Path towards Enlightenment (893)
Welcome to our weekly programme "Path towards Enlightenment" in which we present you a fluent and easy-to-understand explanation of the Ayahs of God’s Last and Final Revealed Word to all humanity, the holy Qur’an.
We continue from where we left you last week, and here is Ayah 23 of Surah Shura:
“That is the good news Allah gives to His servants who have faith and do righteous deeds! Say (O Prophet to Muslims), ‘I do not ask you any reward for it (enlightening you with Islam) except love of [my nearest and dearest] kin.’ Whoever performs a good deed, We shall enhance for him its goodness. Indeed Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Appreciative.”
If you remember, last Friday we said the fear of the faithless persons at the time of punishment will not avail them, since it is not sincere belief in God and His commandments, but only apprehension of the calamity, as is evident by their failure to repent and reform despite being given ample respite. On the other hand, the righteous ones will be granted the eternal bliss of paradise where they will have whatever they wish because of Divine favours for their virtuous deeds.
The Ayah that we recited to you now first gives tidings to the faithful who do good deeds, and then spells out the condition for true belief by commanding Muslims to adhere to the path of the Ahl al-Bayt or the Infallible Household of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). The Ayah concerns the question of compensation for the Prophet of Islam for enlightening hundreds of millions of people and guiding them to the eternal bliss of paradise. For instance, if the giving of a flower to someone as a gift is acknowledgement of a favour done, then the delivering of mankind from the darkness of disbelief requires a far greater reward for Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
Several Ayahs in the holy Qur’an indicate that when the Prophets of the past were approached by grateful followers, eager to compensate them for their liberating message of monotheism and virtue, they said they did not require anything in return for carrying out their mission and only God Almighty will reward them. Here, God commands the Prophet of Islam to tell Muslims who wanted to give him remuneration for having guided them that though his reward is beyond the power of human beings and is with the Almighty Creator alone, those claiming to be his followers are obliged to love, respect, and follow the blood-relations nearest and dearest to the Prophet. This means the token of true belief for a Muslim is adherence to the path of the Prophet’s Infallible Heirs and acknowledgement of their Divinely-decreed leadership. In other words, this is continuity of the mission of the Last and the Greatest Messenger, since no prophet will be raised after the Prophet of Islam.
It has been mentioned by all reliable narrators of hadith that on revelation of this Ayah, when the Prophet was asked about the identity of the persons whose love and respect is incumbent upon Muslims, he replied: “Ali and Fatema and their sons.” He reiterated the sentence thrice, which means that after him these persons are the role model for the Ummah, since it is the Infallible Imams who help people discern true belief and falsehood or between right and wrong.
Ayah 23 ends with the emphasis that the faithful should do good to others in order to reap more bounties from the All-Merciful and All-Forgiving Lord.
These are the points that we learn from Ayah 23:
- Prophets never sought any material reward from their followers for having delivered them from the darkness of disbelief, and asked them to follow the divine commandments, one of which is to obey their Divinely-designated successors.
- Faith in Islam is complete only through love and respect for the Prophet of Islam’s Ahl al-Bayt or Infallible progeny, and adherence to their path.
- True belief and good deeds guarantee Divine mercy and forgiveness.
Here we present you Ayah 24 of Surah Shura:
“Do they say, ‘He has fabricated a lie against Allah’? If so, should Allah wish He would set a seal on your heart, and Allah will efface the falsehood and confirm the truth with His words; indeed He knows well what is in the breasts.”
In continuation of the previous Ayah regarding the Divine commandment for Muslims to follow the path of the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt as token of their belief in Islam and gratitude to the Prophet, this Ayah refers to the hypocrites amongst the Muslims who refused to accept the Divine revelation and accused the Prophet of forging a lie in the name of God, resulting in the spread of doubts among simple persons of infirm faith. In answer to this blasphemy, God means to tell them: Had the Prophet forged a lie, God Who is All-Aware and All-Knowing would have sealed his heart and not let him say anything that is not a revelation. The Ayah then makes it clear that God effaces falsehood and never allows forgery to distort the truth, since He knows very well what thoughts flash across minds and what people conceal in their breasts.
This ayah teaches us the following points:
- A true believer accepts whatever is revealed to the Prophet by God, without entertaining the least doubts, or allowing his personal likes and dislikes to interfere with faith.
- It has been the habit of hypocrites throughout history, and especially since the advent of Islam, to pose as believers in order to distort the tenets of faith by giving a wrong interpretation to Divine revelation and the Hadith.
- Extermination of falsehood and victory of truth is the promise of God the Omnipotent, Who is aware of each and everything, and will not leave the true believers in the dark.
Here are Ayahs 25 and 26 off the same Surah. Let us listen:
“It is He who accepts the repentance of His servants, and excuses their misdeeds and knows what you do.
“And He answers those who have faith and do righteous deeds and enhances them out of His grace; but as for the faithless, there is a severe punishment for them.”
It solely rests with God Almighty to accept the repentance of the penitents and forgive their sins. There are no deadlocks in Islam and the path of return is open at all times. God Almighty forgives all sins, but repentance is supposed to accompany change of words and attitudes, or else it would be a kind of hypocrisy that cannot be hidden from the All-Aware Lord. Since God Almighty leaves the path of return open at all times and has given ample respite to mankind for repentance, those who sincerely repent should neither repeat the vicious deeds nor should become disbelievers again. Ayah 25 is a tiding to the persons who after being misled by the hypocrites regarding the Divine commandment to follow the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt, regretted their words, grieved, and wept. Thus, it was revealed to the Prophet to give the penitents the glad tidings that if they sincerely repent, God Almighty forgives their sins.
The next Ayah means to say that God Almighty answers the invocations of those who believe and do righteous good deeds. It is worthy of note, however, that answering their invocations depends upon faith and doing good deeds. God the Gracious grants such persons much more than they can imagined, while His punishment is severe for the faithless.
From these ayahs we learn that:
- There is no dead-end in Islam, and the Merciful Lord has left the door of mercy open by giving ample time to repent and reform, which means it is only the most vicious sinners and the intransigent disbelievers who refuse to tread the right path.
- Believers ought to be kind and merciful towards each other by forgiving those who regret their faults and misdeeds.
- The prerequisite for acceptance of payers and supplication is having faith in God and doing righteous deeds.