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ANSWERS FROM THE QUR'AN - Harun Yahya


ANSWERS FROM THE QUR'AN

For Newcomers to Islam

Every time they come to you with an argument, We bring you the truth and
the best of explanations.
(Qur'an, 25:33)




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
"Do believers always have to be together, or can they live by the religion on their own?"

Once people start to live by Islam, they must start to comply with the Qur'an's morality. Consequently, only the Qur'an can answer this question. The Qur'an frequently reminds us that believers always have to be together in order to support and help one another:

Hold fast to the rope of Allah all together, and do not separate. Remember Allah's blessing to you when you were enemies, and He joined your hearts together, so that you became brothers by His blessing. You were on the very brink of a pit of the Fire, and He rescued you from it. In this way Allah makes His Signs clear to you, so that hopefully you will be guided. (Qur'an, 3:103)

Allah loves those who fight in His Way in ranks like well-built walls. (Qur'an, 61:4)

Restrain yourself patiently with those who call upon their Lord morning and evening, desiring His face. Do not turn your eyes from them, desiring the attractions of this world. (Qur'an, 18:28)

Allah's Messenger (pbuh) mentions the same subject by saying that believers are each other's guardians: "Each of you is a guardian, and each of you will be asked about your guardianship." (Bukhari, Muslim)

Clearly, the expression "do not turn your eyes from them" stresses that, apart from being together, believers have to be very attentive to one another and be available to serve other believers so that an Islamic society can be maintained. Another verse describes our Prophet's (pbuh) concern for believers, which is truly exemplary, in the following words:

A Messenger has come to you from among yourselves. Your suffering is distressing to him. He is deeply concerned for you, and is gentle and merciful to the believers. (Qur'an, 9:128)

As these verses make clear, "being alone" and "living by the religion" are incompatible concepts, and Islam does not support such a model of living. Someone who claims to be able to live by the religion on his or her own has a flawed understanding of Islam. As we said earlier, believers are responsible for enjoining good and forbidding evil and for summoning people to the truth. Believers must be together in order to obey this and other commands.

This aside, Islam is founded on the basis of love, for Allah inspires love in believers' hearts for other believers. A believer's love is first for Allah and then for the people who abide by the Qur'an's values. It is unthinkable that people who share such a love based upon Allah's consent, who strive to display the same moral perfection and intend to live together for all eternity, can remain apart and involve themselves in different affairs. Such a mindset is a clear manifestation of the absence of genuine love and faith. The fact is, however, as the verse maintains, that "the believers are brothers…" (Qur'an, 49:10), and brothers do not remain apart.

 

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?"

As the Qur'an tells us, Islam does not assess people's worth according to their race, descent, family, social status, wealth, gender, appearance, beauty, or physical traits. In Allah's sight, all people are born equal and gain consciousness, after which they are held accountable for their acts and attitudes, and assessed accordingly. The Islamic concept of superiority rests entirely upon that person's awareness of Allah. Allah relates this fact in the following verse:

O humanity, We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in Allah's sight is that one of you who best performs his duty towards Allah. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. ( Qur'an , 49:13)

Consequently, while assessing a person's value, believers have no criterion other than the person's heedfulness of Allah. Indeed, the Prophet (pbuh) also said: "The most beloved to me among you is the one who has the best character and manners" ( Sahih Bukhari ). However, assessing people according to this criterion and employing the most appropriate and useful methods to spread of Islam's morality are two different concepts.

That is because believers convey Allah's message to an unbelieving society. The people of such a society do not assess people according to their consciousness of Allah. On the contrary, they base their concept of superiority on such flawed measures as material wealth, race, or lineage. In all societies that are far from religion, the people who hold power and lead people—the Qur'an calls these people "the chiefs of the nation"—possess most of these attributes. In short, they are the wealthiest, the most famous and popular people who are often followed blindly by the rest of society. In their eyes, what they say is right and what they condemn is bad.

