The essence of Di#n (religion) in one word is, as it were, in the Qur’a#nic terminology, ‘worship’ of the Lord. This is precisely what the Almighty wants from men in this world. Allah says:
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ (51: 56)
I created the Jinn and the humans only that they might worship me. (51:56)
The Holy Qur’a#n has explicated in detail, at numerous places, that the Lord deputed his Prophets to make man cognizant of this very fact.
وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولاً أَنِ اعْبُدُواْ اللّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُواْ الطَّاغُوتَ (16: 36)
And we raised a Messenger in every nation with the message ‘worship Allah and renounce at@-T@agu#t’. (16:36)
What does this ‘worship’ mean? A little deliberation shows that it has been unfolded by the verse just quoted above. In comparison to ‘Iba#dah (worship of Allah), the Holy Qur’a#n has enjoined renunciation of ‘at@-T@agu#t’. At@-T@agu#t and As-Shayta#n have been used in the Holy Qur’a#n to imply the same meaning, that is, someone who partakes of rebellion, pride and arrogance. The converse of these qualities obviously reflects in humility and self-effacement. Therefore, lexicographers describe the meaning of ‘Iba#dah in Arabic as اصل العبودية الخضوع و التذلل [worship is actually humility and self-effacement]. If these feelings arise with a correct view of the Lord’s mercy, power, providence, and wisdom, then the feelings in question manifest themselves in absolute submission before the Almighty with emotions of sheer love and utmost fear. Khushu#‘, Khud@u#‘, Ikhba#t, Ana#bat, Khashi’yat, Tad@arru‘ and Kanu#t etc are the words which have been employed by the Holy Qur’a#n to communicate the same meaning. Actually, it is an internal feeling, which arise within a person’s inner self and enshrouds his entire being. ‘Remembrance’, ‘gratitude’, ‘Taqwa#’ (fear), ‘sincerity’, ‘trust’, ‘delegation’, and ‘contentment’ — these are all inward manifestations of the relationship between Allah and His servant. This denotes that, due to the relationship, a person finds solace in ‘remembering’ his Lord, experiences an upsurge of the sentiments of ‘gratitude’ for His blessings and bounties, ‘fears’ His wrath, becomes His true ‘servant alone’, repose veritable ‘trust’ in Him, ‘delegates’ every affair to and submits completely before Him, and always remain anxious to earn His pleasure on every corner of life. How such relationship with Allah affects a man’s outer being is enunciated in the Holy Qur’a#n as is under:
إِنَّمَا يُؤْمِنُ بِآيَاتِنَا الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِّرُوا بِهَا خَرُّوا سُجَّدًا وَسَبَّحُوا بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَهُمْ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ تَتَجَافَى جُنُوبُهُمْ عَنِ الْمَضَاجِعِ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُمْ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ (32: 15-16)
Only they believe in Our revelations who, when they are reminded of by these, fall down in prostration and hymn the praise of their Lord and never resort to arrogance. They forsake their beds; they pray to their Lord in fear and in hope, and spend [in the way of Allah] of what we have bestowed upon them. (32:15-16)
Prostration, hymn, prayers and spending in the way of Allah to earn His pleasure are indeed what comprise ‘worship’. Since man also has, in this world, an earthly and practical aspect, therefore this worship steps forth and becomes attached with it and thus includes ‘obedience’ just as it includes ‘worship’. Then it induces man to essentially prostrate himself before the One his inner-self has already prostrated itself before; the One he has submitted to inwardly should also be submitted to in the practical realm of his life. So much so that no aspect of his life should remain beyond the commandments of his Lord. The Holy Qur’a#n reads:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ارْكَعُوا وَاسْجُدُوا وَاعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمْ وَافْعَلُوا الْخَيْرَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ (22: 77)
O you who believe! Bow down and prostrate yourselves, and live as servants of your God and do what is good that you may prosper. (22:77)
When these sentiments of worship articulate ethical and metaphysical foundations and define the norms and limits for fulfilling the obligations arising from the relationship between man and God, this phenomenon is termed Di#n (religion). Its detail which Allah has imparted to mankind through His Messengers is named al-Di#n in the Qur’a#nic parlance. The Holy Qur’a#n commands mankind that they ought to establish this al-Di#n correctly and completely in their lives and never be divided therein. The Holy Qur’a#n reads:
شَرَعَ لَكُم مِّنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّى بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَى وَعِيسَى أَنْ أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُوا فِيهِ (42: 13)
He has ordained for you that religion which He commanded to Noah, and that which We now inspire to you (O Muhammad) and that which We commanded to Abraham, Moses and Jesus, saying: Establish the religion (in your life), and be not divided therein. (42:13)
For this ‘worship’, the metaphysical and ethical bases which have been articulated in this religion are titled al-H@ikmah; and the norms and limits al-Kita#b by the Holy Qur’a#n.
