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Sunday, July 28, 2019

Understanding Islam: Traits of a True Muslim


Islam is oft portrayed by non Muslims as a militant religion, preaching hate and spreading violence around the world. This observation is often made after a suicide attack or a hate speech made by some emotional cleric or by the acts of some radical Muslims. But they fail to understand that despite all these charges, more and more non Muslims, even of other Divine faiths, are reverting to Islam and living very contended lives after coming under the fold of Islam.

What is it they find in Islam that they could not find in their religion of birth then? I  have shared many accounts of reverts herein my blog and they all confessed that it is in Islam that they have finally found peace of mind and have since then been living  a far contended life than before.

Actually the problem is that non Muslims look at some Muslims who are radicals, a behaviors that comes due to inadequate knowledge of Islam. Yes let me say that becasue many born Muslims may not have read Qur'an with its detailed meaning and with reference to the context. Thus shallow knowledge makes them emotional rather than being rationale, which in fact is the essence of Islam.

In a other forum, I came across a question about why Muslims (in fact the question should have said "Why Some Muslims') do not portray traits of a true Muslim. And my answer to them is that they have never really pondered what traits they must inculcate in them as spelt out for them in the Holy Qur'an. With this in mind, let me list down the traits of a true Muslim as spelt out in the last verses of Surah Al Furqan, the 25th chapter of the Holy Qur'an:
(25:63) The true servants of the Merciful One are those who walk on the earth gently and when the foolish ones address them, they simply say: "Peace to you";
To be a true Muslim, the basic trait is humility in everything he does. In fact the very gait of a Muslim who lives a life of humility attracts others towards him. In complete humility he always addresses the ignorant people with words of peace, and spends the night worshiping Allah and asking to be kept safe from the fires of Hell.  They are not extravagant nor stingy and they never invoke any deity but Allah.  They do not kill except for a just reason, and they do not commit adultery or fornication.  Allah is able to change the bad deeds into good for those who repent and become righteous.  The believers do not bear false witness; they pass by frivolity with dignity and take head of God’s signs and revelations.  These are the ones whose patience will be rewarded with Paradise, where they will be welcomed with greetings and salutations and shall live forever.  Prophet Muhammad is told to say that God does not care if you invoke Him or not but if you reject His revelations you will face the punishment.

As for humility, Muslims are commanded to observe humility at other places in the Holy Qur'an as well:  "And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful." [Surah Luqman, 31:18]
(25:64) who spend the night prostrating themselves before their Lord and standing;
Humble prayer brings them nearer to Allah. And more nearer one comes to Allah, more humility and humbleness is infused in his personality.
(25:65) who entreat: "Our Lord! Ward off from us the chastisement of Hell, for its chastisement is one that clings. (25:66) Verily it is a wretched abode and resting place."
This is a prayer of humility: such a person relies, not on any good works which he may have done, but on the Grace and Mercy of Allah; and he shows a lively sense of the Day of Judgment, when every action will weigh for or against a soul. The misery which results from sin is not only grievous to live in ("an abode") but also grievous "to rest in" or "to stand in", if it be only for a short time.
(25:67) (The true servants of the Merciful One are) those who are neither extravagant nor niggardly in their spending but keep the golden mean between the two;
In ordinary spending this is a wise rule. But even in charity, in which we give of our best, it is not expected that we should be extravagant, i.e., that we should either do it for show, to impress other people, or do it thoughtlessly, which would be the case if we "rob Peter to pay Paul". We should certainly not be niggardly, but we should remember everyone's rights, including our own, and strike a perfectly just balance between them.

The true servants of Allah adopt the golden mean between the two extremes in spending their money. They neither go beyond prudence and necessity in expenditure nor live in wretched circumstances in order to save and hoard money but are frugal. This was the characteristic of the followers of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which distinguished them from the well-to-do people of Arabia, who were either spend thrifts in regard to the gratification of their own lusts or niggardly in spending their money on good works.

According to Islam extravagance is: (1) To spend even the smallest amount of money in unlawful ways. (2) To go beyond one’s own resources in expenditure even in lawful ways, or to spend money for one’s own pleasure. (3) To spend money in righteous ways not for the sake of Allah but for mere show. On the other hand, one is miserly if one does not spend money for his own needs and requirements and those of his family in accordance with his resources and position, or if one does not spend money for good works. The way taught by Islam is the golden mean between the two extremes. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has said: It is a sign of wisdom to adopt the golden mean in one's living. (Ahmad, Tabarani).

