The Secret Beyond Matter

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The Moral Perfection Conferred by Perfected Faith

"Indeed, you are truly exalted in character."(Surat al-Qalam, 4)

Every human being who wholeheartedly believes in Allah fulfils His commands unconditionally. This commitment ensures the formation of a form of moral perfection. It is meticulous observance of the commands of the Qur'an that accounts for this moral perfection which is peculiar to those of perfected faith.

Man can attain all good and precious qualities only by complying with the commands of the Qur'an. in the Qur'an, Allah commands righteousness, justice, patience, self-sacrifice, loyalty, devotion, commitment, submission, humility, tolerance, mercy, compassion, keeping anger under control and various other moral traits. Displaying this moral perfection as presented in the Qur'an depends on one's fear of Allah and thus following the voice of one's conscience. the more a person fears Allah and meticulously complies with what his conscience enjoins, the more obedient he becomes to Allah's commands. a person lacking in these qualities, however, fails to show commitment to live by the morals of the Qur'an. He may display some of the moral attributes that Allah approves but, when he encounters situations in which he feels his interests are at stake, he may well become a totally different person.

Such situations clearly reveal the superiority of those who have attained maturity of faith. One of perfected faith unflaggingly displays moral perfection at every moment of his life. the greatest patience, the highest degree of self-sacrifice and submission, the strongest love for Allah are manifest in his behaviour. These qualities make him a distinguished person. in the words of the Qur'an, he becomes a "leader (i.e., example) for the righteous." (Surat al-Furqan, 74)

The major goal of every Muslim is to attain such moral perfection. Setting limits for oneself leads man to be contented with himself, which is an attitude a man should strenuously avoid. in one verse, Allah stresses that the feeling of self-sufficiency is a serious depravation:

No indeed! Truly man transgresses all bounds in seeing himself as self-sufficient. (Surat al-Alaq, 6-7)

For this reason, everybody who has faith in Allah and the hereafter must make his major goal to live by the values of the Qur'an in the best way possible. Only one with such a noble goal can hope to attain paradise and be united with the prophets, the saints, the martyrs and the truthful. Allah informs us that only strict obedience makes man successful in this noble effort:

Whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger will be with those whom Allah has blessed: the Prophets and the truthful, the martyrs and the righteous. What excellent company such people are! (Surat an-Nisa', 69)

In the following pages, we will dwell on this kind of moral perfection of which Allah gives a detailed account in the Qur'an and see the great zeal and enthusiasm man should show in order to be successful in this cause.    

The Conscience of the People of Perfected Faith

From the day a man is born, a voice that always perpetually whispers evil accompanies him. This whisper belongs to one's lower self (an-nafs). Next to this voice, however, there exists an infallible voice that forbids evil and guides him to the right path. This voice that leads man to righteousness is called "conscience". Allah introduces to us these two aspects of the self as follows:

By the soul and the One Who proportioned it and inspired it with knowledge of depravity and with its sense of duty, he purifies it has succeeded, he who covers it up has failed. (Surat ash-Shams, 7-10)

As stated in the above verse, Allah also inspires man to avoid the evil of his self. This inspiration is provided through the conscience. Therefore, conscience is, in a sense, the voice of Allah that summons believers to what is good and right. For this reason, the conscience is a key to perfected faith.

Those of perfected faith unceasingly give ear to this voice. They have a quite different understanding of conscience from that prevalent in society. Helping needy and old people or making contributions to aid organisations is generally regarded as a sign of a good conscience. But except for such examples, the conscience is excluded from almost all other fields of life; people generally do not feel the need to employ their conscience and they lead their lives in compliance with their lower self.

Those who heed their conscience as commanded in the Qur'an are only those who are of perfected faith: throughout their lives, they listen to their conscience on every issue. Drawing near to Allah and earning His approval being their sole goal in life, they unceasingly bow to their conscience, whatever the conditions or circumstances may be. Neither exhaustion, sleeplessness nor the rush of daily life distracts them from following this voice. Their busiest moments or hard times are no exceptions; a single warning from their conscience suffices to make them immediately see the good and turn to it.

An example will clarify this issue: Think of a believer who has just returned from a long tiresome journey; having had only a few hours sleep, he is exhausted and hungry. Just at the time he is about to rest to regain his strength, he meets a person in a desperate situation who asks for help. This believer feels no hesitation in setting aside all his personal needs and rushes to his assistance. If he is physically too weak to help himself, then he finds someone who will replace him. Meanwhile, in return for all this help, he avoids any such attitude as would arouse feelings of indebtedness in the other person; he does not stoop to mentioning his needs or the sacrifices he has made. That is because, he has performed all these services to earn Allah's approval. He does not expect anything in return. the attitude of such people is stated in the Qur'an as follows:

We feed you only for the sake of Allah. We do not want any repayment from you or any thanks. Truly, We fear from our Lord a day of anguish and of woe. (Surat al-Insan, 9-10)

This is the understanding of conscience of a person of perfected faith. No matter how dire the circumstances may be, he does not swerve from following his conscience and never does a good deed in expectation of a reward. the thought that Allah is aware of that deed is sufficient for him. 

In the case of one who lacks the morality conferred by perfected faith, every inconvenience becomes a legitimate excuse that makes him ignore the right option to which his conscience guides him. Physical needs such as sleeplessness, exhaustion or hunger may well change his attitude, turning him into an intolerant, nervous and bad-tempered person. At such times, let alone helping someone, he becomes rude to the people around him who try to help him. If he agrees to help another—which is often an exceptional situation—he definitely grumbles about it, reproaches the person and does much to make him feel obliged.

As is evident, there is a wide gulf between the morality and attitudes of those of perfected faith and those bereft of such noble character traits. This distinction becomes obvious at every moment of their lives and will make a considerable difference in the rewards they will receive in the hereafter.

