Daily Archives: November 7, 2008

Some ahadith from the Prophet of Islam on what is faith

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‘Faith is a gift that not many people like to dispose of and that is the reason why the Islamic umma grew so rapidly’, according to Abu Sufyan, once one of the Prophets  major adversaries, when Roman ruler Heraclius asked him about this.

When considering Islam, most people think of the five pillars: the five aspects that the true faith ought to have. The Qur’an, the book of muslims, describes these five aspects, however, the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, mentioned them explicitly in one breath. Further we continually see the issues sincereness versus hypocrisy return as main items. A believer practices what lives in his heart and tries as consistently as possible to deal with this, without extremes and within the hope that reality may not be as harsh as prophecies predict it to be. Allah swt is willing to forgive faults and failure, except giving Him partners, however, we may not take an easy credit to that, for we don’t know what He will forgive. A believer acknowledges that there is much he doesn’t know, such as the future or Allah’s Judgement, but also that Allah knows all about him and deals with it carefully and prudently. To abstain from other major sins like murder, violence and dishonesty in general are part of faith. Apart from love for Allah swt, also love for the Prophet above all other is an aspect of true faith. The aspects of faith are mentioned by the well known and respected author of traditions Buchari:

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 7:

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:

Allah’s Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):

1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle.

2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.

3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity) .

4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca)

5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 8:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said, “Faith (Belief) consists of more than sixty branches (i.e. parts). And Haya (This term “Haya” covers a large number of concepts which are to be taken together; amongst them are self respect, modesty, bashfulness, and scruple, etc.) is a part of faith.”

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 10:

Narrated Abu Musa:

Some people asked Allah’s Apostle, “Whose Islam is the best? i.e. (Who is a very good Muslim)?” He replied, “One who avoids harming the Muslims with his tongue and hands.”

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 11:

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr:

A man asked the Prophet , “What sort of deeds or (what qualities of) Islam are good?” The Prophet replied, ‘To feed (the poor) and greet those whom you know and those whom you do not Know (See Hadith No. 27).

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 12:

Narrated Anas:

The Prophet said, “None of you will have faith till he wishes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself.”

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 14:

Narrated Anas:

The Prophet said “None of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father, his children and all mankind.”

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 15:

Narrated Anas:

The Prophet said, “Whoever possesses the following three qualities will have the sweetness (delight) of faith:

1. The one to whom Allah and His Apostle becomes dearer than anything else.

2. Who loves a person and he loves him only for Allah’s sake.

3. Who hates to revert to Atheism (disbelief) as he hates to be thrown into the fire.”

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 17:

Narrated ‘Ubada bin As-Samit:

who took part in the battle of Badr and was a Naqib (a person heading a group of six persons), on the night of Al-‘Aqaba pledge: Allah’s Apostle said while a group of his companions were around him, “Swear allegiance to me for:

1. Not to join anything in worship along with Allah.

2. Not to steal.

3. Not to commit illegal sexual intercourse.

4. Not to kill your children.

5. Not to accuse an innocent person (to spread such an accusation among people).

6. Not to be disobedient (when ordered) to do good deed.”

The Prophet added: “Whoever among you fulfills his pledge will be rewarded by Allah. And whoever indulges in any one of them (except the ascription of partners to Allah) and gets the punishment in this world, that punishment will be an expiation for that sin. And if one indulges in any of them, and Allah conceals his sin, it is up to Him to forgive or punish him (in the Hereafter).” ‘Ubada bin As-Samit added: “So we swore allegiance for these.” (points to Allah’s Apostle)

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 21:

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

The Prophet said, “When the people of Paradise will enter Paradise and the people of Hell will go to Hell, Allah will order those who have had faith equal to the weight of a grain of mustard seed to be taken out from Hell. So they will be taken out but (by then) they will be blackened (charred). Then they will be put in the river of Haya’ (rain) or Hayat (life) (the Narrator is in doubt as to which is the right term), and they will revive like a grain that grows near the bank of a flood channel. Don’t you see that it comes out yellow and twisted”

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 32:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said, “The signs of a hypocrite are three:

1. Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie.

2. Whenever he promises, he always breaks it (his promise ).

3. If you trust him, he proves to be dishonest. (If you keep something as a trust with him, he will not return it.)”

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 33:

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr:

The Prophet said, “Whoever has the following four (characteristics) will be a pure hypocrite and whoever has one of the following four characteristics will have one characteristic of hypocrisy unless and until he gives it up.

1. Whenever he is entrusted, he betrays.

2. Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie.

3. Whenever he makes a covenant, he proves treacherous.

4. Whenever he quarrels, he behaves in a very imprudent, evil and insulting manner.”

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 34:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever establishes the prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards (not to show off) then all his past sins will be forgiven.”

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 37:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.”

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 38:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the nights.” (See Fath-ul-Bari, Page 102, Vol 1).

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 42:

Narrated Anas:

The Prophet said, “Whoever said “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of a barley grain will be taken out of Hell. And whoever said: “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of a wheat grain will be taken out of Hell. And whoever said, “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of an atom will be taken out of Hell.”

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 47:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

One day while the Prophet was sitting in the company of some people, (The angel) Gabriel came and asked, “What is faith?” Allah’s Apostle replied, ‘Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Apostles, and to believe in Resurrection.” Then he further asked, “What is Islam?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “To worship Allah Alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan.” Then he further asked, “What is Ihsan (perfection)?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “To worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that He is looking at you.” Then he further asked, “When will the Hour be established?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “The answerer has no better knowledge than the questioner. But I will inform you about its portents.

