Compliance of Shari’a (Islamic Law) is reflective of submission to God’s Will. It has already been mentioned that faith is an aspect of the heart and a territory known only to God. However, outward appearances can be observed by everyone, and we therefore differentiate a believer from a nonbeliever through his actions and words. Thus Islam is the manifestation of inner faith. The meaning of the word ‘Islam’ is to submit. A child submits to his parents because he trusts them, and we submit to our partners out of love and desire, and a person who has been defeated submits or surrenders to his conquerors. This last example is based on fear of the victor. But a believer submits to God’s will totally and unconditionally. He obeys every command, even though he may not know the reason behind it or the benefit to be derived from it, and he stays away from whatever God has forbidden, without necessarily understanding the reason behind the prohibition. This submission has two aspects. The first is practical and can be observed in the form of obedience in actions and speech, points which we shall be discussing later when discussing Islam as a practical faith. The other aspect concerns our mental attitude, which is what we shall be discussing now while we are talking about faith.
This second aspect refers to our inner acceptance of God’s will. It is a contentment which brings peace of mind and therefore gives us the courage of our conviction. As a result of such contentment, we have no difficulty in carrying out our duties and keeping away from what is forbidden, without hesitation or complaint. God the Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an; “But nay, by thy Lord, they will not believe (in truth) until they make thee judge of what is in dispute between them”(Qur’an;4:65) (which is the practical aspect): “… and find within themselves no dislike of that which thou decidest, and submit with full submission”(Qur’an;4:65) (which is the inner, mental aspect). This represents our mental attitude. It is clear from these verses that faith in God depends basically on our being convinced in our hearts about the rightness of the Divine Command, and therefore we can accept it with full satisfaction. The only response of believers whenever they face the judgement of God and His Apostle can therefore be no other than: “We have heard and we pay heed! – and it is they, they who shall attain to a happy state”(Qur’an;24:51).
Some people always want to know the wisdom behind what is required of them. It is as if they would like to withhold their compliance until they know about it. But this wisdom can be perceived either through the actual text, or by inference – or it may not be perceived at all. In the case that it cannot be perceived, does this mean we disobey our Lord? How would you feel if you had a child who refused to obey you without first knowing the wisdom and reasons behind, whatever it is you want him to do? You would probably think he was rather strange. Perhaps you want to satisfy his curiosity, but because the matter is urgent, you have no time to explain. On the other hand it may be something which needs to be kept secret. But if your son still fails to understand the situation and insists on knowing the reason, you would find his: behaviour defiant, and expect him to obey you because he is your son and you are his parent- Similarly, a military officer refusing to carry out the commander’s orders without first knowing the reasons and purpose behind them, would probably end up being court martialled. Yet God’s precedence over his worshippers is far beyond that of parents over their children or army officers over-soldiers.
It is His precedence that we obey Him in all respects, regardless of whether they are in harmony with our own desires; or not. It is not for us to look for proof and to strain our minds to’ find a viewpoint from the books of jurisprudence to support; our inclinations. And we should not take the foreign vacillations and traditions which we have imbibed into our; culture in form and content as authoritative evidence against the Divine Writ, ‘tailor-making’ the text to suit our own interpretation. We have done this even at the risk of going outside the principles of Islamic teaching in case our religion contradicts the values and traditions of foreign civilizations. But if in the future the values of society change, and we shift from Western ideals to those of the East, will we have to look for yet more interpretations? We should mention our position regarding concepts such as democracy, capitalism or socialism in this context. Sometimes, we praise democracy and say it is in harmony with Islam, and when it suits our interest we may take the opposing view and say that socialism is in tune with Islam, thus wavering between paradoxical views merely to please the powers that be. But these are not the right sources of guidance. We should refer for this guidance and redress our problems only through the Divine Writ (Qur’an), and be satisfied with it. This would be the position of believers who genuinely believe in the truth of Islam.
Concord and Discord:
Rigidity and flexibility to love and hate for God’s sake are also proofs of faith, For example, we may love someone who is religious and God-fearing even though we do not gain any material benefit from him. And we may dislike an arrogant unbeliever, even though he has not done us any harm. We may have very close links with him, but we still dislike him and keep away from him because the bond of brotherhood in religion is stronger than the brotherhood based on kinship or affinity, or the fraternity of lineage and nobility by birth. Prophet Noah’s (peace be upon him) son was, by Divine Writ, excluded from his family because of his blasphemy- God Almighty has ordained that there should be no friendship and peaceful coexistence between believers and adamant transgressors against religion. There is no Divine sanction for “peaceful coexistence” however strong the relations may be between the two parties. The Holy Qur’an states: “You will never find any people who believe in Allah and the last Day on friendly terms with those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even though they be their fathers, their sons, their brothers or their relatives…”Qur’an;58:22).
This does not mean that they are compelled to accept Islam. However, it does mean that they should be prevented from creating obstacles in the path of Islam and from opposing its message. They are most welcome to accept our religion if they are convinced about it and become one of us, enjoying the rights and privileges we enjoy and taking on the same responsibilities. Or, if they wish, they may keep to their own religion, in which case we shall reciprocate and maintain peace with them, as long as they do not oppose our faith: “Allah does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who had neither fought against your faith nor driven you out of your homes. In fact Allah loves the equitable”(Qur’an;60:8). This means that a believer’s feelings of love and dislike are purely for the sake of his religion. His love is expressed through his generosity, courtesy, patience and sacrifice. He may humiliate himself for his brother’s sake and take this in his stride, or sacrifice something which he really needs for his brother’s sake. His feelings of hatred for God’s sake become manifest through his anger and resentment. He fights with the enemies of Islam, in the defense of Islam with extreme courage and fortitude. He is therefore at the same time flexible and rigid, hard and kind. He reserves his tolerance and kindness for his brothers in Faith, and his harshness and vehemence are directed towards the enemies of his faith and evil forces. The Holy Qur’an states; Muhammad is God’s Apostle, and those who are with him are firm and unyielding towards the disbelievers. (Qur’an;48:29): “… humble towards the believers, proud toward all who deny the truth: (people) who strive hard in God’s cause, and do not fear to be censured by anyone who might censure; them”(Qur’an;5:54). These verses describe the attitude of believers when they spared no effort for the sake of striving hard in God’s cause (jihad). But when we gave up jihad and did not abide by God’s Will, and started fighting among ourselves and were submissive in the face of our enemies, God caused us to suffer greatly by allowing us to be dominated by those who do not fear Him or have any mercy for us. Such people have ruled our lands and become masters.
- Manifestation of Faith