وََأَنزَلَ اللّهُ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَعَلَّمَكَ مَا لَمْ تَكُنْ تَعْلَمُ وَكَانَ فَضْلُ اللّهِ عَلَيْكَ عَظِيمًا (4: 113)
And Allah revealed to you al-Kita#b and al-H@ikmah and taught you that which you knew not. The grace of Allah upon you is tremendous. (4:113)
وَاذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَتَ اللّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَمَا أَنزَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِّنَ الْكِتَابِ وَالْحِكْمَةِ يَعِظُكُم بِهِ وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ وَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللّهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ (2: 231)
And remember Allah’s grace upon you and remember al-Kita#b and al-H@ikmah which He revealed to you about which he enjoins you. And be fearful of Allah and know that he is aware of everything. (2:231)
Al-Kita#b has also been referred to as Shari#‘ah.
ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاكَ عَلَى شَرِيعَةٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْرِ فَاتَّبِعْهَا وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاء الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ ( 45: 18)
And then We set you (O Muhammad) on an evident Shari#‘ah. Therefore, follow it, and follow not the whims of those who have no knowledge. (45:18)
Al-H@ikmah has always been the same. Shari#‘ah has however been different due to change and evolution in human civilizations. The Holy Qur’a#n says:
لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَاجًا وَلَوْ شَاء اللّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً (5: 48)
For each of you, We have appointed a Shari#‘ah (divine law) and an ordained way. Had Allah willed, He could have made you one Ummah. (5:48)
A study of the Semitic literature unveils the fact that Shari#‘ah has mostly been expounded in the Torah and al-H@ikmah in the Gospel. Zabu#r (Psalms) is the enunciation of the praise of the Lord as a preamble to the al-H@ikmah revealed in the Gospel. And the Holy Qur’a#n compounds the characteristics of both in that it is the comprehensive and sublime quintessence of the divine literature. The verses from the second and fourth Su#rah, which have been quoted above, unearth this fact about the Holy Qur’a#n. Talking to Jesus (pbuh) in the Hereafter about the Torah and the Gospel, the Almighty says in the Holy Qur’a#n:
وَإِذْ عَلَّمْتُكَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَالتَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ (5: 110)
And when I taught you (O Jesus) Shari#‘ah and al-H@ikmah, that is, the Torah and the Gospel. (5:110)
Principally, two areas of knowledge have been discussed under the banner al-H@ikmah:
What has been discussed under al-Kita#b may be classified as follows:
1. Canons of Worship 2. Canons of Social Set-up 3. Canons of Politics 4. Canons of Economy 5. Canons of Preaching 6. Canons of Jiha#d 7. H@udu#d and Penal Law 8. Edibles and Drinks 9. Customs, Rites and Etiquette 10. Oaths and their Atonement.