1. When a slave (lady) gives birth to her master.

2. When the shepherds of black camels start boasting and competing with others in the construction of higher buildings. And the Hour is one of five things which nobody knows except Allah.

The Prophet then recited: “Verily, with Allah (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour–.” (31. 34) Then that man (Gabriel) left and the Prophet asked his companions to call him back, but they could not see him. Then the Prophet said, “That was Gabriel who came to teach the people their religion.” Abu ‘Abdullah said: He (the Prophet) considered all that as a part of faith.

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 48:

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas:

I was informed by Abu Sufyan that Heraclius said to him, “I asked you whether they (followers of Muhammad) were increasing or decreasing. You replied that they were increasing. And in fact, this is the way of true Faith till it is complete in all respects. I further asked you whether there was anybody, who, after embracing his (the Prophets) religion (Islam) became displeased and discarded it. You replied in the negative, and in fact, this is (a sign of) true faith. When its delight enters the heart and mixes with them completely, nobody can be displeased with it.”

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 49:

Narrated An-Nu’man bin Bashir:

I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘Both legal and illegal things are evident but in between them there are doubtful (suspicious) things and most of the people have no knowledge about them. So whoever saves himself from these suspicious things saves his religion and his honor. And whoever indulges in these suspicious things is like a shepherd who grazes (his animals) near the Hima (private pasture) of someone else and at any moment he is liable to get in it. (O people!) Beware! Every king has a Hima and the Hima of Allah on the earth is His illegal (forbidden) things. Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoilt the whole body gets spoilt and that is the heart.

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 50:

Narrated Abu Jamra:

I used to sit with Ibn ‘Abbas and he made me sit on his sitting place. He requested me to stay with him in order that he might give me a share from his property. So I stayed with him for two months. Once he told (me) that when the delegation of the tribe of ‘Abdul Qais came to the Prophet, the Prophet asked them, “Who are the people (i.e. you)? (Or) who are the delegate?” They replied, “We are from the tribe of Rabi’a.” Then the Prophet said to them, “Welcome! O people (or O delegation of ‘Abdul Qais)! Neither will you have disgrace nor will you regret.” They said, “O Allah’s Apostle! We cannot come to you except in the sacred month and there is the infidel tribe of Mudar intervening between you and us. So please order us to do something good (religious deeds) so that we may inform our people whom we have left behind (at home), and that we may enter Paradise (by acting on them).” Then they asked about drinks (what is legal and what is illegal). The Prophet ordered them to do four things and forbade them from four things. He ordered them to believe in Allah Alone and asked them, “Do you know what is meant by believing in Allah Alone?” They replied, “Allah and His Apostle know better.” Thereupon the Prophet said, “It means:

1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle.

2. To offer prayers perfectly

3. To pay the Zakat (obligatory charity)

4. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.

5. And to pay Al-Khumus (one fifth of the booty to be given in Allah’s Cause).

Then he forbade them four things, namely, Hantam, Dubba,’ Naqir Ann Muzaffat or Muqaiyar; (These were the names of pots in which Alcoholic drinks were prepared) (The Prophet mentioned the container of wine and he meant the wine itself). The Prophet further said (to them): “Memorize them (these instructions) and convey them to the people whom you have left behind.”

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 51:

Narrated ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab:

Allah’s Apostle said, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intention and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Apostle, then his emigration was for Allah and His Apostle. And whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.”

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 52:

Narrated Abu Mas’ud:

The Prophet said, “If a man spends on his family (with the intention of having a reward from Allah) sincerely for Allah’s sake then it is a (kind of) alms-giving in reward for him.

Volume 1, Book 3, Number 131:

Narrated Anas:

I was informed that the Prophet had said to Mu’adh, “Whosoever will meet Allah without associating anything in worship with Him will go to Paradise.” Mu’adh asked the Prophet, “Should I not inform the people of this good news?” The Prophet replied, “No, I am afraid, lest they should depend upon it (absolutely).”

http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/003.sbt.html#001.003.130

Volume 3, Book 43, Number 654:

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Yazid Al-Ansari:

The Prophet forbade robbery (taking away what belongs to others without their permission), and also forbade mutilation (or maiming) of bodies.

Source: University of Southern California USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts

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Evil and what to do against it?

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As to those who reject Faith, it is the same to them whether thou warn them or do not warn them; they will not believe. Allah hath set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing. And on their eyes is a veil; great is the chastisement they (incur). Of the people there are some who say: ‘We believe in Allah and the Last Day: but they do not believe. Fain would they deceive Allah and those who believe, but they only deceive themselves, and realize not! In their hearts is a disease; and Allah has increased their disease: and grievous is the chastisement they (incur), because they lied (to themselves). When it is said to them: ‘Make not mischief on the earth’. They say: ‘We are only ones that put things right.’ Of a surety, they are the ones who make mischief, but they realize not. When it is said to them: ‘Believe as the others believe’: they say: ‘Shall we believe as the fools believe?’ Nay, of a surety they are the fools, but they do not know. When they meet those who believe, they say: ‘We believe’; but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say: ‘We are really with you we (were) only jesting’. Allah will throw back their mockery on them, and give them rope in their trespasses; so they will wander like blind ones. These are they who have bartered guidance for error: but their traffic is profitless, and they have lost true direction, their similitude is that of a man who kindled a fire; when it lighted all around him, Allah took away their light and left them in utter darkness, so they could not see. Deaf, dumb, and blind, they will not return. Q:2:6-18