The Qur'an very concisely defines this unusual relation between leaders and their subordinates. Pharaoh and his people is a clear example: Due to his enormous material and military power, he became his people's leader and imposed his own outlook upon them. As the Qur'an informs us, he addressed his people with the following words:

Pharoah said: "I only show you what I see myself, and I only guide you to the path of rectitude." ( Qur'an , 40:29)

Pharaoh presented himself as the only guide, and his people, who were utterly ignorant of true religion, followed him. The Qur'anic account of this event is as follows:

In that way, he swayed his people and they succumbed to him. They were a people of deviators. ( Qur'an , 43:54)

The people's submission to Pharaoh is a feature common to all societies that are far from religion. The prominent people lead the submitters, who make up the majority of the society. However, as the verse "They followed Pharaoh's command, but Pharaoh's command was not rightly guided" (Qur'an, 11:97) maintains, obedience to misguided leaders never leads people to the truth, for the majority of those who follow such prominent people often lack the faculty to see and obey the truth. As long as the prominent people present an appealing life that is far from religion, they can never see the mistaken nature of their ignorant way of living. Or, it would be more accurate to say that they pretend not to see the truth.

For this reason, those who call a society that does not live by the religion to faith must convey the message primarily to its leading elite, for their seeing the truth and embracing the Qur'an's morality sets an example for the other sections of society and leads them to the true religion. Indeed, Allah commands all of His Messengers to warn this section of the society first.

The previous verse stated that Pharaoh's people submitted to him, and so Prophet Musa (pbuh) was sent to Pharaoh's ruling circle:

We sent Musa with Our Signs to Pharaoh and his nobles. He [Pharaoh] said: "I am the Messenger of the Lord of the worlds." ( Qur'an , 43:46)

The Qur'an reveals that all of the Prophets followed the same path. Prophet Nuh (pbuh) (Qur'an, 23:23-24), Prophet Hud (pbuh) (Qur'an, 7:65-66), and Prophet Shu‘ayb (pbuh) (Qur'an, 7:85-88) were always in contact with the leaders of their people.

The concept of "prominent people" is surely too broad. In a society that does not live by the religion, everyone or every stratum, ranging from the elite to artists, intellectuals, businessmen, scientists, or popular students, that has any degree of influence over the people is considered one of the prominent people. What sets them apart from the others is that they have some control over masses who hold them in esteem and take them as role models. If one or many of them embrace Islam, their act may pave the way for the masses.

But this does not mean that this mission should be limited to a certain social stratum. The reason why believers focus their attention mainly on the prominent people is that the majority of people are unable to think freely, that is, without being led by the elites of their society.

However, this section of society also contains people of conscience and wisdom who incline toward faith. Believers do not neglect them; rather, they convey the message to them and take them as brothers and sisters. It goes without saying that, according to the Qur'an, believers have to communicate Allah's religion to anyone who asks for it.

Another important point is that being honored by Islam and adhering to the Qur'an enhances one's physical and spiritual quality. Concepts of attractiveness or unattractiveness cannot be limited to having certain bodily features, for it is known that some people who embrace faith become more beautiful, or the face of someone involved in wicked deeds is plunged into abasement. This is quite a metaphysical situation, for the spiritual beauty engendered by faith manifests itself in one's physical beauty. For instance, with regard to hypocrites, He says that "you would know them by their mark." (Qur'an, 47:30) In another verse, believers are also told to be recognized by their "mark." (Qur'an, 48:29) Indeed, a believer's face contains an expression of modesty, cleanliness, reliability, and honor, which Allah refers to as a "mark."

From the Qur'an, we learn that Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) (pbuh), who is praised for his sincerity and loyalty to Allah, was an extremely beautiful person:

When they saw him, they were amazed by him and cut their hands. They said: "Allah preserve us! This is no man. What can this be but a noble angel here!" ( Qur'an , 12:31)

These verses reveal that Allah makes believers physically attractive, thanks to the light that He grants to them. As is in the example of Prophet Yusuf (pbuh), believers know that this is a blessing bestowed upon them by Allah.

 

Answer to those who ask
"Is possessing power, wealth, and grandeur incompatible with the essence of Islam?"

