Wednesday, June 29, 2005

adhering to the faith

Yesterday, I found out my examination result. There are still lots of room for improvement. At least, I could proceed to the next semester. Alhamdulillah, I am still alive until today to know my own examination result.

How do we react when we received something that we eagerly waited for? Between happiness and sadness, how do we respond in an appropriate way?

Let us look into the past history and the verses in the Holy Quran.

Failure. When the Prophet SAW went to Taif in early June 619 AD to deliver the message of Islam, he had received such unpleasant and hostile atmosphere. All of the people turned deaf ear to the noble message. For ten days he stayed there delivering his message to several people, one after another, but all to no purpose. Stirred up to hasten the departure of the unwelcome visitor, the people hooted him through the alley-ways, pelted him with stones and obliged him to flee from the city pursued by a relentless rabble.

The Prophet SAW was chased out of Taif for two or three miles until the surrounding hills. Could you imagine how depressed you will be if the noblest message you tried to deliver received such outcome?

At a time when the whole world seems to fight against him, the Prophet SAW turned to the Almighty Allah and gave out this beautiful yet touching prayers.

"O Allâh! To You alone I make complaint of my helplessness, the paucity of my resources and my insignificance before mankind. You are the most Merciful of the mercifuls. You are the Lord of the helpless and the weak, O Lord of mine! Into whose hands would You abandon me: into the hands of an unsympathetic distant relative who would sullenly frown at me, or to the enemy who has been given control over my affairs? But if Your wrath does not fall on me, there is nothing for me to worry about."

"I seek protection in the light of Your Countenance, which illuminates the heavens and dispels darkness, and which controls all affairs in this world as well as in the Hereafter. May it never be that I should incur Your wrath, or that You should be wrathful to me. And there is no power nor resource, but Yours alone."
When all of his efforts seems futile, the Prophet SAW does not depressed because of the hostile response from the people. He does not worry if his effort failed to convince the people on the existence of Allah. The only matter that worried him the most is whether Allah's wrath has befallen on him.

So beautiful is this prayer that we ought to learn by heart this touching words. If we have worked very hard to achieve something yet the outcome is a failure, don't be that depressed. Failure to achieve something worldly is not that significant. The biggest failure of all if you have incur Allah's wrath. Without the mercy of Allah, to whom will you ask for forgiveness?

Success. Let us try to comprehend the meaning of an-Nasr.

When the victory granted by Allah and the Conquest come and you see people embracing the religion of Allah in large numbers then celebrate the praises of your Lord, and seek His forgiveness. He is ever disposed to Mercy. [an-Nasr]

The beginning of the first verse implicitly presents a concept of what goes on in this universe: the events that take place in this life, and the actual role of the Messenger of Allah and his followers in the progress of Islam, and to what extent it depends on their efforts. "When the victory granted by Allah", denotes that it is Allah's victory and Allah is the One who brings it about in His own good time, in the form He decides and for the purpose He determines. The Prophet and his companions have nothing to do with it at all, and they obtain no personal gain from it. It suffices them that He does it through them, appoints them as its guards and entrusts it to them. This is all they acquire from the victory of Allah, the Conquest and the people's acceptance en masse of His religion.

According to this concept, the duty of the Messenger and his companions whom Allah chose and gave the privilege of being the instruments of His victory, was to turn to Him at the climax of victory in praise, expressing gratitude and seeking forgiveness. Gratitude and praise are for His being so generous as to have chosen them to be the standard bearers of His religion; for the mercy and favour He did to all humanity by making His religion victorious; and for the Conquest of Makka and the people's collective acceptance of Islam.

His forgiveness is sought for the various unrevealed, defective feelings, such as vanity, which sometimes creep into one's heart at the overwhelming moment of victory attained after a long struggle. Human beings can hardly prevent this happening and therefore Allah's forgiveness is to be sought for it. Forgiveness also has to be sought for what might have been insinuated into one's heart during the long and cruel struggle and for petulance resulting from the belatedness of victory or the effects of convulsive despair, as the Qur'an brings out elsewhere: Or think you that you will enter Paradise while yet there has not come to you the like of that which came to those who passed away before you? Affliction and adversity befell them; they were shaken as with earth quake, till the Messenger (of Allah) and those who believed along with him said: 'When will Allah's help come?' Now surely Allah's help is near. (Al-Qur'an 2:214)

It is also necessary to seek Allah's forgiveness for one's shortcomings in praising Allah and thanking Him for His favours which are perpetual and infinite. And if you were to count the favours of Allah, never will you be able to number them. (Al-Qur'an 16:18)

However much one's efforts in this respect, they are never adequate. Another touching thought is that seeking forgiveness at the moment of triumph arouses in one's mind the feeling of impotence and imperfection at a time when an attitude of self-esteem and conceit seems natural. All these factors guarantee that no tyranny will afflict the conquered. The victorious is made to realize that it is Allah who has appointed him, a man who has no power of his own and is devoid of any strength, for a pre determined purpose; consequently the triumph and the conquest as well as the religion are all His, to Whom all things ultimately return.

This is the lofty, dignified ideal the Qur'an exhorts people to toil towards and attain, an ideal in which man's exaltation is in neglecting his own pride and where his soul's freedom is in his subservience to Allah. The goal set is the total release of human souls from their egoistic shackles, their only ambition being to attain Allah's pleasure. Along with this release there must be exerted a striving which helps man to flourish in the world, promote human civilisation and provide a rightly-guided, unblemished, constructive, just leadership devoted to Allah.

In contrast, man's efforts to liberate himself while in the grip of egoism, shackled by his zest for worldly things, or overpowered by his cravings, turn out to be absolutely in vain unless he sets himself free from self and lets his loyalty to Allah override everything else, particularly at the moment of triumph and the collecting of booty.

Such a standard of behaviour, which Allah wants humanity to aspire towards and to attain, was the characteristic feature of the Prophets at all times.

[Under the shade of Quran: Syed Qutb]

When we conquer the word of victory, we ought to seek Allah's forgiveness. It is the norm that when the human have achieved success, he tend to think that the victory is caused by his own persistent effort. In truth, it is Allah who determine whether the word of failure or success that will encompassed our mind in the end.

Astaghfirullah. We always forget to seek the forgiveness. Repentance must be sought.

All in all, whatever the examination result was, to Allah alone we ask for forgiveness and mercy. Yet the outcome of the exam is only temporary and may not be that significant to those who have strived for their entire life on the cause of Islam. Muhasabah.

-Under The Shade of Quran: Syed Qutb
-The Sealed Nectar (al-Raheeq al-Makhtum)
-Tafsir Ibn Kathir

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