Surah Ash Shura (No. 42) Verses 36-43
Those whose affairs are a matter of Counsel
THOSE WHOSE AFFAIRS ARE A MATTER OF COUNSEL
It is important to bear in mind certain attributes of believers which are mentioned in verses 36 to 43 of the 4th Ruku of the 42ndSurah (Ash Shura). The verses have been rendered into English by Pickthall as follows:-
" Now whatever ye have been given is but a passing comfort for the life of the world, and that which Allah hath is better and more lasting for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord.
"And those who shun the worst of sins and indecencies and, when they are wroth, forgive.
"And those who answer the call of their Lord and establish worship, and whose affairs are a matter if counsel, and who spend of what We have bestowed on them.
"And those who, when great wrong is done to them, defend themselves.
" The guerdon of an ill-deed is an ill the like thereof. But whosoever pardoneth and amendeth, his wage is the affair of Allah. Verily, He loveth not wrong-doers.
"And whoso defendeth himself after he hath suffered wrong - for such there is no way (of blame) against them.
"The way (of blame) is only against those who oppress mankind, and wrongfully rebel in the earth. For such there is a painful doom.
"And verily whoso is patient and forgiveth - that verily, is of the affairs of courageous resolution."
(1) The passing comforts of life are not the end-all and be-all of a true believer's life. The Quran teaches him a sense of values which enables him to take a balanced view of things. His trust in Allah and belief in a life after death urge him to aim at the higher things of life. That does not mean that a believer is required to renounce the material comforts of life. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is asked in the Quran to make this clear:
"Say who hath forbidden the adornment of Allah which He hath brought forth for His bond-men and the good things of His providing?" (VII-33).
What the Quran forbids is greed and iniquity which have to be avoided by all who are anxious to follow the path of moral rectitude (VI-152 to 154), that is, Islam. In XVIII-47 we are told:
"But the good deeds which endure are better in thy Lord's sight for reward, and better in respect of hope".
A believer is thankful to Allah for His gifts but he does not let his vain desires deflect him from the pursuit of his ideal of enduring good. Those who deserve the lasting good that is with Allah are those who:
- Believe and put their trust in their Lord.
A true believer must necessarily put his trust in his Lord, because he knows that Allah is All-Powerful, All-Merciful, All-Wise and All-Knowing. One who believes and puts his trust in Allah knows that he shall have his reward for good deeds from Him, sooner or later. Temptation of immediate gain cannot deflect him form the path of moral rectitude.
- Shun the great sins and indecencies.
It is to be remembered that indecencies are prohibited in the same way as the great sins. Indecencies of every sort, open or concealed, are to be shunned like the great sins. In Surah Aaraf all indecencies such as are apparent and such as are within, are declared Haram (absolutely forbidden). (VII-33)
- Restrain their anger and forgive.
Restraint of anger and willingness to forgive are important characteristics of a believer. (III-134).
- Answer the call of their Lord.
This means obedience to Divine laws which the Quran explains.
- Establish Worship
A Muslim's prayer is a safe-guard against sin (XXIX-45). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) attached a great importance to prayers in congregation, which is also mentioned in the Quran (II-43). A prayer-congregation of Muslims presents a striking example of an assembly pervaded by a spirit of brotherhood which transcends distinction of worldly position.
- Whose affairs are a matter of counsel.
The Prophet (may peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) conducted affairs of a state in consultation with his Ashab (companions). The Khulafai-Rashideen (may Allah be pleased with them) conducted the affairs of the state in consultation with a Majlis-I-Shura, or a council of consultants. Despotic rule is clearly opposed to the teachings of the Quran.
- Spend out of what Allah has bestowed on them.
It is ingratitude for one gifted with wealth to greedily hoard it or to spend it for the gratification of vain desires. It is one of the merits of believers that in their wealth there is a specified share for those who have not (LII-19; LXX-24). True believers are neither prodigal nor grudging (XXV-67).
(2) The Quran enjoins peace again and again, but a believer is not required to invite aggression by appearing defenceless. He is expected to defend himself against injustice and oppression. The recompense of an evil is an evil like it. Forgiveness for the sake of peace is, however, commended as an act of virtue for which the reward is with Allah. One who has been wronged and unjustly oppressed is free from blame if he defends himself. To be blamed are those who act wrongfully and cause wanton mischief. The highest courage lies in fortitude and forgiveness and adherence to the path of peace in the face of injustice and oppression. These precepts are exemplified in the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). His mission was to call people to the way of Allah which is the obedience to His laws. These are the laws of truth, justice and goodness which lead to the path of moral rectitude. The people amongst whom he worked were steeped in ignorance and vice and they subjected him to relentless persecution. A band of noble souls which included some of the highest and humblest of the community who followed him were also subjected to cruel persecution. The Prophet's reliance on Allah helped him to face the challenge of the disbelievers with resolute courage. The faith of his earlier followers (may Allah be pleased with them) was also unshakeable. While some sought refuge in the Christian kingdom of Abyssinia, others went with the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) to Medina. The case of Muslims must have appeared to those who lacked faith and trust in Allah, to be hopeless. A believer never despairs of Allah's mercy (XII-87). Within 8 years of the departure of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his companions from Mecca they returned to Mecca with an irresistible force and entered the city almost unopposed;
"Truth hath come and falsehood hath vanished. Verily falsehood is ever bound to vanish" (XVII-81).
In the hours of triumph the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) forgave the Meccans the wrongs which they had done to him and to his followers. No injury was caused to the inhabitants of the city which the army entered peaceably, faithful to the amnesty granted by the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him). The miraculous success of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was the result of his trust in Allah and adherence to Divine guidance. Only two years before the surrender of the Quraish the Prophet (peace be upon him) had it in his power to conquer Mecca, but that would have involved blood-shed which he would never allow if it could be avoided. He agreed to a truce on terms which appeared more favourable to the enemy, at which the followers of the Prophet (peace be upon him) felt dismayed. The truce proved in fact to be the greatest victory which the Muslims had till then achieved. Pickthall says in the introduction to his translation of the Glorious Quran that in the two years that elapsed between the signing of the truce and the fall of Mecca the number of converts was greater than the total number of all previous converts. The nobility of the Prophet's character gave an additional force to the teachings of the Quran which he expounded. His self-less devotion to duty, sense of justice and human sympathy disarmed opposition and in the fullness of time inveterate enemies became devoted followers. The Quran tells us in XLI-34:
"The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he between whom and thee there was enmity (will become) as though he was a warm friend."
There is no inconsistency between the verse and verse 40 quoted at the beginning, which tells us that the recompense of an evil is thereof, because we are also told in the same verse that whosoever forgiveth and amendeth his wage is the affair of Allah. Allah may reward the forgiveness by converting the enmity of the wrong-doer into warm friendship or give a reward in another way, in this world or in the Hereafter.
May Allah give us all the wisdom and the strength to mould our lives according to His laws and the example of His Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). In that alone lies our salvation.