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Lesson - 63
Aal Imran (Family of Imran)
"And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden,
as wide as the heavens and the earth; it is prepared for those who
keep their duty. Those who spend in ease as well as in adversity
and those who restrain (their) anger and pardon men. And Allah loves
the doers of good (to others)." (Ch. 3:132,133)
Summary of the previous lesson
I have almost completed my discussion on the first verse of this
lesson. In order to understand the remaining portion of this discussion,
I will briefly summarize the points already discussed so that it
is easier to understand the subject matter to be presented here.
This verse enjoins man to hasten towards a certain goal. Ordinarily
man is inclined to hasten under the following circumstances.
1. If he is facing danger. Besides the ordinary dangers of physical
existence which man has to face occasionally, there are two persistent
threats to his spiritual well being. These include the devil and
man's own animal soul or the nafs al-ammarah. This is the
beginning level of man's spiritual existence in which the soul is
subject to control of his animal desires. Man is in constant danger
of being overwhelmed and led astray, even to the point of spiritual
demise by the devil and his own animal soul. The Holy Quran informs
us that refuge from both of these elements can be obtained by seeking
the protection of our Lord, and urges us to hasten towards it.
2. Another situation in which a man hastens is when the task he
has undertaken is important and the time to complete it is short.
Nothing can be of greater importance then man's own spiritual salvation
and success. The time to achieve this great task is, however, very
short and can run out at any moment.
3. Man also hastens towards something which is so very attractive
and supreme par excellence as to be a great blessing for mankind.
The protection of Allah is certainly such a blessing for man. Besides
it, this invitation is also for the great blessing which is the
Garden of paradise and is to be experienced in the Life after Death
as seven levels of heavenly life. It can, however, also be acquired
in this life in the form of the Garden of serenity of the heart.
Whosoever has contentment of heart, he is in heaven, although he
may not have the luxuries of life at his disposal. Moreover the
one who achieves the serenity of heart in this life is also the
one who enters paradise in the Life Hereafter.
The Paradise of the heart and the Hereafter
only for the dutiful
This verse tells us that the Garden, whether it be that of the
serenity of the heart or of the paradise in the Hereafter, is prepared
only for those who keep their duty. These are the ones who guard
against evil. What an excellent Book of Wisdom is the Holy Quran!
It tells us that if we desire the paradise of contentment of the
heart in this life or its more palpable form in the Hereafter, the
way to acquire both these states is only by guarding against evil.
Evil is what the Holy Quran forbids us to do, and that is why the
Holy Quran is called the complete guide for those who guard against
evil. When the evil elements are eliminated from a man's deeds,
they becomes righteous.
For example, man strives around the clock in pursuit of wealth
which can be earned both by fair and foul means. If a person safeguards
against dishonest practices, he will be earning wealth through honest
means, which then becomes a righteous deed. Those who earn an honest
living are the ones blessed with contentment, which is the paradise
of the heart. Another aspect of the great wisdom that underlies
the Garden of paradise being prepared only for those who guard against
evil is that it would cease to exist as such if it were the abode
of murderers, thieves, dishonest, corrupt and immoral individuals
where they could commit such evil deeds. The Garden of paradise,
will therefore, be free of crime and evil, without police or prisons,
an abode where there will be peace and order, as the Holy Quran
"And are met therein with greetings and salutation". (25:75)
This would only be possible if entry to this dwelling is restricted
to those who are so firm in the commitment to their duty that they
cannot do criminal or evil acts. Such strength demands a striving
of a lifetime. To achieve excellence in the performance of one's duty
is a difficult task and takes time. Man is therefore enjoined to hasten
towards the protection of Allah, for he has a tendency to waste his
life time in pursuit of evil, thus leaving little time behind for
Time for reformation is limited
Every human being is under the misconception that he is innocent
and free of evil. Even those who are aware of some of their shortcomings,
do not know what other faults are latent within them. These may
show up only at the opportune time or when one is subjected to trial.
To achieve perfection in guarding against evil, requires a lifelong
effort and striving. It is not only that one may waste his life
in misdeeds and remain oblivious to his spiritual calling, but also
no one really knows how much longer he has to live. A child, a young
person or an older individual, is unaware of when an accident, illness
or death itself may strike.