The Patience of the People of Perfected Faith

For a person of perfected faith, the scope of patience is not limited to enduring difficulties and problems with calmness. in the light of the verse, "You who believe, be steadfast; be supreme in steadfastness…" (Surah Al 'Imran, 200), throughout his life, he shows an undeviating commitment to meticulously fulfilling all the commands of the Qur'an, to avoiding what is unlawful, to displaying moral perfection in every situation, without becoming daunted or losing heart. in short, he resolutely shows the patience and good manners prescribed by the religion. That is because one can develop these noble character traits only if one makes a steady effort. It is the people of perfected faith who exhibit patience when making such efforts. As the Prophet Muhammad (saas) informed Muslims in the following hadith, they know that patience is a gift for them from Allah:

"No-one can be given a better and more abundant gift than patience." (Bukhârî and Muslim)

That is why patience permeates the entire life of a man of perfected faith and manifests itself in all his acts and attitudes. a man of perfected faith shows profound patience in compliance with the command of our Lord, "So be patient with gracious patience." (Surat al-Ma'arij, 5) He shows patience in humility and becomes the most humble person; he shows patience in spending for the cause of Allah and becomes the most generous person; he shows patience in not preferring his own self and becomes the most self-sacrificing person…

The following example in the Qur'an about the patience evinced in displaying moral perfection will give us a better understanding of this concept:

a good action and a bad action are not the same. Requite the bad with something better and, if there is enmity between you and someone else, he will become like a bosom friend. None will attain this attribute save those who are truly steadfast. None will attain it save those who have great good fortune. (Surah Fussilat, 34-35)

As the verse points out, Allah commands man to respond to an evil act in the best manner possible and stresses that only those who are patient can be successful in doing so. This example clearly shows that if moral perfection is to be displayed, it is important to be patient.

Never feeling frustrated in the face of events that are seemingly negative is another attribute of a believer of perfected faith. Alternatively, when he has a blessing bestowed upon him he never becomes spoiled.

An individual can be very generous, self-sacrificing and very humble at certain times of his life. Or, he may remain strong in the face of hardships. However, failure to demonstrate these favourable character traits under certain conditions, and thus having some limits or weak points, may invalidate one's preceding efforts to conducting oneself correctly. One must incorporate all these values in one's character. These qualities must be far from being imitative, fake, shallow or temporary; they must be components of an established Qur'anic structure. Allah also states that consistently displayed good values that have become an integral part of one's character are worthy in Allah's sight: "… But, in your Lord's sight, right actions which are lasting bring a better reward and are a better basis for hope of salvation." (Surat al-Kahf, 46)

Patience is one of the most important signs of a believer's sincerity and efforts to draw near to Allah: one can only show patience in relation with his sincerity and closeness to Allah. Those of perfected faith who are committed to displaying these traits compete with other believers in being patient. If making a sacrifice is in question, they conduct themselves most correctly and bring all their material and physical resources into play. Attention is drawn to this trait in a verse which reads: "…those who are steadfast in seeking the face of their Lord …" (Surat ar-Ra'd, 22) Encountering a difficulty, such people turn to Allah without harbouring any feelings of distress or uncertainty in their hearts. This was also expressed by our Prophet (saas):

"Wondrous are the believer's affairs. For him there is good in all his affairs, and this is so only for the believer. When something pleasing happens to him, he is grateful, and that is good for him; and when something displeasing happens to him, he is patient, and that is good for him." (Muslim)

People often misinterpret patience and think of it as "putting up with something." This is but a distant connotation of patience experienced and felt by a man of perfected faith, since "putting up with something" is an obligatory form of endurance shown in the face of a distressing and painful situation. the patience shown for the cause of Allah, however, is not a source of distress, but a great cause of pleasure and happiness. a man of perfected faith shows patience in order to earn the approval of Allah, and thus does not become depressed. on the contrary, with the hope of receiving the blessings and rewards Allah promises in return for his patience, he derives great pleasure from it. Allah informs us in the Qur'an that patience is distressing for disbelievers:

Seek help in steadfastness and prayer. But that is a very hard thing, except for the humble. (Surat al-Baqara, 45)

The patience of one of perfected faith is so profound that his patience and imploration never wavers, even though he cannot eliminate a problem or attain his wishes until death overtakes him. He knows that Allah keeps everything under His control and that he will earn great rewards in return for his patience. For this reason, he is content with Allah no matter which situations he encounters, he believes in His eternal compassion and mercy, and puts His trust in Him. If Allah does not answer his call immediately, he certainly knows a greater goodness and beauty are hidden in this. He never forgets that Allah answers all prayers and gives an excellent reward to those who are patient. And His promise is true. One verse reads: "... And whose words could be truer than Allah's?" (Surat an-Nisa', 87) a believer who is aware of this fact thinks that Allah will probably give him more blessings but, before that, He wants him to grow more mature. Through this, He might well be putting his loyalty and determination to the test. Believers who are exemplary in their submission are referred to in the Qur'an as: "those who, when disaster strikes them, say, 'We belong to Allah and to Him we will return.'" (Surat al-Baqara, 156)

Indeed, Allah advises His servants to be patient in the face of the hardships they encounter and gives them the glad tidings that they will eventually reap great benefits:

We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and crops. But give good news to the steadfast. (Surat al-Baqara, 155)

A believer exercises patience throughout his life. He obeys the command of his Lord: "Be steadfast for your Lord" (Surat al-Muddaththir, 7) at every moment of his life. Ultimately he will meet His Lord and be rewarded with His paradise. the angels at the gates of paradise will address him as follows:

Peace be upon you because of your steadfastness! How wonderful is the Ultimate Abode! (Surat ar-Ra'd, 24)