Behold, thy Lord said to the angels; ‘I will create a vicegerent on earth’. They said: ‘Wit Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?’ Whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?’ He said: ‘I know what ye know not’ and He taught Adam the names of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said: ‘Tell Me the names of these if ye are right’, they said: ‘Glory to Thee: of knowledge we have none, save what Thou hast taught us: in truth it is Thou Who art perfect in knowledge and wisdom’. He said: ‘O Adam! Tell them their names’. When he had told them their names, Allah said: ‘Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of heaven and earth, and I know what ye reveal and what ye conceal?’ And behold, We said to the angels: ‘Bow down to Adam’: and they bowed down; not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: he was of those who reject Faith. And We said: ‘O Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden; and eat of the bountiful things therein as ye will; but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and transgression.’ Then did Satan make them slip from the (Garden) and get them out of the state in which they had been. And We said: ‘Get ye down, all (ye people), with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling place and your means of livelihood – for a time’. Then learnt Adam from his Lord certain words and his Lord turned towards him; for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. We said: ‘Get ye down all from here; and if, as is sure, there comes to you guidance from Me, whosever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. But those who reject Faith and belie Our Signs, they shall be Companions of the Fire; they shall abide therein. Q:2:30-39

It is We Who have placed you with authority on earth, and provided you therein with means for the fulfillment of your life: small are the thanks that ye give! It is We Who created you and gave you shape: then We bade the angels prostrate to Adam, and they prostrated, not so Iblis; he refused to be of those who prostrate. (Allah) said: ‘What prevented thee from prostrating when I commanded thee?’ He said: ‘I am better than he: Thou didst create Me from fire, and him from clay’. (Allah) said: ‘Get thee down from it: it is not for thee to be arrogant here: get out, for thou art of the meanest (of creatures).’ He said: ‘Give me respite till the day they are raised up’. (Allah) said: ‘Be thou among those who have respite.’ He said: ‘Because Thou hast thrown me out, lo! I will lie in wait for them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left: nor wilt Thou find, in most of them, gratitude (for Thy mercies).’ (Allah) said: ‘Get out from this, despised and expelled. If any of them follow thee, Hell will I fill with you all. ‘O Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, and enjoy as ye wish: but approach not this tree, lest you become of the unjust.’ Then began Satan to whisper suggestions to them, in order to reveal to them their shame that was hidden from them: he said: ‘Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest ye should become angels or such beings as live for ever.’ And he swore to them both, that he was their sincere adviser. So by deceit he brought about their fall: when they tasted of the tree, their shameful parts became manifest to them, and they began to sew together the leaves of the Garden over their bodies, and their Lord called unto them: ‘Did I not forbid you that tree, and tell you that Satan was avowed enemy unto you?’ They said: ‘Our Lord we have wronged our own souls; if Thou forgive us not and bestow not upon us Thy Mercy, we shall certainly be lost. (Allah) said: ‘Get ye down, with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood, – for a time’. He said: ‘Therein shall ye live, and therein shall ye die: but from it shall ye be taken out.’ O ye Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you, but the raiment of righteousness- that is the best. Such are among the Signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition! O ye Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you, in the same manner as he got your parents out of the Garden, stripping them of their raiment, to expose their shame: for he and his tribe see you from a position where ye cannot see them: We made the Satans friends to those without Faith. When they commit an indecency, they say: ‘We found our fathers doing so’ and ‘Allah commanded us thus’: say: ‘Nay, Allah never command what is indecent: do ye say of Allah what ye know not?’ Say: ‘My Lord hath commanded justice; and that ye set your whole selves (to Him) at every time and place of prayer, and call upon Him, making your devotion sincere such as He created you in the beginning, so shall ye return.’ Some He hath guided: others have deserved the loss of their way; in that they took the Satans in preference to Allah, for their friends and protectors, and think that they receive guidance. O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer; eat and drink but waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters. Q:7:10-31

Evil as the example are people who reject Our Signs and wrong their own souls. Whom Allah doth guide, – he is on the right path: whom He rejects from His guidance, – such are the persons who lose. Many are the Jinns and men We have made for Hell: they have hearts wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not, and ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle, – nay more misguided: for they are heedless. Q:7:177-179

Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn, from the mischief of created things; from the mischief of those who blow on knots; and from the mischief of the envious one as he practises envy. Q:113:1-5

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind, the King of Mankind, the God of Mankind, – from the mischief of the Whisperer, who withdraws, – who whispers into the hearts of Mankind, – among Jinns and among Men. Q:114:1-6

Allah did indeed give His creatures enemies. Plants and animals are enemies to each other, because they feed from one and other. Men and spirits (jinn) the latter described in the Qur’an as a people endowed with  the possibility to choose between good and evil, have a moral enemy: the fallen angel Iblis, the only angel who did not obey Allah swt out of envy of man’s creation even though Allah asked him to do so. Iblis then became Satan and asked Allah’s permission to seduce man towards evil and obtained so, however, Allah swt immediately cursed Satan for this disobedience and destined him for Hell. Satan will succeed, however, in getting part of mankind on his side. Man, however, has natural enemies in both creation and in himself. Man has received natural evil from Allah swt with which he will hurt others, but mainly himself. Indeed to degrade to permanent disbelief and lock oneself from any belief is the first punishment a disbeliever incurs in this life already and the punishment in the Hereafter will then hit the person who disbeliefs and acts badly in this life. The person who does believe, knows that his or her assignment is to serve Allah with faith and good deeds and the person who does not believe, forgot this, either by choice or because of Satan. And Allah made these people immune to His message, unless they return to His path on their own accord. Repentance indeed is always an option. Furthermore, people were made enemies to each other.

