Imam Ghazali

Faith-A Revolutionary Strength


A firm and strong faith is such a never-drying spring, from which flow the strength for the desired activities, coveted courage and forbearance to tolerate adversities and to face dangers. It creates in man such a restless feeling and deep attachment to his ideal that if he is unable to achieve his coveted objective, he does not hesitate to partake of the drink of death.

When faith finds a place in a man's heart and takes deep roots in it, it brings out these results only. It fills a man's heart and mind with such power and strength that cover and influence all his dealings. Accordingly, when he opens his mouth, he talks with confidence and certainty. When he undertakes a work, he attends to it with full interest and sincerity. When he starts on a journey, his destination is before his eyes. If he enjoys the wealth of the correct end firm thinking, the world of the heart too is inhabited by the enthusiasm and restless courage. Hesitation and ambivalence do not find a place in his heart, and high-velocity winds do not move him from his path or make him deviate from his objective. It will not be surprising if he says to every one, in the words of an Urdu poet:

"Come here O tyrant! we will try our art,

"You try your arrow, and I will try my liver (courage)."

And he may challenge the people around him thus:

"You work in your manner, I too am acting. Soon you will know who will get disgraceful punishment, and who will get the everlasting punishment" (Zumar: 39-40)

This challenging accent, this independent spirit in action and deeds, this self-confidence in understanding truth and tradition are the qualities which make him a distinguished personality in life. He deals with the people in the light of the facts seen and experienced by him. If he finds the people on a policy which is right f and truthful, he extends his hand for co-operation; and if he finds them committing errors, he withdraws himself, ,and leaves his conscience alive and wakeful.

`Allah's Messenger has said:

"Everyone of you should desist from walking with every traveler. He should not say that he is with the people, and that if people would do good deed, he would also do the good deeds; and that if they would do wicked deeds then he would co-operate with them. You should prepare yourself to co-operate with them if they do righteous deeds and to keep away if they do wicked deeds." (Tirmizi)

But one who is weak, the current customs and habits make one their slave. On such a man's conduct rule the things which are current in the society. If these customs and practices are wrong and destructive, then he carries the burden of the troubles of this world as well as of the next.

Among the people, various kinds of innovations have become customary on the occasions of celebrations and mourning. They pay more attention to performing these innovative acts than on the realities of the religion.

But a straight-going Momin does not take any interest in these things, for which there is no supportive proof in religion. He is confronted with opposition and experiences difficulties in opposing the popular and customary rituals, but it is obvious that he need not care for any condemnation from anybody in the affairs of Allah. He has to achieve his ideal. No weapon of criticism and fault-finding and no injuries from tongue can obstruct his way.

Falsehood which sometimes is successful is subsequently ruled by powerful individuals. They then destroy its position and rank. This also cannot stay for a long time with the help and support of its allies, because many enemies who are today with it, having been deceived by falsehood, tomorrow they would become the supporters of the other enemies; they approve of their aims and objects after knowing their character and pledge their support after severe hostility and spite.

Ibn Abbas has narrated that Allah's Messenger has said:

"He who has displeased Allah for seeking the pleasure of the people, Allah is displeased with him and those people are also displeased for pleasing whom he had earned Allah's displeasure. And he who pleases Allah by displeasing the people, Allah is also pleased with him and also those people whom he had displeased for pleasing Allah, so much so that He made him splendid and his speech and acts in the eyes of others beautiful." (Tibrani)

A Muslim should stick to what he believes to be true, and he should ignore all the insults, fun-making, and difficulties with which he is confronted. He should adopt for himself such a policy through following which he should always try to get rewards (sawab) from Allah. If those, who believe in superstitions and absurd things, make fun of the faithful people and laugh at them, then it is necessary for a Momin to be strong and to stand his ground with firmness.

"When they see you, (0 Muhammed !) they treat you only as a jest (saying): Is this he whom Allah sends as a messenger? He would have led us far away from our gods if we had not been staunch to them. They will know, when they behold the doom, who is more astray as to the road." (Furqan : 42-43)

No doubt, a Muslim must feel in his personality the strength of belief and in his heart the pressure and awe of faith. If the things around him do not influence him, then he is like a rock which is not moved by the lashing of the waves of the sea. What harm these men can inflict on a man who feels in his heart the strength of faith and belief, and on account of his relation with his Lord and steadfastness in his religion feels in himself a new determination and a fresh courage ? If all these rush and attack, they will not be able to harm him a bit.