This is all what the religion consists of. Those who have taught this religion to mankind are called Nabi# (Prophet). Some of them were also raised to the cadre of Risa#lat. Nabbu#wwat (Prophethood) denotes a phenomenon in which anyone from among mankind, after receiving Wah@i# (revelations) from Heaven, elucidates to people what is truth; and announces to those who accept his message the glad tidings of Paradise and warns those who denies it of the grievous consequences of their denial. The Holy Qur’a#n describes this phenomenon with words Andha#r (warning someone) and Basha#rat (announcing good tidings).
كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللّهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ (2:213)
People were one nation. (They differed). So Allah sent Prophets announcing glad tidings and giving warnings. (2:213)
Risa#lat signifies a phenomenon in which a person designated as a Nabi# delivers a message to his nation with the authority of judging them in this very world such that if his nation deny him, he implement on them the verdict of God and establish the ascendancy of the truth in actuality.
وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ لِرُسُلِهِمْ لَنُخْرِجَنَّـكُم مِّنْ أَرْضِنَآ أَوْ لَتَعُودُنَّ فِي مِلَّتِنَا فَأَوْحَى إِلَيْهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ لَنُهْلِكَنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ وَلَنُسْكِنَنَّـكُمُ الأَرْضَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ خَافَ مَقَامِي وَخَافَ وَعِيدِ (14: 13 – 14)
And these disbelievers said to their Messengers: We will drive you out from our land or you shall return to our tradition. Then their Lord inspired them (the Messengers): Verily We shall destroy the wrong doers. And verily We shall make you dwell in the land after them. (14:13-14)
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحَادُّونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ فِي الأَذَلِّينَ كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَأَغْلِبَنَّ أَنَا وَرُسُلِي إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ (58: 20-21)
Lo! They who are opposing Allah and His Messenger will themselves be humiliated. Allah has decreed that I shall prevail and My Messengers too. Lo! Allah is Strong, Almighty. (58:20-21)
It is this law of Risa#lat, according to which, the Holy Qur’a#n has recorded the following specifically about the Holy Prophet (pbuh):
هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَى وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ (9: 61)
He it is who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of the truth, that He may help it dominate all the religions [of Arabia] however much these idolaters [of Arabia] may be averse. (61:9)
How it is actualized is that Allah selects these Rusul (Messengers) for the demonstration of his Daynunat and then, before the actual Doomsday, a Judgment Day is established through them in this very world. They are told that if they abide by their covenant with Allah, they will be rewarded and if they evade it, they will be punished in this very world. Consequently, they come to personify a testimony to the truth and thus their people watch as if God is walking with these Messengers and He is dispensing justice. Hence the truth is crystallized in their personalities and become evident to the eye up to the extent that no person has an excuse to deny it. In the Qur’a#nic parlance, this is called Sha#hadah ‘Ala# an-Na#ss. When this Sha#hadah is established, Allah awards ascendancy to those through whom it is established, and punish those who reject the divine message.