The first man described as one to commit sin, is Adam. In Islam, he is considered the first prophet: he was the first man to learn the names of species and objects in nature around him. He also was the first to learn the difference between obedience and disobedience and to receive the very first test assignment. Adam did not fulfill it as required, a narration that differs from the Biblical version, where the woman was the first one to be seduced by the archetypical serpent and she then seduces the man to eat from the tree. Adam as the first prophet and mediator to Allah swt is the one held primarily responsible for this disobedience and the blame is not shifted to a female figure as initiator of evil. Qur’an does not state the number of people the first community of men consisted of, nor which people also were punished for the first disobedience: eating from the tree that was forbidden to eat from. Qur’an clearly states, however, that Adam and his wife were permitted to live in a garden richly provided with sustenance, as well as with the tree eating of which was forbidden. Man, however, is created as ‘vicegerent’ on Earth and his future life will be on Earth. Man would most probably have to ‘descend’ from the Garden anyway. Apart from the aspect of obedience to Allah, this narration has another aspect: that of man reaching maturity. Man gains awareness of his own identity in all its positive and negative qualities and wants to hide those that are for him alone, where the first people still realized that Allah swt sees and knows everything in them. As soon as man leaves the Garden, he is left to himself, though he has Allah’s guidance at his disposal. Man will have to listen to the voice of his or her conscience. Not stated, however, are the whereabouts of this Garden. Chapter 7 of the Qur’an makes clear that (also) man today can be seen as Adams descendant.

The Qur’anic chapters 113 and 114 are frequently used supplications in Islam against evil that a believer may recite, according tradition during sickness and before sleeping, or as a supplication intended to protect from any harm. Next question would be whether Islam has any further traditions concerning the issue of what might be belief or disbelief.

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Goodness and good deeds versus evil

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To all are degrees (ranks) according to their deeds: for thy Lord is not unmindful of anything that they do. Q:6:132

And the Hypocrites also, these were told: ‘Come, fight in the way of Allah, or drive’. They said: ‘Had we known there would be a fight, we should certainly have followed you’. They were that day nearere to Unbelief than to Faith. Saying with their lips what was not in their hearts. But Allah hath full knowledge of all they conceal. Q:3:167

O ye who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: but let there be amongst you traffic and trade by mutual good-will: nor kill yourselves: for verily Allah hath been to you most merciful! If any do that in rancour and injustice, soon shall We cast him into the Fire: and easy it is for Allah. If ye eschew the most heinous of the things which ye are forbidden to do, We shall remit your evil deeds, and admit you to a Gate of great honour. And in no wise covet those things in which Allah hath bestowed His gifts more freely on some of you than on others: to men is allotted what they earn, and to women what they earn: but ask Allah of His bounty. For Allah hath full knowledge of all things. Q:4:29-32

Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good – to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are of king neighbours who are strangers, the Companion by your side, the way-farer, and what your right hands possess (prisoners, slaves): for Allah loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious; those who are niggardly, enjoin niggardliness on others, hide the bounties which Allah hath bestowed on them: for We have prepared, for those who resist Faith, a punishment that steeps them in contempt; nor those who spend of their substance to be seen of men, and have no faith in Allah and the Last Day: if any take the Satan for their intimate, what a dreadful intimate he is! And what burden were it on them if they had faith in Allah and in the Last Day, and they spent out of what Allah hath given them for sustenance? For Allah hath full knowledge of them. Allah is never unjust in the least degree: if there is any good, He doubleth it, and giveth from His Own self a great reward. How then if We brought from each People a witness, and We brought thee as a witness against these People! Q:4:36-41

O ye who believe! Approach not prayers in a state of intoxication, until ye can understand all that ye say, nor in a state of ceremonial impurity except when you are passing by, until after washing your (whole) body. … Q:4:43

Wherever ye are, death will find you out, even if ye are in towers built up strong and high! If some good befalls them they say ‘This is from Allah’; but if evil, they say ‘This is from thee’ (O Prophet). Say: ‘All things are from Allah’. But what hath come to these people. That they fail to understand a single fact? Whatever good happens to thee, is from Allah; but whatever evil happens to thee, is from thyself and We have sent thee as a Messenger to mankind. And enough is Allah for a witness. He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah: but if any turn away, We have not sent thee to watch over them. Q:4:78-80

The Hypocrites – they seek to deceive Allah but it is Allah who deceives them. When they stand up to prayer, they stand without earnestness, to be seen of men, but little do they hold Allah in remembrance; wavering between this and that belonging neither to these nor those whom Allah leaves straying, – never wilt thou find for him the Way. Q:4:142,143

The Hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire: no helper wilt thou find for them; except for those who repent, mend, hold fast to Allah and make their religious devotion sincere to Allah: if so they will be with the Believers. And soon will Allah grant to the Believers a reward of immense value. What can Allah gain by your punishment. If ye are grateful and ye believe? Nay, it is Allah that recogniseth and knoweth all things. Allah loveth not the shouting of evil words in public speech, except by one who has been wronged, for Allah is He who heareth and knoweth all things. Whether you do openly a good deed or conceal it or cover evil with pardon, surely Allah is ever pardoning powerful. Q:4:145-149