Some circles identify being a Muslim with poverty, underdevelopment, rustic manners, passivity or the state of giving up all mundane interests. Many people believe that a contrary model is somehow against religion. However, such convictions stem from a totally incorrect understanding of the Qur'an. People develop such false ideas, which are then reinforced by hearsay and various myths, because they neither read nor ponder the Qur'an, although it is the main source of accurate knowledge about Islam.

As Allah reveals in "The Messenger says: "My Lord, my people treat this Qur'an as something to be ignored," (Qur'an, 25:30) this flawed way of practicing the religion stems from people's failure to refer to the Qur'an. When people actually refer to the Qur'an, it immediately becomes clear that Islam does not suggest such a model. We can see this in the splendid wealth and possessions that Allah granted to many of the Prophets. Over the centuries, Prophet Sulayman's (Solomon) (pbuh) unprecedentedly glorious wealth has become legendary. Sulayman (pbuh), a Prophet praised by the Qur'an for his exemplary conduct, surely pursued nothing but earning Allah's good pleasure and had no guide other than His religion. Indeed, before being endowed with great wealth, he prayed the following prayer:

He said: "My Lord, forgive me and give me a kingdom the like of which will never be granted to anyone after me. Truly, You are the Ever-Giving." (Qur'an, 38:35)

If praying for wealth was a practice to be condemned, then a Prophet praised by Allah in the Qur'an would not have done so. Indeed, the Qur'an states that Allah answered his prayer. As the verse below indicates, Allah always mentions Prophet Sulayman (pbuh) with praise:

And to Dawud We gave Sulayman. What an excellent servant! He truly turned to his Lord. (Qur'an, 38:30)

Prophet Sulayman (pbuh) is not the sole example, for Allah also granted authority and power to his father, Prophet Dawud (David) (pbuh), as well as great wealth to Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) and his family:

Or do they in fact envy other people for the bounty Allah that has granted them? We gave the family of Ibrahim the Book and Wisdom, and We gave them an immense kingdom. (Qur'an, 4:54)

As we see, Allah condemns any feelings of jealousy over the wealth He grants to Muslims as a blessing. The Qur'an reveals that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was also enriched by Allah, for:

Did He not find you impoverished and enrich you? (Qur'an, 93:8)

At this point, the difference between wealth as perceived by believers and unbelievers arises: believers are conscious that only Allah, the real owner of property, gives wealth, while unbelievers perceive wealth as claiming ownership over property, which is no less than rebellion against Allah, Who owns everything in the universe. This divergence also emerges when it comes to using property: believers spend their wealth for good causes, whereas unbelieving property owners commonly seek to "cause corruption in the land." (Qur'an, 28:77)

Wealth, glory, and authority are blessings that Allah bestows upon His servants. The essential feature here is to use this wealth in the proper way in order to give due thanks to Allah for them, to constantly remember His favors, and thus to draw nearer to Him and seek ways to earn His good pleasure. Indeed, Prophet Sulayman's (pbuh) words below makes his intention clear:

And he said: "Truly do I love the love of good, with a view to the glory of my Lord". (Qur'an, 38:32)

However, we need to remember that this life is a test sent to us by Allah. The level of people's commitment and patience shows when they are confronted with hardships and difficulties, for their reaction reveals the profoundness of their faith. Thus, Allah may test people with such difficulties as death, fear, hunger, poverty, and so on both to reveal their steadfastness and other superior qualities and to reward them. However, while showing patience, Muslims must pray constantly to Allah for relief, increase, and an expansion of blessings. Furthermore, they have to ask for these blessings not only for themselves but for all believers, and ask for vast resources so as to glorify Allah's name. This is the attitude that most complies with the Qur'anic stance.

However, it goes without saying that the criteria used to judge people in Islam is not wealth, for poverty or wealth does not determine a person's worth in Allah's sight. What matters is that believers spend their means, whether abundant or scarce, in compliance with Allah's good pleasure and ask for wealth only to spend for His cause. Believers do not hoard possessions, for they avoid the fate awaiting those who do, which the Qur'an describes in the following verse:

As for those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in the Way of Allah, give them the news of a painful punishment. (Qur'an, 9:34)

Believers enjoy spending in Allah's cause just as they enjoy benefiting from His blessings. From this stance, praying for wealth, possessions, and fortune is an act of worship that brings rewards to sincere believers. Allah promises to increase the believers' property provided that they thank Him for them and spend it in His cause.