The Understanding of Compassion by the People of Perfected Faith

"...To be one of those who have faith and urge each other to steadfastness and urge each other to compassion." (Surat al-Balad, 17)

Man is, by nature, inclined to take pleasure from living by the values of the Qur'an and feels at ease with this set of ethics: "So as a pure natural believer, stand firm in your devotion to the true faith, Allah's natural pattern on which He made mankind …" (Surat ar-Rum, 30) This being the case, a man of perfected faith naturally possesses the kind of compassion and mercy enjoined by the Qur'an. When believers adhere to the values of the Qur'an, He makes manifest His beautiful names, ar-Ra'uf (the Kind) and ar-Rahman (the All Merciful) to them. Allah is the Most Merciful of the merciful, and the Most Compassionate. Allah draws attention to His infinite mercy and compassion:

… He is All-Gentle, Most Merciful to them. (Surat at-Tawba, 117)

… He is the Most Merciful of the merciful. (Surah Yusuf, 92)

… Allah is All-Compassionate to mankind and Most Merciful. (Surat al-Hajj, 65)

Allah's Messenger (saas) described Allah's compassion to believers in this way:

"Allah shows compassion only to those among His slaves who are compassionate." (Bukhari, Muslim)

The people of perfected faith, having this moral perfection, are compassionate and merciful towards people. But their understanding of compassion is very different from that which is prevalent in society. Since their compassion is a manifestation of Allah's compassion, it takes a form that is worthy of Allah's pleasure and is in compliance with the Qur'an. They know that an understanding of compassion shaped by the criteria of a non-Qur'anic system would be an "evil" compassion.

For instance, while helping someone, whether this help will be for the cause of the good or for a purpose that will displease Allah serves as the main criterion for the man of perfected faith. If this help is asked for a rightful purposes, then the compassion of a man of perfected faith steers him into providing all forms of help. But he would never agree to help someone who would make use of this help to commit an unlawful act. This is the true compassion with which Allah is pleased. Hindering a person from a mistake and guiding him to the right path is true goodness and compassion, for which the potential wrongdoer will be truly grateful in the hereafter, though he may fail to grasp its importance in this world.

Believers do not show compassion and mercy to those who have made it their major goal to oppose the values of religion. the criterion that the Qur'an lays down on this subject is as follows:

Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are fierce to the disbelievers, merciful to one another… (Surat al-Fath, 29)

Believers show compassion only to "believers", the devout servants of Allah. Their attitude towards disbelievers, on the other hand, is very firm and resolute. They do not show them compassion, since this is the kind of "evil compassion" we mentioned above. the attitude such people assume towards believers is made clear in the verse: "If they come upon you, they will be your enemies and stretch out their hands and tongues against you with evil intent, and they would dearly love you to become disbelievers." (Surat al-Mumtahana, 2) This being the case, it would obviously be unwise to show mercy to one who harbours deep hostility towards believers and seeks an opportunity to show it.

Beside this, the mercy and compassion people of faith show to other believers is truly exemplary and unique. This compassion is accompanied by humane qualities such as self-sacrifice, considerateness, forgivingness, love and respect. People of perfected faith recognize any material, physical or spiritual needs of others even before they express them, and lose no time in meeting these needs, due to the deep compassion they feel for them. As is in every other subject, our Prophet (saas) set the best example with the moral perfection he displayed in terms of compassion and mercy. the mercy and compassion our Prophet (saas) felt for Muslims is described in the verse as follows:

a Messenger has come to you from among yourselves. Your suffering is distressing to him; he is deeply concerned for you; he is gentle and merciful to the believers. (Surat at-Tawba, 128)

As is seen in the above verse, the mercy and compassion our Prophet (saas) felt for believers was so profound that their suffering greatly distressed him. This is the understanding of compassion for which people of perfected faith strive.

The Self-sacrifice of the People of Perfected Faith

Only fearing Allah and having faith in the hereafter lead one to make sacrifices without expecting any reward in return; the God fearing expect their rewards only from Allah. For this reason, unlike those who pay no heed to the values of religion, those of perfected faith make no distinction between people or issues while making a sacrifice.

In an unenlightened society, however, the majority of the people lack a subtle understanding of sacrifice. the major reason is their selfishness, which is a character trait that originates from being distant from the values of Islam. in a society distant from the values of religion, everyone is chiefly or is solely concerned with himself and simply ignores the needs and priorities of others.

The attitude of a man of perfected faith is again entirely different; he is, above all, someone who has purified his self of such base desires. Indeed, only a believer who has overcome the boundless desires of his self and has succeeded in controlling them can be self-sacrificing and considerate in the real sense. Indeed, perfected faith entails such moral perfection that believers hold the interests and needs of their brothers dearer than their own. This is the true faith, true submission and true conscience. the Qur'an provides the following example:

Those who were already settled in the abode, and had already embraced the faith, before they came, love those who have sought refuge with them and do not find it in their hearts to covet what they have been given and prefer them to themselves, even if they themselves are needy. It is those who are safe-guarded from the avarice of their own selves who are successful. (Surat al-Hashr, 9)

As stated in the above verse, even if a man of perfected faith is in need himself, he prefers to meet the needs and priorities of his brothers. Furthermore, these noble preferences are not limited to some particular occasions; they stem from an attitude that permeates his entire life. Even if he is hungry, sleepless and exhausted, literally in a desperate situation physically, he gives priority to the needs of other believers and feels no difficulty in setting aside his own needs. While doing this, he never feels distress. Moreover, he meticulously avoids doing anything to make the other party feel grateful.

