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Morals and Morality
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

After faith, the second important requirement of religion is purification of morals. This means that a person should cleanse his attitude both towards his creator and towards his fellow human beings. This is what is termed as a righteous deed. All the shari‘ah is its corollary. With the change and evolution in societies and civilizations, the shari‘ah has indeed changed; however faith and righteous deeds, which are the foundations of religion, have not undergone any change. The Qur’an is absolutely clear that any person who brings forth these two things before the Almighty on the Day of Judgement will be blessed with Paradise which shall be his eternal abode:

وَمَنْ يَأْتِهِ مُؤْمِنًا قَدْ عَمِلَ الصَّالِحَاتِ فَأُوْلَئِكَ لَهُمُ الدَّرَجَاتُ الْعُلَى  جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَذَلِكَ جَزَاء مَن تَزَكَّى (٢٠: ٧٥-٧٦)

And he who comes before Him as a believer having done righteous deeds, exalted ranks are for such people, evergreen gardens beneath which streams flow. They shall abide therein forever and this shall be the reward of those that keep themselves pure. (20:75-76)

It is doing these righteous deeds which is termed as sound moral behaviour and while the emanation of unrighteous ones is termed as immoral behaviour. The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said: بعثت لأتمم مكارم الأخلاق  إنما (I have been sent to achieve the culmination of high moral standards).1 He is also reported to have said:

“The best among you are those who are morally sound from others.”2

“These are the people who are very dear to me.”3

“On the Day of Judgement, it will be high moral behaviour which will carry most weight in the scales of a person.”4

“A believer achieves the same rank through high moral behaviour as can be achieved through fasts and the night prayers.”5

Basic Issues

وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا  قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَنْ زَكَّاهَا  وَقَدْ خَابَ مَنْ دَسَّاهَا (٩١: ٧-١٠)

And the soul bears witness and the perfection given to it. Then [God] inspired it with its evil and its good that he succeeded who purified it and he failed who corrupted it. (91:7-10)

What is the means through which a person can know what good and evil is? This is the most fundamental question of moral philosophy. In the above quoted verses, the Qur’an has made it clear that just as the Almighty has blessed a person with eyes to see and ears to hear, similarly, he has blessed him with a faculty which distinguishes good and evil for him. A person is not mere body and intellect. He is also a moral being. This means that the ability to distinguish good from evil and the appreciation that good is good and evil is evil are innately ordained in him. In some other verses of the Qur’an, this aspect is referred to by the words:  إِنَّا  هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ (٧٦: ٣ (We inspired in him the way of good and evil, (76:3)) and(90: 10)  وَهَدَيْنَاهُ النَّجْدَيْنِ (Have We not shown him both paths? (90:10)). This appreciation of good from evil is a universal reality. Thus when the most evil of persons does something wrong, he tries to hide it in the first phase. When Adam’s son, Cain, tried to hide the body of his brother, Abel, after killing him, it was because he knew that he had committed a sin. Same is the case with good. A person loves what is good and respects and reveres it. When he establishes a society, he always sets up a system of justice in it. This is ample testimony of his innate ability to distinguish between good and evil. No doubt, at times, a person may justify a sin he commits, however, at the very time he invents excuses for this justification, he very well knows that he is inventing these excuses against his nature. The reason for this is that if someone else commits the same sin against him, he regards it to be an evil without any hesitation, and vehemently protests against that person. The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said: “Virtue is professing high morals and sin is that which pricks your heart and you would not like others to come to know of it.”6 It is this part of a person that the Qur’an has termed as nafs-i lawwamah (the reproaching soul)7 and has unequivocally stated:

بَلْ الْإِنسَانُ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ بَصِيرَةٌ وَلَوْ أَلْقَى مَعَاذِيرَهُ (٧٥: ١٤-١٥)

In fact, man himself is a witness upon his own self however much he may put up excuses. (75:14-15)

However, in the interpretation of this innate ability to distinguish between good and evil, there could have been differences because of different circumstances and periods of time and because of a variation in perception between people themselves. It is a great blessing of the Almighty that He has not even left any possibility for such differences and wherever there could have been a likelihood of any major difference, He delineated good and evil through His messengers. The guidance provided by these messengers is now eternally enshrined in the Qur’an. This guidance testifies to whatever a person finds within himself. Furthermore, man’s intuitive knowledge, in fact even his empirical knowledge, knowledge derived from natural and physical laws as well knowledge derived from intellect all bear witness to it. Consequently, good and bad morals, as a result of this, can be fully ascertained.

In some narratives this aspect has been explained through a parable: A straight path leads to the destination a person wants to reach. At both its sides are high walls. Both have doors in them on which curtains are hung. At the end of the path, there is a caller calling out to enter and to walk straight. In spite of this if a person wants to lift the curtains of the doors in the right and left walls, a caller from the top says: “Beware! Do not lift the curtains. If you lift them you will go inside.” It was explained: This path is Islam, the walls are the limits prescribed by God, and doors are His prohibitions. The caller from the top is the counselor of God which is found in the heart of every human being, and the caller at the end of the path is the Qur’an:8

إِنَّ هَـذَا الْقُرْآنَ يِهْدِي لِلَّتِي هِيَ أَقْوَمُ وَيُبَشِّرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ الَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا كَبِيرًا (٩:١٧)

Indeed this Qur’an gives guidance to the path which is the most upright and gives glad tidings of a great reward to those among its believers who do good deeds. (17:9)

The second question is: What is the real motive which impels a person to purify his morals? The answer which the Qur’an has given to this question in the verses (91:7-10) quoted earlier is that this motive is a person’s perception which, on the basis of this very innate cognizance of good and evil, says that the results of good and evil cannot be the same. He feels that the very existence of the perception of good being good and evil being evil entails that the result of good should be good and that of evil should be evil. It becomes evident from this that a person will not be left unaccountable for his deeds; he will definitely be rewarded or punished as a result of his deeds. The Qur’an has referred to this fate as success and failure respectively. As a result of this the feelings of fear and hope arise in a person and become a source and motivation for him to cleanse his morals even though his natural instincts oppose this. Then when a person professes faith, this feeling relates to the Almighty. It is now that the Qur’an requires of him that the real motive of adhering to good morals and refraining from evil morals should only be the love of God, His pleasure and the fear of His displeasure – the God who knows the unseen, Who knows the secrets and is fully aware of every movement that goes on in this world as well as the slightest of change that takes place in the minds and hearts. The Qur’an has stated this aspect at many places. At one instance after emphasizing the fulfillment of obligations, it says:

فَآتِ ذَا الْقُرْبَى حَقَّهُ وَالْمِسْكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ لِّلَّذِينَ يُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَ اللَّهِ وَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ (٣٨:٣٠)

So give their due to the next of kin, to the destitute, and to the traveler. That is best for those who want to please God; and it is these who shall surely prosper. (30:38)

The best examples of these morals are the prophets of God. About the Prophet Muhammad (sws), the Qur’an says:

الَّذِي يُؤْتِي مَالَهُ يَتَزَكَّى وَمَا لِأَحَدٍ عِنْدَهُ مِنْ نِعْمَةٍ تُجْزَى  إِلَّا ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ رَبِّهِ الْأَعْلَى(٩٢: ١٨ -٢٠)

Who spends his wealth to purify his soul, and does not confer favours on anyone for recompense but only to seek the countenance of his Lord, Most High. (92:18-20)

It is generally accepted that the foundation of good deeds is good intention. The Prophet (sws) has also referred to this fact in these subtle words: إنَّما الأَعْمَال باالنِّياَت (The deeds of a person are based on his intentions)9. This motive cleanses a person’s intentions completely. Thus none of his deeds after this is for show and pretence, and if it is then he soon or late tries to cleanse it of such filth.

The most effective explanation of this directive of the Qur’an is reported by Abu Hurayrah. He narrates from the Prophet (sws) that on the Day of Reckoning the foremost among people whose fate shall be decided would be scholars of the Qur’an or those who had been killed in jihad or those who have been blessed with wealth by the Almighty. They shall be brought over and the Almighty will remind them of His favours. They will acknowledge these favours. The Almighty will then inquire from them: “What did you do in benefiting from them?” The scholar will reply: “I was educated and then I educated others and recited the Qur’an before other people to call them towards You.” The soldier will say: “I fought in Your way and was killed.” The rich person will say: “I spent on every occasion on which you are pleased on spending.” The Almighty will say: “All of this was done by you so that people should call you a scholar, a brave person and a generous person [respectively]; so you have been called so in the world.” It shall thus be ordered and they shall be dragged facewards into Hell.10

The third question which relates to moral philosophy is: What is the objective of this effort? People have given different answers to this question. One group of people thinks that it is happiness. Another group is of the opinion that it is perfection. A third regards it to be an obligation for the sake of it. The above quoted verses (91:7-10) clearly say that this objective is purification as a result of which man shall be bestowed with God’s eternal kingdom. A little deliberation shows that this answer of the Qur’an automatically encompasses all the viewpoints of moral scholars just referred to. This is because it is through purification of faith and deeds that a person achieves perfection; true happiness is also achieved through this and if ever an obligation is discharged without any greed, then it is through this. It is this state of the soul which the Qur’an calls the “satisfied soul” and gives it glad tidings of being the recipient of the pleasure of God and vice versa:

يَاأَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ ارْجِعِي إِلَى رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَرْضِيَّةً فَادْخُلِي فِي عِبَادِي وادْخُلِي جَنَّتِي(٨٩ :٢٧-٣٠)

O you whose heart remained content [with his Lord in times of comfort and distress] return unto your Lord, such that He is pleased with you and you are pleased with Him. [Return] and enter among My servants and enter My Paradise. (89:27-30)

 Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

These words are a tribute from God. It shall be addressed to people who shall be congratulated for achieving great success in the sphere they had been tested by their Lord. They should return to their Lord with the achievement that they have proven in good and bad circumstances that they were content with the will of their Lord and at the same time they have been granted the coveted status of being the favoured ones of the Lord. Just as they have never complained to Him at any stage, in the same manner their Lord has not found them below His standards at any stage. They are pleased with Him and He is pleased with them.11

Fundamental Principle

إِنَّ اللّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاء ذِي الْقُرْبَى وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاء وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ (٩٠:١٦)

God enjoins you to do justice, goodness and spending on the kindred, and forbids lewdness, evil and arrogance. He admonishes you so that you may take heed. (16:90)

Outlined in these verses is the fundamental principle of the guidance provided by the Qur’an in this regard. The bases on which man’s nature requires of him to adopt good morals and leave bad ones are explained in these verses. These principles of good and evil are in conformity with human nature and hence they have been acknowledged in divine religions. The ten commandments of the Torah are based on these and the Qur’an too has actually explained them as part of its moral directives.

We shall elucidate them here.

The first thing which the verse directs is justice. This means that whatever obligation is imposed on a person viz a viz a fellow human, he discharges it the way it exactly is and in an impartial manner, whether his fellow human being is weak or powerful and whether he is liked or disliked by us. The Qur’an says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاء لِلّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالأَقْرَبِينَ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقَيرًا فَاللّهُ أَوْلَى بِهِمَا فَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ الْهَوَى أَن تَعْدِلُواْ وَإِن تَلْوُواْ أَوْ تُعْرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا (١٣٥:٤)

Believers, adhere to justice by bearing true witness before God, even though it be against yourselves, your parents, or your kinsfolk. If someone is rich or poor, God is worthy that His law be followed for both. So do not be led by base-desires, lest you swerve from the truth. If you distort your testimony or decline to give it, you should remember that God is well aware of all your deeds. (4:135)

 يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ لِلّهِ شُهَدَاء بِالْقِسْطِ وَلاَ يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَى أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ اعْدِلُواْ هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ إِنَّ اللّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ (٨:٥)

Believers, adhere to justice by bearing witness for God. Your animosity for some people should not induce you to turn away from justice. Be just; this is nearer to piety. Have fear of God; indeed, God is well aware of all your deeds. (5:8)

 The second thing mentioned in the verse is goodness (ihsan). It is over and above justice and is the pinnacle of ethics and morality. It means that not only should a right be fulfilled, it should also be fulfilled in a manner that a person is generous and considerate in this regard. A person should give more than what is due on him and should be happy to take what is less than his due. It is this attitude which develops in a society the values of sympathy, compassion, sacrifice, sincerity, gratitude and magnanimity. It is a result of these values that life becomes sweet and blessed.

The third thing mentioned is spending on the near ones. It is one of the most important corollaries of goodness and determines one of its specific forms. It means that the near ones are not merely worthy of justice and goodness from a person, they also deserve to be thought of as having a share in one’s wealth. They should never be abandoned in case of need and deprivation and like a person’s own family, their needs should also, as far as possible, be generously fulfilled.

In contrast, the verse has prohibited three things also.

The first of these is lewdness. It connotes fornication, homosexuality and similar acts of lewdness.

The second thing is evil. It refers to sins which mankind has generally recognized as sins, has always called them sins and so obvious is the evil in them that no argument is needed to prove it. In every good tradition of religion and culture, they are regarded as bad. At another instance, the Qur’an, by using the word ithm for them, has clarified that they connote acts which are instrumental in usurping the rights of others.

The third thing is arrogance and rebelliousness. This of course means that a person takes undue advantage of his power and influence, exceeds his limits and tries to usurp the rights of others whether they are of his Creator or of his fellow human beings. The Qu’an says:

قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ (٣٣:٧)

Tell them: “My Lord has forbidden all lewd acts – whether hidden or open – and evil and wrongful rebelliousness.” (7:33)

Moral Standards

لاَّ تَجْعَل مَعَ اللّهِ إِلَـهًا آخَرَ فَتَقْعُدَ مَذْمُومًا مَّخْذُولاً  وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلاَّ تَعْبُدُواْ إِلاَّ إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلاَهُمَا فَلاَ تَقُل لَّهُمَآ أُفٍّ وَلاَ تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلاً كَرِيمًا  وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا  رَّبُّكُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا فِي نُفُوسِكُمْ إِن تَكُونُواْ صَالِحِينَ فَإِنَّهُ كَانَ لِلأَوَّابِينَ غَفُورًا  وَآتِ ذَا الْقُرْبَى حَقَّهُ وَالْمِسْكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَلاَ تُبَذِّرْ تَبْذِيرًا  إِنَّ الْمُبَذِّرِينَ كَانُواْ إِخْوَانَ الشَّيَاطِينِ وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِرَبِّهِ كَفُورًا  وَإِمَّا تُعْرِضَنَّ عَنْهُمُ ابْتِغَاء رَحْمَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكَ تَرْجُوهَا فَقُل لَّهُمْ قَوْلاً مَّيْسُورًا  وَلاَ تَجْعَلْ يَدَكَ مَغْلُولَةً إِلَى عُنُقِكَ وَلاَ تَبْسُطْهَا كُلَّ الْبَسْطِ فَتَقْعُدَ مَلُومًا مَّحْسُورًا  إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاء وَيَقْدِرُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ بِعِبَادِهِ خَبِيرًا بَصِيرًا  وَلاَ تَقْتُلُواْ أَوْلادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلاقٍ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُم إنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْءًا كَبِيرًا  وَلاَ تَقْرَبُواْ الزِّنَى إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَسَاء سَبِيلاً  وَلاَ تَقْتُلُواْ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللّهُ إِلاَّ بِالحَقِّ وَمَن قُتِلَ مَظْلُومًا فَقَدْ  جَعَلْنَا لِوَلِيِّهِ سُلْطَانًا فَلاَ يُسْرِف فِّي الْقَتْلِ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مَنْصُورًا  وَلاَ تَقْرَبُواْ مَالَ الْيَتِيمِ إِلاَّ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ حَتَّى يَبْلُغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَأَوْفُواْ بِالْعَهْدِ إِنَّ الْعَهْدَ كَانَ مَسْؤُولاً  وَأَوْفُوا الْكَيْلَ إِذا كِلْتُمْ وَزِنُواْ بِالقِسْطَاسِ الْمُسْتَقِيمِ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلاً  وَلاَ تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولـئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْؤُولاً  وَلاَ تَمْشِ فِي الأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّكَ لَن تَخْرِقَ الأَرْضَ وَلَن تَبْلُغَ الْجِبَالَ طُولاً  كُلُّ ذَلِكَ كَانَ سَيٍّئُهُ عِنْدَ رَبِّكَ مَكْرُوهًا  ذَلِكَ مِمَّا أَوْحَى إِلَيْكَ رَبُّكَ مِنَ الْحِكْمَةِ وَلاَ تَجْعَلْ مَعَ اللّهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ فَتُلْقَى فِي جَهَنَّمَ مَلُومًا مَّدْحُورًا (١٧: ٢٢-٣٩)

Serve no other god except God, lest [on the Day of Judgement] you are left blameworthy and disgraceful. And [remember that] your Lord has enjoined you to worship none but Him, and to treat well your parents. If either or both of them attain old age in your life, show them no sign of impatience, nor scold them while answering; but speak to them with good etiquette and treat them with humility and tenderness and say: “Lord, be merciful to them the way they nursed me in childhood.” Your Lord fully knows what is in your hearts; if you remain obedient [to them, then you should know that] He forgives those who turn to Him. And give to the near of kin their due, and also the destitute and to the traveller. Do not squander your wealth wastefully, for the wasteful are Satan’s brothers; and Satan is ever-ungrateful to his Lord. And if you have to disregard [those in need] because you are seeking your Lord’s bounty of which you are waiting, then at least speak to them affectionately. And do not be miserly or prodigal [that as a result of it] you should either earn reproach or be reduced to indigence. Indeed your Lord gives abundantly to whom He pleases and sparingly to whom He pleases. He is aware of His servants and is observing them. And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them also and for you because killing them is a heinous crime.

