What Islam Is!
By: Mawlana Muhammad Manzoor Nomani (RA)
|Lesson 1||The Kalimah|
|Lesson 7||Honesty in Monetary Dealings|
|Lesson 9||Good Manners and Noble Qualities|
|Lesson 10||Love of Allah, The Prophet and the Faith|
|Lesson 14||Life After Death|
|Lesson 15||Heaven and Hell|
|Lesson 18||Durood Sharif|
|Forty Prayers from the Qur'an and the Traditions|
|Prayers for Particular Occasions|
Should it be possible for the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon whom) to be sent down into the world once again by Allah what would his reaction be on seeing the conduct and behaviour and the general design of life of the community that passes today by the name of Muslim? And what advice and command would he give to such of his followers who still posses in their hearts some solicitude for the faith and whose souls have not yet frozen to and got completely bereft of devotion and allegiance to Islam? Sarcastic Without the least hesitation I can say that he will extremely pained at the spectacle of utter moral and spiritual degeneration the bulk of Muslims present these days, as much as he was by the brutal treatment meted out to him by the people of Taif or by the savage assaults made by the callous Polytheists at Ohud. And his message to earnest concern for the Faith will be to dedicate themselves whole-heartedly to the task of improving and reforming the lamentable religious state of his Ummat and of breathing into it again the spirit of Faith and Islamic way of life.
So, if you find yourself in agreement with me and your heart concurs with what I have said above you must resolve, here and how, and in all sincerity, to make this endeavour a part of your life. For my part, I am absolutely confident that it is the choicest way to earn the pleasure of Allah and the blessings of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and to make his soul happy.
By the grace of Allah, efforts for the moral and religious revival of Muslims are being made on a fairly large scale in India and Pakistan and in several other countries also in the form of a movement called Tabligh. Wherever you may be living you can take part in these efforts, according to your means and circumstances, along with other earnest sons of Islam of your place and also do what you can individually in respect of it. This small book, which is now in your hands, is a part of this endeavour. It has been written specially to meet the needs of Muslim men and women who do not know much about Islam or who cannot avail themselves of more advanced books on it. They can read it themselves or have it read out to them by others and also communicate its contents to their brethren by reading the book publicly in mosques and at other Muslim congregations, and, do their bit towards their own religious correction and reform as well as that of others.
Though the book consists only of about two hundred pages the sum and substance of the Faith has been covered fully in it. Within its twenty lessons all those teachings of the Quran and the Traditions have been compressed by knowing which and by acting on which a common man can not only become a good Muslim but a perfect man of faith and a friend of the Lord also. Besides, it can be freely presented to non-Muslims who may be interested in knowing about Islam and its precepts.
The humble Author could only produce the book, which he has done. Now, to make it serve the purpose in a worthwhile manner, for which it has been written, depends solely on your choice and cooperation. Had his financial resources permitted, the Author would have got it printed in millions and sent a copy of it, free of cost, to every educated Muslim in India. The conditions now prevailing in India particularly cry out for it. But, from the beginning, it has been the Will of Allah that those who cherish such aspirations seldom have the means to realize them and, without a doubt, there lies great wisdom of the Lord in it also.
Be it as may, it is beyond the power of the present writer to fulfill his desire. But, if Muslims in whose hands the book may reach decide, in their eagerness to propitiate Allah and give happiness to the soul of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and to earn for themselves a bountiful reward in the Hereafter, to make it available, or its contents, to as many of their brethren as possible, the real aim of its writing and publication can be fulfilled a good deal.
As it has been indicated already, in the new context of things in India the religious future of Muslims rests apparently on the sole condition that every follower of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) here who is alive to the importance of the Faith and knows what it means makes it a personal duty to strive for the Islamic regeneration of the general body of Muslims and a missions of his life to carry the message of Faith and the teachings of Islam to each and every member of his community. Muhammad Manzoor Nomani Lucknow.
The Virtues of acquiring knowledge
Brothers-You all will, perhaps, be aware that Islam is not the name of a caste or community so that anyone who is born in it automatically becomes a Muslim without having to do anything, on his own part, about it just as a child born in a Sheikh or a Syed family becomes a Sheikh or a Syed, as a matter of course, and there is nothing it can do in this regard.
Islam, on the other hand, is the name of that faith and that way of life which was brought into the world from Allah by His true and devoted Apostle, Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), and is preserved to this day in its pristine purity in the Quran and they Holy Traditions. Thus, he alone can be called a Muslim who accepts that faith and practices that way of life. Those who are ignorant of the teachings or Islam, or do not act upon them, are not genuine Muslims by any means. We, therefore, conclude that two things are necessary for anyone to be a true Muslim:
Firstly, to acquire a proper knowledge of the teachings of Islam, or, at least, of its basic and fundamental doctrines; And, secondly, to believe in these teachings as true and to resolve sincerely to live according to them.
This, in sum, is what Islam is. To acquire knowledge of the tenets of Islam, i.e., of its essential teachings is the first requisite of being a Muslim. A Tradition of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) reads:
"To acquire knowledge of the faith is the duty of all Muslims."
It is necessary to bear permanently in the mind that to carry out what is described in religion as a duty is an act of worship in Islam. To exert oneself for the sake of obtaining an adequate knowledge of the faith, hence, is also an act of worship on which there is a bountiful reward from Allah. The holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has proclaimed great merit in it. Take these Traditions, for instance:
"He who goes forth in search of religious knowledge engages himself in the cause of Allah until he returns."
"For him who goes out in search of religious knowledge Allah shall make easy the way to Heaven."
"Thirst for religious knowledge and the pursuit of it atones for one's previous sins."
In short, the cultivation of religious knowledge, i.e., the knowledge of the essential teachings of Islam is binding on all Muslims, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, male and female, old and young, From the Traditions of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) quoted above we also learn that a rich reward awaits us in the Hereafter for the time spent and the pains taken for the sake of it. Let us all, now, make up our minds that we will strive earnestly to equip ourselves with adequate knowledge of the faith and a proper understanding of the basic doctrines of Islam.
For Muslims who, on account of their age or pre-occupation, cannot join a Muslim theological institution and take a regular course of Islamic religious instruction, the best thing will be that, if they are educated, they should develop the habit of reading reliable books on Islam regularly, and, if they are not or only nominally so, they should have such books read out to them by others who can read and understand. If the custom of reading religious books, individually or in groups, can become common in Muslim homes, mosques and at their other gatherings, the spread of religious knowledge to all classes and sections of the community will be greatly facilitated indeed.
This small book has been written solely to fulfill this purpose. All the necessary information regarding Islam and the teachings of the sacred Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), which a Muslim ought to possess has been furnished in it in a simple language. Let us all learn these truths and precepts ourselves and impart them to others as well and make it a mission of our lives to popularize them in the world. A Tradition of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) says:
"If a person engages himself in the pursuit of Islamic religious knowledge with the object of reviving the faith through it (i.e., by instructing it to others and bringing them round to act on it) and he dies in the process, his place will be so very close to the Prophets in the Hereafter that there will be only a difference of one degree between them and him."
May Allah grant us the great good fortune of learning the precepts of Islam ourselves and teaching them to others, and of acting on them and endeavoring sincerely to persuade others to do the same.
The Holy Kalima
لا إله إلّا الله محمد رسول الله
‘Laa ilaaha illal-laahu Muhammadur rasu-lullaah’
There is no deity (who is worthy of worship and obedience) save One Allah, and Muhammad is His Apostle.
Brothers, - this confession is the gateway to Islam, the arch-stone of the faith. By affirming it and reciting it with sincerity and conviction even, a lifelong heathen or a polytheist can become a Muslim, a man of faith, and earn his title to salvation. The condition, however, is that he should have accepted conscientiously and with full understanding the declaration of the Oneness of Allah and the Apostleship of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) contained in it. Thus, any one who repeats the confession mechanically, without understanding it and without knowing what the concepts of Divine Unity and Apostleship and Prophecy mean, will not gain recognition in the sight of Allah as a Muslim. It is, therefore, necessary to study its meaning and implications carefully.
The confession consists of two parts. The first part contains that no one except the Almighty is worthy of worship and obedience. Worship and obedience should be offered to Him alone because He and no one else is our Lord and Creator, Nourisher and Sustainer and the Dispenser of Life and Death. Sickness and health, poverty and riches, in short, all manner of Allah and evil, gain or loss, lies solely in His control. Apart from Him, whatever living things exist on the earth, or in the heavens, be they men or angles, are all His creatures and slaves. He is partnered by no one, no one has a share in His Divinity nor can any one amend or alter His Will, or interfere with His affairs. Hence, He and He alone is worthy of devotion and worship. He alone is the Supreme Being, the Almighty, to whom all our prayers and supplications should be addressed. He alone is the real Owner of the heavens and the earth, the Monarch of all monarchs, the Lord Sovereign. It is, therefore, necessary that all His commands and injunctions are strictly obeyed and faithfully carried out. As against His commands the commands of no one should be heeded to no matter whether they are of our parents or rulers or of the head of the community or a dear friend, or the biddings of our own heart. In a nutshell, when once we have realized and confessed the truth that Allah alone, and no one besides Him, is worthy of worship and obedience our conduct should also be in conformity with it, so much so that any one who sees us should know by our behaviour that we are the devoted servants of the Lord who carry out His commands dutifully and live and die for His sake alone.
Brothers, - this kalimah is the keystone of Islam and the first and foremost item in the teachings of all the Prophets. It commands the highest, the most important place in the religious scheme of things. A famous Tradition of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) reads: "There are more than seventy departments of the faith and among them the most superior and exalted is belief in the Kalima of. For this reason, among the dhikr [(prayer – formulas), the word ‘dhikr’ literally means a special phrase meant for recitation by the devote] also it is the best. States the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam): "Of all the prayer-formulas the best and most excellent is that of".
In another Tradition it is related that once Allah gave this reply to a question put to Him by Prophet Moses:
"O Moses, if the seven heavens and the seven earths and all that is contained in them are placed on one side of the balance and on the other, the side on which placed will turn out to be heavier.
Brothers, this unique virtue and excellence of is due solely to the fact that it contains to solemn affirmation of Divine Unity, the assertion, the pledge and the declaration that we shall worship Him alone and offer our homage and obeisance to no one apart from Him, and shall make Him the sole pivot of our existence. It, indeed, is the life-breath of Islam. That is why, the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has advised Muslims to refresh and to reinvigorate their faith by repeating the Kalima frequently.
It is narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) once said, "O men! Keep on refreshing your faith". Upon this the Companions enquired, "O Prophet of Allah! How are we to do so?" The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied, "By reciting the Kalima frequently”. (Musnad Ahmad, Jam’ul Fawaa-id)
The Kalima ‘Laa ilaaha illal-laah’ holds the power to restore and revitalize the faith for the simple reason that it embodies the affirmation of Divine Unity and the covenant to worship Him alone, to do allegiance to none besides Him and to hold Him dearer and nearer to the heart than anything or anybody else in the world. As we have said earlier, it is the essence, the sustaining principle of Islam. So, the more we will utter it attentively, concentrating duly on what it stands for, the more will our faith gain in vitality and our covenant in strength and our whole life will, Insha Allah, get cast in the mould of ‘Laa ilaaha illal-laah’.
The Second Part
The second part of the Kalima consists of ‘Muhammadur rasu-lullaah’. In it the affirmation is made of the Divine Apostleship of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). That Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is the Apostle of Allah means that he was raised up by the Almighty for the guidance of the world and whatever he taught, preached or revealed like the Divinity of the origin of the Quran, the existence of the angels, the certainty of the Last Day, the Resurrection, the Judgment, the award of heaven and hell according to one's deeds on the earth was hundred percent true and authentic. Indeed, the Apostleship of the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) denotes nothing more and nothing less than this that all the things he taught to the world, all the truths he revealed to mankind, were based on Divine inspiration, that they were based on special and authoritative knowledge vouchsafed to him by Allah, and so they were absolutely correct and beyond dispute. There is not the least excuse, the slightest reason, for doubting or questioning his word. The guidance he gave to men, the laws he laid down, was Divine guidance and Divine laws which had been inspired to him by the Almighty. You would have realized that the acceptance of any one as a Divine Apostle automatically implies that each and every precept and command of his should be whole heartedly believed in and obeyed for Allah raised up His Apostles in the world solely to convey through them to mankind the commands and precepts He wants it to follow. Says the Quran:
We sent not an Apostle, but to be obeyed in accordance with the Will of Allah. (4:64)
To believe in anyone as an Apostle and to accept him as such, thus, means simply to hold every word of his as true, to regard his teachings and guidance to be the teachings and guidance of Allah, and to decide, once for all, to lead one's life according to the precepts he taught. So, if a person recites the Kalima but does not, as a logical consequence of it, resolve firmly to hold all the teachings of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to be wholly true and all that may run counter to them to be wholly false, and to abide by his Shariat (holy law) and his commands faithfully, he, of course is not a man of faith and a Muslim. He, probably, has not even understood what it means to be a Muslim. It is obvious that once we have recited the Kalima and accepted the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) as the true Apostle of Allah, it becomes obligatory for us to believe in his guidance, to adhere to his commands and to observe faithfully the Shariat he brought.
