|Answer to those who ask "If religion is between Allah and His servant, why do we communicate Islam's message to other people?"
||Answer to those who ask "Is everyone other than you wrong?"
|Answer to those who ask "Religion is only a part of life. So, why do people need to live by the Qur'an's values in all aspects of life?"
||Answer to those who ask "Do believers always have to be together, or can they live by the religion on their own?"
|Answer to those who ask "Does the Qur'an, which was revealed in seventh-century Arabia, address today's needs?"
||Answer to those who ask "Is there any class discrimination in Islam? Are people defined according their wealth, status, and beauty? Do believers convey the message only to a particular section of society?"
|Answer to those who say "I have a sound heart"
||Answer to those who ask "Is possesing power, wealth and grandeur incompatible with the essence of Islam?"
|Answer to those who say"I am still young. I will become religious when I am old."
||Answer to those who ask "Do new Muslims have to abandon their former pleasures and activities?"
|Answer to those who ask "What do you expect from me after I embrace the Qur'an's morality?"
||Answer to those who ask "Once people embrace faith, can they still befriend the people with whom they used to associate?"
|Answer to those who ask "Why do Muslims show great love for and interest in those peole with whom they have only recently become acquainted?"
||Answer to those who say "I want to live as a Muslim, but I am worried about my family's reactions."
|Answer to those who ask "Might some of the negative news spread about believers be true?"
||Answer to those who ask "Am I responsible for my previous actions after I start to live by Islam?"
|Answer to those who ask "If the Qur'an's morality promises such a good and perfect structure, then why does it have so many enemies?"
||Answer to those who say "I want to live by the religion, but I cannot find the internal strength to do so."
Answer to those who ask "If religion is between Allah and His servant,
why do we communicate Islam's message to other people?"
In the Qur'an, Allah commands Muslims to enjoin the good and remind people of the truth. Those believers who are aware of an unbeliever's vulnerability or of a new believer who does not practice Islam correctly, feel responsible and therefore warn that person. All conscientious believers are told to give such warnings and admonitions. The Qur'an refers to this as "enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong." Allah's Messenger (pbuh), called attention to the same issue by saying: " By Him in Whose hands my soul lies, you should enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, otherwise He (Allah) will descend punishment upon you, and then you will ask Him but your supplications will never be answered.” (Tirmidhi)
Similar to other acts of worship (e.g., prayer, fasting, or giving alms) specified in the Qur'an, enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong is a religious obligation for every Muslim, and fulfilling it is one of the believers' basic attributes, for:
The male and female believers are friends of one another. They command what is right and forbid what is wrong, perform prayer and pay alms, and obey Allah and His Messenger. They are the people on whom Allah will have mercy. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. (Qur'an, 9:71)
They believe in Allah and the Last Day, enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and compete in doing good. They are among the righteous. (Qur'an, 3:114)
Those who repent, those who worship, those who praise, those who fast, those who bow, those who prostrate, those who command the right, those who forbid the wrong, and those who preserve the limits of Allah: give good news to the believers. (Qur'an, 9:112)
In another verse, Allah informs us that attaining salvation is associated with enjoining good and forbidding evil:
Let there be a community among you who call to the good, enjoin the right, and forbid the wrong. They are the ones who have success. (Qur'an, 3:104)
No Muslim is entirely irreproachable, for all Muslims can sin or make mistakes. Making mistakes out of ignorance, forgetfulness, or giving in to one's lower-self is a means to attain perfected faith and spiritual maturity. However, what distinguishes believers from unbelievers in this matter is that once believers recognize their mistakes, they abandon them and adopt what is right. This is revealed in the Qur'an, as follows:
Those who, when they act indecently or wrong themselves, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their bad actions [and who can forgive bad actions except Allah?] and do not knowingly persist in what they were doing. (Qur'an, 3:135)
Therefore, it is incumbent upon Muslims to advise other Muslims to abandon their mistakes or wrong actions. When a believer's rationale or attitude reveals any degree of incompatibility with the Qur'an, other believers must remind him or her of the truth immediately. This is the best service that one believer can offer another.
As this explanation suggests, enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong is one of the major acts of worship in Islam. People who are constantly under the supervision and control of other Muslims will purify themselves of all their mistakes, attain the perfection of faith described in the Qur'an, and thereby draw nearer to Allah. For this reason, Allah praises the compassionate believers who duly fulfill this act of worship in the following terms:
You are the best nation ever to be produced before mankind. You enjoin the right, forbid the wrong, and believe in Allah. (Qur'an, 3:110)
Among those We have created is a community who guides by the Truth and acts justly according to it. (Qur'an, 7:181)
The scope of enjoining good and forbidding evil is quite broad, for communicating Islam's message to people who are far from it, summoning them to live by the values of true religion, and describing the Qur'an's values are essential acts of worship. Inviting people to the true path has been one of the major responsibilities of all Prophets and their followers. As the Qur'an tells us, the Prophets devoted their lives to carrying out this act of worship by inviting people to the truth and never yielding to any difficulty. The Qur'an quotes Prophet Nuh (Noah) (pbuh), as follows:
He said: "My Lord, I have called my people night and day, but my calling has only made them more evasive. Indeed, every time I called them to Your forgiveness, they put their fingers in their ears, wrapped themselves up in their clothes, and were overweeningly arrogant. Then I called them openly. Then I addressed them publicly and addressed them privately." (Qur'an, 71:5-9)
As stated in the Qur'an, there is no compulsion or oppression in religion, for faith is a matter of conscience that is left to people's preference after they have been provided with all of the relevant evidence and explanations. Those who convey this information have done their duty, and in no way will be held accountable if the people reject faith. Many verses relate this fact, among them the following:
We are only responsible for clear transmission. (Qur'an, 36:17)
So remind them! You are only a reminder. You are not in control of them. (Qur'an, 88:21-22)
Calling people to Islam and conveying the Qur'an's message do not interfere with humanity's bond with Allah. On the contrary, conveying the message is a religious obligation that makes it possible for all people to become informed of Islam's values and observe Allah's orders and prohibitions.
Answer to those who ask "Religion is only a part of life. So,
why do people need to live by the Qur'an's values in all aspects of life?"
