principle24 “And those who strive for Us - We will surely guide them to our ways”

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principle24 “And those who strive for Us - We will surely guide them to our ways”

By Prof. ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdullaah al-Muqbil

Published on 28/10/1430 A.H.

 

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. And may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon our Prophet, leader and master, Muhammad ibn Abdullah and upon his Companions and all those who follow them in righteousness until the Day of Judgement. 

This is another reflection on one aspect of this blessed series. So let us reflect on one of the Qur’anic principles that the Book of Allah Almighty is replet with. This principle is mentioned in the words of Allah Almighty:

And those who strive for Us - We will surely guide them to our ways. And, indeed, Allah is with the doers of good[Al-‘Ankaboot : 69].

This Nobel verse comes at the end of Surat Al-Ankaboot. The very same chapter opens with the verses in which Allah Almighty says:

Alif, Laam, Meem. Do the people think that they will be left to say, "We believe" and they will not be tested? But We have certainly tested those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars[Al-Ankaboot : 1-3].

 

 

It is as though this last verse,

 “And those who strive for Us - We will surely guide them to our ways”which outlines this Qur’anic principle is a response to those among the Believers who might, after reading the opening verses of the chapter, ask, “What route do we take to escape the trials and tribulations described to us at the beginning of Surat Al-Ankaboot?”

And hence comes the answer at the end of the chapter in the verse which is a perfect Qur’anic principle: “And those who strive for Us - We will surely guide them to our ways…”.

Thus, Jihad, in its general meaning (i.e. to strive  against one’s whims) along with sincerity, are mandatory on our way to Allah to attain guidance and achieve success.

It is necessary for any person who undertakes the task of Da’wa [calling others to Allah] to fathom and realize the difficulties he encounter on his way to Allah. Things will not run smoothly. Rather, it is the path where Prophet Adam was afflicted with hardships; Prophet Nooh (Noah) groaned with pain; Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) was thrown into the fire; Prophet Ismaeel (Ishmel) was set to be slaughtered; Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) was sold for a meagerly gain and was unjustly thrown into prison for some years[1].

Reason behind these afflicions 

Dear honorble reader, these affliction are due to the fact that faith is not just a word that one utters. Rather, it is a reality that necessitates certain tasks and obligations. It is also a burdensome entrustment, and a struggle that requires perseverance, and effort that requires patience and determination. It is, therefore, not enough for people to say, “We have believed”. For they will not be left to carry the burden of the call to Allah The Almighty without being tested so that they might emerge purified of all that contaminates their deeds, and so that their hearts too might be purified. This is a process that is similar to the way fire purifies gold and rids it of the impurities that mix themselves with it. Hence, trials and tribulations purify hearts from the impurities that mix themselves with them[2].

Therefore, whoever sets himself for Da’wa and undertakes the mission of Allah’s Messngers who were sent to call people to the way of Allah must  be firm, steadfast anddeterminant in enduring all the trials that befall him. Indeed misfortune makes men, forms good manners, and builds character. A man who does not experience misfortunes and is not befallen with trials and tribulations cannot take on the burden of rectifying affairs and setting matters aright, nor can he call others to the truth. So accustom yourself to the endurance of afflictions, and give of what you can on your way to Allah of effort and property so that Allah The Almighty might guide you to a path of rightful guidance, and use you to rectify scores of people and, indeed, nations.

And those who strive for Us - We will surely guide them to our ways. And, indeed, Allah is with the doers of good[3]

Honoroble readers, if you are able to recognize the relationship between the Qur’anic principle outlined in this final verse of the Surat Al-‘Ankaboot, and the verses that open the chapter, you will see that the implications of this principle in the field of Da’wa are significant and very vast.

It follows that anyone seeking to attain guidance and success while on the path of calling others to Allah, he must abide by the two basic fundamentals outlined in this principle:

1.Striving and making the effort towards achieving the objectives laid out on the path towards Allah The Almighty.
2.Sincerity, for Allah The Almighty says, {And those who strive for Us}. And so one’s struggle must not be for the purpose of raising one’s stature among people or for the purpose of benefiting any given group at the expense of another. Nor must it be for the purpose of attaining any worldly gain, rank or reputation. Rather, it is a struggle undertaken purely for the sake of Allah Almighty.
While sincerity is a condition for the acceptance of any deed, it is perhaps stressed in this verse because those who call others to Allah The Almighty or undertake any good deed might be influenced and thus have the sincerity jeopardized by the popularity attained by other callers, or the wealth attained by other speakers. For this reason, it was necessary to draw attention to this all-important principle and fundamental condition for the acceptance of any deed.

