In the last part of Surah Al- ‘Asr, the word ‘tawasau’ has been used twice. Its verbal noun is ‘tawasi’ and it is derived from ‘wasiyyat’ which means admonition, exhortation with persistent emphasis. Again, this infinitive is formed from the stem of the verbal noun ‘tafaul’, whose first attribute is mutual cooperation and the second is emphasis to the point of exaggeration. It means that this action of exhortation is required with the greatest fervour and intensity. This stage necessitates the establishment of a collective community or Ummah based on the principles of mutual preaching of truth and patience.
The Meaning of ‘Haqq’ or Truth:
Similarly, the connotation of the word ‘Haqq’ is very extensive. Its meaning includes everything which is actually real (that is, it is not imaginary or based on presumption). It also connotes what is acknowledged by reason or is necessary ethically, or is purposive and not useless or vacuous. Hence exhortation to truth means confirming, acknowledging, inviting to and preaching every thing which is factually true and real, is ethically necessary and is proved by reason. Thus the spectrum of ‘truth’ encompasses on the one hand the testimony of the evident facts of our existence and, on the other hand, the testimony of the ultimate metaphysical truths of existence. Exhortation to truth includes a whole range of activities, from giving personal moral advice to the clarion call of the greatest truth, the truth that the real Lord and master of this universe is Allah, and that it is He who deserves that His Commands should be promulgated and that His laws should be enforced in this world. And this truth should not merely be pronounced verbally, but a vigorous struggle should be launched for its practical implementation and actualization.
Similarly, the comprehensive term ‘exhortation to truth’ embraces within itself concepts which underlie many technical terms of the Holy Quran, such as preaching virtues and holding back people from vices. It implies asking and inviting people to do good deeds and stop them from falling in the snare of every kind of evil, exhorting them to be merciful, to have compassion for each other and to be kind to each other; and calling people towards Allah, persuading them to seek real knowledge and devotion before their Real Sovereign and Master, Allah. Also it includes efforts in the path of Allah, that is, struggling hard for the establishment of the supremacy of the true religion of Allah and spending one’s wealth for this purpose and sacrificing one’s life for this noble cause.
The Meaning of Patience:
The meaning of patience is very comprehensive. Its real essence is that a person should continue to maintain himself upon the chosen path, without allowing any trouble, or temptation to deviate him from it. No amount of persecution or trial should cause him to desist. He must remain steadfast in every situation, and should display firmness, perseverance, bravery and fortitude. He must not only persevere in following the truth but must also continue to persuade others to accept it and comply with it.
Exhortation to Truth and Exhortation to Patience are co-essential:
As faith and righteous deeds are inter-related; so are exhortation to truth and exhortation to patience. This is because the invitation to truth is usually not welcomed and it has often to face resistance. It is necessary for those who are dedicated to truth to put up with oppression and persecution. Perhaps all of us have experienced that even a little piece of moral advice can be disliked by people. For example, if a person owes five dollars to some one, and is putting off its payment and you ask him to pay that amount to his creditor, he will frown at you. If he is in an angry mood, he may warn you not to interfere in his affairs. Now you can well imagine how much resistance would be offered and to what extent people will oppose the preaching which demands from them the fulfilling of their major obligations and religious duties. And this is the point where a person faces the real test of his character and conviction. It is a fact that mere apprehension and recognition of truth is not so difficult, as is adopting it for oneself and inviting others to act upon it and to remaining firm in this struggle. In Quranic terminology, this is called ‘istiqamat’ i.e., steadfastness. This is the acid test which proves to what extent a person is committed to his objectives and whether he possesses anything which can be termed stability of character and commitment. This is why the Holy Quran lays so much emphasis on the fact that true believers necessarily have to face tests and ordeals, and the truthfulness of their claims to have faith is to be examined and tested in many ways. Only those are regarded as sincere in their faith who remain firm in the face of ordeals and provide concrete proof of patience and perseverance.
(Excerpt from a speech by Dr. Israr Ahmad)