The Almighty has said about the Holy Prophet (pbuh):
إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْكُمْ رَسُولًا شَاهِدًا عَلَيْكُمْ كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَى فِرْعَوْنَ رَسُولًا ( 73: 15)
Toward you, [O People of Mecca], we have sent a Rasu#l (Messenger) as a witness to you like We sent one toward the Pharaoh. (73:15)
Like the Rusul, this status of Sha#hadah ‘Ala an-Nass was also given to the progeny of Abraham (pbuh). On this basis, the Holy Qur’a#n called them an intermediate group between Allah and other men and has explicated that they have been chosen for this status just as He selected some great personalities from the posterity of Adam (pbuh) for Nabu#wwat and Risa#lat. The Holy Qur’a#n says:
وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ مِّلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمينَ مِن قَبْلُ وَفِي هَذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاء عَلَى النَّاسِ (22: 78)
And strive in the way of Allah how striving should be done. He has chosen you (for this responsible status) and has not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Abraham has been prescribed for you. He named you Muslims previously and also in this [period of the last Prophet]. [You have been selected] so that the Messenger may be a witness to you, and that you may be witnesses to mankind [as regards this religion]. (22:78)
The Almighty has often sent Books along with the Prophets and the Messengers. According to the Holy Qur’a#n, the underlying objective of these Books is that they are to be a criterion (Miza#n) between truth and error so that people could resolve their differences and in the matters of the truth, they could maintain adherence to what is right. In the words of the Holy Qur’a#n:
وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُواْ فِيهِ( 2: 213)
And with them [these Prophets], He sent His Book as a decisive word so that these may, about the matters wherein people were differing, could decide. (2:213)
وَأَنزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ (57: 25)
And with them [these Messengers], We sent Our Book, that is, a criterion [between truth and error] so that [with its help] people may adopt a correct standing [regarding the truth]. (57:25)
The episode of Nabu#wwat and Risa#lat, which began with the advent of Adam (pbuh), culminated in the Holy Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh). With his departure from this world, the door of ‘revelation’ has been shut for good and divine court of Justice has also been adjourned to the Last Day of Judgment. The scholars of this Ummah will now discharge the responsibility of Indha#r until Doomsday. Su#rah Tawbah describes this responsibility in the following words:
وَمَا كَانَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لِيَنفِرُواْ كَآفَّةً فَلَوْلاَ نَفَرَ مِن كُلِّ فِرْقَةٍ مِّنْهُمْ طَآئِفَةٌ لِّيَتَفَقَّهُواْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلِيُنذِرُواْ قَوْمَهُمْ إِذَا رَجَعُواْ إِلَيْهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَحْذَرُونَ (9: 122)
And it was not feasible, for all the Muslims, that [for this undertaking] they set out. But why it did not happen that a few people from every group might set out so that they would gain Tafaqquh (intimate knowledge) of the religion and warn the people of their nation after they return to them [after gaining knowledge] so that the latter might be on their guard. (9:122)
This religion is named ‘Islam’ and Allah has declared in His Book that He would not accept any religion other than Islam from the children of Adam (pbuh).
إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِندَ اللّهِ الإِسْلاَمُ … وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الإِسْلاَمِ دِينًا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ (3: 19, 85)
The religion in the sight of Allah is Islam only…And he who sought any religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him and he will be from among the losers in the Hereafter. (3:19,85)
Just like the word ‘Islam’ signifies the whole of the religion, it is also sometimes used to connote the outer structure of which this religion is comprised. From the perspective of this structure, it consists of five components:
i. to testify that there is no Ila#h (someone worthy of being worshipped) but Allah and Muhammad (pbuh) is His Messenger.
ii. to establish S@ala#h (the canonical prayer).
iii. to pay Zaka#h (the tithe).
iv. to fast in the month of Ramadan.
v. to perform H@ajj (pilgrimage) at the House of the Lord.
The Holy Qur’a#n has enjoined adherence to these at various places. In one of his sayings, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) has enumerated these at one place in the following words:
الإسلام أن تشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وتقيم الصلاة وتؤتي الزكاة وتصوم رمضان وتحج البيت ( مسلم: رقم 1 )
Islam is that you testify that there is no Ila#h but Allah and Muhammad (pbuh) is His Messenger; establish the canonical prayer and pay the tithe, fast in the month of Ramadan and perform the H@ajj at the House of the Lord. (Muslim: No. 1)
What lies at the heart of the religion is I%ma#n (faith, belief). According to the Holy Qur’a#n, faith is also comprised of five components.
i. belief in Allah.
ii. belief in Angels.
iii. belief in the Prophets.
iv. belief in the Books.
v. belief in the Day of Judgment.
