The Secret Beyond Matter

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Religious obligations take precedence over commerce and amusement

"But when they see a chance of trade or entertainment they scatter off to it and leave you standing there. Say: 'What is with Allah is better than trade or entertainment. Allah is the Best of Providers.' " (Surat al-Jumu'a; 11)

In this verse, Allah refers to an incident that occurred at the time of the Prophet (saas), when some people neglected a religious obligation for mundane interests. Today, similarly, there are some common reasons why members of ignorant societies avoid living by the Qur'an. Here Allah draws attention to two of them: commerce and entertainment.

The reason of the wisdom behind why Allah mentions a business transaction in particular is that material interests are one of most people's major weaknesses. Indeed, some people disregard religious duties in favor of their material pursuits. Neglect may involve an act of worship, such as regular prayers five times a day, fasting, dressing in an Islamic way, a moral obligation or other Divine commandments. The false belief that wealth has the power to solve any problem on Earth underlies some people's ambition to amass more and more of it. These people tend to believe that anything they long for (peace of mind, happiness, security) is attainable through wealth. Interestingly enough, they maintain that they can even avoid death and achieve immortality through wealth. With such pursuits in mind, some people passionately concentrate most of their efforts and time on business. But wealth will not bring the desired result, nor does it prevent a man from growing old and dying. That is because Allah alone is the real owner of wealth and of the person. Leading a conscientious life that fully complies with the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as well as surrendering willingly to Allah, is the sole prerequisite for attaining happiness and security. 

In the above verse, Allah mentions "amusement" as the second factor that leads some people to disregard rulings regarding religious morals. Because some people foolishly consider entertainment as a salvation and escape from some bitter realities, it becomes a great passion for them. Traveling from one country to another or meeting different people, they think, brings relief for the inner distress and spiritual void that pangs of conscience inflict upon their souls. Of course a person's being happy, joyous, outgoing and lively are all excellent characteristics. But the point being emphasized here is an ignorant conception of enjoyment that has nothing to do with Allah, and it is impossible for people with such a state of mind to be genuinely happy or feel any delight. The fact is, however, that the realization of those goals man tries to attain through commerce and entertainment can come only through the method prescribed in the Qur'an:

Those who believe and whose hearts find peace in the remembrance of Allah. Only in the remembrance of Allah can the heart find peace. (Surat ar-Ra‘d; 28)

Hearts are in Allah's hands alone, and He promises peace of mind only to those who live by the principles of His religion.

Yet another important point is made in the quoted verse: Allah's reward is far better than any sort of entertainment or commerce. Anything one can possibly experience in this world is innately imperfect and flawed. The most stately mansions, ostentatious houses, glorious landscapes, beautiful clothes, pieces of art or jewelry remain primitive and simple compared to those in the Paradise. The real abode of entertainment, joy and bliss is Paradise, which Allah describes as a place of hospitality.

That being the case, Muslims should never disregard or postpone any command given in the Qur'an for the sake of amusement or commerce. Allah describes one attribute of true believers as follows:

There are men who proclaim His glory morning and evening, not distracted by trade or commerce from the remembrance of Allah and the performance of prayer and the giving of the alms; fearing a day when all hearts and eyes will be in turmoil (Surat an-Nur; 37)


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