Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

August 2004 - Rajab 1425 H
Volume 17-08 No : 212
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Quran Speaks to You


Three Golden Keys- Dedication, Purity and Unity

Three Golden Keys- Dedication, Purity and Unity

In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent

Be not grieved by those who hasten on to disbelief. They cannot harm Allah in any way. It is Allah's will not to assign to them any share in the (blessings of the) life to come. A great suffering awaits them. Indeed, those who have bought disbelief at the price of faith cannot harm Allah in any way. A grievous suffering awaits them. Let not those who disbelieve imagine that our giving them rein bodes well for their own souls. We only give them rein so that they may grow in sinfulness. A humiliating suffering awaits them. It is not Allah's purpose to leave the believers in your present state except to set apart the bad from the good. And it is not Allah's purpose to reveal to you what is kept hidden. But Allah favours from among His messengers whomever He wills. Believe, therefore, in Allah and His messengers. If you believe and are God-fearing, you shall have a great reward.

(The House of Imran, Aal Imran : 3:176 - 179)
Commentary by Sayyid Qutb.
Translation by A.A. Shamsi

During the battle of Uhud, the Prophet (Pbuh) felt saddened to see human beings run headlong into disbelief. Allah tells him that they cannot harm him in anyway. He further tells His Messenger that it is His will not to assign to them any share in the blessings of the hereafter. This in itself is a woeful doom. If anyone questions why Allah wants such a terrible punishment for them, the answer is that because they have deserved it when they bartered away faith for disbelief; “Indeed, those who have bought disbelief at the price of faith cannot harm Allah in any way. A grievous suffering awaits them”.

To believe in Allah and to follow the path of faith was certainly available to them. All sorts of proofs and pointers which guide human beings to have faith are everywhere in the universe and planted deep into human nature. The harmony and complementarity which manifest themselves in clear and unique ways, and the direct, positive response of human nature to such remarkable evidence represents a clear invitation to man to have faith. He feels that only Allah could have created and organised the universe. Moreover Allah has sent messengers to convey to mankind His message and to call on them to believe in Him. The message meets the needs of human nature and provides a complete and harmonious way of life which is most suitable for mankind. Knowing that faith is so readily available to them, they nevertheless bartered it away for disbelief. By doing so, they deserve to be abandoned by Allah so that they can drive headlong into disbelief, exhausting all their share of Allah’s grace, leaving for themselves no reward whatsoever in the hereafter. Immersed so totally in error and having nothing of the truth, they are too weak to cause Allah any harm whatsoever. Error has no supporting basis and falsehood has no strength. Its advocates cannot harm those who respond to Allah’s call, although they may have for a short while forces with which they can inflict temporary harm on believers.

“A grievous suffering awaits them”. The suffering they will have to endure is incomparably more painful than what they can inflict on believers in his life. “Let not those who disbelieve imagine that our giving them rein bodes well for their own souls. We only give them rein so that they may grow in sinfulness. A humiliating suffering awaits them.” At this point, the surah tackles the doubts entertained by some people and the silent remonstration suppressed within certain souls as they see the enemies of the truth and the enemies of Allah go about unpunished, demonstrating their power and manifestly enjoying their strength, position and wealth. What they seem to posses hardens their attitude and tempts people to side with them. Those whose faith remains lacking in strength may entertain evil thoughts so as to believe that Allah may acquiesce in falsehood and accept evil and tyranny and give its advocates rein. Far be it from Him to do so. They may also think that Allah takes a neutral position in the battle between the truth and falsehood, allowing falsehood to smash the truth without giving it a hand of support. Or, they may even think that a certain brand of falsehood is right; otherwise, how is it allowed to grow and triumph? Or they may go as far as to think that it is the natural order of things in this life that falsehood triumphs over truth and that truth could not hold its own against it. As for the transgressors who serve evil, seek injustice and spread corruption, they continue with their erring ways and drive headlong onto unbelief, imagining that they wield absolute power and that there is no force to stand up to them. All this is plainly wrong. It is an erroneous concept of how Allah conducts matters. Allah warns the disbelievers against entertaining such thoughts. If he does not visit them with immediate punishment for their disbelief and, instead, allows them a chance in this life to enjoy themselves, they should know that it is all a test which could lure them away so that their attitude may harden and their error may be plainly apparent: “Let not those who disbelieve imagine that Our giving them rein bodes well for their own soul. We only give them rein so that they grow in sinfulness”. Had they deserved to be helped out of their distracting enjoyments with an awakening test, Allah would have put them to such a trial, but he does not wish them well after they have bought disbelief at the price of faith and moved fast to harden their positions in disbelief. They no longer deserve to be awakened, even with a painful test. Instead, “a humiliating suffering awaits them”. Such humiliation is the exact opposite of their present position of power, prestige and affluence.