When people who do not live by the values of religion make a compulsory sacrifice, they certainly make the object of their "generosity" feel their discontent. They make evident the anger or impatience they feel deep inside by an indignant glance or a churlish attitude. However, a man of true faith never stoops to displaying a surly attitude to make the other party notice his sacrifice. on the contrary, he conducts himself most nobly and renounces his rights willingly, since Allah's knowledge of that sacrifice is enough for him. For this reason, most of the time, the other party never feels that a sacrifice has been made.

the Humbleness of the People of Perfected Faith

"… Your God is One God, so submit to Him. Give good news to the humble-hearted." (Surat al-Hajj, 34)

The Qur'anic sense of humbleness is acknowledgement of one's status as an imperfect servant of Allah and conducting one's entire life in acceptance of this fact. the opposite attitude is unthinkable for a man who can appreciate his Creator. He is the One Who creates man, Who gives and takes his life and Who regulates all affairs. There is no god but Him, He is the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful. He encompasses everything, He has power over everything, He is the One Who creates destiny, He it is Who hears, sees and knows everything. Allah is exalted above all things. He does not need anything. He neither errs nor forgets.

Man, on the other hand, is an imperfect being who is not capable of creating anything. Furthermore, he is himself created and does not know anything other than what Allah has taught him. He relies on the thousands of blessings Allah bestows upon him at every moment. Even if only one of these blessings is lacking, he becomes weak and desperate. He is an imperfect being who continuously needs Allah's blessings to survive.

Not being humble is against the very nature of a man who is a weak and imperfect being before Allah. Therefore, a man of perfected faith never loses sight of his own weakness. This consciousness which he builds through contemplation, is what imbues him with a humble spirit, and this manifests itself in his face, looks, conversations, as well as in each of his character traits. For instance, only a humble person can take warning. He likes to hear any criticism or advice that comes from believers. Indeed, a man of deep faith does not even object to criticism of something about which he is most meticulous; he takes the advice and strives for the betterment of his acts. When he is told he is wrong about something when he is actually right, he meets this criticism with maturity, as in the example of the Prophet Yusuf (as):

I do not say that I myself was free from blame. the self indeed commands one to commit evil acts—except for one to whom my Lord has shown mercy... (Surah Yusuf, 53)

Because such an understanding of humbleness hinders him from being self-sufficient and thus boasting of his intelligence, he benefits from all warnings, advice and criticism.

One who, failing to remember his imperfection, boasts of his intelligence and haughtily turns away from Allah, assumes an attitude contrary to his very nature. Allah draws attention to the fact that this is an unattainable desire: "Certainly those who argue about the Signs of Allah without any authority having come to them have nothing in their breasts except for pride which they will never be able to vindicate..." (Surat al-Mu'min, 56) Allah does not love anyone who is boastful:

Do not avert your face from people out of haughtiness and do not strut about arrogantly on the earth. Allah does not love anyone who is vain or boastful. (Surah Luqman, 18)

The Prophet Muhammad (saas) also recommended believers to show humility towards one another:

"(Allah) has revealed to me that you should adopt humility so that no one oppresses another." (Riyadh-us-Salaheen)

The "vain" and "boastful" have forgotten their creation and their physical and intellectual weaknesses before Allah, which are attributes of the devil as described in the Qur'an. Allah created Adam and commanded all His angels to prostrate themselves before him. Deeming himself superior to man, the devil rebelled against Allah and disobeyed this command. This wicked attitude of the devil is described in the Qur'an:

Your Lord said to the angels, "I am going to create a human being out of clay. When I have formed him and breathed My Spirit into him, fall down in prostration to him!" So all the angels prostrated themselves, except for Iblis, who was arrogant for he was one of the disbelievers. He said, "Iblis, what prevented you from bowing to what I created with My own Hands? Were you overcome by arrogance or do you think he is beneath you?" He said, "I am better than him. You created me from fire, but You created him from clay." He (Allah) said, "Begone! You are accursed! My curse shall remain upon you until the Day of Reckoning." (Surah Sad, 71-78)

This is the situation of those who treat people with arrogance because they turn away from Allah. Highly assured of their own capabilities, they do not credit the opinion of others. They insist on their own way of thinking, which is an inclination that causes them to drift away from the values of the Qur'an. More importantly, those failing to recognise their weakness before Allah will be sent to hell:

But as for those who reject Our Signs and are arrogant regarding them, shall be the Companions of the Fire, remaining in it timelessly, for ever. (Surat al-A'raf, 36)

People of perfected faith, on the other hand, will be rewarded with paradise, since they avoid such a reprehensible attitude:

As for the abode of the hereafter—We shall grant it to those who do not seek to exalt themselves this world or to cause corruption in it. Those who are righteous shall have a blessed end. (Surat al-Qasas, 83)

The Forgivingness of the People of Perfected Faith

"... (Those who) pardon other people..." (Surah Al 'Imran, 134)

Man is prone to make mistakes. He is here in this world to be tested. He can only grow mature as he internalises the values of the Qur'an and purifies himself of his mistakes. This is how he attains moral perfection. Indeed, the verses about repentance in the Qur'an indicate the weakness of man. Allah, the Creator of man, best knows these weaknesses and states that He will forgive those who do evil in ignorance but who then immediately repent and make amends for their mistakes:

Allah accepts the repentance only of those who do evil in ignorance and then quickly turn to Him in repentance. Allah will pardon such people. Allah is All-Knowing and All-Wise. (Surat an-Nisa', 17)

If an individual is sincerely guided by his own wisdom and conscience, but still cannot help committing a mistake, then he may hope for Allah's forgiveness. in many verses, Allah informs us that He is forgiving and merciful. One verse reads:

Tell My servants that I am the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful. (Surat al-Hijr, 49)

As the verse informs us, Allah forgives human mistakes. This being the case, it would be improper for a man not to forgive mistakes. Besides, Allah advised believers to be forgiving:

Make allowances for people, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant. (Surat al-A'raf, 199)