Religion is not just one part of life; rather, it is a system that encompasses and regulates all aspects of it. Naturally, when we say "religion" here, we are referring to Islam, the true religion. Therefore, such fallacies as: "Religion is only a part of life" and "Devoting oneself entirely to religion is fanaticism" have no place in Islam. Muslims spend 24 hours a day in a manner that will be pleasing to Allah. When rising in the morning, eating, working, going to school, engaging in business or shopping, they abide by the moral values of the Qur'an commanded by Allah and strictly avoid any behavior which will not be pleasing to Him. The moral values of Islam cover not just part of life, but all of it, and even beyond.
Advocating an un-Islamic suggestion means accepting some parts of the Qur'an and disregarding the rest. Rejecting some part of the Qur'an, however, means rejecting the entire book, for:
Do you, then, believe in one part of the Book and reject the other? What repayment will there be for any of you who do that, except disgrace in the world? And on the Day of Resurrection, they will be driven off to the harshest of punishments. Allah is not unaware of what you do. (Qur'an, 2:85)
The religion described in the Qur'an has no room for any doubts or unfounded concerns, given that it relies on having faith in Allah, which is displayed through each believer's unconditional submission to Him and scrupulous observance of His commands and prohibitions. This unique attribute is related in many verses, some of which are given below:
The believers are only those who have believed in Allah and His Messenger, and then have had no doubt, and have struggled with their wealth and their selves in the Way of Allah. They are the ones who are true to their word. (Qur'an, 49:15)
Say: "My prayer and my rites, my living and my dying, are for Allah alone, the Lord of all the worlds." (Qur'an, 6:162)
… There are men who proclaim His glory morning and evening, not distracted by trade or commerce from the remembrance of Allah, the performance of prayers, and the payment of alms; fearing a day when all hearts and eyes will be in turmoil. (Qur'an, 24:36-37)
As these verses make clear, Muslims truly devote themselves to Allah by making it their sole goal to earn Allah's good pleasure at every instant of life, by seeking the goodness in everything that happens, and pondering about the Hereafter. The Qur'an refers to these Muslims, as follows:
Those who remember Allah, standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and Earth: "Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire." (Qur'an, 3:191)
We purified their sincerity through sincere remembrance of the Abode. (Qur'an, 38:46)
Such a noble morality is surely unimaginable for those who have no faith. According to their materialistic point of view, since death is a disappearance once and for all, one needs to make the most of this life. For those people who nurture such a distorted outlook, every moment that does not bring them pleasure is a loss.
Here, however, we focus our attention on people who claim to have faith in Allah and yet take every opportunity to convey and enforce upon those around them the fallacy that "religion covers only a minor part of life." Under the guise of being contemporary, modern, or enlightened, which are enchanting yet vague terms, they spread their distorted ideas. Allah warns believers against the lies of such people:
Among the people is someone whose words about the life of the world excite your admiration, and he calls Allah to witness what is in his heart, while he is in fact the most hostile of adversaries. (Qur'an, 2:204)
Those who fall into this category probably get extremely upset about being called an unbeliever or an atheist. Now and then, they express their gratefulness for being a Muslim. However, their corrupted outlook on life, which manifests itself in such ignorant phrases as "Religion is important, but it should be limited to certain aspects of life" or "Do not ponder deeply about religion, or you may lose your mind," they turn their faces and act arrogantly when reminded of the Qur'an's morality. Allah explains the situation of such people, as follows:
But there are some people who trade in distracting tales to guide people away from Allah's Way, knowing nothing about it and to make a mockery of it. Such people will have a humiliating punishment. When Our Signs are recited to such a person, he turns away arrogantly as if he had not heard, as if there was a great weight in his ears. So give him news of a painful punishment. (Qur'an, 31:6-7)
The Qur'an refers to such people as hypocrites, for they are assumed to have an Islamic identity, although they have nothing to do with Islam. Moreover, as they are aware of this fact, they act in ways that do not violate social norms and customs in order to avoid hostile reactions and to persuade people to follow their examples.
By claiming that they have faith, hypocrites seek to maintain their worldly interests. Furthermore, through distorted explanations, they try to alienate other people from the essence of Islam and the Qur'an. Their ultimate aim is to eliminate the people of sincere faith, who are likely to stir up pangs of conscience in them, for:
Among the people are some who say: "We believe in Allah and the Last Day," when they are not believers. They think they deceive Allah and those who believe. They deceive no one but themselves, but they are not aware of it. There is a sickness in their hearts, and Allah has increased their sickness. They will have a painful punishment on account of their denial. When they are told: "Do not cause corruption in the land," they say: We are only putting things right." No indeed! They are the corrupters, but they are not aware of it. (Qur'an, 2:8-12)
Rather than Allah, these people take their whims and desires as their deities and serve them. The Qur'an relates this situation, as follows:
Have you seen him who has taken his whims and desires to be his deity? Will you then be his guardian? Do you suppose that most of them hear or understand? They are just like cattle. Indeed they are even more astray! (Qur'an, 25:43-44)
Hypocrites will surely suffer the consequences of assuming that they can deceive Allah and believers by professing belief and then concealing their efforts to harm believers and to divert them from the right path. The Qur'an informs us that their punishment will be even more severe than that of the unbelievers, atheists, and irreligious people, for they say lies in the name of Allah and show hypocrisy, insincerity, and dishonesty:
The hypocrites are in the lowest level of the Fire. You will not find any one to help them. (Qur'an, 4:145)
As for those people who remain under the influence of hypocrites and thereby develop a rationale of "managing both this world and the Hereafter," Allah relates the following verse:
Among the people there is one who worships Allah right on the edge. If good befalls him, he is content with it, but if a trial befalls him, he reverts to his former ways, losing both the world and the Hereafter. That is indeed sheer loss. (Qur'an, 22:11)
Answer to those who ask "Does the Qur'an,
which was revealed in seventh-century Arabia , address today's needs?"
This is a rather common question. And, its underlying assumption is that either the Qur'an has to be set aside or that some of its "inconvenient" parts have to be amended.
