TAKING ONE’S INTENDED PLACE IN OUR BROTHERHOOD (continued)
Our good deeds benefit our ‘brothers’ (male and female) as well as ourselves.
doing good can be contagious! No one should be shy about encouraging one another, competing in good, about doing any and all of those things we all know are right. We must remember to restain ourselves and each other from gossip, to include and make room for each other, and to avoid all of those things with even the appearance of evil. Avoiding wrong can be contagious, too, especially when done as a group intent on right guidance.
Say, [O Prophet]: It has been revealed to me that a group of jinn has listened [to me reciting the Quran]. So they said [in admonition to their fellowship]: Indeed, we have heard a wondrous Quran. It guides to the right way. So we have believed in it. Thus, never shall we associate anyone [as a god] with our Lord. …
…For indeed, they [of the jinn] have thought, as you [human beings] have thought—that God would never raise up anyone [after death for the Judgment].
Now, indeed, we [of the jinn] have sought [to reach into] Heaven. But we found it filled with mighty [angels as] guards and [shooting] flames. For, indeed, [before the Quran’s recitation,] we used to sit in some of the sitting places near there to listen [to the higher world]. But one who seeks to listen now finds a [shooting] flame in wait for him. So, indeed, we do not know whether [an] evil [recompense] is intended for [all] those in the earth, or [whether] their Lord intends [to bring about] for them right guidance. Now, indeed, among us are those who are righteous. And among us are those who are other than this. We [jinn] have become of divergent ways. Yet, indeed, we [ourselves] have realized that never can we thwart [the will of] God on earth. Nor shall we ever thwart Him by [way of] escape. For, indeed, when we heard the guidance [of the Quran], we believed in it.
Thus whoever believes in his Lord [in this life] shall fear neither deprivation [of his reward in the Hereafter] nor degradation [by an unjust accounting].
And, indeed, among us are those who are muslims, in willing submission to God [alone]. And among us are those who are iniquitous. So [as to] those who have willingly submitted [themselves to God alone], they have pursued the right way [to everlasting delight near their Lord]. But as for the iniquitous, they shall be firewood for Hell.
[God says:] And were they [who have belied this message] to keep straight on the path [of God], We would, most surely, [quench their thirst and] give them water [from the heavens] to drink in abundance—so as to test them with it! … [Sûrah Al-Jinn, 72:1-2, 7-17]
And by the way, why does Allah balance His promises for us with threats of punishment? Surely, those of us who sincerely believe and strive to do our best to be complete Muslims—surely, we don’t need the threat of Hellfire? Consider this. He is the Creator and Lord of the universe. He — in His wisdom and for His purposes — has designed a world in which there can be, and is, good and evil. Evil is produced by our wrong choices, choices which go against the ultimate good of each of us and against each of our groups.
By our very nature as human beings, we do not always recognize what is the right [or the better] choice. That is where divine guidance comes in. We have a lifetime of ‘second chances’ in which to clean up our act. We do this —individually and in groups— step-by-step. Who among us can say that he or she has never needed a dire threat to wake him up to the consequences of his choices! Who among us would seriously ‘shape up’ solely on the strength of beautiful promises that make him feel safe from Allah’s displeasure! Who among us always, without fail, accepts the blessings of Allah’s provision and always, without fail, uses them in the most excellent way?
Give the same as what you want to get.
By contrast with the use of compulsion on the part of some of our fellow Muslims, the ways and means of the Straight Path is to rally sincere faith in Allah and to enjoin righteous actions. The good intents and righteous deeds of individual Muslims benefit the whole Community by multiplying their value, not by simply adding them up!
Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that the Messenger of Allah say, “No one calls to guidance without having the same reward as those who follow him —without diminishing their rewards at all. And no one calls to error without having the same burdens as they do —without diminishing their burdens at all.” (Muwatta Malik, Book 15, Hadith 41)
First and foremost, do no harm.