True believers who comply with the Qur'an are the servants of Allah on Earth. They represent Allah. While stating that the real owners of Earth will be believers, Allah mentions the attributes of those who will attain this blessing, as follows:

Allah has promised those of you who believe and do right actions that He will make them successors in the land, as He made those before them successors, and will firmly establish for them their religion, with which He is pleased, and give them, in place of their fear, security. "They worship Me, not associating anything with Me." Any who are unbelievers after that, such people are deviators. (Qur'an, 24:55)

 

Answer to those who ask
"Do new Muslims have to abandon their former pleasures and activities?"

When we talk about a religious way of life, what generally comes to mind first is a lifestyle divorced from all mundane pursuits. Contrary to this flawed thinking, however, Allah wants His servants to lead the most beautiful life. In the Qur'an, Allah gives the news that believers will lead a beautiful life, for:

Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and will recompense them according to the best of what they did. (Qur'an, 16:97)

Despite the good news declared in this verse, people do not receive many of Allah's blessings due to an understanding of religion that is based on hearsay. However, the Qur'an encourages believers to use lawful and clean things and warns those who bring prohibitive systems:

O you who believe. Do not make unlawful the good things that Allah has made lawful for you, and do not overstep the limits. Allah does not love people who overstep the limits. (Qur'an, 5:87)

As long as people observe the limits set by Allah, the Qur'an does not prohibit them from socializing and enjoying themselves. The things considered to be unlawful by the Qur'an are obvious, as are the Prophet's (pbuh) exemplary life and advice. Apart from these, the Qur'an severely condemns the laying down of new judgments and attempting to do this in the name of religion, as the following verses indicate:

Do not say about what your lying tongues describe: "This is lawful and this is unlawful," inventing lies against Allah. Those who invent lies against Allah are not successful. (Qur'an, 16:116)

Wear fine clothing in every mosque and eat and drink, but do not be profligate. He does not love the profligate. Say: "Who has forbidden the fine clothing that Allah has produced for His servants and the good kinds of provision?" Say: "On the Day of Resurrection, such things will be exclusively for those who had faith during their life in the world." In this way, We make the Signs clear for people who know. (Qur'an, 7:31-32)

As we mentioned earlier, the Qur'an relates that the Prophets asked for Allah's blessings. This aside, those who lack true faith in Allah also benefit from them. This is the point where the differences between believers and unbelievers emerge. Unbelievers feel a strong attachment to favors bestowed upon them (e.g., money or property), forget to remember Allah, and feel ungrateful for His blessings. On the other hand, believers, who are aware that they are from Allah, use these blessings for Allah's cause in the best way and draw nearer to Him. The Qur'an sets the following criterion for this issue:

Seek the abode of the Hereafter with what Allah has given you, without forgetting your portion of the world. And do good, as Allah has been good to you. And do not seek to cause corruption in the land, for Allah does not love corrupters. (Qur'an, 28:77)

However, apart from all of these, remember that as people adopt the Qur'an's values and make them an integral part of their lives and assume more of the believers' attributes, they will acknowledge the existence of very different tastes and pleasures. For members of a society that does not live by the religion, for instance, the greatest pleasure in life is to enjoy themselves. Believers however, have more noble and permanent pleasures, such as striving to earn Allah's good pleasure, conveying Allah's message to people, communicating the beauties of the Qur'an's morality to people, and carrying out an intellectual struggle against unbelievers.

As people draw nearer to the model of a believer described in the Qur'an, they see that the real pleasures attained through sincere faith are incomparably superior to those enjoyed by unbelievers.

 

Answer to those who ask
"Once people embrace faith, can they still befriend the people with whom they used to associate?"

A person cannot hold two opposing views simultaneously. Given that faith and unbelief are two distinct concepts, it is unlikely that a person can share the views, thoughts, and feelings of both believers and unbelievers.