From the meaning and interpretation of the holy Kalima given above, you will have realized that it is a covenant. It embodies the pledge and the vow that we believe in Allah as the One and Only Lord Sovereign, Master and Creator, and regard everything that exists in this world and the Hereafter to be exclusively in His control, and that, since we do so, we will worship Him alone and carry out His commands the way a servant and a slave carries out the commands of his master, and love Him and adore him above all else, and, further, that we accept Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) as the true Apostle of Allah, and will abide by his guidance as a loyal follower and fashion our lives according to the holy law laid down by him. In fact, faith denotes nothing except this pledge and covenant and this is precisely what the affirmation of Divine Unity and Apostleship means.
A Muslim should, therefore hold himself bound by this covenant and try his level best to shape his conduct in its light so that he may earn recognition in the eyes of Allah as a genuine man of faith and attain his salvation and place in the paradise.
Those who are blessed enough to bear faith honestly in both the parts of the holy Kalima and to give proof of it by word as well as by deed are the recipients of countless glad tidings like the one reproduced below:
It is related by Hazrat Anas that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) once said to Hazrat Ma'ad, "Allah has declared as forbidden the fire of the Hell for him who affirms the Kalima of with a true heart". (Agreed Upon)
Brothers, affirm with a true heart and with a full knowledge and awareness of its implications and importance and resolve now and forever to lead your lives according to it in order that your attestation may not turn out to be false. On this very attestation depends your faith and your salvation.
The first and most important duty in Islam after one has brought faith in Allah and in Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and borne witness to Divine Oneness and the Apostleship of the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is Salaah. It is a most special act of Divine worship, which a Muslim is called upon to perform five times a day. There are numerous verses of the Quran and the Traditions of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) enjoining the Salaah on us. It has been described as the pillar and the foundation of the faith.
Salaah, if it is offered with a sincere heart and proper devotion and mental concentration, is particularly vested with the property of cleansing the heart and reforming one's life and ridding it of sins and impurities. It generates love for piety and truth and promotes fear of Allah in man. Thus it is that Islam has laid greater emphasis on it than on all other religious obligations. When anyone came to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to embrace Islam, the first promise the sacred Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) took from him, after instructing him in Divine Oneness, was that he will offer the Salaah regularly. In fine, after the Kalima, Salaah is the bedrock of Islam.
We know from the Traditions that the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to equate neglect of the Salaah with infidelity. He denounced it as the way of the unbelievers. He would say that those who did not offer the Salaah had not share in the faith.
A Tradition of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) reads, "What separates a believer from infidelity is simply the Salaah". (Muslim)
This Tradition clearly warns that if a Muslim will give up the Salaah he will get associated with infidelity; his conduct will become the conduct of an infidel. In another Tradition the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said, "He has no share in Islam who does not offer the Salaah". (Durr Manthur with reference to Musnad Bazzaar)
And here is another Tradition from which we can imagine what a great act of virtue and felicity is it to offer the Salaah regularly and how utterly fatal and ruinous is it to neglect it. Once while urging upon the Muslims to be most particular about the Salaah the sacred Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have observed:
"Whoever will offer the Salaah properly and regularly it will be for him on the Last Day a source of light. A proof of his faith and a means to salvation. (On the other hand) whoever will not offer it carefully and regularly it will be for him neither a source of light, and the end of such a person will be with Karun, Fir'aun, Haman and Ubai-bin-Khalaf.
Brother, let us now imagine what our end is going to be if we fail to cultivate the habit of offering the Salaah correctly and regularly.
The ignominy and disgrace of the defaulters on the last day
The ignominy and disgrace the defaulters of Salaah will have to suffer at the very outset on the Day of Judgment has been spoken of in these words in the Quran:
يَوْمَ يُكْشَفُ عَنْ سَاقٍ وَيُدْعَوْنَ إِلَى السُّجُودِ فَلَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ () خَاشِعَةً أَبْصَارُهُمْ تَرْهَقُهُمْ ذِلَّةٌ وَقَدْ كَانُوا يُدْعَوْنَ إِلَى السُّجُودِ وَهُمْ سَالِمُونَ ()
The day that the shin shall be laid bare, and they shall be summoned to bow in adoration, but they shall not be able, their eyes will be cast down, ignominy will cover them, seeing that they had been summoned aforetime to bow in adoration while they were whole (and had refused). (68:42)
The verse tells that on the Last Day when the hour of Judgment will arrive (when all mystery will vanish and reality will be fully manifest) and gathered together, Allah will reveal Himself to them in full glory and splendor. Everyone will then be called upon to bow in adoration before Allah. The fortunate and the faithful among them who had been regular in their Salaah in the world and were, thus, accustomed to kneeling down before Allah will, at once, bow down in adoration, but those who in spite of being healthy and strong had not observed the Salaah in their lifetime will find that their backs had suddenly grown stiff like a board and they will remain standing with the infidels, unable to bend down and carry out the prostration. They will be covered with ignominy, their eyes will be downcast, and they will not be able even to look up. Before the chastisement of hell, they will have to bear this chastisement of humiliation and disgrace. May Allah, by His Grace, save us all from it!
In truth, a habitual defaulter of the Salaah is a sort of a rebel against Allah and deserves all the humiliation and punishment that may be meted out to him. According to some legists of Islam, a Muslim who rejects the Salaah is liable to be punished with death like an apostate.
Brothers - We must realize it thoroughly and well that without the Salaah the claim to Islam is altogether meaningless. Salaah alone is the Islamic act that joins us with Allah and makes us deserving of His grace.
Blessings of Salaah
When a person stands before the Almighty with his arms folded, five times a day, and celebrates His praises and kneels down before Him and touches the ground with his forehead and makes earnest supplications to Him, he becomes worthy of His love and beneficence, his sins are forgiven with every Salaah he offers, his heart attains enlightenment and his life becomes pure. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) once gave an excellent example to illustrate this truth. He asked his Companions, "Tell me, if a stream flows at the door of anyone of you and he takes a dip in it five times a day will there be left any grime on his body?" The Companions replied, "No, Sir. No grime will be left on his body". The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, "It is exactly the same with the five daily prayers. Allah removes all impurities and sins because of their auspiciousness:" (Agreed Upon)
Superiority of Congregation
It appears from the Prophet's Traditions that Salaah should be offered in congregation if one wants to derive full benefit from it. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was so very particular about it that once while condemning the conduct of those who avoided coming to the mosque to say their prayers in congregation due to laziness or indifference he observed with anger that he felt like burning down their homes. (Muslim)
This one Tradition is enough to show how repugnant it is to Allah and the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that anyone should not offer his prayers in congregation. Another Tradition says: - "The reward on saying the Salaah in congregation is twenty times as much as on saying it alone." (Agreed Upon) (It should be noted that the superiority of offering Salaah in congregation is only for men. The ahaadith (traditions) say clearly that women earn greater reward on saying their prayers at home than in the masjid)
Apart from the reward in the Hereafter, there are many other advantages in offering up the Salaah in congregation. For instance, one acquires the habit of punctuality by attending the mosque regularly to say his prayers in congregation, it enables Muslim brethren of the locality to assemble at one place five times every day and this can be turned to great benefit, the practice of saying the Salaah regularly in the mosque congregationally makes a man thoroughly regular in his prayers for it has been seen that those who offer their prayers individually at home are often inclined to be neglectful. Yet another notable advantage in saying the prayers in congregation is that the Salaah of each participant becomes a part of the Salaah of the whole congregation in which, along with others, there are also generally present some venerable and virtuous servants of Allah whose Salaah is of a very high order. Their Salaah finds acceptance with Allah and the expectation from his Benevolent Grace is that when He will grant acceptance to the prayers of some members of the congregation He will, along with them, accept the prayers of the rest of the congregation too.
Now, imagine what rich rewards and blessings do we deprive ourselves of when we do not go to the mosque to offer our prayers in congregation without a valid excuse.
Meekness and Humility
The offering up of the Salaah with meekness and humility means that, believing Allah to be Omni present and All-Seeing, the Salaah should be offered is such a way that the heart is filled with His love and stricken with awe by the thought of His Greatness and Magnificence as if a criminal was standing in front of a great judge or a mighty ruler. As a devotee stands up for Salaah he should visualize that he is standing in the presence of the Almighty - that he is standing out of reverence to Him. When he bows his head in Ruku or kneels down to perform the Sajda he should imagine that it was all being carried out in front of Allah and in expression of his own utter worthlessness and humility. Better still, whatever is recited during Salaah, whether while standing or in Ruku or Sajda, should be done with a proper understanding of its meaning. The real joy and beauty of Salaah is experienced only when it is offered with an intelligent appreciation of its contents. It is not, at all, difficult to learn the meaning of the Suras that are generally recited in Salaah.
The devotion of the heart and the sentiments of awe and humility, indeed, are the very soul of the Salaah. The ultimate success and deliverance of believers who offer up such a kind of Salaah is assured. Declares the Quran: -
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ () الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ ()
The believers must (eventually) win through-those who humble themselves in their prayers. (23:1-2)
Says the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), "Allah has made the five daily prayers obligatory. Whoever did the Wazu properly and offered them up at the right time and carried out the Ruku and Sajda as they ought to be, humbly and reverentially, for him the promise of Allah is that he will be pardoned; and whoever did not do so (i.e., did not say his prayers in this manner), for him there is no such promise. Allah will pardon or punish him as He will please."
When the time for prayers comes we should perform the Wazu carefully, believing that this washing and cleansing was necessary before we presented ourselves before the Lord and worshipped Him. The Almighty, in His benevolence, has invested the Wazu with great auspiciousness. The sins and transgressions of the parts of the body that are washed during it are forgiven because of it. The unholy effects of sins are, so to speak, washed away by the water used in the Wazu. After the Wazu, as we stand up for the Salaah, the predominant thought in our minds should be that we, the sinning and defaulting slaves were going to stand before a Lord and Master from whom nothing was concealed, who knew all about us, the hidden as well as the manifest, and before whom we would have to appear on the Day of Judgment. We should then formulate precisely the intention to offer the particular prayer and raising the hands up to our ears pronounce not only with the tongue but with our hearts too, the formula:
Allah is Great
After it, with arms folded across the chest and a full awareness of the fact of our presence before the Almighty we should recite:
سبحانك اللهم و بحمدك و تبارك اسمك و تعالى جدك و لا أله غيرك
(Transcription: Subhaanaka Allahumma wa bihamdika wa tabara kasmuka wa ta'ala jaddo ka wa laa ilaaha ghairuka).
أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم بسم الله الرحمان الرحيم
O Allah, with Thy glorification and Thy praise; blessed is Thy name, great is Thy glory, and there is no Allah except Thee.
(Transcription: 'Aaoozu Billah-i-Minash - Shaitanir Rajeem: Bismilla hir Rahmaanir Raheem).
I seek refuge in Allah from the wicked Devil and begin with the name of Allah, the Most Benevolent, the All-Merciful.
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ () الرَّحْمانِ الرَّحِيمِ () مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ () إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ () اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ () صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ () غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ ()
(Transcription: Alhamdu lil-laahi rabbil Aalameen, Ar Rahmaanir Raheem, Maaliki yaumid deen, lyyaaka na'budu wa lyyaaka nas-ta'een, Didinas siraatal mustaqeem, Siraatal ladheena anamta alaihim, ghairil maghdoobi alaihim, wa ladh dhaal leen. Aameen).
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds the Compassionate, Thee alone do we worship, and to Thee alone do we beg for help. Show us the straight path: the path of those whom Thou hast favoured; not (the path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray. Amen!
Then some other Sura of the Quran, or a part thereof, should be recited. Here we give four brief Suras along with their translations.
وَالْعَصْرِ () إِنَّ الْإِنْسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ () إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ ()
(Transcription: Wal'asr, in-nal insaana lafee khusr, il-lal ladheena aamanu wa aamilus saali-haati wa tawaasau, bil haqqi wa tawaasau bis sabr).
By the Time! Lo, man is in a state of great loss, save those who believe and do good deeds, and exhort one another to truth, and exhort one another to patient perseverance.
قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ () اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ () لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ () وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ ()
(Transcription: Qul huwal laahu ahad, Al-laahus-samad. Lam yalid, wa lam yoolad, walam yakul laahoo kufuwan Ahad).
Say: "It is Allah, the Unique! Allah, the eternally besought of all! He begetteth not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him!"
قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ الْفَلَقِ () مِنْ شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ () وَمِنْ شَرِّ غَاسِقٍ إِذَا وَقَبَ () وَمِنْ شَرِّ النَّفَّاثَاتِ فِي الْعُقَدِ () وَمِنْ شَرِّ حَاسِدٍ إِذَا حَسَدَ ()
(Transcription: Qul'aoozu be rabbil falaq, min shar re ma khalaq, wa min shar re ghasiqin iza waqab, wa min shar rin naffasat-i-fil uqad, wa min shar re hassidin iza hasad).
Say: "I seek refuge in the Lord of the Dawn from the mischief of created things; from the mischief of those who practice secret arts; and from the mischief of the envious' one as he practices envy".
قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ () مَلِكِ النَّاسِ () إِلَهِ النَّاسِ () مِنْ شَرِّ الْوَسْوَاسِ الْخَنَّاسِ () الَّذِي يُوَسْوِسُ فِي صُدُورِ النَّاسِ () مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ وَالنَّاسِ ()
(Transcription: Qul'aaoozu be rabbil naas, malikin naas, ilaahin naas, min sharril was wasil khannaas, al lazi yo was wiso fi sudoorin naas, minal jin nat-i-wan nas).
Say: "I seek refuge in the Lord and Cherisher of mankind, the King (of Ruler) of mankind, the Allah (or Judge) of mankind, from the mischief of the sneaking whisperer, who withdraws (after his whisper), (the same) who whispers into the hearts of mankind among jinns and among men".
Anyhow, after the Sura of Al-Hamd Sharif some other Sura of the Quran, or a part of it, is to be recited. Only this much of the Quran is recited during each Rak'at of the Salaah, When the recitation has been completed, with the thought of the Majesty and Glory of Allah embedded in our hearts, we should say Allah-o-Akbar and perform the Ruku by placing our hands on our knees without bending them and pronounce a number of times the phrase:
سبحان ربّي العظيم
(Transcription: Subhaana rabbiyal azeem)
Glory be to my Lord, the most Elevated
While reciting the above formula in the Ruku we should also meditate on its meaning, on the Glory and Magnificence of the Lord. Then the head be raised, from the Ruku, saying:
سمع الله لمن حمد
(Transcription: Sami'al laahu liman hamidah)
Allah has heard the servant who has praised Him (Transcription: Rabbanaa lakal Hamd)
Our Lord! Praise be to Thee Then, again, we should say Allah-o-Akbar from the depth of our hearts and prostrate ourselves before the Lord and perform two Sajdas simultaneously. During the Sajda the under-mentioned formula should be repeated a number of times imagining inwardly that Allah was present right there, seeing and hearing everything, and we were addressing the words directly to him.
سبحان ربّي الأعلى
(Transcription: Subhaana rabbiyal a'laa) Glory be to my Lord, the Most High
While reciting these words in the Sajda, also, we should try sincerely to call forth within ourselves the realization of our abject helplessness and humility and the Supreme Might and Magnificence of the Lord. The deeper and stronger the realization, the better and truer will be the Salaah for this sentiment constitutes the very, life and soul of worship.
This completes one Rak'at. All the remaining Rak'ats are to be offered similarly except that (sub-haanaka-Allaahumaa) is recited only in the first Rak'at. When we sit during a Salaah, or at the end of it, we recite (at-tahiyaat) which, indeed, is its essence and substance: (Transcription: Atthiyaatu lilaahi was salawaatu wattaiyyabaatu, as salaamu alaika ayyuhan nabeeyu wa rehmatul laahi wa bara kaatuh, as salaamu alainaa wa alaa ibaadil laahis saliheen, ash-hadu al-laa ilaaha il-lal-laahu, wa ash-hadu an-na Muhammadan abduhu wa rasooluh).
The most blessed greetings, the purest and most sincere inclinations unto Got. Peace be with thee, O Prophet, as well as the mercy of Allah and His blessings. Peace be with us also, and the pious servants of the Lord. I attest that there is no Allah if not Allah himself, and I attest that Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is His servant and Apostle.
If a Salaah consists of three or four Rak'ats, when we sit after the second Rak'at only the above invocation is recited, and, at the end of the last Rak'at, the Durood Sharif and a prayer are also added to it. The Durood Sharif runs as follows:
أللهم صلي على محمد و على آل محمد كما صليت على إبراهيم و على آل إبراهيم إنك حميد مجيد
(Transcription: Allaahnmaa sal-li alaa Muhammadin wa alaa aal-I-Muhammadin kamaa
sal-laita alaa Ibraaheema wa alaa a'al-I-Ibraaheema innaka hameedum majeed).
O Allah, bless Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and his posterity (or followers) as Thou hast blest Abraham and his posterity (or followers); Verily, Thou art the Praiseworthy, the Majestic.
أللهم بارك على محمد و على آل محمد كما باركت على إبراهيم و على آل إبراهيم إنك حميد مجيد
(Transcription: Allaahumma baarik ala Muhammadin wa alaa aal-I-Muhammadin kamaa baarak ta alaa Ibraaheema wa alaa a'1-i-Ibraaheem in-naka hameedum majeed).
O Allah, magnify Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and his posterity (or followers) as Thou hast magnified Abraham and his posterity (or followers); Verily, Thou art the Praiseworthy), the Majestic.
Though the Durood Sharif we invoke the favours and blessings of the Lord on the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and his family and all those who bear a special association with him. It is, after all, through the agency of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that the Divine boon of Islam and Salaah has reached us. Allah has, therefore, charged us with the duty of praying for him, his family and his descendants at the end of each Salaah as an expression of our gratitude to him. After the Durood Sharif it is required of us to recite the under-mentioned prayer for ourselves and with it the Salaah is brought to an end by turning the head, first to the right and then to the left, and wishing everyone peace and blessings of the Lord.
أللهم إني ظلمت نفسي ظلما كثيرا ولا يغفر الذنوب إلا أنت فغفر لي مغفرة من عندك وارحمني إنك أنت الغفور الرحيم
(Transcription: Allaahumma in-nee zalamtu nafsee zulman katheeran, wa laa yaghfirudh
dhunooba il-laa anta, faghfir lee maghfiratum min indika warhmanee in-nika antal ghafoorur raheem).
O Allah, I have done my soul a great harm and no one can forgive sins if not Thee; sogrant me forgiveness with Thy pleasure and have pity on me. Thou art Most Forgiving; Most Merciful.
By means of this prayer we make an open confession of our sins and misdeeds and beseech Allah for His Mercy and Forgiveness. It is best for us always to consider ourselves defaulters and transgressors and make an open hearted admission of our faults and lapses even after performing an act of worship of the class of Salaah, and to repose all our hopes in Divine Compassion and Mercy. We must not allow pride or vanity to come near us because of our devoutness or worship-fullness for, whatever we may do, we can never hope to acquit ourselves fully of the duty of worshipping Allah and adoring Him and of rendering to Him what is His due.
All that is necessary to know about Salaah has been described in this lesson. Once again, we assert that Salaah is that elixir among the various modes of worship which can transform a man into an angel, in the sphere of his deeds and morals, provided that it is offered with due concentration and the feelings of reverence and humility. Brothers, we just cannot afford to take lightly the significance, worth and value of the Salaah.
So overpowering was the Prophet's anxiety for his followers to remain steadfast in the matter of Salaah and offer it regularly and unfailingly that he took pains to exhort them about it even during the last moments of his life when it had become extremely difficult for him to speak.
Muslims who neglect the Salaah and do nothing to establish it and to keep it alive in their midst should imagine, for the sake of Allah, how are they going to face the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) on the Day of Reckoning, how are they going to look towards him, after disregarding so shamelessly his last will and testament during their life.
Come, let us all pray now in the words of Prophet Ibraaheem:
رب اجعلني مقيم الصلاة و من ذريتي ربنا و تقبل دعاء ربنا اغفر لي ولوالدي و للمؤمنين يوم يقوم الحساب
(Transcription: Rab-bij alnee muqeem-us-salaati wa min zurriyatee, rab-bana taqabal duaae, rabbanaghfirlee wa le waalidaiyya wa HI momineena yauma yaqoomul Hissab).
Oh my Lord! Make me one who establishes regular Prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring; Oh my Lord! And accept Thou my Prayer. Oh our Lord! Cover (us) with Thy Forgiveness me, my parents (and all Believers) on the Day that Reckoning will be established.
Among the fundamental tenets of Islam Zakat occupies a place next in importance only to belief and Salaah. As one would say, it is the third pillar of Islam. Zakat means that a Muslim who is in possession of a certain amount of wealth, or more, is required by his religion to spend one fortieth of it at the end of every twelve months on the poor, the needy and the wayfarer, and on such other items of charity and good-doing as are prescribed for it by Allah and the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).
At several places in the Quran Zakat has been enjoined on Muslims side by side with Salaah. While reading the Quran you would have come across a number of times the command: "Be steadfast in prayer; practice regular Charity." On several occasions it has been spoken of by the Quran as a characteristic feature of Muslims that, "They establish prayer and practice regular Charity". These two verses go to show emphatically that those who do not offer Salaah and fail to pay the Zakat are, in fact, not Muslims for the two basic attributes and distinguishing features of a genuine Muslim are not present in them.
Anyway, habitual neglect of Salaah and failure to practice the Zakat are, according to the Quran, not the qualities of a Muslim but of an atheist or a polytheist. About the Salaah we have a verse in Sura-I-Rum of the Quran, which reads: Establish regular Prayer and be not ye among those who join gods with Allah:
وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَلَا تَكُونُوا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
“Establish regular Prayer and be not among those who join gods with Allah”. (30:31)
And about the evasion of Zakat being the attribute of polytheists and infidels we have it in Surah Fussilat:
وَوَيْلٌ لِلْمُشْرِكِينَ () الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ بِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ كَافِرُونَ()
And woe to those who join gods with Allah, those who practice not regular Charity, and who even deny the Hereafter. (41:6-7)
The fate that awaits those who do not pay the Zakat and the punishment that is going to be handed out to them in the Hereafter is so dreadful that the mere thought of it is enough to make one's hair stand on end. For instance, it is stated in Sura-i-Taubah:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِنَ الْأَحْبَارِ وَالرُّهْبَانِ لَيَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَيَصُدُّونَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِينَ يَكْنِزُونَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلَا يُنْفِقُونَهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَبَشِّرْهُمْ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ () يَوْمَ يُحْمَى عَلَيْهَا فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ فَتُكْوَى بِهَا جِبَاهُهُمْ وَجُنُوبُهُمْ وَظُهُورُهُمْ هَذَا مَا كَنَزْتُمْ لِأَنْفُسِكُمْ فَذُوقُوا مَا كُنْتُمْ تَكْنِزُونَ ()
And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah; announce unto them a most grievous penalty- On the Day when heat will be produced out of that (wealth) in the Fire of Hell, and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks and their backs. "This is the (treasure) which ye buried for yourselves. Taste ye the (treasures) ye buried." (9:34-35)
In one of his Traditions, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has explained in a little more detail the purport of this Sura. The Tradition when translated into English reads: "He who possesses gold or silver (i.e., wealth) but does not fulfill the obligations that are attached to the possession of wealth (i.e., does not pay the Zakat etc.,) plates of fire will be prepared for him on the Day of judgment. These plates will be heated further in the fire of hell and then his forehead and sides and back will be branded with them. The plates will be heated up again and again to brand him and this will continue throughout the Day of Judgment which will be equal to fifty thousand years in this world." Besides it, other horrible kinds of punishment are also mentioned in the Traditions. May Allah save us all from them!
Unjust and ungrateful
People who have been blessed by Allah with wealth and prosperity are, indeed, a most unjust and ungrateful lot if they do not pay the Zakat and shirk from spending their riches in His way as desired by Him. They richly deserve the punishment that is going to be meted out to them on the Day of Recompense.
Again, what is generally not realized is that it is our own poor and indigent brothers we serve when we pay the Zakat or spend our money on other acts of charity. By evading the Zakat we, as such, do a great wrong to our need and helpless brethren and play foul with their rights.
To think over it from another angle, whatever we have by way of property or wealth has, after all, been granted to us by Allah and we are His creatures and slaves. He commands full control and authority over our possessions as He does over our lives. Were He to demand from us every bit of our property or our life itself our duty, even then, would lie in placing everything before Him quietly and without demur. It is merely His kindness and benevolence that he has called on us to give away in Zakat only one-fortieth of the wealth He has bestowed on us.
Another extra-ordinary favour of the Lord is that He has placed an enormous reward on Zakat and other deeds of charity though whatever we give away is only out of the possessions and the wealth He has been pleased to bestow on us. It would be perfectly reasonable and justified if there had been no promise of a reward from Him on these things. If He is pleased with our conduct when we spend, from the resources He has favoured us with, in Zakat and in other charitable activities, as ordained by Him, and has given the assurance of a rich premium on such deeds of ours, it is solely due to His Infinite Kindness and Mercy. States the Quran.
مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنْفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنْبَتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنْبُلَةٍ مِائَةُ حَبَّةٍ وَاللَّهُ يُضَاعِفُ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ () الَّذِينَ يُنْفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ لَا يُتْبِعُونَ مَا أَنْفَقُوا مَنًّا وَلَا أَذًى لَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ ()
The parable of those who spend their substance in the Way of Allah is that of a grain of corn: it growth seven ears and each ear hath a hundred grains. Allah giveth manifold increase to whom He pleaseth: for Allah careth for all and He knoweth all things. Those who spend their substance in the Cause of Allah, and follow not up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with reminders of their reward is with their Lord: on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve. (2-261-262)
In the above verse, three promises have been made on behalf of Allah to those who practice Zakat and spend their money in His Way through other means"
One, Allah will repay them hundred-fold in this world for what they spend'
Two, they will be rewarded bounteously in the Hereafter;
Three, there will be for them neither fear nor grief on the Day of Judgment.
The holy Companions had the fullest faith in these premises. When verses extolling the spiritual merit of expending in the path of Allah and denoting what stupendous Divine reward there was on it were revealed to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and the Companions came to know of them from him they were so deeply stirred that such of them as were poor and did not have the means to give away something in charity left their homes loads on their backs so that they could earn some money to spend for the sake of Allah.
We will reproduce here just one Tradition of the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) revealing the significance and the outstanding worth and merit of Zakat.
States the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam):
"There are three things, whoever acquires them acquires the real joy of faith Firstly, to
worship Allah and no one besides Him; secondly, to believe sincerely in and, lastly, to
pay the Zakat cheerfully on one's possessions every year."
Apart from the reward and recompense in the Hereafter, numerous worldly advantages also accrue from practicing the Zakat regularly and spending in other Divinely prescribed branches of charity. For example, a Muslim who discharges these obligations properly experiences a rare feeling of satisfaction and tranquility in his heart, the poor do not feel jealous of his wealth-on the other hand, they wish him well, pray for his welfare and look towards him with love and admiration, the world holds him in high esteem, everyone likes him and feels drawn towards him sympathetically and Allah bestows prosperity on him and multiplies his wealth. A tradition of the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) reads
"The mandate of Allah is: 'O Son of Adam! Go on spending the wealth I have given thee (on the poor, the needy and the destitute): I shall give thee more".
"I can swear no one will become poor because of expending in the way of Allah".
May Allah endow us all with staunchest faith in the sayings of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and grant us the great good fortune to act on them!
After belief, Salaah and Zakat, the most important duty in Islam is Saum (or fasting). The Quran says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ ()
Oh ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that ye may (learn) self-restraint. (2:183).
Fasting is obligatory for Muslims in the month of Ramzan. Failure to observe the fast on any day, without a valid reason, during this month is a great sin. We have it on the authority of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that, "Anyone who does not, without illness or any other valid excuse, keep fast on a single day during Ramzan will not succeed in making amends for it even if he were to keep fast daily throughout his life in atonement".
During the fast, a Muslim abstains from eating and drinking and denies himself the pleasures of legitimate carnal satisfaction solely as a measure of worship, and sacrifices his legitimate biological needs and urges exclusively for the sake of Allah.
Allah, too, therefore, has placed a most unique reward on it. The Prophet (Peace be upon
him) is reported to have said:
"There is a fixed principle for rewarding all the good deeds of men, and every good deed will be rewarded in accordance with it. But the fast is an exception to this general principle. The standing will and pleasure of Allah is that since a man forgoes food and drink and crushes down his passions utterly for His sake, He will recompense him directly for it."
"All the previous sins of a person are forgiven who undertakes the fasts of the month of Ramzan with full faith and with the object of propitiating Allah and earning His reward."
"There are two moments of special joy for a person who fasts: one is when he breaks the fast and this he experiences here in his earthly existence, the other will come in the Hereafter when he will be presented before the Lord."
"Saum is a shield against the fire of hell and a strong fortress (which will protect the believer from infernal chastisement)."
"The fast itself will plead with Allah for him who does fasting that he had gone without the day's meals and shunned the cravings of the flesh for its sake (so he may be forgiven and rewarded to the full). Allah will accept the intercession".
"The bad odour emanating from the mouth of a person who is fasting (which is sometimes produced because of empty stomach) is more pleasant in the judgment of Allah than the sweet smell of musk".
Another outstanding feature of Saum, besides those given in the Traditions quoted above, is that it lifts man above the level of beasts. To eat and to drink at will and to copulate whenever the urge comes, this is the way of the animals. On the other extreme, to be immune from hunger and thirst and the impulsions of sex, to stay away permanently from food and drink and cohabitation is the quality of angels. When a person fasts he rises above the animal existence and forges an affinity with angels.
Moreover, Saum, promotes piety and righteousness in man. It produces in him the ability to control his physical desires. It teaches him how to subordinate his carnal appetites and longings of the heart to the will of Allah. It is, thus, most effective in the discipline and evolution of the soul.
But these benefits can be derived only when a person conscientiously strives from them and pays due respect, while he is fasting, to the instructions laid down by the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in this connection. It is most necessary to leave strictly alone not only food and drink but also all the major and minor sins. He must neither quarrel nor utter a lie nor engage himself in slander and back-biting. In brief, he should scrupulously avoid all sinful deeds, apparent as well as hidden, as is demanded of him in the Traditions. Some of the relevant Traditions are:
"When any of you keeps a fast he should not speak an indecent or filthy word on engage in a noisy scene, and were anyone to quarrel with him and call him names he should simply say, 'I am keeping fast (therefore, I can not pay you back in the same coin)'." "Allah has no need for him to go without food and drink who cannot shun evil and falsehood even during a fast."
"Many are there among you who fast and yet gain nothing from it except hunger and thirst."
In sum, fasts can lead to the promotion of the virtues of piety and righteousness and impart the moral strength needed to control and discipline the sensual appetites when, together with abstention from food and drink, all the major and minor transgressions of the law of Allah are also zealously avoided while fasting, more specially the use of foul and filthy language, falsehood, slander and backbiting. If fasts are observed in the right spirit and with proper care and solicitude, the benefits indicated above can undoubtedly, be obtained from them.
The last of the fundamental duties in Islam is the Hajj. Laying it down as an essential religious obligation of Muslims, the Quran says:
فِيهِ آيَاتٌ بَيِّنَاتٌ مَقَامُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمَنْ دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آمِنًا وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِينَ ()
Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah, those who can afford the journey, but if any deny faith Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures. (3:97)
In this verse while the Hajj has been declared obligatory it has been made clear that it is applicable only to those who possess the means and material resources to undertake it. But care has been taken, in the last part of it, to warn that if Muslims whom Allah has blessed with the necessary material means to perform the pilgrimage still fail to carry out the duty through sheer ingratitude (as is common among the wealthy classes these days) then Allah does not stand in need of their pilgrimage. The Almighty, definitely, is not going to lose anything by their not performing the Hajj, the loss will entirely to theirs. They will forfeit His good graces, they will deprive themselves of His benevolence, and Allah-forbid, a most lamentable fate will be waiting for them in the Hereafter. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have gone as far as to say: "A person whom Allah has given enough to perform the Hajj, if he still fails to do so then it does not matter at all whether he dies a Jew or a Christian,"
Brother, if there is any regard in our hearts for Islam, if we can boast of the least attachment to Allah and the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), none of us who can afford to make the journey should remain without performing the Hajj after we have known this Traditions.
The importance of the Hajj and the spiritual meritoriousness of those who perform it have been emphasized in a number of Traditions. We will reproduce a few of them here.
"Those who make the pilgrimage for the Hajj or the Umra they are guests of Allah: their petitions, if they make any to Allah, will be granted, and if they seek deliverance from sins, their sins will be forgiven."
"He who performs the Hajj and commits no wicked or sinful deed during it and does not disobey Allah, he will return from it as pure and guiltless as he was at the time of his birth."
"The reward for a pure and untainted hajj is paradise itself and nothing short of it."
The remission of sins and the enjoyment of the supreme blissfulness of paradise as a result of the spiritual auspiciousness of the Hajj will, Insha Allah, surely be granted to the faithful in full measure in life to come, but the exquisite thrill and the sublime joy one experiences, the soul-stirring sensation of delight and wonderment one feels, on seeing that choicest seat of Divine splendour the House of Ka'aba and on visiting those special places in Mecca where the memories of Prophet Abraham and of our own Prophet (peace be upon whom) are still alive, are also things of the celestial world on the earth. Then the pilgrimage to the Prophet's mausoleum at Medina, the offering up of Salaah in his own mosque, the addressing of the salutation and the benediction to him directly, the aimless wanderings in the streets and the wilderness of that blessed city, the breathing in of its air and the fragrance which always seems to be filling its atmosphere, the ethereal joy of his remembrance bursting upon one sometimes in laughter and sometimes in tears-all these things provided, of course, that one is blessed enough to feel them are the immediate rewards a pilgrim gets when he betakes himself to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Five Pillars of Islam
The five fundamental teachings of Islam we have discussed so far the Kalima, Salaah, Zakat, Saum and Hajj are known as the 'Five Pillars of the Faith'.
A well-known Tradition of the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) tells us that, "The foundation of Islam rests on these five things:
(i) The affirmation of Oneness of Allah,
(ii) The establishment of Salaah,
(iii) The payment of Zakat,
(iv) The observance of Saum in the month of Ramzan, and
(v) The performance of Hajj by those who can afford to make the pilgrimage."
When these five items are spoken of as the 'Pillars of Islam' it means that these are the fundamental duties of the faith. If carried out properly these duties are capable of producing in us the ability to fulfill our other religious obligations as well. Here we have dwelt only on their importance and the intrinsic spiritual virtue that underlies them. Detailed rules and principles governing them can be learnt from reliable books on Islamic Jurisprudence or directly from a Muslim theologian.
The Piety forms part of the basic essentials of Islam. It means to observe the Divine Commandments conscientiously and scrupulously and to avoid all forbidden and wicked and shameful things, believing wholly and firmly in the Great Requital of the Last Day and fearing Allah and His wrath and punishment as a burnt child is supposed to dread the fire. In other words, it demands of us, on the one hand, to carry out, thoroughly and well, the duties prescribed by the Almighty and to fulfill zealously to the Divine law, and, on the other, to refrain strictly from doing anything that has been prohibited us by Him. It calls on us to make the fear of Allah our constant companion. Both in the Quran and the Traditions a very great emphasis has been laid on piety and righteousness and it has been urged on us most forcefully and persistently to cultivate it in ourselves. Some of the relevant verses of the Quran are:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ ()
O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam. (3:102)
فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ وَاسْمَعُوا وَأَطِيعُو
So fear Allah as much as you can; listen and obey. (64:16)
O ye who believe! Fear Allah and let every soul look to what (provisions) he has sent forth for the morrow. Yea, fear Allah; for Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that ye do. (59:18)
The Quranic verses, further, reveal that there is a great favour of the Lord even in this world on those who fear Allah and practice piety and righteousness. Allah shows special munificence to them and makes His help available to them in a thousand ways:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَلْتَنْظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ ()
And for those who fear Allah he (ever) prepares a way out, and He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. (65:2-3)
The Quran also tells: that those who lead a life piety and righteousness become 'Friends of Allah', and, then, for them there is neither fear nor shall they ever grieve.
أَلَا إِنَّ أَوْلِيَاءَ اللَّهِ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ () الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَكَانُوا يَتَّقُونَ () لَهُمُ الْبُشْرَى فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِكَلِمَاتِ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ ()
Behold! Verily on the Friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve, those who believe and (constantly) guard against evil; for them are Glad Tidings, in the life of the Present and the Hereafter. (10-62-64)
Some of the wonderful boons and blessings that await the pious and the righteous in the Hereafter have been revealed briefly in the following verses:
قُلْ أَؤُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِخَيْرٍ مِنْ ذَلِكُمْ لِلَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَأَزْوَاجٌ مُطَهَّرَةٌ وَرِضْوَانٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِالْعِبَادِ ()
Say: Shall I give you glad tidings of things far better than those? For the righteous are Gardens in nearness to their Lord, with rivers flowing beneath; therein is their eternal home with Companions (pure and holy), and the good pleasure of Allah. For in Allah's sight are (all) His servants.' (3:15)
هَذَا ذِكْرٌ وَإِنَّ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ لَحُسْنَ مَآبٍ () جَنَّاتِ عَدْنٍ مُفَتَّحَةً لَهُمُ الْأَبْوَابُ () مُتَّكِئِينَ فِيهَا يَدْعُونَ فِيهَا بِفَاكِهَةٍ كَثِيرَةٍ وَشَرَابٍ () وَعِنْدَهُمْ قَاصِرَاتُ الطَّرْفِ أَتْرَابٌ () هَذَا مَا تُوعَدُونَ لِيَوْمِ الْحِسَابِ () إِنَّ هَذَا لَرِزْقُنَا مَا لَهُ مِنْ نَفَادٍ ()
And, verily, for the righteous, is a beautiful place of (Final) Return-Gardens of Eternity whose doors will ever be opened to them; therein will they recline (at ease); therein can they call (at pleasure) for fruit in abundance and (delicious) drink; and beside them will be chaste women restraining their glances, (companions) of equal age. Such is the promise made to Allah for the Day of Account! Truly, such will be Our Bounty (to you) It will never fail. (38:49-54)
In the Quran, again, men of piety are given the very special tidings of place of exceptional nearness to Allah in the Hereafter:
إِنَّ الْمُتَّقِينَ فِي جَنَّاتٍ وَنَهَرٍ () فِي مَقْعَدِ صِدْقٍ عِنْدَ مَلِيكٍ مُقْتَدِرٍ ()
As to the Righteous, they will be in the midst of Gardens and Rivers, in an Assembly of Truth in the presence of a Sovereign Omnipotent. (54:54-55)
The sole criterion of honour and superiority with Allah is piety.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَأُنْثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ ()
Verily, the most hooured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. (49:13)
Similarly, it has been declared by the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in one of his Traditions that:
"Nearest and dearest to me are those who possess the virtue of piety no matter what race or nationality they belong to or which country they live in."
