The first thing that struck me driving into New York as a new immigrant was the high-rise apartments. Behind each window a drama of life was unfolding, each individual in its own little or large space packed in with others and yet so apart, desperate for harmony and happiness and yet sublimely unaware of the roots of harmony and peace. Many live in those high rise apartments so close to each other and yet so divorced from the struggles of the person next door, so lonely and so isolated and alone.
My introduction to the Tafseer of Surah Hujaraat by Dr Zainab Alwani at the “Pearls of the Quran” This is how I summarize it; she may have organized it slightly differently. Nevertheless here it is in my understanding:
Surah Hujaraat has been translated into “The apartments” and it is a very apt name for the surah.
This surah is the road map to Apartment life at all levels. We all live in apartments, sometimes alone, sometimes in close proximity with others and sometimes divided only by a paper-thin wall.
In all circumstances harmony can flow like a symphony if the dwellers of the apartments are in sync with each other or grind like gnashing teeth if they are at odds with each other.
Thus the surah is amazing blueprints of how to live in apartments and how to behave and by following this blueprint bring harmony and peace to this life and sakeena in the next.
If the blueprint given here is not followed the consequences are also explained, both in the immediate future on this earth and in the eternal life in the Hereafter.
There are three parts of Apartment living or Community living:
PART ONE: ayah 1-8: An essential ingredient for community living with harmony and peace is to have a model to look up to and follow. In this part of the surah that model is presented in the form of our dearly beloved Prophet Muhammad pbuh and our desired etiquette towards him both explained and commanded. The consequences of disobedience are also manifest both in this world and the next.
PART TWO: Ayah 9-13: This is the etiquette and behavior both overt and covert to be practiced with the people that you live with and who are in your immediate vicinity. Failure to do so ends in heartache and injustice for others and for you.
PART THREE:ayah 14-18: This is enlargement of the mind to accept a world of color, tribes and diversity, to understand it and retain and practice righteousness and justice for all.
Surah Hujaraat is a surah where behavior and etiquette and taharah of mind and body are explained in such detail that it feels like your are washing your mind and body of all possible dirt…………emerging pure, peaceful and in harmony with the world.