Sunday 22 October 2023

Believers! Take heed of yourself, if you are rightly guided - the error of he who strays will not harm you

Divine religions are all about faith - faith in the Divine Being who created us all and to whom we shall return. We may be distracted by the distractors to waiver in our faith, especially if we have weak or no knowledge of what we believe in. This is the dilemma that faces Muslims all over the world today, specially thee born Muslims. Since they have "passed on" knowledge about Islam rather than the acquired knowledge through own pursuits and study, they often stumble when they are being misled by someone who know how to twist the verses of Qur'an and how to influence a man of weak faith.

This is the theme of 105th verse of Surah 5. Al Maidah (The Table Spread) which cautions believers to take heed of themselves, if they believe they have been truly and rightly guided. If this is the state of their faith, no one can mislead them. Likewise, they are also advised not to find faults with others and concentrate on their own behaviour, conduct and deeds, for everyone will be answerable for his own self, rather than what others did. But at the same time, one should not remain indifferent to evil being spread to distract others from one's faith and must play one's part to undo the harm being done to Islam. That is if people see an unjust person doing an injustice and they not prevent him from it, Allah may punish all of them.

يٰۤـاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا عَلَيۡكُمۡ اَنۡفُسَكُمۡ​ۚ لَا يَضُرُّكُمۡ مَّنۡ ضَلَّ اِذَا اهۡتَدَيۡتُمۡ​ ؕ اِلَى اللّٰهِ مَرۡجِعُكُمۡ جَمِيۡعًا فَيُـنَـبِّـئُكُمۡ بِمَا كُنۡتُمۡ تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ‏ 
(5:105) Believers! Take heed of your own selves. If you are rightly guided, the error of he who strays will not harm you. To Allah will all of you return; then He will let all of you know what you did.
This is a warning against a common human weakness. Some people are always on the look-out to find out and criticize errors in others. Here such people have been admonished against this evil and asked to concentrate their attention on their own acts, deeds, morals and beliefs instead of probing into and criticizing the conduct and beliefs of others. If a man himself is obedient to Allah and fulfills his obligations to Him and man, and treads the path of truth and righteousness, which also includes the establishment of virtue and the eradication of vice, then most surely the crookedness and deviation of any other can do him no harm.

This verse, however, does not mean that a person should think only of his own salvation and leave alone the reform of others. Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddiq refuted this misconception in an address, saying, "O people, you recite this verse and put on it a wrong interpretation. I myself heard the Holy Prophet say, `When the people become so indifferent that they see evil and do not try to eradicate it and see an unjust person doing an injustice and do not prevent him from it, Allah may punish all of them.' I swear by Allah that it is obligatory on you to enjoin virtue and forbid evil; (if you neglect this) Allah will place you under the worst people who will inflict hardships on you. Then your good people will offer prayers but He will not accept these."

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: (One is Required to Reform Himself First)
Allah commands His believing servants to reform themselves and to do as many righteous deeds as possible. He also informs them that whoever reforms himself, he would not be affected by the wickedness of the wicked, whether they were his relatives or otherwise. 

Imam Ahmad recorded that Qays said, "Abu Bakr As-Siddiq stood up, thanked Allah and praised Him and then said, `O people! You read this Ayah, (O you who believe! Take care of yourselves. If you follow the right guidance, no hurt can come to you from those who are in error.) You explain it the wrong way. I heard the Messenger of Allah say: (If the people witness evil and do not change it, then Allah is about to send His punishment to encompass them.) I (Qays) also heard Abu Bakr say, `O people! Beware of lying, for lying contradicts faith.'''

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
When the situation of the unbelievers was explained, the sūrah makes a statement showing the believers as a separate group, distinguished by the duties and obligations they have to fulfil. It defines for them what attitude they should take to other people. It tells them that they may look forward to no reward other than that of God. They should aspire to no reward in this life.

It is a case of a complete break between them and those who are hostile to their cause. Moreover, they should have a relationship of mutual support among themselves, since they form one community: “Believers, it is but for your own souls that you are accountable. Those who go astray can do you no harm if you [yourselves] are on the right path.” What this verse says to the believers is that they should take care of themselves, purifying their souls and committing themselves wholly to their community, paying no attention to what others may say or do, even though they may go far astray. As believers, they are a separate unit, independent of all others. In this unit, they take care of one another, in complete mutual solidarity. Other than this, they have no need for any bonds or ties of loyalty with anyone.

For certain, this religion cannot establish its roots without effort and struggle. It needs followers who spare no effort to guide people to it in order to liberate them from subservience to other people so that they may submit to God alone. Such followers will do their utmost to establish the right concept of Godhead and to repel those who usurp God’s authority so that God’s law is seen to be implemented in human life. Such efforts are peaceful when the misguided ones are individuals in need of direction. However, force will be needed when there is a tyrannical power turning people away from God’s guidance, and standing in the way of establishing the Islamic faith and implementing God’s law. It is only then that the believers will have fulfilled their responsibility and those who persist in error are punished by God: “To God you all must return. He will then make you understand all that you were doing [in life].”
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

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. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

You may refer to our reference pages: Important DOs and Don'ts from Qur'an to read more directives on the subject.

You may refer to our reference page: Faith in Allah to read more directives on the subject.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages  and Understanding Al Qur'an for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Tafsir References: | 1 | 2 | 3

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 the following sources: 
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Translation Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Qur'an Wiki
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
In addition, 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.

Disclaimer: The material for this post has been collected from the references given above. If anyone differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

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