First, we must ask these people whether they believe that Allah revealed the Qur'an as a book of guidance for humanity (Qur'an, 2:2). It should be noted that the Qur'an reveals a number of mathematical and historical miracles, as well as scientific truths that we have discovered only recently. The fact that these scientific truths which could not be known at the time of the Qur'an's revelation are in complete conformity with it strongly indicates that the Qur'an is the word of Allah. Those who have doubts about the Qur'an, despite these facts, are called out to, as follows:
If you have doubts about what We have sent down to Our servant, produce another sura equal to it, and call your witnesses, besides Allah, if you are telling the truth. If you do not do that—and you will not do it—then fear the Fire whose fuel is people and stones, made ready for the unbelievers. (Qur'an, 2:23-24)
Certainly, those who assert that the Qur'an is written by man are not Muslims, regardless of their professions of faith. What is interesting, however, is that there are also some who claim that "the Qur'an cannot address today's needs" yet assert that they are Muslims. If they persist in their claim, they can be placed in only two groups: those who are ignorant of religion and know nothing about the Qur'an, or those who hesitate to declare their unbelief openly.
People who are somewhat conversant with the Qur'anic commands can never advocate such a fallacy. However, those who fail to notice that the Qur'an is the just Book revealed by Allah as the only accurate source of guidance applicable to all times and every society often advocate that very fallacy. People who read the Qur'an with an open mind recognize that the kind of people and societies described therein have existed throughout history as well as in our day. The Qur'an gives an account of all of the wrongs, misdeeds, and distortions committed by those societies that are far from religious morality. Their reactions to Allah's message and the detailed character descriptions instruct us today, which are further indications that the Qur'an addresses all times and all people. Those who are committed to reading the Qur'an and to living by it will witness, with an ever-deepening faith, that it permeates their lives, for the Qur'an gives a detailed account of what events they will face and the ideal behaviors expected of them.
The Qur'an also refers to one unreasonable judgment, "society is an ever-evolving system, and religion, with its static texture, falls short of its needs," and declares that this view is based upon a lack of comprehension unique to unbelievers. As the Qur'an informs us, unbelievers who lived thousands of years ago also referred to religion as "myths and legends of previous peoples" (Qur'an, 16:24) In the same manner, unbelievers who lived at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), asked him to amend certain parts of the Qur'an. As we read:
When Our Clear Signs are recited to them, those who do not expect to meet Us say: "Bring a Qur'an other than this one or change it." Say: "It is not for me to change it of my own accord. I follow nothing except what is revealed to me. I fear, were I to disobey my Lord, the punishment of a Dreadful Day." (Qur'an, 10:15)
The unbelievers to whom the above verse refers were living at the Prophet's (pbuh) time and actually witnessed the Qur'an's revelation. They objected only because adhering to the Qur'an's morality would, in their opinion, harm their interests.
This situation also is true for today. Those who benefit from the established system of ignorance inevitably oppose the morality and the lifestyle introduced by Islam. You frequently hear these people talk about reforming the Qur'an. In actuality, these are nothing but efforts to make the Qur'an conform to their own ignorant order.
However, these are all futile efforts, for in compliance with "We have sent down the Reminder, and We will preserve it," (Qur'an, 15:9) each letter of the Qur'an is preserved exactly as it was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Qur'an is Allah's final message to humanity, and so divine revelation has ceased. Thus, the Qur'an is—and will remain—the only way to salvation for the rest of time.
Answer to those who say "I have a sound heart."
We are informed in the Qur'an that Allah considers people's hearts, as He reveals in "But only he [will prosper] who brings to Allah a sound heart." (Qur'an, 26:89)
But the Qur'an's concept of a "sound heart" is not the pureness of heart that some people understand it to be. People who believe themselves to possess moral excellence because "they do not mean any harm to people" or "now and then they help the needy" only deceive themselves, for the Qur'an defines a sound heart as turning to and submitting fully to Allah. Some people are believed to have a sound heart because they feed stray dogs, smile at neighbors, or sometimes help the needy. But being saved from Hell and earning Allah's good pleasure and mercy require far more than being known as a "good person": One must be the type of believer described in the Qur'an. An act or an attitude that is accepted as a good deed by a society ignorant of religion, although it is not based upon the Qur'an's values, may not be worthy in Allah's sight. The main criterion that renders a deed good and worthy in His sight is the degree of its conformity with the Qur'anic criteria. The following verses are quite explanatory:
Do you make the giving of water to the pilgrims and looking after the Masjid al-Haram the same as believing in Allah and the Last Day and struggling in the Way of Allah? They are not equal in the sight of Allah. Allah does not guide wrongdoing people. (Qur'an, 9:19)
It is not devoutness to turn your faces to the East or to the West. Rather, those with true devoutness are those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, the Angels, the Book and the Prophets, and who, despite their love for it, give away their wealth to their relatives, to orphans and the very poor, to travellers and beggars, to set slaves free, and who establish prayer and pay alms; those who honor their contracts when they make them, and are steadfast in poverty and illness and in battle. Those are the people who are true. They are the people who have taqwa [consciousness of Allah]. (Qur'an, 2:177)
People with sound hearts, in the Qur'anic sense, have faith in Allah, observe the limits and prohibitions that He has established, and submit to Him fully. In the Islamic sense, there is no other form of a sound heart, for the Qur'an defines a person with a sound heart as someone who constantly brings Allah to mind and feels at peace with His remembrance. The following verse makes this quite clear:
Those who believe and whose hearts find peace in the remembrance of Allah. Only in the remembrance of Allah can the heart find peace. (Qur'an, 13:28)
In another verse, Allah describes believers as those "whose hearts quake at the mention of Allah" (Qur'an, 22:35). In yet another verse, He states: "Has the time not arrived for the hearts of those who believe to yield to the remembrance of Allah and to the truth He has sent down?" (Qur'an, 57:16)
This sensitivity of the heart is what enables believers to derive pleasure from the Qur'an's morality and to feel a great pleasure and peace in obeying Allah. Allah describes this sensitivity as "Allah's guidance":
Allah has sent down the Supreme Discourse, a Book consistent in its frequent repetitions. The skins of those who fear their Lord tremble at it, and then their skins and hearts yield softly to the remembrance of Allah. That is Allah's guidance, by which He guides whoever He wills... (Qur'an, 39:23)
Consequently, a sound heart in the Islamic context means a heart that is purified from all forms of impurity that draw one away from Allah. Such people stay away from worldly greed, selfishness, fears, and insecurity. As a result, they do not become attached to any person or thing other than Allah or feel a type of love for them that is independent of Allah.