In compliance with Allah's commands, people of perfected faith assume a forgiving manner towards believers. Undoubtedly, this is a sign of a superior conscience. That is because, ordinarily, people find it difficult to forgive a mistake since a mistake often causes material or spiritual damage. They cannot even control their anger and feel no hesitation in showing it. But as the verse maintains, believers "… control their rage and pardon other people …" (Surah Al 'Imran, 134)

In compliance with Allah's command, believers do not give in their selves but prefer to forgive. the greatest favour they can do to someone who makes a mistake, they know, is to urge him to do better. One verse says; "And remind them, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers." (Surat adh-Dhariyat, 55)

In another verse Allah says, "… They should rather pardon and overlook. Would you not love Allah to forgive you? Allah is Ever-Forgiving and Most Merciful." (Surat an-Nur, 22) When a believer makes a mistake and sincerely regrets it, he wants Allah and other believers to forgive him and wants to earn their trust. Encountering a forgiving attitude makes him realise how a great blessing forgiveness is from Allah and what a comfort this is. For this reason, people of perfected faith forgive others and want to be forgiven by others. Surely, this is the attitude that earns the approval of Allah:

... But if you pardon and exonerate and forgive, Allah is Ever-Forgiving and Most Merciful. (Surat at-Taghabun, 14)

The Understanding of Justice by the People of Perfected Faith

"Allah commands justice and doing good and giving to relatives. And He forbids indecency and doing wrong and tyranny. He warns you so that hopefully you will pay heed." (Surat an-Nahl, 90)

In the Qur'an, Allah commands believers not to diverge from justice whatever the circumstances may be:

You who believe! Be upholders of justice, bearing witness for Allah alone, even against yourselves or your parents and relatives. Whether they are rich or poor, Allah is well able to look after them. Do not follow your own desires and deviate from the truth. If you twist or turn away, Allah is aware of what you do. (Surat an-Nisa', 135)

People of perfected faith meticulously comply with this command and uphold justice even if its consequences could afflict them or their loved ones. They never forget that they shall have to give account of their deeds in the hereafter and that they will be faced there with every single good or wicked deed they committed. For this reason, none of the goals they are likely to attain in this world seem better than the approval of Allah they hope to attain in the hereafter.  

One of the most important attributes of sincere believers is that they have chosen the way of "those who are the forerunners". For this reason, they always display the attitude with which they hope to earn Allah's pleasure. They act with the awareness that "for every day on which the sun rises there is a reward of a charitable gift (sadaqa) for the one who establishes justice among people." (Bukhari) as stated by Allah's Messenger (saas). Therefore, neither family ties nor their worldly benefits hinder them from exercising justice. in the Qur'an, Allah commands as follows:

Allah commands you to return to their owners the things you hold on trust and, when you judge between people, to judge with justice. How excellent is what Allah exhorts you to do! Allah is All-Hearing and All-Seeing. (Surat an-Nisa', 58)

In another verse, Allah commands believers to be just even towards those for whom they feel enmity, and thus not to swerve from righteousness and piety:

You who believe! Show integrity for the sake of Allah, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for others to turn you away from justice. Be just. That is closer to true piety. Fear Allah. Allah is aware of all that you do. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 8)

Having these attributes, the people of perfected faith, who meticulously comply with the commands of Allah, become distinctive by the noble attitude they assume. the members of a society where the values of religion are not observed are consumed with the desire to take revenge upon those against whom they nurse anger and hold grudges. They cease to appeal to their consciences and their lower selves steer their decisions. the anger they feel and the grudges they bear deep inside obscure their reason and judgement. Therefore, they often take unsound decisions.

To attain an understanding of justice in the Qur'anic sense, the individual should be able to resist the desires of his lower self and follow his conscience. Besides, he should have the willpower to restrain his anger and think in compliance with the Qur'anic rationale.

Indeed, people of perfected faith possess all these characteristics. in accordance with the verse, "... Allah loves those who are even-handed." (Surat al-Hujurat, 9), they never diverge from justice.

The People of Perfected Faith Call to the Good

"Let there be a community among you who call to the good, and enjoin the right, and forbid the wrong. They are the ones who have success." (Surah Al 'Imran, 104)

The people of perfected faith meticulously comply with this command of Allah. They "enjoin the right and forbid the wrong" throughout their lives. the Qur'an provides us with the accurate meaning of "enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong".

"Enjoining the good" in the Qur'anic sense is to teach a person the attributes of Allah, and make him understand that he needs to love Allah and fear Him. It is to make him comprehend that the hereafter is an absolute truth and that he will be judged according to the Qur'an. It is to encourage him to listen to his conscience and become a sincere, wholehearted, loving, respectful, compassionate, merciful, tolerant, forgiving and self-sacrificing believer. in brief, "enjoining the good" is to exhort others to truly live by the values of the Qur'an. This is real goodness. That is because, such encouragement will ensure the best life both in this world and beyond and save a potential wrongdoer from eternal torment in hell.

"Forbidding the wrong", on the other hand, is to deter a person from following Satan, to make him purify himself of selfish desires, insincerity, hypocrisy, haughtiness, arrogance against Allah, unscrupulousness, and the assumption of an attitude that will displease Allah.