It is those who believe and mix not their beliefs with wrong that are in security, for they are on guidance. That was Our argument which We gave to Ibrahim against his people; We raise whom We will, degree after degree: for thy Lord is full of wisdom and knowledge. Q:6:82.83

Verily he who comes to his Lord as a sinner, for him is Hell: therein shall he neither die nor live. But such as come to Him as Believers who have worked righteous deeds, for them are ranks exalted, gardens of Eternity (‘Adn), beneath which flow rivers: they will dwell therein for aye: such is the reward of those who purify themselves. Q:20:74-76

‘O my son!’ If there be the weight of a mustard-seed and it were in a rock, or in the heavens or on earth, Allah will bring it forth: for Allah is subtle and Aware. ‘O my son! estabish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong: and bear with patient constancy whatever betide thee; for this is firmness in affairs. And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men. Nor walk in insolence through the earth: for Allah loveth not any arrogant boaster. And be moderate in thy pace, and lower thy voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass. Q:31:16-19

For Muslim (surrendered) men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s remembrance for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward. Q:33:35

Nor can Goodness and Evil be equal. Repel with what is better: then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate! And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune. And if an incitement to discord is made to thee by the Satan, seek refuge in Allah. He is the One Who hears and knows all things. Q:41:34-36

Whoever works righteousness benefits his own soul: nor is thy Lord ever unjust to His servants. Q:41:46

Man does not weary of asking for good, but if ill touches him, he gives up all hope is lost in despair. When We give him a taste of some mercy from Us, after some adversity has touched him, he is sure to say, ‘This is due to me: I think not that the Hour will be established; but if I am brought back to my Lord, I have good in His sight!’ But We will show the Unbelievers the truth of all that they did, and We shall give them the taste of a severe chastisement. When We bestow favours on man, he turns away, and gets himself remote on his side; and when evil seizes him, full of prolonged prayer! Q:41:49-51

Tell those who believe, to forgive those who do not hope for the Days of Allah; it is for Him to recompense each People according to what they have earned. If any one does a righteous deed, it is to his own benefit; if he does evil, it works adversary. In the end will ye be brought back to your Lord. Q:45:14,15

Then seest thou such a one as takes as his god his own vain desire? Allah has, knowing left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart and put a cover on his sight. Who, then, will guide him after Allah? Will ye not then receive admonition? Q:45:23

And thou wilt see every nation bowing the knee: every nation will be called to its Record: ‘This Day shall ye be recompensed for all that ye did! ‘This Our Record speaks about you with truth: for We were wont to put on record all that ye did.’ Then, as to those who believed and did righteous deeds, their Lord will admit them to His Mercy: that will be the manifest triumph. But as to those who rejected Allah: ‘Were not Our Signs rehearsed to you? But ye were arrogant, and were a people given to sin! And when it was said that the promise of Allah was true, and that the Hour – there was no doubt about it, ye used to say, ‘We know not what is the Hour: we only think it a conjecture, and we have no firm assurance’.’ Then will appear to them the evil of what they did, and they will be completely encircled by that which they used to mock at! It will also be said: ‘This Day We will forget you as ye forgot the meeting of this Day of yours! And your abode is the Fire, and no helpers have ye! Q:45:28-34

That what is good in Islam, is further elaborated with examples in the ahadith, traditions of the life and sayings of the prophet peace be upon him, however, the basics are mentioned in the Qur’an. And if we wish to answer what ‘good’ means in the faith, we should in fact know the psychological basis behind everything considered praiseworthy according general norms. What we should remember, is that which is good and just in everyday standards, also finds grace by Allah swt. In fact the community also decides what is good, goodness also means to forgive someone else and not harm them according to the other person’s standards. You are not the only one to judges what’s injust. Here we may think of charity followed by insult. The Qur’an in any case mentions the qualities of thankfulness, patience in adversity, goodness and generosity to kinsmen,  with special mention of the orphaned child, travelers and others next to us, modesty and endurance as important good qualities. Goodness is also characterized by sincereness and intention. If your words and behavior parallel what lives in your heart, you are sincere. Reliability is one of the main islamic virtues. The relationship with Allah swt should also be based on sincereness; prayer is no prayer as soon as it is not really addressed to Allah and charity no charity when this intention is not behind it. We should show one face to te various people we relate with, including ourselves and Allah swt. However, also here boundaries apply. Selfrestraint and moderation are to be preferred over unlimited and impulsive rudeness, on whatever field, because on this path a lot of damage may and shall be done. Honesty and openness is not equal to trampling over everything, which is unjust and therefore sinful. Avoidance of restraining evil from a positive wish to do good is no hypocrisy, on the contrary. Hypocrsisy is allowing evil will to persist and hiding it with good deeds for display only. A believer never forgets that serving Allah is the first assignment in life and will remember Allah oft and eagerly, and also do good to obtain His favor. Important aids to achieve goodness are cleanlyness, regularity, where prayer is a good gauge and weigh moment, and also avoidance of any addiction. Whoever takes intoxicants, loses focus and is not fully able to do good. Those may not pray either. It is rewarding to do good: the highest ranks will in the end be for the believers and that is a beautiful prospect. Contrary to what is often said, this reward is in store for both men and women.

