The Secret Beyond Matter

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Examples of Perfected Faith in the Qur'an

"You have an excellent model in the Messenger of Allah, for all who put their hope in Allah and the Last Day and remember Allah always." (Surat al-Ahzab, 21)

Allah has sent mankind an all-inclusive book that guides them on every issue they will need to resolve throughout their lives. How to attain maturity in one's faith, how to think, by which values to live and the goals to adopt in life are all revealed in this noble book… Over and above this, He sent prophets as role models who exhibited moral perfection. By looking at the lives of these noble people, we can see how a person of perfected faith conducts his life. By enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, the prophets helped their people to live by the principles of perfected faith. Besides, by telling the stories of the prophets of the past, Allah provided believers with examples of noble behaviour and the attitudes a believer should adopt.

As mentioned earlier, no limits can be placed on one's faith and the love and fear one has for Allah. If one wills, one can find a way to one's Lord and draw nearer to Him. This being so, the people of perfected faith aim to attain the faith and wisdom of the prophets and of the righteous people exemplified in the Qur'an. This is still not an ultimate goal, however. in the Qur'an, Allah stresses that believers should not set a limit to the fear they have for Allah: "So heed Allah, as much as you are able to…" (Surat at-Taghabun, 16)

For this reason, every believer's sole aim is to become Allah's dearest and nearest servant. 

In this section, we shall recall to those who are in search of such a noble and perfect morality the stories of the prophets and believers of perfected faith as exemplified in the Qur'an and shall dwell on the ways to attain moral maturity.

The Prophet Yusuf (as)

As related in the Qur'an, in his early life, the Prophet Yusuf (as) was put through many tests, to which he responded with the utmost maturity and submission. No matter how dire the circumstances or how cunning the plots against him were, the Prophet Yusuf (as), never diverged from his faith, devotion, trust and submission to Allah, but rather drew nearer to Him and showed absolute submission.

For those who seek ways to draw nearer to Allah, there are really striking examples of moral perfection in the life of the Prophet Yusuf (as). the first thing we learn about him is the important dream he saw in his early years and the comment his father, Ya'qub (as), made about this dream:

Yusuf said to his father: "Father! I saw eleven bright stars, and the sun and moon as well. I saw them all prostrate themselves in front of me." "My son", he replied, "don't tell your brothers of your dream, lest they devise some scheme to injure you. Satan is the sworn enemy of man. Accordingly, your Lord will pick you out and teach you the true meaning of events and perfectly confer His blessing upon you as well as upon the family of Ya'qub, as He conferred it perfectly before upon your forebears, Ibrahim and Ishaq. Most certainly your Lord is All-Knowing, and Wise." (Surah Yusuf, 4-6)

Taking this dream to be a sign from Allah and realising that Yusuf (as) would become a noble person in Allah's sight in future, his father wanted him to keep this dream to himself. His brothers, who felt that their father held Yusuf (as) more dear, became jealous of their father's love and hatched a plot against Yusuf (as). They tried to kill him and draw their father's love to themselves:

in Yusuf and his brothers there are Signs for those who ask. They declared, "Why! Yusuf and his brother are dearer to our father than we are, although we constitute a powerful group. Our father is clearly making a mistake." Kill Yusuf or expel him to some far-off land, so that your father will look to you alone and after that you can be honourable men. One of them said, "Do not take Yusuf's life, but, if you must, throw him to the bottom of a well, so that some travellers may discover him." (Surah Yusuf, 7-10)

His brothers left Yusuf (as) in the depths of a well. Then, they came to their father, telling him that a wolf had devoured him, and offered his shirt with false blood stains as evidence. Despite this evidence, the Prophet Ya'qub (as) realized this incident to be a plot, took refuge in Allah and asked Him for help. Thanks to countless conditions predetermined by destiny, some travellers passing by the well found the Prophet Yusuf (as) and sold him as a slave to a governor in Egypt:

… Thus We established Yusuf in the land to teach him the true meaning of events. Allah is in control of all things, though most of mankind do not know it. And then when he became a full-grown man, We gave him knowledge and right judgment too. That is how We reward all doers of good. (Surah Yusuf, 21-22)

The wife of the governor who bought him approached the Prophet Yusuf (as), who was remarkably handsome, with wicked intentions. However, she was refused outright by Yusuf (as). Upon this, the wife of the governor resorted to slandering Yusuf (as) to maintain her innocence:

His master's wife attempted to seduce him. She barred the doors and said, "Come over here!" "Allah is my refuge!" he (Yusuf) replied. "He is My Lord and has treated me with kindness. Those who do wrong shall surely never prosper." (Surah Yusuf, 23)