Piety (i.e., fear of Allah and an over powering anxiety for the Hereafter) is the root of all virtue. It is the measure of all goodness. We will be as good and noble and as free from what is based on corrupt as there is piety in us. Another of the Prophet's Traditions reads:
"A holy Companion once said to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), Sir, I have heard so many of your valuable sayings that I fear I may not be able to remember them all. So I request you for a comprehensive advice, which may suffice for me always. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied, 'Fear Allah in proportion to your knowledge and make that fear and piety the guiding principles of your life."
"He who has fear will set out early and he who will set out early will reach the destination in time."
The fortunate and the successful, indeed, are those who fear Allah and prepare for the life to come. Even a single tear shed out of fear of Allah and of His anger and punishment carries a great value in His eyes.
"There are two drops," says the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), "and two marks than which nothing is more precious to Allah. Of the two drops so exceedingly dear to Him, one is the tear that may have fallen from the eyes of anyone out of His fear, and the other is the drop of blood that is shed in His path. Similarly, of the two marks one is the mark sustained in the path of Allah (i.e., the scar left behind by a wound sustained in Jihaad), and the other is the mark which may have developed as a result of the carrying out of a religious obligation (as for example, the marks one often sees on the forehead and knees of those who offer the Salaah regularly)."
We will take up one more Tradition of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). It says:
"Never can he go to hell who weeps in the fear of Allah."
The sum and substance of the entire discussion is that it is great, indeed, to be blessed with true fear of Allah and a genuine solicitude for the Hereafter. It can literally revolutionize one's whole existence.
Brothers, know it thoroughly and well that one who is Allah fearing in this transitory world will have absolutely nothing to worry in the Hereafter. He will have neither fear nor anxiety. He will dwell in eternal peace, comfort and happiness by the Grace of Allah.
On the contrary, he who is not Allah fearing and shows no concern for After life and refuses to look beyond the pleasures of material existence for him there will be terrible anguish and distress in the life to come. For thousands of years he will be shedding tears of blood. The surest way to develop piety, i.e., Allah fearing-ness and solicitude for the
Hereafter is to avail oneself of the company of the devout servants of the Lord who fear Him and obey His commands honestly. Then there are good and reliable religious books, which should be read regularly, and, if a person is illiterate, he should have them read out to him by others. Lastly, it is advisable to meditate in solitude on death and on the rewards one is going to get from Allah for one's good and virtuous deeds and the punishment that is going to be awarded by Him for one's sins and transgressions against the Divine Law. One should dwell mentally on one's state and visualize what is going to pass in the grave, what will one's condition be when men will be raised up again on the Last Day and produced before Allah? What will one do when the balance sheet of one's conduct on the earth will be unrolled? Where will one, then, hide one's face?
Honesty in monetary dealings
Uprightness and honesty in monetary dealings forms a vital part of the fundamental teachings of Islam.
The Quran as well as the Traditions of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) are emphatic that a true Muslim is he who is honest and upright in his business and monetary transactions, keeps his word and fulfills his promises, shuns fraud and avoids deceit and perfidy, encroaches not upon the rights of others nor takes part in wrongful litigation, does not give false evidence, and abstains from making dishonest money as from usury and graft.
Whoever is not free from these vices is, according to the Quran and the Traditions, not a true believer but a renegade and a worthless transgressor.
We now proceed to examine some of the relevant Quranic verses and Traditions. A short verse of the Quran says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُمْ بَيْنَكُمْ بِالْبَاطِلِ إِلَّا أَنْ تَكُونَ تِجَارَةً عَنْ تَرَاضٍ مِنْكُمْ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُمْ رَحِيمًا ()
O ye who believe! Eat not up each other's property by unfair and dishonest means. (4:29)
The verse forbids Muslims against all unclean and corrupt means of making money, such as, dishonest trading, embezzlement, gambling, speculation and bribery. Then there are verses in which these hateful practices are dealt with one by one.
For instance, a severe warning is given in the following verse to traders who cheat in weighing:
وَيْلٌ لِلْمُطَفِّفِينَ () الَّذِينَ إِذَا اكْتَالُوا عَلَى النَّاسِ يَسْتَوْفُونَ () وَإِذَا كَالُوهُمْ أَوْ وَزَنُوهُمْ يُخْسِرُونَ () أَلَا يَظُنُّ أُولَئِكَ أَنَّهُمْ مَبْعُوثُونَ () لِيَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ () يَوْمَ يَقُومُ النَّاسُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ()
Woe to those that deal in fraud, those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure, but when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due. Do they not think that they will be called to account on a Mighty Day when (all) mankind will stand before the Lord of the Worlds. (83:1-6)
In the same way the under mentioned verse exhorts Muslims to be very particular about their trusts and about other people's rights.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تُؤَدُّوا الْأَمَانَاتِ إِلَى أَهْلِهَا
Allah doth command you to render back your trusts to those to whom they are due. (4:58)
At two places in the Quran a chief distinguishing feature of Muslims is said to be that they are:
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِأَمَانَاتِهِمْ وَعَهْدِهِمْ رَاعُونَ ()
Those who faithfully observe their trusts and their covenants. (23:8)
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used often to say in his sermons:
"Remember, there is no faith in him who is not trustworthy; there is no place for him in religion who cares not for his pledged word or promise."
Another Tradition says: "The signs of a hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he is false; when he promises, he fails; and when he is trusted, he plays false."
Condemning those who cheat in business the sacred Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said, "He who cheats is not of us. Deceitfulness and fraud are things that lead one to Hell."
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) of Allah once came upon a heap of corn in the market of Medina and thrust his hand into it. His fingers felt damp. On being asked, the trader replied that rain had fallen upon it. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) observed, "Why did you not then keep (the wet portion of) it above the dry corn, so that men may see it? He who deceives is not one of us."
Thus, traders who deceive by showing to customers a false sample or by concealing from them the defects of the article they offer for sale are not true Muslims in the judgment of the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and, Allah-forbidding, they are going to end up in hell. Another Tradition says:
"The seller must explain to the buyer the defects, if any, in the quality of the article offered for sale. Should this not be done, the seller will permanently be caught in the wrath of Allah (according to another narrator the exact words are, 'he will always be cursed by the angels')."
In short, all manner of deceit and dishonesty in business is prohibited in Islam. It has been proclaimed to be an act worthy of unqualified condemnation. The holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has expressed his strong dislike for those who do so. He has said that he will have nothing to do with them; they do not belong to him. Likewise, bribery and usury, although they might be practiced by mutual consent and agreement, are totally disallowed to Muslims and those who are guilty of them have been condemned squarely in the Traditions. A well-known Tradition on usury reads:
"The curse of Allah rests on him who offers loan on usurious terms, and on him who receives, and on those who are witnesses to the transaction, and on the writer who writers the deed thereof."
As for bribery, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has, in a Tradition, "condemned alike the giver of bribes, and the taker of brides in deciding cases".
A Tradition goes even to the extent of saying that, "If a person made a recommendation for anyone in a just matter and the gratified party gave him something as a gift (in return for it) and he accepted it then he committed a grave error (meaning that it, too, is a form of bribery)."
Worse still is the unsurpation of another's property by force or fraud or dishonest litigation. We have it on the authority of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that:
"Whoever occupies land belonging to another unjustly will be sunk into the ground along with that plot of land on the Doomsday till he reaches the lowest layer of the earth.
"He who acquires the property of a Muslim unjustly by taking a false oath (before an Officer) is debarred by Allah from entering Paradise and the Fire of Hell is made inevitable for him", On hearting it a Companion is reported to have asked, "Even if it be a minor thing?" The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is said to have replied, "Yes, even if it be a twig of Pilo (a plant which grows wild. Its twigs are used for cleaning the teeth).
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), again is reported to have warned a person who was very fond of entering into litigation with others in these strong words, "Remember, he who will obtain the property of another by swearing a false oath will appear as a leper before Allah (in the Day of Judgment).
"Whoever laid his claim on a thing that was not his is not of us. He will do well to reserve a place for himself in the hell."
It is narrated that one day, after the morning prayers the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) stood up and said thrice with great feeling that, "Perjury has been made the equivalent of Polytheism."
Money or property, which is acquired through unfair means, as we have just indicated, is positively unclean and unlawful and anyone who makes use of it and spends it on his needs does himself a great harm. As the sacred Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has warned, his prayers will not find acceptance with Allah, his supplications will not be answered, his petitions will not be granted, and in case he does good deeds they will avail him nothing. In the Hereafter, there will be no share for him in the special favours and good graces of the Lord.
A Tradition says: "If a person earns or acquires anything through dishonest means and then gives away a part of it in charity, his act of charity will not be accepted, and if he will spend from it on his needs there will be no auspiciousness or real prosperity in it, and should he leave it behind to his descendants on his death it will serve for him as hell's provision. Believe it, Allah does not erase evil with evil (i.e., charity and salvation). One impurity cannot remove another; it cannot make it pure.'V
"Allah is pure Himself and He accepts only offerings that are pure."
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), at the end of the Tradition also narrated the story of a man "who undertakes a long and tedious journey (to supplicate to Allah at a haloed place) and arrives (at his destination) in such a state that his hair is disheveled and his body is covered from head to foot with dust. He throws up his hands towards the heavens and cries out, "O Lord! O my Preserver!' but his sustenance if of the impure and he has been brought up on what is polluted; how can his prayer be granted when such is the case?"
The above amply demonstrates that when a person draws his livelihood from impure means his prayers no longer remain worthy of being answered. Yet another Tradition of the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) reads:
"If a person buys a cloth for ten dirhams (unstamped piece of silver which was current in Arabia of those days as a coin. Later it was altered into a round form and stamped. Its value is uncertain) and one of them is tainted (i.e., it has been earned dishonestly), none of his Salaah will be accepted by Allah as long as he wears it."
And, here is one more:
"The flesh gathered on one's body by means of unclean earning deserves to be thrown into the Fire".
Brothers If we have the tiniest spark of faith left in our breasts we must make up our minds, once for all, after hearing these Traditions, that whatever poverty and hardship we may have to endure in the world we will never care to make a single penny from unclean and dishonest sources and will always content ourselves ith what we earn through honest lawful means.
Clean Earning and Honest Trade
Just as Islam has condemned all unclean and unlawful means of making money as wicked and sinful and denounced all profits derived from them as filthy and devilish, in the same way it has proclaimed great virtue in seeking one's livelihood honestly and in engaging oneself cleanly in trade or profession. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said: "To earn a clean living is also a duty next only to the prescribed duties of the faith." "The cleanest food is that which has been earned by the labour of his hand. Indeed, Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) David used to work with his own hands for the food he ate."
"The trader who plies his trade cleanly and honestly will rise in the hereafter in the company of Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)'s saints and martyrs.
Kindness and Compassion in Monetary Dealings
Islam has laid great stress on honesty and truth fullness in trade and other monetary dealings and described profound virtue and excellency in it. It has declared it to be a means of gaining nearness unto Allah. Islam, likewise, enjoins on us to be kind and avoid harshness and severity in our monetary transactions and has promised great spiritual advantage in it also. We will reproduce two of the Prophet's Traditions here:
"Blessings of Allah be on him who is mild and gentle in his business transactions and in the realization of his dues."
"Allah will protect him from the agonies of the Day of judgment who allows respite to a poor and indigent servant of His in the payment of his debt or writes off the debt (altogether or a part of it)."
These Traditions are meant for merchants and other wealthy men from whom people borrow money in the hour of their need. As for the borrowers, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to urge them to do their best to pay back their debts quickly lest they die in a state of indebtedness, with the claim of anyone lying unsettled on their heads. How strict the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was in this regard can be imagined from the following Traditions:
"If a person is killed in the path of Allah then all his sins will be forgiven (by virtue of his martyrdom). But if he owes anyone anything even martyrdom will not secure his release from it."