And do not even go near adultery because it is blatant lewdness and a very evil path. And do not kill any man whose life has been held sacred by God, except for a just cause and [remember that] if a man is slain unjustly, We have given his heir the authority. Then he should also not exceed limits in his revenge because he has been helped. And do not approach the wealth of orphans except in a just manner, until they reach maturity. And keep your promises because you shall be held accountable for promises. Give full measure, when you measure, and weigh with correct scales. This is better and fairer as far as the consequences are concerned. And do not go after what you know not because eyes, ears, and heart – all of them shall be questioned. And do not walk conceitedly on the earth because neither can you split the earth, nor can you rival the mountains in stature. The evil of each of these to your Lord is very displeasing.

This is the wisdom which your Lord has revealed to you. [Hold on steadfastly to it] and [in the end, listen once again:] serve no other deity besides God, lest [as a result] you should be cast into Hell condemned and rejected. (17:22-39)

These verses explain the basic principle which has been concisely put earlier. They clearly state what is morally sound and what is morally unsound. A little deliberation shows that this section of verses begins with the prohibition of polytheism and also ends on its emphatic forbiddance. Such a style is adopted in the Qur’an to highlight the importance of something. Here, the objective is to delineate the fact that it is the belief in monotheism which is like a boundary wall which encircles the directives of religion mentioned in these verses. If this boundary wall is damaged everything that lies within it is exposed to danger. No doubt, this is the supreme status of monotheism which these verses mention. It is the greatest and the most fundamental requisite of justice which the Qur’an directs its followers to dispense. For this very reason, polytheism is called a great wrong (zulmun ‘azimun) by the Qur’an (31:13). The Qur’an has also clearly stated the result of this great wrong: it is an unforgivable sin in the eyes of God in retribution of which people shall be humiliated and thrown into Hell:

إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاء وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللّهِ فَقَدِ افْتَرَى إِثْمًا عَظِيمًا (٤٨:٤)

God will not forgive those who [deliberately] associate partners with Him; however, He will forgive lesser sins [according to His law] for whom He wills. And [without debt] he who associates partners with God is guilty of fabricating a great sin. (4:48)

What is polytheism? Associating other gods with God Almighty is termed as polytheism (shirk) in the terminology of the Qur’an. It means:

a) to regard someone to have the same genre as that of God or to regard God to have the same genre as someone; or

b) to regard someone to have a role in creation or in running the affairs of the creatures and in this manner make someone God’s peer to some extent or another.

Examples of the first type of polytheism are the beliefs of Christians and the Polytheists of Arabia about Jesus (sws) and Mary (sws) and about the angels respectively. The belief of wahdat al-wujud is another example of this.

Examples of the second type are the beliefs regarding Brahmans, Vishnu and Shiva in Hinduism and the beliefs regarding Ghaws, Qutb, Abdal, Data and Gharib Nawaz among Muslims. Belief in evil spirits and stars and in the powers of Satan also belong to this category of polytheism.

The Qur’an says:

قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ  اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ  لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ  وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ (١١٢: ١-٤)

Proclaim [O Prophet:]  That God is alone. He is rock of shelter for every one. He is neither anyone’s father nor anyone’s son; and there is none like Him. (1-4)

إِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ اللّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ استَوَى عَلَى الْعَرْشِ يُغْشِي اللَّيْلَ النَّهَارَ يَطْلُبُهُ حَثِيثًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ وَالنُّجُومَ مُسَخَّرَاتٍ بِأَمْرِهِ أَلاَ لَهُ الْخَلْقُ وَالأَمْرُ تَبَارَكَ اللّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ (٥٤:٧)

Your Lord is the God, who created the heavens and the earth in six days and then ascended His throne. He covers the day with the night which swiftly follows it. And He created the sun and the moon and the stars which are subservient to His command. Make it clear: He is the Creator and He runs the affairs as well. Blessed is God, Lord of the Universe. (7:54)

The adherents of these views also believe that the Almighty has granted these partners of God the ability to have access to a ghayb (the unseen) and the authority to change some decision of the Almighty in this world and in the Hereafter on their recommendation. The Qur’an has negated both these:

About the first, it says:

قُل لَّا يَعْلَمُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ الْغَيْبَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ أَيَّانَ يُبْعَثُونَ (٦٥:٢٧)

Say: “No one in the heavens or on earth has knowledge of the unseen except God [and those who are given this status of having access to the unseen] do not even know when they will be raised to life.” (27:65)

About the second, it says:

قُل لِّلَّهِ الشَّفَاعَةُ جَمِيعًا لَّهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ (٤٤:٣٩)

Say: “Intercession is wholly in the hands of God. To Him belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. Then to Him shall you be recalled.” (39:44)

Such people would signify their superstitions in pictures and statues. The Qur’an has called it a filth and directed us to abstain from it: (٣٠:٢٢) فَاجْتَنِبُوا الرِّجْسَ مِنَ الْأَوْثَانِ وَاجْتَنِبُوا قَوْلَ الزُّورِ (Guard yourselves against the filth of these idols and abstain from falsehoods which you fabricate about them regarding God, (22:30)). On this very basis, the Prophet (sws) said that on the Day of Judgement those who make these portraits and statues shall be severely punished and they shall be asked to put life into the beings they considered to be living and having the authority of causing harm and benefit to human beings:

إن الذين يصنعون هذه الصور يعذبون يوم القيامة يقال لهم أحيوا ما خلقتم )بخاري رقم ٥٦٠٧)

Those who make such pictures shall be punished on the Day of Judgement. It shall be said to them: “Put life in whatever you have made.”12 (Bukhari, No: 5607)

Charms and amulets which depict requests of help from such beings also have this filth. The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said that such incantations and blowing, charms and amulets which are used to create separation between a husband and wife are shirk (polytheism).13

Swearing an oath on someone other than Allah has also been regarded as shirk by the Prophet (sws) because when a person swears any oath on someone, he actually makes him a witness over some incident and in this manner it is as if the person regards him as someone who has knowledge of ghayb [the unseen] like the Almighty. It is reported:

مَنْ حَلَفَ بِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ فَقَدْ أَشْرَكَ (ابو داؤد ، رقم: ٣٢٥١)

He who swore by any one other than Allah has committed an act of polytheism. (Abu Da’ud, No: 3251)

In this regard, certain polytheistic attitudes are also worth consideration:

In the Qur’an, God Almighty has mentioned a parable of a person whose wealth, riches, number of friends and associates and splendour and grandeur induced in him so much pride and vanity that he thought that whatever he has as a result of his abilities and of the knowledge and intellect he possesses; it shall always remain with him; the Day of Judgement would never come and if ever it would, he would find all this in store for him there – in fact much more than this. The Qur’an says that one day his flourishing orchard was destroyed, the baselessness of stone idols became evident and he cursed his fortune and expressed his grief on associating partners with God: 

وَأُحِيطَ بِثَمَرِهِ فَأَصْبَحَ يُقَلِّبُ كَفَّيْهِ عَلَى مَا أَنفَقَ فِيهَا وَهِيَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَى عُرُوشِهَا وَيَقُولُ يَا لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أُشْرِكْ بِرَبِّي أَحَدًا (٤٢:١٨)

And it happened that all his fruits were destroyed, and seeing his vines had tumbled down upon their trellises wrung his hands with grief at all that he had spent on the garden and cried: “Would that I had served no other gods besides my Lord!” (18:42)

Same is the case with showing-off. If endeavours which should be done merely for God are done for others, then this would mean that they have taken the place of God. For this very reason the Prophet (sws) has called this as hidden shirk.14 He is reported to have said: “The Almighty says: ‘Of all those that are associated [with Me] I am the most indifferent towards association; so anyone who has associated someone with me in any of his works, I am not with him and he is [actually] with whom he has associated with me.’”15

Superstitions that human beings become target of are of this genre too. Thus the Prophet (sws) has warned people about them. He has also stopped people from certain things which though do not fall in the ambit of polytheism are liable to lead to it.

Ibn ‘Abbas (rta) narrates that when one night a star fell, the Prophet (sws) asked: “What would you say about these in the age of ignorance?” People replied: “We thought that this would happen at the birth or death of a great personality.” The Prophet remarked: “No, stars do not fall at the birth or death of someone.”16

Zayd Ibn Khalid mentions that during the truce of Hudaybiyyah rain fell at night. In the morning, the Prophet addressed the people after the prayer and said: “Do you know what your Lord has said?” The people said: “God and His messenger know better.” The Prophet said: “The Almighty has said: ‘Today some people have woken up as believers and others as disbelievers; those who have said that this rain is a blessing from God are my believers and those who said that water rains down on us from such and such a point in the constellation, they are my disbelievers and the believers in stars.’”17

Abu Mas‘ud (rta) says that the Prophet said: “The eclipses of the sun and the moon do not take place because of someone’s death, they are two signs from among the signs of God; hence, if you see them offer the prayer.”18

One of the wives of the Prophet has said: “A person who goes to an ‘arraf19 to find out about his possession, the prayers he offers in forty days shall not be accepted.”20

‘A’ishah (rta) narrates that when people asked about soothsayers, the Prophet replied: “They are nothing.” People said: “Some of their prophesies turn out to be true.” The Prophet said: “Satan is able to catch a few things and like a hen cries out in the ears of his friends. Then these people add a hundred other things to it and communicate it to people.”21

Abu Hurayrah (rta) says that the Prophet is reported to have said: “There is no transfer through physical contact nor misfortune nor is there any snake of hunger in the stomach and neither does a bird come out from the skull of a dead person.”22

Jabir (rta) narrates that besides this, he also said there is no basis of supernatural phenomenon encountered in the wilderness.23

‘Umar (rta) says that he heard the Prophet saying: “Do not exaggerate about me the way the Nazarenes did about Christ. I am only a servant of God. So call me God’s servant and messenger only.”24

Ibn ‘Abbas (rta) narrates that a person came to the Prophet and during the course of his conversation said: “Whatever God wills and you will.” The Prophet immediately corrected him and said: “You have equated me with God? Just say: “Whatever God alone wills.”25

The details of other directives which are mentioned in these verses are as follows:

Worshipping God

The first directive is that since there is no god except God, only He should be worshipped. The essence of this worship (‘ibadah) is humility and modesty. The first manifestation of this essence is serving the Almighty. Since a person also has a practical life in this world, this servitude relates to this practical life as well and in this manner becomes inclusive of obedience. The manifestations in the first case are glorifying Him and singing His praises, praying to him and supplicating before Him, kneeling and prostrating before Him, making vows (to please Him), offering animal sacrifice and doing i‘tikaf.

In the second case, a person, after regarding someone as an independent law giver and ruler, considers that he has the authority to give directives of what is forbidden and what is not and what is allowed and what is not and submits before all his directives. It is the verdict of God Almighty that none of the above mentioned things can be reserved for someone other than Him. The words َقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلاَّ تَعْبُدُواْ إِلاَّ إِيَّاهُ  declare this verdict. Thus if a person glorifies someone and sings his praises or prays and supplicates before someone, kneels and prostrates before him or presents vows before him or offers animal sacrifice to him or does i‘tikaf for him or regards him to have the authority of prohibiting or allowing things, then this would mean that he has refused to accept this verdict of God. Among the addressees of the Qur’an those who were guilty of this sin were clearly told of their folly.

Those who prostrated themselves before the sun and the moon were told:

لَا تَسْجُدُوا لِلشَّمْسِ وَلَا لِلْقَمَرِ وَاسْجُدُوا لِلَّهِ الَّذِي خَلَقَهُنَّ إِن كُنتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ (٣٧:٤١)

Do not prostrate yourselves before the sun or the moon; rather prostrate yourselves before God, who created them both, if you would truly serve Him. (41:37)

Those who prayed and supplicated before some of their ancestors were told:

وَالَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللّهِ لاَ يَخْلُقُونَ شَيْئًا وَهُمْ يُخْلَقُونَ أَمْواتٌ غَيْرُ أَحْيَاء وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ أَيَّانَ يُبْعَثُونَ (١٦: ٢٠-٢١)

And those whom these call besides God are themselves created, they create nothing: They are dead, not living and don’t even know when they will be raised to life. (16:20-21)

Those who presented as sacrifice and vows, the produce and cattle created by God before other deities were warned thus by the Qur’an:

وَجَعَلُواْ لِلّهِ مِمِّا ذَرَأَ مِنَ الْحَرْثِ وَالأَنْعَامِ نَصِيبًا فَقَالُواْ هَـذَا لِلّهِ بِزَعْمِهِمْ وَهَـذَا لِشُرَكَآئِنَا فَمَا كَانَ لِشُرَكَآئِهِمْ فَلاَ يَصِلُ إِلَى اللّهِ وَمَا كَانَ لِلّهِ فَهُوَ يَصِلُ إِلَى شُرَكَآئِهِمْ سَاء مَا يَحْكُمُونَ (١٣٦:٦)

And they set aside a share of their produce and cattle for God. They then say that in their opinion: “This is for God and this is for those whom we associate with God.” Furthermore, the share of these associates does not reach God but the share of God can reach these associates.26 What an evil judgement they pass! (6:136)

Those who regarded their jurists and scholars to have the authority to declare something as lawful and something as forbidden were warned thus:

اتَّخَذُواْ أَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَانَهُمْ أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللّهِ وَالْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَمَا أُمِرُواْ إِلاَّ لِيَعْبُدُواْ إِلَـهًا وَاحِدًا لاَّ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ سُبْحَانَهُ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ (٣١:٩)

They have made their scholars and their monks their Lord besides God and also Jesus, the son of Mary, even though they had been directed to worship one God only. There is no god but Him. Exalted is He above those they deify besides Him! (9:31)

The Qur’an has thus regarded this authority to declare something as lawful or unlawful as baseless besides regarding as baseless the prohibitions stipulated by the Arabs for certain animals called bahirah, sa’ibah, wasilah and ham.

Bahirah is the name given to a she camel which has five offspring, the last of which is a male. The ears of such a camel are slit and it is left free.

Sa’ibah is the name given to a camel which is left free once the vow regarding it has been fulfilled.

As for wasilah, some people would vow that if a goat would give birth to male offspring, they would present it before their idols, and if gives birth to female offspring, they would keep it to themselves; now if she would give birth to male and female offspring simultaneously, they would call it wasilah and would not present such male offspring to their idols.

Ham is the name of a bull which has given birth to many offspring. It would be left free.

The Qur’an says:

مَا جَعَلَ اللّهُ مِن بَحِيرَةٍ وَلاَ سَآئِبَةٍ وَلاَ وَصِيلَةٍ وَلاَ حَامٍ وَلَـكِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى اللّهِ الْكَذِبَ وَأَكْثَرُهُمْ لاَ يَعْقِلُونَ (١٠٣:٥)

God has sanctioned neither a bahirah, nor a sa’ibah, nor a wasilah, nor a ham but these disbelievers fabricate falsehoods about God and most of them have no sense. (5:103)

It is this very verdict of the Qur’an regarding the worship of God on account of which the Prophet (sws) forbade people from making graves places of prostration and said that may God curse the Jews and Christians for they have made the graves of their prophets as mosques.27

The fact that this was his last counsel for the Muslims before his death shows its importance.

Treating Parents with Kindness

The second directive is that parents should be treated with kindness. This directive is present in all divine scriptures. Besides, this verse, the Qur’an has also mentioned it elsewhere in 29:8, 31:14-15 and 46:15. There is no doubt in the fact that among human beings a person’s foremost obligation is towards his parents. Thus after worshipping God, Muslims have been directed to fulfill it the foremost. The reason for this is that it is the parents who bring a person into existence and it is they who nourish and look after him. The way this directive is mentioned in 31:14-15 and 46:15 shows that among the parents it is the mother who has more right on the children:

وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَى وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ (١٤:٣١)

And We have counseled man to show kindness to his parents. His mother bore him with much [hardships which result in] weakness upon weakness, and he is not weaned before he is two years of age. We said: “Show gratitude to me and to your parents and towards Me is the return.” (31:14)

In the upbringing of a child, a father too plays no less a role; however, the hardships which a mother bears during her pregnancy, at childbirth and then during breastfeeding are unparalleled. For this very reason, the Prophet (sws) has regarded a mother to have three times more right on her children than the father.28 However, regardless of this difference, the Almighty has counseled man to be thankful to both his parents the foremost after God. This gratitude is not to be expressed merely through the tongue. There are some essential requisites of this gratitude which the Qur’an has related in the above quoted verses of Surah Bani Isra’il.