The next question then is: what is evil according to Islam and where does it come from?

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Obedience is part of the faith

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O ye who believe! If ye obey the Unbelievers, they will drive you back on your heels, and ye will turn back to your own loss. Q:3:149

O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: that is best, and most suitable for final determination. Q:4:59

A (declaration) of immunity from Allah and His Messenger to those of the Pagans with whom ye have contracted mutual alliance … and an announcement from Allah and His Messenger to the people on the day of the Great Pilgrimage, that Allah and His Messenger dissolve obligations with the Pagans. … Q:9:1,3

(But the treaties are) not dissolved with those Pagans with whom ye have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided anyone against you. So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term: for Allah loveth the righteous. Q:9:4

But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and attack your Faith, fight ye the chiefs of Unfaith: for their oaths are nothing to them: that thus they may be restrained. Q:9:12

We have enjoined on man kindness to parents: but if they strive thee to join with Me anything of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not. Ye have to return to Me, and I will tell you of all that ye did. Q:29:8

They say: ‘We believe in Allah and in the Messenger, and we obey’; but even after that, some of them turn away: they are not believers. When they are summoned to Allah and His Messenger, in order that he may judge between them, behold, some of them decline. But if the right is on their side, they come to him with all submission. Q:24:47,48

The answer of the Believers, when summoned to Allah and His Messenger, in order that he may judge between them, is no other than this: they say ‘We hear and we obey’: it is such as obey Allah and His Messenger, and fear Allah and do right that will triumph. They swear their strongest oaths by Allah that, if only thou wouldst command them, they would leave, say: ‘Swear ye not; obedience is reasonable; verily, Allah is well acquainted with all that ye do.’ Say: ‘Obey Allah and obey the Messenger: but if ye turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him and ye for that placed on you. If ye obey him, ye shall be on right guidance. The Messenger’s duty is only to preach the clear. Q:24:51-54

O ye who believe! Take not My enemies and yours as friends, offering them love, even though they have rejected the Truth that has come to you, and have driven out the Messenger and yourselves because ye believe in Allah and your Lord! If ye have come out to strive in My Way and to seek My Good Pleasure, showing friendship unto them in secret: for I know full well all that ye reveal. And any of you that does this hast strayed from the Straight Path. Q:60:1

It may be that Allah will establish friendship between you and those whom ye hold as enemies. For Allah has power; and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just. Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support in driving you out, from turning to them it is such as turn to them that do wrong. Q:60:7-9

These are the basics of a topic that has spiritual, but also political and legal aspects, the last both in a civil and a criminal sense: obedience as part of Islam. As already said earlier, the Qur’an states that there is no compulsion in religion in verse 2:255. However, those who are willing to follow the Book’s and the Prophet’s rulings, show that they take their faith to the next level: that of practice. There are two dimensions here: the personal and the social. On the personal level, the spiritual level that may be invisible to others, obedience is compulsory to the believer. No believer without personal worship. Allah sees and judges us; real believers don’t defy His authority over creation including themselves. Allah swt rewards us for our obedience towards Him and His Messenger. Some very primary examples of personal worship are prayer and remembrance of Allah swt.

On the bigger level that is social interaction, the faithful may have to do concessions. If a believer enters any agreement with another person, he or she has to live up to it. A believer has to make sure that any agreement with someone else is not damaging to himself or someone else, either morally or physically. In this respect it does not matter what credentials the other party has. If the other party breaks the contract, the believer may take action against the other party. And obedience to those who persecute us violently is forbidden to a believer. Persecution and violence without just cause are acts of disbelief anyway and it is allowed to disobey rulers who persecute us physically. However, if relations between people are safe and friendly, it is obligatory to obey leaders, even if they have another creed than ours.

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Love is part of the faith

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There are men who take others besides Allah as equal they love them as they should love Allah. But those of Faith are overflowing in their love for Allah. If only the unrighteous could see, behold, they would see the Punishment: that to Allah belongs all power, and Allah will strongly enforce the punishment. Q:2:165

The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn: it groweth seven ears, and each ear hath a hundred grains. Allah giveth manifold increase to whom He pleaseth: and Allah careth for all and He knoweth all things. Those who spend of Allah, and follow not up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury, for them their reward is with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. Kind words and covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. Allah is Free of all wants and He is most Forbearing. Q:2:261-263

Say: ‘If ye do love Allah, follow me (Muhammad): Allah will love you and forgive you your sins, for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’ Say: ‘Obey Allah and His Messenger’: but if they turn back, Allah loveth not those who reject Faith. Q:2:31,32

If any one does evil or wrongs his own soul but afterwards seeks Allah’s forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. And if any one earns sin, he earns it against his own soul: for Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom. But if any one earns a fault or a sin and throws it on to one that is innocent, he carries a false charge and a flagrant sin. But for the Grace of Allah to thee and His Mercy, a party of them would certainly have plotted to lead thee astray. But they will only lead their own souls astray, and to thee they can do no harm in the least. For Allah hath sent down to thee the Book and Wisdom and taught thee what thou knewest not: and great is the Grace of Allah unto thee. Q:4:110-113

Shall We treat those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, the same as those who do mischief on earth? Shall We treat those who guard against evil, the same as those who turn aside from the right? Q:38:28

