Are we true believers ?

My friend, who is an educated Muslim and has an exhaustive religious knowledge, asked me, "Can the word of a reasonable man be contradicted by his acts?" I said: "No, as long as he is aware of what he says and acts purposely; but why do you ask such question?"

He said: "This question is a prologue to another question which has been haunting my mind for a while, and for which I have been trying to find an answer. Now I hope that you will be able to give me a satisfying answer", I said: "What is your question?" He said: "Isn't the Qur'an the word of Allah?" I said, "It is indeed", he asked, "Isn't what happens in this world of the doing of Allah?" I said: "Indeed, it is". He asked: "Why do we see that the reality of the world contradicts what is stated in the Book of Allah?" I said: "This cannot happen, explain to me what you are saying."

He said: "We read in the Qur'an, Allah Almighty's words, "To help believers is ever incumbent upon us" . (Surah 30, Verse 47). In the page of reality we read that the Muslims are weak and defeated. And then you read His Word, Glory and Majesty to Him, "might belongeth to Allah and to His messenger and to the believers'' (. Surah 63, Verse 8). and we see that in reality the Muslims are ridiculed and enslaved. We also read His statement, Majesty to Him, "and Allah will not give the disbelievers any way (of success) against the believers'' (Surah 4, Verse 141). When we look around us we see that the disbelievers have one thousand and one way over the Muslims.

And read other verses such as: "Lo! Allah defendeth those who are true" (Surah 22, Verse 38), "That is because Allah is patron of those who believe'' (. Surah 47, Verse 11), "that Allah is with the believers (in His Guidance)" (Surah 8, Verse 19.), and other verses. In spite of all this we find that all the strength, sovereignty and glory go to the disbelievers and atheists, and weakness, backwardness and insignificance go to the believers. Then, how do you explain this and what is its interpretation?"

I said: "The interpretation of these verses is most explicit. All the ideas of victory, glory, sovereignty and divine support are meant for the believers, and not for those who pretend to be believers and who take on names of those who are real Muslims. The focus is on the bearer, not just the names and the consideration is given to realities not pretence." My friend said: "I understand from all this that we are not real believers", I said: "If belief involves uttering the two testimonies, and observing some of the rites of Islam, we are Muslims. If belief is ascertaining that we have the characteristics of Muslims, which are mentioned in the Qur'an, then there are serious gaps between us and the faith of Qur'an.

The believers to whom Allah has promised victory, help and support -in the verses of His Book - have characteristics which were mentioned in the Qur'an, and which beautified their beliefs, acts and behaviour. It is thanks to these characteristics that they have deserved the glorification and support of Allah Almighty. It is unfair to mention what Allah has promised the believers in the Qur'an and then require that we explain the notion of the believer from outside the Qur'an."

My friend said: "Indeed, by Allah explain to me who are the real believers in the view of the Qur'an". I said, "Listen to these enlightening verses of the Book of our God: "They only are the (true) believers whose hearts feel fear when Allah is mentioned, andwhen His revelations are recited unto them they increase their faith, and who trust in theirLord; who establish worship and spend of that We have bestowed on them. Those are they who are in truth believers'' (Surah 8, Verses 2-4). "Successful are indeed the believers who are humble in their prayers ...", (. Surah 23, Verss 1-2) "And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another, they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong " (. Surah 9, Verse 71) "The believers are naught else than brothers. Therefore make peace between your brethren…",,( Surah 49, Verse 10.) "The (true) believers are those only who believe in Allah and His messenger and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah. Such are the sincere" (. Surah 49, Verse 15.). "The saying of (all true) believers when they appeal unto Allah and His messenger to judge between them is only that they say: We hear and we obey. And such are the successful" (. Surah 24, Verse 51.).