The first thing mentioned is that a person should treat his parents in a manner that he shows respect to them not only outwardly but also from the depth of his heart. He should not show any aversion to them in his heart and also not say something before them which is against manners. In fact, he should treat them with love, affection and decency and in a manner that reflects his obedience to them. He should obey them and in the frailty of old age comfort them and be a means of re-assurance to them.

In these verses, the objective for which old age has been specially mentioned is explained thus by Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi:

It is this period in which those people regard their parents to be a burden who forget their sacrifices and selfless behaviour in their childhood. Obedient and respectful children remember that the way they were once nurtured by their parents when they were nothing but a lump of meat and bones, in a similar manner their parents have now been consigned to them when they are no more than skeletons; it is now their duty to repay them their favours. However, not everyone remembers this. These verses are in fact a reminder for this reality. In fact, the truth of the matter is that parents deserve love, respect and good behaviour whatever may be their age.[29]

The second thing that is mentioned in this verse is that a person should always show obedience and compliance to his parents and this obedience should arise from his love and affection for them. The Qur’anic words used for this purpose are وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ. In it is the subtle insinuation that just as parents hide and protect their children the way birds do through their wings, in a similar manner, children too should hide and protect their parents in their wings of love and obedience. The reason is that if ever children can repay their parents for their care it is through this attitude.

The third thing that is mentioned besides the above behaviour is that a person should keep praying for his parents that the way his parents raised them with affection and care, the Almighty should shower His blessings on them in this old age. This prayer is a right of the parents on their children and it is also a reminder for a person to fulfill this right imposed on them. This prayer is also the motive for the feelings of love which the Almighty has demanded from the children in treating their parents with kindness. In Surah Luqman are mentioned the limits of this kind treatment. However, since they belong to the shari‘ah, they shall be dealt in our book “The Social Shari‘ah of Islam”.30

Following are the directives of the Prophet (sws) in this regard:

Ibn Mas‘ud (rta) reports that he asked the Prophet (sws): “Which deed does the Almighty like the most?” He replied: “To pray on time.” I asked: “Which after this?” He said: “Treating parents with kindness.”31

Abu Hurayrah (rta) reports that the Prophet (sws) said: “Humiliation is for that person. Humiliation is for that person. Humiliation is for that person. People asked: “For whom O Messenger of God?” He replied: “A person whose both parents or any of them reached old age in his presence and in spite of this he was not able to enter Paradise.”32

‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (rta) says that once a person asked the Prophet (sws) to participate in jihad. At this, the Prophet (sws) inquired: “Are your parents alive?” The person replied in the affirmative. The Prophet (sws) then remarked: “Keep serving them. This is jihad.”33

Abu Sa‘id Khudri (rta) says that a person from the people of Yemen migrated and came to the Prophet (sws) in order to participate in jihad. The Prophet (sws) asked: “Do you have any relative in Yemen?” He replied that he had his parents there. The Prophet (sws) remarked: “Did you seek their permission?” He said: “No.” The Prophet (sws) then said: “Go back and seek their permission and if they grant permission then only can you take part in jihad, other wise keep serving them.”34

Mu‘awiyyah narrated from his father Jahimah that he came to the Prophet (sws) and said: “O Messenger of God! I would like to participate in jihad and have come to consult you [regarding this].” The Prophet asked: “Is your mother alive?” He said: “Yes.” At this, the Prophet said: “Stay with her and serve her because Paradise is beneath her feet.”35

‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (rta) narrates from the Prophet (sws): “The pleasure of the Almighty resides in the pleasure of the father and the wrath of the Almighty resides in the wrath of the father.”36

Abu Darda (rta) says that he heard the Prophet (sws) saying that the best door to Paradise is the father; so, if you want you can waste him and if you want you can protect him.37

‘Amr Ibn Shu‘ayb narrates from his mother who narrates from her grandfather that once a person came to the Prophet (sws) and said: “I have some wealth and I also have children but my father needs this wealth.” The Prophet (sws) replied: “Both you and your wealth belong to your father.”38

In relationships which develop with other people besides the parents, a person should have this same attitude in proportion to their closeness to him. At another place, the Qur’an has unequivocally stated this in the following words:

 وَاعْبُدُواْ اللّهَ وَلاَ تُشْرِكُواْ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَبِذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْجَارِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْجَارِ الْجُنُبِ وَالصَّاحِبِ بِالجَنبِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُحِبُّ مَن كَانَ مُخْتَالاً فَخُورًا (٣٦:٤)

And serve God and associate none with Him. Show kindness to parents and the relatives and to orphans and to the destitute, to neighbours who are your relatives and those you do not know and to those that keep company with you and to the traveler and to the slaves also because God does not like the arrogant and the conceited. (4:36)


It is evident from the verse that after the parents a person’s foremost obligation is towards his relatives and kindred. The expression silah rahmi is used for kind treatment of these people. The basis of a relationship between human beings can be multifarious: People can be class mates, neighbours, friends or companions; they can have common interests or common professions and this basis can even be being citizens of the same country; however, in all these relationships the greatest relationships are the blood relatives. This is the knot tied by the Almighty and it is not befitting for a human being to untie it. Thus safeguarding the rights of this relationship is a foremost obligation:

وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءلُونَ بِهِ وَالأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا (١:٤)

And fear God, in whose name you plead with one another, and beware about your relatives also. Indeed, God is ever watching you. (4:1)

 The importance of this treatment of the kindred and near ones is also found in the narratives of the Prophet (sws).

Abu Hurayrah (rta) narrates that the word is رحم originates from رحمان. Thus God has addressed it and said: “He who has joined you, I will join him with Me, and he who severed you, I will also dissociate from him.”39

Abu Hurayrah (rta) narrates that at another instance, the Prophet (sws) adopted even more subtle words to describe this: When God had created His creation, رحم (womb) stood in His presence and said: “This is the place of the one who seeks your refuge from breaking relations.” God said: “Indeed, are you not happy with the fact that the one who joins you, I will join him with Me, and he who severs you, I will also dissociate from him.”40

Abu Ayyub Ansari (rta) said that a person came to the Prophet (sws) and said: “O Messenger of God! Tell me something which can take me to Paradise.” He replied: “Serve God and do not associate anyone with Him; be diligent in the prayer and pay zakah and fulfill the rights of the kindred.”41

Jubayr Ibn Mut‘am (rta) reports from the Prophet (sws): “Any person who is guilty of breaking blood relations will not enter Paradise.”42

Anas (rta) narrates that the Prophet (sws) said that he who likes that his earnings increase and his life should be endowed with blessings should fulfill the right of blood relations.43

The pinnacle of this fulfilling of rights is to fulfill them even for those who sever blood relations.44

The Orphan and the Needy

After relatives and the kindred, the orphans and the needy are also included in the list. It follows from this that they too fall in the category of the kindred; hence every Muslim should regard them to be so and with this motivation patronize them and be of service to them. According to the Qur’an, the very first step of the objective of attaining piety and goodness a person has been asked to achieve in this world is to free slaves and fulfill the needs of the orphans and the needy:

فَلَا اقْتَحَمَ الْعَقَبَةَ وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْعَقَبَةُ فَكُّ رَقَبَةٍ  أَوْ إِطْعَامٌ فِي يَوْمٍ ذِي مَسْغَبَة ٍ يَتِيمًا ذَا أَوْ مِسْكِينًا ذَا مَتْرَبَةٍ (٩٠: ١١-١٦)

But he did not attempt the steep path. And what do you understand what this steep path is? [It is] the freeing of a slave or feeding, in days of famine, of an orphan near of kin or a needy [down] in the dust. (90:11-16)

The style adopted in the following verses of Surah Fajr show that the requirement is not merely helping the orphans and the needy but the real requirement is to give them a respectable status in the society:

كَلَّا بَل لَا تُكْرِمُونَ الْيَتِيمَ وَلَا تَحَاضُّونَ عَلَى طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ (٨٩: ١٧-١٩)

Certainly Not! You do not show respect to the orphans and do not urge one another to feed the needy. (89:17-19)

The Prophet (sws) while referring to the reward of this treatment has said: “I and those who take care of the orphans financially will be close to one another in Paradise the way two fingers are close to one another.”45

Neighbour, Traveler and Slave

After this, neighbours, travelers and slaves are mentioned in the verse and Muslims are asked to treat them kindly too. In spite of the change in society, even today travelers become needy in some respect or another; however, slavery no longer exists. The measures adopted by Islam in eradicating it are mentioned in my book “The Social Shari‘ah of Islam”.46

With regard to one’s neighbours the view of the Qur’an is unique in the history of religion and morality. It is generally considered that a neighbour is a person who lives next door or nearby; however, the Qur’an says that a neighbour is of three types:

First, someone who is one’s neighbour and also one’s relative. The Qur’anic words used are الْجَارِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى   and it is mentioned the foremost. It means that among other neighbours he is more worthy of kind treatment.

Second, someone who is not one’s relative, yet he is one’s neighbour. The words used are الْجَارِ الْجُنُبِ (unfamiliar neighbour). This unfamiliarity can be on the basis of being a relative and also on the basis of having a different religion. After a neighbour who is a relative, comes this neighbour.

Third, a person who accompanies us in travel or while being stationed somewhere. الصَّاحِبِ بِالجَنْبِ are the words used for such a person. Muslims have been directed to treat him kindly too the way other neighbours should be.

Following are the narratives of the Prophet (sws) regarding this treatment:

Abu Shurayh (rta) narrates from the Prophet (sws): “By God! He shall not be a believer; by God! He shall not be a disbeliever.” People asked: “Who? O Messenger of God!” The Prophet said: “A person whose neighbour is not secure from his mischief.”47

He also narrates: “He who believes in God and in the Hereafter should respect his neighbour.”48

‘A%’ishah (rta) reports from the Prophet (sws): “Gabriel emphasized upon me the rights of a neighbour so much that I thought that soon he would make him a share holder in the inheritance [of a person].”49

Abu Dharr Ghaffari (rta) says that the Prophet (sws) advised: “O Abu Dharr! When you cook curry put more water in it and remain aware about your neighbours.”50

Abu Hurayrah (rta) said that the Prophet (sws) similarly advised women and said: “Muslim Wives! No one should consider a gift to a lady who lives in the neighbourhood to be meager even though it may the hoof of a goat.”51

Spending in Way of God

The third directive is to spend in the way of God. This means that just as a person spends on himself the blessings bestowed upon him by God, he should also spend them on his fellow brethren after fulfilling his personal and business needs. It is evident from the Qur’an that two things are required for a person if he is to become a true servant of God: Firstly, one’s relationship with God should be established on right footings. Secondly, this relationship with other human beings should also be established on the right footings. The first thing is achieved through the prayer which is the foremost expression of one’s love for God, and the second through spending in the way of God for this is the foremost expression of one’s love for one’s fellow human beings. The reward for this spending is also God’s love because whatever one spends he has it saved in the heavens and in the words of the Prophet Jesus (sws), his heart too remains occupied at this place, (Matthew, 6:19-21). The Qur’an has urged man to this at various instances in very effective styles. At one instance, it says:

وَأَنفِقُوا مِن مَّا رَزَقْنَاكُم مِّن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِيَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ فَيَقُولَ رَبِّ لَوْلَا أَخَّرْتَنِي إِلَى أَجَلٍ قَرِيبٍ فَأَصَّدَّقَ وَأَكُن مِّنَ الصَّالِحِينَ (١٠:٦٣)

And spend of that which We have given you before death befalls any of you and he says: “Why did you give me such a brief respite that I may have given in charity and [as a result] could have been among your pious people.” (63:10)

This spending in the way of God is the right of one’s relatives, orphans and the needy which must necessarily be fulfilled. In the verse of the Qur’an under discussion this fact is clearly mentioned. It is evident from this mention that any slackness in fulfilling this right can make a person a criminal who extorts the rights of people. Thus, at another instance, the Qur’an has clearly stated that if a person starts amassing wealth while remaining indifferent to these rights then this is hoarding and its punishment is the fire of Hell – from which every believer should seek refuge with the Almighty:

وَالَّذِينَ يَكْنِزُونَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلاَ يُنفِقُونَهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ فَبَشِّرْهُم بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ  يَوْمَ يُحْمَى عَلَيْهَا فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ فَتُكْوَى بِهَا جِبَاهُهُمْ وَجُنوبُهُمْ وَظُهُورُهُمْ هَـذَا مَا كَنَزْتُمْ لأَنفُسِكُمْ فَذُوقُواْ مَا كُنتُمْ تَكْنِزُونَ (٩: ٣٤-٣٥)

And those that hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in the way of God, give them glad tidings of a horrible punishment on the day when these [treasures of] gold and silver shall be heated in the fire of Hell, and their foreheads, sides, and backs branded with them. “These are the riches which you hoarded. Taste then what you were hoarding.” (9:34-35)

It is for this very nature of the directive that if people who are bound to fulfill this right are for some reason compelled to disregard the needs of a deserving person at some time and it is expected that in future their circumstances would improve then they should kindly treat the deserving person and promise him with help in future. The words وَإِمَّا تُعْرِضَنَّ عَنْهُمُ ابْتِغَاء رَحْمَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكَ تَرْجُوهَا فَقُل لَّهُمْ قَوْلاً مَّيْسُورًا point to this aspect.

Whether such spending is done in open or in secret, the Almighty says that every bit of it is in His knowledge. This means that He will also definitely reward a person as per His promise:

وَمَا أَنفَقْتُم مِّن نَّفَقَةٍ أَوْ نَذَرْتُم مِّن نَّذْرٍ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ يَعْلَمُهُ وَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِنْ أَنصَارٍ إِن تُبْدُواْ الصَّدَقَاتِ فَنِعِمَّا هِيَ وَإِن تُخْفُوهَا وَتُؤْتُوهَا الْفُقَرَاء فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لُّكُمْ وَيُكَفِّرُ عَنكُم مِّن سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَاللّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ (٢: ٢٧٠-٢٧١)

And [rest assured] that whatever you spend and whatever vows you make [you shall be fully rewarded for them] because God is fully aware of them and [those who turn away from the guidance of God and] wrong their souls will have none to help them [in the presence of God]. If you spend openly then this too is a good thing, but to give to the poor and to give it secretly is better. [Through this], God will wipe out your sins and [there is absolutely no doubt that] God has knowledge of all your deeds. (2:270-71)

Consequently, the Qur’an says that the Almighty blesses this spending and with His favour transforms a mole into a mountain:

مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنبَتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنبُلَةٍ مِّئَةُ حَبَّةٍ وَاللّهُ يُضَاعِفُ لِمَن يَشَاء وَاللّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ  (٢٦١:٢)

Those who spend their wealth in the way of God can be compared to a grain of corn which brings forth seven ears, each bearing a hundred grains. God [in accordance with His wisdom] provides in abundance [in this manner] to whom He wills; [In reality] God is munificent and all-knowing. (2:261)

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

 This is a parable which depicts the manifold increase in the reward for spending wealth in the way of God. It is said that just as seven ears sprout from a corn and each ear will have a hundred grains, similarly the reward of a deed given to a person can be up to seven hundred times. Some Hadith narratives also explain this theme. It is reported that the Prophet (sws) said that the reward of a good deed ranges from ten times to seven hundred times. This variation obviously depends on the nature of the deed, the time in which it is done and the internal and external circumstances of those who do the deed. If a good deed is done in difficult circumstances and with straitened resources, it will earn more reward and if a good deed is done in times of ease and with ample resources, its reward will be relatively less. The feelings of the people who do the deed also count. A good deed maybe done with complete willingness of heart and enthusiasm and it may also be done half-heartedly and under compulsion. Obviously both would earn different reward. The verse depicts the maximum reward and it is said: “God provides in abundance [in this manner] to whom He wills.” This is a reference to the principle we have alluded to. Allah’s will is never against justice and wisdom. Hence this manifold reward is willed by Him only in favour of those who prove themselves worthy in accordance with the principle set for them.52

This is further explained by saying that if this spending is done to please God and to discipline the soul then this is the example of the person who plants an orchard not on land which is washed away by floods but on such high and even ground where the climate is also favourable so that if there is rain it bears double the fruit and if there is no rain, a light drizzle is sufficient to bear fruit because of conducive land and climatic conditions:

وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمُ ابْتِغَاء مَرْضَاتِ اللّهِ وَتَثْبِيتًا مِّنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ كَمَثَلِ جَنَّةٍ بِرَبْوَةٍ أَصَابَهَا وَابِلٌ فَآتَتْ أُكُلَهَا ضِعْفَيْنِ فَإِن لَّمْ يُصِبْهَا وَابِلٌ فَطَلٌّ وَاللّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ (٢: ٢٦٥)

ِAnd those who spend their wealth to please God and to firmly attach their own souls [to the truth] are like an orchard which is on a high and level ground: if a heavy shower falls upon it, it yields up twice its normal produce; and even if a heavy shower does not fall on it, a drizzle is enough [to produce fruit. Keep this example in mind] and [rest assured that] God knows whatever you do. (2:265)