That is why the Holy Quran draws our attention to the immensity
of the task of reformation, the very limited time we have at our
disposal and urges us to hasten and seek the refuge and protection
of our Lord (Rabb One Who Nurtures us unto perfection).
The one who has the good fortune of doing so, enters the Garden
of serenity of the heart in this life. In fact, man was created
in this state of tranquillity which we observe so manifestly in
the innocence of a child. Involvement in worldly life, however,
makes him lose this serenity. The question that comes to mind is
how in this life can man remain in a state of contentment, or repossess
such a state after its loss? The answer to this secret has also
been unveiled by Holy Quran, the Book of Wisdom, in the two subsequent
The Garden of Paradise achieved through spending
"Those who spend in ease as well as in adversity,"
i.e., the dutiful are those who spend in ease as well as adversity.
Ease and adversity are two extreme conditions within which are included
all other states of variable intensity. Thus for example when we
state that someone works day and night, it also includes the period
The most time consuming affair of this world is the earning of
wealth. Everyone spends his hours of the day and night in this pursuit.
This desire for wealth may reach the degree of hellish proportions
described by the Quranic verse:
"On the day when We say to hell: Art thou filled up?
And it will say: Are there any more?" (50:30).
The greed of man for more and more is described as a sign of hell
in the verse quoted above and is never satisfied. One who is earning
a hundred thousand is anxious to make a million and so on and so
forth. This desire for material possession and consumption deprives
a man's heart of its contentment. Thus we come to the conclusion
that the peace of mind and contentment which are the signs of the
Garden of serenity of the heart are lost by the unchecked desire
for more and more material possession and consumption. Other religions
have spoken against the earning of wealth and prescribed monasticism,
nunnery and asceticism as a remedy to combat this illness. Such
a course would, however, lead to the end of hard work, which is
a great human asset, and lead to the demise of all human progress.
Thus avoiding marital relationship which is part of this monastic
commitment would cause the demise of the human race in a few years.
The teaching of such religions to abstain from worldly life and
earning of wealth cannot therefore be an appropriate one.
Islamic teachings regarding wealth, a unique
means of spiritual development
Islam is the only religion that has sanctioned worldly pursuits
and the earning of wealth by honest means. Even while earning wealth,
the greed and fire for the acquisition of more and more can be ignited
in the human heart. What then is the remedy for this? The answer
to this question lies in what the Holy Quran has stated over here.
It enjoins us to spend in the way of Allah no matter what our state
of finances may be. The Holy Quran describes in detail all the matters
in which such spending is enjoined. In the time of need, the companions
of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would
give all their wealth in the way of Allah. Hazrat Abu Bakr manifested
this spirit of sacrifice by giving up all that he had in his house
in the way of Allah on one occasion, leaving behind his house as
he put it in the hands of Allah and His Apostle. Hazrat Usman, another
noble companion similarly gave large amounts of his wealth in the
way of Allah, including hundreds and thousands of camels for the
use of the Muslim forces. The poor on the other hand would exhibit
a similar spirit of giving and sacrifice. Out of the pittance in
dates that they earned as wages for a days hard work, they would
feed the family with half of it, and give up the remaining portion
in the way of Allah. This was how the early Muslims complied with
the Quranic injunction of spending in the way of Allah in ease as
well as adversity.
Spending one's wealth only for the benefit of oneself, or one's
wife and children is a basic animal quality. We observe that most
animals share food with their mate and offspring. To rise from this
animal to a human or a spiritual level is to spend ones wealth for
the upkeep of widows, orphans, the needy, those burdened by credit
and the sick, in other words to lessen the burden of the poor. Above
all, to spend one's wealth in the way of enhancement of the religion
of Allah. Thus, practically give thanks to ones greatest Benefactor,
Who incessantly provides for us throughout our lives. In the hearts
of those who save their wealth only for their spouses and children,
worship of low desires, niggardliness and the love of wealth ignite
the quality of greed and hellish fire described by the Holy Quran
as, "Are there any more?" (50:30).
In contrast, those who sacrifice the fiery elements of these low
desires and open up their hearts for God and His creatures, their
hearts are blessed with the coolness and joy which is the Garden
of contentment of the heart. Thus, the earning of wealth which carries
the risk of loosing ones serenity not only becomes a means of enhancing
it, but also at the same time puts out the fire of greed in one's