Su#rah Baqarah records:
آمَنَ الرَّسُولُ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مِن رَّبِّهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ كُلٌّ آمَنَ بِاللّهِ وَمَلآئِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ لاَ نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّن رُّسُلِهِ وَقَالُواْ سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا غُفْرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِيرُ (2: 285)
The Messenger professed faith in that which has been revealed to him from his Lord and (so did) the believers. They all believed in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Prophets. They proclaim: ‘We make no distinction between any of His Prophets. We heard, and we obeyed. O Lord, we ask for your forgiveness. [And we believe in the fact that on the Day of Reckoning we have to] return to You’. (2:285)
The Holy Prophet (pbuh) while adding an ultimate offshoot of the belief in Allah — belief in predestination — has depicted these components as follows:
الإيمان قال أن تؤمن بالله وملائكته وكتبه ورسله واليوم الآخر وتؤمن بالقدر خيره وشره ( مسلم: رقم 1 )
I%ma#n (faith) is that you believe in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Prophets and the Last Day and in predestination with its good and bad ordained by Allah. (Muslim: No. 1)
When a believer, from the bottom of his heart, appreciates this faith in its essence and places credence to it, he feels that he must:
Firstly, carry out good deeds; and
Secondly, exhort others to the right path and persuade them to persevere.
The Holy Qur’a#n reads:
وَالْعَصْرِ إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ (103: 1-3)
Time bears witness to the fact that these people will definitely incur loss except for those who professed faith and they did good deeds and exhorted each other to the truth and exhorted each other to persevere. (103:1-3)
The words ‘good deeds’ encompass each and every action which is in conformity with the principles on which this world has been created and with which it is administered. These principles and the ensuing concept of good deeds are imprint in human nature and well appreciated by his intellect and intuition. Shari#‘ah (the Law of God) has been revealed to guide and exhort mankind to assimilate these good deeds and actions into their lives.
The words ‘exhort each other to the truth and persuade them to persevere’ imply advising people around us of what is truth and asking them to remain steadfast on the path of the truth. This is the ultimate outcome of professing faith and has also been termed by the Holy Qur’a#n as Amr Bil Maru#f and Nahi# ‘Anil Munkar, that is to say, everything which is good, according to our intellect and intuition, should be promoted among the people around us and everything which is bad should be discouraged:
وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاء بَعْضٍ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ (9: 71)
And believing men and believing women are friends to each other. They enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong. (9:71)
Every Muslim should fulfill this duty, entailed by his faith, with emotions of sincerity for others. With the veritable spirit of the religion, the duty in question cannot be fulfilled without these emotions of sincerity and well wishing. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) has said:
الدين النصيحة لله ولرسوله ولأئمة المسلمين وعامتهم وقوله تعالى إذا نصحوا لله ورسوله ( بخاري: رقم 56 )
Al-Di#n (the religion) is the name of well-wishing: For Allah, His Messenger, the Muslim rulers and the general Muslims. (Bukhari: No. 56)
In ordinary circumstances, Islam constitutes what has been enunciated in the foregoing paragraphs. However, circumstances which man sometimes faces as result of being in this world are likely to give rise to three other duties in the perspective of our I%ma#n (faith):
i. Hijrah (migration)
ii. Nus@rat (help)
iii. Qiya#m Bil Qist (adhering to what is just and right)
If a believer faces a situation in which adhering to the religion becomes an unbearable burden in that he is persecuted for his religion and impeded from disclosing his Muslim identity, his faith requires him to migrate to some other territory — a place where he can openly abide by his religion. In the Qur’a#nic terminology, this is Hijrah (migration); and holding back from migrating when placed in such a perilous situation is a crime punishable with hellfire. The Holy Qur’a#n reads:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَوَفَّاهُمُ الْمَلآئِكَةُ ظَالِمِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ قَالُواْ فِيمَ كُنتُمْ قَالُواْ كُنَّا مُسْتَضْعَفِينَ فِي الأَرْضِ قَالْوَاْ أَلَمْ تَكُنْ أَرْضُ اللّهِ وَاسِعَةً فَتُهَاجِرُواْ فِيهَا فَأُوْلَـئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ وَسَاءتْ مَصِيرًا (4: 97)
