Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

Jamadi Thani 1424 H
August 2003
Volume 16-08 No : 200
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Qur'an Speaks to You


Total Transformation of the Muslim Community

Total Transformation of the Muslim Community

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Can he who strives after Allah's pleasure be compared to one who has incurred Allah's wrath
and whose abode is hell? How evil is such a goal. Each of them has his standing in Allah's sight.
Allah sees all that they do.Indeed, Allah bestowed a great favor on the believers when
he sent them a messenger from among themselves, to recite to them
His revelations, and to purify them, and teach them the Book and wisdom,
whereas previously they were surely in plain error.

(The House of Imran, Aal Imran : 3:162 - 164)
Commentary by Sayyid Qutb.
Translation by A.A. Shamsi

The Quran

These verses are part of the comments made in the Surah and the events of the battle of Uhud, which ended in a defeat to the Muslim army after ictory was within its grasp. There are a number of Hadiths which emphasize the importance of honesty and verses in the Quran too like this one: “it does not behoove a prophet to act dishonestly, for he who acts dishonestly shall be faced with his dishonesty on the day of resurrection. Everyone will then be paid in full what he has earned, and none shall be wronged.”

Within the framework of keenness to have a share in the spoils of the war, which was the direct cause of the defeat in Uhud and dishonesty, the Surah underlines the proper values on which a believer’s attention must concentrate. That represents a great departure from being preoccupied with loot and spoils of war, and indeed all worldly gains. This is a fine element of the remarkable method of the Qur’an in directing people’s mind to more sublime concerns, broadening their horizons so that their striving continues to be in pursuit of the proper objectives. “Can be who strives after Allah’s pleasure be compared to one who has incurred Allah’s wrath and whose abode is hell? How evil is such a goal.”

There is no doubt that Allah’s pleasure is the prize to be coveted and the winning of which determines whether one’s efforts are profitable or end in utter loss. The gulf is great between one who pursues Allah’s pleasure until he wins it and one who ends up incurring His displeasure, which leads him to hell. The two have greatly different standings with Allah: “Each of them has his standing in Allah’s sight.” Each actually earns his position, which means that no one enjoys favouritism and none is wronged: “Allah sees all that they do.”

This part of the comments the surah provides on the events of the battle of Uhud is concluded with a reference back to the personality of Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him), his message and the fact that it represented a great favor bestowed by Allah on the believers: “Indeed, Allah bestowed a great favor on the believers when he sent them a messenger from among themselves, to recite to them His revelations, and to purify them.

This reference to the role of the Prophet in bringing into existence the Muslim nation, and in moulding, educating and leading it out of a state characterised by error to become a nation endowed with know-ledge, wisdom and purity is clearly empha-sised here. Close examination of this ending of the paragraph on this note raises a number of important points.

This reference to the role of the Prophet and the great favour represented by sending him to mankind is given by way of comment on the attitude of greed and keenness to collect a greater share of the spoils of war and acting dishonestly. It is typical of the Quranic method of moulding the Muslim community that this reference is made in the context of defeat, pain and loss suffered by that community in the battle of Uhud. All worldly gains, indeed all the riches of the world and all suffering and sacrifices that the Muslims may be called upon to endure seem very petty compared with the great favor Allah has done to mankind when He sent them his Messenger.

The practical effects of this favour, which can be seen in the life of the Muslim community, are then mentioned: “….. to recite to them His revelations, and to purify them, and to teach them the Book and wisdom, whereas previously they were surely in plain error.”

These effects represent a total transformation of the Muslim community. We feel that by bringing about such a transformation, Allah is preparing this community for a bright future which has to follow the teachings of the Messenger. A nation with such a name should not be preoccupied with petty gains that it can make in a battle and should not be reluctant to make sacrifices. Great goals cannot be achieved without sacrifice. May I discuss briefly these practical effects of sending the Prophet and the very fact that this great favor is mentioned at this particular point in the surah.

“Indeed, Allah bestowed a great favor on the believers when He sent them a Messenger from among themselves.” The fact that Allah the Almighty has taken care to send a Messenger to a particular species of His creation is a favour which can only be motivated by Allah’s limitless grace. It is a favour that cannot be returned in any way by the recipients. Who are those human beings whom Allah has chosen for such grace so as to be the recipients of His revelations? Indeed, Allah bestows his grace on His creation even when they have not earned that grace, and can never return it.

The favour is even made greater by the fact that this Messenger is “from among themselves.” We should reflect that the Quranic text did not say “ a Messenger from them.” For him to be “from among themselves” is particularly significant because it refers to the fact that the relationship between the believers and the Messenger is one of human souls, not one between an individual and a race. The question is not merely that the Prophet was one of them, it is far more significant than that. With faith, they establish their unique relationship with the Prophet and a great position of favour with Allah. That means that it is a double favour by sending the Messenger and establishing the relationship which exists between believers and the Prophet.

The first and the greatest of the practical effects of this favour on the lives of the believers is referred to in the statement describing the role of the Prophet: “… to recite to them His revelations.” If one reflects on this particular point alone, he would be overwhelmed to the extent that he could not stand in front of Allah, even to pray and to thank Him. When we remember that Allah Himself addresses man with His own words, to speak to him about His majesty, and explain His attributes, and the nature and qualities of Godhead, may begin to appreciate how great His favour is. Let man reflect that Allah tells him about himself, an insignificant creature. He speaks to him about his life, feelings, actions and abilities in order to tell him about what brings him to lead a truly happy life and set him on the way to achieve the greatest of human goals, namely, admission to paradise, which is far greater than heavens and earth. Such a favour can come only from Allah’s grace which is infinite indeed.

Allah the Almighty has no need for mankind, or indeed for any creature. Man, on the other hand, is poor and powerless. He needs Allah. But it is Allah who bestows on man His favours and grace, and calls on him to adopt what brings about a total transformation in his life. Nothing that man can do is sufficient to thank Allah for his grace.

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