Ibn Abbas says that he was sitting on a mount behind the Prophet. The Prophet said:

"O child! remember Allah, He will take care of you. Remember Allah, you will find Him everywhere. Recognize Allah's rights in your prosperity, He will recognize you in your adversity. If you want to ask anything, ask from Allah. If you need help, seek help from Allah, for if all the men together decide to help, they will not be able to do so, if Allah has not written that for you and they have no control over it. And if all of them decide to inflict some harm on you which Allah has not meant for you, they cannot harm you a bit. The ink of the pen has been dried and the sheets have been collected."

The fact is that in a Muslim the basis of strength and power is the belief in the oneness of Allah. Similarly other virtues prevent him from accepting any disgrace and insult in this world, because a Muslim is most honored and of high rank on account of his relationship with the heavens. In his own sphere of faith he has the power to become a whole community. These are Allah's words, speaking for him:

"Say: 'Shall I choose for a protecting friend other than Allah, the Originator of the heavens and the earth, who feeds and is never fed?' Say: 'I am ordered to be the first to surrender (to Him). And be not you (0 Muhammed !) of the idolaters'.'" (An'am: 14).


Determination and Trust-the best Manifestation of Strength

Islam has declared achievement of strength and power essential. Its one characteristic and manifestation is that you make a firm determination and a strong resolve to achieve, with the help of your nearest available means and resources, your objective. Try your utmost in achieving your goal. You should leave no stone unturned and no room for chance, and thereafter leave the outcome in the hands of destiny. There are many individuals who take Allah's shelter in order to cover their objectionable defects reprehensible negligence, inability and laziness, and grumble against luck. Islam has disapproved of this tendency.

Auf bin Malik says that Allah's Messenger once gave a decision in a dispute of two people. When the man against whom the Prophet's decision was given was returning, said:

"For me Allah is sufficient, and He is the best support." The Prophet said: "Allah sends curses on helplessness and weakness. You should give proof of your wisdom. When you are overpowered in any matter say: 'For me Allah is sufficient, and He is the best support'."

(Abu Daud)

It is the duty of everybody that he should make full efforts and try to the best of his ability to overcome his difficulty, till the time he achieves his objective. If he overpowers his difficulties then he has fulfilled his responsibility.

However, if after making all the efforts he fails, then at such a time the support of Allah is the best shelter for him, which would help him to overcome the sense of defeatism and frustration. In both the states he is strong and powerful. First by making efforts and working, and in the second case by relying on God he receives strength.

Islam does not like that in your affairs you should be a prey to vagueness and hesitation, You should not be undecided in the matter of selecting the advantageous alternative. Your head should not be filled up with doubts and misgivings, resulting in an atmosphere of indetermination and indecision, making it difficult for you to come to a decision. It does not like that due to your weakness you may not be able to strongly hold the advantageous things in your firm grip, and they should slip through your fingers and may be wasted. This restlessness and indecision does not become a Muslim.

Allah's Prophet has said:

" A strong Momin is better than a weak Momin and is more liked by Allah, and there is good ill each one. Desire profitable things and seek Allah's help and be humble. If you are harmed then do not say that had you done in this way the result would have been different, but say Allah is Controller, whatever He likes He may decide, because the botheration of ifs and buts opens the door of the devil's workshop." (Muslim)

What is the work of Satan? To remind of the troubles and the difficulties of the past, which would create a sense of heart-breaking disappointment and de-privation. Man thinks about the prospects of his present and future. As regards shedding tears on the defeats of the past, to bring back the memory of the past sadness, to think of old enmities and to be entangled in the net of ifs and buts, are inclinations which do not suit the conduct of a Muslim. Quran has listed them with sorrow and frustration in those manifestations which are generated in the hearts of the infidels:

"O you who believe ! Be not as those who disbelieved and said of their brethren who went abroad in the land or were fighting in the field: If they had been (here) with us they would not have died or been killed; that Allah may make it anguish in their hearts. Allah gives life and causes death and Allah is Observer of what you do." (Ale Imran.. 156)

One hadith has it: "One who wants to be strong among men, should rely on Allah."

Trust in Allah which makes a man powerful is a kind of confidence in Allah, which saves a man from destruction at a time when he is surrounded on all sides by harrowing difficulties, and when he is unable to get help from anyone else, nor is there any hope of getting it from elsewhere.