This makes it clear to us that a test in this life is a type of Allah’s bounty which is granted to those for whom Allah stores a happier future. When it comes as the result of actions made by good servants of Allah who strive hard in advocating His cause, this is done for a definite purpose which may not be immediately apparent to us. It remains part of Allah’s grace, shown to His servants. This is sufficient to reassure the believers and to drive home some basic principles in the Islamic concept of life It was part of Allah’s grace shown to the believers that he distinguished them from the hypocrites who infiltrated their ranks in special circumstances and who had no love of Islam. He put the believers to this hard test in Uhud as a result of certain actions of their own, in order to set the bad apart from the good. “It is not Allah’s purpose to leave the believers in your present state except to set apart the bad from the good. And it is not Allah’s purpose to reveal to you what is kept hidden. But Allah favours from among His messengers whomever He wills. Believe, therefore, in Allah and His messengers. If you believe and are God-fearing, you shall have a great reward”. This is a clear Quranic statement which leaves us in no doubt that it is not part of His design or method to allow the ranks of the believers to remain loose, given a chance to hypocrites to join them under false pretenses when they have no real faith. Allah has moulded this nation of Islam in order to play a great role in this world, implement a superb code of living designed by Allah Himself and to put into existence on earth a unique system. Such a great role requires dedication, purity and unity. To fulfill it, the Muslims must not allow any infiltration of their ranks. For this task to be accomplished requires in short, that the actors be as great as the role assigned to them in this life and the position Allah has prepared for them in the life to come. This means that a severe test must be endured so that only the strong in faith remain within the ranks and those who are weak are left aside. In practice, it meant that the great shake-up in Uhud was necessary so that the ranks of the believers did not remain as they were before the battle. Nor is it Allah’s purpose to allow human beings to know what He has chosen to remain hidden from them.

They are not, by nature, ready or able to have such a revelation because their constitution has been specially designed to fulfill a certain task in this life which does not require such knowledge. Human constitution would collapse if such a revelation was to be made, because it has not been made to receive of it except a portion which allows the human soul to know its Creator. The least that could happen to man when he knows his eventual destiny is to remain idle and do nothing in fulfillment of his task on earth, namely to build human life. Alternatively he may remain worried about his destiny and this worry could exhaust his strength. How then does Allah set the bad apart from the good? How does He purge the Muslim ranks from all hypocrisy and mould the Muslim community in the proper shape to fulfill its role? The answer is given in this Quranic statement: “But Allah favours from among His messengers whomever He wills”. It is through his message, and through accepting it and believing in it and through the striving of the messengers and testing their followers that Allah’s purpose is accomplished. This again stresses the importance of the test which distinguishes people. We now know a part of Allah’s purpose as it manifests itself in the events of life. Having explained this fundamental fact, an address is made to the believers to demonstrate within their world the practical effects of their faith. If they do, then a great reward awaits them. “Believe, therefore, in Allah and His messengers. If you believe and are God-fearing, you shall have a great reward”.

This directive coupled with the promise of a great reward, coming immediately after this explanation is the best conclusion for the comments given in this surah on the events of the battle of Uhud.

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