In brief, people cannot have a sound heart if they do not obey Allah and do not fulfill the requirements of Islam. Those who claim to have a pure heart and thus consider it unimportant to comply with Islamic principles may assume that they deceive Allah and believers. But in fact, they only deceive themselves, and their self-proclaimed pure heart only indicates the insincerity of a person who avoids fulfilling his or her religious acts of worship and presents a flawed way of life as Islam. Such insincerity is not accepted either in Allah's sight or in the eyes of Muslims.
Answer to those who say "I am still young. I will become religious when I am old."
Indifference and apathy, two features that mark today's lifestyle, influence both the domain of religion and all other aspects of life. According to a prevalent understanding based upon people's observations of daily life, Islam is the religion of elderly people who come together every now and then to pray. Therefore, they consider religion to be a means of relief and tranquility when faced with grief and trouble, or when close to death. According to this distorted outlook, adhering to religion while still young and when one can make the most of life is somewhat like being buried before one dies. Under the influence of such thinking, those who still hold religious beliefs and respect religion should postpone living by it until they are old.
But, as with other issues, there is a problem here, one that arises from the fact that information about Islam is gathered not from the Qur'an but from unreliable resources, ignorant people, random relatives, or media outlets. First of all, the true Islam described in the Qur'an is not a religion only for elderly people; on the contrary, it holds everyone responsible for their deeds from the time they are able to distinguish right from wrong. Furthermore, elderly people may find it more difficult to observe many acts of worship due to physical weakness and sicknesses.
Indeed, youth is one of Allah's greatest blessings. It would be a great display of disrespect to turn away from Him at a time when people are at their mental and physical peaks. If people do not undertake their responsibilities of enjoining good and forbidding evil, communicating Allah's message, and glorifying Him when they are young, strong, and healthy, how can they accomplish such duties when they are old and weak?
In fact, Allah praises the young people of faith who submit to Him wholeheartedly, as the verses below indicate:
When the youths took refuge in the cave and said: "Our Lord, give us mercy directly from You and open the way for us to right guidance in our situation." So We sealed their ears with sleep in the cave for a number of years. Then We woke them up again so that we might see which of the two groups would better calculate the time they had stayed there. We will relate their story to you with truth. They were young men who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance. We fortified their hearts when they stood up and said: "Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and Earth, and We will not call upon any deity apart from Him. We would, in that case, have uttered an abomination." (Qur'an, 18:10-14)
During the time of Prophet Musa (Moses) (pbuh), only a small group of young people followed him:
No one believed in Musa, except [some] offspring [i.e., youths] among his people, out of fear that Pharaoh and the elders would persecute them. Pharaoh was high and mighty in the land. He was one of the profligate. (Qur'an, 10:83)
Many of the Prophets undertook this important duty when they were young. Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (pbuh), one of these noble men who struggled against his idolatrous people, earned a reputation among them. Indeed, the prominent people of his tribe said: "We heard a young man mentioning them (our deities). They call him Ibrahim." (Qur'an, 21:60)
The Qur'an does not specify a certain age for assuming one's religious responsibilities. However, people are held liable after they gain consciousness and attain mental maturity. As nothing can guarantee another five minutes of life to a person, how can someone decide to be irreligious while young and then fulfill his or her religious obligations when old? Noone has guaranteed that he or she will live so long. As stated in the Qur'an:
Truly Allah has knowledge of the Hour, sends down abundant rain, and knows what is in the womb. And no self knows what it will earn tomorrow, and no self knows in what land it will die. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Qur'an, 31:34)
Do the people of the cities feel secure against Our violent force coming down on them in the night, while they are asleep? Or do the people of the cities feel secure against Our violent force coming down on them in the day, while they are playing games? Do they feel secure against Allah's devising? No one feels secure against Allah's devising except those who are lost. (Qur'an, 7:97-99)
The Qur'an describes the grievous end of those who turn a blind ear to Allah's call when they are young, strong, and healthy in the following verses:
On the Day when legs are bared and they are called upon to prostrate, they will not be able to do so. Their eyes will be downcast, darkened by debasement, for they were called upon to prostrate when they were in full possession of their faculties. (Qur'an, 68:42-43)
Some people hold a superstitious belief that they can make the most of life when young and then repent before death. Clearly, this mistaken idea stems from a lack of knowledge and a lifestyle that is far from religion, for it is sheer insincerity toward Allah. Actually, this is the same as saying: "I can commit all forms of sins, engage in any evil, or transgress Allah's limits and then, toward the end of my life, repent and attain the afterlife." But Allah, Who knows what is concealed in hearts, informs us that such an insincere mentality can never succeed and that He will never accept the repentance of such people, for:
There is no repentance for people who persist in doing evil until death comes to them and who then say: "Now I repent," nor for people who die as unbelievers. We have prepared for them a painful punishment. (Qur'an, 4:18)
Those who are devoid of such wisdom and thus fail to appreciate the extent of Allah's knowledge take it for granted that once they repent, Allah will forgive them and let them enter Paradise . They assume that they can deceive Allah, just as they deceive people in this life. Yet such people only deceive themselves and eventually fall into a desperate situation. At an unexpected time, death will seize them and start them on a journey that has no end. Meanwhile, they still maintain that stealthy mentality. This impudent yet desperate struggle is related in the Qur'an, as follows:
If only you could see the evildoers hanging their heads in shame before their Lord: "Our Lord, we have seen and we have heard, so send us back again and we will act rightly. Truly we now have certainty." [Allah replies:] "Had We so willed, We could have given guidance to everyone, but now My Words are shown to be true: that I shall fill up Hell entirely with jinn and human beings. So taste it. Because you forgot the meeting of this Day, We have forgotten you. Taste the punishment of eternal timelessness for what you did." (Qur'an, 32:12-14)