"By the lord in whose power lies the life of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), if a person falls a martyr in the path of Allah and returns to life and is killed again in the path of Allah and returns to life and is killed again in the path of Allah and returns to life only to be killed once more in the cause of Allah and there is still a debt outstanding against him, (until it is settled) even he will not be able to enter Paradise".
These two Traditions are quite sufficient to show what great importance Islam attaches to monetary affairs and the rights of men. May Allah grant us the wisdom to understand their delicacy and significance and to make it our constant endeavour to assure that the claims of no one are left unsatisfied by us!
Social conduct and mutual relations
Social conduct, good manners and respect for the rights of each other, again, form an important part of Islamic teachings. One can become a good and true Muslim only when one also observes faithfully the social code of Islam by which we mean the rules and regulations governing the modes and manners of behaviour between man and man and man and society as laid down by it. For instance, what should the attitude of parents be towards their children and of children towards their parents? What sort of conduct should prevail between brothers and between brothers and sisters? How should husband and wife live together? How are we to treat those who are older than ourselves and those that are younger? What are the rights of our neighbours on us? How should the rich behave towards the poor and the poor towards the rich? What mode of relationship should obtain between master and servant? And, so forth. Islam has provided us with a most precise and complete guidance on how are we to fulfill our social responsibilities and act in our dealings and relationships with all those individuals and groups with whom we come into contact, one way or the other, in the different walks of our daily life, and this is what we are going to discuss in the present chapter.
Rights of Parents
The most primary relationship in this world exists between man and his parents. In Islam the rights of parents have been described as next only to the rights of Allah. To quote from the Quran:
لَا تَجْعَلْ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ فَتَقْعُدَ مَذْمُومًا مَخْذُولًا () وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِنْدَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُلْ لَهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُلْ لَهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا () وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُلْ رَبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا ()
The Lord has ordained that ye worship none but Him; and to show kindness to your parents whether one or both of them attain to old age with thee; and say not to them "Fie!" neither reproach them; but speak to them both with respectful speech; and defer humbly to them out of tenderness; and say, "Lord! have compassion on them both, even as they reared me when I was little." (17:22-24)
Another verse of the holy Book goes on to tell that should the parents of a person be polytheists and want him also to follow their faith, he ought to decline to obey them, but even then he should continue to treat them well and to behave towards them with respect.
وَإِنْ جَاهَدَاكَ عَلَى أَنْ تُشْرِكَ بِي مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلَا تُطِعْهُمَا وَصَاحِبْهُمَا فِي الدُّنْيَا مَعْرُوفًا وَاتَّبِعْ سَبِيلَ مَنْ أَنَابَ إِلَيَّ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
"But if they strive to make thee join in worship with Me things of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not; yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration)." (31:15)
Besides the Quran, in the Traditions also, a very great stress has been laid on rendering full devotion and obedience to one's parents. To disobey one's parents, to ignore their feelings, or to disregard their comfort or happiness in any other way has been characterized by the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) as a grievous sin. Take these Traditions, for example:
"In the pleasure of parents lies the pleasure of Allah, and in their displeasure, the displeasure of Allah."
Once a person enquired from the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), "What are the rights of parents?" The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replies, "Parents are the heaven and hell of their children (meaning that salvation and paradise could be gained by serving one's parents well while disobedience to and ill-treatment of them could lead one to hell.)"
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) once observed. "Every time a dutiful son or daughter looks with affection and respect towards his or her father or mother Allah writes against his or her name the reward of an approved Hajj," Upon this, some of the Companions enquired, "Our Master! Suppose a person does so a hundred times each day, while he, even then, be given the reward of an approved Hajj for every glance he casts?" "Yes", the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied, "Allah is Most Great, Most Holy (meaning that the bounty of the Lord is boundless)."
"Heaven lies under the feet of the parents."
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) once said to the Companions that the most mortal sins in the world were three:
"To associate anyone with Allah, to disobey parents, and to give false evidence."
Again, "There are three types of men towards whom Allah will not look with mercy on the Day of Judgment, and one of them are those who disobey their parents."
Rights of Children
Islam has laid an equal stress on the rights of children on parents also. We will leave out here the responsibility of parents to feed and clothe their children since there is found in them an instinctive awareness of it and they carry it out normally and in the natural way. The rights of our children about which we are generally careless and neglectful are those concerning their moral and religious training and up-bringing. Islam has made it minding on us, as a matter of duty that we brought up our wards and children in such a way that they did not have to make their way to hell after death. We are required to be extremely careful in this respect. Says the Quran:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا
O ye who believe! save yourselves And your families from the Fire of Hell. (66:6)
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has, in a Tradition, stressed the need of giving proper training to children in these words:
"No better gift can there be from a father to his children than the he brought them up properly."
Some parents are more fond of their sons than daughters. They take a great interest in the upbringing of their male issues while the welfare and training of the female ones is generally neglected by them. Daughters are, sometimes, considered to be a burden. For this reason, Islam has devoted particular attention to the proper upbringing of the girls and extolled it as an act of great virtue. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said:
"Anyone who has a daughter or a sister and he treats her well and looks after her welfare and training carefully and marries her at the right place, Allah will reward him with Paradise."
Mutual Rights Between Husband and Wife
Conjugal relationship occupies a place of outstanding importance in the economy of human affairs. It is a most strong and intimate tie that binds husband and wife into a lifelong partnership. Islam therefore, has furnished a complete guidance in respect of it as well. In a nutshell, Islam demands from wives to be scrupulously faithful to their husbands and to remain their best friends and true well wisher and never to betray their trusts. The Quran declares:
فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِلْغَيْبِ
Therefore, the righteous women are Obedient, and guard (in the husband's) absence. (4:34)
And from husbands it requires that they should give of their love ungrudgingly to their wives, maintain them as best as they can within their means and leave nothing to be desired by way of their emotional contentment. Says, again, the Quran:
Live with your wives on a footing of kindness and equality. (4:19)
In keeping with these teachings of the Quran, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to attach profound importance to the harmony of married life among Muslim. He used to urge upon Muslim husbands and wives to keep each other happy and to attend to each other's needs and interests with loving care. Some of his Traditions in this connection read:
"If a man calls his wife to him and the wife refuses and he stays annoyed with her during the night, the angels will not cease to curse her name till day break."
"The woman who dies in such a state that her husband is pleased with her shall go to Heaven."
"By the Lord in whose power lies the life of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), no woman can fulfill the rights of Allah who does not fulfill the rights of her husbands."
"Charge you to be kind to your wives. Remember this advice of mine. See, they are subordinate to you and in your power."
"Good among you are those who are good to their wives."
"He is the most perfect believer (in Allah) who is perfect in his manners and most affectionate towards his wife and children."
Rights of Relatives
Besides our parents and children and husbands or wives there also exists a special tie of kinship between us and our other relatives. Islam has paid due attention to this aspect of our social existence, too, and evolved certain rights and duties in respect to it. Thus, in the Quran we are told to be kind to our kinsmen and one who disregards and pays no heed to the bonds of kinship has been condemned as transgressor and a sinner of the worst order.
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) once said, "He who violates the rights of kinsmen and shows no respect for the bonds of kinship in his conduct shall not go to heaven."
In this connection a special advice of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is that if a relative violates the ties of relationship with regard to us even then we should continue to fulfill, on our part, the obligations we have towards him. The exact words of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) are, "If a near relative treats you indifferently and ignores the bond of relationship do not turn your back on him but keep on discharging, on your part, the obligations of relationship towards him."
Rights of the Old on the Young and of the Young on the Old
It is a general principal of Islamic social behaviour that everyone should respect his elder and carry himself with due deference in their presence. In the same way, those who are older are required to treat those who are younger to them with kindness and affection, even if there be no relationship between them.
Said the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam): "He is not of us who is not affectionate to those who are younger than himself and respect to those who are older."
"For the young man who will honour an old man because of his years Allah will appoint men who will honour him in his old age."
Rights of Neighbours
Apart from relatives, there obtains a permanent association also between a man and his neighbours. In Islam full attention has, accordingly, been paid to it and definite instructions have been provided for our guidance in this behalf as well. The Quran calls upon us to be good and courteous in our behaviour towards our neighbour in the same way as it has commanded us to maintain the best of conduct towards our parents, brothers and sisters and towards our other near relatives:
وَالْجَارِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْجَارِ الْجُنُبِ وَالصَّاحِبِ بِالْجَنْبِ
Neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companions by your side (4:36)
Three categories of neighbours have been spoken of in this verse and it is expected of us to maintain cordial relations with all of them.
The phrase 'neighbours who are near' denotes neighbours who may also happen to be our relatives; 'neighbours who are strangers' denotes those with whom we have no family ties, and 'companions by your side' means persons with whom we come into contact temporarily in the course of our daily activities, like a casual acquaintance, in intimate friend, a fellow-traveler, a classmate and a colleague, whatever their religious denomination. Islam reminds us that we have an obligation to be friendly and sympathetic towards all the three categories of neighbour. Says the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam):
"He who believes in Allah and the Day of Recompense will never harm his neighbour."
"He is not a Muslim who eats his fill and lets his neighbour go hungry."
It is narrated that the Apostle of Allah once emphatically exclaimed, "He- He is not a believer in Allah." The question was asked, "O Apostle of Allah! Who is not a believer in Allah? “The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) observed, "Whose neighbour does not feel secure on his account."
Yet another Tradition reads:
"He shall not go to Heaven from whose mischief his neighbour do not feel secure."
It is reported that once a Companion said to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), "Sir, there is a woman about whom it is said that she offers a great deal of prayers, observes a great deal of fasts and does a great deal of charity, but she also causes a great deal of trouble to her neighbour owing to the sharpness of her tongue." The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) observed: "She will go to Hell." The Companion then said, "O Apostle of Allah! There is another woman about whom it is said that she engages herself little in prayers, fasting and charity (that is, she observes the supererogatory prayers, fasts and charity less than the first woman) but never offends her neighbour by her tongue: " The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) observed, "She will be in Heaven."
Brothers, such are the rights of neighbours in Islam. Alas, how heedless have we now grown to them!
Rights of the Weak and Poor
So far we have dealt with the rights of men with whom we have an intimate personal connection of some kind, whether of family or neighborhood or business or friendship. In addition to these, Islam has conferred certain special rights on the weaker and the poorer sections of the society and on every kind of a needy person. It has been made the duty of all well-to-do people to look after their well-being and to serve them in whatever way they can. The more prosperous among Muslims should realize that their less fortunate brethren, too, have a share in their wealth and other capabilities. The Quran has enjoined at a number of places that the needs of the orphans, the weak and the indigent and other needy and destitute persons should be taken care of, the hungry should be fed, the ill-clad should be clothed, and, so on.
It is narrated that once the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) joined two of his fingers and showing them to the Companions said, "He who supports an orphan shall be as close to me in Heaven as are these fingers to each-other."
He is also reported to have observed: "He who endeavors to relieve the widow, the depressed and the needy is as one who strives in the service of Allah, and, in Divine reward, he is as one who permanently fasts during the day and spends one's nights in prayers."
"Feed the hungry, visit the sick and free the captives." "Help the distressed and be a guide to those who have lost their way." No distinction has been drawn in the above Traditions of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) between a Muslim and a none-Muslim. All poor and needy persons have a claim on us no matter to what religion they belong. We cannot withhold our helping hand from anyone on the ground that he is not a coreligionist. In some Traditions, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has exhorted us to show kindness also to animals and promised great reward to those who take pity on these dumb creatures of the Lord.
Islam, truly, is a blessing to the entire universe and the whole of creation, and our guide and master, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon whom), "a mercy to the worlds." The pity is that we ourselves have wandered away from his teachings. Would to Allah that we, too, became a mercy to the whole world by becoming true Muslims.
Rights of Muslims on Each-Other
Further, there is a special claim of Muslims on each-other which flows out of the common bond of Islam. ^
Said the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam): "Every Muslim is a Muslim's brother. He should neither harm him himself nor leave him alone (when someone else does so but try his best to help him and to protect him).
Whoever among you will fulfill the need of his brother Allah will take it upon Himself to fluffing his needs, and a Muslim who will remove the distress of a Muslim brother will, in, return find a distress of his removed by Allah on the Day of Requital, and anyone who will hide the shame of a Muslim, his sins will be hidden by Allah on the Last Day."
"Do not bear a grudge or enmity against each other, do not be jealous of each-other, and do not indulge in backbiting."
"Live like brothers and the servants of One Allah. It is not allowed to a Muslim to cease to be on talking terms with a Muslim for more than three days."
"The life, honour and property of a Muslim are sacred for another."
