The Secret Beyond Matter

Helping one another in goodness and piety

Believers show their compassion by encouraging one another to engage in such deeds as would be most likely to earn Allah's blessing. They know that true compassion requires supporting one another in such a way as to become people worthy of the Garden. In that respect, they do their best to make up for each others' mistakes and shortcomings. Such cooperation is also what Allah and Qur'anic morality enjoin. The limits of such cooperation is specified in the Qur'an as follows:

…Help each other to goodness and heedfulness. Do not help each other to wrongdoing and enmity. Heed Allah. Allah is severe in retribution. (Surat al-Ma'ida: 2)

As is also expressed in the above verse, believers' not helping one another in " wrongdoing and enmity" is another manifestation of true compassion. When someone asks help for same wicked aim, they do not behave ignorantly and say, "I might offend them" or "It would be improper not to help" because they know that even if the wrongdoer is frustrated by a refusal of help at that point, he will certainly be pleased with the outcome in the hereafter, and that this is the best sign of one's compassion.

In the above verse, Allah informs us that the best assistance a believer can offer is in promoting goodness and piety. Again, we learn from the Qur'an what goodness is:

It is not righteousness to turn your faces to the East or to the West. Rather, those with true righteousness are those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, the Angels, the Book and the Prophets, and who, despite their love for it, give away their wealth to their relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to travellers and beggars and to set slaves free, and who establish prayer and pay welfare tax; those who honour their contracts when they make them, and are steadfast in poverty and illness and in battle. Those are the people who are true. They are the people who do their duty. (Surat al-Baqara: 177)

As is evident, true goodness plainly differs from the sense of goodness prevalent in societies in which the values of religion do not prevail. People, who are distant from Qur'anic morality, perceive goodness as a favour done when one feels like it. This is an attitude occasionally adopted. Often this form of goodness is limited to not side-stepping beggars and to giving in charity, feeding stray dogs or giving one's seat to an elderly person in a crowded bus. However, all these favours are done only when, they do not harm one's interests.

Contrary to this picture, however, the kind of goodness described in the Qur'an is the kind of morality and worship practised right throughout one's life, and not only when it happens to occur to one or one feels like it: it is not dependent on particular conditions. When necessary, a believer can consider making any sacrifice simply for the sake of doing a good deed or to encourage others to do good deeds.

Another subject on which Allah commands believers to help one another is the awe or fear of Allah (taqwa) which inspires the individual to be on his guard against wrong actions and to be eager to do things which please Allah. The following verses describe different aspects of "taqwa":

…Whatever good you do, Allah knows it. Take provision; but the best provision is doing your duty (taqwa). So heed Me, people of intelligence! (Surat al-Baqara: 197)

Children of Adam! We have sent down clothing to you to conceal your private parts, and fine apparel, but the clothing of heedfulness (taqwa)-that is best! That is one of Allah's Signs, so that hopefully you will pay heed. (Surat al-A'raf: 26)

Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in Allah's sight is the one who best performs his duty (one with the most taqwa). Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Surat al-Hujurat: 13)

The Qur'an informs us that what is precious in the sight of Allah is not the deed itself but the intention behind it and whether it has been done purely to earn Allah's approval. The following verse explains this as follows:

Their flesh and blood does not reach Allah but your heedfulness does reach Him… (Surat al-Hajj: 37)

Examples from our daily life are legion. For instance, one may give charity to the poor or make many sacrifices or be very considerate towards others. Yet, the real criterion here must be that while doing all these things, the individual must hope only to earn Allah's approval and seek only His rewards. If his intention is to show off, to earn the admiration or praise of others then it may well be that his efforts will be in vain. Ultimately, in the hereafter, everyone will be rewarded in accordance with his own piety.

In the Qur'an, Allah commands believers not only to do good deeds but also to be sincere about doing them. Cooperation among believers is based upon exactly these two criteria that are deemed to be precious in the hereafter. True compassion, indeed, entails this kind of cooperation.

Believers help others only to provide comfort and bring peace. For instance, believers help to improve one's health, to provide better living conditions, to give joy and happiness, to ease worries or strengthen faith. That is, the ultimate end of such help has to improve health, peace, the environment and people's faith.

However, those who have no Qur'anic understanding of mercy do not while helping someone appreciate these finer points. They do not even think of the possibility of the harm they may cause to others. For instance, lending money for gambling, prostitution or fraud is highly damaging. The one who borrows the money sooner or later find himself in great trouble in this world. But the matter does not end there, for his suffering extends to the hereafter, because of his having acted against the commands of Allah. Furthermore, the lender ought also to accept the blame for having helped another to commit a sin. In this sense, he may become equally responsible for the sin. For this reason, Allah declares that such people will meet the most grievous punishment in the hereafter and that they will no longer be able to help one another:

"Why are you not helping one another?" No, today they come in absolute submission. (Surat as-Saffat: 25-26)

Those who help one another out of goodness and piety will be rewarded as follows:

Those who produce a good action will receive ten like it. But those who produce a bad action will only be repaid with its equivalent and they will not be wronged. (Surat al-An'am: 160)

…If anyone does a good action, We will increase the good of it for him. "Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Thankful". (Surat ash-Shura: 23)
2009-07-23 15:25:48

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