When death comes to one of them, he says: "My Lord, send me back again so that perhaps I may act rightly regarding the things I failed to do!" No indeed! It is just words he utters. Before them there is a barrier until the Day they are raised up. (Qur'an, 23:99-100)
In the Qur'an, Allah provides guidance to believers so that they can avoid such an irreversible and irrecoverable end:
Give from what We have provided for you before death comes to one of you and he says: "My Lord, if only you would give me a little more time so that I can give alms and be one of the righteous!" Allah will not give anyone more time, once their time has come. Allah is aware of what you do. (Qur'an, 63:10-11)
O you who believe, heed Allah the way He should be heeded and do not die except as Muslims. (Qur'an, 3:102)
O you who believe, heed Allah and let each self look to what it has sent forward for tomorrow. Heed Allah. Allah is aware of what you do. (Qur'an, 59:18)
A close look at these verses reveal that the attitude that we have been discussing is not based upon the utter denial of Allah, but upon the failure to appreciate Him with the appreciation due to Him. In other words, those who employ this attitude fail to heed Allah and observe the limits that He has set as one should. People may accept Allah's being; however, being aware of His infinite power, wisdom, knowledge, as well as acknowledging that He controls all affairs at every moment, that no one is guaranteed security against His punishment, is wholly a different thing. Satan has firm faith in Allah's being, yet rebels against Him. The Qur'an refers to those who accept Allah's being and yet fail to appreciate Him with the appreciation due to Him and become rebellious, as follows:
Say: "Who provides for you out of heaven and Earth? Who controls hearing and sight? Who brings forth the living from the dead and the dead from the living? Who directs the whole affair?" They will say: "Allah." Say: "So will you not then do your duty?" That is Allah, your Lord, the Truth, and what is there after truth except misguidance? So how have you been distracted? In that way the Word of your Lord is realized against those who are deviators, in that they do not believe. (Qur'an, 10:31-33)
If you asked them who created them, they would say: "Allah!" So how have they been perverted? (Qur'an, 43:87)
Answer to those who ask "What do you expect from me after I embrace the Qur'an's morality?"
Although this may appear to be an impromptu question, in reality the members of societies ignorant of religion always direct it toward those believers who communicate the message.
No doubt, the Prophets are the leaders of those who communicate Allah's religion and have such a high degree of moral excellence that they are most sincere toward Allah. Despite their exemplary character, however, the Qur'an relates that their people greeted them with suspicion and sought to relate their sincere efforts to their personal interests.
In response to these accusations, all Prophets have given the following answer:
If you turn your backs, I have not asked you for any wage. My wage is the responsibility of Allah alone. I am commanded to be one of the Muslims. (Qur'an, 10:72)
I do not ask you for any wage for it. My wage is the responsibility of no one but the Lord of all the worlds. (Qur'an, 26:127)
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) also faced such situations, for this is the law and test of Allah. When he was accused of abusing the religion to gain personal benefit, material wealth, status, and political power, Allah told him to give the following answer:
Say: "I do not ask you for any wage for it—only that anyone who wants to should make his way towards his Lord." (Qur'an, 25:57)
"I do not ask you for any wage for this—except for you to love your near of kin." (Qur'an, 42:23)
Yet we need to remember that communicating the message is not the Prophets' duty alone. Summoning people to the right path, enjoining good and forbidding evil, calling people to Islam and the Qur'an are incumbent upon all Muslims, although it is sometimes perceived by the public as the responsibility of only Prophets and Messengers. Communicating Allah's message is an act of worship, such as performing one's prayers or fasting. As such, it is considered one of the believers' basic attributes:
The male and female believers are friends of one another. They command what is right and forbid what is wrong, establish prayer and pay alms, and obey Allah and His Messenger. They are the people on whom Allah will have mercy. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. (Qur'an, 9:71)
The main intention behind calling people to Islam is to fulfill Allah's command and to save them from a woeful punishment (if Allah permits). Sincere Muslims surely do not need anyone's money, wealth, beauty, or status. Islam is Allah's true religion, and it is Allah Who best protects it. The Qur'an states that Allah will exalt His religion over others in the following verse:
It is He Who sent His Messenger with guidance and the Religion of Truth to exalt it over every other religion, even though the pagans detest it. (Qur'an, 9:33)
It is inconceivable that any believer would ask for a reward or a benefit in return for doing what Allah has told him or her to do. After all, Allah severely condemns those who seek to abuse religion for their own interests:
They have sold Allah's Signs for a paltry price, and they have barred access to His Way. What they have done is truly evil. (Qur'an, 9:9)
As is the case with all other acts of worship, believers convey His message only to earn Allah's good pleasure. Muslims never condescend to simple material benefits. The Qur'an proclaims this attribute in the following words:
They do not sell Allah's Signs for a paltry price. Such people will have their reward with their Lord. (Qur'an, 3:199)
Allah informs us that adherence to these sincere people is essential:
Follow those who do not ask you for any wage and who have received guidance. (Qur'an, 36:21)
Answer to those who ask "Why do Muslims show great love for and
interest in those people with whom they have only recently become acquainted?"
Love is not an emotion that one can attain by one's own willpower or something acquired by force; rather, Allah inspires it in one's heart. A believer does not need to possess sublime attributes or distinctive abilities to feel affection for someone else. A person of faith recognizes the beautiful things created by Allah, down to their most delicate features, and so can see a person's good and beautiful aspects, as well as his or her unrevealed features, more clearly and rapidly and therefore behaves accordingly.
Believers may show affection to someone who has not adopted the Islamic way of living, for some features that comply with the Qur'an's morality in that person (e.g., naturalness, sincerity, cleanliness, intelligence, beauty, intimacy, and sympathy) may arouse a natural affection in their hearts. That person may also have attributes of good character, although he or she is not fully aware of them. All of these characteristics are sufficient to develop a sincere affection for that person, for they are, in actuality, beauties created by Allah. For this reason, such affection is not directed toward that person; rather, it is directed toward Allah.