We will not close the present discussion on social relations and mutual rights and duties with the following Tradition, which alone is enough to fill our hearts with fear.
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported one day to have put the question to the Companion, "Who is a pauper?" The Companions replied, "Our master! A pauper is a person who is without a penny of his own." The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, "No. A pauper among us is a man who will appear on the Day of Recompense with a large stock of prayers, fasting and alms-giving but in the world he would have abused someone, slandered someone, beaten someone and cheated and transgressed against someone. When he will be made to stand at the Place of Reckoning those against whom he would have been guilty of these transgressions will come forward and they will be given from his good deeds what will be due to them till al the fund of his good deeds will be exhausted and, then, the sins of the aggrieved parties will be forced down upon him and he will, ultimately, be thrown into Hell."
Brothers, Ponder over this Tradition and think how utterly ruinous and disastrous it is for us to encroach upon the right of others and to indulge in back-biting, slander of abuse. If you have transgressed against anyone or usurped his rights, make amends for it in your lifetime, pay back to him what may be his due or seek his forgiveness, and resolve sincerely to be careful in future otherwise it is going to cost you very dear in the life to come.
Good manners and noble qualities
Good manners and noble qualities of mind and character enjoy a place of crucial importance in the structure of Islamic teaching. Moral evolution and uplift was one of the main objects for which the sacred Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was raised up. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) himself has said:
"I have been sent down by Allah to teach moral virtues and to evolve them to highest perfection."
An idea of the supreme importance Islam attaches to the cultivation of good manners and noble moral qualities can be obtained from the under-mentioned Traditions of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam):
"The best of you are those who possess the best manners."
"On the Day of Recompense nearest to me will be one who displays in one's daily life the best of manners."
"On the Day of Reckoning the most weighty item in the 'Balance of Deeds' will be good manners."
Once a Companion asked the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), "What is there that takes a Muslim to Paradise?” The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied, "Fear of Allah and good manners."
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), again, is reported to have said, "A Muslim with good manners and good moral disposition gets the same reward as he who fasts (permanently) during the day and spends his nights in prayer."
The last Tradition tells that a believer who possess good manners and carries out scrupulously the moral duties imposed on him by Allah but does not engage himself much in supererogatory fasts and prayers attains the degree of excellence of the man who stands up in prayer all night and fasts all day long.
The Curse of bad manners
We have been warned by the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in an equally forceful manner against the curse of bad manners. He has said:
"A man with bad manners and a bad moral conduct shall not enter Paradise."
"No sin is more detestable to Allah than bad manners."
Some More Important Virtues
Though in the Quran and the Traditions we are taught to cultivate all good and noble moral and social qualities and to avoid everything that is mean or wicked, here we will take up only such virtues as are more important and without which no one can hope to be a good Muslim and a true believer.
Truthfulness is a matter of such supreme consequence in Islam that in addition to speaking the truth always a Muslim is exhorted also to keep company only with those that are truthful. The Quran states:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَكُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ
"O ye who believe! Fear Allah and be only with those who are true (in words and deed)." (9:119)
Says the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam): "He who wishes to love Allah and His Apostle, or wishes Allah and His Apostle to love him, must take care to speak nothing but the truth whenever he speaks."
"Speak the truth even if you see your ruin or death in it for, surely, salvation and life lie alone in truth, and avoid falsehood even if it may hold out to you the promise of success and salvation for the end of falsehood is nothing but failure and frustration."
Once the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was asked, "What is the hallmark of the dwellers of Paradise?" The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied, "Truthfulness."
Conversely, another Tradition reads: "To be a liar is one of the special sings of a hypocrite."
Closely allied to truthfulness is the quality of trustworthiness. It is important branch of it. Islam has laid a special emphasis on it also. Here is what the Quran says:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تُؤَدُّوا الْأَمَانَاتِ إِلَى أَهْلِهَا
“Allah doth command you to render back you Trusts to those to whom they are due.” (4:58)
And the Traditions: "People! In whom there is no trustworthiness, in him there is, so to speak, no faith."
"Look not alone at anyone's prayers and fasts to decide about his spiritual excellence (that is, do not be impressed by anyone's spirituality simply because you find him devout in his prayers and fasts). You should also see that he is truthful when he speaks, restores honestly what he has received in trust to whom it is due, and remains righteous in times of adversity and suffering."
Justice is an integral part of Islamic ethics. We must practice it in all spheres of life. The Quran states:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ
Allah commands justice and doing of good. (16:90)
In Islam we are commanded to be just and fair not only towards our own people or coreligionists but also towards others even if they be the enemies of our life, property or faith. It is candidly stated in the Quran that:
وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَى أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى
And let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety. (5:8)
The above verse enjoins justice to those also, individuals as well as communities, who may be harboring ill-will against us. Otherwise, we are sure to incur the displeasure of Allah and become grievous sinners and criminals in His sight. To refer now to some of the Tradition:
"The most beloved of men in the sight of Allah, on the Day of Resurrection, and the nearest to Him, shall be the just leader; and the most hateful of men in the sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection, and the farthest removed from Him, shall be the tyrannical ruler."
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have enquired one day from the Companions. "Do you know who will be the first to come under the shadow of Divine Mercy on the Day of Requital? " The Companions replied, "Allah and His Apostle know best."
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) then said, "They will be those who accept a trust when it is offered to them and restore it willingly to the rightful claimant when they are asked to do so, and who judge in respect of others exactly as they would in respect of themselves."
The pity is that we ourselves have forgotten the glorious teachings of Islam. If we can produce these qualities in us today and become truthful in word and deed, and honest in the matter of our trusts and promises, and just and fair in our dealings with others, the success of the world is bound to kiss our feet and we will attain a high place in the paradise too.
Compassion and Forgiveness
To feel pity on a fellow human being in distress, to be compassionately drawn towards him, to bring him succor, to pardon the guilty and the defaulter are virtues which are valued very highly in Islam. Take these Traditions, for instance:
"Show kindness, and kindness will be shown to you; forgive, and you will be forgiven." "They will not obtain the mercy of Allah in whose hearts there is no feeling of kindliness for others."
"His sins will not be forgiven by Allah who does not forgive the faults of the others." "Allah will have mercy upon them that are merciful. Treat kindly the dwellers of the earth, He who dwells in the heavens will treat you kindly."
It is apparent from the last Tradition that out kindliness and gentility is not to be confined to our own people alone. We ought to be kind and compassionate towards friend and foe alike and to all the creatures that exist on the earth.
It is reported from the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that once a person who was traveling by road saw a dog licking wet earth in the agony of its thirst. The traveler was moved by the spectacle and gave water to the dog to drink. This simple service of the man to the thirsting dog pleased Allah so much that he blessed him with salvation.
Tenderness is monetary dealings, and in all other fields of one's activity, and the readiness to oblige and to put others at ease are all virtues of the highest order in the Islamic pattern of morality. We will reproduce two Traditions of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) in support of our contention Said he:
"Hell's fire is forbidden for those that are mild and gentle and make it easy for others to
deal with them."
"Allah is compassionate and likes compassion in His creatures. He grants more to the kind
and the tender-hearted than to those that are harsh and severe."
Tolerance, affability, self-restraint, and the ability to control one's temper and to overlook what is unpleasant and disagreeable are qualities that Islam wants everyone to cultivate. Believers who possess these fine moral attributes hold a very high place in the
estimation of Allah.
In the Quran where a mention is made of the blessed ones for whom the paradise has been laid out such people are specifically referred to:
وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ
Who restrain anger and pardon (all men) (3:134)
Said the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam):
"Allah will hold back His punishment from him who will hold back his anger."
Blessed, indeed, are men who remember these verses and Traditions during moments of provocation and exercise restraint, and, in return, Allah stays His chastisement from them!
Gentleness of speech
Gentleness of speech is a religious virtue in Islam and rudeness a sin. The Quran declares:
وَقُولُوا لِلنَّاسِ حُسْنًا
Speak fair to the People. (2:83)
We have it from the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that:
"To speak politely is piety and a kind of charity."
"To indulge in intemperate language and in harsh behaviour is to perpetrate an injustice
and the home of injustice is Hell."
"Rudeness in speech is hypocrisy (i.e., the quality of a hypocrite)."
Humility is a virtue Islam wants its followers to practice as a distinguishing feature of their moral and spiritual behaviour. It does not become a Muslim to be haughty or
Greatness with Allah is not for those who look down upon others. Instead, it belongs to those desist from thinking too highly of themselves and practice meekness and humility. In the words of Quran:
وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا
And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on earth in humility. (25:63)
تِلْكَ الدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ نَجْعَلُهَا لِلَّذِينَ لَا يُرِيدُونَ عُلُوًّا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فَسَادًا وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ ()
The Home of the Hereafter We shall give to those who intend not highhandedness or mischief on earth. (28:83)
The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said: "He who observes humility Allah will make him so exalted that, ultimately, he will attain the highest grade in Paradise."
On the other hand, pride is so greatly repugnant to Allah that the sacred Prophet (Peace be upon him) has warned us, again and again, against it in such strong words:
"Whoever has pride in his heart even of the weight of an atom shall be cast head-long into the Hell of Allah."
"Whoever has pride in his heart even of the weigh of the weight of a mustered seed, shall not enter Paradise."
"Beware of pride! Pride was the sin which first of all ruined the Devil."
May almighty Allah save us all from the Satanic evil of pride, and endow our hearts and minds with meekness and humility which He admires so much and which is the symbol of His slaves.
It needs, however, be remembered that it is demanded of us to practice meekness and humility in our personal matters and not in matters where truth of faith is involved. When it comes to faith or truth we must be bold and outspoken and give the fullest proof of courage and firmness of this is the will of Allah for such occasions.
The way of a Muslim, in sum, is that while he is meek and humble is his own individual sphere of existence, he is firm like a rock and allows neither fear nor weakness to come near him where faith or truth or justice is at stake.
Courage and fortitude
There occur periods of hardship and adversity in the lives of men. Sometimes there is want, sometimes there is disease, sometimes our enemies harass us. And, so forth. For such situations the teaching of Islam is that we should bear them with courage and fortitude, remain firm and stout of heart and do not waver from our principles in-spite of thousands trials and calamities that may assail us. For such men there is the assurance of the Quran that they are the Beloved of Allah:
وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الصَّابِرِينَ
For Allah loves those who are patient and persevering (3:146)
إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ
Allah, surely, is with those who patiently persevere. (2:153)
وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ
And to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity and through all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the Allah-fearing. (2:177)
And the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) says:
"No boon conferred on man more precious than that of patience."
"Patience is one-half of faith."
Contrarily, impatience, chicken-heartedness and cowardice are the most lamentable of evils against which the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to beg Allah for refuge in his prayers.
Sincerity is the life and soul of entire moral edifice of Islam, nay, of Islam itself. By sincerity we mean that all our deeds and actions should solely be for the sake of Allah and prompted by no other urge than to earn His approbation. Apart from it, there must be no other desire, motive or intention behind whatever we do.
Monotheism, which is the arch-stone of Islam, attains fulfillment through sincerity. Faith in Divine Unity remains imperfect unless all our acts are performed wholly for the sake of Allah, and we have no other objective before us while carrying them out except and winning of Divine pleasure and reward. States the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam):
"He who loves or hates, offers favours or withholds them, and whatever he does, does so for the sake of Allah, he perfects his faith."
It shows that a perfect Muslim in the sight of Allah is only he who succeeds in subordinating his entire conduct, his social relations and all his other affairs to the Will of Allah and is not influenced in them by his personal desire or likes or dislikes or by any other urges or impulsions.
Another Tradition reads:
"Allah is not regardful of your fine visages or your wealth. He is regardful only of your hearts and intentions."
The idea of the above Tradition is that Allah will judge and requite on the basis of our motives and intentions. Now, here is a Tradition with which we propose to round off the present discussion. About this Tradition it is reported that Abu Huraira often used to faint while he related it. It says:
"The first of those who shall be called to account, on the Day of Resurrection, shall be one who had learned the whole Quran by heart, and he who had been killed in the way of Allah and he who had an abundance of wealth. Then shall Allah say to him who had got the whole of Quran by heart, 'Did I not teach thee what revealed to my Prophet (Peace be upon him)?" He will say, 'Yes, my Lord!' Allah will ask, 'And what hast thou done with regard to what thou didst learn therein?' He will say, 'I was constantly at it in the hours of night and in the hours of day. I learnt it myself and taught it to others, and I did it all for Thy sake alone'. Allah will say, ' Thou art a liar; thou didst only desire that men should say that such an one was a recieter of the Quran and that has been said already'
"And the master of wealth shall be brought before Allah, and Allah shall say, 'Did I not give thee an abundance of wealth, so that thou wast not in want of anything?" He will say, 'Yes, my Lord!' Allah will say, 'And what hast thou done with what I gave thee?' He will answer, 'I regarded the rights of kinship and gave alms and I did so for Thy sake.' Allah will say, 'Thou art liar; those didst desire that men should say that such an one was generous man, and that has been said already.'
