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Lesson 60

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Lesson - 60

Aal Imran (Family of Imran)

"O you who believe, keep your duty to Allah (itaq-ullah), as it ought to be kept, and die not unless you are Muslims. And hold fast by the covenant (habl-Allah) of Allah all together and be not disunited. And remember Allah's favour to you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favour you became brethren. And you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes clear to you His messages that you may be guided. And from among you there should be a party who invite to good and enjoin the right and forbid the wrong. And these are they who are successful." (Ch. 3:101-103)

Islam the religion of humanity

These are the first three verses of the eleventh section of chapter Aal Imran. In several sections prior to this, the People of the Book are repeatedly invited to Islam with the following arguments:

1. Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the very same promised prophet about whom all the earlier prophets had taken a covenant of acceptance from their followers.

2. The spiritual center of the Holy Prophet i.e., the Kaabah ( House Of God at Mecca ) is the very same House of God built by prophet Adam, patriarch of the human race. This unique position therefore makes it possible for all the different nations to abandon their spiritual centers and unite together in facing the Kaabah.

3. From this House Of God was raised the last of the Prophets Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, for whose advent the great patriarch Abraham had prayed. Prophet Abraham is accepted as a prophet by all nations. People should therefore, also accept Islam, which recognizes the prophets of all nations and their scriptures, to be from God. This recognition is granted despite the fact that these scriptures may have been lost altogether or altered by interpolation.

4. In the Holy Quran is gathered and preserved all those righteous teachings of these scriptures which needed to be saved for posterity.

In the light of these arguments, one can conclude that the Holy Quran and Holy Prophet Muhammad are in the unique position of uniting all of humanity. This was the sum and substance of the discussion in the few sections prior to this one.

Muslims warned against disunity

In this section, the Muslims are informed that if they are unable to maintain unity amongst themselves, and there is dissension amongst their ranks, they would be committing a grave sin and inequity not worthy of forgiveness by Allah, the Most High. That is why the first verse of this section states:

"O you who believe, keep your duty (taqwa) to Allah, as it ought to be kept."
In a previous lesson I have explained that in the Holy Quran wherever the word taqwa is mentioned by itself, it means guarding one's soul from evil, for it is only through evil action that man suffers spiritual distress and affliction. Where, however, the words taqwallah are mentioned, it means guarding oneself against the accountability and chastisement of Allah, for nothing can be more grievous then these. The words itaqullah (meaning: do the taqwa of Allah) precedes all those injunctions and commandments for which there is a greater degree of accountability and therefore a proportionally higher degree of chastisement. In this verse the words, "as it ought to be kept (haqqa tuqaati hi)" have been added on to specially emphasize this point that in the matter which follows there is a particular need for taqwallah (i.e., guarding oneself against the accountability and chastisement of Allah). This is further underscored by stating:

"and die not unless you are Muslims (i.e., of those who submit)".
The time of death is uncertain and it can overtake a person of any age at any time without prior knowledge. It is, therefore, enjoined that your lives should be such that you are in a state of submission to Allah at all times, so that in case of sudden death you are not caught unprepared.

Holding fast to the Covenant of Allah

Now follows the commandment for which all of this was a prelude:

"And hold fast by the covenant (habl-Allah) of Allah all together and be not disunited."
The Arabic words habl-Allah also mean the rope of Allah. The Holy Prophet himself has explained the rope of Allah as being the Book of Allah, the Holy Quran. The Holy Quran allegorically being likened to the rope that Allah has made to descend from the heavens, so that by holding on firmly to it Muslims can save themselves from losing their footing while facing the spiritual dangers that lurk in their earthly passage. By holding on to this rope they can also evolve beyond their earthly pursuits and ascend to spiritual heights, i.e., discard their earthly trappings for a higher and heavenly state. Like the group which stays together by holding on to a rope, Muslims should take firm hold of the Holy Quran and save themselves from discord. The Divine words that follow therefore state:

"and be not disunited."
Another great wisdom underlies the use of the Arabic word habl, for besides the meaning of a rope, it also means a covenant. It thus also means that Allah, the Most High has taken a covenant from the Muslims, that they will remain united on the Holy Quran, and not become disunited by strife and sectarianism.