To those who would be struck dead by the angels such that they [due to fear of others hid their faith and Islam and in doing so] had wronged themselves, the angels will say: In what situation you remained? They would reply: We were helpless and oppressed in this region. The angels will say: Was not Allah’s earth spacious that you could have migrated therein? As for such, their abode will be hell and it is the worst abode. (4:97)
Similarly, if ever the religion is in need of help for its propagation or defense, it is our duty as laid upon us by faith that we extend help to the cause of our religion by wealth or otherwise. So much so that if the Muslim rulers decide to launch an armed struggle for the purpose, every believer should leave his life and wealth at their disposal so that they may employ both in the manner they deem fit and on whatever front they consider appropriate. In the Qur’a#nic terminology, it is called Nus@rat — help of Allah, the Almighty. When the Holy Prophet (pbuh), after acquiring political authority in Medina, needed it and the people were called upon for armed struggle, the Holy Qur’a#n, at one place, urged them in the words that follow:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا هَلْ أَدُلُّكُمْ عَلَى تِجَارَةٍ تُنجِيكُم مِّنْ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَتُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنفُسِكُمْ ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ يَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَيُدْخِلْكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ وَمَسَاكِنَ طَيِّبَةً فِي جَنَّاتِ عَدْنٍ ذَلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ وَأُخْرَى تُحِبُّونَهَا نَصْرٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَفَتْحٌ قَرِيبٌ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا كُونوا أَنصَارَ اللَّهِ كَمَا قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ لِلْحَوَارِيِّينَ مَنْ أَنصَارِي إِلَى اللَّهِ قَالَ الْحَوَارِيُّونَ نَحْنُ أَنصَارُ اللَّهِ ( 61: 10-14)
O you who believe! Should I tell you a dealing that will save you from painful doom? You shall believe in Allah and His Messenger and strive in the way of God with your wealth and your lives. That is better for you, if you understand. [In return for this] He will forgive you your sins and bring you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, and award you those pleasant dwellings which are in the Gardens of Eden. This is the tremendous achievement. And the favor which you aspire, that is, help from Allah and the victory which shall actualize soon. Give tidings [O Muhammad of this victory] to the believers. O you who believe! Be Allah’s helpers, Just as Jesus, son of Mary, said to the disciples: Who are my helpers in the way of Allah? They said: We are Allah’s helpers! (61:10-14)
All endeavors of our predecessors for protecting and perpetuating the religion and for its revival and renaissance constitute the essential elements of fulfilling this duty. In the history of the Muslim Ummah, the basis of all efforts undertaken by wealth, sword and pen for the cause of the religion is this Nus@rat (help). The Holy Qur’a#n demands that once such help is sought by the religion, no worldly benefit should obstruct the believers to fulfill it. The Lord says:
قُلْ إِن كَانَ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَآؤُكُمْ وَإِخْوَانُكُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُكُمْ وَأَمْوَالٌ اقْتَرَفْتُمُوهَا وَتِجَارَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَاكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَهَا أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُم مِّنَ اللّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهَادٍ فِي سَبِيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُواْ حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ اللّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ وَاللّهُ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ (9: 24)
(O Prophet) tell them: If your fathers, and your sons, and your brethren, and your wives, and your tribe, and the wealth you have earned, and the merchandise for which you fear that there will be no sale, and the dwellings you like are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and striving in His way, then wait till Allah delivers his verdict. And (remember that) Allah guides not such as these who break covenants. (9:24)
