had created you in vain and that you shall not be returned to Us?”

Another verse highlighting the same point is verse 16 of Surah Anbiyaa (chapter 21 of the Holy Quran):

وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاءَ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَاعِبِينَ

“And We did not create the heaven and the earth and what is between them for sport.”

Having this perspective changes our approach to life and the different phenomena in life, such as the 24 hours which Almighty Allah (SWT) has granted us in every day. If you have a clear perspective on the purpose and philosophy of this life, then you will spend these 24 hours in a day in a most careful, productive manner to maximise every moment.

Similarly, when you interact with your family, society and the environment too! It is that “bayyinah” which guides us on how to interact and behave. And similarly, how we interact with hardships and calamities, and the never-ending challenges which come in our lives.

A person who does not have “bayyinah” clearly has no purpose in life. Therefore, for such a person, hardships and calamities break them down to the point where they lose the meaning of life. However, a person who has clear focus does not look at this life as being the be all and end all. Hence, hardships and calamities does not break this person down.

Conversely, such a person does not get carried away when enjoying the positives, such as the infinite favours and generosity from Almighty Allah (SWT).


Let me conclude by re-emphasizing the great importance of “bayyinah”. Blind following, without faith (Imaan) and certainty (yaqeen) is improper. So, we are not only talking about those people who are without faith (Imaan), as their case is clear.

Even people who are supposedly with faith (Imaan), but without “bayyinah” – that clear vision and deep understanding with certainty (yaqeen) – they act as if they are suffocating, as explained in verse 125 of Surah An’aam (chapter 6 of the Holy Quran), cited earlier. They then give up, surrendering to the hardships, even though they supposedly have faith. This is where we appreciate “bayyinah” as the guidance in our life.

I would like to draw the lessons from this discussion and apply it to the challenges we are facing today, with the approach of Imaan and yaqeen in understanding our philosophy of life. t is extremely important for us, while we look at this material world as a short-lived place. Indeed, it is a transit lounge as Imam Ali (a.s) so beautifully expressed.

At the same time, in the same transit lounge, our responsibility is to protect our lives and that of others. This again brings us back to the principle of “bayyinah”, because life in this temporary world is indeed precious. It is very valuable to the point where the Holy Quran explains that the termination of one life is equivalent to the termination of the whole humanity, and the revival of one life is like the revival of the whole humanity.

Hence, our responsibility while facing this challenge of Covid-19 is huge. Saving our lives and that of our loved ones, together with all those who are around us. Being conscious and considerate towards those who are in the frontline of this battlefield, such as medical professionals who are dedicated to taking care of those who are not well.

The question to ponder on is regarding our responsibility towards these medical professionals on the frontline. What is our conscience and inner voice saying when it comes to our responsibility towards them? If we are not ready to do something as basic as wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, or by washing our hands and being considerate towards the burden that our negligence places on the healthcare system.

This is again coming back to the point about “bayyinah” (clarity of vision), which is the source of life, and the philosophy of life in this world and the hereafter.

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