This is the how the people of perfected faith call one another to accept the truth. Allah defines such people in the Qur'an as follows:

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 true believers. (Surah Al 'Imran, 114)

In return for their efforts, they do not expect any rewards. They aim only to comply with the commands of the Qur'an and thus to attain the pleasure of our Lord. Throughout history, Allah's messengers admonished their people as the Prophet Nuh (as) did:

I do not ask you for any recompense for this. For none can reward me but the Lord of all the worlds. (Surat ash-Shu'ara', 109)

Another example mentioned in the Qur'an is the Prophet Musa (as)'s address to Pharaoh. Allah commands thus:

When his Lord called out to him in the holy valley of Tuwa saying: "Go to Pharaoh—he has overstepped the limits—and say: 'Do you resolve to purify yourself? I will guide you to your Lord, so that you may fear Him.'" Then he showed Pharaoh the Great Sign. But he denied it and disobeyed, and then he hastily backed away. But then he rallied all his men and called out, saying, "I am your Lord Most High!" So Allah made an example of him, meting out punishment to him in this world and the hereafter. There is certainly a lesson in that for those who fear Allah. (Surat an-Nazi'at, 16-26)

As described in the verses above, the Prophet Musa (as) called Pharaoh to believe in Allah but he refused outright and rebelled against Allah. This reprehensible attitude of Pharaoh exonerated Musa (as) from his responsibilities towards him, since he was only held responsible for enjoining right and forbidding evil. It is Allah Who guides a man's heart to the true path or leads him astray. 

However, a believer's duty to enjoin the good is not limited solely to calling people to the right path. They also enjoin the good upon other believers to urge them to attain a deeper understanding of the values of the Qur'an, to purify them of their mistakes and to make them display moral perfection. a believer enjoins good upon his brothers and sisters and forbids evil. He wants them to attain the approval of Allah and be rewarded by being ranked the highest in paradise.

The people of perfected faith do not communicate the morality of the religion through words only; the way they conduct themselves and their entire lives are also a manifestation of this morality. Rather than just talking about the meaning of friendship, wholeheartedness or sincerity, they display sincerity and wholeheartedness themselves and thus become role models to follow. Their behaviour conveys the meaning of sincerity far better than words. This holds true for all of the moral traits mentioned in the Qur'an. a man of perfected faith shows a willingness to be self-sacrificing, humbleness, forgiveness, justice, compassion, honesty–in brief, anything and everything to do with moral perfection by living by these values. This is what most impresses others. Indeed, one who talks about the importance of self-sacrifice at length, yet acts selfishly now and then would never be credible or appear sincere in the eyes of others.

It is obvious that one who sincerely lives by the values he preaches will surely appeal to others' conscience.

People of Perfected Faith's Turning Towards Allah

"If My servants ask you about Me, I am near. I answer the call of the caller when he calls on Me. They should therefore respond to Me and believe in Me, so that hopefully they will be rightly guided." (Surat al-Baqara, 186)

Allah surrounds everything. He is nearer to man than his jugular vein. He is the All-Hearing and All-Knowing. Allah knows everything that happens to a human being; not a single thought can remain hidden from Him. a believer knows this and acknowledges that he only needs to think in order to ask Allah for something. Even if this thought is hidden in one's breast, Allah hears it and indupitably answers one's prayer, because Allah is the friend, protector and helper of believers.

According to the Qur'an, prayer is man's turning towards Allah in all sincerity, taking refuge in His infinite and unbounded might, and asking help from Him. It is the acknowledgement of one's weakness before the infinite might of Allah. Prayer is one's personal relation with Allah. All thoughts and wishes of a man remain concealed between the man and Allah. Therefore, there is not the slightest possibility of showing off in this form of worship. It is worship founded entirely on sincerity.

Those who deeply feel that Allah is nearer to them than anybody and anything, that He hears all prayers and answers them all and who live by these truths, are the people of perfected faith. They are again those who turn towards Allah with a sincere heart and know their weaknesses as human beings before His omnipotence. They further know that it is Allah alone Who answers all prayers and saves man from all difficulties and trouble.

Not only in times of trouble or affliction, but at any time and in any situation the people of perfected faith turn to Allah, because, they know that there is not a single moment in a man's life when he is not in need of Allah. They do not wait for an affliction to befall them before they pray to Allah. They know that this is a form of worship, a servant's duty to his Creator, and an important way to draw nearer to Allah. This is, in actuality, one of the most important attributes that distinguishes them from other people. the morality displayed by those who pray to Allah when they are in trouble, but immediately turn their backs soon after they are freed from trouble is described in the following verse:

When harm touches man, he calls on Us, lying on his side or sitting down or standing up. Then when We relieve his affliction, he carries on as if he had never called on Us when first afflicted. Thus their foul deeds seem fair to the transgressors. (Surah Yunus, 12)

the people of perfected faith, on the other hand, are the ones who turn towards our Lord whether they are at ease or in trouble, because, they comprehend the insight provided by the verse "… What has My Lord to do with you if you do not call on Him? …" (Surat al-Furqan, 77)

They pray as described in the Qur'an. in one verse Allah commands the following:

Remember your Lord in deep in your soul humbly and fearfully, without loudness of voice, morning and evening. Do not be among the heedless. (Surat al-A'raf, 205)

Call on your Lord humbly and secretly. He does not love those who overstep the limits. (Surat al-A'raf, 55)

As is evident, Allah demands a humble and fearful prayer from His servants. Because, in their prayers, the only criteria Allah sets for His servants is sincerity. Our Lord, whom we implore, knows and hears what we utter as well as our innermost thoughts. Aware of this and, following their instincts, people of perfected faith sometimes pray secretly and sometimes aloud, but never make their prayers a matter of ostentation, because, in the Qur'an, Allah draws attention to the importance of "calling on Allah, making religion sincerely His":

He is the Living—there is no god but Him—so call on Him, making your religion sincerely His. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. (Surat al-Mu'min, 65)

Believers "feel Allah's existence" while they pray. While praying, they not only make their requests of Allah but also deeply feel the unity of Allah, His existence, His greatness and His infinite might. in the Qur'an, Allah commands as follows:

Remember the Name of your Lord, and devote yourself to Him completely. (Surat al-Muzzammil, 8)

While praying, the people of perfected faith keep their minds occupied with the remembrance of Allah's beautiful names. Allah's names make us attain a better understanding of Allah's attributes. Believers who call on Him, aware that He is the most Merciful and All-Compassionate, truly grasp His nearness to His servants and His mercy. Indeed, man can pray to Allah by uttering His beautiful names:

To Allah belong the Most Beautiful Names, so call on Him by them and abandon those who desecrate His Names. They will be repaid for what they did. (Surat al-A'raf, 180)

As is true of all other issues, sincere prayer is a quality best exhibited in Allah's prophets. in the Qur'an, the sincerity of the prophets' prayers are especially stressed:

He (Sulayman) said, "My Lord, forgive me and give me a kingdom the like of which will never be granted to anyone after me. Truly You are the Ever-Giving." (Surah Sad, 35)

He (Musa) said, "My Lord, forgive me and my brother and admit us into Your mercy. You are the Most Merciful of the merciful." (Surat al-A'raf, 151)

In a hadith, we read the following prayer of Allah's messenger (saas):

"My Lord! the Lord of the Seven Heavens and the Lord of the great Throne, our Lord and the Lord of all, the Creator of plants and trees:Iseek refuge in You from the evil of all creatures;You are the First;Nothing is beforeYou. You are the Last;Nothing is afterYou." (Muslim)

Believers are also steadfast in their prayers. As the verse says, they "seek help in steadfastness and prayer" (Surat al-Baqara, 45) from Allah. Their submission to Allah and the trust they put in Him accounts for such steadfastness and commitment. a believer feels assured that Allah will certainly answer his prayers. He never despairs and keeps on imploring Him: "… Do not despair of solace from Allah. No one despairs of solace from Allah except for those who disbelieve." (Surah Yusuf, 87)

A man of perfected faith fears Allah and prays to Him with profound respect and patience. He prays to his Lord at any moment; at an unanticipated time of the day or an unexpected place, a believer takes the time to pray to his Lord in earnest. Even in his busiest moments, he takes refuge in Him, implore Him and asks for His guidance. He does all this because he knows that this is the easiest way to draw nearer to Allah, to attain His approval and paradise. There is no obstacle that would hinder such a one from drawing near to his Creator. Allah only wants His servants to turn towards Him with a sincere heart. Allah commands as follows in the Qur'an:

Those who shun the worship of false gods and turn towards Allah will have good news. So give good news to My servants. (Surat az-Zumar, 17)

The Exemplary Attitudes the People of Perfected Faith Assume in Times of Difficulty

Before discussing the attitudes the people of perfected faith assume in times of difficulty, we need to have a true understanding of the way they perceive difficulties. People of perfected faith are those who truly grasp that this world is a place specially designed to put man to the test. They also truly know that the concept of "difficulty" is created to distinguish between "people who really believe" and "those in whose hearts is a disease". Times of difficulty and trouble are important moments for believers that enable them to prove their sincerity in faith. This being the case, contrary to its general meaning, "difficulty" is truly a "blessing" for a man of perfected faith.

Owing to this perception, they put their trust in Allah when they meet with hardship. Meanwhile, they never forget to pray that Allah may not burden them with more than they have the capacity to bear:

Allah does not impose on any soul more than it can stand. It shall be requited for whatever good and whatever evil it has done. Our Lord, do not take us to task if we forget or make a mistake! Our Lord, do not place on us a load burden like the one You placed on those before us! Our Lord, do not charge us with more than we can bear! And pardon us; and forgive us our sins; and have mercy on us. You alone are our Protector, so help us against the disbelievers. (Surat al-Baqara, 286)

In the face of a difficulty, they understand that it is a trial "which they have the strength to bear" and thus try to show their submission to Allah and their trust in Him in the best way possible. They know that the attitudes they assume in times of ease and those they display in hardship are not the same in the sight of Allah. on this subject, Allah gives the following example:

Those believers who stay behind—other than those forced to by necessity—are not equal to those who strive for the cause of Allah, sacrificing their wealth and themselves. Allah has given those who strive with their wealth and themselves a higher rank than those who stay behind… (Surat an-Nisa', 95)

As the above verse also stresses, people who seek Allah's approval in times of hardship are superior to those who do not make any effort. Their holding fast to their religion in such hard times reveals the profoundness of their faith. It is difficult to judge the sincerity of a person who makes sacrifice in times of ease. Putting people to the test through hardship is a way by which Allah distinguishes between those who are truthful and those who are liars.

Allah's testing believers with difficulties serves another purpose. Having experienced a difficulty makes an individual appreciate the value of a blessing much better and this makes him feel more grateful. This is because, difficulty and pain matures the human spirit. Difficulties in this world enable man to make the comparison between the good and bad, abundance and scarcity, comfort and inconvenience. Only through these comparisons does a man appreciate the worth of the material and spiritual blessings he enjoys. More importantly, these difficulties enable him to truly understand how much he is in need of Allah and to comprehend his weakness before Him.

The kind of hardships through which a person can be put to the test in this world are specified as follows:

We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and crops. But give good news to the steadfast. (Surat al-Baqara, 155)

A believer who bears this verse in mind prepares himself for difficulties even before he encounters them and promises Allah that he will show determination in patience and submission, and remain devoted, whatever the circumstances may be. His perfected faith accounts for this noble attitude. in the face of fear, unbearable hunger, poverty, an injury or loss of a loved one, he remains committed to being contented with Allah and to assuming a grateful manner towards Him. He sees all such circumstances as a means to draw nearer to Allah and to attain paradise. One verse reads:

Allah has bought from the believers their lives and their wealth and in return has promised them the Garden. They will strive for the cause of Allah, kill and be killed. It is a promise binding on Him in the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur'an and who is truer to his pledge than Allah? Rejoice then in the bargain you have made. That is the greatest victory. (Surat at-Tawba, 111)

A believer who has reached this maturity of faith is aware that one cannot attain a great reward like paradise merely by only saying: "I believe":