However, this reward is for spending done from ones clean and pure wealth and which is not accompanied by hurting the person on whom it is spent and by emphasizing it as a favour. Presenting to God something which a person does not like for himself is a very mean act. Whatever we have is given to us by God. If we give something to Him in His way and adopt a mean attitude in this then in the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, there is a strong chance that a person instead of pleasing the Almighty and disciplining his soul ends up distancing  himself from the Almighty. Similarly, if a person keeps boasting of his favour on the recipient and hurts him then this means that he does not have magnanimity because after being blessed with the motivation of spending on the poor such an attitude can only be adopted by petty-minded people – people who think that those on whom they have spent should always live under the burden of their generosity. Consequently, when this wish of theirs is not fulfilled they always want to humiliate that person by taunting him. The Qur’an says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَنفِقُواْ مِن طَيِّبَاتِ مَا كَسَبْتُمْ وَمِمَّا أَخْرَجْنَا لَكُم مِّنَ الأَرْضِ وَلاَ تَيَمَّمُواْ الْخَبِيثَ مِنْهُ تُنفِقُونَ وَلَسْتُم بِآخِذِيهِ إِلاَّ أَن تُغْمِضُواْ فِيهِ وَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللّهَ غَنِيٌّ حَمِيدٌ (٢: ٢٦٧)

Believers! spend from your pure wealth and from that which We have brought out of the earth for you, and don’t even think of spending something worthless [in the way of God] which you yourselves would not receive but with closed eyes. You should know that God does not need [such spending from you] and He is glorious. (2:267)

At another place, the Qur’an says:

الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ ثُمَّ لاَ يُتْبِعُونَ مَا أَنفَقُواُ مَنًّا وَلاَ أَذًى لَّهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ  قَوْلٌ مَّعْرُوفٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِّن صَدَقَةٍ يَتْبَعُهَآ أَذًى وَاللّهُ غَنِيٌّ حَلِيمٌ  يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تُبْطِلُواْ صَدَقَاتِكُم بِالْمَنِّ وَالأذَى كَالَّذِي يُنفِقُ مَالَهُ رِئَاء النَّاسِ وَلاَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ صَفْوَانٍ عَلَيْهِ تُرَابٌ فَأَصَابَهُ وَابِلٌ فَتَرَكَهُ صَلْدًا لاَّ يَقْدِرُونَ عَلَى شَيْءٍ مِّمَّا كَسَبُواْ وَاللّهُ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِينَ وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمُ ابْتِغَاء مَرْضَاتِ اللّهِ وَتَثْبِيتًا مِّنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ كَمَثَلِ جَنَّةٍ بِرَبْوَةٍ أَصَابَهَا وَابِلٌ فَآتَتْ أُكُلَهَا ضِعْفَيْنِ فَإِن لَّمْ يُصِبْهَا وَابِلٌ فَطَلٌّ وَاللّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ  أَيَوَدُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن تَكُونَ لَهُ جَنَّةٌ مِّن نَّخِيلٍ وَأَعْنَابٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ لَهُ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ وَأَصَابَهُ الْكِبَرُ وَلَهُ ذُرِّيَّةٌ ضُعَفَاء فَأَصَابَهَا إِعْصَارٌ فِيهِ نَارٌ فَاحْتَرَقَتْ كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمُ الآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ (٢: ٢٦٢-٢٦٦)

Those who spend their wealth in the way of God and do not follow this spending by reminders of their generosity and insults have their reward with their Lord; they shall have nothing to fear [there] nor will they be sorrowful. A kind word and forgiveness [at unpleasant instances] is better than charity followed by inflicting hurt. [You should know that] God is self-sufficient [from such charity] and [on such an attitude from you, He deprives you; however, besides this] He is very gracious. Believers! do not mar your charity by reminders of generosity and by hurting others like those who spend their wealth to show off before others and believe neither in God nor in the Last Day. Such men are like a rock covered with soil: a shower falls upon it and leaves it hard and bare. [On the Day of Judgement], they shall gain nothing from what they earned. And [in reality], God does not guide such ungrateful people. Those who spend their wealth to please God and to firmly attach their own souls [to the truth] are like an orchard which is on a high and level ground: if a heavy shower falls upon it, it yields up twice its normal produce; and even if a severe shower does not fall on it, a drizzle is enough [to produce fruit. Keep this example in mind] and [rest assured that] God knows whatever you do. Would any one of you who has an orchard of dates and grapes underneath which streams of water flow, in which are fruits of all kinds and he grows old and his children are feeble wish that this orchard be blasted by a fiery whirlwind and it burn to ashes? [This will be the condition of people on the Day of Judgement who mar their spending in the way of Allah by reminders of generosity and by hurting others]. In this manner does God explain to you His revelations so that you may reflect. (2: 262-266)

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while explaining these verses, writes:

This is the parable of a person who has planted an orchard of grapes beneath which a canal flows to keep it blossoming. There were other types of fruit also in the orchard and it also produced various crops. The owner of the orchard grew old and all his children were young. Meanwhile a fiery whirlwind passed through the orchard and totally destroyed it. The Qur’an says that a similar fate will await the charity spending of a person who did not protect it from destructive calamities. The lightning which destroys their residence is hidden right in their own precincts and it will appear exactly at the time when they will not be left with the option of obtaining what they have lost.53

In the verses of Surah Bani Isra’il under discussion, the Almighty has explained that only people who adopt a balanced attitude in their spending and consider the sustenance they have been given by God a blessing and not a result of their own planning are afforded with the urge and will to spend in this manner. Consequently, two further things are stated: Wealth should not be squandered for it is a blessing of God and the right attitude in this regard is that a person should spend it in a balanced and efficient way and whatever he saves he should consider that he has been entrusted with it as a share for its rightful recipients and with full caution discharge this duty of handing it over to them. The reason for this is that a person who does not adopt a balanced attitude regarding his needs is not able to even find time from his pastimes and pursuits to fulfill such duties. The Qur’an says that people who squander their wealth are Satan’s brothers and Satan is very ungrateful to his Lord. He allures people to his ways and entices them to spend on things which earn the displeasure of God. While explaining the balanced attitude in this matter, the Qur’an says that a person should neither be miserly nor prodigal so that when he needs his wealth, he ends up yearning for wealth and is reduced to indigence; on the other hand, he should spend in a balanced way and always save something so that he is able to help others whenever needed. The Qur’anic words used for this are: َلاَ تَجْعَلْ يَدَكَ مَغْلُولَةً إِلَى عُنُقِكَ وَلاَ تَبْسُطْهَا كُلَّ الْبَسْطِ فَتَقْعُدَ مَلُومًا مَّحْسُورًا  .

The other thing is that it is the wisdom and will of God which governs the financial circumstances of a person. He may be blessed in abundance in this regard or he may have to live hand to mouth. The only responsibility of a person is that he should work hard to create opportunities for his livelihood. People who do not understand this, not only do not spend on others, but many a time become so callous as to even kill their children for fear of poverty. The Qur’anic verse of Surah Bani Isra’il quoted above which mentions this specially alludes to the evil Arab custom of burying alive infant girls in the time of jahiliyyah. The psyche behind this was that since a woman is not an earning member of the family, why should one bear the burden of her up-bringing. The Qur’an forbade this heinous practice and said that it is the Almighty who provides for these innocent girls and also those who indulge in this practice. They should rest assured that the Almighty is ever watching the circumstances His servants are going through; He was not un-aware of them.

At another instance, this aspect is explained thus in the Qur’an:

الشَّيْطَانُ يَعِدُكُمُ الْفَقْرَ وَيَأْمُرُكُم بِالْفَحْشَاء وَاللّهُ يَعِدُكُم مَّغْفِرَةً مِّنْهُ وَفَضْلاً وَاللّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ  يُؤتِي الْحِكْمَةَ مَن يَشَاء وَمَن يُؤْتَ الْحِكْمَةَ فَقَدْ أُوتِيَ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلاَّ أُوْلُواْ الأَلْبَابِ (٢٦٨:٢-٢٦٩)

Satan threatens you with poverty and tempts you to [spend on] lewd things and God promises you His forgiveness and His bounty and God is munificent and all-knowing. He [according to His law] gives an awareness of [this promise of] wisdom to whom He pleases, and he who receives this awareness indeed receives a treasure of great good. Yet none but men of sense receive a reminder [from such things]. (2:268-269)

Chastity and Modesty

The fourth directive mentioned is that no one should even go near fornication. The reason stated for this is that it is open lewdness and a very dreadful practice. The implication is that no argument is required to prove its awfulness and lewdness. Human nature has always regarded it  to be a grave sin and a terrible crime. It is an indubitable reality that the institution of family is as essential a need for a person as air and water are. This institution can only sustain on natural feelings and emotions if the relationship between the spouses is permanent. If this aspect is missing then a society can only consist of a bunch of animals which are devoid of natural and spiritual feelings and emotions; it cannot be founded on the right footings. Mawlana Abu al-A‘la Mawdudi writes:

The fact that this act is immoral or a religious sin or against social norms is something which has been universally acknowledged in all times and no one save a few people who have surrendered their intellect to base desires or who in their madness invent novel things and then philosophize them have differed in this regard. The reason for this universal consensus is that human nature itself requires that fornication be prohibited. The survival of human race and the establishment of a human society both require that a man and a woman should not be free to merely sexually gratify themselves and then split away; on the contrary, the relationship between them should be of a permanent contract in which they remain sincere to one another – a relationship which is known and acknowledged in the society and is also given protection by it. Without this, human race cannot survive a single day because a child needs several years of care and affection for his upbringing and a woman single-handedly can never be able to bear this responsibility unless the man who was responsible for bringing the child into existence is ready to support and help her. Similarly, without such a contract, human society also cannot remain intact because society itself has been created through the union of a man and a woman in the form of a family and then through relationships between various families with one another. If a man and a woman, while disregarding a family set-up, come together to merely sexually gratify themselves for sometime, human beings will end up dispersed from one another, the roots of collective life will be severed and the very foundation on which the edifice of the society was built would be razed to ground. For these reasons, an informal relationship between a man and a woman which is not based on a contract of sincerity that is known and recognized in the society is against human nature. Consequently, man has always regarded fornication as a grave folly and an act of great immorality and, in religious terms, an atrocious sin.54

It is this very terrible nature of fornication because of which the Almighty has not merely forbidden it; He has said to not even go near it. This means that one should keep away from things that may lead to it or may ultimately entice a person to it. The etiquette of gender interaction mentioned in Surah Nur is stated for these very reasons. A summary of this etiquette is that a man a woman with regard to their physical and psychological needs should guard their gazes and properly cover their private parts and should not do something that rouses sexual emotions. The reason for this is that when Satan wants to give currency to fornication in a society, he first of all begins from these places. It is evident from the Qur’an that it was through this very way that he had attacked Adam and Eve:

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ لاَ يَفْتِنَنَّكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ كَمَا أَخْرَجَ أَبَوَيْكُم مِّنَ الْجَنَّةِ يَنزِعُ عَنْهُمَا لِبَاسَهُمَا لِيُرِيَهُمَا سَوْءَاتِهِمَا إِنَّهُ يَرَاكُمْ هُوَ وَقَبِيلُهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لاَ تَرَوْنَهُمْ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا الشَّيَاطِينَ أَوْلِيَاء لِلَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ (٢٧:٧)

Children of Adam! let not Satan tempt you again the way he had expelled your parents from the orchard [in which they were living] stripping them of their garments in order to reveal their private parts to them. He and his associates see you from where you cannot see them. Indeed, We have made such devils associates of those who do not profess faith. (7:27)

What sort of an attack was this? Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… he first strips a person of his apparel of piety and virtue – the apparel which the Almighty had blessed him with together with his real apparel to elevate his inner-self. When this inner apparel is taken off, modesty and chastity, which are the actual motives for the real apparel, fade away. Then this real apparel starts becoming burdensome. Immodesty and profligacy induce a person to expose body parts which hold an attraction for the opposite gender -- parts whose concealment is a requirement of human nature. Then comes fashion to support this tendency; it provokes a person to wear clothes in such a bizarre way that he or she appears to be naked inspite of being adorned with clothes, and in this way – concealment of the body – the very objective of clothes is sacrificed. The only thing left in these clothes now is embellishment and the real objective is now to enhance the degree of nudity as much as possible. Then gradually human intellect is overwhelmed and nudity is now dubbed as culture and covering the body is considered to be an old fashioned act which exudes abhorrence. Then educated ruffians come to the scene and present the philosophy in the light of history that nudity is real human nature. Clothing has become in vogue because of restrictions of customs and etiquette. It is at this stage that shamelessness overcomes people and the whole society is poisoned with lust and licentiousness.55

On this very basis, popularizing fornication and creating opportunities which lead to it are regarded a crime by the Almighty. The Qur’an says that when the Hypocrites and miscreants of Madinah in the time of the Prophet (sws) adopted these ways, the Almighty said:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحِبُّونَ أَن تَشِيعَ الْفَاحِشَةُ فِي الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ (١٩:٢٤)

Indeed those who like shamelessness and lust to spread among Muslims shall be sternly punished in this life and in the life to come. [They only deserve this] and God knows [them], but you know not. (24:19)

For this very objective, the Prophet (sws) forbade Muslim women from putting on pungent perfumes when going out, from sitting alone with men and from traveling alone56. When people asked about the brother-in-law, the Prophet (sws) told them that sitting alone with them is tantamount to death.57

The wisdom in the directive of taking a mahram relative along in long journeys is no different.58 Turning away one’s gaze from ladies after the first sight is also for this purpose.59 Certain types of music have been prohibited for the very reason that they may lead a person to this sin.60 The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said that the children of Adam necessarily get some share from fornication. Thus ogling women is the fornication of the eye, lustful talk is the fornication of the tongue, amusing oneself with such talk is the fornication of the ears, touching and walking for this purpose is the fornication of the hands and the feet. Then the heart and the mind show their yearning and one’s private parts sometimes confirm this and sometimes negate it.61

All these directives are meant to nip the evil of fornication in its bud.

Sanctity of Human Life

The fifth directive is that no one should kill any one. This is a mention of the sanctity of human life which it always has had as per morality and religion. The Qur’an has informed us that prior to this, the Israelites were also given this directive and the Almighty had ordained that killing one human being is like killing whole mankind. This directive has been preserved in the Talmud in these very words even today.62 The Qur’an has referred to it in Surah Ma’idah in the following words:

مِنْ أَجْلِ ذَلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَى بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا (٣٢:٥)

That was why we laid it down for the Israelites that he who killed a human being without the latter being guilty of killing another or of spreading anarchy in the land should be looked upon as if he killed all mankind. (5:32)

It is evident from the above mentioned directive that the life of a human being can only be taken in two circumstances: when a person has killed someone or when a person while rebelling against the collective system goes after the life, wealth or honour of others. The words “spreading anarchy in the land” refer to this latter practice. Apart from these two circumstances, every killing is an unjustified act the punishment of which is eternal Hell according to the Qur’an (25:68-69). Muslims, who perpetrate this crime against other Muslims, are warned thus by the Qur’an:

وَمَن يَقْتُلْ مُؤْمِنًا مُّتَعَمِّدًا فَجَزَآؤُهُ جَهَنَّمُ خَالِدًا فِيهَا وَغَضِبَ اللّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَلَعَنَهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُ عَذَابًا عَظِيمًا (٩٣:٤)

And he who intentionally kills a believer, his reward is Hell. He shall abide therein forever, and the wrath and the curse of God are upon him. He has prepared for him a dreadful doom. (4:93)

The Qur’an has also clarified that the perpetrators of this crime will not only have to face God in this manner, they will also have to reckon with the heirs of the slain person and God has given them full authority in this regard, and no court of justice can show any leniency to the murderer without the consent of his heirs. Its responsibility is that if they insist on qisas, it should help them and should implement with full force whatever they want.

However, this does not at all mean that if at some place a formal government does not exist and the matter of qisas is solely left to the discretion of the heirs of the accused, then they, in their capacity as heirs, should exceed the limits and, for example, slay others besides the slayer in frenzy of revenge or out of prejudice for their status and superiority demand the execution of a free person in place of a slave or a man in place of a woman, or kill the criminal by torturing him, or take out their venom on his dead body or adopt those methods of killing which have been prohibited by the Almighty. The words فَلاَ يُسْرِفْ فِي القَتْل  point to this aspect.

It is evident from this that on the Day of Judgement the slain person shall have the same authority and without his consent the slayer will not be granted any leniency.