Abu Bakr As-Siddiq narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: “Cursed are those who harm a believer, or plot to do so.” (Tirmidhi 1941)
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) as saying: The servant (who conceals) the faults of others in this world, Allah would conceal his faults on the Day of Resurrection. (Ṣaḥîḥ Muslim 2590b)
He who relieves the hardship of a believer in this world, Allah will relieve his hardship on the Day of Judgment. He who makes easy what is difficult, Allah will make it easy for him in the world and the Hereafter. He who conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his faults in the world and the Hereafter, for Allah helps the servant as long as he helps his brother. (Muslim 2699)
Do not let yourself be involved in causing fitnah. That is, do not let yourself contribute to bringing imbalance to social cohesion due to various kinds of corruption: confusion of truth and falsity, suspicion, being put to severe testing and temptation, persecution, distress, sedition, treachery. Corruption and ‘mischief’ (fitnah) runs deeply counter to Prophet Muhammad’s teaching.
It is narrated on the authority of Usama b. Zaid that the Messenger of Allah sent us in a raiding party. We raided Huraqat of Juhaina in the morning. I caught hold of a man and he said: “There is no God but Allah.” I attacked him with a spear. It came to mind again later and I talked about it to the Apostle. The Messenger of Allah said: “Did he profess: “There is no God but Allah,” and even then you killed him? I said: “Messenger of Allah, he made a profession of it out of the fear of the weapon. He (the Holy Prophet) observed: “Did you tear open his heart in order to find out whether it [his heart] had professed [that belief] or not?” And he went on repeating it to me till I wished I had embraced Islam that day [and was just then forgiven of all past sin]. Sa’d said: “By Allah, I would never kill any Muslim so long as a person with a heavy belly [i. e., Usama,] would not kill.” Upon this [another] person remarked: “Did Allah not say this: ‘And fight them until there is no more mischief and religion is wholly for Allah’?” Sa’d said: “We fought so that there should be no mischief, but you and your companions wish to fight so that there should be mischief.” (Ṣaḥîḥ Muslim 96a)
It seems that I am alone.
Now then, if you feel left out of meaningful membership in the Muslim Ummah, or if you suspect that you might be the only rightly-guided Muslim in your community then, first of all, be assured that your efforts will not go unrewarded with Allah, regardless of what might be the fate of the rest of your colleagues in Faith.
Indeed, [We said to all the prophets]: this [faith]-community of yours is one community, and I am your Lord, so worship only Me. But [succeeding generations] divided their faith among themselves. Yet all shall return to Us [for Judgment]. So whoever does any act of righteousness— and is a believer— then never shall his effort be denied [its reward]. For, indeed, We Ourself shall write it down for him. But [as for] any [sinful] city that We [decree to] destroy, their return [to faith] is [thereafter] forbidden. [Sûrah Al-Anbiyâ’, 21:92-94]
Hudhaifah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: “Do not let yourselves be ‘yes-men’, saying: ‘If the people are good then we will be good, and if they are wrong then we will be wrong.’ Rather, make up your own minds, if the people are good then you are good, and if they are evil, then do not [let yourselves] behave unjustly.” (Tirmidhi)
On the other hand, we can be encouraged by the saḥiḥ [authentic] Hadith which indicates that Prophet Muhammad’s Ummah will never agree upon error.
Thawban narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: “I fear for my Ummah only from misguiding A’immah [religious and political leadership: the imams].” He added that the Messenger of Allah said: “There will never cease to be a group from my Ummah manifest upon the truth; they will not be harmed by those who forsake them —up until the time when Allah’s Decree comes.” (Tirmidhi 2229)
Of course, we will look to join the ideal group of Muslims who manifest the truth of Islam in all its aspects and in all the group’s activities. But suppose your search does not turn up a serious-minded local group of God-fearing and God-responding Muslims? How can you work to bring about such a group?
Again, the answer is straightforward: You begin by making sure that you yourself take seriously all of the foundational pillar-practices. Start with your own humble example of performing Ṣalâh, Zakah and Sawm. Of honoring Tawhid in your understanding, speech, and action. Of performing the once-in-a-lifetime Hajj, as soon as you are able. Then ask Allah how to raise the interest of your local group in maximizing their benefit through practicing the fundamentals of our Dîn. Perhaps you can ask your local imâm or khatîb to focus attention in his khutbah on perfecting our Five Pillars.
…To be continued in Part 19