Accordingly he becomes a mountain of strength at the time of confrontation with the enemy. If the reliance is on Allah, then in spite of the shortage of weapons and war equipment and insufficient number of supporters, he feels that he has a strong support. From this trust in Allah he receives encouragement and support to be steadfast. He sticks to his job till in the dark and frightening atmosphere the glad tidings of victory are heard by him. The holy Quran says that trust is

such an eternal food for war that with its help prophets and their followers have bravely and successfully faced the tyrants of their time:

"How should we not put our trust in Allah when He has shown US our ways? We surely will endure that hurt you do us. In Allah let the trusting put their trust" (Ibrahim: 12)

The faithful and their supporters stand their ground, sticking to their mandate. They have expectations of well-being in the future. They have full confidence that their present weakness will be converted into a powerful victorious force, but the wicked and evil rulers and their disciples term this determination and trust of the faithful as their pride and madness:

"When the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease said: 'Their religion has deluded these. Whosoever puts his trust in Allah (will find that) surely, Allah is Mighty, Wise."

(AI-Anfal: 49)
The correct and true trust is that which accompanies profitable striving and firm determination. From these things trust became deprived when the face of Islam was disfigured and religion was made a plaything For becoming strong and powerful a Muslim should take care that he keeps away from the life of wickedness and evil, loves the policy of cleanness and steadfastness. A man who is ill mannered, and bereft of decency and consideration, cannot attain strength. He should put on the hide of the beasts and walk in the wake of the kings as a servant.

Allah informed the nation of Hud, that was tyrant and rebellious against Allah, the correct and profitable causes of strength:

"Ask forgiveness of your Lord, then turn to Him repentant; He will cause the sky to rain abundance on you and will add to you strength to your strength. Turn not away, guilty." (Hud: 52)

The kind Prophet wanted to present the worship to the people in a beautiful form and to persuade them to perform it. When a man performs a righteous deed, he opposes the Satan and tries to rise towards the angels. At that time how great becomes his sanctity and magnificence! To focus attention on this the Prophet has explained it by giving an example:

"When Allah created the earth, it tilted and was unsteady. Accordingly Allah put the stakes, (nails) of mountains in it, and it became steady, and stood in one position. The angels were amazed by the strength of the mountains. They asked the Creator: 'Our Lord! Have you created anything harder than the mountains ?' He replied: 'Yes, Iron is harder than this.' The angels again asked: "Is anything harder than iron ?' He said: 'Yes, Fire has more power,' They asked: 'Is there any- thing more powerful created by you than fire ? He said: 'Yes. Water is more powerful than this.' The angels asked: 'Does anything among your created things exist more powerful than water ? He said: 'Yes, air has more power than this.' They asked:: 'Have you created anything more powerful than air ?' He said: 'Yes. Adam's son is more powerful, provided he gives charity from his right hand without letting his left hand know it." (Tirmizi)

Man is the strangest creature of the universe. The day his personality attains greatness and excellence of moral character he becomes the hunter of the universe. He brings under his control the hardest and the most powerful things of the universe, and derives benefit from it. But the day when his personality declines, he earns the curses of the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth, and the particles of dust carry him with them in their flight.

In the hadith quoted above the value and importance of such a virtuous man has been mentioned who tries to forge ahead in the field of righteousness and who tries to touch the heights of excellence and decency.

One factor of strength is that a Muslim should be in the habit of stating the truth unhesitatingly. He should meet people with an open heart, and on the basis of righteous values and principles. He should not compromise in the matter of truth, so that his decency and his companions' character may not be tarnished.

He should consider his strength a direct outcome of his belief which he represents and for which he is alive. He should never waver in unhesitatingly and courageously proving a reality.

It is reported that when the Prophet's son Ibrahim died, the sun went into an eclipse. The people said that the eclipse was due to the death of Ibrahim. Allah's Messenger gave a sermon to the people, and said:

"The eclipse of the sun and the moon are not on account of the death or life of some person, but they both are the signs of Allah, which He shows to His slaves. So when you see the eclipse of the sun or the moon, you run for offering salat." (Bukhari)

A man who breathes in the atmosphere of realities, does not compromise with falsehood and absurdities. He is always indifferent to such things, and his uncompromising words point to the vast treasure of greatness and nobility, whose owner does not derive any benefit from deception and his character, stands on the rock of excellent moral character.

The performance of the duty of ordering the righteous thing and preventing the commitment of the forbidden thing comes from the personal excellence, because it results from the courageous talk of the sincere people who want to earn Allah's reward by ending their own egoist leanings.

In our other books we have explained the social and political objectives which is related to the performance of the righteous and the forbidding of the forbidden. (Author's Arabic book)

Here what we want to emphasize is that a Muslim must necessarily straight away criticize the general evils, should be courageous in attacking them, neither the fear of a big man nor the consideration for a relative should prevent him from doing the right thing, and in the path of Allah no condemnation from any source should block his away.