Misappropriating the Wealth of Orphans

The sixth directive is that the wealth of orphans should not be misappropriated. The words of this directive are the same as those of fornication earlier: “Do not approach the wealth of orphans except for their welfare and betterment.” The implication is that one should only use the wealth of the orphans for their development and protection and this too should be done till the time when orphans reach maturity and can be entrusted with their wealth. In Surah Nisa, the Almighty has given certain guidelines in this matter; however, since they relate to the shari‘ah, they shall be mentioned in my book “The Social Shari ‘ah of Islam”. 63 Here, this much should remain clear that in the given verse what one has been prohibited regarding orphans is a grave crime and one should not consider it to be trivial. Consequently, the Qur’an says:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ الْيَتَامَى ظُلْمًا إِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ نَارًا وَسَيَصْلَوْنَ سَعِيرًا (١٠:٤)

Indeed, those who devour the property of orphans unjustly, swallow fire into their bellies; and soon shall they be caste into the raging fire of Hell. (4:10)

Keeping Promises

The seventh directive is that promises should be kept at all costs. The Qur’an here says that one shall be held accountable for promises. In Surah Baqarah, this directive has been mentioned with great stress and emphasis in the following words: (٢: ١٧٧)  وَالْمُوْفُوْن بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا (And when they make promises, they keep them, (2:177)). Promises here imply all kinds and sorts of promises. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi says:

Keeping promises includes all small and big obligations whether they are related to God or to His creation, whether they come into existence through written means or whether through some relation and association, whether they are declared or are considered to be understood in a good society. We are tied in some sort of a contract with God and the Prophet (sws), our father and mother, our wife and kids, with our near and distant relatives, our clan and family, our neighbours and neighbourhood, teachers and students, masters and servants and with our peoples and nations. It is an essential requirement of piety and fulfillment of oaths that we fulfill these rights. In other words, the real spirit of keeping promises is fulfillment of rights and fulfillment of rights encompasses all big and small obligations.64

At some other instances in the Qur’an (eg. 23:8, 70:32) as well, this directive of keeping promises is mentioned with the same emphasis. At the time of armed jihad also, the most important directive which is stated in the Qur’an is this keeping of promises. Surah Tawbah is the surah of punishment. In it, the Prophet (sws) and the Muslims have been directed to end their treaties with the Idolaters of Arabia and launch the final onslaught. However, this much has been clearly stated in it (9:4) that treaties which are time-bound must be honoured till the time period expires. Similarly, in Surah Anfal, it has been stated that if a nation with whom Muslims are bound in a pact is oppressing the Muslims, then these Muslims cannot be helped in breach of this pact. The Qur’an says:

وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَلَمْ يُهَاجِرُواْ مَا لَكُم مِّن وَلاَيَتِهِم مِّن شَيْءٍ حَتَّى يُهَاجِرُواْ وَإِنِ اسْتَنصَرُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ فَعَلَيْكُمُ النَّصْرُ إِلاَّ عَلَى قَوْمٍ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَهُم مِّيثَاقٌ وَاللّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ (٧٢:٨)

And to those who accepted faith but did not migrate [to Madinah], you owe no duty of protection until they migrate; but if they seek your help in religion, it is your duty to help them except against a people with whom you have a treaty; and [in reality] Allah sees what you do. (8:72)

Honesty in Weighing

The eighth directive is that things should be weighed and measured with honesty. The Almighty says that He has set the earth and the heavens on a scale and thus it is necessary that a person in his circle should remain just and measure with the right scale and weights. The Qur’an says:

وَالسَّمَاء رَفَعَهَا وَوَضَعَ الْمِيزَانَ أَلَّا تَطْغَوْا فِي الْمِيزَانِ وَأَقِيمُوا الْوَزْنَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلَا تُخْسِرُوا الْمِيزَانَ (٥٥: ٧-٩)

And He raised high the heaven and set the scale of all things that you might not transgress that scale. Give just weight and full measure. (55:7-9)

It is evident from these verses that this is a very important directive and in its essence is actually a corollary of the scale of justice on which this world has been created. Thus if anyone deviates from it, it means that his conception of justice and fairness has become defective and he actually does not believe in a just God. After this, obviously the economic and social systems of the society are shaken from their bases and no ingredient of the society remains in its place. The people of the Prophet Shu‘ayb (sws) were involved in such malpractices. At more than one instance, his advice and sermon to his people in this regard is mentioned in the Qur’an. At one place, it is said:

أَوْفُوا الْكَيْلَ وَلَا تَكُونُوا مِنَ الْمُخْسِرِينَ  وَزِنُوا بِالْقِسْطَاسِ الْمُسْتَقِيمِ  وَلَا تَبْخَسُوا النَّاسَ أَشْيَاءهُمْ وَلَا تَعْثَوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ  (٢٦: ١٨١-١٨٣)

Give just measure and defraud none. Weigh with the right scales and do not cheat your fellow men of what is rightly theirs; and do not spread anarchy in the land. (26:181-183)

Adulteration in things is also a similar case. If a person mixes water in milk, or sand in sugar or wheat in grain, he commits the same crime because even if he weighs accurately he is not giving the buyer in full what he is buying. This is like usurping the rights of others for which he will have to face grave consequences both in this world and in that to come. Thus the Qur’an has said: “give full measure, when you measure, and weigh with correct scales. This is better and fairer as far as the consequences are concerned.”

Following Speculations

The ninth directive is that one should not base his actions on speculations. The reason is that the faculties of sight, hearing and intellect shall one day be held accountable before God. The implication of this directive is that it is not right for a Muslim to make bad estimations about other Muslims, or make allegations against others or take some action against others without proper knowledge of what the matter is or spread rumours merely on the basis of speculation or form a view about God’s being and attributes and His directives merely on the basis of conjecture and guesswork and unending analogies. In Surah Hujurat, some of these things have been mentioned with this clarity of prohibition:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَأٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَى مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ (٦:٤٩)

Believers, if an evil-doer brings you a piece of news, find out its true status, lest you inflict harm on others unwittingly and then regret your action. (49:6)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا (١٢:٤٩)

Believers, avoid being overly speculative, for some speculations are a blatant sin and do not spy on one another. (49:12)

Taking Action without Finding out the Truth

The first thing which is mentioned in these verses is that if an evil-doer informs us about something, we should not take action until we have thoroughly found out what the truth of the matter is, for we may take some action in frenzy and rage and later regret what we do.

It is evident from this directive that if the informant is an unknown person or someone about whom it is not known whether he is a good person or an evil one, the truth about him must be ascertained. On this very basis, the muhaddithun have researched into the life and times of people who narrate the words or deeds of the Prophet (sws) and if they were not able to access the details of a narrator, they rejected his narrative by regarding him to be an unknown person.

Abstaining from Excessive Conjecture

The second thing which is stated here is that one should not indulge in excessive conjecture because certain conjectures are blatant sins. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while explaining this, writes:

It is but natural for good or bad thoughts to arise in one’s heart about people whom a person encounters in life. It is these thoughts which create or sever a person’s relationship with another. Viewed thus, it is these thoughts which make and break relationships in a society. On the basis of this importance which thoughts occupy, a person should not carelessly accept or reject them; on the contrary, he should be very sharp and alive to them. In this regard, the guidance provided by Islam to its followers is that a Muslim must always think well of others unless it is proven to him that some person is not worthy of this. Thinking well of a person is an obvious requirement of the brotherhood of faith on which Islam has founded its society and which has been explained earlier. On the other hand, if a person adopts the attitude of entertaining and harbouring all sorts of ill-founded thoughts that come to his mind, then the example of such a person is that of a hunter who becomes so blind in his obsession for catching fish that he also catches snakes. Obviously, there is a great possibility for a person who becomes blind in his obsession for catching fish to end up losing his own life one day as a result. The Qur’an has stopped Muslims from this very danger that one must not start conjecturing too much because certain conjectures are blatant sins which may devastate a person. The guidance which emerges from this directive is that a person should not become so mentally sick as to think ill of others; on the contrary, he should always think well of others. If the deed or words of a person induce him to think ill of him, he should try as far as he can to make a good justification, if it can be made. He should only think contrarily when he is not able to make any sound justification. It is better to think positively of a person who deserves to be thought of negatively than to think negatively of a person who deserves to be thought of positively.65

Refraining from Inquisitiveness

The third thing which is mentioned is that one should not be inquisitive about others. Imam Aminn Ahsan Islahi writes:

Here the prohibition actually relates to being inquisitive for an evil purpose. In other words, here the intention of a person is to try to find some fault or mistake in the private life of another person and have access to the secrets of his family and family life. Sometimes, the motive of this probing is jealousy for it soothes a person to find out such facts about someone he considers to be his rival. At other times, the motive is hatred and animosity: he wants to humiliate another person by informing others of his faults. This latter tendency has now become a profession to which newspaper journalism has given a great impetus. Some journalists are in perpetual search of scandals and the journalist who is considered to be the most successful is the one who is able to lay his hands on a scandal in the private life of a famous person which makes his newspaper or journal sell like hot cakes. Such spying and probing is counter to mutual sympathy and brotherhood which are the foundations of an Islamic society; for this reason Muslims have been stopped from indulging in them. On the other hand, probing which a Muslim does to find out the circumstances of another person so that he can help him in his difficulties and needs or the spying and probing which an Islamic state does to be fully informed about the circumstances of its citizens, is neither implied here nor is it prohibited. On the contrary, such spying is a very virtuous act on the part of a neighbour so that he is aware of the circumstances and problems which his neighbour is encountering and is able to help him out. Similarly, for a state, this attitude is not just an act of virtue, it is in fact its responsibility to arrange to be informed of the good or bad circumstances of its citizens so that it is able to properly discharge its duties.66

Pride and Vanity

The tenth directive is that no one should walk with pride and vanity on God’s earth. It is thus said that howsoever much a person may strike the earth with his feet, he will not be able to rent it asunder and howsoever much a person may walk while raising his head he will not be able to reach the heights of the mountains. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… the implied meaning is that what is the meaning of showing pride and vanity in the earth made by God – the God whose glory and grandeur one witnesses in the vast expanse of the earth that He has spread out on which one’s status is not even that of an ant or an insect and the God who has created these towering mountains before which one’s status is not even that of a squirrel. One should try to recognize one’s status and always surrender oneself before the majesty and splendor of God.67

Such a gait obviously reflects one’s inner self. Wealth, authority, beauty, knowledge, power and other similar things produce pride and vanity in a person. Each of these produces a specific type of pride in one’s gait showing that his heart is devoid of the perception of serving God and there is no concept in it of God’s glory and greatness. The heart which has the perception of serving God and of His greatness only beats in the chests of people who have humility. Instead of walking arrogantly, they walk with their heads bent. Thus walking with pride and vanity is a very bad trait and its punishment is very grave too. The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said that the person who has pride even to the measure of a mustard seed will not enter Paradise.68 He has also said that honour is the lower fabric of the Almighty and greatness is His upper fabric. He who competes with Him regarding these will be punished.69

Here it should remain clear that pride and vanity are not merely reflected in one’s gait: they are evident in one’s conversation, clothes, appearance and behaviour as well. Consequently, the Qur’an says:

وَلَا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ  وَاقْصِدْ فِي مَشْيِكَ وَاغْضُضْ مِن صَوْتِكَ إِنَّ أَنكَرَ الْأَصْوَاتِ لَصَوْتُ الْحَمِيرِ (١٣: ١٨-١٩)

And do not become indifferent to people nor walk proudly on the earth: God does not like the arrogant and the one who expresses vanity and be modest in your gait and keep your voice low; indeed, the most hideous of voices is the braying of the ass. (31:18-19)

The Prophet (sws), on this very basis, has prohibited the use of all things which reflect affluence or are a means of show and pomposity or are instrumental in overawing others or belong to the mannerisms of rogues and ruffians. For this very reason, he forbade the use of silk, making covers from expensive hides and eating in utensils made of gold and silver.70 So much so, he even urged people having short beards and large moustaches to give up this arrogant appearance and said that one should satisfy one’s passion by increasing the length of the beard but moustaches should be trim in all circumstances.71 He is reported to have said: “He who wore a dress to show his status, the Almighty will clothe him with the dress of humiliation on the Day of Judgement, and then fire shall be ignited in it.”72 He is similarly reported to have said: “On the Day of Judgement, God will not wish to see a person who walked conceitedly by dragging his legware.”73

Moreover, this mental state becomes a source of great sins. Consequently, it is this conceit and arrogance which is instrumental in deliberately denying the truth, in considering oneself superior to others on the basis of colour, creed and race, in considering others to be inferior and making fun of them, in censuring others, in calling them with bad names and in scandalizing the faults of others in their absence. God has strictly forbidden all these.

Evading the Truth

Those who evade the truth and reject it in arrogance are warned that they must not consider their sin to be trivial. Their punishment is that the doors of Paradise are closed for them. Hell shall be their abode from all sides and they will abide in it forever:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُواْ بِآيَاتِنَا وَاسْتَكْبَرُواْ عَنْهَا لاَ تُفَتَّحُ لَهُمْ أَبْوَابُ السَّمَاء وَلاَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ حَتَّى يَلِجَ الْجَمَلُ فِي سَمِّ الْخِيَاطِ وَكَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُجْرِمِينَ  لَهُم مِّن جَهَنَّمَ مِهَادٌ وَمِن فَوْقِهِمْ غَوَاشٍ وَكَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الظَّالِمِينَ (٧: ٤٠-٤١)

Indeed those who denied Our revelations and evaded them in arrogance, the gates of heaven shall not be opened for them and neither will they be able to enter Paradise except if a camel is able to pass through the eye of a needle. [This is their punishment] and thus do We punish the criminals. Hell shall be their bedding and the flames of Hell shall be their covering and in this way do We punish the evil-doers. (7:40-41)

Conceit on One’s Lineage

People who show conceit and vanity on their lineage and ancestry are cautioned that all human beings are the progeny of Adam and Eve. Whites are not superior to blacks nor blacks superior to whites and similarly, Arabs are not superior to Non-Arabs and Non-Arabs are not superior to Arabs. In the sight of God, the status and nobility of a person is not founded on the basis of his family, clan, colour or creed; it is on the basis of his consciousness towards God. Only that person will be respected in His presence who is the most God-fearing and lives within the limits specified by Him even if he belongs to a low and unknown family. And he who is arrogant and conceited shall definitely be humiliated even though he belongs to a family of high status and pedigree. This division of mankind in families is merely to give people identity. Just as God has distinguished people from one another on the basis of features, colour and stature so that they can identify and recognize one another, similarly, dividing them into families and clans is meant to serve this very purpose. It has no significance beyond this:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ (13:49)

You people! We have created you from one man and one woman and divided you into tribes and clans that you might get to know one another. The noblest of you in God’s sight is he who is the most God-conscious. Indeed, God is all-knowing and wise. (49:13)

Making Fun of Others

People who make fun of others are told that in the sight of God a person is respectable or disreputable on the bases of his faith and deeds and their true weight too shall be indicated by the Almighty’s balance of justice. One cannot say that a person who considers himself to be noble in this word will end up in humiliation on the Day of Judgement and a person who is considered lowly will be rewarded greatly in Paradise. Hence every Muslim must remain aware that according to the Qur’an (49:10) once he has entered the folds of faith he has entered the universal brotherhood of Muslims in which every Muslim is a brother to another. It is not befitting for him at all to make fun of others, ridicule and censure them while thinking them to be inferior to him:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَومٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَى أَن يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاء مِّن نِّسَاء عَسَى أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّ (١١:٤٩)

Believers, let no man make fun of another man, who may perhaps be better than himself and let no woman make fun of another woman, who may perhaps be better than herself. (49:11)

Defaming and Taunting Others

Those who defame and taunt their brethren are warned to abstain from this practice. The Qur’anic words used for this in Surah Hujurat are  لَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ which imply that a person who defames and taunts others actually defames and taunts himself. Moreover, the word used is وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ بِئْسَ الاِسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ (11:49)

And do not defame one another, nor call one another with bad names. After embracing faith, even the name of disobedience is bad. [Repent from this] and [remember] those who do not repent from this are indeed wrongdoers. (49:11)



People who are guilty of backbiting are chided that it is a heinous sin. In comparison it is no less than eating the flesh of one’s deceased brother. Eating the flesh of the dead in itself is a detestable act, and if that flesh is of one’s brother how can a person like to eat it? A little deliberation shows that depicted in this description is a picture of his helplessness in self-defence. After presenting this simile the Qur’an has posed the question that if a person is not willing to tolerate such a thing then how can he tolerate such a despicable and dreadful practice as backbiting. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

Backbiting means speaking about the flaws of a person in his absence. The fact that this is done in his absence incorporates in the very meaning of backbiting the aspect that the targeted person does not get to know of it. In pursuance of keeping it secret, a backbiter gives his statements before people who hold the same opinion and are his confidants sharing the objective with him or at least are people about whom he is sure that they are not the ones who sympathize with the person he is targeting and will not reveal this secret to him.74

If one analyzes backbiting, one can see that hidden behind it is arrogance and conceit of a person that induces him to humiliate and disgrace others. Consequently, the Almighty has forbidden us from it and said that everyone must fear His Lord in this matter:

وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ (١٢:٤٩)

And no one among you should indulge in backbiting others. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? So you would dislike it. [Repent from this practice] and have fear of God. God is Ever-Forgiving and Ever-Merciful. (49:12)

Like the ten commandments of the Torah, these are the ten commandments of the Qur’an. What the Almighty (Qur’an, 42:37) has regarded as great sins and acts of vulgarity emerge from disobeying these directives. The Qur’an unequivocally states that people can be punished for this disobedience in the Hereafter. Thus every Muslim should remain cautious about it. The following three things should remain in consideration in this regard.