Allah inspires a profound love of beauty in all believers' hearts. While mentioning Prophet Yahya (John) (pbuh), Allah states: "We gave him [Yahya] ... tenderness [for all creatures] and purity from Us." (Qur'an, 19:13) All believers who follow in the footsteps of the Prophets feel this tenderness for all creatures. In fact, Allah states: "As for those who believe and do right actions, the All-Merciful will bestow His love upon them." (Qur'an, 19:96) As an expression of this love, believers always honor other people and avoid offending or dishonoring them in any way. In brief, believers do not behave in an insincere or artificial manner with others. Provided that a person is sincere, his or her pursuit of the right path and curiosity indicate consciousness, which is a positive attribute. Even a person's frank inquiry about Islam, one that is divorced from any prejudice or ill intentions, is sufficient to earn the believers' sympathy.
Meanwhile, believers do not pretend to love somebody if they really feel no love for that person in their hearts. Under the guise of love, members of societies ignorant of religion establish bonds with people based upon mutual interests that are not always of a material nature. Provided that the person in question somehow satisfies that person's ego, this bond may turn into a habitual relation. The complicated emotions arising from such a bond differ greatly from the mutual love and interest among believers. Such relations are based upon mundane interests and therefore are doomed to failure, as the verse below states:
And he [Ibrahim] said: "For you, you have taken (for worship) idols besides Allah, out of mutual love and regard between yourselves in this life. But on the Day of Judgment you shall disown each other and curse each other. Your abode will be the Fire, and you shall have none to help." (Qur'an, 29:25)
The major feelings that impede love are pride and jealousy. These feelings, which are prevalent among societies ignorant of religion, often hinder people from seeing the good attributes in others and from taking pleasure from them. But those who have faith, and thereby are free of jealousy and pride, find it easy to appreciate and praise people's good characteristics, all of which they attribute to Allah.
For this reason, those who have only recently become acquainted with believers will notice that they have entered an environment that is quite different from the one to which they are accustomed. At first, they may find this new environment rather unusual. While they were accustomed to impolite, indecent, rude, insensitive, derisive, insincere, self-seeking, and hypocritical people, they now find themselves surrounded by people who notice their good characteristics, (of which even they might be unaware), and who judge them according to these favorable traits. It is only natural for such surprises to engender some questions. However, they have to be aware that there is a great gap between the members of societies ignorant of religion and believers, and that they have to seek answers to these questions while bearing this fact in mind.
Answer to those who ask
"Might some of the negative news spread about believers be true?"
In compliance with the verse "Am I to desire someone other than Allah as a judge, when it is He Who has sent down the Book to you clarifying everything?" (Qur'an, 6:114) believers resort to Allah's judgment for every issue. This also holds true for how they judge the news they gather from unbelievers. The Qur'an sets the related criteria, as follows:
O you who believe, if a deviator brings you a report, scrutinize it carefully in case you attack people in ignorance and so come to greatly regret what you have done. (Qur'an, 49:6)
In the Qur'an, Allah states that only believers are reliable and trustworthy people, and that everybody else is a "deviator," someone who disregards Allah's commands, has gone astray in belief, and has rebelled against Allah. As we learn from the above verse, Allah commands believers to scrutinize the news brought by such people. This being the case, believers must not believe immediately in such news and must be cautious, especially if such news seems to be built upon lies or slander.
A more important aspect of this issue is that throughout history, all believers have been subjected to slanderous accusations. The Qur'an relates, when discussing the lives of the Prophets, how many members of the society's elite class resorted to lowly forms of slander against them. All communities of believers have experienced such reactions from unbelievers. In this sense, we can say that these reactions are indicative of the person involved being a true believer.
There is another interesting feature of such assaults against believers. The leading unbelievers never say openly: "We do not believe in Allah and are against believers who summon to Allah's way." On the contrary, they proclaim their belief in Allah and consider themselves to be on the right path. Meanwhile, they claim that believers lie in Allah's name and abuse His religion to gain mundane interests. The Qur'an provides a detailed account of such slanders, as follows: Prophet Musa (pbuh) and his brother Prophet Harun (Aaron) (pbuh) were said to "gain greatness in the land;" (Qur'an, 10:78) Prophet Nuh (pbuh) was accused of "wanting to gain ascendancy," (Qur'an, 23:24) and was said to be "possessed;" (Qur'an, 23:25) Prophet Salih (pbuh) sent to the Thamud was accused of being a "liar and an insolent person;" (Qur'an, 54:25) and Prophet Musa (pbuh) and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were called "insane" (Qur'an, 26:27 and Qur'an, 15:6). Many Prophets were called "sorcerers," (Qur'an, 10:2 and Qur'an, 38:4) and Pharaoh called Prophet Musa (pbuh) "a magician or a madman." (Qur'an, 51:38-39) Being a "liar" is another slander made up against believers throughout history. (Qur'an, 7:66 and Qur'an, 11:27)
History shows that such slander has always been hurled against believers in an attempt to blacken their names and to cause people to doubt their words. For this reason, upon hearing such slander, lies, or negative news about those who have faith in Allah, people who are unaware of the truth at least have to think positively.
By providing an event as an example, Allah warns Muslims not to be deceived when faced with such situations. The Qur'an clarifies the correct attitude that believers should assume when confronted with a slander made up against one of the Prophet's (pbuh) wives in the following verse:
Why, when you heard it, did you not, as believing men and women, instinctively think good thoughts and say: "This is obviously a lie?" (Qur'an, 24:12)
Answer to those who ask "If the Qur'an's morality promises such a good and
perfect structure, then why does it have so many enemies?"
