WHAT WILL SAVE A PERSON?
qad aflaḥa l-mu’minūn
“Prosperous indeed are the believers,” (23:1) the Qur’an declares.
Particular conditions follow: with what will a person be saved?
They will be saved with worship. They are to honour the Divine commandments. They are to fulfil Allah’s commandments in due reverence, humble submission and in a state of spiritual harmony. They are to observe their worship in harmony of heart and body.
The Prescribed Prayer comes first. It is mentioned 99 times.
“…Prostrate and draw near,” (96:19) Allah Almighty declares. He invites you. He invites you to togetherness with and nearness to Him. But he stipulates devoted reverence as a precondition.
“They are in their Prayer humble and fully submissive (being overwhelmed by the awe and majesty of Allah),” (23:2) He declares. They observe the prayer in the harmony of body and heart, the verse says. Allah does not want a prayer performed as though wishing to get it out of the way. Of such a prayer, Allah says:
“And woe to those worshippers…” (107:4)
So, the Prescribed Prayer is very important.
The period of youth is very important. The prayer of a young person is much more [beautiful] and the body is strong and healthy. Acts of worship performed with a sound and healthy body are observed in a greater sense of peace.
But the prescribed prayer is not an easy task. Now, Allah Almighty declares:
“…Surely, the Prayer restrains from all that is indecent and shameful, and all that is evil…” (29:45).
Just like in ancient times, when people would take refuge in fortresses when an enemy entered. The Prayer is to be a fortress. It is to protect against the indecent and shameful and against all vice. But to a careless prayer, Allah refers with the words:
“And woe to those worshippers…” (107:4).
And so, boys, the Prescribed Prayer is very important. Let us look to benefiting from the Prayer.
What kind of Prayer is wanted from us? A Prayer duly observed has such reward that the prayer performed in congregation, [for example], is said to have 27 times the reward.
A blind man, by the name of Ibn Maktum, comes and says to the Messenger of Allah:
“O Messenger of Allah, do I have your permission to offer the prayer at home?” He states his reason:
“I am blind and my house is far away. I have no one to accompany me and there are vermin along the way. Do I not have permission to pray at home?”
After a period of silence, the Messenger of Allah said:
“Do you not hear [the Call] ‘Come to Prayer,’ ‘Come to salvation’?”
“I do, O Messenger of Allah.”
“Then you must observe in the Prayer in the mosque, whatever your circumstances may be.” This was the command given to a blind man.
This is why Allah Almighty says:
“…Prostrate and draw near” (96:19).
In Prayer you will find both the comfort of your eye and a brotherhood will be established. You will share the happiness of your brother as well as his sorrow.
Mention is made of the Prayer. Qad aflaḥa l-mu’minūn: “Prosperous indeed are the believers.”(23:1) This verse is followed immediately by “Prayer”. And the other acts of worship along with the prayer.
Fasting is yet another treasure. It will refine and elevate you. You will experience hunger and empathise with the plight of the hungry. You will be grateful for the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon you.
Allah Almighty never leaves you hungry. Allah Almighty does not leave even the person in the most difficult of circumstances hungry, but He sends their sustenance incessantly. He sends them bread. He sends them water.
You are to spend in Allah’s way. “They spend (out of what Allah has provided for them,) both in ease and hardship…” (3:134)
You are to strive for the sake of Allah. Whatever your means. You have bodily means, mental means, financial means.
This goes to show that Allah Almighty demands worship. And we need worship too. Worship will be like vitamins for us. It will nurture our spiritual life, bring us closer to Allah and lead us away from evil and wickedness.
In the subsequent verse, the things leading to one’s deliverance are mentioned:
“They always turn away from and avoid whatever is vain and frivolous.” (23:3) They avoid the unimportant.
Allah Almighty declares:
“Having toiled (in the world) only to weariness (with no portion in the Hereafter).” (88:3)
They strove with great ambition, etc. made a lot of money and became this or that. But how did they earn their money? Everything has a purpose. They earned their money for their own self-interest. They wasted their time on pointless things. Empty words came out of their mouths. They were preoccupied with unimportant, frivolous things. They forgot to make mention of and remember Allah.
A verse states:
“And do not be like those who are oblivious of Allah and so Allah has made them oblivious of their own selves.” (59:19)
All of this is part of a human being’s training. In other words, a mature human being is a person who knows Allah Almighty with their heart – an intimate knower. For such a person:
lā khawfun ‘alayhim walā hum yaḥzanūn
“…they will have no fear (both in this world and the next), nor will they grieve.”(10:62) They will not be afraid or grieve in the Hereafter.
And so, the Messenger of Allah states:
“Either speak good or remain silent.” (Muslim, Iman, 77) Our every word is established, as is our every state.
Similarly, Allah Almighty declares in the Qur’anic chapter Fussilat:
“…their eyes… will bear witness against them…” (See 41:20)
All of these, whatever Allah has bestowed, are a test.
“…their eyes… will bear witness…” He declares. What have their eyes seen until this time?
A person needs to ask themselves:
“Why has Allah given me these eyes?”
The blind, to whom He has not given sight, will be free in one sense.
What do the eyes do? They constantly take pictures. Every moment, from morning to night, the eyes take thousands of pictures, transferring all these pictures to a person’s mind and heart. From the mind, they are transferred to the heart.