Firstly, if the disobedience is unintentional, God will not hold a person accountable. His law is that if a person commits a misdeed unintentionally, He will not punish him. While stating a directive about adopted sons, the Qur’an says:

وَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ فِيمَا أَخْطَأْتُم بِهِ وَلَكِن مَّا تَعَمَّدَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا (٥:٣٣)

And the mistake you have made in this matter shall be forgiven, but in what your hearts make an intention shall not be forgiven. God is Ever-Forgiving and Ever-Merciful. (33:5)

Secondly, if a person is able to abstain from disobeying these directives, then its reward is that his minor sins will be forgiven by the Merciful Lord other wise all his major and minor sins will be recorded in the register of his deeds and he will have to give their account:

إِن تَجْتَنِبُواْ كَبَآئِرَ مَا تُنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ نُكَفِّرْ عَنكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَنُدْخِلْكُم مُّدْخَلاً كَرِيمًا (٣١:٤)

If you abstain from the major sins of what is being prohibited to you, We shall forgive your minor sins and will make you enter in a place of honour. (4:31)

Thirdly, if a person disobeys any of these directives while being overwhelmed with emotions, he should repent and mend his ways. It is essential that he repent as soon as possible. The Almighty has clearly stated in the Qur’an that He will forgive people who commit a sin while being overwhelmed with emotions if they repent right after it. He will not forgive people who sin all their lives and repent when they see death approaching. Similarly, He will not forgive people who deliberately reject the truth if they continue with this attitude till their death:

إِنَّمَا التَّوْبَةُ عَلَى اللّهِ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السُّوَءَ بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ يَتُوبُونَ مِن قَرِيبٍ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ يَتُوبُ اللّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ وَكَانَ اللّهُ عَلِيماً حَكِيماً  وَلَيْسَتِ التَّوْبَةُ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ حَتَّى إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ إِنِّي تُبْتُ الآنَ وَلاَ الَّذِينَ يَمُوتُونَ وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ أُوْلَـئِكَ أَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا (٤: ١٧-١٨)

It is incumbent upon God to forgive those who commit a sin while being overwhelmed with emotions and then quickly repent. It is they who are forgiven by God. God is all-knowing and wise. But He will not forgive those who sin all their lives and, when death comes to them, say: “Now I repent!” nor those who die as disbelievers. It is for these that We have prepared a grave punishment. (4:17-18)

In the above verses, the Qur’an has ascertained two cases in which repentance shall be accepted by the Almighty. After this, one case remains: a person was not able to repent right after his sin; however, he did not delay repentance till his death. In this case, the Qur’an is silent and in the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, this silence creates hope as well as fear and the purport of the Qur’an also seems that one should remain between hope and fear in this case. He says that in spite of this what comes to his mind is the fact that such people would hopefully attain salvation through the intercession of the Prophet (sws) because in their case there is no reason for it to be prohibited.

Pinnacle of Morality

إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ وَالْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْقَانِتَاتِ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالصَّادِقَاتِ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّابِرَاتِ وَالْخَاشِعِينَ وَالْخَاشِعَاتِ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقِينَ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقَاتِ وَالصَّائِمِينَ وَالصَّائِمَاتِ وَالْحَافِظِينَ فُرُوجَهُمْ وَالْحَافِظَاتِ وَالذَّاكِرِينَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا وَالذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا (٣٥:٣٣)

Men and women who are Muslims, are true believers, serve God diligently, are sincere, patient, humble themselves before God, spend in charity, who fast and guard their private parts and remember God in abundance – on them God will bestow forgiveness and has prepared for them a great reward. (33:35)

When a person reaches the pinnacle of morality with regard to his creator and his fellow human beings the qualities which emerge in him are stated in this verse. Thus it ends with the statement that God’s mercy awaits these noble souls and He has prepared for them a great reward. In the creed of tasawwuf, the pinnacle of all efforts of a human being is to become an embodiment of divine attributes. If God is all-knowing and all-aware, a person should be no less; if God does not need a wife, he too should spend a life of celibacy; if God is self-sufficient and free of all wants and needs, he also should become free of all human wants and needs; if God controls the inner and outer worlds of man, he also should be able to walk on water, play with fire, cure the sick by touching them, bring the dead to life and control the mind and soul in whatever way he wants to. However, this is not the view of the Qur’an. According to it, the pinnacle of a human being is to mould oneself as per the requirements of God’s attributes and as a result of this become an embodiment of the qualities stated in the above verse. These are ten qualities and in the whole of its corpus, the Qur’an has not added to this list. They reflect the pinnacle of religion. It urges its followers to try to engender these qualities in themselves. If there is a level beyond this then it is that of prophethood and about it, it is well-known that it is not achieved by any effort; it is God-gifted.

Here are the details of these qualities:


The first attribute is Islam. When this word is mentioned right after Iman the way it is here, then it signifies the external form of Islam, ie the directives which relate to the deeds and words and the physical entity of a person. Thus if the tongue of a person is willing to speak and abstain from speaking at the behest of God and His Prophet (sws); if his ears are ready to hear and stop hearing at their bidding, if his hands are prepared to strike and restrain themselves at their command and if his feet are keen to walk and stop at their directive, then this is nothing but Islam. The words (3: 20) َ أَسْلَمْتُ وَجْهِي لِلَّهِ (I submit myself to God, (3:20)) and (٢: ١٣١)  أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن ; (I submit to the God of the worlds, (2:131)) which the Prophets of God speak are meant to convey this very reality.

It is evident from the Qur’an that the best examples of Islam are the Prophets themselves. Thus we have been directed to follow them to reach this position of submitting to God and being content and happy with His decisions. The Qur’an says:

قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ (٣١:٣)

Tell them: “If you love God, obey me, God will love you and forgive your sins and [you very well know that] God is Ever-Forgiving and Ever-Merciful.” (3:31)

The awareness and vigour with which this obedience should take place is thus explained by Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi:

A prophet is an embodiment of obedience to God and every action of his is a sign of his cognizance of God. For this reason, those who love God love every action of a prophet. They see that knowledge in a prophet which is the result of his cognizance of God and they witness deeds from him which are produced by this cognizance; similarly, they see in him the habits which please God and they observe in him the attributes which God likes and they perceive in his personality the grandeur which is a reflection of God’s grandeur. Thus they diligently seek every imprint left by a prophet and try to follow it and since they do all this to please God they are rewarded by Him by becoming His favoured ones.75


The second attribute is iman (faith). This is the inner facet of religion and here it implies the full faith one has about the promises of God together with His true cognizance. Thus a person who believes in God in such a manner that he submits himself totally to him and is satisfied over His decisions in the utmost manner, then such a person is called mu’min (true believer). It is through him that hearts are purified, intellect receives guidance and intentions are cleansed. It is this faith which affects both one’s ideologies and one’s deeds simultaneously and embraces one’s whole being. Then with the remembrance of God, reciting His revelations and with manifestation of His signs in the world within a person and that outside, his faith grows. The Qur’an says:

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَإِذَا تُلِيَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُهُ زَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَعَلَى رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ (٢:٨)

The true believers are those whose hearts are filled with awe at the mention of God, and whose faith grows stronger as they listen to His revelations and who trust in God alone. (8:2)

The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said that he gained sweetness of faith who was pleased to accept God as Lord, Islam as religion and Muhammad as prophet.76 The Qur’an has compared faith to a tree whose roots are deep in the soil and branches spread in the vastness of the sky:

أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ ضَرَبَ اللّهُ مَثَلاً كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً كَشَجَرةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ أَصْلُهَا ثَابِتٌ وَفَرْعُهَا فِي السَّمَاء  تُؤْتِي أُكُلَهَا كُلَّ حِينٍ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهَا وَيَضْرِبُ اللّهُ الأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ (1٤: ٢٤-٢٥)

Have you not reflected how God has mentioned the example of the word of purity? Its example is like that of a pure tree whose roots are deep in the earth and branches are spread in the sky; it yields its fruit in every season by the directive of God. [This is a parable of the pure word] and God mentions such parables to men so that they may take heed. (14:24-25)

While explaining these verses, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi has written:

In the verse, the expression “word of purity” obviously refers to the “word of faith”. It is compared by the Almighty to a fruit-laden tree whose roots are firmly implanted in the soil and its branches are nicely spread in the sky and it is bearing fruit in every season with the blessing of its Lord. Its roots being deeply implanted in the soil refers to the fact that faith is deeply and firmly implanted in human nature and that it is not like a plant which has sprouted from dung which has no root and a slight calamity can uproot it like the word of disbelief about which the Qur’an has used the words إِجْتُثَّتْ مِنْ فُوْقِ الأَرْضَ مَا لَهَا مِنْ قَرَار (١٤: ٢٦(which can be uprooted from the very surface of the earth; it has no stability, (14:26)). On the other hand, like a strong tree it has firm and deeply set roots so that even if a storm passes upon it, it is not disturbed by the slightest. The verse goes on to describe that it is lavishly fruit-laden and that it is not a like a barren tree which neither provides anyone with shade nor with fruit. Its spaciously spread branches in the sky provide shade to caravans and in every season obtains sustenance and nourishment from its fruit. This obviously refers to the blessings and benefits which a believer bestows on his own life and through it on others who in some way come in his contact. These blessings and benefits by nature are both ideological as well as practical. They bear witness to a person’s faith and through it a person becomes dear to God and attains His nearness.77

The Qur’an asserts that if at some time this requirement arises, a true believer should give it the foremost priority and nothing in this world should be dearer to him. The Qur’an says:

قُلْ إِن كَانَ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَآؤُكُمْ وَإِخْوَانُكُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُكُمْ وَأَمْوَالٌ اقْتَرَفْتُمُوهَا وَتِجَارَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَاكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَهَا أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُم مِّنَ اللّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهَادٍ فِي سَبِيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُواْ حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ اللّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ وَاللّهُ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ (٢٤:٩)

[O Prophet!] tell them: “If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your tribes, the wealth you have acquired, the merchandise you fear may not be sold, and the homes you like, are dearer to you than God, His Prophet and the struggle for His cause, then wait until God makes His Judgement and [remember that] God does not guide such people who break their promises.” (9:24)

The Prophet (sws) has explained this reality in various ways. He has said that no one can be a true believer unless he loves the Prophet (sws) more than his children, parents and relatives.78 At another instance, he has remarked that it is this love with God and the Prophet (sws) after which a person can be aware of the real taste of faith.79

But what is the nature of this love? Since there are a lot of misconceptions about it and people have gone to the two extremes in this regard, it is appropriate that one understands it. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

It does not merely imply the passionate love one naturally has for one’s wife, children and other relatives, but it also refers to the love on the basis of intellect and principles for some viewpoint and principle. It is because of this love that a person, in every sphere of life, gives priority to this viewpoint and principle. For it, he sacrifices everything – every directive and desire and every other viewpoint and principle but never sacrifices this for anything of the world. To uphold this viewpoint and principle, he holds every other thing as inferior and subservient but in no way puts up with seeing it inferior and subservient. If his own desires oppose this viewpoint, he fights with it. So much so, if the demands of his wife, children and relatives clash with the demands of this viewpoint, he adheres to it and without any hesitation turns down the desires of his wife and children and the demands of his family and clan.80

This is the essence of Iman and Islam which has come out from the tongue of the Prophet (sws) in the form of a sublime prayer:

أَللَّهُمَّ أَسْلَمْتُ وَجْهِي إِلِيْكَ وَفَوَضَّتُ أَمْرِيِ إِلِيْكَ وَأَلجَْأتُ ظَهْرِيْ إِليِْكَ رَغْبَةً وَرَهْبَةً إِلِيْكَ لاَ مَلْجَأ وَلاَ مَنْجَى مِنْكَ إِلاَّ إِلِيْكَ أَللَّهُمَّ آمَنْتُ بِكِتاَبِكَ الذِّي أَنْزَلْتَ وَبِنَبِيِّكَ الذَّيِ أَرْسَلْتَ

O God I have resigned myself to You and I have consigned my matter to you and have taken support from You fearing Your grandeur and moving towards You in anticipation. There is no refuge and shelter after running away from You, and if there is, it is with You. Lord! I have professed faith in your Book which You have revealed and have professed faith in the Prophet you have sent as a Messenger.81

Humbling before God

The third attribute is humbling before God. This is an inner expression of a person which sets a person at the obedience of his Lord with full sincerity and dedication. This is the most prominent manifestation of the relationship between the Lord and His worshippers in the inner-self of a believer. These are people who always serve God and in no circumstances become rebellious against their Lord. Sorrow, happiness, vivacity, exuberance and moments of bliss or grief do not swerve them from their obedience. Even sexual impulses, strong desires and onslaughts of emotions do not make them stumble before their Lord. Their hearts acknowledge His grandeur and greatness and they consider the shari‘ah a set of divine directives given by God to them in His very presence and can’t even think of evading what is given in this manner. A little deliberation shows that this is the very state of this entire universe and all its creation:

أَوَ لَمْ يَرَوْاْ إِلَى مَا خَلَقَ اللّهُ مِن شَيْءٍ يَتَفَيَّأُ ظِلاَلُهُ عَنِ الْيَمِينِ وَالْشَّمَآئِلِ سُجَّدًا لِلّهِ وَهُمْ دَاخِرُونَ  وَلِلّهِ يَسْجُدُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ مِن دَآبَّةٍ وَالْمَلآئِكَةُ وَهُمْ لاَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ  يَخَافُونَ رَبَّهُم مِّن فَوْقِهِمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ (١٦: ٤٨-٥٠)

Do they not see how every object God created casts its shadow right and left, prostrating itself before God in all humility? Before God prostrate all the animals and angels of the heavens and the earth and are never rebellious towards their Lord. They are not disdainful; they fear their Lord who is above them and do exactly as they are directed. (16:48-50)


The fourth attribute is veracity. It means that a person’s intention, words and deeds are upright and in harmony with one another. A person should not utter a single word which is untrue, his deeds should not contradict his words and if he adheres to every word he gives, then this is the veracity of his words and deeds; however, this should necessarily be supplemented with the veracity of his intentions. The Qur’an has termed it as ikhlas (sincerity) and its antithesis as hypocrisy and at various places clarified that to God the real deeds are those which spring forth from within a person; thus the pinnacle of veracity is achieved through this harmony of words and deeds and intention. The Qur’anic words (Those who made a promise with God and then fulfilled it, (33:23)) point to this very aspect; ie, truth and veracity should manifest themselves in the words uttered by the tongue, the intention of the heart and every deed done. The Qur’an says:

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَرْتَابُوا وَجَاهَدُوا بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ (١٥:٤٩)

True believers are those who professed faith in God and His Messenger and then never remained in any doubt and fought with their wealth and with their persons in the cause of God. Such are those who veracious. (49:15)


The fifth attribute mentioned in the verse is patience. It means to restrain oneself from restlessness and anxiety. In the verse, وَ لَوْ أَنَّهُمْ صَيَرُوْا حَتَّى تَخْرُجَ إِلِيْهِمْ (49: 5)  (… and if they had been patient until you came out, (49:5)), it is used in this initial meaning. Then the meaning of showing perseverance and resolve while encountering hardships and hindrances was incorporated into it. Thus the patience which is mentioned in the verse is not something akin to weakness and frailty that a person is forced to adopt when he is helpless and weak; on the contrary, it is the fountainhead of determination and resolve and the pinnacle of human character. It is because of patience that a person becomes internally strong and instead of complaining about the dreadful experiences of life, welcomes them accepting them whole-heartedly and considers them to be from God. Viewed thus, a patient person is one who diligently adheres to his view while fighting greed and fear and is fully content and happy with the decisions of His Lord.