"Then shall he who had been killed in the way of Allah be brought before him, and Allah will say to him, 'What was it that thou wast killed for? " He will reply, 'Thou didst bid us to do Jihaad in Thy was and I fought and was killed.' Allah will say, 'Thou art a liar; thou didst desire that men should say that such an one was valiant man, and that has been said already.'
"These are the three men who, of all creatures, shall be first sent into Fire."
Brothers, Now, let us examine our thoughts and deeds in the light of the above Tradition and see where do we stand in the sight of Allah!
O Allah! Endue our hearts with sincerity and set right our motives and intentions and make us Thy devoted, dedicated slaves.
Love of Allah, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and the faith
Islam requires of us to believe in Allah and His Apostle and to observe Salaah, Saum, Zakat and Hajj, and to lead a life of piety and honest and goodness and gentility and moral and social rectitude and self-discipline. In the same way, it is also one of its fundamental teachings that we should hold Allah, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and the holy Faith dearer to our hearts than everything else, may it be our parents, children, life, honour, or property. In plain words what it means is that should a time come when it may involve the risk of life, honour or property or of any other worldly thing or interest to abide by the faith of Islam and to remain loyal to the injunctions of Allah and the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) then we must not break away from Allah and the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and the holy Faith irrespective of what the consequences may be. It has been stressed repeatedly in the Quran and the Tradition that those who may claim to be Muslims but do not possess as strong a devotion for Allah, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and the Faith as these are, in fact, not true Muslims. What is more, they are deserving of Divine chastisement. Reads Sura-i-Tauba:
قُلْ إِنْ كَانَ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَاؤُكُمْ وَإِخْوَانُكُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُكُمْ وَأَمْوَالٌ اقْتَرَفْتُمُوهَا وَتِجَارَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَاكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَهَا أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهَادٍ فِي سَبِيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُوا حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ اللَّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ ()
Say: "If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred: the wealth that ye have gained; the commerce in which ye fear a decline; or the dwellings in which ye delight are dearer to you than Allah, and His Apostle, or the striving in His cause; then wait until Allah brings about His decision; and Allah guides not the rebellious." (9:24)
Those who love their parents or children or life or honour or property more than they love Allah and care more for their protection or well-being than for His pleasure and the defence and progress of His faith are unquestionably disloyal to Allah and worthy of His punishment. A Tradition says:
"He alone will taste the sweetness of the faith who possesses these three qualities: the love of Allah and the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) comes to him before everything else; he loves whom he loves solely for the sake of Allah; the idea of going back to apostasy after he has embraced Islam is as repugnant to him as being thrown into the fire."
In the sight of Allah and the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) a true and genuine Muslim is a person whose devotion to Allah and His Apostle and the Faith is stronger than to any other person or thing in the world so much so that when he loves another human being he loves him for the sake of Allah, and who is so sincerely and powerfully attached to the Islamic faith that the very thought of leaving it and reverting back to apostasy may be as painful to him as being cast into fire.
Says the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam): "None of you can be an honest Muslim and a true believer unless his love for me exceeds the love he has for his parents, children or any other human being in the world."
Brothers, Islam, really is nothing besides surrender and submission to Allah and the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) with all one's heart and soul and the readiness to sacrifice every attachment, longing or interest for the sake of the Faith as the holy Companions had done and as the state is of the true and devoted servants of Allah even today, however small may their number be. May we also be one of them!
Preaching and propagation
Essential as it is for us to affirm faith in Allah and the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and to follow with righteousness and sincerity the straight path of Islam, it is also of no mean importance that we strove earnestly to guide the others, too, to the path of the faith who are ignorant of it or who may be unwilling to adopt it on account of prejudice or spiritual malaise. As Allah has placed on us the duty of being His pious, devout and faithful servants so also has He made it obligatory for us to work among His other creatures as well towards the same end, that is, towards making them also His pious, devout and faithful servants. That is what is meant by the service of faith and its preaching and propagation.
This work is so great in the sight of Allah that for it He sent down thousands of Prophets into the world. The Prophets bore tremendous hardships and went through the severest of trials and privations to carry out their mission. They work for the moral and spiritual reform and uplift of mankind (May the eternal blessings of Allah be on them their companions and supporters).
The glorious chain of Prophecy and Apostleship ended with the last of the Prophets, Prophet Mohammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon whom). Though him also Allah proclaimed to the world that no more Prophets would now be raised up for the guidance of humanity. The celestial mission shall now be carried on by those who had accepted his guidance and the religion he had brought with him into the world.
In sum, after the termination of the luminous line of Apostles the responsibility for preaching and propagation of faith and religious instruction and reform of mankind has fallen wholly upon the shoulders of the followers of the sacred Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). This honour, indeed, is unique. In the Quran, the very object of the raising up of Muslims has been defined as nothing but this:
كُنْتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ
You are the best of Peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong and believing in Allah. (3:110)
The Muslims were, thus, superior to all other peoples and communities for the simple reason that they, in addition to adopting for themselves the path of faith and righteousness, were charged with the special duty of striving to bring others also to practice what was right and to avoid what was wrong. It was because of this that they were given the distinction of being the 'Best of Peoples'. It is also evident from the above verse that should the Muslims fail to discharge the function they would not only forfeit the claim to the distinction but would also render themselves liable to be punished by Allah for neglecting the duty He had assigned to them. Let us take an illustration: suppose a company of sentries is posted in a town by the Government to check the immoral activities of its citizens and the sentries not only fail to perform their duty but, what is more, they themselves begin to indulge in the transgressions they were required to suppress. Now will they be retained in service and rewarded by the Government or taken severely to task by it for their negligence and misconduct? It will, certainly, not be improper or unjust if they were punished more severely than the other offenders.
The conditions prevailing in the entire Muslims world today are so extremely deplorable that what to speak of the preaching of the faith and the correction and reform of others, not more than five or ten percent of Muslims themselves are true to Islam and do good deeds and abstain from what is evil and prohibited. In these circumstances, it becomes our primary duty to carry out the mission of moral and spiritual reform and guidance among our own people among such sections of them as have drifted mournfully away from the path of faith and moral uprightness.
One of the reasons for it is that those who call themselves, or are known as Muslims, whatever be their practical state, have, after all, forged a link between themselves and Allah and His Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and the Faith, and become members of the Muslims brotherhood or Ummat, through the acceptance of Islam. Solicitude for their moral and spiritual well being is our first responsibility in any case in the same was as the responsibility of looking after the welfare of his own children and near relations is greater on a man than that of looking after the welfare of others.
And, secondly, before everything else, it is the actual condition of Muslims from which the world will generally judge about Islam, and the spectacle of degeneration that Muslims, on the whole, present these days is such that it cannot be expected to make a very favourable impression on anyone in respect of their faith. The non-Muslim world is not likely to think very highly of the excellent teachings of Islam as long as Muslims remain what they are today. On the other hand, it is a feeling of revulsion and dislike, which non-Muslims usually get about Islam when they look at the moral and spiritual depths into which the Muslims have sunk. It has always been like this. People have always formed their opinion, good or bad or indifferent, about a religion from the actual moral and social state of its followers.
In the past when Muslims used to be true Muslims, observing strictly the postulates of their faith, people were attracted towards Islam simply by seeing them. Whole nations and communities were converted to Islam in this way. But since the Muslims sank so low that the majority of them remained Muslims only in the name, their conduct and morals grew un-Islamic and their hearts got bereft of faith and righteousness the world has developed a prejudice against Islam itself.
Anyhow, we should realize the truth of it clearly that the daily life of Muslims, their social and moral and spiritual conduct and behaviour, is the biggest testimony and the chief measuring rod with regard to Islam. If the practical life of Muslims is good the world will form a good opinion about Islam, and if it is bad the opinion the world will acquire about Islam will also be bad. In later case, the preaching of Islam among non-Muslims is destined to be fruitless. Hence, the success of all the efforts aimed at the propagation of Islam among non-Muslims as well is dependent on the condition that Islamic life, i.e., the life of faith and righteous action became the chief attribute of the entire Muslim community. From this point of view also it is necessary to strive first for the guidance and reformation of Muslims and to launch the struggle with all our might for popularizing the values of Islamic life among them before we turned our attention to others.
The Quran has given the task of religious preaching, reform and guidance the name of Jihaad-i-Akbar, the great Jihaad. If it is undertaken in the right spirit, with sincerity and selflessness and solely for the sake of winning Divine approbation, this work, definitely, is a very great Jihaad in the sight of Allah.
Many people suppose that Jihaad means only a war, which is waged in the path of Allah and according to the rules and instruction laid down for it in the Shariat. But this is not correct. The truth is that whatever endeavour that can be made at a particular time for the preaching of Islam and the moral and spiritual correction and guidance of mankind is the Jihaad of that age.
The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) remained in Mecca for about twelve years after the mantle of Apostleship had fallen upon him. During this period the Jihaad of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and his Companions consisted altogether in adhering steadfastly to the faith in-spite of the terrible persecution unleashed on them by the enemies of Islam and in doing all that lay in their power, openly as well as secretly, to spread the Divine message of Islam and to reform morally and spiritually those who lived around them.
To devote oneself to the noble task of guiding the ignorant, the way-ward and the thoughtless to the straight path of Islam and of bringing them nearer to Allah, to spend one's time and money on it, and to sacrifice one's comfort, all this, in case, is Jihaad in Divine estimation. In fact, it is the Jihaad of the present age.
The rich reward that awaits those in the Hereafter who engage themselves in this lofty endeavour as well as the dreadful punishment that is going to fall to the lot of those who neglect it and do not participate in it can well be imagined from the Traditions we give below:
"A person who guides another to a deed of virtue shall receive the same recompense for it as the doer of the deed and there will be no reduction in the reward of the doer himself because of it."
What the Tradition means is that suppose ten persons, or even five, were reformed through our effort and they came to believe in Allah and the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and to observe the Divine commandments- they began to offer the Salaah and to carry out other religious duties and avoided what was wrong and forbidden then the reward they will earn on it jointly will be granted to us alone also. A little thought will show that there is simple no other way in which a person can win so much reward-the reward of the prayers and other pious and virtuous deeds of hundreds of men.
Another Tradition of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) says:
"By the Almighty, if only one man receives guidance through you, it is better for you than red camels."
As we have said earlier, the endeavour for mankind's moral and spiritual guidance and reformation is a service of the faith of the highest order and a thing of outstanding merit and excellence. It is the special heritage left to us by the Prophets. It means their deputyship; it means their vicegerency. What worldly gain, what earthly glory, can compare with it?
The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), in the under-mentioned Tradition, has made use of a simple example to impress upon us the importance of the work of religious reformation and guidance.
He said, "Suppose there is a double storied boat in which the passengers of the lower deck have to fetch water from the upper deck. This causes inconvenience to the occupants of the upper deck and they do not like it. Now, if in their foolishness the passengers of the lower deck decide not to go to the upper deck and of their supply of water they begin to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat, and the passengers of the upper deck do not stop them from doing so, the entire boat, with all the passengers, will sink. But if the occupants of the upper deck some how manage to dissuade the occupants of the lower deck from boring he hole, they will save the occupants of the lower deck as well as themselves from being drowned. The same is true with wickedness and sin. If a community, as a whole, dwells in a state of ignorance and sinfulness and its enlightened and virtuous sections do not take steps to reform it and to bring it on the right path then Divine punishment will be sent down upon it because of its sins and transgressions and the pious and virtuous members of the community will also be caught in it. On the other hand, if an endeavour is made by them to reform the sinners and wrong-doers, the whole community will be saved."
Again, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said:
"By the Almighty in whose power lies my life, do not neglect the duty of 'enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong.' Remember if you neglected your duty it is quite possible that Allah might send down His punishment on you and then all your prayers and supplications will avail you nothing."
Brothers, some of the most enlightened and spiritually evolved divines of our day are of the view that the disasters and humiliations that have been visiting Muslims for a long time, and the troubles and difficulties they are caught in universally these days and which do not seem to abate or relent a bit in-spite of all their pathetic petitions to Allah and prayers etc., are due mainly to the very reason that they have ceased to discharge the function they were raised up for and for which they were made wholly responsible after the termination of Prophecy and Apostleship. Evidently, when a watchman fails to perform his duty he is dismissed from service and castigated sternly for his negligence. Come; let us resolve solemnly that we shall be found wanting no more in the discharge of our duty.
وَلَيَنْصُرَنَّ اللَّهُ مَنْ يَنْصُرُهُ
Allah's help will be with us. He has promised: Allah, certainly, will aid those who aid His Cause. (22:40)
DARUL ULOOM ILAHIYAH
INSTITUTE OF ISLAMIC RESEARCH
ILAHI BAGH, BUCHPORA, SRINAGAR, 190011, KASHMIR, INDIA