The Path to Moral Heights is Steep like an Uphill Road
In the preceding ayaat, we learned about the extravagances of man for ostentation and expression of superiority to others, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala now tells us how we can spend our wealth to attain moral heights instead of sinking into moral deprivation and perversion.
The path that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala suggests does not contain any enjoyment for the self; on the contrary, man has to exercise self-restraints and make sacrifices. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala instructs us to spend our wealth in setting a slave free, or rendering a slave monetary help so that he can his ransom, or for freeing a debtor from his debt, or securing release of a helpless person without means from penalties. Likewise, wealth should be spent to feed a nearly related orphan (i.e. an orphan who is either a relative or a neighbor) who is hungry, and a needy, helpless person who might have been reduced to extreme poverty and might have none to support and help him. Helping such people does not win a person fame and reputation, nor feeding them brings him the admiration for being wealthy and generous which one usually wins by holding banquets to thousands of well-to-do people. But the path to moral and spiritual heights passes on steep uphill roads only.
We learn a lot of ahadeeth where the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam encourages us to follow this steep path of moral heights.
Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu narrated that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The person who set a believing slave free, Allah will save from fire of Hell every limb of his body in lieu of every limb of the slave’s body, the hand in lieu of the hand, the foot in lies of the foot, the private parts in lieu of the private parts.” [Musnad, Ahmad, Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i]
Imam Abu Hanifah said, “Setting a slave free is superior to giving away charity, for Allah has mentioned it before the mention of charity.”
In another hadeeth Abu Huraira narrated that the Prophet said, “The one who strives in the cause of rendering help to the widow and the needy is like the one who endeavors and strives in the cause of jihad for the sake of Allah.” Abu Huraira added, “I think that the Prophet also said: He is even like him who keeps standing up in the prayer constantly, without ever taking rest, and like him who observes the fast continuously without ever breaking it.” [Bukhari, Muslim]
About looking after the orphans the Prophet said, “I and the one who supports a nearly related or unrelated orphan, shall stand in Paradise like this,” saying this he raised his index finger and the middle finger, keeping them a little apart. [Bukhari]
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then brings our attention to the virtue of being a believer because with emaan none of the above can benefit a person. At numerous places in the Qur’an it has been stated that only such an act of virtue is appreciable and becomes a means of salvation as is accompanied by faith. In Surah An-Nisa’, for example, it has been said, “The one who does good deeds, whether man or woman, provided that the one is a believer, will enter Paradise.” [4:125]
Whoever studies the Qur’an, will see that in this Book wherever the good reward of a righteous act has been mentioned, it has always been made conditional upon the faith, a good act without faith; has nowhere been regarded as acceptable to God, nor has any hope been given for a reward for it.
Patience in adversity is an important element of emaan. Therefore, it was said that people should counsel each other to be patient. It is a practical demonstration of the solidarity of the believers as they cooperate closely to carry out their duties as believers and to build a believing society.
The entire life of a believer is a life of patience. Patience is required to be exercised in performing the acts of worship enjoined by Allah. Patience is needed in carrying out the commands of Allah; abstention from the things forbidden by Allah is not possible without patience. Patience is needed in abandoning the moral evils and in adopting the pure morals; temptations to sin faced at every step can be resisted only by recourse to patience. On countless occasions in life obedience to Allah’s law entails losses, troubles, hardships and deprivations, and disobedience to the law seems to bring benefits and pleasures. Without patience, no believer can fare well on such occasions.
Then, as soon as a believer has adopted the way of the faith, he has to meet with resistance not only from his own self and personal desires but also from his children, family, society, country and nation and from the base-hearted among men and jinn of the entire world; so much so that he is even required to abandon his country and undertake Jihad in the cause of Allah. Under all these conditions, only the quality of patience can cause a man to remain steadfast to principles.
“advised one another to mercy and compassion,” mercy and compassion are distinctive features of a believing society where the members are merciful and compassionate to humanity at large and sympathetic and friendly among themselves. A believer as an individual is an embodiment of Allah’s quality of mercy and this is one moral quality that the Prophet really fought for. Jareer ibn ‘Abdullah reported that the Prophet said, “Allah does not show mercy to him who does not show mercy to others.” [Bukhari, Muslim]
Hence, the idea of ‘community’ is evident in these Ayaat, as it is emphasized elsewhere in the Qur’an and in the ahadeeth of the Prophet. This idea is central to the concept of Islam. Nevertheless, the responsibility and accountability of the individual are clearly defined and strongly emphasized. Those who scale the ascent, as defined here in the Qur’an, shall have their dwelling place on the right hand, which indicates that they will enjoy a happy recompense for what they do in this life.
And those who deny the revelations shall be on the left hand, with fire closing in upon them. Nothing can be good if coupled with unbelief. All evil is contained and encompassed by the denial of Allah. Their denial makes all their efforts worthless. Their dwelling on the left hand indicates their degradation and disgrace. These people cannot scale the ascent.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala allow us to do take the steeper path and attain moral heights, aameen.
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