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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Understanding Islam: Who are the Believers to be given Glad Tidings


The Holy Qur'an is full of references of people for whom the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as been asked to announce glad tidings and for whom a reward much bigger than their imagination awaits in the hereafter. It may not be possible to gather all such reference here in one post for then it will become too long.  However, hereunder I am sharing just one verse from Surah At Tauba which sums up all.

اَلتَّاۤـئِبُوۡنَ الۡعٰبِدُوۡنَ الۡحٰمِدُوۡنَ السّاۤـئِحُوۡنَ الرّٰكِعُوۡنَ السّٰجِدُوۡنَ الۡاٰمِرُوۡنَ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ وَالنَّاهُوۡنَ عَنِ الۡمُنۡكَرِ وَالۡحٰـفِظُوۡنَ لِحُدُوۡدِ اللّٰه ِ​ؕ وَبَشِّرِ الۡمُؤۡمِنِيۡنَ‏ 
Those who constantly turn to Allah in repentance,
who constantly worship Him,
who celebrate His praise,
who go about the world to serve His cause,
who bow down to Him,
who prostrate themselves before Him,
who enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil,
and who keep the limits set by Allah.
Announce glad tidings to such believers.
The Arabic word atta-i-bun literally means “those who repent”. But in the context it occurs it implies “those who possess repentance as their permanent characteristic”, that is, they repent over and over again. Moreover, the literal meaning of taubah is “to turn to” or “to turn back”. Therefore its explanatory translation will be “those who turn back to Allah over and over again”. This is the first and foremost characteristic of a true believer because even a true believer is liable to forget the bargain he makes with Allah by which he sells his life and property to Him. As this matter does not concern his sense organs but pertains to his mind and heart, he is liable to forget that these things are not really his property but they belong to Allah. Therefore, even the true believer occasionally forgets the bargain, and behaves in a way as if he were their owner. But as soon as he becomes conscious of this transitory lapse and realizes that he had violated the terms of his agreement, he feels sorry and ashamed of his conduct and turns to his God, begs His pardon and renews the terms of the bargain with Him, and pledges his allegiance to Him after every slip of its violation. This kind of repentance alone is the guarantee that one will always come back to one’s faith: otherwise it is not possible for man because of the inherent human weaknesses, to observe strictly and deliberately the terms of the bargain without ever falling a prey to negligence and error. 

That is why Allah says in praise of the true believer that “he turns back to Allah over and over again” and not that “he never slips into error after making the bargain of obedience and service to Him”. And this is the greatest excellence that man can accomplish. 

Let us now consider the wisdom of placing this characteristics first in the list of the characteristics of the true believers. It is to admonish those who had been guilty of crimes after the profession of their faith. The true believers are those who sell their lives and property to Allah. And if they sincerely intend to become true believers they should first of all create in themselves this characteristic and at once turn to Allah without showing any obduracy so that they should not deviate further into error.

Some commentators are of the opinion that here Assa-i-hun means “those who observe fast”. As this is not the lexical meaning of the word but only its figurative sense, which has been based on an unauthentic tradition attributed to the Prophet (peace be upon him). We are of the opinion that there is no need to depart from its lexical meanings, that is, “move about in the land (for His sake)”. For here the Arabic word does not mean merely to “move about in the land” but “move about in the land for the sake of noble and high aims, e.g. to propagate Islam, to do Jihad, to emigrate from those places where the unbelievers are in power, and to reform the people, to seek true knowledge, to earn a lawful livelihood and the like”. This characteristic of the believers has been especially mentioned here to reprove those who had not gone forth to Jihad, in spite of their claim that they were believers. They have been admonished that a true believer is the one who goes forth into the land to raise high His word, and exerts his utmost to fulfill the implications of his faith, and not the one who stays behind when he is called upon to move about in the land.

