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Saturday, February 19, 2022

Allah is your Protector - What an excellent Protector; what an Excellent Helper!

Today, in our series of posts on Selected Verses from Qur'an, we share a very important verse, the 78th verse from Surah 22. Al Hajj, that explains the true faith so explicitly that if one only adheres to the Divine commandment contained herein, he can be a true practical Muslim and faithful to Allah. and it is for those believers Allah promises to be their Protector - and what an excellent Protector and Excellent Helper He is:

وَجَاهِدُوۡا فِى اللّٰهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهٖ​ؕ هُوَ اجۡتَبٰٮكُمۡ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ فِى الدِّيۡنِ مِنۡ حَرَجٍ​ؕ مِلَّةَ اَبِيۡكُمۡ اِبۡرٰهِيۡمَ​ؕ هُوَ سَمّٰٮكُمُ الۡمُسۡلِمِيۡنَ ۙ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ وَفِىۡ هٰذَا لِيَكُوۡنَ الرَّسُوۡلُ شَهِيۡدًا عَلَيۡكُمۡ وَتَكُوۡنُوۡا شُهَدَآءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ​ ​ۖۚ فَاَقِيۡمُوا الصَّلٰوةَ وَاٰتُوا الزَّكٰوةَ وَاعۡتَصِمُوۡا بِاللّٰهِؕ هُوَ مَوۡلٰٮكُمۡ​ۚ فَنِعۡمَ الۡمَوۡلٰى وَنِعۡمَ النَّصِيۡرُ
(22:78) Strive in the cause of Allah in a manner worthy of that striving. He has chosen you (for His task), and He has not laid upon you any hardship in religion. Keep to the faith of your father Abraham. Allah named you Muslims earlier and even in this (Book), that the Messenger may be a witness over you, and that you may be witnesses over all mankind. So establish Prayer, and pay Zakah, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protector. What an excellent Protector; what an excellent Helper!
Strive in the cause of Allah in a manner worthy of that striving " The Arabic word jihad is very comprehensive. It includes every kind of effort, exertion, conflict and war. Jihad for the cause of Allah means that it should be performed for His service and for His approval against those who prevent others from following His Way. The performance of jihad also requires that one should first of all fight against his own self in order to subdue it. For there can be no true jihad unless one fights against his evil self and subdues his desires and lusts to the obedience of Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself has emphasized the need for this jihad. Once when the warriors for the cause of Allah returned from jihad, he said: You have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad. They asked: What is that greater Jihad. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: It is the jihad against his own desires and lusts.

Moreover, the battlefield for jihad is, in fact, the whole world, and Islam demands that one should exert his utmost against all the rebels of Allah and the wicked powers with all of his heart and mind and body and wealth.

He has chosen you "The direct addressees of this were the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), for they were the first who had the honor to be chosen for this service; others have been addressed only indirectly being their followers. This thing has been mentioned in the Quran in other ways as well. For reference, see (Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayat 143) and (Surah Aal-Imran, Ayat 110).

(for His task), and He has not laid upon you any hardship in religion."  “(Allah) has not placed upon you in religion any hardship”. That is, the creed you have been given is very simple and straightforward and the laws and regulations you have to obey are practicable. You are free within its bounds to make as much progress as you can. This was to impress that the lives of the Muslims were free from all those useless and unnatural restrictions which had been imposed upon the former communities by their priests and law givers. The negative aspect of the same thing has been mentioned in (Surah Al-Aaraf, Ayat 157): He enjoins them to follow virtue and forbids them from evil: He makes pure things lawful for them and impure things unlawful. He relieves them of their burdens and frees them from the shackles that bound them.

"  Keep to the faith of your father Abraham. Though Islam may be called the religion of Prophets Noah, Moses, Jesus, etc. yet the Quran emphasizes over and over again that it is the religion of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon them all). Therefore, you should follow it. This is for three reasons.
(1) The first addressees of the Quran were the Arabs who were more familiar with Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) than with any other Prophet and acknowledged him to be a holy personage and their leader.

(2) Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) alone was the person whom the Jews, the Christians, the Muslims and the mushriks of Arabia and of the adjoining countries unanimously acknowledged as a great Prophet.