Listen to these verses and more - there are many others in the Qur'an. After that look in the reality of the hundreds of millions of those who pretend to be part of Islam, and what do you see? By your God, do you only see people who have not observed their prayers and who have pursued their desires, their minds are busied with matters other than Allah, and their link with Allah is broken, "Their adversity among themselves is very great. Ye think of them as a whole whereas their hearts are divers" (. Surah 59, Verse 14). It is clear that they are committing evil deeds and refraining from good ones. They have started to consider good deeds evil ones and vice-versa, some of them have even started to enjoin the wrong and forbid the right.

Then look again at these six hundred million, and you will find amongst them millions who have been spoiled by tribal chauvinism, and millions spoiled by partisan propaganda, and millions by political tyranny, and millions by mental invasion, and millions that have been isolated by communist colonialism, and other millions who were made ignorant by crusade colonialism, and other millions which are neither here nor there, and others who are negligent, heedless, exuberant and oarefree. "(They are) dead, not living. And they know not when they will be raised" (Surah 16, Verse 21.), After all this you can only repeat what the poet said in the past: (These two lines were written by Da'bal Al Khuza'i, see The Poetry of Da'bal Al Khuza'i, authenticated by Abdul Karim Al Ashtar.)

There is a large number of people, or is it a small number,
Allah is aware that I have not said a lie
I open my eyes when I open them
On many, but I do not see anyone!

My friend said: "All what you said is right, but are we not closer to the true believers than are the Jews? Why were they victorious and we were defeated?" (This refers to 1948, this passage was written years before the 5th oJune 1967.)

I said: "The Jews were victorious because they followed the ways of Allah concerning human beings, and the consideration of the ways of Allah is an important part of faith. We have wasted that, and they have kept it. They have awoken and we have gone to sleep, they have learned and we have become ignorant, and they have toiled and we have become idle, they have helped each other and we haven't. They have got ready for tomorrow and we have forgotten today's duty. Other people have shed sweat and blood and we have only shed tears. So which of these two groups is closer in his attitude to the logic of the true faith?

The ways of Allah in promotion and demotion, and victory and defeat, are not unfair to anyone, and are not complacent to anyone. Whoever uses the conditions of victory will be victorious even if he is Jewish, and whoever takes the path of defeat will be defeated even if he is related to Islam. Do you want me to give you the example of Muslims in the battle of Uhud? They made an error that cost them seventy martyrs, including Hamza, the uncle of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), Mus'ab Ben Umair, Saad Ben Arrabii', Anas bnou Annadr along with other believing heroes. These could not be saved simply by the fact that the Messenger of Allah was their leader and that their enemies were pagans.

This was recorded against the Muslims in the Qur'an, the fair referee. The verse states: "What ! When a single disaster smites you, although you smote (your enemies) with one twice as great, Do ye say ? " Whence is this?!" Say ( to them): " It is from yourselves".

Then I said to my friend: "Do you want further clarification?, then read with me the following Noble verses: "O ye who believe! Take your precautions, then advance the proven ones, or advance all together" (. Surah 4, Verse 71). "Make ready for them all thou canst of (armed) force and of horses tethered, that thereby ye may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy" (Surah 8, Verse 60). "O ye who believe! When ye meet an army, hold firm and think of Allah much, that ye may be successful. And obey Allah and His messenger, and dispute not one with another lest ye falter and your strength depart from you; but be steadfast! Lo! Allah is with the steadfast". (Surah 8, Verses 45-46).

Did we follow the advice of these verses? We did not take heed, but instead, we were taken by surprise by the strategies of World Zionism facing us, while we were neglecting our matters. And we did not gather the necessary force, aside from rusty arms that we bought which turned their fire on the one who aims, before it reached its aim. We ignored our arms and our ammunitions and thus they let us down once and for all, as it was mentioned in the Glorious Qur'an (This is a reference to what Allah Almighty Said in "Those who disbelieve long for you to neglect your arms and your baggage and they may attack you once and for all." (Surah 4, Verse 102.)

When we met our enemy, we were not steadfast as Allah commanded those who believe and we did not invoke Allah very much, and not even very little, and we did not obey Allah and his messenger. Instead we went to amuse the army by obscene singing, and permissive dancing. We did not take heed of the warnings given by Allah concerning disputes, and thus we faltered and were defeated.

