The 74th Call: The Reward of Believing in Allah and Fearing Him
Almighty Allah says (what can be translated as): “O you who have believed, fear Allah and believe in His Messenger; He will [then] give you a double portion of His mercy and make for you a light by which you will walk and forgive you; and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Al-Hadid: 28)
Almighty Allah encourages the believers among the People of Scripture, the Jews and the Christians, to fear Allah and avoid the prohibitions. He commands to believe in His Messenger Muhammad, Peace Be upon Him. Allah promises them that if they believe in Muhammad, fear Allah and do good deeds, they will be rewarded with double portion of His mercy because of believing in their Prophet, and the Prophets who preceded Muhammad, Peace Be upon Him, while the other reward is for believing in Muhammad. Allah will make for them guidance and light by which they will walk, this light will protect them from blindness and misguidance. Allah will also forgive their former sins. Allah teaches them that His mercy is vast for whom He wills, He is Merciful and Forgiving to His servants and He accepts their repentance if they repent sincerely.
(It is narrated that this verse was revealed when the believers among the People of Scripture acted snobbish towards the Companions of the Prophet, Peace Be upon Him, when the verse: “Those will be given their reward twice for what they patiently endured,” was revealed, so Allah gives also to the Muslims double the reward and He increases their light.)
It is narrated that the Prophet, Peace Be upon Him said: “There are three who will be given their reward twice: a man among the People of the Book who believed in his Prophet then believed in me; a slave who fulfills his duty towards Allah and towards his master; and a man who has a slave woman and educates her and teaches her good manners, then he frees her and marries her.)
Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Umamah said: (On the day of the Conquest of Makkah I was walking alongside the Messenger of Allah as he was riding, and he said some very beautiful words, including the following: “Whoever among the people of the two Books becomes Muslim, he will have his reward twice, and he has the same rights and duties as we do. Whoever among the idolaters becomes Muslim will have one reward, and he has the same rights and duties as we do.”)
That first Muslim community, which was being prepared for this great role, consisted of ordinary human beings. Its elite were the Muhajirin and Ansar whose concept of their new faith had matured and who now dedicated themselves to it completely. They understood the truth of their existence as part of the existence of the universe. Thus, they realized that they were part of Allah’s will manifested in the universe. They neither deviated from it nor lagged behind in their march with it. They were, in fact, as they are described in the last verse of the surah: “You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred. Those - He has decreed within their hearts faith and supported them with spirit from Him. And We will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him - those are the party of Allah . Unquestionably, the party of Allah - they are the successful.” (Verse 22)
This elite group formed a minority in the ever-increasing numbers that swelled the Muslim community's ranks, particularly after it came to be held in awe and this before Makkah had fallen to Islam. People flocked to the Muslim community but without having received enough Islamic education or having lived long enough in an Islamic environment. Moreover, hypocrites found their way into the Muslim community, trying to serve their own interests or avoid personal trouble, These vacillated between the Muslim community and its still powerful opponents, whether idolaters or Jews.
To educate this community in preparation for its great and important role in the world at large, this required strenuous effort, patience and stow but sure treatment in small and serious manners alike. All in all, it was a major social engineering project that Islam and the Prophet undertook. It sought to build individuals who could establish an Islamic society and an Islamic state based on the divine constitution. Each person had to understand this code of livings implement it and carry it to the world at large in the form of a vibrant society. It was not therefore a mere theory devoid of substance.
In this surah and several surahs that follow, we are shown some practical examples of this great endeavor as well as some aspects of the Qur’anic method of building the Islamic character and dealing with events, personal whims and habits. We also see some aspects of the long conflict between Islam and its opponents; Jews, idolaters and hypocrites.
This Surah in particular gives us an inspiring image of the care Allah took of this fledgling Muslim community as He provided it with a sound education and purged its unwanted streaks, developing His presence within its consciousness. He showed the Muslim community that He was with them looking after even their most private affairs and minor events, protecting it from its enemies' schemes, whether subdue or apparent. Allah had placed it fully under His care and, therefore, He molded its morality, manners, habits and traditions. Those Muslims formed His party in human society and they carried His banner, identifying themselves as His people on earth.
Thus the surah draws right at the start a picture from that unique period of human history, characterized by direct contact between heaven and earth, and with heaven's direct involvement in the daily life of this particular group of people: “Certainly has Allah heard the speech of the one who argues with you, [O Muhammad], concerning her husband and directs her complaint to Allah. And Allah hears your dialogue; indeed, Allah is Hearing and Seeing.” (Verse 1) What we see here is the involvement of heaven, providing judgment, in the ordinary affair of a small, poor family Allah listened to the woman's argument as she pleaded with the Prophet, yet 'A'ishah, the Prophet’s wife who was nearby, could hardly hear her. This picture fills us with the pleasure of feeling Allah to be near us, taking care of our concerns.
The surah then confirms that those who contend with Allah and His Messenger, i.e. enemies of the Muslim community, are destined to be the losers on earth and to endure humiliation and suffering in the life to come. They will be punished for their evil deeds which Allah reckons but they forget, even though these are their own deeds: ''On the Day when Allah will resurrect them all and inform them of what they did. Allah had enumerated it, while they forgot it; and Allah is, over all things, Witness." (Verse 6)
This is followed by a reminder that Allah is present when any group of people, three or more, engage in secret discussion, thinking that they are totally unobserved. Allah is with them wherever they happen to be: "Then He will inform them of what they did, on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed Allah is, of all things, Knowing." (Verse 7) Our feelings of Allah’s presence are here enhanced by the realization that He is fully aware of all that takes place.
This reminder of Allah’s presence serves as preparation for the warning issued to those who in their secret conversations conspire to harm the Muslims and cause them grief. They are warned that Allah sees all their scheming and records all their conspiring. He knows what they intend of sin, aggression and disobedience of Allah’s Messenger. They are told that Allah will take them to account for all this. He will punish them as they deserve to be punished. The Muslims are also issued with a command not to speak in secret about anything that is in conflict with righteousness and Allah-consciousness.
The surah continues with its purpose of educating the Muslim community, urging the believers to adopt good and friendly manners, showing their obedience, when they attend the Prophet’s circle or any circle of study or worship. It lays down some rules for discussion with the Prophet, highlighting the seriousness of such discussion.
Addressing them as 'believers touches their hearts tenderly. It arouses in them their sense of belief and reminds them of their duty to give their faith its due. It brings alive their bond with their Lord who addresses them by this quality that is so dear to them. It is on the basis of this bond that they are called upon to be Allah-fearing and to believe in His Messenger. Thus, such belief possesses a special meaning, one that reflects true faith and all its practical manifestations.
“O you who have believed, fear Allah and believe in His Messenger; He will [then] give you a double portion of His mercy…” (Verse 28) This is an unusual expression speaking of a double measure of Allah’s mercy, which is indivisible. It is enough that Allah's mercy should touch a person for that person to receive it in fill. The wording here gives a feeling of extended mercy and kindness, “…and make for you a light by which you will walk…” (Verse 28) This is a reference to a divine gift: which Allah bestows on hearts that are truly conscious of Him, fear Him, and truly believe in His Messenger. This gift makes those hearts beam with light so as to see the truth, see beyond appearances shedding the covers and barriers that try to screen it. Thus, they are not prone to confusion, nor do they follow divergent ways, they will be given a light to walk in. “…and forgive you; and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful…” (Verse 28) No matter how much light a person has, he remains human: he may slip despite knowing the way. Hence, he needs Allah’s forgiveness and mercy.