Do people imagine that they will be left to say, "We believe," and will not be tested? We tested those who have gone before them, so that Allah would know the truthful and would know the liars. (Surat al-'Ankabut, 2-3)

Again in another verse Allah draws our attention to this important truth:

Or did you suppose that you would enter the Garden without facing the same suffering as those who came before you? Poverty and illness afflicted them and they were shaken to the point that the Messenger and those who shared his faith cried out: "When is Allah's help coming?" Be assured that Allah's help is ever near. (Surat al-Baqara, 214)

These verses reveal that, in compliance with the immutable law of Allah, all human beings who have ever appeared on earth have faced these difficulties. They were also tested by having their wealth and life put at stake; they were also subjected to the cruelty and pressure of disbelievers and thus the difference between true believers and insincere ones became apparent. That is why, the moment a believer becomes acquainted with the Qur'an, he starts to prepare for these events. However, these events, which occur in compliance with the essence of trial, may not be exactly the same as those under the conditions of our Prophet (saas)'s time. in our day, we probably meet difficulties under very different circumstances.

A man who has attained perfected faith knows that each and every untoward event he experiences is, without exception, a trial from Allah. the kind of adversity he is faced with may be hunger, loss of wealth or life as well as the trials he may encounter in daily life. Sometimes all kinds of adversity come one after another. One may lose a loved one at a quite unexpected time. At the same time, one may have financial problems. All this distress may be coupled with serious health problems. Seeing all these as an opportunity, the devil may meanwhile seek ways to tempt the afflicted person. in the midst of such distress, another believer may ask for his help. Under all conditions, a man of perfected faith responds with an attitude that best pleases Allah and never makes anyone who seeks assistance become conscious of the difficulties with which he grapples. the tone of his voice, the expression on his face or his manner conveys his willingness to help.

A man of perfected faith displays all this patience and these fine moral virtues because of his devotion to, respect for and fear of Allah and his submission to Him.

The above example succinctly conveys the point that no matter how dire the circumstances may be, a man of perfected faith never deviates from virtuous conduct and manners. Aware that all afflictions befall human beings at the will of Allah, he seeks relief and solutions from Allah alone. This world is but a temporary abode for him; he will remain here for a specified period of time and then depart; what really matters is to exercise patience under all conditions, to live by the values that please Allah and obtain His approval.

Everything in the life of this world is transitory. a man must principally keep in mind that he is being tested with these temporary events and, based on the results of this trial, an eternal abode awaits him in the hereafter. the real abode of man is the hereafter. Even if one experiences the severest pain, difficulty or distress in this world, all of these will ultimately abate or death will put an end to them. 

This also holds true for the contrary. None of the blessings the individual enjoys in this world belong to him. When death comes upon him, he will leave them all behind. It may well be that one who led an ostentatious life in this world will end up in the torment of hell. What we mean here is that, the favourable quality of the life a man enjoys in this world is by no means a criterion; such a life is but a trial. One who has undergone difficulties in this world may well be someone who is worthy of a blissful life in paradise. That is because in this world, he took Allah as a friend, and exercised patience in order to earn His approval. These people will say the following in the hereafter:

They will say, "Praise be to Allah who has taken away all sadness from us. Truly, our Lord is Ever-Forgiving and ever bountiful in his rewards. Through His grace He has admitted us to the Eternal Abode where we shall endure no toil, no weariness." (Surah Fatir, 34-35)

The Attitude Displayed by a Person of Perfected Faith When a Blessing is Bestowed Upon Him

The majority of people—in the words of the Qur'an—"exult" when Allah showers them with blessings after some distress they have gone through. Forgetting the Granter of these blessings, they immediately turn their faces away. However, Allah says, "... Do not exult, in your riches; surely, Allah does not love the exultant." (Surat al-Qasas, 76)

The people of true faith are those who never exult in the blessings they enjoy and who are aware that they are from their Lord. They never lose sight of the fact that they are in need of Allah in times of welfare and peace as well as in times of difficulty. That Allah can take back His blessings any time He wills and leave them in need is a fact they never forget. With this mindset, in poverty or abundance, in ease or difficulty, they always assume a grateful manner towards Allah.

People of perfected faith fear the punishment of the dreadful Day. They know that Allah will punish those who are ungrateful to Him. That Allah will punish those who are ungrateful is stated in a verse:

That is how We repaid them for their ingratitude. Are any but the ungrateful repaid like this? (Surah Saba', 17)

Just like difficulties, blessings are also a part of the test to which Allah puts His servants in this world. As the Prophet Sulayman (as) expressed it:

… This is part of my Lord's favour to test me to see if I will give thanks or show ingratitude. Whoever is grateful–his gratitude is only for (the benefit of) himself. And whoever is ungrateful–then indeed, my Lord is Rich Beyond Need and Generous! (Surat an-Naml, 40)

The attitude a believer of perfected faith adopts towards blessings is that he immediately takes refuge in Allah and feels grateful to Him, aware that this is a trial. And then he turns these blessings to good account in order to earn the approval of Allah.

However, one needs to keep in mind that the blessings Allah heaps upon His servants are not limited to the purely material. Faith, beauty, wisdom, the faculty of judgement, and good health are also great blessings for which believers should be grateful. in the Qur'an, Allah draws our attention to the infinite blessings a man enjoys: "He has given you everything you have asked Him for. If you tried to number Allah's blessings, you could never count them... " (Surah Ibrahim, 34)

A scrutiny of the Qur'an and the lives of the prophets reveals that the riches and power bestowed upon them never diverted them from exercising justice or displaying moral perfection. They maintained their humility before Allah under all circumstances. in the Qur'an, Allah praises this fine moral virtue of His servants and defines them as being:

 Those who, if We establish them firmly in the land, will regularly say their prayers and give alms, and will enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of all matters. (Surat al-Hajj, 41)


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