The Jews and the Christians say: ‘We are sons of Allah and His beloved.’ Say: ‘Why then doth He punish you for your sins? Nay, ye are but men, of the men He hath created: He forgiveth whom He pleaseth. And He punisheth whom He pleaseth: and to Allah belongeth the dominion of the Heavens and the Earth, and all that is between: and unto Him is the final goal.’ Q:5:18

Woe to those that deal in fraud, those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure, but when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due, do they not think that they will be raised up? On a Mighty Day a Day when mankind will stand before the Lord of the Worlds? Q:83:1-6

It is not an act of love to commit an injustice, neither to those affected by it, nor towards Allah. Love in Islam is not only a positive sympathetic or erotic emotion, it is also a line of conduct. Sincereness, generously allowing someone else the good in life, and restrain oneself from violence, pride, arrogance are the main concepts that prove love in practice. The love and bounty by Allah are not only for you and your family, people and kindred thinkers. A believer also knows that he doesn’t get away with, for example, selling less than due measure, because he or she will always consider the other, Allah emphatically included herein. And also love for yourself meaning not in the least place: consideration for your Creator Who made you who you are, or asking your Creator to somehow introduce improvement into your life. Bad deeds eventually are damaging to yourself foremost. Love can connect you with the space around you, in order to fit you in a more balanced and therefore better way and that you may participate better in the totality.

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Faith is a physical and spiritual relationship with your Creator

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O ye who believe! If any from among you turn back from this Faith, soon will Allah produce a people whom He will love as they will love Him, lowly with the Believers, mighty against the Rejecters, fighting in the Way of Allah, and never afraid of the reproaches of such as find fault. That is the Grace of Allah, which He will bestow on whom He pleaseth. And Allah encompasseth all, and He knoweth all things. Your friends are Allah, His Messenger, and the Believers, those who establish regular prayers and pay Zakat and they bow down humbly. As to those who turn to Allah, His Messenger, and the Believers, it is the party of Allah that must certainly triumph. Q:5:54-56

And Allah makes the Signs plain to you: for Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom, those who love scandal circulate among the Believers, will have a grievous Chastisement in this life and in the Hereafter: Allah knows and ye know not. Were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah on you and that Allah is full of kindness and mercy. O ye who believe! Follow not Satan’s footsteps of Satan, he will command what is indecent and wrong: and were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah on you, not one of you would ever have been pure: but Allah doth purify whom He please; and Allah is One Who hears and know. Q:24:18-21

On the Day when their tongues, their hands and their feet will bear witness against them as to their actions. On that Day Allah will pay them back their just dues, and they will realize that Allah is the Truth, that makes all things manifest. Q:24:24,25

He created the heavens without any pillars that ye can see; He set on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with you; and He scattered through it beasts of all kinds. We send down rain from the sky and produce on the earth every kind of noble creature, in pairs. Such is the Creation of Allah: now show Me what is there that others besides Him have created: nay, but the Transgressors are in manifest error. We bestowed Wisdom on (prophet) Luqman: ‘Show thy gratitude to Allah.’ Any who is grateful does so to the profit of his own soul: but if any is ungrateful, verily Allah is free of all wants, worthy of all praise. Behold, Luqman said to his son admonishing him ‘O my son! Join not in worship with Allah: for false worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing’. Q:31:10-13

The Day that the enemies of Allah will be gathered together to the Fire, they will be marched in ranks. At length, when they reach, their hearing, their sight and their skins will bear witness against them, as to their deeds. They will say to their skins: ‘Why bear ye witness against us?’ They will say: ‘Allah hath given us speech, Who giveth speech to everything: He created you for the first time and unto Him were ye to return. ‘Ye did not seek to hide yourselves, test your hearing, your sight, and your skins should bear witness against you! But did ye think that Allah knew not many of the things that ye used to do! But this thought of yours which ye did entertain concerning your Lord, hath brought you to destruction, and have ye become of those utterly lost!’ Q:41:19-23

Thou wilt see the wrong-doers in fear on account of what they have earned, and that must fall on them. But those who believe and work righteous deeds will be in the Meadows of the Gardens: they shall have, before their Lord, all that they wish for. That will indeed be the magnificent Bounty. That is whereof Allah gives Glad Tidings to His servants who believe and do righteous deeds. Say: ‘No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of those near of kin.’ And if any one earns any good, We shall give him an increase of good in respect thereof: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Grateful. What! Do they say, ‘He has forged a falsehood against Allah’? But if Allah willed, He would seal up thy heart, and Allah blots out falsehood, and proves the Truth by His Words. For He knows well the secrets of all hearts. He is the One that accepts repentance from His servants and forgives sins: and He knows all that ye do. And He listens to Those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, and gives them increase of His Bounty: but for the Unbelievers there is a terrible Chastisement. If Allah were to enlarge the provision for His Servants, they would indeed transgress beyond all bounds through the earth; but He sends down in due measure as He pleases. For He is with His Servants Well-acquainted, Watchful. Q:42:22-27

It was We Who created man, and We know what suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein. Q:50:16

Our Creator is nearer to our mind than our own body and our mind, not only our heart, is an intermediary between Him and us. Our actions are an investment in our life to come in the Hereafter. This sounds very economical, but Allah is forgiving and merciful, and this Love shows in His creation that we see all around us: life and the universe. Allah weighs good deeds heavier than bad ones and may very well wipe out bad deeds when He wills. Believers experience gratitude and bliss towards their Creator over the variety, equilibrium, beauty and bounty they enjoy. Allah is the never ending Force behind nature Who knows every detail, yet allocates freedom to man to make his own choices until an agreed time, as we saw in verses 18:58,59. The worst display of ingratitude is to deny Allah His rightful position of Sole Creator of the universe. Allah is in no need of payment, not even of love and gratitude, yet He will remember those of His creatures that do cherish these towards Him and gives them a good place in the life to come hereafter. Indeed needing something is not the same as appreciating it.