There is another reason why attention is drawn to the issue of sincerity. Namely, while a caller to Allah might start out on his mission with sincere intention, the light of that sincerity may often times be extinguished with the attainment of popularity, wealth, recognition and with the onset of desires to attain stature and fame.

 

 

There are many consequences brought on by losing sincerity. At its worst possible level, it completely uproots faith; and in lesser degrees it leaves cracks within one’s religious conviction - cracks through which Satan may climb through (and cause more evil)[4].  For all these reasons, it is not unusual that the importance of sincerity be stressed even further in this greatly important context - the context of struggle and effort. 

Once established that this chapter was revealed in the Meccan period – and that is the more correct of the scholarly views – it is understood that the word ‘Jihad’ does not carry its specific meaning of war, as war had not been ordained upon the Muslims back then. The verse: “And those who strive for Us - We will surely guide them to our ways” therefore, carries a tremendously significant meaning. Namely, that one of the greatest forms of jihad or struggle is patience and perseverance throughout the two different forms of trials and tribulations. These are the trials alluded to at the beginning of the Surat, and they are trials that are the result of either contentment or of hardship and suffering.   

Dear contemplative reader, this Qur’anic principle “And those who strive for Us -We will surely guide them to our ways” also reveals another important point, and one mentioned by Imam Ibnul Qayyim who said: “The most well guided people are those who strive the most in their struggle against evil. And that the most mandatory of all struggles is that against the evil of one’s whims and desires and the luring enticements of the worldly life. And so whoever struggles against these four enemies, Allah The Almighty will guide him to the paths by which he might attain Allah’s pleasure and Paradise. Conversely whoever should neglect this form of jihad is bereaved of guidance in accordance to the degree of negligence. Ibn al-Qayym contnued his words: “One will not be able to wage jihad against his external enemies until he has waged jihad against these internal enemies. Hence, whoever is able to defeat these internal enemies will be granted victory over his external enemies. But whosoever is defeated by his internal enemies, will ultimately be defeated by his external enemies”[5].

Some of the most prominent figures among the predecessors of this nation - as well as those who followed in their footsteps - have spoken words that shed more light on this fundamental principle.

In his comment on the verse “And those who strive for Us - We will surely guide them to our ways”, Junaid, may Allaah have mercy upon him, states that the verse means, “And those who strive against their whims by repenting, We will indeed lead them to the paths of sincerity.”

Scholars have also had much to say regarding this principle. For instance, Ahmed Ibn Abu al Hawary mentions that Abbass Ibn Ahmed mentioned to him that the verse, “And those who strive for Us - We will surely guide them to our ways”means ‘Those who practice what they have learned, will be guided to learning what they have yet to learn.”

What this great scholar has said is in fact stated in a non-Prophetic report that states, “Whoever practices what they have learned will be granted knowledge of what they have yet to learn”. This principle is also stated in the verse,

“And those who are guided - He increases them in guidance and gives them their righteousness”(Muhammad: 17)

‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-Aziz, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “Our ignorance stems from not practicing what we have learned. And if we would only practice what we learn, Allaah The Almighty would open our hearts to that which we had no expectation of being guided to[6].”

Practicing this principle in life of Muslims

It is important that we take the principle outlined in Surat-Al-Ankaboot into consideration when dealing with the different realities life presents. And so, for instance, a person taking care of his parents while they are old and ailing should bear this principle in mind; a knowledge seeker who finds the path longer and more arduous than he had expected should keep this principle in mind; whoever takes the time to teach young Muslims the Book of Allah, but finds that he has fallen back  in his determination is especially in need of keeping this principle in mind.  

To conclude, everyone who undertakes any righteous deed, whether on individual or collective levels, must contemplate this principle often. For in it lies comfort along the path of those who strive towards their Lord. Indeed, a believer is bound to forget all hardship and pain just as soon as he sets foot into Paradise. We implore Allah The Almighty to grant us, our parents and our children inhabitancy in His Paradise, and that He allow us to become of those who call to it.   

 

 

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[1]See the book Al-fawaa’id (p.42).

[2]Fi Dhilal Al Qur’an.

[3]A statement by al-Manfalouty, who excerpted from a the book maqalat le kibaar kutab al-Arabiyyah by Prof. Mohammed El Hamd (vol.1, p.213).

 

[4]Khuluq al-Muslim (p. 66) by Mohammed al-Ghazaali.

[5]Al-Fawaa’id (p.59)

 

[6]Dar’ al-Ta’arud (vol.4, p.358)

 

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