At another place Allah commands: "O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess." [Surah Al A'raf, 7:31]

Now this verse alone says it all about display of pomp and show. Unfortunately, many rich Muslims lack this quality and and are oft seen squandering money in casinos in the West, throwing lavish parties and involving in immoral activities, which are seen by non Muslims as a distaste and they wonder "Does Islam teach this ?" Well certainly not. In fact those who disregard this very verse of the Qur'an bring shame not only to them but Muslims in general.
(25:68) who invoke no other deity along with Allah, nor take any life - which Allah has forbidden - save justly; who do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse - and whoso does that shall meet its penalty;
Here three things are expressly condemned: (1) false worship, which is a crime against Allah; (2) the taking of life, which is a crime against our fellow-creatures; and (3) fornication, which is a crime against our self-respect, against ourselves. Every crime is against Allah, His creatures, and ourselves, but some may be viewed more in relation to one than to another. The prohibition against taking life is qualified: "except for just cause,": e.g., in judicial punishment for murder, or in self-preservation, which may include not only self-defence in the legal sense, but also the clearing out of pests, and the provision of meat under conditions of Halal.
(25:72) (The true servants of the Merciful One) are those who do not bear witness to any falsehood and who, when they pass by frivolity, pass by it with dignity;
Witness no falsehood has two significations, both implied in this passage: (1) They do not give evidence (in the court of law etc.) in regard to a false thing in order to prove it right, when in fact it is a falsehood, or at best a doubtful thing. (2) They have no intention to witness anything which is false, evil or wicked as spectators. In this sense, every sin and every indecency, every sham and counterfeit act is a falsehood. A true servant of Allah recognizes it as false and shuns it even if it is presented in the seemingly beautiful forms of art.

The Arabic word "laghv" used in this verse implies all that is vain, useless and meaningless and it also covers falsehood. The true servants pass by in a dignified manner if they ever come across what is vain, as if it were a heap of filth. They do not stay there to enjoy the filth of moral impurity, obscenity or foul language, nor do they intentionally go anywhere to hear or see or take part in any sort of filth.
(25:73) who, when they are reminded of the revelations of their Lord, do not fall at them deaf and blind;
The true servants of Allah do not behave like the blind and the deaf towards the revelations of Allah, when they are recited to them for their admonition. They do not turn a deaf ear to their teachings and message and do not deliberately close their eyes to the signs that they are asked to observe, but are deeply moved by them. They follow and practice what they are enjoined and retrain from what is forbidden.
(25:74) who are prone to pray: "Our Lord! Grant us that our spouses and our offspring be a joy to our eyes, and do make us the leaders of the God-fearing."
The most distinctive characteristic of the true servants is their eagerness for prayer to Allah. In (verse 65) their prayer for their own salvation and in (verse 74 ) their prayer for their wives and children have been cited: Our Lord, make our wives and children true believers so that they should practice righteousness and become a source of comfort for us. Their prayer shows that the true servants of Allah are more concerned about the salvation of their beloved ones in the Hereafter than the enjoyment of the world.

It should be noted that this characteristic has been cited here to show that the true servants had sincerely believed in the message. That is why they were so concerned about the faith of their beloved ones. It should also be kept in mind that many of the near and dear ones of the believers had not as yet embraced Islam. If a husband had embraced Islam, the wife was still an unbeliever, and if a youth had accepted Islam, his parents and brothers and sisters were still involved in disbelief, and vice versa. Therefore, the true servants wept and prayed for them, whenever the picture of their horrible state in Hell came before their eyes.

A true Muslim should there excel in piety, righteousness and good works; and become the leader(s) of the pious people so that he may lead others in the propagation of virtue and piety in the world. Incidentally, this characteristic of the true servants was in great contrast to that of the disbelievers, who strove in competition and rivalry with one another for superiority in worldly power and wealth. But it is a pity that some people in our time have misinterpreted this verse as containing sanction for seeking candidature for political leadership. According to them, the verse means: Our Lord, make us rulers over the pious people.

and for those who bear the above stated traits have a big reward i-waiting:
(25:75) They are the ones who will be rewarded for their patience: lofty palaces, will be granted to them, and they will be received with greeting and salutation.(25:76) Therein they shall abide for ever: how good an abode, and how good a resting-place!(25:77) Say to them (O Muhammad): "My Lord would not care for you were it not for your prayer. But now that you have given the lie to (the Message of Allah), an inextricable punishment shall soon come upon you."
Let us recapitulate the virtues of the true servants of Allah: (1) they are humble and forbearing to those below them in spiritual worth; (2) they are constantly, by adoration, in touch with Allah; (3) they always remember the Judgment in the Hereafter; (4) they are moderate in all things; (5) they avoid treason to Allah, to their fellow-creatures, and to themselves; (6) they give a wide berth not only to falsehood but to futility; (7) they pay attention, both in mind and manner, to the Signs of their Lord; (8) their ambition is to bring up their families in righteousness and to lead in all good. A fine code of individual and social ethics, a ladder of spiritual development, open to all.

And let me assure you majority of Muslims have these traits. It is a pity that those who hate Islam only target the deviators and radicals and call Islam with bad names.

Photo | For more Q&A about understanding Islam click here
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