Here one should understand that Jihad should not always be taken in the meaning of killing the infidels or waging war. Jihad literally means struggle. Though it means a struggle or fight against the enemies of Islam, it also means the spiritual struggle within oneself against sin. The likes of ISIS or the Daesh who have unleashed a war of terror against Muslims cannot be called Jihadis as they have taken up arms against Muslims who differ from their faith. Till date no ISIS or Daesh man has ever waged their so called Jihad against the non Muslims usurping the rights of Muslims. And the decision to wage Jihad when it means taking up arms against the enemies of Islam, has to be taken by the head of an sovereign Islam country and not a so called state like ISIS, which is funded and provided arms and ammunition by non Muslims to create hatred against Muslims. The spread of Islamophobia is based on the brutalities and atrocities of the ISIS and Daesh which do not in any way represent Islam or a sovereign Islamic country.

Jihad thus must always be taken its broader sense and not restricted to fighting alone. How many of Muslims today wage Jihad or struggle to eradicate poverty, illiteracy, inconsistencies within their realm or even fight lust and sinful thoughts within their souls?  So any Muslim who even holds back knowledge and does not care to share it with those who do not have what he knows is at loss. 

In the verse above a very important facet of a Muslim and true believer is given: Amr bil Maroof wa Nahi ‘anil Munkar. In fact this the the rai·son d’être of the Muslim Ummah. Either you do it and give meaning to your existence, or you don’t care about it and get lost! Amr bil Ma’roof wa Nahi ‘anil Munkar literally means ‘Enjoining the Ma’roof and forbidding the Munkar‘.

  • Ma’roof means ‘good, known, well-known, generally recognized, beneficence, approved by Shariah”. So Amr Bil Ma’roof means ‘Enjoining the good, the approved”.
  • Munkar, which is the opposite of Ma’roof, means ‘bad, evil, detestable, disagreeable, abominable, disapproved’.
  • Nahi ‘anil Munkar means ‘Forbidding evil, the disapproved’.

So Amr bil Ma’roof wa Nahi ‘anil Munkar would mean to enjoin what is good and approved, and forbid what is evil and disapproved. What is Good and Approved are the Halaal, the Lawful in Islam. What is evil and disapproved are the Haraam, the Prohibited in Islam.
As Allah says in the Qur’an:
وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانتَهُوا

 “And whatever the Messenger has given you – take; and what he has forbidden you – refrain  from” (Surah al Hashr 59: 7)

Thus a true believer is always on the lookout to do even the least good he can which may be good or beneficial to his fellow Muslims and at the same time to be on the lookout to find someone doing something bad and trying to convince him from stopping the bad or the evil. The Prophet of Allah had bee quoted as saying: "A true Muslim must stop a wrongdoer by force, and if he is weak then he should stop him by his tongue, and if still he cannot muster enough strength, then at least condemn his wrongdoing from his heart silently, praying that someone may stop him from doing so - and the third option is the sign of weakest of faith."
“You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. If only the People of the Scripture had believed, it would have been better for them. Among them are believers, but most of them are defiantly disobedient”. (Al Qur'an Surah Aal Imran 3:110)
Prophet of Allah has been quoted as saying: “My nation will always be with goodness as long as its people enjoin good and forbid evil and assist one another in piety. If they do not do that, then blessings will be taken away from them and some of them will impose their rule over others, and there will be no helper for them on the earth or in the sky.”

Amr bil Ma’roof and Nahi ‘anil Munkar is a Fard Kifaayah, collective responsibility of the Muslim Ummah.  Now if we look around or even look within ourselves, how many times have we tried to stop a wrongdoer or tried to spread good around us?

Those who “strictly observe the limits prescribed by Allah” in regard to the articles of the faith, worship-morality, social behavior, culture, economics, politics, judiciary, peace and war, and in all the aspects of their individual and collective lives. They neither transgress these limits in order to follow their lusts nor invent laws, nor replace the divine law by other laws. They establish these limits and prevent their violations. Hence, the true believers are those who not only strictly observe the limits prescribed by Allah, but also do their very best to establish them and safeguard them so as to prevent their violation to the best of their powers and capabilities.

This one verse is enough to open our eyes and give us a fair indication as to how we can get closer to Allah and be included in the list of those who will receive the glad tidings. Remember taking Shahadah is only the beginning of long and hard journey ahead. To be a good believer one must constantly review one's attitudes and actions lest we go astray from the path which has been prescribed for us. May Allah help us in doing this. Aameen.

Photo | References: 1 | 2 |
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