Islam has disliked that a man should feel weak in the presence of wicked and evil persons, and should address them in a respectable way. Allah's Messenger has said: "When a man addresses a hypocrite as 'Ya Sayyedi' (My master), he makes Allah very wrathful."

This is a double crime that a man should not respect the Allah's commands about forbidden things, and then he should only listen to those who think him respectable and should not care for those who consider him mean and humble:

"He whom Allah scorns, there is none to give him honor. Surely, Allah does what He

Islam has declared backbiting as haram, so that man's life may continue and the factors of strength may remain in it, for the man who states the defects of a person in his absence and derives satisfaction from it, is undoubtedly very mean and low.

But the man who has the strength to respond to the motivation and call of truth, he stops those whom he likes, in whatever manner and words he thinks proper he criticizes them. He does not keep anything hidden in his heart for condemning anybody behind the scene.

However it does not mean that we may address anybody whom we like in an insulting way. If we find any defects in persons, we may fix up certain] norms about dealing with them.

If his defect is limited to his own person or if it is not in consonance with his position, then it would be foolish to castigate him in his presence or in his absence.

And if his steps are slipping towards a sin, and he does not seem to be in a mood to give it up like a horse who flounders and falls on his face then to defame such a person among the people is meanness.

However, if he is a blatant sinner, and he openly breaks the rights of Allah and usurps the rights of his fellow men, then it is necessary that he should be opposed with the words of truth and without caring for anybody he should be properly warned.

Since this dialogue has to be straight, it is necessary that curses and abuses should be avoided and physical hurt should be averted. The purpose should be to change the bad habit and to reform the individual and the society. It does not mean that his mention before his enemies should be in demeaning words, so that you may get closer to their hearts, or may derive some benefits or may claim yourself to be innocent of those sins. Allah's Messenger has said:

"He who has eaten food in exchange for the honor of a Muslim, Allah will feed him fire of hell in compensation on the Doomsday; and he who put on clothes in exchange for dishonoring a Muslim, Allah will clothe him in compensation with the cloth of hell fire; and if he who earned respect and fame by playing with the chastity of a Muslim, Allah will make him taste fully for this on the Doomsday." (Abu Daud)

Backbiting is the policy of the weak persons, and "only those people try to indulge in backbiting who are unable to strive for themselves."


Sycophants are Disliked by Islam

Islam dislikes those persons who become merely a supplement of other people, those persons who live on the charity of others, those who want to live like foxes that is content with eating the remnants of a Lion's prey.

A Muslim is much above this kind of living, to maintain himself in this superficial way on the support of others. It is necessary that he should shun all places or situations of insults and ignominy, and should go to the end of the world in search of a life of honor and dignity.

Allah's Messenger has talked of the people of the Paradise and their companions, and the people of the hell and their companions. Accordingly he has mentioned in the first group the good qualities and advantages of strength, decency and morality, while in the other group he has mentioned the infamy, ignominy, helplessness and immoral enjoyments.

"People of paradise will be of three kinds. First that powerful man who was just and balanced in his dealings, who popularized the practice of charity and virtue, and adopted the attitude of softness and Tightness. Second will be that person who was kind, who was soft hearted for every relative and every Muslim. Third will be that person who having a wife and children, yet was able to save himself from the forbidden things. In the people of the hell will be that dishonest person whose greed will not be discernible, but he would be indulging in misappropriation, that man who may deceive you every morning and evening in connection with your property and your family. And the Prophet talked about miserliness, falsehood, speaker of vulgarity and ill-mannered person, and said:

"Allah has inspired me to say that you should be humble and none should feel proud, nor should anyone oppress others." (Muslim)

Although many occasions come when a Muslim is caught in dilemmas and sometimes he feels mean in his own eyes, if he is bound by these melancholic handcuffs. Accordingly the fear of individual infamy and social ignominy sometimes compel a man to be inactive.

He thinks on wrong lines and considers these misfortunes as bad omen. His productivity in the field of life reduces considerably. But it is the responsibility of a Muslim that he should break all these chains of sorrow and adversities and should strive fully to extricate himself from these crippling curbs.

The last Prophet of Allah used to pray for shelter under his Lord from all these adversities:

"O Allah! I seek shelter through you from sorrow and hardship. I seek shelter from humility and laziness, and through you seek shelter from cowardice and miserliness, from the defeat of the religion and from the cruelty and tyranny of the oppressors." (Abu Daud)

Patience and hope are the weapons of the present and the future. In their company man is able to bear the severest of the hardships and is not disgraced, and all sides of his life become more safe from evils, and he rises above the mischief and trials, because he is a Momin a faithful slave who begs and supplicates in humbles before Allah only.