(3) When the Quran invites all these communities to follow the way of Abraham, it in fact, admonishes them that all their religions had been invented long after Prophet Abraham and, therefore, were not trustworthy because they contradicted many things taught by him. As for the mushriks of Arabia, they also acknowledged that idol worship among them had been started by Amr bin Luhayy, who was a leader of Bani Khuzaah, and had brought an idol, called Hubal, from Moab in about 600 B.C. So the religion to which Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) invited them was the same pure, un-adulterated religion which was taught by Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him).
For further details, see explanation of (verses 134, 135 of Surah 2. Al-Baqarah)and (verses 65, 96 of Surah 3. Aal-Imran) and (verses 120, 123 of Surah 16. An-Nahal).

Allah named you Muslims earlier and even in this (Book), " Here the word “you” has not been addressed exclusively to those believers who lived at the time of the revelation of this verse, or those who believed after its revelation. It includes all those human beings, who, from the beginning of human history, believed in Tauhid, the Hereafter, Prophethood and the divine Books. They were not Jews, Christians, etc. but Muslims in the sense that they had surrendered themselves to Allah. Likewise the followers of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are not Muhammadans but Muslims.

that the Messenger may be a witness over you, and that you may be witnesses over all mankind "  For explanation see ( verse 143 of Surah Al-Baqarah).

So establish Prayer, and pay Zakah, and hold fast to Allah. " “Hold fast to Allah”: Follow exclusively the guidance and the law of Allah: obey Him alone: fear Him and have all your hopes and expectations in Him: invoke Him alone for help: trust in Him and pray to Him for all your needs.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
"And [moreover, to discharge the responsibilities of your status,] strive in the way of God in the most befitting way." A governing noun is suppressed in the verse. The expression فِي اللّٰهِ is actually فِي سَبِيْلِ اللّٰهِ. This directive has been given in deference to the status for which they have been selected, as mentioned in the succeeding verses. The implication is that they should try to convey God’s message in a conclusive way to whole mankind and leave no stone unturned in this task. Moreover, if they face any hindrance in this cause, they should try to overcome it by using all the powers of their heart and mind, body and soul and also expend all their wealth and resources.

" He has selected you " Ie., chosen them just as He selects certain individuals among the progeny of Adam for prophethood and messenger-hood. Earlier, the Israelites were also similarly selected but because of their defiance and rebelliousness, they earned God’s wrath and were cursed.  

" and not placed any constraint on you in [the] sharī‘ah [He has given you]." This is stated here because this sharī‘ah does not have the same severity as that of the Israelites. The reason for this reduction probably being that the Israelites remained in the direct rule of God’s government but this was not the case with the Ishmaelites. About them, the directive of God is that they will carry out this duty under their rulers. 

" He has chosen the community of your father – Abraham – for you." Ie., in the real Islam in which there is no trace of Judaism or Christianity and which is the community of Abraham (sws), their father. God has made it their religion and sharī‘ah after some revival, reformation and addition. The reference of the father is given to urge the Ishmaelites: this is not something strange for them: it is the religion of their father and what more religion and community than the religion and community of the father can be dearer to the children. Moreover, also evident from this is that it is primarily the Ishmaelites who have been chosen for this responsibility. All those who convert into Islam by accepting this message become secondarily included in this responsibility. It is precisely for this reason that in Sūrah al-Baqarah the Ishmaelites are referred to as the “middle community” (اُمَّةً وَّسَطًا). On one side of them are God and His Messenger, and on the other are all the nations of the world (النَّاس). In verse 33 of Sūrah Āl-i ‘Imrān, the words آل ابراهيم are used for this purpose. When the Israelites were carrying out this obligation, the centre of their religious communication was the Bayt al-Maqdis. After the advent of Muḥammad (sws), it lost this status and it too was entrusted to the Ishmaelites. Thus, now until the Day of Judgement, the centre of the true message of God is the ancient House which Abraham (sws) and Ishmael (sws) built with their sacred hands in Makkah and which is called بَيْتُ اللّٰهِ,   البَيْت, الْبَيْتُ العَتِيْقِ and الْمَسْجِدُ الْحَراَم. 

" It was he who had earlier named you Muslim " This is a reference to the prayer of Abraham (sws) cited in these words in Sūrah al-Baqarah: رَبَّنَا وَاجْعَلْنَا مُسْلِمَيْنِ لَكَ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِنَآ اُمَّةً مُّسْلِمَةً لَّكَ (Our Lord! And make us obedient to you and institute from our progney a nation that is obedient to you) The words اُمَّةً مُّسْلِمَةً are used for the ummah that is under discussion here.

