Path towards Enlightenment (931)
Salaam and welcome to another episode of our weekly series titled “Path towards Enlightenment” which is an endeavour to make you and us familiar with an easy and fluent explanation of God’s Final Scripture to all mankind, the holy Qur’an, which was revealed to the Last and Greatest of all Messengers, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
As you know, last week we completed the explanation of Surah Ahqaaf, and from this Friday onwards we embark on explanation of the next Surah, that is, “Surah Mohammad”, which God Almighty has named in honour of the Prophet of Islam.
This Surah, which is 47th in the serial order of compilation of the holy Qur’an, was revealed at Mecca and has thirty-eight Ayahs. Its title is derived from the second Ayah in which God Almighty mentions the name of His Final Messenger. The dominant theme of the Surah is “jihad” or striving in the way of Allah, even if it means armed confrontation with the enemies of Islam who impose battles upon the Muslims. It also refers to those who try to prevent people from embracing the truth of Islam and the fulfilling of Divine commandments, as well as the fate of the hypocrites. It specifically mentions the iniquity of those who expelled the Prophet from Mecca; it describes the futility of the disbelievers’ attempts to oppose God and His Prophet, and it urges the Muslims to obey God in all matters, lest their good deeds come to nothing on the Day of Judgement like those of the disbelievers and hypocrites.
Let us listen to Ayahs 1, 2, and 3 of Surah Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny):
“In the Name of God, the All-Compassionate, the All-Merciful
“Those who are faithless and bar (others) from the way of Allah - He has made their works go awry.
“But those have faith and do righteous deeds and believe in what has been sent down to Mohammad - and it is the truth from their Lord - He will absolve them of their misdeeds and set right their affairs.
“That is because the faithless follow falsehood, and because the faithful follow the truth from their Lord. That is how Allah draws comparisons for mankind.”
These Ayahs allude to the pagan Arabs of Mecca, who were ringleaders of disbelief and polytheism. These faithless persons resorted to various means, including works of charity for propaganda purpose and at times armed confrontation, in order to prevent others from listening to the Prophet and becoming Muslims. Since these seemingly good deeds of the infidels, such as providing hospitality and food to the needy, were not for the sake of God but for misleading the people and turning them away from Islam, these charitable acts will have no benefits for the doers.
The next Ayah refers to those who have faith in Islam, do good deeds, and believe in the Qur’an revealed by God Almighty to the Prophet as true and immune from any alterations like the fate suffered by the previously revealed heavenly scriptures, such as the Torah and Evangel. Such persons who have sincerely accepted the truth of Islam and abstain from forbidden acts and things, their misdeeds of the past will be forgiven by the All-Merciful God, Who will improve their status and affairs.
Ayah number 3 draws a distinction between the fates of the believers and the disbelievers, saying that those who follow falsehood cannot be considered equal to those who have faith and accept the truth of Islam.
From these Ayahs we learn that:
- The enemies of Islam, whatever their stratagems, will eventually suffer loss and will not be able to prevent the spread of the Islamic faith.
- The seemingly good deeds of the disbelievers are in vain and will not be rewarded, since these deeds are not for the sake of God.
- God the All-Merciful forgives the sins and misdeeds of those who repent sincerely and accept the truth of Islam.
- God guides those who turn to Him and protects them from satanic temptations.
Now let us listen to Ayah 4 of the same Surah:
“When you meet the faithless (in battle), strike their necks. When you have thoroughly decimated them, bind the captives firmly. Thereafter either oblige them [by setting them free] or take ransom till the war lays down its burdens. That (is Allah’s ordinance), and had Allah wished He could have taken vengeance on them, but that He may test some of you by some others. As for those who were slain in the way of Allah, He will not let their works go awry.”
Among the stratagems of the disbelievers is armed confrontation and imposing of battles and wars upon the Muslims. Thus, during confrontation on the battlefields with the bloodthirsty enemies, the believers have to be alert and strike decisive blows on the opponents, and if they, the defenders would perish. This instruction is logical. It further says that when the enemy is defeated those who surrender or are wounded should not be killed but should be taken captive and firmly bond, lest they strike at you. After the end of war and settlement of the issues, the captives could either be freed out of goodwill or ransom taken for their release, or still, exchanged with the Muslim prisoners of war. This is proof of the humanitarian laws of Islam even in the heat of battle and during the state of war in order to prevent unnecessary bloodshed and the loss of life of the unarmed and the civilians. In this way, God the All-Merciful tests our degree of faith, patience, and adherence to altruistic values for fellow humans; otherwise He the Almighty is sufficient to wreak vengeance on His disobedient and sinful creatures through sudden natural catastrophes, without any ground for trials.
Towards its end, Ayah Number 4 mentions the martyrs or those slain in the way of God for defence of faith and humanitarian values, saying their sacrifices definitely bear fruits and will never be in vain.
This Ayah teaches us the following points:
- The disbelievers who are not in war with Muslims should be treated peacefully, while those who wage war against Muslims should be firmly encountered on the battlefields in order to defeat their plots.
- Even in the heat of battle, unnecessary bloodshed should be avoided by sparing the life of the wounded and those who surrender, as well as civilians.
- The captives should be shown clemency and freed through various means.
- War is among the Divine tests, while the blood of martyrs is never in vain; it bears fruits for both the slain and for the society.
Now we listen to Ayahs 5 and 6 of Surah Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny):
“He (God) will guide them and set right their affairs;
“And admit them into paradise with which He has acquainted them.”
These two Ayahs are continuation of the previous Ayah regarding the sacrifices offered by the martyrs, and mean to say that Divine guidance is permanent even after death. The sins and faults of the martyrs are forgiven and their affairs are set right, as they are guided toward the lofty places of Paradise and perpetual bliss.
According to a Hadith on the authority of Imam Baqer (AS), the Prophet’s 5th Infallible Successor: “There is no single drop dearer to God except the drop of one’s blood that is shed in His Way, or the drop of tears shed at night for His awe. There is no step dearer to God than the one taken for helping blood relatives or taken to participate in Jihad for God’s cause.”
In conclusion, a Hadith on the authority of the Prophet’s 8th Infallible Heir, Imam Reza (AS), says: “The first one to enter Paradise is the martyr.”
From these Ayahs we learn the following points:
- The martyrs are alive and receive provisions from the Lord Most High, though we cannot perceive.
- If the perpetual bliss of paradise is the reward of the martyrs, the memories of their sacrifices which break the chains of bondage and delivered Muslims from oppression, remain in the world to remind us of the debt we owe to them for our dignity and good name.