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Faith is inspired into the heart – or not

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When thou dost recite the Qur’an, We put between those who believe not in the Hereafter a veil invisible: and We put coverings over their hearts lest they should understand the Qur’an and deafness into their ears: when thou dost mention thy Lord – and Him alone – in the Qur’an, they turn on their backs, fleeing. We know best what it is they listen, when they listen to thee; and when they listen to thee; and when they meet in private behold, the wicked say ‘Ye follow none other than a man bewitched!’ See what similes they strike for thee: but they have gone astray and never can they find a way. Q:17:45-48

We have explained in detail in this Qur’an for the benefit of mankind every kind of similitude: but man is, in most things, contentious. And what is there to keep back men from believing, now that Guidance has come to them, nor from praying for forgiveness from their Lord but that the ways of the ancients to overtake them, or the Wrath be brought to them face tot face? We only send the Messengers to give glad tidings and to give warnings: but the Unbelievers dispute with vain argument, in order therewith to weaken the Truth, and they treat My Signs and warnings as a jest. And who doth more wrong than one who is reminded of the Signs of his Lord but turns away from them, forgetting the (deeds) which his hands have sent forth? Verily We have set veils over their hearts so that they understand this not, and over their ears deafness. If thou callest them to guidance, even then will they never accept guidance. But your Lord is Most Forgiving, full of Mercy. If He were to call them to account for what they had earned, then surely He would have hastened their Punishment: but they have their appointed time, beyond which they will find no refuge. Such were the towns We destroyed when they committed iniquities; but We fixed an appointed time for their destruction. Q:18:54-59

And among them are men who listen to thee, till when they go out from thee, they say to those who have received Knowledge, ‘What is it he said just then?’ Such are men whose hearts Allah has sealed, and who follow their own lusts. But those who receive Guidance, He increases their Guidance, and bestows on them their piety and restraint. Q:47:16,17

Those who believe say ‘Why is not a Sura sent down?’ But when a Sura of decisive meaning is revealed, and fighting is mentioned therein, thou wilt see those in whose hearts is a disease looking at thee with a look of one in swoon at the approach of death. But fitting for them were it to obey and say what is just, and when a matter is resolved on, it were best for them if were true to Allah. Then, is it to be expected of you, if ye were put in authority, that ye will do mischief in the land, and break your ties of kith and kin? Such are the men whom Allah has cursed for He has made them deaf and blinded their sight. Do they not then earnestly seek to understand the Qur’an, or is that there are locks upon their hearts? Q:47:20-24

When the Hypocrites come to thee, they say ‘We bear witness that thou art indeed the Messenger of Allah.’ Yea, Allah knoweth that thou art indeed His Messenger. And Allah beareth witness that the Hypocrites are indeed liars. They have made their oaths a screen: thus they obstruct from the Path of Allah; truly evil are their deeds. That is because they believed, then they rejected Faith, so a seal was set on their hearts: therefore they understand not. When thou lookest at them, their bodies please thee; and when they speak, thou listenest to their words. They are as pieces of timber propped up, they think that every cry is against them. They are the enemies; so beware of them. The curse of Allah be on them! How are they deluded! And when it is said to them ‘Come, the Messenger of Allah will pray for your forgiveness, they turn aside their heads, and thou wouldst see them turning away their faces in arrogance. It is equal to them whether thou pray for their forgiveness or not. Allah will not forgive them. Truly Allah guides not rebellious transgressors. Q:63:1-6

We all may have noticed how different people react to these very texts: some reject them and others gladly or fearing accept them as truthful. The holy Qur’an itself explains this phenomenon, why some people do so, without needing empirical evidence. It is the relation between Allah and His individual creature that decides belief or disbelief. Allah gave people a will and option to believe in Him or not and those who are willing to believe and trust Him, will be divinely guided, but vice versa as well. People cannot see how this stream between Allah and man flows, but the result shows in their religious beliefs and the way they practice them – or not. Islamic faith is not only an opinion, it is an action, a relationship between Allah and the individual believer. Faith itself is an invisible flow, its results, however, not. Our words, actions and bodies testify for us and our faith.

Sometimes faith results from direct recitation of traditional scriptures. In that case, obviously, not only the heart is our first point of entry. Preachers and the media proclaim the message and we cannot deny them. Our observation and mind receive and decide over the message, but also this process is a process of choice. Do we choose to accept Allah and His message or to reject them, is a process based on the same factors as the invisible flow: the two-way stream between Allah and His individual creature that we may call a relationship. A relationship that may slip away through our fingers before we notice and that we have to nurture with our remembrance. Faith may get lost from among those that we call our religious role models and that will display itself in their behavior. Since Allah subhana wa ta’ala is forgiving and benevolent towards His creatures, however, a lot is needed to grade down from belief to unbelief. Loosing faith means more than just loss of ritual worship, it shows itself in really harmful ways, both to oneself and to others, as stated in the Qur’anic verses 47:20-24.

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