The Qur'an brings the easiest and most comfortable lifestyle, one that encompasses the most perfect moral and social structure. But the essence of religious morality relies on a heartfelt submission to Allah, scrupulous obedience to His commands, and awareness that He holds everything in His will and control. For this reason, no matter how perfect a lifestyle abounding with beauties, ease, and blessings Islam presents to humanity, those suffering from such personality disorders as arrogance, jealousy, and pride do not come close to having faith in Allah and being with believers, although their conscience tells them to do so. This situation is related in the Qur'an, as follows:
… and they repudiated them [Allah's Signs] wrongly and haughtily, in spite of their own certainty about them. See the final fate of the corrupters. (Qur'an, 27:14)
When he is told to heed Allah, he is seized by pride that drives him to wrongdoing. Hell will be enough for him! What an evil resting-place! (Qur'an, 2:206)
The Qur'an defines these people with such a distorted psychology as "idolaters" and reveals that they feel rage and hatred when summoned to Allah and His religion:
When they are told to prostrate to the All-Merciful, they ask: "And what is the All-Merciful? Are we to prostrate to something you command us to?" And it merely makes them run away all the more. (Qur'an, 25:60)
The unbelievers' rage and hatred for Allah's verses, and thereby for Islam and all believers, is revealed in many other verses as well, such as the following:
Allah sent back those who were unbelievers in their rage without their achieving any good at all. Allah saved the believers from having to fight. Allah is Most Strong, Almighty. (Qur'an, 33:25)
When Allah is mentioned on His own, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter shrink back shuddering. But when others apart from Him are mentioned, they jump for joy. (Qur'an, 39:45)
This rage and hatred stemming from the unbelievers' arrogance and pride appears in the form of a relentless hostility toward believers. These people, who feel restless even in the presence of a single true believer, strive to divert believers from the right path and to impose upon them their own ignorant system. They hope for the worst for believers and wish that all adversities will befall them. The Qur'an tells about such efforts, as follows:
O you who believe, do not take any outside yourselves as intimates. They will do anything to harm you. They love what causes you distress. Hatred has appeared out of their mouths, but what their breasts hide is far worse. We have made the Signs clear to you, if you use your intellect. (Qur'an, 3:118)
If something good happens to you, it galls them. If something bad strikes you, they rejoice at it. But if you are steadfast and do your duty, their scheming will not harm you in any way. Allah encompasses what they do. (Qur'an, 3:120)
If they come upon you, they will be your enemies and stretch out their hands and tongues against you with evil intent. They would dearly love you to become unbelievers. (Qur'an, 60:2)
It is obvious that some interest groups would feel uneasy at the establishment of a system based upon the Qur'an's morality. Those who make money on theft, usury, poverty, and by exploiting innocent people; those who hold certain positions and ranks although they lack the necessary expertise, knowledge, and experience essential for those positions and abuse them for their personal benefit; those who have adopted indecency and immorality as a lifestyle or profession;or those who serve some distorted ideologies are naturally unwilling to embrace the lifestyle brought by Islam—one that is based upon social justice, honesty, and equality. For this reason, they may resort to anything to hinder and even annihilate the spread of Islam's moral system.
Apart from this, some of the hypocrites we mentioned earlier join the believers' community in order to provoke unbelievers against believers, to collect information about them, and to instigate restlessness. They make a great effort to stir up sedition and distort religious commands, as the following verses state:
Among the people are some who say: "We believe in Allah and the Last Day," when they are not believers. They think that they deceive Allah and those who believe. They deceive no one but themselves, but they are not aware of it. There is a sickness in their hearts, and Allah has increased their sickness. They will have a painful punishment on account of their denial. When they are told: "Do not cause corruption in the land," they say: "We are only putting things right." No indeed! They are the corrupters, but they are not aware of it. (Qur'an, 2:8-12)
Hypocrites continue their stealthy struggle against believers by cooperating with unbelievers. The Qur'an provides a detailed account of their personality and character traits, as well as the way they look, speak, and act. Allah sent down Surat al-Munafiqun (Chapter of the Hypocrites), which is addressed especially to hypocrites. In this chapter, He states that they are truly the enemies of believers:
They are the enemies, so beware of them. The curse of Allah be upon them! How they are deluded [away from the Truth]! (Qur'an, 63:4)
Wrapped up in jealousy, these hypocrites follow the ever-growing blessings, power, authority, and beauty granted to believers. These people, consumed with their own inferiority complexes, are jealous of the respect shown to believers and thus feel rage and hatred against them. However, they also fear believers. The Qur'an reveals some of the hypocrites' character traits, as follows:
When they meet you, they say: "We believe." But when they leave, they bite their fingers out of rage against you. Say: "Die in your rage." Allah knows what your hearts contain. (Qur'an, 3:119)
They swear by Allah that they are of your number, but they are not of your number. Rather, they are people who are scared. (Qur'an, 9:56)
The Qur'an informs us that people who are ignorant of religion have shown these reactions and attacked the Prophets and believers in all ages. It is the unbelieving society's leaders who first recognize true believers. For example, Pharaoh first recognized Prophet Musa (pbuh) and Nimrod first recognized Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh). All Prophets spent their lives struggling against unbelief and its leaders, for this immutable law of Allah applies to all ages:
In this way, We have assigned to every Prophet an enemy from among the evildoers. But your Lord is a sufficient guide and helper. (Qur'an, 25:31)
Consequently, according to the Qur'an, the existence of such enemies is one of the most substantial pieces of evidence of the believers' righteousness and sincerity.
Meanwhile, one point deserves special mention: No one can attempt such an act without Allah's will. In all ages, Allah creates various settings of struggle between believers and unbelievers in order to test the believers' patience and trust in Him, to raise them in rank, to show His help to them and the superiority of faith over unbelief, to give believers their Reminder, to disgrace unbelievers, and to reveal the hypocrites' true faces and the sickness in their hearts. Allah promises that whatever happens, His help is always with true believers and that they will always prevail, provided that they adopt and display the attributes of moral perfection described in the Qur'an. Allah informs believers that they will absolutely be the "uppermost," for:
Do not give up and do not be downhearted. You shall be uppermost if you are believers. (Qur'an, 3:139)
Allah will not give the disbelievers any way against the believers. (Qur'an, 4:141)
As for those who make Allah their friend, and His Messenger and those who believe: it is the party of Allah who is victorious! (Qur'an, 5:56)
Our Word was given before to Our servants, the Messengers, that they would certainly be helped. It is Our army that will be victorious. (Qur'an, 37:171-173)
Allah has written: "I will be victorious, I and My Messengers." Allah is Most Strong, Almighty. (Qur'an, 58:21)
Answer to those who ask "Is everyone other than you wrong?"
Those who raise such a question most probably think there are various ideologies, views, and lifestyles, and so assumes that the one embraced by believers is only one among countless others. This being the case, they have a hard time understanding why they have to set aside all other ideologies and systems and adhere to the believers' way.
This standpoint, however, rests upon a great mistake.