Somebody may point out at this juncture that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has stated:

"the difference of opinion amongst my followers is a blessing."
This only means that if in a certain matter a difference of opinion arises in good faith and is duly expressed, the benefit of expressing such opinion is that different aspects of the matter are highlighted. Its strengths and weaknesses become more apparent and such a discourse thus ultimately proves to be beneficial. If a controversial matter cannot be decided upon, Muslims should use the Holy Quran as the basis of settling such a controversy. The Holy Quran should serve as their Judge and law in such matters, and they are strictly forbidden to form sects on the basis of such a difference of opinion. Muslims, however, did exactly the opposite of this Divine command and formed separate groups and sects which labeled each other as having gone astray and heretical. Instead of deciding controversy on the basis of the Holy Quran, they chose to make their decisions on the basis of their own opinions, or the convictions of their forefathers. Continued emphasis on such controversy has led to a state of permanent civil war and dissent.

The lesson of history

Allah, the Most High, then draws their attention towards the corrupt state of the Arabs before the advent of Islam. It is stated:

"And remember Allah's favour to you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favour you became brethren. And you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes clear to you His messages that you may be guided."
The habitual infighting and strife amongst the pre-Islamic Arabs on trivial matters is a well known historical fact and I need not go into the details of this. I would like to quote only one statement from the book 'Ins and outs of Mesopotamia,' by an English author. He states in regards the Arabs:

"A more disunited people it would be hard to find, till suddenly a miracle took place."
That miracle was the advent of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the revelation of the Holy Quran. This sacred scripture within a short period of twenty years led to brotherly love and unity amongst the most blood thirsty of enemies, an exemplary feat not met anywhere else in the history of mankind. A shining example of this was that when the followers of the Holy Prophet left Mecca and sought refuge in Medina, they were offered equal rights in their properties and wealth by their Muslim brethren residing in Medina although this was gracefully declined by the former. This miraculous change in the character of the inhabitants of Medina came about within a short period of a year or two of their acceptance of Islam. People who have experienced blood thirsty civil strife can really appreciate this change as being miraculous. If the Holy Quran was instrumental in bringing about a revolutionary change of such magnitude once, it can do so again. What is needed, is for the Muslims to accept the Holy Quran as their guide, to act upon it, and to solve their mutual controversies in the light of its injunctions. Thus they can avoid settling such matters on the basis of their own opinion or inflexible attitude, or the opinion of those before them. It was such controversy regarding the concepts of the jurists which led to dissension in the past.

Organization for the purpose of propagation

Where as the Holy Quran strictly forbids the formation of groups or organizations separate from the parent Muslim body, it permits the formation of one organization with the following mandate:

"And from among you there should be a party who invite to good (Khair) and enjoin the right and forbid the wrong. And these are they who are successful."
The Arabic word for good used in this verse is Khair which means Islam, which is the greatest good and the fountainhead of all goodness. In this verse not only is permission given to form such a body, but in fact it is made incumbent upon Muslims to do so. The Holy Quran has also used the word Khair for itself as in the verse:

"Neither those who disbelieve from among the people of the Book, nor the polytheists, like that any good (Khair) should be sent down to you from your Lord" (2:105).
In the verses under discussion today whereas the word Khair has been used for Islam and thus the permission for the formation of a party to carry out this injunction for the propagation of Islam, the usage of the same word for the Holy Quran also indicates that the best milieu for such propagation is the Holy Quran. The world today is in dire need that the Holy Quran should be translated and presented to it, for it is dying spiritually without the life giving waters of this spiritual fountainhead.

This was the reason why the Reformer of this age, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, formed an organization the Ahmadiyya Movement for the propagation of Islam, and made the propagation of the Holy Quran as its objective. Besides the propagation of Islam, the Holy Quran states two other responsibilities for such an organization, "who invite to good and enjoin the right and forbid the wrong." This task of reformation has to be carried out amongst the Muslims at all times. It also includes the non-Muslims who convert to Islam, for it is essential to teach them Islam which enjoins the right and forbids the wrong. The Reformer of this age realized this deficiency amongst the Muslims and reminded them of this Divine injunction they had forgotten. There can be no greater task then the propagation of Islam, which in former times was carried out by the prophets. With the advent of the Seal of the Prophets, Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) this noble task has been delegated to his followers. What the Seal of the Prophets has bestowed upon his followers, is certainly a great act of benevolence, for he has entrusted them to carry out the task which was previously carried out by the Prophets. Addressing the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has thus expressed his thoughts in one of his poetic verses:

"We became the best of the nations because of you, O most excellent of the Prophets! By benefiting from your spiritual advancement only, did we make progress."

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