Fruits for the Week

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Brothers in Islam! Who are true Muslims? Let us see what Allah (swt) and His messenger have to say about their lives and hearts: “Say, my prayer and my sacrifices, and my living and my dying are for God alone. The Lord of all the worlds. No partner has He. Thus I have been commanded, and I am foremost among those who surrender unto Him.” (Al-An’am)

The same theme is elucidated by the Prophet (saw): “One who loves for the sake of Allah alone and hates for the sake of Allah alone; and whatever he gives, gives for the sake of Allah alone, and whatever he withholds for the sake of Allah alone indeed, he perfects his iman.” (Abu Dawud)

The Qur’an makes clear what Allah (swt) demands of you. You should devote yourself wholly to the service of Allah (swt), you should live for Him alone. You, and the world around you, entirely belong to Allah (swt); let nobody have a share in what belongs to Allah (swt). That is to say, you should not serve anyone but Him, nor live or die for anyone but Him.

The Prophet (saw) explains what the Qur’an had said. To be a true believer your love and enmity for everything, all your affections, all relations and transactions in your lives, should have only one purpose: to seek Allah’s pleasure. Without this your iman itself will not be complete; the possibility of rising higher in the sight of Allah (swt) does not arise. The greater the deficiency in this respect, the more defective the iman.

Some people think that these qualities are required only to reach higher spiritual stations and are not essential to Iman and Islam. In other words, even without these qualities a person can be a good Mu’min and a Muslim. This mistaken notion has arisen because people in general do not differentiate between legal Islam and true Islam which alone is truly authentic in the sight of Allah (swt).

Two types of Islam:

1.Legal Islam

Under legal Islam, on which jurists and states must base their dealings, what lies in your hearts and minds is not taken into account, nor can it be. Your verbal affirmation and those essential signs which must flow out of that affirmation are accepted as sufficient evidence of your Islam. Anyone who affirms by word of mouth the belief in Allah (swt), the Messenger, the Qur’an, the Hereafter and other articles of faith, and who also fulfils those necessary conditions which provide proof of his affirmation, is considered part of Muslim society and all dealings with him are to be conducted as with a Muslim.

This definition provides the legal and cultural basis on which Muslim society is organized. Its purpose is no more than that all those who enter into the Muslim ummah are recognized as Muslims; nobody from among them can be called a kafir; every one of them must have the same mutual legal, moral and social right; they should be entitled to marry among Muslims; they should be eligible to receive their share in inheritance; all other civil relations should be established with them.

2.True Islam

However, in the worlds-to-come, you cannot be judged as a Muslim and a Mu’min on the basis of this legal affirmation, nor on this basis will Allah (swt) accept you as one of His chosen servants. What will count then is having faith in hearts, and willingly and wholly submitting lives to Allah (swt). Whatever is verbally affirmed is meant for courts and for the common man and the Muslim society. For they can only see the exterior, but Allah (swt) sees deep into your hearts and knows precisely the degree of your iman.

How will He judge a man? Allah (swt) will see whether he lived and died for Him alone, whether his loyalties to Him superseded all other loyalties, whether his obedience and his service, indeed his entire life, were devoted only to Him. If they were solely for Allah (swt), then he will be judged a Mu’min and a Muslim, but if they were for someone else, then he will not be judged a Muslim or a Mu’min. whoever falls short of this criterion, will to the extent he falls short, be lacking in Iman and Islam, irrespective of how important a Muslim, the world may judge him and of any high positions he may hold. With Allah (swt), only one thing matters: whether or not you have given away in His way all that He has given you.

If you have, you be granted the reward which is reserved for those who are loyal and render the service that is due. But if your submission has been less than total, if you spare any part of your life from His service, your claim to be Muslims, which implies that you have wholly given up yourselves to Allah (swt), will be a deceptive claim.

Although you may be able to mislead the world and persuade the Muslim society to grant you its membership and all the rights of Muslims, Allah (swt) cannot be deceived into assigning a place for you among His faithful.

Reflect on the differences between legal Islam and true Islam and you can see that their consequences will vary greatly, not only in the Hereafter but also in this world; the life pursuits, character and disposition of a true Muslims will be totally different from one who merely parades the outward trappings of faith. You will always encounter these two types of Muslims.

(To be continued)

by Abul A’la Maududi