My dear children, my companions on the path to Truth.
To know oneself is to see the truth. To see oneself only is blindness. The one who knows himself comes closer both to the Creator and to all and everything He has created. The one who only sees and cares for himself is far from Allah, from everything except his evil commanding ego.
Each and every one of us has been brought to this life and to this world for a specific purpose: some to cure ills, some to build, some to feed those whom no one feeds, some to count the money of others, some to defend the helpless against tyrants, some to teach and some, alas!, to be a lesson to others by doing what is not meant to be done. Each of us is a minute part of a whole, without or with the failing of which the whole will suffer. And when our functioning deteriorates with age or deficiency, the part is changed, the old part is taken away and replaced by a new part, a new person doing the same job. To be aware of one’s purpose in one’s private life is a good beginning in knowing oneself.
Then there is the general and more important purpose of one’s existence as a believer and a Muslim. What should our attitude be, our goal towards the rest of human kind, towards the rest of creation, so that the part is in harmony with the rest of the parts of the whole?
Allah most high describes, warns and promises His rewards to the believers as to how to fulfill this obligation: our religion. In the Holy Qur'an Allah most high says:
"Oh you who believe! If any amongst you turns back from your religion, Allah will bring a people whom He loves and who love Him, humble towards believers, stern towards disbe lievers, striving in the way of Allah and fearing not the blame of the blamer. Such is the grace of Allah which He gives to whom He will. Allah embraces all and everything and is All-Knowing." (“Al Ma'ida”, 5-54)
Our religion is what we are created for, to serve for Allah's sake in the capacity of power invested in us and as directed by the Holy Qur'an and the traditions of the Prophet (saws). And even though we are given the capacity and the direction we do not do so, either due to heedlessness, lack of knowledge, laziness, or being distracted by our evil commanding ego and the desires of our flesh or worse still, by revolt. This is a sign of our lack of love, thanklessness, non-consideration or disbelief towards our Creator. Then we are warned that Allah will discard us and “bring a people whom He loves and who love Him . . .” to fulfill our place as a spare part in the functioning of Divine Harmony.
Our failure to fulfill our duty because of old age or weakness and our consequent being replaced, is not due to Allah's dissatisfaction, but due to His mercy. If we have done what we have been created for, when He takes us to Himself, He promises us His Paradise.
What qualification is given to those people whom Allah brings to replace the ones who have left their religion, the purpose of their creation? That they be loved by Allah. The ones who are loved by Him are loved by all except those who are chased from the love and care and mercy of Allah, the disbelievers.
The believers who love those whom are loved by Allah are to be treated gently, humbly, with extreme consideration, considering them above oneself. That is the second quality of the chosen ones.
The third characteristic is their “striving” in the way of Allah, “being stern with the disbelievers,” without fear of the criticism of whoever they are who blame them. The phrase, "striving for Allah's sake is the true translation of Jihad, the misunderstood word. It is usually taken as war waged against the enemies of God, while in reality it is an effort to save oneself from the worst enemy, one's personal devil, one's own ego.
Yet this does not exclude fighting in defense of one's religion, the purpose of one's existence ordained by Allah and one’s life. which is necessary to fulfill this obligation. Sometimes this fight is done by force and sometimes only with intelligent discourse.
One of the wise of old said, “Victory is gained against the ignorant primitive by force and against the educated civilized people by discourse.” Compared to the past, we can call the society within which we live as “civilized” and “educated,” where the possibilities for communication abound. Any message could be sent from one end of the world to the other, addressing millions of people. The threat of the possibility of force is equally large, enough to annihilate millions of people, guilty and innocent alike in a matter of seconds.
Allah promises to be the eyes, the ears, the hands, the tongue of the one whom He loves. Words, if they are yours, are cheap and unconvincing, especially if not accompanied by acts supporting what you claim. But if you are a true servant of Allah, loved by Him, and if you speak in His words and do as He says, you can “strive in His way,” and avoid all violence to you and coming from you, live in peace and possibly bring peace. Allah knows best.
This i wrote in anticipation of recalling Sept 11th's coming anniversary.
May Allah lead us and keep us on the straight path, and forgive the ones who go astray. Amin.