How can we then, after all this consider ourselves part of the believers referred to in the Qur'an? And how can we expect to benefit from what Allah promised while we have not fulfilled the conditions He stated.

It is impudent on our part to expect the support of Allah when we have not supported Him, or to demand the recompense of the believers while we do not demand from ourselves to have the characteristics of the believers? We have to be true to Allah so that Allah can be true to us. In other words, we have to be true Muslims, and to accept only Allah as our God, and Islam as our religion, and the Messenger as our guide, and the Qur'an as our leader. We should also free ourselves from any bondage to anybody but Allah in everything: in our faiths and thoughts, in our morals and behaviour, and in our legislation and systems of life.

It is only by faith that we can aspire to the happiness, victory and glory that Allah has predicted for us in this world, in addition to his approval and forgiving in the Hereafter."

My friend said: "By Allah, you are right, but are there not any true believers?" I said: "There are indeed, this nation will not gather around evil, but they are few. With their scarcity, they are spuriouly distributed like the scattered grains that are not maintained by a string. Many of them were taken over by despair about reform and thus they gave up their fight, and left the field open for the unbelieving decadent and malicious invasion of the mind. Some of them only sobbed, lamented and cried over ruins, and were absorbed in pronouncing "there is no power and no strength save in Allah". They did not present anything that is serious or a work that is positive. Some of them grew feeble because of what happened to them for the sake of Allah, and they became weak and quiet. Others and others

My friend said: "What is the solution then?" "The solution",I said "is in the hands of those true believers." The solution is for them to call for the return to true Islam in terms of faith, legislation, morals and to remind their folks of that; both by promising and by warning. It is by Islam alone that they can win and become masters. It is through Islam that they can express their unity and strength, and it is through it alone that we can achieve glory in this world and happiness in the hereafter. The true believers have also to gather their efforts to free their nation from the inertia of old times and the permissiveness of the present. They should also fight the lack of belief which is invading them, sometimes conspicuously and secretly at others. These believers have to be aware of the reality and the requirements of their time, as well as the condition of their society and the trends that tear it apart. They should be aware of the problems that face it and that it has to confront with the logic of the searching and specialised scholars, not with the mentality of the imitators and demagogues. They also have to arm themselves with patience and certainty to resist the preponderant materialistic wave, which has invaded the countries of Islam, and has conquered their minds and hearts in an overwhelming manner to the point that a major Muslim advocate (This refers to Abu Al Hassan Ali Alhasani Annadawi, a scholar who is also an educator and an ascetic and a guiding example, May Allah make him live longer and work for Islam.) called it "apostasy which has no Abu Bakr".

They should endure the heat of the battle between them and untruth, and feel assured about the truth of the verses of Allah, and favour Allah, His Messenger and fight holy wars for His sake over what people usually endear, in terms of family and tribe and wealth and country. In such a situation, they deserve that Allah establish them as leaders, inheritors and make the wealth of the land available to them, as He, the Almighty, said: "And when they became steadfast and believed firmly in Our revelations, We appointed from among them leaders who guided by Our command" ( Surah 32, Verse 24).

My friend said: "What if these true believers failed to fulfil this duty, what is going to be our fate?"
I said: "It is a frightening fate, its characteristics have been determined by a verse of Allah's Book, but another verse left it mysterious and frightening, so that the mind can imagine it in any way it will. As to the first verse, Allah Almighty Says: "If ye go not forth He will afflict you with a painful doom, and will choose instead of you a folk other than you. Ye cannot harm Him at all. Allah is Able to do all things" (Surah 9, Verse 39).

As to the second verse, Allah Almighty says: "Say: If your fathers, and your sons, and your brethren, and your wives, and your tribe, and the wealth ye have acquired, and merchandise for which ye fear that there will be no sale, and dwellings ye desire are dearer to you than Allah and His messenger and striving in His way: then wait till Allah bringeth His command to pass. Allah guided not wrongdoing folk" (Surah 9, Verse 24)

- by Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi