Morals and Morality (Part 3/4)

Morals and Morality (Part 3/4)

Honesty in Weighing

The eighth directive is that things should be weighed and measured with honesty. The Almighty says that He has set the earth and the heavens on a scale and thus it is necessary that a person in his circle should remain just and measure with the right scale and weights. The Qur'an says:

وَالسَّمَاء رَفَعَهَا وَوَضَعَ الْمِيزَانَ أَلَّا تَطْغَوْا فِي الْمِيزَانِ وَأَقِيمُوا الْوَزْنَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلَا تُخْسِرُوا الْمِيزَانَ (55: 7-9)

And He raised high the heaven and set the scale of all things that you might not transgress that scale. Give just weight and full measure. (55:7-9)

It is evident from these verses that this is a very important directive and in its essence is actually a corollary of the scale of justice on which this world has been created. Thus if anyone deviates from it, it means that his conception of justice and fairness has become defective and he actually does not believe in a just God. After this, obviously the economic and social systems of the society are shaken from their bases and no ingredient of the society remains in its place. The people of the Prophet Shu'ayb (sws) were involved in such malpractices. At more than one instance, his advice and sermon to his people in this regard is mentioned in the Qur'an. At one place, it is said:

أَوْفُوا الْكَيْلَ وَلَا تَكُونُوا مِنَ الْمُخْسِرِينَ وَزِنُوا بِالْقِسْطَاسِ الْمُسْتَقِيمِ وَلَا تَبْخَسُوا النَّاسَ أَشْيَاءهُمْ وَلَا تَعْثَوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ (26: 181-183)

Give just measure and defraud none. Weigh with the right scales and do not cheat your fellow men of what is rightly theirs; and do not spread anarchy in the land. (26:181-183)

Adulteration in things is also a similar case. If a person mixes water in milk, or sand in sugar or wheat in grain, he commits the same crime because even if he weighs accurately he is not giving the buyer in full what he is buying. This is like usurping the rights of others for which he will have to face grave consequences both in this world and in that to come. Thus the Qur'an has said: "give full measure, when you measure, and weigh with correct scales. This is better and fairer as far as the consequences are concerned."

Following Speculations

The ninth directive is that one should not base his actions on speculations. The reason is that the faculties of sight, hearing and intellect shall one day be held accountable before God. The implication of this directive is that it is not right for a Muslim to make bad estimations about other Muslims, or make allegations against others or take some action against others without proper knowledge of what the matter is or spread rumours merely on the basis of speculation or form a view about God's being and attributes and His directives merely on the basis of conjecture and guesswork and unending analogies. In Surah Hujurat, some of these things have been mentioned with this clarity of prohibition:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَأٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَى مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ (6:49)

Believers, if an evil-doer brings you a piece of news, find out its true status, lest you inflict harm on others unwittingly and then regret your action. (49:6)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا (12:49)

Believers, avoid being overly speculative, for some speculations are a blatant sin and do not spy on one another. (49:12)

Taking Action without Finding out the Truth

The first thing which is mentioned in these verses is that if an evil-doer informs us about something, we should not take action until we have thoroughly found out what the truth of the matter is, for we may take some action in frenzy and rage and later regret what we do.

It is evident from this directive that if the informant is an unknown person or someone about whom it is not known whether he is a good person or an evil one, the truth about him must be ascertained. On this very basis, the muhaddithun have researched into the life and times of people who narrate the words or deeds of the Prophet (sws) and if they were not able to access the details of a narrator, they rejected his narrative by regarding him to be an unknown person.

Abstaining from Excessive Conjecture

The second thing which is stated here is that one should not indulge in excessive conjecture because certain conjectures are blatant sins. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while explaining this, writes:

It is but natural for good or bad thoughts to arise in one's heart about people whom a person encounters in life. It is these thoughts which create or sever a person's relationship with another. Viewed thus, it is these thoughts which make and break relationships in a society. On the basis of this importance which thoughts occupy, a person should not carelessly accept or reject them; on the contrary, he should be very sharp and alive to them. In this regard, the guidance provided by Islam to its followers is that a Muslim must always think well of others unless it is proven to him that some person is not worthy of this. Thinking well of a person is an obvious requirement of the brotherhood of faith on which Islam has founded its society and which has been explained earlier. On the other hand, if a person adopts the attitude of entertaining and harbouring all sorts of ill-founded thoughts that come to his mind, then the example of such a person is that of a hunter who becomes so blind in his obsession for catching fish that he also catches snakes. Obviously, there is a great possibility for a person who becomes blind in his obsession for catching fish to end up losing his own life one day as a result. The Qur'an has stopped Muslims from this very danger that one must not start conjecturing too much because certain conjectures are blatant sins which may devastate a person. The guidance which emerges from this directive is that a person should not become so mentally sick as to think ill of others; on the contrary, he should always think well of others. If the deed or words of a person induce him to think ill of him, he should try as far as he can to make a good justification, if it can be made. He should only think contrarily when he is not able to make any sound justification. It is better to think positively of a person who deserves to be thought of negatively than to think negatively of a person who deserves to be thought of positively.[1]

Refraining from Inquisitiveness

The third thing which is mentioned is that one should not be inquisitive about others. Imam Aminn Ahsan Islahi writes:

Here the prohibition actually relates to being inquisitive for an evil purpose. In other words, here the intention of a person is to try to find some fault or mistake in the private life of another person and have access to the secrets of his family and family life. Sometimes, the motive of this probing is jealousy for it soothes a person to find out such facts about someone he considers to be his rival. At other times, the motive is hatred and animosity: he wants to humiliate another person by informing others of his faults. This latter tendency has now become a profession to which newspaper journalism has given a great impetus. Some journalists are in perpetual search of scandals and the journalist who is considered to be the most successful is the one who is able to lay his hands on a scandal in the private life of a famous person which makes his newspaper or journal sell like hot cakes. Such spying and probing is counter to mutual sympathy and brotherhood which are the foundations of an Islamic society; for this reason Muslims have been stopped from indulging in them. On the other hand, probing which a Muslim does to find out the circumstances of another person so that he can help him in his difficulties and needs or the spying and probing which an Islamic state does to be fully informed about the circumstances of its citizens, is neither implied here nor is it prohibited. On the contrary, such spying is a very virtuous act on the part of a neighbour so that he is aware of the circumstances and problems which his neighbour is encountering and is able to help him out. Similarly, for a state, this attitude is not just an act of virtue, it is in fact its responsibility to arrange to be informed of the good or bad circumstances of its citizens so that it is able to properly discharge its duties.[2]

Pride and Vanity

The tenth directive is that no one should walk with pride and vanity on God's earth. It is thus said that howsoever much a person may strike the earth with his feet, he will not be able to rent it asunder and howsoever much a person may walk while raising his head he will not be able to reach the heights of the mountains. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… the implied meaning is that what is the meaning of showing pride and vanity in the earth made by God – the God whose glory and grandeur one witnesses in the vast expanse of the earth that He has spread out on which one's status is not even that of an ant or an insect and the God who has created these towering mountains before which one's status is not even that of a squirrel. One should try to recognize one's status and always surrender oneself before the majesty and splendor of God.[3]

Such a gait obviously reflects one's inner self. Wealth, authority, beauty, knowledge, power and other similar things produce pride and vanity in a person. Each of these produces a specific type of pride in one's gait showing that his heart is devoid of the perception of serving God and there is no concept in it of God's glory and greatness. The heart which has the perception of serving God and of His greatness only beats in the chests of people who have humility. Instead of walking arrogantly, they walk with their heads bent. Thus walking with pride and vanity is a very bad trait and its punishment is very grave too. The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said that the person who has pride even to the measure of a mustard seed will not enter Paradise.[4]He has also said that honour is the lower fabric of the Almighty and greatness is His upper fabric. He who competes with Him regarding these will be punished.[5]

Here it should remain clear that pride and vanity are not merely reflected in one's gait: they are evident in one's conversation, clothes, appearance and behaviour as well. Consequently, the Qur'an says:

وَلَا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ وَاقْصِدْ فِي مَشْيِكَ وَاغْضُضْ مِن صَوْتِكَ إِنَّ أَنكَرَ الْأَصْوَاتِ لَصَوْتُ الْحَمِيرِ (13: 18-19)

And do not become indifferent to people nor walk proudly on the earth: God does not like the arrogant and the one who expresses vanity and be modest in your gait and keep your voice low; indeed, the most hideous of voices is the braying of the ass. (31:18-19)

The Prophet (sws), on this very basis, has prohibited the use of all things which reflect affluence or are a means of show and pomposity or are instrumental in overawing others or belong to the mannerisms of rogues and ruffians. For this very reason, he forbade the use of silk, making covers from expensive hides and eating in utensils made of gold and silver.[6] So much so, he even urged people having short beards and large moustaches to give up this arrogant appearance and said that one should satisfy one's passion by increasing the length of the beard but moustaches should be trim in all circumstances.[7] He is reported to have said: "He who wore a dress to show his status, the Almighty will clothe him with the dress of humiliation on the Day of Judgement, and then fire shall be ignited in it."[8] He is similarly reported to have said: "On the Day of Judgement, God will not wish to see a person who walked conceitedly by dragging his legware."[9]

Moreover, this mental state becomes a source of great sins. Consequently, it is this conceit and arrogance which is instrumental in deliberately denying the truth, in considering oneself superior to others on the basis of colour, creed and race, in considering others to be inferior and making fun of them, in censuring others, in calling them with bad names and in scandalizing the faults of others in their absence. God has strictly forbidden all these.

Evading the Truth

Those who evade the truth and reject it in arrogance are warned that they must not consider their sin to be trivial. Their punishment is that the doors of Paradise are closed for them. Hell shall be their abode from all sides and they will abide in it forever:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُواْ بِآيَاتِنَا وَاسْتَكْبَرُواْ عَنْهَا لاَ تُفَتَّحُ لَهُمْ أَبْوَابُ السَّمَاء وَلاَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ حَتَّى يَلِجَ الْجَمَلُ فِي سَمِّ الْخِيَاطِ وَكَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُجْرِمِينَ لَهُم مِّن جَهَنَّمَ مِهَادٌ وَمِن فَوْقِهِمْ غَوَاشٍ وَكَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الظَّالِمِينَ (7: 40-41)

Indeed those who denied Our revelations and evaded them in arrogance, the gates of heaven shall not be opened for them and neither will they be able to enter Paradise except if a camel is able to pass through the eye of a needle. [This is their punishment] and thus do We punish the criminals. Hell shall be their bedding and the flames of Hell shall be their covering and in this way do We punish the evil-doers. (7:40-41)

Conceit on One's Lineage

People who show conceit and vanity on their lineage and ancestry are cautioned that all human beings are the progeny of Adam and Eve. Whites are not superior to blacks nor blacks superior to whites and similarly, Arabs are not superior to Non-Arabs and Non-Arabs are not superior to Arabs. In the sight of God, the status and nobility of a person is not founded on the basis of his family, clan, colour or creed; it is on the basis of his consciousness towards God. Only that person will be respected in His presence who is the most God-fearing and lives within the limits specified by Him even if he belongs to a low and unknown family. And he who is arrogant and conceited shall definitely be humiliated even though he belongs to a family of high status and pedigree. This division of mankind in families is merely to give people identity. Just as God has distinguished people from one another on the basis of features, colour and stature so that they can identify and recognize one another, similarly, dividing them into families and clans is meant to serve this very purpose. It has no significance beyond this:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ (13:49)

You people! We have created you from one man and one woman and divided you into tribes and clans that you might get to know one another. The noblest of you in God's sight is he who is the most God-conscious. Indeed, God is all-knowing and wise. (49:13)

Making Fun of Others

People who make fun of others are told that in the sight of God a person is respectable or disreputable on the bases of his faith and deeds and their true weight too shall be indicated by the Almighty's balance of justice. One cannot say that a person who considers himself to be noble in this word will end up in humiliation on the Day of Judgement and a person who is considered lowly will be rewarded greatly in Paradise. Hence every Muslim must remain aware that according to the Qur'an (49:10) once he has entered the folds of faith he has entered the universal brotherhood of Muslims in which every Muslim is a brother to another. It is not befitting for him at all to make fun of others, ridicule and censure them while thinking them to be inferior to him:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَومٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَى أَن يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاء مِّن نِّسَاء عَسَى أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّ (11:49)

Believers, let no man make fun of another man, who may perhaps be better than himself and let no woman make fun of another woman, who may perhaps be better than herself. (49:11)

Defaming and Taunting Others

Those who defame and taunt their brethren are warned to abstain from this practice. The Qur'anic words used for this in Surah Hujurat are لَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ which imply that a person who defames and taunts others actually defames and taunts himself. Moreover, the word used is لَمْز which includes other meanings as finding faults in others, ridiculing and mocking others, blaming others, making some one a target of objections whether openly or in secret. Obviously, in all these things the motive is considering oneself to be superior and others as inferior and mediocre. A similar misdeed is calling others with bad names. The Arabs of the age of ignorance had a special proclivity for it and they regarded it to be a matter of great accomplishment. The most outstanding poet and orator of a tribe was the one who would excel others in expressing the superiority of his tribe and in speaking ill and demeaning other tribes. Consequently, Muslims were prohibited from indulging in this practice and told that ridiculing others, demeaning and humiliating them and calling them with bad names is an act of disobedience and after faith, even the name of disobedience is bad. Thus it is not worthy of a Muslim to be involved in any of these evil practices:

وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ بِئْسَ الاِسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ (11:49)

And do not defame one another, nor call one another with bad names. After embracing faith, even the name of disobedience is bad. [Repent from this] and [remember] those who do not repent from this are indeed wrongdoers. (49:11)


People who are guilty of backbiting are chided that it is a heinous sin. In comparison it is no less than eating the flesh of one's deceased brother. Eating the flesh of the dead in itself is a detestable act, and if that flesh is of one's brother how can a person like to eat it? A little deliberation shows that depicted in this description is a picture of his helplessness in self-defence. After presenting this simile the Qur'an has posed the question that if a person is not willing to tolerate such a thing then how can he tolerate such a despicable and dreadful practice as backbiting. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

Backbiting means speaking about the flaws of a person in his absence. The fact that this is done in his absence incorporates in the very meaning of backbiting the aspect that the targeted person does not get to know of it. In pursuance of keeping it secret, a backbiter gives his statements before people who hold the same opinion and are his confidants sharing the objective with him or at least are people about whom he is sure that they are not the ones who sympathize with the person he is targeting and will not reveal this secret to him.[10]

If one analyzes backbiting, one can see that hidden behind it is arrogance and conceit of a person that induces him to humiliate and disgrace others. Consequently, the Almighty has forbidden us from it and said that everyone must fear His Lord in this matter:

وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ (12:49)

And no one among you should indulge in backbiting others. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? So you would dislike it. [Repent from this practice] and have fear of God. God is Ever-Forgiving and Ever-Merciful. (49:12)

Like the ten commandments of the Torah, these are the ten commandments of the Qur'an. What the Almighty (Qur'an, 42:37) has regarded as great sins and acts of vulgarity emerge from disobeying these directives. The Qur'an unequivocally states that people can be punished for this disobedience in the Hereafter. Thus every Muslim should remain cautious about it. The following three things should remain in consideration in this regard.

Firstly, if the disobedience is unintentional, God will not hold a person accountable. His law is that if a person commits a misdeed unintentionally, He will not punish him. While stating a directive about adopted sons, the Qur'an says:

وَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ فِيمَا أَخْطَأْتُم بِهِ وَلَكِن مَّا تَعَمَّدَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا (5:33)

And the mistake you have made in this matter shall be forgiven, but in what your hearts make an intention shall not be forgiven. God is Ever-Forgiving and Ever-Merciful. (33:5)

Secondly, if a person is able to abstain from disobeying these directives, then its reward is that his minor sins will be forgiven by the Merciful Lord other wise all his major and minor sins will be recorded in the register of his deeds and he will have to give their account:

إِن تَجْتَنِبُواْ كَبَآئِرَ مَا تُنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ نُكَفِّرْ عَنكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَنُدْخِلْكُم مُّدْخَلاً كَرِيمًا (31:4)

If you abstain from the major sins of what is being prohibited to you, We shall forgive your minor sins and will make you enter in a place of honour. (4:31)

Thirdly, if a person disobeys any of these directives while being overwhelmed with emotions, he should repent and mend his ways. It is essential that he repent as soon as possible. The Almighty has clearly stated in the Qur'an that He will forgive people who commit a sin while being overwhelmed with emotions if they repent right after it. He will not forgive people who sin all their lives and repent when they see death approaching. Similarly, He will not forgive people who deliberately reject the truth if they continue with this attitude till their death:

إِنَّمَا التَّوْبَةُ عَلَى اللّهِ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السُّوَءَ بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ يَتُوبُونَ مِن قَرِيبٍ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ يَتُوبُ اللّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ وَكَانَ اللّهُ عَلِيماً حَكِيماً وَلَيْسَتِ التَّوْبَةُ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ حَتَّى إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ إِنِّي تُبْتُ الآنَ وَلاَ الَّذِينَ يَمُوتُونَ وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ أُوْلَـئِكَ أَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا (4: 17-18)

It is incumbent upon God to forgive those who commit a sin while being overwhelmed with emotions and then quickly repent. It is they who are forgiven by God. God is all-knowing and wise. But He will not forgive those who sin all their lives and, when death comes to them, say: "Now I repent!" nor those who die as disbelievers. It is for these that We have prepared a grave punishment. (4:17-18)

In the above verses, the Qur'an has ascertained two cases in which repentance shall be accepted by the Almighty. After this, one case remains: a person was not able to repent right after his sin; however, he did not delay repentance till his death. In this case, the Qur'an is silent and in the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, this silence creates hope as well as fear and the purport of the Qur'an also seems that one should remain between hope and fear in this case. He says that in spite of this what comes to his mind is the fact that such people would hopefully attain salvation through the intercession of the Prophet (sws) because in their case there is no reason for it to be prohibited.

Pinnacle of Morality

إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ وَالْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْقَانِتَاتِ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالصَّادِقَاتِ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّابِرَاتِ وَالْخَاشِعِينَ وَالْخَاشِعَاتِ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقِينَ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقَاتِ وَالصَّائِمِينَ وَالصَّائِمَاتِ وَالْحَافِظِينَ فُرُوجَهُمْ وَالْحَافِظَاتِ وَالذَّاكِرِينَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا وَالذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا (35:33)

Men and women who are Muslims, are true believers, serve God diligently, are sincere, patient, humble themselves before God, spend in charity, who fast and guard their private parts and remember God in abundance – on them God will bestow forgiveness and has prepared for them a great reward. (33:35)

When a person reaches the pinnacle of morality with regard to his creator and his fellow human beings the qualities which emerge in him are stated in this verse. Thus it ends with the statement that God's mercy awaits these noble souls and He has prepared for them a great reward. In the creed of tasawwuf, the pinnacle of all efforts of a human being is to become an embodiment of divine attributes. If God is all-knowing and all-aware, a person should be no less; if God does not need a wife, he too should spend a life of celibacy; if God is self-sufficient and free of all wants and needs, he also should become free of all human wants and needs; if God controls the inner and outer worlds of man, he also should be able to walk on water, play with fire, cure the sick by touching them, bring the dead to life and control the mind and soul in whatever way he wants to. However, this is not the view of the Qur'an. According to it, the pinnacle of a human being is to mould oneself as per the requirements of God's attributes and as a result of this become an embodiment of the qualities stated in the above verse. These are ten qualities and in the whole of its corpus, the Qur'an has not added to this list. They reflect the pinnacle of religion. It urges its followers to try to engender these qualities in themselves. If there is a level beyond this then it is that of prophethood and about it, it is well-known that it is not achieved by any effort; it is God-gifted.