The basic element underlying relations between people, such as friendship and fellowship, is love. The believers' most important attribute is their strong love for Allah, which the Qur'an relates in the following verse:

Some people set up equals to Allah, loving them as they should love Allah. But those who believe have greater love for Allah. If only you could see those who do wrong at the time when they see the punishment, and that truly all strength belongs to Allah, and that Allah is severe in punishment. (Qur'an, 2:165)

Believers direct the love they feel for Allah to His servants, who seek to earn His good pleasure. For this reason, those who have faith in Allah and the Qur'an and have grasped Islam's essence cannot possibly feel any attachment to those who have no love for Allah. If someone does not acknowledge or appreciate Allah—Whom believers love more than their own selves; for Whose cause they spend whatever they have; Who shows them the right path, gives them abundant blessings and the good news of Paradise, as well as infinite rewards in the afterlife; and in Whom they have profound faith—a bond of love cannot form between that person and a believer. As a result, there can be no true friendship between them. One verse states that:

You will not find people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having love for anyone who opposes Allah and His Messenger, though they be their fathers, their sons, their brothers, or their kindred. (Qur'an, 58:22)

Despite this, however, some people, especially those who are in the process of learning the Qur'an's values, may still feel close to their former friends or their acquaintances before they embraced Islam. But as the Qur'an makes clear, a believer's sole friends are Allah and other believers:

Your friend is only Allah, His Messenger, and those who believe: those who establish prayers, pay alms, and bow. 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, 5:55-56)

In these verses, Allah indicates that making friends only with believers is also the key to the success of the good deeds performed only to gain Allah's good pleasure. Likewise, many verses relate that associating with true believers and supporting one another is essential for success. To the contrary, however, the Qur'an also expounds that non-compliance with Allah's commands and recommendations will result in difficulty and hardship for believers, for:

Those who are unbelievers are the friends and protectors of one another. If you do not act in this way [protect each other], there will be turmoil in the land and great corruption. (Qur'an, 8:73)

Obey Allah and His Messenger and do not quarrel among yourselves, lest you lose heart and your momentum disappears. And be steadfast. Allah is with the steadfast. (Qur'an, 8:46)

Despite all of this clear evidence and information, the hypocrisy of those who try to be on good terms with both sides and approach the faithful under the guise of being true Muslims to draw personal benefits will be disclosed:

Or did you suppose that you would be left without Allah knowing those of you who have struggled and who have not taken anyone as their intimate friends besides Allah and His Messenger and the believers? Allah is aware of what you do. (Qur'an, 9:16)

But as long as the limits established by Allah are observed, there is not a drawback for Muslims to maintain their social, economic, and cultural relations with other people. The Qur'an sets the following criterion about this issue:

Allah does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in the religion, or driven you from your homes, or from being just toward them. Allah loves those who are just. (Qur'an, 60:8)

 

Answer to those who say "I want to live as a Muslim, but I am worried about my family's reactions."

Before embracing Islam, people live according to some social rules and codes outside of the criteria that Allah has laid out in the Qur'an. Many traditions and rituals formed in a society that is heedless of religion define the relations of its members with other people.

However, the only guidance for humanity is Allah and His Book. Those people who grasp this fact have to leave the period of ignorance behind, abandon all behaviors related to ignorance, and be guided only by the Qur'an. This surely also applies to one's relations with his or her family.

In all countries, including some Muslim ones, some families may react negatively to family members who want to live by the Qur'an's values. Some families might have severe reactions if their children display even a small amount of interest in religion. Moreover, in order to keep their children away from religion, they distort some religious commands. Trying to draw them back to ignorance, they tell their children that "The rights of the parents upon their children are above anything else," "It is the greatest sin to oppose parents," and similar unfounded assertions. The resulting psychological pressure may well engender feelings of guilt in children who are not well informed about Islam.

