Ways of encouraging believers to do good

Updated 04 June 2015

Ways of encouraging believers to do good

A BELIEVER considers having certain human obligations toward not just the people around him, but to the society on the whole.
That responsibility is instrumental in everyone living in the awareness of Islamic moral values. People are free to choose the lifestyle they like but since they are unacquainted with Allah and Islamic moral values, the majority may choose irreligion. Many of them may make mistakes or be unable to resolve their problems because they do not know religious moral values.
There may be millions of people leading unhappy and hopeless lives because they are unfamiliar with the commandments our Lord has revealed in the Qur’an. The responsibility toward these masses that Allah places on believers means they can teach them about Islamic moral values and then make their own choices because since believers are aware of the verses of the Qur’an, they know how the problems that these people cannot resolve can be settled. It is therefore a religious obligation for those who know to tell those who do not. One verse tells us: “So struggle in the way of Allah. You are only answerable for yourself; and spur on the believers. It may well be that Allah will curb the force of the unbelievers. Allah has greater force and greater power to punish.” (Surat an Nisa’, 84)
Being aware of the ways in which people can be rid of their troubles and yet deciding to keep these ways hidden and not tell anyone about them is like having prior knowledge of a disaster but not telling people
how to avoid it. If a disaster takes place and people die, then the person who never mentioned it has a heavy responsibility to bear.
For that reason, believers have a grave and great responsibility to all mankind. The seriousness of that responsibility is increased by believers being few in number and unbelievers making up a great part of the world. Allah makes “spurring the believers to fight” obligatory: “O Prophet! Spur on the believers to struggle. If there are twenty of you who are steadfast, they will overcome two hundred; and if there are a hundred of you, they will overcome a thousand of those who are unbelievers, because they are people who do not understand.” (Surat Al-Anfal, 65)

Spurring believers’
consciences
It is certain that in discharging their duty to preach the words, believers can make many errors and exhibit flaws stemming from ignorance or error. They may say a wrong thing, produce an incorrect interpretation, or do something wrong from an intention to do good. In that event, it is essential they be warned and learn the truth preaching the moral values of Islam and calling people to faith is a most important service calling for the greatest care; many people will decide whether or not to live by the moral values of Islam on the basis of the language, attitudes and behavior of the person describing them. If they love and trust the person describing religious moral values, then their hearts will begin warming toward the morals of Islam. That is why preaching a religious moral value is the most serious responsibility in the world. Therefore, believers who act with the aim of Islamic moral values becoming known to, and lived by, more people need to be warned and trained to address people better every day because such advice can overcome deficiencies in a person’s knowledge, manners, language, vocabulary, gestures, clothing and many other such matters and we thus obey Allah’s command regarding preparing believers. However, in the Qur’an Allah reveals that as we prepare believers, we must also encourage and enthuse them. That is why it is of the greatest importance for the advice to be given to be constructive, encouraging and respectful.

Believers must not
be discouraged
The person giving advice must be very pure. Advice can only be expected to benefit the other party if it is offered for Allah’s approval, with affection and compassion and without involving earthly desires. But criticism given out of envy, anger and hatred will be harsh and hurtful. Instead of helping people, it will confuse them and leave them wondering what to do.
It will reduce these people’s fervor for what they are doing, and deprive them of joy or strength. The other person should rather be encouraged, his good services mentioned, his well-intentioned activities appreciated and the defect needing to be corrected should be emphasized using kindly words, and the solutions to resolving it should also be shown. A person who speaks incorrectly must be shown how he can speak properly, and if he uses inappropriate language he can be shown what kind of language he should be using.
Religion imposes a responsibility on the believers both to live virtuously and to remind people around them of those moral virtues. Yet it is not only verbal expression that needs to be borne in mind when describing or reminding people of religious moral values because one can still remind people of Allah and the true faith through one’s behavior, appearance and expression.
From that perspective, a believer must also be a role model for everyone with his appearance and behavior. What best befits a Muslim therefore, as someone who represents the religious moral values revealed by Allah, is to aim to reflect the superior characteristics bestowed by those moral values, and to earn as much of Allah’s approval as possible. “They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and compete in doing good. They are among the good people.” (Surat Al-Imran, 114)
There are various ways of preparing and encouraging believers. Encouraging someone to perform good works may perhaps lead us to enjoying the reward for that good work in the sight of Allah. Therefore, doing all we can to support believers and encouraging them to work harder and strive even further is an observance for which the believer will be rewarded in the Hereafter.

n The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics,
religion and science.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016

The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.