faith and its essentials
- Faith: Definition
The Prophet says :
"It is a belief that is deeply entrenched in one's heart and to which credence is given by action."
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent
The messenger believes in what has been revealed to him by his Lord, and so do the believers. Each one of them believes in Allah, and His angels, and His books, and His messengers: We make no distinction between any of His messengers; and they say: We hear and we obey. Grant us Your forgiveness, our Lord; to You we shall all return. (The Cow, "Al-Baqarah" : 2;285) Commentary by Sayyid Qutb � Translation by Adil Salahi & Ashur Shamis.
This is a description of the community which accurately represents the true nature of faith. Every such community is honored by Allah as He groups it together with His messenger, peace be upon him, in sharing the sublime quality of faith. This is an honor which the community of believers appreciate because it has the proper understanding of the great role of the messenger and his unique position. It knows to what position Allah has elevated it as He grouped it with the messenger as sharing a common quality, and to express that in a single verse of His glorious revelation: The messenger believes in what has been revealed to him by his Lord, and so do the believers.
The Prophet's belief in Allah's revelations to him is based on the fact that his pure heart directly receives divine revelations. He has a direct contact with the truth which takes shape within himself naturally, without any effort on his part, and without need for any tool or medium. This is a standard of faith which defies description. No one can describe it except the one who has experienced it, and the description cannot be truly appreciated except by a person who has also experienced it. Hence, the honor which Allah bestows on His servants who believe in Him as He groups them together with His messenger in sharing the quality of faith becomes clear. It is needless to say that the effect faith produces on Allah's messenger is at a far higher level than its effect on anyone else.
What is the nature of this faith and what are its limits? The answer is outlined in the verse itself: Each one of them believes in Allah, and His angels, and His Books, and His messengers: We make no distinction between any of His messengers, and they say: We hear and we obey. Grant us Your forgiveness, our Lord; to You we shall all return. It is the sort of complete faith which is suitable to this nation which has inherited the divine faith and is entrusted with the divine message till the day of judgment. It is a nation with roots going far back in history, and which continues the procession of the faithful, led by Allah's messenger as it moves along from time immemorial. It is the faith which divides humanity from the first to the last human being into two groups: the believers who constitute the party of Allah and the non-believers who constitute the party of Satan. There can exist no other group at any time.
Each one of them believes in Allah. From the Islamic point of view, to believe in Allah provides the foundation for the general outlook, the code which governs life, morals, the economic system as well as every activity of the believers in all spheres of life. To believe in Allah means to accept that He alone has the qualities of Godhead and Lordship over the Universe, and He alone should be worshipped. This means that He has the ultimate authority over man's conscience and behavior in all affairs. He has no partners in either Godhead or Lordship, which means that none shares His attributes of creation and governance of the Universe. None has any say in the way life goes on; none provides anything for anyone; none can harm or benefit anyone. Nothing big or small takes place anywhere in the Universe without His will.
None may be His partner in being worshipped by people. This applies to both the worship represented in rituals and the worship represented in submission to His authority. Worship may be offered to Allah alone. Again, obedience belongs only to Allah and to anyone who implements His instructions and legislation, deriving his authority thereby from Allah, the source of all authority.
An essential of this faith is, then that power over people's conscience and their behavior belongs to Allah alone. This means that the only valid legislation, moral values, social and economic systems and regulations can be derived only from the One who has absolute authority, Allah. Man then becomes free of all authority other than that of Allah, unrestrained by anything except the limits Allah has laid down. None can have power over Him without sanction from Allah.
And His angels. To believe in Allah's angels is part of believing in the imperceptible. Believing in the imperceptible releases man from the limits of the physical world to which animals are restricted. He is then free to receive his knowledge from what lies beyond the physical world of the animals, declaring his unique, human qualities. At the same time this satisfies man's natural aspiration to the unknown which lies beyond his physical senses as he, by nature, feels its existence. Unless such natural aspirations are satisfied through faith in the reality of the imperceptible, as given to him by Allah, man goes into the excesses of inventing legends and superstitions to satisfy this natural inclination, or else, he would suffer confusion and imbalance.
When man believes in the angels, he believes in a reality which he cannot fathom with his own physical and mental abilities. Man has, however, a natural aspiration to know at least a part of the realities of the world of the imperceptible. Hence, Allah who has created man and who knows man's inclinations and aspirations and what is suitable to man has willed, out of His grace, to give man some information about imperceptible realities and to help him to understand that knowledge in order to spare him that vain effort which man is bound to exert in order to gain that sort of knowledge without which he cannot rest assured. This is confirmed by the fact that those who have tried to rebel against their nature and deny the world of the imperceptible altogether have been possessed by ridiculous superstitions or have suffered mental imbalance or various forms of psychological perversity.
Moreover, to believe in the angels and to believe in the realities of the imperceptible which have been stated to us by Allah, enhances man's understanding of the Universe. Hence, the believer does not restrict the Universe only to that small world within which his senses operate. He also has the pleasure of feeling that those faithful spirits are around him, share his faith in his Lord, pray to Allah to forgive him, and help him to do what is good, by Allah's permission. This gives him the reassurance he needs. Moreover, there is the element of knowing this reality which is, in itself, part of the grace Allah bestows on those who believe in Him and in His angels.