However, as is the case with every other issue, the right thing to do is to resort to the Qur'an. In the Qur'an, Allah reveals the ideal attitude that believers must assume toward their parents, as follows:

We have instructed man to honor his parents … (Qur'an, 29:8)

However, this does not mean that children must fulfill or obey all of their parents' wishes unconditionally. Rather, they are to assume a respectful, measured, tolerant, and kind attitude, and to avoid doing anything that will hurt or bother them. But this does not extend to making concessions in matters concerning Allah's commands and prohibitions. In the latter part of the above verse, Allah defines the limits of this respect and understanding in the following terms:

… but if they endeavor to make you associate with Me something about which you have no knowledge, do not obey them. It is to Me that you will return, and I will inform you about the things that you did. (Qur'an, 29:8)

Children have to obey their parents as long as this obedience does not cause them to transgress the limits set by Allah. For example, if parents say that: "You have to comply with my wish rather than Allah's," which clearly means, "Your deity is not Allah but me," their children should disobey them, for adopting such an attitude means associating partners to Allah, which is forbidden.

However, along with disobeying one's parents if and when they encourage rebellion against Allah, He encourages believers to be kind to them, although they are unbelievers, and to be tolerant toward them in mundane matters:

We have instructed man concerning his parents. Bearing him caused his mother great debility, and the period of his weaning was two years. "Give thanks to Me and to your parents. I am your final destination. But if they try to make you associate something with Me about which you have no knowledge, do not obey them. Keep company with them correctly and courteously in this world, but follow the Way of him who turns to Me. Then you will return to Me, and I will inform you about the things that you did." (Qur'an, 31:14-15)

When discussing one's parents, Allah especially calls upon believers not to ascribe partners to Him and not to serve anyone or anything other than Him. As the verse above also makes clear, believers must not obey their parents if they ask them to return to their old ways; rather, they must remain among those who turn to Allah.

When we examine the Qur'an, we see that some believers, including the Prophets, were tested through their families or close relatives. Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh), for instance, employed the Qur'an's method of "not obeying yet getting along well" against his father, who called him to the ignorant way of living:

Mention Ibrahim in the Book. He was a true man and a Prophet. Remember when he said to his father: "Father, why do you worship what can neither hear nor see and is not of any use to you at all? Father, knowledge that never reached you has come to me, so follow me and I will guide you to the right path. Father, do not worship Satan. Satan was disobedient to the All-Merciful. Father, I am afraid that a punishment from the All-Merciful will afflict you, and turn you into a comrade of Satan." He [his father] said: "Do you forsake my gods, Ibrahim? If you do not stop, I will stone you. Keep away from me for a good long time." He [Ibrahim] said: "Peace be upon you. I will ask my Lord to forgive you. He has always honored me." (Qur'an, 19:41-47)

The wives of Prophet Lut (Lot) (pbuh) and Prophet Nuh (pbuh) also became unbelievers, and thus Allah punished them. Allah warned Prophet Nuh (pbuh) that his son was an unbeliever: "Nuh, he is definitely not of your family. He is someone whose action was not righteous. Do not, therefore, ask Me for something about which you have no knowledge." (Qur'an, 11:46)

While fulfilling his duty of communicating Islam's message, our Prophet (pbuh) also faced the severe reactions of his close relatives, reactions that extended to the point of hostility. His uncle Abu Lahab, who had a great aversion toward and grudge against our Prophet (pbuh), made propaganda against him and tried to impede his efforts by placing various difficulties and hardships in his path. Indeed, Allah devoted a special chapter in the Qur'an to denouncing this man. During the first years of Islam's spread, many Muslims endured similar reactions and torments from their own families, yet never swerved from the true path. Later, many parents who had been influenced by their children's resoluteness and sincerity embraced Islam.

The relentless commitment of Muslims in this matter stems from the Qur'an's encouragement of rationalism, as opposed to sentimentality. Being a religion based upon pure reason, people who have an emotional, romantic state of mind find it difficult to live by Islam's principles. Muslims are sensitive people. But once Islam's interests are concerned, they show not the slightest emotional sentiment and never swerve from following Allah's guidance. Since their main goal is to earn His good pleasure, they harbor no prejudice or fixed ideas about any issue, person, or thing. This is the only state of mind that allows people to attain genuine faith. What lies at the bottom of sentimentalism is channeling love to the wrong people. Real believers show their love only to Allah and to those with whom He is pleased. Any love nourished by something other than Allah's good pleasure is associating partners with Allah. In the Qur'an, Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) explains this situation in the following words:

He [Ibrahim] said: "You have adopted idols apart from Allah as tokens of mutual affection in this world. But then on the Day of Resurrection you will reject one another and curse one another. The Fire will be your shelter. You will have no helpers." (Qur'an, 29:25)

Loving someone who displays a hostile attitude toward Allah and His religion is the same as the situation described in the above verse. Whether this be one's family, parents, children, siblings, spouse, or any other relatives or close associates, this situation never changes. The Qur'an makes this issue explicit:

O you who believe, do not befriend your fathers and brothers if they prefer unbelief to faith. Those among you who do befriend them are wrongdoers. Say: "If your fathers or your sons or your brothers or your wives or your tribe, or any wealth you have acquired, or any business you fear may slump, or any house which pleases you, are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and striving for His sake, then wait until Allah brings about His command. Allah does not guide people who are deviators." (Qur'an, 9:23-24)

The Qur'an refers to believers who had to abandon their homes and families in order to fulfill Allah's commands. One of these people was Maryam (Mary) (pbuh), a young and unprotected woman, who trusted only in Allah and took refuge in Him. She abandoned her family and people in order to attain His good pleasure. The Qur'an refers to her in the following terms:

Mention Maryam in the Book, how she withdrew from her people to an eastern place. (Qur'an, 19:16)

Another example is a group of young people called "the Companions of the Cave." Since their people rebelled against Allah, they abandoned their people and took refuge in a cave. The Qur'an provides the following account:

Our people have taken deities apart from Him. Why do they not produce a clear authority concerning them? Who could do greater wrong than someone who invents a lie against Allah? When you have separated yourselves from them and everything they worship except Allah, take refuge in the cave, and your Lord will unfold His mercy to you and open the way to the best for you in your situation. (Qur'an, 18:15-16)

In brief, new Muslims who have abandoned their former ignorance need to communicate the true path to their parents if they are bereft of the Qur'an's values and try to block their children from earning Allah's good pleasure. If this communication is ineffective, then the correct attitude is to employ the Qur'anic principle.

 

Answer to those who ask
"Am I responsible for my previous actions after I start to live by Islam?"

People are not held responsible for what they did before embracing Islam. According to the Qur'an, people who do not know about Islam are "ignorant" and cannot distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. Once they embrace Islam, however, they obtain this knowledge, leave their former un-Islamic ways behind, ask for Allah's forgiveness, and repent. As a manifestation of Allah's infinite mercy, He promises to accept all people's repentance and transform their wrong actions into good, provided that they sincerely turn to Him, repent for their sins, and follow the righteous path:

… [E]xcept for those who repent and believe and act rightly: Allah will transform the wrong actions of such people into good—Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful (Qur'an, 25:70)

But I am Ever-Forgiving to anyone who repents and has faith and acts rightly and then is guided. (Qur'an, 20:82)

Repentance is an act of worship that is not unique to new Muslims. In reality, it is a lifetime worship performed by all Muslims, one that guides them to Allah's infinite mercy and forgiveness, for no believer is immune to committing sins and making mistakes.

In Allah's presence, believers strive to maintain a balance between hope and fear. Given that they cannot know their situation until they die and face Allah on the Day of Judgment, there is no way for them to feel secure against Allah's punishment. This aside, no matter how desperate their situation or how great their sin, they do not despair of Allah's mercy.

One of Satan's greatest tricks is to infect people with hopelessness by causing them to believe such things as: "It is too late," "No one can save you now," or "You have already immersed yourself in sin." By insinuating such false claims, Satan and his followers seek to distance people from Allah's mercy. Allah warns people against this trap in many verses and calls them to ask for repentance and forgiveness:

Say: "My servants, you who have transgressed against yourselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Truly Allah forgives all wrong actions. He is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful." Turn to your Lord and submit to Him before punishment comes upon you, for then you cannot be helped. Follow the best that has been sent down to you from your Lord before the punishment comes upon you suddenly, when you are not expecting it. (Qur'an, 39:53-55)

Allah desires to turn toward you, but those who pursue their lower appetites desire to make you deviate completely. (Qur'an, 4:27)

Anyone who does evil or wrongs himself and then asks Allah's forgiveness will find Allah Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Qur'an, 4:110)

Seeing these verses, those who have true faith in the Qur'an can escape the trap of hopelessness.

