It is all very simple. People can enjoy a healthy mind and spirit only by practicing true religion, which frees them from material attachments. It makes them responsible only to Allah and to the commands in His book. In many verses of the Qur'an, Allah mentions the simplicity of Islam, saying that human beings will find success in this simplicity:
We will ease you to the Easy Way. (Surat al-A'la, 8)
In another verse, He says that one major characteristic of the messengers sent to Muslims is that they free believers from the heavy burden of laws and false beliefs loaded on them. And another verse announces the good news that those who obey these commands will attain salvation:
… commanding them to do right and forbidding them to do wrong, making good things lawful for them and bad things forbidden for them, relieving them of their heavy loads and the chains which were around them. Those who believe in him and honor him and help him, and follow the Light that has been sent down with him, they are the ones who are successful. (Surat al-A'raf, 157)
The only person who can have freedom of thought is one who has been released from his worldly chains, whose mind has been cleansed and purified of ignorant ideas. Such a person is not bound by what others think or the courses they pursue and so, can make decisions of which Allah will approve. The reason is that he keeps himself within the limits revealed in the Qur'an as the proper measure for him. Besides this, as we have been saying from this book's beginning, he doesn't care what people say or think about him or about any opinion they may form. For a person of faith, there is no way of living other than winning Allah's favor and abiding by His commands. So devout Muslims who understand this truth could never practice people worship-one of the false religions of a society of ignorance.
In the Qur'an, Allah gives many examples of individuals who avoided non-Islamic immorality in the societies they lived in and devoted themselves to Allah. One group that attained this honor was the Companions of the Cave, described in detail in Surat al-Kahf:
We will relate their story to you with truth. They were young men who had faith 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 the Earth and We will not call on any god apart from Him. We would in that case have uttered an abomination. These people of ours have taken gods 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." (Surat al-Kahf, 13-16)
Throughout history, many devout individuals like the Companions of the
Cave have dedicated themselves to Allah and saved themselves from false
beliefs and worldly passions directed towards winning the favor of others.
One of these noted individuals blessed by Allah and praised in the Qur'an
is Maryam (as), of high moral virtue that made her "most honored among
A Good Example from the Qur'an: The Character of Maryam (as)
Allah gives the example of Maryam (as), mother of Prophet 'Isa (as), as a servant devoted only to Him. Before she was born, Maryam (as) was dedicated to Allah by her mother with prayers that she would be a good servant and free from all worldly attachments:
Remember when the wife of 'Imran said, "My Lord, I have pledged to You what is in my womb, devoting it to Your service. Please accept my prayer. You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing." (Surah Al 'Imran, 35)
Other verses in the Qur'an, show that Allah accepted her mother's prayer about Maryam (as). We are told that she was morally pure and virtuous:
Her Lord accepted her with approval and made her grow in health and beauty… (Surah Al 'Imran, 37)
Allah chose her and gave her great honor:
And when the angels said, "Maryam, Allah has chosen you and purified you. He has chosen you over all other women." (Surah Al 'Imran, 42)
Moreover, we are told that Allah commanded her to be sincerely submissive and obedient to Him.
[The angels said,] "Maryam, obey your Lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow." (Surah Al 'Imran, 43)
At a certain point in her life, Maryam (as) left her family and moved east.
Mention Maryam in the Book, how she withdrew from her people to an eastern place. (Surah Maryam, 16)
There she lived alone and received the marvelous message of the birth of Prophet 'Isa (as). This good news was brought to her by Jibrail.
When the angels said, "Maryam, your Lord gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, Isa, son of Maryam, of high esteem in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near." (Surah Al 'Imran, 45)
By a miracle from Allah, Maryam (as) became pregnant untouched by any man and gave birth to Prophet 'Isa (as) in a remote place. (Surah Maryam, 20) Maryam (as) humbly accepted the fate that Allah had prepared for her and, after the birth, trusted in Allah and took refuge in Him against all the accusations of the people. The people did not understand all the miraculous events that preceded and followed the birth of Prophet 'Isa (as), and the Qur'an tells us about the hurtful calumny directed against her.
She brought him to her people, carrying him. They said, "Maryam! You have done an unthinkable thing! Sister of Harun, your father was not an evil man, nor was your mother an unchaste woman!" (Surah Maryam, 27-28)
Another verse tells us that the people rejected Allah and brought many false accusations against Maryam (as):
And [We punished them] on account of their disbelief, and their utterance of a monstrous slander against Maryam. (Surat an-Nisa', 156)
When Allah wanted Maryam (as) to take Prophet 'Isa (as) and return to her people; without any concern for what they might think about her or the accusations they would make, she obeyed His command. Even though she found herself in a situation difficult to explain, she did exactly what was expected of her. She reacted to the accusations against her as becomes a Muslim. By obeying Allah's command and being unconcerned about what people thought of her, she showed her moral character to be quite different from those ignorant people who disregarded Allah and made deities out of their fellow men.
With these examples in the Qur'an from the life of Maryam (as), Allah has given us an important message. Maryam (as) was tested in this world with wondrous events. In a very difficult environment that demanded a lot of patience, she endured the onslaught of others' accusations. As a result of all this, Allah made Prophet 'Isa (as) speak while he was still in the cradle and clear his mother of all the accusations against her.
Just like Maryam (as), everyone sincerely attached to Allah is under
His protection. Whatever people may say or think about him, a person who
practices the morality of the Qur'an is not concerned, because just as
in the case of Maryam (as), the important thing is where he stands in
the sight of Allah.