The Qur’an has mentioned three instances when it is required: poverty, disease and war. A little deliberation shows that the fountainhead for all calamities and hardships are these three things. The Qur’an says:

وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاء والضَّرَّاء وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ أُولَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَأُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ (٢: ١٧٧)

And those who are steadfast in adversity, illness and in times of war. (2:177)

A special linguistic style in Arabic is employed here in this verse to praise the trait of patience showing how extra-ordinarily significant it is in the character of a person. A further explanation of this word can be seen from way it is used in the Qur’an:

When the Prophet Muhammad (sws) began his preaching endeavour, he was directed to adhere to his task with full diligence, disregarding the animosity and hostility of the enemy until the judgement of God arrived. He had to wait for this judgement and not take any action before it. The Qur’an has used the word “patience” to convey this whole meaning:

وَاتَّبِعْ مَا يُوحَى إِلَيْكَ وَاصْبِرْ حَتَّىَ يَحْكُمَ اللّهُ وَهُوَ خَيْرُ الْحَاكِمِينَ (١٠٩:١٠)

And follow what is revealed to you, and wait patiently till God edelivers His Judgement, and He is the best of judges. (10:109)

The Prophet Job (sws) faced tremendous hardships and suffering; however, he never complained and was fully content with what was ordained for him. When the Almighty praised him for this behaviour, this very trait of “patience” was used for him:

إِنَّا وَجَدْنَاهُ صَابِرًا نِعْمَ الْعَبْدُ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ (٤٤:٣٨)

We found him patient; the best of men, someone who always turned to God. (38:44)

The Qur’an has mentioned the words of wisdom Luqman communicated to his son. He told him to face the hardships encountered in the cause of God like a man:

وَأْمُرْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَانْهَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَاصْبِرْ عَلَى مَا أَصَابَكَ إِنَّ ذَلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ (١٧:٣١)

And enjoin virtue and forbid evil. Endure with patience and fortitude any difficulty you encounter. No doubt, doing this is an act of forbearance. (31:17)

One of the important directives given to people who take up the task of preaching is that if their addressees resort to oppression and harming them then while ignoring these excesses they should respond in a virtuous manner. This of course is no ordinary thing. The toleration, forbearance and forgiveness required for this is also denoted by the word “patience” in the Qur’an:

ادْعُ إِلِى سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَن ضَلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ وَإِنْ عَاقَبْتُمْ فَعَاقِبُواْ بِمِثْلِ مَا عُوقِبْتُم بِهِ وَلَئِن صَبَرْتُمْ لَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لِّلصَّابِرينَ (١٦: ١٢٥-١٢٦)

Call men to the path of your Lord with wisdom and kindly exhortation and debate with them in the most befitting manner. Indeed, your Lord best knows those who stray from His path and those who are rightly guided. And if you avenge, let this be commensurate with the wrong that has been inflicted upon you. And if you exercise patience, then this is the best way for the patient. (16:125-126)

وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلًا مِّمَّن دَعَا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا وَقَالَ إِنَّنِي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا ذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ (٤١: ٣٣-٣٥)

And who speaks better than he who calls men towards God, does good deeds and says: “I am a Muslim?” And [in reality] good and evil are not equal. Requite evil with good, and you will see that he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend. And [remember that] none will attain this wisdom except those who are patient and only those who are truly fortunate. (41:33-35)

It is this very word which is used for people who gallantly and resolutely fight the enemy in the battlefield when death stares them in the eyes and fear and dread tries to overwhelm them:

فَإِنْ يَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ مِائَةٌ صَابِرَةٌ يَغْلِبُوا مِائَتَيْنِ وَإِنْ يَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ أَلْفٌ  يَغْلِبُوا أَلْفَيْنِ  بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ )٨: ٦٦)

But [ever so], if there are a hundred of you, patient and persevering, they will subdue two hundred, and if a thousand, they will subdue two thousand, with the permission of God and [in reality], God is with those who are patient. (8:66)

This word is also used for a person who keeps resolutely discharging throughout his life all the responsibilities and obligations which the Almighty has imposed upon him. In the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, the way a farmer tills the soil, sows seeds in his fields, waters them, a person endowed with this trait tills the soil of his personality and protects it, then such an attitude is also called “patience”:

رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا فَاعْبُدْهُ وَاصْطَبِرْ لِعِبَادَتِهِ (٦٥:١٦)

…He is the Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. Worship Him, then, and with patience remain in His service. (19:65)

If on occasions of sorrow and happiness which every person encounters in his life, a person exercises self-control, happiness and joy do not make him proud and arrogant and sorrow does not frustrate and upset him, then such an attitude is also called “patience” by the Qur’an:

وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَا الإِنْسَانَ مِنَّا رَحْمَةً ثُمَّ نَزَعْنَاهَا مِنْهُ إِنَّهُ لَيَئُوسٌ كَفُورٌ وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ نَعْمَاء بَعْدَ ضَرَّاء مَسَّتْهُ لَيَقُولَنَّ ذَهَبَ السَّيِّئَاتُ عَنِّي إِنَّهُ لَفَرِحٌ فَخُورٌ إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ صَبَرُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ أُوْلَـئِكَ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ (١١: ٩-١١)

If We show Our mercy to man and then deprive him of it, he becomes frustrated and becomes ungrateful. And if after adversity We grant him favours, he says: “Gone are my hardships,” and grows jubilant and boastful. Not so the patient who do good deeds. Forgiveness is for them a great reward also. (11:9-11)

It is evident from the foregoing references that patience in the Qur’an is not the name of forgiving someone out of compulsion or being silent because of helplessness; it is the name of a trait on account of which a person is always content on the decisions of his God, never worried if his efforts are not bearing fruit, not restless and uneasy, is not revengeful even against those who harm him, is steadfast in defending the truth even if death stares at him, exercises restraint both in times of joy and sorrow and all his life diligently discharges what he thinks to be his obligation.

It is this aspect of human character because of which the relationship of tawakkul (trust) is established between him and his creator and, in all circumstances, he trusts Him. The Qur’anic words إِنَّا للَّهِ وَ إِنَّا إلِيْهِ رَاجِعُوْن (٢: ١٥٥ (We are for God and to Him shall we return, (2:155)) express this very trust and submission. The Qur’an says that those who abide by these words all their life will be rewarded with special favours from their Lord:

وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُواْ إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ أُولَـئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ وَأُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ (٢: ١٥٥-١٥٧)

And [O Prophet!] give glad tidings [of success in this world and in that to come] to those who persevere [in this cause]. [Those] who when afflicted with some calamity say: ‘We belong to God, and to Him [one day] we shall return. On such men will be God’s blessings and mercy and it is they who will be rightly guided. (2:155-157)

Khushu‘ (Humility)

The sixth attribute is khushu‘. The humility and meekness which is engendered in a person as a result of comprehending the awe, grandeur and majesty of God is called khushu‘ by the Qur’an. This is an internal feeling of a person which makes him submit himself before God and also produces in him the feelings of mercy and love for other human beings.

In the first case, its best manifestation is the prayer, especially the tahajjud prayer when a believer communicates with the Almighty while being cut off from the world, and nothing except the remembrance of God fill his secluded moments. At other instances, words such as مُسْتَغْفِرِيْنَ بِالأَسْحَارِ ( ٣:١٧) (those who seek forgiveness in the middle of night, (٣:١٧)) and وَالَّذِينَ يَبِيتُونَ لِرَبِّهِمْ سُجَّدًا وَقِيَامًا (٢٥: ٦٤) (those who spend their nights while standing and prostrating before their Lord, (25:64)) express this. By placing khushu‘ immediately before charity and the fast, the Almighty through this arrangement has referred to this very aspect and called the prayer by its essence. As referred to earlier, in the tahajjud prayer, this essence manifests the most. It is evident from various indications of the Qur’an and from the guidance of the Prophet (sws) that in this time a person is in the presence of his Lord, and it is a time cherished by people who love God. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi says:

The calm and peace at the time of tahajjud stands unrivalled in the twenty four hours of a day. Peace and tranquility reign supreme from the earth to the heavens above. Everyone is asleep at this time. Perhaps, even Satan is sleeping. Only the Almighty, who never sleeps, is awake or he is awake who is among the most fortunate. If one stands up in the shade of the stars, one will in reality feel that the doors of the heavens are open; one will hear a proclamation of mercy and acceptance of repentance. The aura and ambience of this time is so manifest that both the devout and the profane, the righteous and the sinful are aware of them. Those who sleep at this time think that it is the best time for sleep and those are awake at this time think that it is the best time for being awake. In reality, both are correct in their contentions. The time which is the most cherished for sleeping is the same which is the most cherished for being awake. Real sacrifice is the sacrifice of what is cherished. Consequently, for this very reason, the Almighty has fixed this time for the prayer of His near ones. For those who leave the comfort of their beds at this time, the Almighty Himself descends to the nearest heaven to hear their prayers and wishes and proclaims: “Is there any person who repents at this time that I may forgive him? Is there anyone who seeks My mercy that I may enshroud him in My mercy?”82

In the second case, this feeling effects the whole personality of a believer and makes him an embodiment of affection for his family and very caring and sympathetic towards his friends, relatives and acquaintances and a fountainhead of guidance for the society. Consequently, it is because of such kind, humane and benevolent people that comes into being a society which is a paradise of God on earth and the objective and desire of every upright person. While mentioning the attributes of such noble souls, the Qur’an says:

وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا وَالَّذِينَ يَبِيتُونَ لِرَبِّهِمْ سُجَّدًا وَقِيَامًا وَالَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا اصْرِفْ عَنَّا عَذَابَ جَهَنَّمَ إِنَّ عَذَابَهَا كَانَ غَرَامًا إِنَّهَا سَاءتْ مُسْتَقَرًّا وَمُقَامًا … وَإِذَا مَرُّوا بِاللَّغْوِ مَرُّوا كِرَامًا (٢٥: ٦٣-٧٢)

And true servants of the Merciful are those who walk humbly on the earth and if the ignorant argue with them, they say: “Peace!” and leave their way and those who spend their nights standing and prostrating before their Lord and pray: “Lord, ward off from us the punishment of Hell, for its punishment is everlasting, it is an evil dwelling and an evil abode” … and who maintain their dignity when they pass by anything which is immoral. (25:63-72)


The seventh attribute is charity. One level of spending in the way of God is that one should pay the obligatory zakah from his wealth. A higher level is that he considers whatever wealth remains with him after spending on his personal and business needs to be the right of the society and whenever he sees some one in need, he whole-heartedly helps him. Perhaps the highest level in this regard is that he fulfills the needs of others while sacrificing his own needs and ignoring his own desires. The Qur’an refers to this attitude by the words: وَ يُؤثِرُوْنَ عَلَى أنْفُسِهِمْ وَ لَوْ كَانَ بِهِمْ خَصَاصَة (٥٩: ٩) (those who, in spite of being needy, give preference to the needs of others, (59:9)). The words of the verse in discussion “those who give in charity” can be used for all these three levels of people. However, when enumerating the qualities of a person, he is called a mutasaddiq (as is in the verse under discussion), it would primarily refer to the highest level mentioned above. In other words, this quality in a person means that he is a generous and large-hearted person who is always on the look out to spend in the way of God. This actually is a manifestation of the previously mentioned khusu‘ – this time in relation to human beings. It was for this reason that the prayer and spending in the way of God are generally mentioned adjacently in the Qur’an.

The Fast

The eighth attribute is the fast. It specifically targets disciplining the soul and nurturing patience. The Qur’an says that its objective is to achieve piety (taqwa). Thus al-Sa’imin are people who have such a strong desire to become pious that they keep fasting to attain it. It follows from this that these people are the ones who abstain from evil, desist from vulgarity and their life is an embodiment of the highest of morals.

Guarding the Private Parts

The ninth attribute is guarding the private parts. This is a consequence of disciplining the soul and of piety. This expression which refers to people who refrain from nudity, lewdness and vulgarity also occurs in some other verses of the Qur’an. The implication is that they guard their chastity and modesty to the utmost. Thus except at instances they are allowed to reveal themselves, they never do so whether in private or in public. They also do not wear clothes which reveal body parts which have sexual attraction in any manner for the opposite gender. It is this extent of abstaining from vulgarity that produces the society in which chastity reigns supreme and men and women instead of trying to reveal their bodies are anxious to conceal them as much as they can.

Remembering God in Abundance

The tenth attribute is to remember God in abundance. When the thought of his Lord takes firm ground in the heart of a person, he does not consider it enough to merely worship his God at the specified times of the day. When he sees a sign of God, his tongue spontaneously utters the words سُبْحَانَ اللهِ (glory be to Allah). He begins all his tasks and routines by saying بِسْمِ الله (in the name of Allah). When he receives a favour from his Lord, he expresses his gratitude by the words الْحَمْدُ لله (gratitude is for Allah). He never expresses his intention for something without uttering the words إِنْ شَاءَ الله (if Allah wills) and   مَا شَاءَ الله (what Allah wills). He seeks God’s help in all his affairs. He asks Him for His mercy on every calamity that befalls him. He turns to him in every hardship. He remembers God before going to sleep and begins his day by taking His name. In short, at all instances and at all moments, he is constantly in contact with his Lord. Not only this; when he prays, he remembers God; when he fasts, he remembers God; when he recites the Qur’an, he remembers God, when he spends on the poor, he remembers God; when he abstains from sin, he remembers God; when he falls in sin, he remembers God and becomes anxious to seek forgiveness from Him; one form of this remembrance is reflection: when we look at the world created by God, we see an astounding variety in the countless creatures He has created; we see the astounding products of human intellect around us; we see stormy seas and flowing rivers, lush green vegetation, abundant rain and the sequence of days and nights. We witness the outcome of winds and clouds. We also see how the heavens and the earth have been made and the astonishing way in which they are built; their benefits and uses for us are also apparent to us; they have a purpose and meaning to them; then we have the signs of God that are found not only in the world around us but also in the world within us; every now and then these signs appear in new and more enchanting forms. When a believer reflects on these signs of God, his heart and mind are filled with the remembrance of God. Consequently, he spontaneously declares: God! You have not made this world without a purpose; it is against Your knowledge and stature to do something meaningless and purposeless; I know this world will definitely culminate in a day of judgement in which people would be punished who spent their lives thinking that the world had been created by a merry-maker for merry making; I seek refuge with you from their fate:

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلاَفِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لآيَاتٍ لِّأُوْلِي الألْبَابِ الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىَ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذا بَاطِلاً سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ (٣: ١٩٠-١٩١)

In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are many signs for men of understanding; those who remember God while standing, sitting, and lying down, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth. [Their prayer is:] “Lord, You have not created this without a purpose. Glory be to You for you do not do anything in vain! Save us from the punishment of the Fire.” (3:190-191)

There are many such supplications which have been reported from the Prophet (sws). After the prayer, rehearsing these supplications is the best way to remember God. We are fortunate enough to have a treasure of these prophetic supplications preserved with us in almost their original words. Their grandeur, subtlety and meaningfulness is no less than a miracle of language. There is little chance that there be a better collection of supplications which can be presented to the Lord. If a person has the proclivity to remember God, he should try to make use of these supplications as best as he can.

Some selected supplications of the Prophet (sws) are presented below:


سُبْحَانَ اللهِ وَالحَمْدُ للهِ وَلاَ إلهَ إِلا اللهُ واللهُ أَكْبَرْ

Glory be to God; gratitude is for God only; there is no god except God; He is the greatest. 83


سُبْحَانَ اللهِ وَ بِحَمْدِهِ

Glory be to God and He possesses all worthy attributes. 84

The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said that the sins of a person who says these words a hundred times are forgiven even if they are as much as the foam of the seas.85


سُبْحَانَ اللهِ وَ بِحَمْدِهِ سُبْحَانَ اللهِ العَظِيْم

Glory be to God, and He possesses all worthy attributes. Glory be to God, the Mighty.86

The Prophet (sws) has said that these two words are very light for the tongue but heavy in the balance and very dear to God.


لَا إِلهَ إلَّا اللُه وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيْكَ لَهُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَلَهُ الحَمْدُ وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيءٍ قَدِيْرٌ

There is no god but God; He is alone; No one is His partner; To Him belongs the Kingdom and praise is for Him only and He has power over all things. 87

He is reported to have said that he who uttered these words a hundred times a day, his reward will be equivalent to the reward of liberating ten slaves; moreover, hundred virtuous deeds are added to his account and a hundred of his sins are forgiven. 88


لَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ

Power and strength are all from God. 89


اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَنِي وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ وَأَنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لَا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ

O God You are my Lord! There is no god except You. You have created me and I am Your servant and am abiding by my promise and pledge to You to the best of my capacity. I seek refuge with You from the evil of my deeds; I acknowledge Your favours upon me and I confess my sins; forgive me because there is none except You who forgives. 90

He is reported to have said that if a person utters this supplication with full resolve and dies the same day before evening sets, he shall be granted Paradise and if he utters this supplication at night and dies before dawn, he also shall be granted Paradise.


الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَحْيَانَا بَعْدَ مَا أَمَاتَنَا وَإِلَيْهِ النُّشُورُ

Gratitude is for God alone who gave us life after death and one day towards Him shall be the return. 91


أَمْسَيْنَا وَأَمْسَى الْمُلْكُ لِلَّهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ اللَّهُمَّ أَسْأَلُكَ خَيْرَ هَذِهِ اللَّيْلَةِ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ هَذِهِ اللَّيْلَةِ وَشَرِّ مَا بَعْدَهَا اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ الْكَسَلِ وَسُوءِ الْكِبَرِ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ عَذَابٍ فِي النَّارِ وَعَذَابٍ فِي الْقَبْرِ

We entered into the evening and God’s kingdom also entered into the evening. Gratitude is for God and there is no god except God. He is alone and there is no god but He. He is alone; no one is His partner; To Him belongs the kingdom and praise is for Him only and He has power over all things. O God I seek this night’s goodness and the goodness of what is in it; and I seek refuge with you from the evil of the night and the evil of what is in it. O God! I seek refuge with You from laziness, from old age, from the evil of old age, from the trials of the world and from the torment of the graves. 92


اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْلَمْتُ وَجْهِي إِلَيْكَ وَفَوَّضْتُ أَمْرِي إِلَيْكَ وَأَلْجَأْتُ ظَهْرِي إِلَيْكَ رَهْبَةً وَرَغْبَةً إِلَيْكَ لَا مَلْجَأَ وَلَا مَنْجَا مِنْكَ إِلَّا إِلَيْكَ آمَنْتُ بِكِتَابِكَ الَّذِي أَنْزَلْتَ وَبِنَبِيِّكَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلْتَ فَإِنْ مُتَّ مُتَّ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ فَاجْعَلْهُنَّ آخِرَ مَا تَقُولُ فَقُلْتُ أَسْتَذْكِرُهُنَّ وَبِرَسُولِكَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلْتَ قَالَ لَا وَبِنَبِيِّكَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلْتَ

O God I have tendered myself to You and submitted my affairs to You and rested my back against You while fearing your might and while moving towards you with fondness. There is no refuge and resting place after running away from You, and if ever there is, then it is with You. Lord! I professed faith in the book that You have revealed and professed faith in the prophet whom You have sent as a messenger.93

The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said that he who uttered this supplication while going to bed and then died that very night, then he died on Islam.


اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّ السَّمَوَاتِ وَرَبَّ الْأَرْضِ وَرَبَّ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ فَالِقَ الْحَبِّ وَالنَّوَى مُنَزِّلَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنْجِيلِ وَالْقُرْآنِ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ كُلِّ ذِي شَرٍّ أَنْتَ آخِذٌ بِنَاصِيَتِهِ أَنْتَ الْأَوَّلُ فَلَيْسَ قَبْلَكَ شَيْءٌ وَأَنْتَ الْآخِرُ فَلَيْسَ بَعْدَكَ شَيْءٌ وَأَنْتَ الظَّاهِرُ فَلَيْسَ فَوْقَكَ شَيْءٌ وَأَنْتَ الْبَاطِنُ فَلَيْسَ دُونَكَ شَيْءٌ زَادَ وَهْبٌ فِي حَدِيثِهِ اقْضِ عَنِّي الدَّيْنَ وَأَغْنِنِي مِنْ الْفَقْرِ

 O God! The Lord of the heavens and the earth and Lord of everything. O He Who tears apart a grain and a fruit-stone Who has revealed the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur’an, I seek refuge with you from all the evil of evil \things whose forehead is in Your hands; You are the foremost, nothing is before You and You are the last and nothing is after You. You are the apparent, nothing is above You and You are the hidden and nothing is below You. Please pay my debts and make me affluent by doing away with my poverty. 94


سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي سَخَّرَ لَنَا هَذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لَهُ مُقْرِنِينَ وَإِنَّا إِلَى رَبِّنَا لَمُنْقَلِبُونَ اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّا نَسْأَلُكَ فِي سَفَرِنَا هَذَا الْبِرَّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَمِنْ الْعَمَلِ مَا تَرْضَى اللَّهُمَّ هَوِّنْ عَلَيْنَا سَفَرَنَا هَذَا وَاطْوِ عَنَّا بُعْدَهُ اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ الصّاحِبُ فِي السَّفَرِ وَالْخَلِيفَةُ فِي الْأَهْلِ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ وَعْثَاءِ السَّفَرِ وَكَآبَةِ الْمَنْظَرِ وَسُوءِ الْمُنْقَلَبِ فِي الْمَالِ وَالْأَهْلِ

Glory be to He Who has made this transport subservient to us otherwise we would not have been able to make it subservient to us, and in reality we are to return to our Lord. O God! We ask from You piety and virtue in this journey of ours and ask from You [to make us do] a deed which makes You happy. O God! Please make this journey comfortable for us and shorten its length. O God! You are the companion in this journey and the guardian for the family left behind. O God! I seek refuge with You from the hardships of this journey and from any evil sight that I may see and from any evil which may await me when I return to my family and my wealth. 95


اللَّهُمَّ رَحْمَتَكَ أَرْجُو فَلَا تَكِلْنِي إِلَى نَفْسِي طَرْفَةَ عَيْنٍ وَ أَصْلِحْ لِي شَأْنِي كُلَّهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إلاَّ أَنْتَ

O God! I am hopeful of Your mercy. Please do not consign me to my base desires for even a moment and reform all my affairs. Lord! There is no god except You. 96


اللَّهُمَّ اكْفِنِي بِحَلَالِكَ عَنْ حَرَامِكَ وَأَغْنِنِي بِفَضْلِكَ عَمَّنْ سِوَاكَ

O God! Let Your lawful be enough for me after leaving aside the prohibited. And with Your blessing make me indifferent to everything except You. 97


اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي عَبْدُكَ وَابْنُ عَبْدِكَ وَابْنُ أَمَتِكَ نَاصِيَتِي بِيَدِكَ مَاضٍ فِيَّ حُكْمُكَ عَدْلٌ فِيَّ قَضَاؤُكَ أَسْأَلُكَ بِكُلِّ اسْمٍ هُوَ لَكَ سَمَّيْتَ بِهِ نَفْسَكَ أَوْ عَلَّمْتَهُ أَحَدًا مِنْ خَلْقِكَ أَوْ أَنْزَلْتَهُ فِي كِتَابِكَ أَوْ اسْتَأْثَرْتَ بِهِ فِي عِلْمِ الْغَيْبِ عِنْدَكَ أَنْ تَجْعَلَ الْقُرْآنَ رَبِيعَ قَلْبِي وَنُورَ صَدْرِي وَجِلَاءَ حُزْنِي وَذَهَابَ هَمِّي

O God! I am Your servant, the son of Your male servant and maid servant. My forehead is in Your hands. Your commands are implemented on me. Your decision about me is correct. By means of every name of Yours by which You have called Yourself or revealed in Your Book or taught to any of Your creations or adopted in knowledge specific to You, I request You to make the Qur’an the season of spring for my heart, the radiance of my chest, the remedy of my sorrow and the solution of my difficulties. 98


اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ الْهَمِّ وَالْحَزَنِ وَالْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ وَالْبُخْلِ وَالْجُبْنِ وَضَلَعِ الدَّيْنِ وَغَلَبَةِ الرِّجَالِ

O God! I seek Your refuge from sorrow, distress, meekness, laziness, cowardice, stinginess and from the burden of debt and from the dominance of people. 99


اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ الْكَسَلِ وَالْهَرَمِ وَالْمَغْرَمِ وَالْمَأْثَمِ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ عَذَابِ النَّارِ وَفِتْنَةِ النَّارِ وَفِتْنَةِ الْقَبْرِ وَعَذَابِ الْقَبْرِ وَشَرِّ فِتْنَةِ الْغِنَى وَشَرِّ فِتْنَةِ الْفَقْرِ وَمِنْ شَرِّ فِتْنَةِ الْمَسِيحِ الدَّجَّالِ اللَّهُمَّ اغْسِلْ خَطَايَايَ بِمَاءِ الثَّلْجِ وَالْبَرَدِ وَنَقِّ قَلْبِي مِنْ الْخَطَايَا كَمَا يُنَقَّى الثَّوْبُ الْأَبْيَضُ مِنْ الدَّنَسِ وَبَاعِدْ بَيْنِي وَبَيْن خَطَايَايَ كَمَا بَاعَدْتَ بَيْنَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ

O God! I seek refuge with You from laziness, old age, penalties and sins. O God! I seek refuge with You from the torment of the Fire and the trial of the Fire and the trial of the grave and torment of the grave and the trial of wealth and the trial of poverty and from the trial of the great deceiver who will pose himself to be Jesus (sws). O Lord! Wash my sins with water and snow and hail and cleanse my heart of sins the way a white cloth is cleansed of dirt and distance me from my sins the way you have distanced the east and the west from one another. 100


اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ عِلْمٍ لَا يَنْفَعُ وَمِنْ قَلْبٍ لَا يَخْشَعُ وَمِنْ نَفْسٍ لَا تَشْبَعُ وَمِنْ دَعْوَةٍ لَا يُسْتَجَابُ لَهَا

O God! I seek refuge with You from knowledge which is not beneficial, from the heart which is bereft of humility, from the soul which is never quenched and from the prayer which is never accepted.101


اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي خَطِيئَتِي وَجَهْلِي وَإِسْرَافِي فِي أَمْرِي وَمَا أَنْتَ أَعْلَمُ بِهِ مِنِّي اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي جِدِّي وَهَزْلِي وَخَطَئِي وَعَمْدِي وَكُلُّ ذَلِكَ عِنْدِي اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي مَا قَدَّمْتُ وَمَا أَخَّرْتُ وَمَا أَسْرَرْتُ وَمَا أَعْلَنْتُ وَمَا أَنْتَ أَعْلَمُ بِهِ مِنِّي أَنْتَ الْمُقَدِّمُ وَأَنْتَ الْمُؤَخِّرُ وَأَنْتَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

O God! Forgive my mistakes and foolishness and my excesses I commit in my affairs and all those things which You are more aware of than me. O God! Forgive whatever I have done with seriousity and whatever I have done in jest, whatever I have done intentionally and whatever I have done un-intentionally. All this is from me. O God! Forgive whatever I have sent forward and whatever I have left behind and whatever I have concealed and whatever I have done openly and that also which You know more than me. It is You Who sends forward and it is You Who relegates backwards and You have power over all things.102


اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ الْهُدَى وَالتُّقَى وَالْعَفَافَ وَالْغِنَى

O God I seek from You guidance and virtue and purification of the soul and being self-sufficient.103


اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَارْحَمْنِي وَاهْدِنِي وَعَافِنِي وَارْزُقْنِي

O God! Forgive me, have mercy on me, give guidance to me, grant me peace and bless me with favours.104


اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ

God bless us with good in this world and in the Hereafter too and save us from the torment of the Fire!105


اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ عِلْمًا نَافِعًا وَعَمَلًا مُتَقَبَّلًا وَرِزْقًا طَيِّبًا

O God! I seek from You knowledge which is beneficial and deeds which are acceptable and a livelihood which is pure.106


اللَّهُمَّ بِعِلْمِكَ الْغَيْبَ وَقُدْرَتِكَ عَلَى الْخَلْقِ أَحْيِنِي مَا عَلِمْتَ الْحَيَاةَ خَيْرًا لِي وَتَوَفَّنِي إِذَا عَلِمْتَ الْوَفَاةَ خَيْرًا لِي وَأَسْأَلُكَ خَشْيَتَكَ فِي الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ وَكَلِمَةَ الْإِخْلَاصِ فِي الرِّضَا وَالْغَضَبِ وَأَسْأَلُكَ نَعِيمًا لَا يَنْفَدُ وَقُرَّةَ عَيْنٍ لَا تَنْقَطِعُ وَأَسْأَلُكَ الرِّضَاءَ بِالْقَضَاءِ وَبَرْدَ الْعَيْشِ بَعْدَ الْمَوْتِ وَلَذَّةَ النَّظَرِ إِلَى وَجْهِكَ وَالشَّوْقَ إِلَى لِقَائِكَ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ ضَرَّاءَ مُضِرَّةٍ وَفِتْنَةٍ مُضِلَّةٍ اللَّهُمَّ زَيِّنَّا بِزِينَةِ الْإِيمَانِ وَاجْعَلْنَا هُدَاةً مُهْتَدِينَ

O God! Because of Your knowledge of the unseen and because of Your power over Your creation, grant me with life till the time You think that living is best for me and take me away from this world when You think that taking me away is best for me. O God! I seek humility from You in public and in private and in happiness and in sorrow want You to guide me to the truth and request You with what is between affluence and poverty and ask from You a favour that will never end and the coolness of the eye which will never cease. I seek from You the strength to be content on Your decisions and seek the blessings of life after death and the fervour to meet You and the bliss to see You such that I neither remain in the calamity that is burdensome nor trials which may mislead me. O God! Grant us the embellishment of faith and make us such that we are rightly guided and are able to guide others as well.107



1. Bayhaqi, Sunan al-Kubra, vol. 10 (Makkah: Maktabah Dar al-Baz, 1994), 191.

2. Bukhari, No: 5682; Muslim, No: 2321.

3. Bukhari, No: 3549.

4. Abu Da’ud, No: 4799; Tirmadhi, No: 2002.

5. Abu Da’ud, No: 4798; Tirmadhi, No: 2003.

6. Muslim, No: 2553.

7. 75:2.

8. Tirmadhi, No: 2859; Ahmad, No: 17671.

9. Bukhari, No: 1; Muslim, No: 1907.

10. Muslim, No: 1905.

11. Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, 3rd ed., vol. 9 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1985), 362.

12. It is these portraits and pictures which the Prophet (sws) has forbidden. They do not relate to pictures and portraits generally made.

13. Abu Da’ud, No: 3883.

14. Ibn Majah, No: 4204.

15. Ibid., No: 4202.

16. Muslim, No: 2229.

17. Bukhari, No: 810; Muslim, No: 71.

18. Bukhari, No: 994.

19. People who claim to have knowledge of things which get lost.

20. Muslim, No: 2230.

21 Bukhari, No: 5859; Muslim, No: 2228.

22. Bukhari, No: 810; Muslim, No: 2220.

23. Muslim, No: 2222.

24. Bukhari, No: 3261

25. Ahmad, No: 1839.

26. This is a mention of their compound foolishness according to which if a goat dedicated to their idol dies, it shall be compensated by the one dedicated to God; however, if some calamity befalls on the share dedicated to God then it shall not be compensated by the share reserved for the idols.

27. Muslim, No: 972.

28. Bukhari, No: 5626.

29. Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, 3rd ed., vol. 4 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1985), 496.

30. Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, Qanun-i Mu‘asharat (The Social Shari‘ah of Islam). trans. Shehzad Saleem, 2nd ed. Lahore: Al-Mawrid Institute of Islamic Sciences, 2006.

31. Bukhari, No: 5625.

32. Muslim, No: 2551.

33. Bukhari, No: 5627.

34.Abu Da’ud, No: 2530.

35. Nasa’i, No: 3104.

36. Tirmadhi, No: 1899.

37. Tirmadhi, No: 1900.

38. Abu Da’ud, No: 3530.

39. Bukhari, No: 5642.

40. Bukhari, No: 5641; Muslim, No: 2554.

41. Bukhari, No: 5637.

42. Bukhari, No: 5638; Muslim, No: 2556.

43. Bukhari, No: 5639; Muslim, No: 2557.

44. Bukhari, No: 5645.

45. Bukhari, No: 5659; Muslim, No: 2983.

46. Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, Qanun-i Mu‘asharat (The Social Shari‘ah of Islam). trans. Shehzad Saleem, 2nd ed. Lahore: Al-Mawrid Institute of Islamic Sciences, 2006.

47. Bukhari, No: 5670

48. Bukhari, No: 5673.

49. Bukhari, No: 5668; Muslim, No: 2624.

50. Muslim, No: 2625.

51. Bukhari, No: 5671.

52. Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, 3rd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1985), 613.

53. Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, 3rd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1985), 619.

54. Abu al-A‘la Mawdudi, Tafhim al-Qur’an, 5th ed., vol. 3 (Lahore: Idarah Tarjuman al-Qur’an, 1985), 320.

55. Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, 3rd ed., vol. 3 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1985), 246.

56. Bukhari, No: 1038.

57. Bukhari, No: 4934; Muslim, No: 2172.

58. Bukhari, No: 1036; Muslim, No: 1040.

59. Abu Da’ud, No: 2148.

60. Bukhari, No: 5268

61. Bukhari, No:5889; Muslim, No: 2657.

62. Jerusalem Talmud, vol. 4, 7.

63. Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, Qanun-i Mu‘asharat (The Social Shari‘ah of Islam). trans. Shehzad Saleem, 2nd ed. Lahore: Al-Mawrid Institute of Islamic Sciences, 2006.

64. Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, 3rd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1985), 429.

65. Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, 3rd ed., vol. 7 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1985), 509.

66. Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, 3rd ed., vol. 7 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1985), 510.

67. Ibid., vol. 4, 502.

68. Abu Da’ud, No: 4091;

69. Muslim, No: 2620.

70. Bukhari, Nos: 5494, 5499, 5500; Muslim, Nos: 2065, 2066, 2067.

71. Bukhari, No: 5553; Muslim, No: 259. What we have stated above is the correct nature of this counsel from the Prophet (sws); however, people thought that he is giving a directive of lengthening beards and in this way introduced a thing in religion which has absolutely no connection with it.

72. Abu Da’ud, No: 4029.

73. Bukhari, No: 5451; Muslim, No: 2085.

74. Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, 3rd ed., vol. 7 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1985), 510.

75. Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tazkiyah Nafs, 4th ed. (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 2005), 117.

76. Muslim, No: 34.

77. Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tazkiyah Nafs, 4th ed. (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 2005), 325.

78. Bukhari, No: 15; Muslim, No: 44.

79. Bukhari, No: 16.

80. Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tazkiyah Nafs, 4th ed. (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 2005), 119.

81. Bukhari, No: 244.

82. Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tazkiyah Nafs, 4th ed. (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 2005), 243.

83. Muslim, No: 2695.

84. Bukhari, No: 6405; Muslim, No: 2691.

85. This refers to sins which do not relate to the rights of human beings or for which repentance or atonement is not necessary.

86. Bukhari, No: 6682; Muslim, No: 2694.

87. Bukhari, No: 3293.

88. These sins are the ones referred to earlier.

89. Bukhari, No: 4205; Muslim, No: 2704.

90. Bukhari, No: 6306.

91. Bukhari, No: 6312; Muslim, No: 2711.

92. Muslim, No: 2723.

93. Bukhari, No: 247; Muslim, No: 2710.

94. Abu Da’ud, No: 5051.

95. Muslim, No: 1342.

96. Abu Da’ud, No: 5090.

97. Tirmadhi, No: 3563.

98. Ibn Hibban, No: 972; Ahmad, No: 3704. 

99. Bukhari, No: 6369.

100. Bukhari, No: 6375.

101. Muslim, No: 2722.

102. Muslim, No: 2719.

103. Muslim, No: 2721.

104. Muslim, No: 2697.

105. Bukhari, No: 4522; Muslim, No: 2688.

106. Ahmad, No: 26564; Ibn Majah, 925.

107. Nasa’i, No: 1305.

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