And His Books, and His messengers: We make no distinction between any of His messengers: This is the logical correlative of believing in Allah as required by Islam. To believe in Allah necessitates that one believes that everything which has come from Allah is correct. It also necessitates that all messengers Allah has sent have been truthful, and that the basis of their messages as explained in the books revealed to them is the same. A logical consequence of that is the fact that there can be no distinction between Allah's messengers in the deep conscience of any Muslim. Every one of them came with the message of Islam (i.e. submission to Allah) in one form or another as was suitable to the circumstances of the people to whom he was sent. This continued to be the case until Muhammad, peace be upon him, the last of the Prophets, conveyed the final version of the same faith. This last version, i.e. Islam remains valid for all succeeding generations until the Day of Judgment.
In this way, the nation of Islam becomes the heir of the heritage of all Allah's messages, and the custodian of the divine faith on earth. The Muslims feel that they have been assigned a great role on this earth which they continue to play until the Day of Judgment. They are charged with the custody of the most valuable and the greatest matter given to humanity throughout its history. They have been chosen to raise Allah's banner to the conclusion of all other banners. They raise it high in order to counter all other creeds and philosophies advocated by the people of ignorance in all generations and places and giving them all sorts of names such as nationalism, patriotism, racism, Zionism, Christian domination, colonialism, imperialism, atheism, etc. Faith, the most precious and useful human heritage is a wealth of light and guidance; confidence and reassurance, happiness and satisfaction, knowledge and certainty. Any human heart devoid of faith is bound to be overwhelmed by worry and darkness, doubts and suspicions, misery and suffering. Its only fate is to grope aimlessly in the dark, not knowing where to put its foot as it moves along in the depressing mode in which it throws itself.
People who have been given sensitive and lively hearts and were keen on gaining knowledge and certainty but were deprived of the sustenance, happiness and light provided by faith have depressed their agony most passionately in different generations and places. Those on the other hand who have been similarly deprived but have been given insensitive hearts have not been troubled by any desire to gain knowledge. Those lead a life similar to that of animals. They eat and enjoy themselves in a fashion similar to that of animals. They fight like animals and they attack their prey like beasts. They tyrannize and show their ruthlessness and spread corruption on earth. They live their lives and go away followed by curses from Allah and from human beings.
The societies which have been deprived of that grace are miserable societies though they may be affluent, empty though they may have no shortage of products, worried though they may enjoy freedom, security and peace. In our world of today we have a living example of this sort of society which cannot be denied except by one who denies what he feels and sees.
Those who believe in Allah and His angels and His Books and His messengers declare their obedience and submission to their Lord. They know that to Him they shall return, and they seek His forgiveness of any fault of theirs: They say: We hear and we obey. Grant us Your forgiveness, our Lord; to You we shall all return.
These words portray the most vivid picture of the meaning of believing in Allah and His angels and His Books and His messengers. Faith can thus be clearly seen in the believer's obedience of every commandment which he receives from Allah. This is a practical demonstration of the acknowledgment by the believer that Allah is the only Master of the Universe, and that His is the only valid order in every sphere of life. No submission to Allah's will can be true without obedience of Allah's commandments and implementation of the code of living He has laid down. No faith is genuine if those who pretend to be faithful turn their backs on Allah's legislation relating to any matter in their lives, be it of great or secondary importance, or if they derive their concepts of morals, economics or politics from any source other than Allah. True faith is that which is entrenched deeply in peoples' hearts and to which credence is lent by their actions.
Obedience is coupled by a feeling that one is not doing enough to thank Allah for His grace, and is not doing one's duty as one should. This feeling necessitates the appeal for Allah's mercy to overlook one's failures and shortcomings: Grant us Your forgiveness, our Lord.
Forgiveness is sought only after true submission to Allah and the declaration of one's intention to obey Him without any hesitation or reluctance. It is also followed by the certainty that one shall certainly return to Allah. His will is done both in this life and in the Hereafter. His word is final in every matter and in every respect. No one can escape from Him unless he seeks shelter with Him. No power can prevent destiny, and no one can stop Allah's will. His punishment can be evaded only through His mercy and forgiveness: To You we shall all return.
As we have already mentioned, this statement incorporates a declaration of belief in the Day of Judgment which is, according to Islamic philosophy, one of the essentials of faith in Allah. The Islamic standpoint is that Allah has created man in order to put him in charge of this earth on the basis of a covenant made in clear terms and affects every human activity on earth. He has created man and given him this life before giving him his reward at the end of this test.
Hence, to believe in the Day of Judgment and in reward and punishment on that day, is one of the essentials of the Islamic faith. It has a profound effect on shaping the conscience of every Muslim and regulating his behavior, as well as his evaluation of actions and results in this life. He follows the path of obedience to Allah, working for the cause of good, maintaining the path of truth whether it brings him happiness or suffering, gain or loss, victory or defeat in this life, and whether it ensures his safety or causes his death and martyrdom. The only reward he is after is that of the Hereafter, when he has passed this test. He maintains his stand on the side of obedience to Allah and the truth even when he finds that the whole world stands in opposition to him, threatening him with sufferings and death. He feels that he is dealing with Allah, implementing his side of the covenant he has made with Him, and waiting reward in the Hereafter.
The basic characteristic of the Islamic faith is that of a great unity outlined in this short verse: to believe in Allah and His angels, and to believe in all His Books and messengers without making any distinction between those messengers, and to obey Allah always believing in the Day of Reckoning and Judgment.
THE SHORTEST DISTANCE BETWEEN A PROBLEM AND A SOLUTION IS THE DISTANCE BETWEEN YOU HEAD AND YOUR KNEES.
THOSE WHO KNEEL TO ALLAH CAN STAND TO ANY THING.
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