" and in this [Qur’ān] also [your name is Muslim]; chosen you so that the messenger bears witness [to this religion] before you and you bear witness [to it] before all the people of the world." This is an explanation of the selection mentioned earlier: it was done to bear witness to the religion of truth. This bearing witness is not mere preaching and persuasion; besides this, it is also the manifestation of the worldly retribution of God according to which if the Muslim ummah adheres to the truth and keeps communicating it to all the nations of the world while being faithful to its contents and with full certainty, then it will be granted dominance over those who do not accept faith and if it deviates from it, then it will be subjected to the punishment of disgrace and subservience through these very nations. Thus its very existence becomes a witness to what it says with its pen and tongue. It is because of this that the word “bearing witness” (شهاده) is used instead of preaching. This in fact is conclusive communication of truth which when happens becomes a basis of God’s judgement both in this world and in the next. After Muḥammad (sws), this arrangement has been made by the Almighty for this conclusive communication at the global level. 

" So, be diligent in the prayer and pay zakāh and hold strongly to God." Ie., they should strongly adhere to the guidance He has bestowed upon them and trust His help in all circumstances. At another instance (3:102), what is stated here is mentioned by the words: اِعْتَصِمُوْا بِحَبْلِ اللّٰهِ (hold strongly to the rope of God).

He only is your Guardian. So, what a good guardian and what a good helper!

Qur'an Wiki:
When the Muslim community has such a proper relation with God and an appropriate lifestyle, it can discharge its awesome responsibility: “And strive hard in God’s cause as you ought to strive.” This is a veracious and comprehensive description, indicating a massive responsibility that requires adequate preparation and the mustering of equipment and resources.

“And strive hard in God’s cause as you ought to strive.” This includes striving against one’s enemies, laziness, evil and corruption. All these must be equally resisted. It is God who has assigned to you this massive responsibility and chosen you to fulfil it: “It is He who has chosen you.” This choice adds to the seriousness of the responsibility, which means that it cannot be shrugged off or abandoned. Indeed it is an honour God has bestowed on the Muslim community for which it should be infinitely grateful.

Moreover, the assigned task is entwined with God’s grace: He “has laid no hardship on you in [anything that pertains to] religion.” Indeed, the religion of Islam, with all its duties, worship and laws always observes man’s nature and abilities. It aims to satisfy human nature and release man’s abilities so that they are used constructively. Human nature must neither be suppressed nor left without control.

Moreover, the Islamic way of life has a long history in human life, linking the past with the present. It is “the creed of your forefather Abraham.” It is the system that has continued on earth since the time of Abraham, without any long gap that allows the divine faith to be totally distorted, as happened in some periods prior to Abraham’s time.

God has given the name ‘Muslim’ to the community that believes in His oneness, and this name remained the same whether in olden days or in the Qur’ān: “It is He who has named you Muslims, in bygone times and in this [book].”

Islam means surrendering oneself totally to God, attributing no share of Godhead to anyone else. Thus, the Muslim community has enjoyed the same system across successive generations, and with successive messages and messengers, up to the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It was then that the divine message was entrusted to the Muslim community. Thus, the past, present and future are interlinked as God wants. Thus, “the Messenger might bear witness for you and that you might bear witness for all mankind.” The Prophet is, thus, a witness defining the way the Muslim community should follow, pointing out right and wrong, and the Muslim community fulfils the same task with regard to humanity at large. It occupies the position of trustee by virtue of the standards established by its laws, education and concepts relating to life and to the universe. Needless to say, the Muslim community cannot fulfil this role unless it implements God’s message fully in life. When the Muslim community abandoned this role and deviated from the divine code of living, God removed it from this leadership, leaving it trailing well behind. It will continue to be in this humiliating position until it resumes its role chosen for it by God.

To ensure such a return, it must be fully prepared for it. Hence the order: “Attend regularly to your prayer, and pay out your zakāt, and hold fast to God. He is your Guardian: the best of guardians and the best to give support.” Prayer provides a link between the weak and mortal individual and the source of power, while zakāt provides a strong link between members of the community, ensuring security for all. Holding fast to God is the strong tie that is never severed.

Please listen to explanation of the ayat by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan:
May Allah help us understand Qur'ān and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. Aameen.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
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Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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