However, those who insist upon their sins and continue to disobey Allah's commands and prohibitions on the grounds that "Allah forgives in any case" fall into another trap of Satan. As long as they do not regret what they have done and turn to the right path, their repentance will have no worth, for Allah makes clear in the following verse what type of repentance He accepts:

Allah only accepts the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and then quickly repent after doing it. Allah turns toward such people. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. (Qur'an, 4:17)

To conclude, those who forsake their former actions and resolutely turn toward Islam are not held responsible for what they did in the past, no matter how sinful their activities were. In the Qur'an, this is expressed as "what is past is past" (Qur'an, 4:22). This assessment also holds true for believers. In other words, believers pay no attention to what people might have done before embracing Islam, for from then on, the Qur'an will regulate their days and they will be held responsible for this in Allah's sight.

 

Answer to those who say
"I want to live by the religion, but I cannot find the internal strength to do so."

This sentence is truly an expression of insincerity. People who utter such words actually know that they are seeking a way to avoid complying with Islam's regulations so that they can continue to follow their selfish desires and passions. Religion does not impose a burdensome way of living upon anybody. Moreover, since Allah created humanity to serve Him, doing so is each person's main duty and is inherent in his or her very nature. In the Qur'an, Allah relates that He created humanity to serve Him, as follows:

I only created jinn and man to worship Me. (Qur'an, 51:56)

Claiming that one does not have enough willpower, self-discipline, and self-control to live by Islam's regulations is nothing but an insincere way of evading one's obligations, for:

We do not impose on any self any more than it can stand. With Us there is a Book that speaks the truth. They will not be wronged. However, their hearts are overwhelmed by ignorance about this matter, and they do other things as well. (Qur'an, 23:62-63)

As for those who believe and do right actions—We impose upon no self any more than it can bear—they are the Companions of the Garden, remaining in it timelessly, forever. (Qur'an, 7:42)

If, after being made aware of this truth, people still find it difficult to live by religious morality, it means that they have taken the popular understanding of Islam, which is mixed with superstition and myths, as the true religion. In fact, Islam gives no room to hearsay or any of the senseless codes that make up the foundation of popular religion. As the verse "Struggle for Allah with the struggle due to Him. He has selected you and not placed any constraint upon you in the religion—the religion of your forefather Ibrahim…" (Qur'an, 22:78) stresses, Islam does not place any unbearable burden upon anyone. Its acts of worship, which are very easy to perform, pose no physical difficulties. Its structure relieves and liberates people within the borders established by Allah in the Qur'an. Accordingly, Qur'an proclaims that Allah's Messenger (pbuh) "relieves them [his followers] of their heavy loads and the chains that were around them" (Qur'an, 7:157). This is also apparent in the Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) words: "Make thing easy, and do not e make them difficult, and give good tidings and do not make people run away." (Bukhari)

Consequently, it is senseless to say: "I have no strength to live by the religion." Only one thing explains the state of those who, even after all of the truths explained above, still assert such weakness: Under the influence of their selfish desires, they are looking for a pretext that will allow them to evade the Qur'an's morality. The Qur'an points out that "those with a sickness in their hearts" make up such excuses to evade the ordeals that believers sometimes undergo.

The verse below explains the state of those who display a similar mentality by claiming that: "Allah does not want me to become a Muslim; this is the way He created me":

Those who associate others with Allah will say: "If Allah had willed, we would not have associated anything with Him, nor would our fathers; nor would we have made anything unlawful." In the same way, the people before them also lied until they felt Our violent force. Say: "Do you have some knowledge that you can produce for us? You are following nothing but conjecture. You are only guessing." (Qur'an, 6:148)

The greatest mistake of insincere, hypocritical people who offer such excuses is their assumption that they can deceive Allah and believers. However, they can never deceive Allah, Who knows "what the hearts contain" (Qur'an, 35:38) or believers, to whom Allah grants "a standard [by which to judge between truth and falsehood]." (Qur'an, 8:29)