Lastly, if ever emotions, prejudices, interests and desires try to entice a believer away from the right path, this faith asks him that he not only maintains adherence to what is just and right but also bears testimony to both, if need be, by sacrificing his own life. He is to believe in what is truth; proclaim it and surrender before it; do justice and bear witness to what is just; and never to assimilate anything into his own life—regardless of whether the thing in question is related to actions or beliefs—save what is just and right. This is Qiya#m Bil Qist and the Holy Qur’a#n has called for adherence to it in the following words:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاء لِلّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالأَقْرَبِينَ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقَيرًا فَاللّهُ أَوْلَى بِهِمَا فَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ الْهَوَى أَن تَعْدِلُواْ وَإِن تَلْوُواْ أَوْ تُعْرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا (4: 135)
O you who believe! Be you of those who maintain adherence to justice, being witnesses to it for the sake of Allah, even though this goes against yourselves or your parents or your kindred. Be it a rich man or a poor man, Allah should be top priority for both. So follow not passional desires lest you abandon the truth and if you distort it or evade it, then remember Allah is aware of what you do. (4:135)
أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ لِلّهِ شُهَدَاء بِالْقِسْطِ وَلاَ يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَى أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ اعْدِلُواْ هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ إِنَّ اللّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ (5: 8)
O you who believe! Be you of those who maintain adherence to justice, being witnesses to it for the sake of Allah. And the enmity of a people should not entice you away from justice. Do justice; this is akin to Taqwa# (righteousness) and be fearful of Allah. Verily, Allah is aware of what you do. (5:8)
Precisely for this reason, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) used to have the Muslims pledge allegiance to him in the words لا نخاف في الله لومة لائم نقول بالحق اينما كنا، (Wherever we are, we shall proclaim what is right and we shall not fear the censure of anyone who rebukes us for God). So much so that he advised:
أفضل الجهاد كلمة عدل عند سلطان جائر ( ابن ماجه: رقم 1 )
The word of truth and justice is a mammoth Jiha#d when it is said before a tyrant ruler. (Ibn Ma#jah: No. 4011)
The underlying objective of this religion which has been spelled out by the Holy Qur’a#n is Tazkiyah (inner-purification). This means that actions and thoughts should be flourished in the appropriate direction by getting rid of the blemishes which may entangle and stain both. At scores of places, the Holy Qur’a#n has mentioned that the focal point of man’s endeavors should be the blissful place of Heaven and winning the privileged position of راضية مرضية, a promised reward for those who purify themselves in this world. The Holy Qur’a#n says:
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّى وَذَكَرَ اسْمَ رَبِّهِ فَصَلَّى بَلْ تُؤْثِرُونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَى (87: 14 -7)
[At that time], he however would succeed who purified himself and remembered his Lord, then offered the canonical prayer. [Nay!] But you prefer the life of the world when [the Hereafter, on the contrary] is better and lasting. (87:14-7)
Therefore the underlying objective of Islam is inner purification. The Prophets of Allah were sent for this objective only and the whole religion has been revealed to guide man how to achieve it. The Holy Qur’a#n reads:
هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ (62: 2)
He it is Who has sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger from among them, who recites to them His revelations and purifies them, and (for it) he teaches them the Shari#‘ah and al-H@ikmah. (62:2)
The attitude which the adherents of Islam must develop for acting upon its instructions is Ih@sa#n. Ih@sa#n denotes a phenomenon in which something is performed in its ultimately perfect form. In religion, when an act is performed maintaining a due balance between its structure and spirit; and keeping in perspective each and every component of it entirely and perfectly; and feeling the presence of the Lord, this is called Ih@sa#n. The Almighty says:
وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ دِينًا مِّمَّنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لله وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ واتَّبَعَ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا ( 4: 125)
Who is better in religion than he who surrenders before Allah such that he adopts Ih@sa#n and follows the tradition of Abraham, who was a devotee. (4:125)
The Holy Prophet (pbuh) has eloquently depicted it in the words that follow:
الإحسان, أن تعبد الله كأنك تراه فإن لم تكن تراه فإنه يراك ( مسلم: رقم 1 )
Ih@sa#n is that you worship Allah as though you are watching Him. Because if you are not watching Him, He is watching you nevertheless. (Muslim: No.1)