Here are the details of these qualities:


The first attribute is Islam. When this word is mentioned right after Iman the way it is here, then it signifies the external form of Islam, ie the directives which relate to the deeds and words and the physical entity of a person. Thus if the tongue of a person is willing to speak and abstain from speaking at the behest of God and His Prophet (sws); if his ears are ready to hear and stop hearing at their bidding, if his hands are prepared to strike and restrain themselves at their command and if his feet are keen to walk and stop at their directive, then this is nothing but Islam. The words (3: 20)َ أَسْلَمْتُ وَجْهِي لِلَّهِ (I submit myself to God, (3:20))and(2: 131) أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن (I submit to the God of the worlds, (2:131)) which the Prophets of God speak are meant to convey this very reality.

It is evident from the Qur'an that the best examples of Islam are the Prophets themselves. Thus we have been directed to follow them to reach this position of submitting to God and being content and happy with His decisions. The Qur'an says:

قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ (31:3)

Tell them: "If you love God, obey me, God will love you and forgive your sins and [you very well know that] God is Ever-Forgiving and Ever-Merciful." (3:31)

The awareness and vigour with which this obedience should take place is thus explained by Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi:

A prophet is an embodiment of obedience to God and every action of his is a sign of his cognizance of God. For this reason, those who love God love every action of a prophet. They see that knowledge in a prophet which is the result of his cognizance of God and they witness deeds from him which are produced by this cognizance; similarly, they see in him the habits which please God and they observe in him the attributes which God likes and they perceive in his personality the grandeur which is a reflection of God's grandeur. Thus they diligently seek every imprint left by a prophet and try to follow it and since they do all this to please God they are rewarded by Him by becoming His favoured ones.[11]


The second attribute is iman (faith). This is the inner facet of religion and here it implies the full faith one has about the promises of God together with His true cognizance. Thus a person who believes in God in such a manner that he submits himself totally to him and is satisfied over His decisions in the utmost manner, then such a person is called mu'min (true believer). It is through him that hearts are purified, intellect receives guidance and intentions are cleansed. It is this faith which affects both one's ideologies and one's deeds simultaneously and embraces one's whole being. Then with the remembrance of God, reciting His revelations and with manifestation of His signs in the world within a person and that outside, his faith grows. The Qur'an says:

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَإِذَا تُلِيَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُهُ زَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَعَلَى رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ (2:8)

The true believers are those whose hearts are filled with awe at the mention of God, and whose faith grows stronger as they listen to His revelations and who trust in God alone. (8:2)

The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said that he gained sweetness of faith who was pleased to accept God as Lord, Islam as religion and Muhammad as prophet.[12] The Qur'an has compared faith to a tree whose roots are deep in the soil and branches spread in the vastness of the sky:

أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ ضَرَبَ اللّهُ مَثَلاً كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً كَشَجَرةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ أَصْلُهَا ثَابِتٌ وَفَرْعُهَا فِي السَّمَاء تُؤْتِي أُكُلَهَا كُلَّ حِينٍ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهَا وَيَضْرِبُ اللّهُ الأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ (14: 24-25)

Have you not reflected how God has mentioned the example of the word of purity? Its example is like that of a pure tree whose roots are deep in the earth and branches are spread in the sky; it yields its fruit in every season by the directive of God. [This is a parable of the pure word] and God mentions such parables to men so that they may take heed. (14:24-25)

While explaining these verses, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi has written:

In the verse, the expression "word of purity" obviously refers to the "word of faith". It is compared by the Almighty to a fruit-laden tree whose roots are firmly implanted in the soil and its branches are nicely spread in the sky and it is bearing fruit in every season with the blessing of its Lord. Its roots being deeply implanted in the soil refers to the fact that faith is deeply and firmly implanted in human nature and that it is not like a plant which has sprouted from dung which has no root and a slight calamity can uproot it like the word of disbelief about which the Qur'an has used the wordsإِجْتُثَّتْ مِنْ فُوْقِ الأَرْضَ مَا لَهَا مِنْ قَرَار (14: 26) (which can be uprooted from the very surface of the earth; it has no stability, (14:26)). On the other hand, like a strong tree it has firm and deeply set roots so that even if a storm passes upon it, it is not disturbed by the slightest. The verse goes on to describe that it is lavishly fruit-laden and that it is not a like a barren tree which neither provides anyone with shade nor with fruit. Its spaciously spread branches in the sky provide shade to caravans and in every season obtains sustenance and nourishment from its fruit. This obviously refers to the blessings and benefits which a believer bestows on his own life and through it on others who in some way come in his contact. These blessings and benefits by nature are both ideological as well as practical. They bear witness to a person's faith and through it a person becomes dear to God and attains His nearness.[13]

The Qur'an asserts that if at some time this requirement arises, a true believer should give it the foremost priority and nothing in this world should be dearer to him. The Qur'an says:

قُلْ إِن كَانَ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَآؤُكُمْ وَإِخْوَانُكُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُكُمْ وَأَمْوَالٌ اقْتَرَفْتُمُوهَا وَتِجَارَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَاكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَهَا أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُم مِّنَ اللّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهَادٍ فِي سَبِيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُواْ حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ اللّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ وَاللّهُ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ (24:9)

[O Prophet!] tell them: "If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your tribes, the wealth you have acquired, the merchandise you fear may not be sold, and the homes you like, are dearer to you than God, His Prophet and the struggle for His cause, then wait until God makes His Judgement and [remember that] God does not guide such people who break their promises." (9:24)

The Prophet (sws) has explained this reality in various ways. He has said that no one can be a true believer unless he loves the Prophet (sws) more than his children, parents and relatives.[14] At another instance, he has remarked that it is this love with God and the Prophet (sws) after which a person can be aware of the real taste of faith.[15]

But what is the nature of this love? Since there are a lot of misconceptions about it and people have gone to the two extremes in this regard, it is appropriate that one understands it. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahiwrites:

It does not merely imply the passionate love one naturally has for one's wife, children and other relatives, but it also refers to the love on the basis of intellect and principles for some viewpoint and principle. It is because of this love that a person, in every sphere of life, gives priority to this viewpoint and principle. For it, he sacrifices everything – every directive and desire and every other viewpoint and principle but never sacrifices this for anything of the world. To uphold this viewpoint and principle, he holds every other thing as inferior and subservient but in no way puts up with seeing it inferior and subservient. If his own desires oppose this viewpoint, he fights with it. So much so, if the demands of his wife, children and relatives clash with the demands of this viewpoint, he adheres to it and without any hesitation turns down the desires of his wife and children and the demands of his family and clan.[16]

This is the essence of Iman and Islam which has come out from the tongue of the Prophet (sws) in the form of a sublime prayer:

أَللَّهُمَّ أَسْلَمْتُ وَجْهِي إِلِيْكَ وَفَوَضَّتُ أَمْرِيِ إِلِيْكَ وَأَلجَْأتُ ظَهْرِيْ إِليِْكَ رَغْبَةً وَرَهْبَةً إِلِيْكَ لاَ مَلْجَأ وَلاَ مَنْجَى مِنْكَ إِلاَّ إِلِيْكَ أَللَّهُمَّ آمَنْتُ بِكِتاَبِكَ الذِّي أَنْزَلْتَ وَبِنَبِيِّكَ الذَّيِ أَرْسَلْتَ

O God I have resigned myself to You and I have consigned my matter to you and have taken support from You fearing Your grandeur and moving towards You in anticipation. There is no refuge and shelter after running away from You, and if there is, it is with You. Lord! I have professed faith in your Book which You have revealed and have professed faith in the Prophet you have sent as a Messenger.[17]

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