They both rushed to the door. She tore his shirt at the back. They met her husband by the door. She said, "How should a man whose intention was to harm your family be punished for what he did, except with prison or painful punishment?" Yusuf said, "It was she who tried to seduce me."... (Surah Yusuf,25-26)

the governor saw the shirt torn at the back and said, "The source of this is women's deviousness. Without a doubt your guile is very great. Yusuf, ignore all this, and you, my wife, should ask forgiveness for your evil act. There is no doubt that you are in the wrong." (Surah Yusuf, 28-29)

She said, "You see! It's him you blamed me for. I tried seducing him but he refused. If he does not do what I order, he will be put in prison and brought low." "My Lord", said Yusuf, "prison is preferable to me than what they call on me to do. Unless You turn their guile away from me, it may well be that I will yield to them and so lapse into ignorance." His Lord answered his prayer and turned away from him their female guile and deviousness. He is the One Who Hears, the One Who Knows. Yet, even after they had seen the Signs, they thought that they should still imprison him for a time. (Surah Yusuf, 32-35)

… and so he stayed in prison for several years. (Surah Yusuf, 42)

Now after being plotted against by his brothers and unjustly slandered by the governor's wife, Yusuf (as) had nothing to look forward to but several years of imprisonment. However, throughout all these long years, the Prophet Yusuf (as) did not despair even for a moment but, aware that there is good and wisdom behind these events Allah ordained, hopefully prayed to Him and showed determination in his patience and faith. Indeed, years later, when the king sought for the interpretation of a dream he had had, an old prisoner recalled the Prophet Yusuf (as) as a person who had the faculty of interpreting dreams. Yusuf (as)'s interpretation of the dream greatly impressed the king. He thereupon called Yusuf (as) to his presence. Before the king had a chance to talk to him, the Prophet Yusuf (as) wanted the king to learn the facts about the incident for which he had been sent to prison so many years ago. So, for this explanation, the king returned to the governor's wife and the women to whom she had introduced Yusuf (as) at the time of the incident:

... (The women said:) "Allah forbid! We know no bad of him." the governor's wife then said, "The truth has now emerged. Indeed I tried to seduce him then and he has simply told the honest truth." (Surah Yusuf, 51)

After their confession, the Prophet Yusuf (as) gave the following explanation:

in this way he (i.e., the governor) will know at last that I did not dishonour him behind his back and that Allah most surely does not guide the deviousness of the dishonourable. I do not say that I myself was free from blame. the self indeed commands to evil acts—except for those my Lord has mercy on. My Lord, He is Forgiving and Merciful. (Surah Yusuf, 52-53)

These words of the Prophet Yusuf (as) are typical of his perfected faith. He always knew that Allah would help believers and those who are patient, and that He would certainly confound the schemes of those who betrayed Him. His trust in Allah manifested itself in his submission to his destiny. No matter how unfavourable the circumstances seemed, he could see that there was good and wisdom behind these events Allah ordained.

Another exemplary character trait of the Prophet Yusuf (as) was his refusal to indulge his lower self, even in situations in which he was absolutely right. He never trusted in his lower self and always remained conscious of the fact that one's lower self is prone to evil. This is a form of morality peculiar to those having perfected faith who act with the awareness that employing the methods of the devil, the lower self stealthily approaches human beings and tempts those who ignore the voice of their conscience.

The attitude of the Prophet Yusuf (as) towards his lower self is a manifestation of his moral maturity. No doubt, the ultimate fate of a person who shows such deep-seated submission to Allah and trusts in Him will be infinite good. Indeed, in return for this meritorious submission to Allah, he was placed in authority over the treasures of Egypt. Granting him a good life in this world and giving the good news of paradise in the hereafter, Allah stated that "He would not allow to go to waste the recompense of those who do good":

And thus We established Yusuf in the land and he dwelt there as he pleased. We grant Our grace to anyone We will and We do not allow to go to waste the recompense of those who do good. But the reward of the hereafter is the best for those who believe and fear their Lord. (Surah Yusuf, 56-57)

The Prophet Sulayman (as)

In the Qur'an, Allah expresses the sincere faith of the Prophet Sulayman (as) as follows:

To Dawud We gave Sulayman. What an excellent servant! He truly turned to his Lord. (Surah Sad, 30)

One of the most important characteristics of the Prophet Sulayman (as) related in the Qur'an is his great power and glorious possessions. Beside these, Allah bestowed many special faculties upon him. in return for all these blessings, the Prophet Sulayman (as) always prayed to Allah and turned to Him in gratefulness. One of his prayers is as follows:

… My Lord, inspire me to be thankful for the blessing You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and keep me acting rightly, pleasing You, and admit me, by Your mercy, among Your righteous servants. (Surat an-Naml, 19)

Another prayer of the Prophet Sulayman (as) is as follows:

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)

In return for his prayer, Allah granted the Prophet Sulayman (as) an unmatched knowledge and affluence in this world and promised the best rewards in the hereafter. One verse reads:

Indeed, for him is nearness to Us and a good place of return. (Surah Sad, 40)

His employment of his unprecedented affluence for the cause of Allah accounts for his exalted and distinguished position in Allah's sight. This attitude earned him nearness to Allah and made him constantly occupy his mind with the remembrance of Allah. Indeed Allah informs us in one verse that he said, "…Truly do I love the love of good, with a view to the glory of my Lord…" (Surah Sad, 32)

Turning to Allah alone while enjoying affluence, not becoming recalcitrant towards one's Creator due to the riches in one's possessions, is a character trait peculiar to the people of perfected faith alone. the moral perfection of the Prophet Sulayman (as) thus sets an example to all human beings.

The Wife of Pharaoh

The wife of Pharaoh, who was married to a man who has gone down in history as one of the most oppressive rulers in the world, has the honour of being remembered among the most superior Muslims in history. According to the destiny outlined for her, Allah had ordained this devout believer to share the same home with one of the cruellest men in the world, Pharaoh, who reigned over the children of Israel in Egypt during the Prophet Musa (as)'s time.

The perfected faith of this noble woman mentioned in the Qur'an sets an example to all Muslims for all time:

Allah has made an example for those who have faith: the wife of Pharaoh… (Surat at-Tahrim, 11)

The perfected faith of the wife of the Pharaoh is exemplary, since she came to put her faith in Allah under very difficult conditions, by taking great risks. Moreover, unimpressed by a great fortune—the like of which was attainable by only a very few people in this world—she displayed a deep-seated devotion to Allah and evinced great strength of character.

At that time, the people of Egypt believed that Pharaoh was in possession of divine power. Abusing this belief of the Egyptian people, Pharaoh dared to "declare himself a deity." While surrounded with such imminent danger, the wife of Pharaoh showed her commitment to Allah. Truly convinced that the beliefs adopted by the Egyptian people until then were all false, she acknowledged the existence of Allah. Certainly, this was a path, which demanded great patience and only a heartfelt and sincere devotion to Allah would render this possible. a rational and strong-willed faith, quite remote from sentimentalism, could cope with the difficulties involved. Since the wife of Pharaoh was a person of perfected faith, she adopted a rational approach and concealed her faith from the Pharaoh. She was honoured by being held up as an example to all women:

To those who believe Allah has set an example in the wife of Pharaoh who said: "My Lord, build a house in the Garden for me in Your presence and rescue me from Pharaoh and his misdeeds and rescue me from this wrongdoing people." (Surat at-Tahrim, 11)

Although the wife of the Pharaoh could have exulted in her affluence, she instead chose a life devoted to Allah alone and considered the approval of Allah over and above all else. Her submission to Allah, her putting her trust in Allah, her patience and maturity made her an example to all humanity.

the Faith of the Magicians

The Prophet Musa (as) conveyed Allah's message to Pharaoh and supported his words with the performance of the miracles Allah granted to him. This forthright and convincing manner of Musa (as) made Pharaoh feel arrogant. in an effort to counteract the powerful influence of Musa (as) and to humiliate him in the eyes of his people, he held a competition between Musa (as) and his most trustworthy magicians. Pharaoh was actually afraid that all the Egyptian people would believe in Allah and abandon their false religions. His sole aim being the survival of his system, a fraudulent gambit, he thought, would suffice to protect and even consolidate his system.

When the appointed time arrived, the Prophet Musa (as) and the magicians appeared before the public. When the magicians performed their magic, their ropes and staffs appeared to slither. Then Musa (as) threw down his staff, which swallowed up the sorcery of the Pharaoh's magicians. the Qur'an relates this story as follows:

They said, "Musa, will you throw first or shall we be the ones to throw?" He said, "You throw." And when they threw, they cast a spell on the people's eyes and caused them to feel great fear of them. They produced an extremely powerful magic. Then We inspired to Musa, "Now throw down your staff." And it immediately swallowed up their false devices. So the Truth prevailed and all that they had done was shown to be false. They were defeated then and there, and put to shame. (Surat al-A'raf, 115-119)

Believing this to be a sign of the existence of Allah and evidence of Allah's support to Musa (as), the magicians embraced the faith:

the magicians prostrated themselves in adoration. They said, "We believe in the Lord of all the worlds, the Lord of Musa and Harun." (Surat ash-Shu'ara', 46-48)

The magicians' choice, consequent upon the Prophet Musa (as)'s exposure of their sorcery as fraudulent, was indeed a great defeat for Pharaoh, hence the fierceness of his reaction. After all, he had been humiliated before his people, he had lost his most reliable men to Musa (as) and the position of the Prophet Musa (as) as a great threat to his system had been established. on all these counts, he decided to severely punish his magicians:

Pharaoh said, "Do you dare believe in him without my leave? He must be your master, the one who taught you magic. I will cut off your hands and feet on alternate sides and have you crucified on palm trunks. Then you will know for certain which of us can inflict the harsher and longer lasting punishment." (Surah Ta Ha, 71)

In spite of these dire threats of the Pharaoh, the magicians had faith in Allah from the very moment they grasped Allah's existence and prostrated themselves before Him. They sided with Musa (as) outright; they did not feel concerned over losing certain benefits from Pharaoh. Meanwhile, they asked for Allah's forgiveness for opposing the Prophet Musa (as) and for struggling against him:

They said, "We will never prefer you to the Clear Signs which have come to us nor to Him who brought us into being. Decide on any judgment you like. Your jurisdiction covers only the life of this world. We have put our faith in our Lord, so that He may forgive us for our mistakes and for the magic which you forced us to perform. the reward of Allah is better and longer lasting." (Surah Ta Ha, 72-73)

From the above, it becomes obvious that one's submission to Allah engenders strength of character, personal power and a sense of commitment. the magicians could have never assumed such a noble attitude if they had sought for any benefit from the Pharaoh's system. Under the circumstances of their time, their conversion to the true path seemed to conflict with their worldly interests.

However, all these devices for personal interest lose their significance for one who has faith in Allah. That is because, Allah is the One who commands the course of all these events related above. a person of perfected faith does not stipulate conditions for being a servant to Allah. the sort of faith which is unbounded by any conditions is the true faith. in this sense, the faith of the magicians was a sincere, perfected faith, in that it was unconditional.

The Owner of Gardens

Allah revealed the story of two men to the Prophet Muhammad (saas). Thus all those who live until the Day of Judgment will learn about the story of these people who lived centuries ago:

Give them the example of two men, to one of whom We gave two gardens of grape-vines and surrounded them with date-palms, putting between them some cultivated land. Both gardens yielded their crops and did not suffer any loss, and We made a river flow right through the middle of them. He was a man of wealth and property … (Surat al-Kahf, 32-34).

The conduct of the rich man is mentioned in the Qur'an as belonging to type of a character from which we need to learn a lesson. the moderate attitude of the second man, on the other hand, is typical of a person of perfected faith.

The wealthy man was extremely spoilt and self-assured because of the wealth he possessed. His fruitful gardens and the beauty of their appearance were the main source of his self-confidence. Just because he was richer and more powerful than the other man, he dared to act haughtily and arrogantly:

… and he said to his companion, debating with him, "I have more wealth than you and more people under me." (Surat al-Kahf, 34)

Seeing the beauty and fruitfulness of his gardens, this man thought he was not in need of Allah or His religion to be strong, and thus assumed a self-sufficient and unwise attitude:

He entered his garden and wronged himself by saying, "I do not think that this will ever end. I do not think the Hour will ever come. But if I should be sent back to my Lord, I will definitely get something better in return." (Surat al-Kahf, 35-36)

As Allah stresses in this verse, the owner of the gardens attributed near-permanence to his gardens and dared to openly state that they were not vulnerable to any kind of devastating disasters. He yet failed to recognise the drastic end this outlook would bring about. His ignorant arrogance and his feelings of self-sufficiency made him one who "wronged himself."     

Allah mentions another man who also owned gardens. This individual was also wealthy, though not as much as the first one… Yet, his wealth did not change his faith or personality, for which reason, he noticed his friend's disbelief and answered him thus:

…Do you then disbelieve in Him Who created you from dust, then from a drop of sperm, and then formed you as a man? He is, however, Allah, my Lord, and I will not associate anyone with my Lord. Why, when you entered your garden, did you not say, "It is as Allah wills, there is no strength but in Allah?"... (Surat al-Kahf, 37-39)

In the latter part of the verse, he immediately warns his friend not to be insolent towards Allah on account of his possessions and advises him not to grow arrogant:

..."Though you see me with less wealth and children than you possess, it may well be that my Lord will give me something better than your garden and send down upon your vineyard thunderbolts from heaven so that it turns into a barren waste, or drain its water deep into the earth, so that you will find none of it." the fruits of his labour were completely destroyed and he wrung his hands in grief, rueing everything that he had spent on it. It was a ruin with all its trellises fallen in. He said, "Oh, if only I had not associated anyone with my Lord!" There was for him no company to aid him other than Allah, nor could he defend himself. There, the only protection comes from Allah, the True One. He gives the best reward and the best outcome. (Surat al-Kahf, 39-44)

the self-possessed attitude of the second man is the typical morality that pleases Allah. His rationale, manners and outlook are the signs of perfected faith. It is for this very reason that Allah commanded His Prophet (saas) to relate this event to all believers as an example. the reprehensible nature of the first man's morals becomes more and more obvious when compared with the moral perfection the other displays.


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