“…their ears… will bear witness…” (See 41:20)
What have we heard? Gossip, or the Qur’an, or religious discussions?
“…their skins will bear witness…” (See 41:20) This is what Allah declares. Where are we employing our body? Where are we using our mouth?
So, a person needs to protect themselves from all that is futile and empty. The heart is to be with Allah Almighty.
The prescribed alms comes next.
“They are in a constant effort to give alms and purify their own selves and wealth.” (23:4) They are in constant search. They earn a lawful livelihood and strive to give from what they earn.
The prescribed annual alms are the minimum. They are the minimum of the minimum.
There is the voluntary almsgiving after this. This protects you from affliction and misfortune. Not just money, everything is charity. Even a greeting. Going to visit a friend is charity.
Beyond this is spending in the way of Allah.
Being a servant of Allah. How much do you love Allah? How much do you give [for] Him? Even a person who receives alms is required to spend in Allah’s way. For the verse states, “They spend both in ease and hardship…” (3:134) They give in times of hardship. This is open-ended.
lan tanālū l-bira ḥattā tunfiqū mimmā tuḥibbūn
“You will never be able to attain godliness and virtue until you spend of what you love (in Allah’s cause, or to provide sustenance for the needy) …” (3:92)
To test ourselves: “How much do I love Allah?” They, “spend of what [they] love,” the verse states, to draw near to Allah Almighty. So, in order to attain righteousness, to attain the most virtuous of deeds.
After this, again in a Qur’anic verse, it is stated, “They strictly guard their private parts, and their chastity and modesty.” (23:5) Men and women alike. You are to guard your modesty with your eyes, with your ears, with everything. “They strictly guard… their chastity and modesty.”(23:5) Other creatures are at liberty. Animals are at liberty. For them, there is no such thing as guarding their chastity or modesty. There is no such thing as permissible or prohibited.
All of these thus become the capital for either Paradise or Hellfire. Following this, a Muslim needs to be of good character.
“…They are faithful and true to their trusts and to their pledges,” (23:8) the verse states. In other words, you are to be truthful and trustworthy. All Muslims are to be in agreement when it comes to this.
Prophethood came to Allah’s Messsenger at the age of forty. What exemplary character the Messenger of Allah displayed until this age! From whom did he learn this noble conduct? Allah Almighty taught him. “My Lord taught me,” he says. (See, Suyuti, I:12)
Everyone, even the polytheists, trusted him. Even until the Emigration, they used to bring their money for the Messenger of Allah, for him to safeguard. They entrusted it to him.
This means that a Muslim needs to be [recognised as] truthful and trustworthy in their communities.
The Messenger of Allah first established his own character in order to convey the message of Islam:
“Would you believe me if I were to tell you that was an enemy approaching from behind this mountains,” the Messenger of Allah asked his people.
They all said:
“You are the Truthful, the Trustworthy. You are the most truthful person among us.” (See Bukhari, Tafsir, 26)
This point is very important. When we look at history, we see the same thing:
The words, “When the Ottoman horses drink from the Vistula, then there is truth, there is justice, there is law,” have become famous in Poland.
After Sultan Murad I conquered Kosovo, his father Orhan Gazi said to him:
“Dear son, tawhid (Divine Oneness and Unity) cannot be contained in two continents, you must carry it to the world.”
He went all the way from Bursa to Kosovo, travelling a thousand kilometres. There, he entreated Allah:
“O Allah,” he said, “grant us victory, that tomorrow be a day of festivity and that I may be the sacrifice of this festival.”
Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror conquered Bosnia ten years after the conquest of Istanbul. The pure people of Anatolia were sent there. The Ottoman policy of settlement (iskan) thus began. By means of this policy, ninety-percent of Albanians became Muslim, perhaps even more. All Bosnians embraced Islam.
That is to say, our most pressing task here is to be able to exhibit this character, this noble conduct.
What does Allah Almighty declare?
“…that you may be witnesses for the people…” (See 2:143) That you may be representatives of Allah’s religion. This is what we are all obligated to do. To represent Allah’s religion. “…and that the (most noble) Messenger may be a witness for you…”(2:143) the Qur’an declares. So, we need to take the Messenger of Allah as an example in everything, in even the way we drink water. We need to take him as an example in every aspect of our lives and our manner of living. Then the help of Allah will come.
Again, the Most High declares:
“…If you help Allah(’s cause by striving in His cause), He will help you and make your feet firm.” (47:7)
So how is a servant to help Allah’s cause? First, they must revive themselves. This, alone, is not enough. They need to exude the character of Islam.
Again, Allah Almighty declares in the Qur’anic chapter Fussilat:
“As for those who say, “Our Lord is Allah,” and then follow the Straight Path (in their belief, thought, and actions) without deviation, the angels descend upon them from time to time: ‘Do not fear or grieve; but rejoice in the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised.'”(41:30)
Similarly, in another verse, several verses below, Allah declares:
“Who is better in speech than one who calls to Allah and does good, righteous deeds, and says: ‘Surely I am of the Muslims (wholly submitted to Him)‘?” (41:33)
Then comes, yuḥāfiẓūn: “They are ever mindful guardians of their Prayers.” (23:9) Again, comes the Prescribed daily Prayer. Once again, Allah Almighty demands the Prayer. This is because the Prayer will help us. It will increase our spirituality.
And Allah Almighty promises them the highest level of Paradise. See (23:11)