First, we need to say that all systems, ideologies, social orders, philosophies, or lifestyles, except for the one to which all believers adhere, have been developed by human beings or communities. Their followers accept that the founders of these ideologies and systems were able to guide them to the truth. For example, a Marxist believes that Karl Marx was a genius who resolved all of this world's mysteries, or at least paved the way for this, and that adherence to his teachings will lead them to the truth. Those who think that following the centuries-old traditions of their society is the best way to find the truth take for granted that their society, or in more accurate words their ancestors, had the wisdom, knowledge, and reasoning to guide them to the truth. No matter which system and ideology you adopt, you see that a being—in some cases this being is the person himself or herself—is adopted as a guide.
However, none of these so-called guides are able to do what their adherents claim, for all of their systems are built upon human wisdom, which is extremely inadequate, vulnerable, weak, and limited. No person can acquire all of the knowledge found in the universe, not even one billionth of it. Nor can anyone resolve the many questions associated with this world. For instance, they cannot explain what happens after death, a question that has occupied people's minds since the beginning of time, unless they read the truth that Allah conveys in the Qur'an.
The power of human wisdom does not increase when people gather together in a society. When faced with the infinite information inherent in the universe, humanity's collective mental power is insignificant.
This being the case, assuming that the human mind can find the truth—unless otherwise willed by Allah—is a totally unfounded assumption, no more than a conjecture. Indeed, Allah stresses this fact many times in the Qur'an and relates that all disbelievers follow conjecture, for:
If you obeyed most of those on Earth, they would guide you away from Allah's Way. They follow nothing but conjecture. They are only guessing. (Qur'an, 6:116)
For instance, all materialists who assert that the only life is the life of this world and that death is a coincidental result of relations between materials, rather than a special creation of Allah, only follow conjecture. (None of those who claim that death is an end have seen its aftermath.) The Qur'an emphasizes the situation of such people, as follows:
They say: "There is nothing but our existence in the world. We die and we live, and nothing destroys us except for time." They have no knowledge of that. They are only conjecturing. (Qur'an, 45:24)
Other members of societies that are far from religion develop a blind attachment to their ancestors' traditions and adopt them as guides. Hearsay, customs, habits that find social acceptance, some rules to which people adhere blindly, and false teachings make up such traditions. In this system, people do not need to employ or exercise their reason and wisdom, for following the herd is the predominant psychology, as well as the lifestyle and understanding to which the majority of its members adhere. In the Qur'an, Allah calls attention to those who adhere blindly to their ancestors despite His definitive judgments, and states that they are deaf, dumb, and blind and unable to exercise their intelligence:
When they are told: "Follow what Allah has sent down to you," they say: "We are following what we found our fathers doing." What, even though their fathers did not understand a thing and were not guided! The likeness of those who are unbelievers is that of someone who yells out to something which cannot hear—it is nothing but a cry and a call. Deaf–dumb–blind. They do not use their intellect. (Qur'an, 2:170-171)
Both adhering to ideologues and following in their ancestors' footsteps are ways of following conjecture. The Qur'an informs us that those who are attached to their ancestors' way, even when they know that their ancestors had no divinely revealed book, are on a false way:
Or did We give them a Book before which they are holding to? No, in fact they say: "We found our fathers following a religion, and we are simply guided in their footsteps." Similarly, We never sent any warner before you to any city without the affluent among them saying: "We found our fathers following a religion, and we are simply following in their footsteps." Say: "What if I have come with better guidance than what you found your fathers following?" They say" "We reject what you have been sent with." (Qur'an, 43:21-24)
Consequently, intelligent people do not place their trust in Karl Marx or other ideologues, or in their ancestors, or in the majority of people. The sole guide in whom they place their trust is the All-Mighty Allah, Who possesses infinite wisdom and all the knowledge in the universe. Indeed, the Qur'an frequently refers to Allah as Al-Rabb , an attribute of His which means the One and only Lord for all the universe, its Creator, Owner, Organizer, Provider, Master, Planner, Sustainer, Cherisher, and Giver of Security.
Taking beings or things other than Allah as guides means taking them as lords or making them into idols. This attitude, which is defined as ascribing partners to Allah, is extremely dangerous, for the Qur'an reveals that such people will find themselves in the following situation:
O humanity, an example has been given, so listen to it carefully. Those whom you call upon besides Allah are not able to create even a single fly, even if they were to join together to do it. And if a fly steals something from them, they cannot get it back. How feeble are both the seeker and the sought! (Qur'an, 22:73)
As the verse maintains, both the person or thing from whom help is sought and the person who adheres to such false deities as sources of guidance are all weak and helpless. Another verse relates this fact, as follows:
They have taken deities besides Allah so that perhaps they may be helped. They cannot help them, even though they are an army mobilized in their support. (Qur'an, 36:74-75)
Such a rationale, that is, a system based on conjecture, is entirely distorted, vain, and false. Only Allah deserves obedience and recognition as one's Lord, for:
Say: "Can any of your partner-deities guide to the truth?" Say: "Allah guides to the truth. Who has more right to be followed—He Who guides to the truth, or he who cannot guide unless he is guided? What is the matter with you? How do you reach your judgment?" (Qur'an, 10:35)
Following these explanations, we can now answer the question as to whether only believers are right. Everyone who is unaware of Allah's existence, or who fails to appreciate His infinite might and submit Him even if aware of His existence, is on the wrong path. This being the case, only those who fear Allah and seek His approval are on the right path.
Another evidence of this truth is that only believers adhere to a guide that is the sublime Word of Allah: the Qur'an–the sole book of guidance for all of humanity, a fact that Allah reveals in the following and many other verses:
This Qur'an guides to the most upright Way and gives good news to the believers who do right actions that they will have a large reward. (Qur'an, 17:9)
The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur'an was sent down as guidance for mankind, with Clear Signs containing guidance and discrimination… (Qur'an, 2:185)
This does not mean that believers are a faultless people. On the contrary, everyone makes mistakes. Yet, the source that guides them is immune to all errors, faults, defects, or flaws. Believers make mistakes when they fail to comply with the Qur'an. But once they are made aware of their mistakes, they abandon them immediately.