By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
13 October 2015
We recite Surah Fateha in every Rak’at of our Salat in which we pray to God asking Him to (1:6) Show us the straightway, (7) the way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace (AnʿAmtaʿAlayhim) …..
Who are these people on whom Allah bestows his grace?
The answer is found in the following verse:
(4:69) All who obey Allah and the messenger are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah (Anam Allah O Alaihim) ,- of the prophets (Nabi), the Siddiqin (sincere lovers of Truth), the Shuhada (witnesses who testify), and the Saliheen (Righteous who do good): Ah! what a beautiful fellowship!
The cited verse identifies the following categories of persons on whom Allah bestows His Grace:
1. The Nabi or the Prophets
2. The Siddiqin or the Sincere Seekers of the Truth
3.The Shuhada Or Those Who Provide Witness Or Evidence To The People Of The Truth Of Islam And Of God’s Promises Being True By Striving Sincerely In Allah’s Cause.
4. The Saliheen or the Righteous and the Virtuous.
The Siddiqin are mentioned ahead of the Shuhuda and must therefore rank higher than the Shuhuda. Who are the Siddiqin? They are not simply people who speak the truth because the Shuhuda also speak only the truth. They are the sincere and active seekers of the truth.
The relative higher ranking of the Siddiq is because they are the revivalists and renewers of every age. The theologians around the 10th century have corrupted the religion. Going back to the uncorrupted position would be revival.
Renewal is changing our thinking on what past scholars have thought and said based on fresh insights and knowledge. The Prophet (pbuh) expected renewal to be a continuous process. He therefore ended his last sermon with the following words:
"All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O God, that I have conveyed your message to your people"
Regarding the function of the Siddiqin, Allah says:
(39:32) who, then, doth more wrong than one who utters a lie concerning Allah, and rejects the Truth (Bil-ṣid'qi) when it comes to him; is there not in Hell an abode for blasphemers?
(33) And he who brings the Truth (Bil-ṣid'qi) and he who confirms (wa Saddaqa) (and supports) it - such are the men who do right.
(34) They shall have all that they wish for, in the presence of their Lord: such is the reward of those who do good:
(35) So that Allah will turn off from them (even) the worst in their deeds and give them their reward according to the best of what they have done.
See how the function of the Siddiq is contrasted with that of the one who lies and rejects the truth? The Siddiq are those who bring out the Truth and those who endorse, support and strengthen the efforts of others who are Siddiq. Even one who recognizes any new truth, accepts it and supports it is also counted among the Siddiqin. It is easy to see how important this function is to ensure that the religion does not ossify and why the Siddiqin rank higher than the Shuhuda.
Are all scholars Siddiq? Not necessarily. Many of them may fall under the description of those who reject or resist the truth if they belittle the works of others merely from envy. If they are engaged in blind Taqleed or imitating the past imams, then they are neither among the Siddiqin nor the opposite camp of rejecters of truth.
Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) was given the title of Siddiq by our Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet after the miraculous Miraj or journey to Heaven feared that the people would not believe the story and ridicule him. When he related the story to Abu Bakr, he believed it without the slightest hesitation. The Prophet was greatly relieved and pleased and gave him the title of Siddiq. Abu Bakr's belief was anything but blind belief. The strong belief was based upon conviction of the truth of Islam and Muhammad (pbuh) as a genuine Messenger of Allah based on his close association with the Prophet and already examined evidence which left no room for doubt regarding anything that the Messenger of Allah said. Without firm conviction based on certain knowledge, a person does not believe as Abu Bakr believed. The appellation of Siddiq given to him by the Prophet based on this incident covers the second part of the meaning of Siddiq in verse 39:33 - those who recognize, accept and support the truth.
So one meaning of Siddiq is a knowledgeable person confident in his knowledge, who can correctly judge between what is right and what is wrong. Ibrahim (AS) did not fall prey to the attempts of Iblis to dissuade him from proceeding for the sacrifice of his son. He recognized Iblis for what he was because he was Siddiq and able to judge correctly whether it was Iblis or an Angel. The Siddiq therefore are knowledgeable people who can easily distinguish between right and wrong. Extreme love of and pursuit of the truth is what makes one a Siddiq.
The first part of the meaning of Siddiq is one who brings out the truth. One can bring out a truth that is covered under ignorance or deliberate distortions. The revivers and renewers of the faith are also therefore Siddiq. Renewal requires fresh thinking based on new knowledge and insights.
Please make a note that the Quran is not making a statement that all truth can be found in the Quran or is brought by the prophets but is speaking about the common man who is Siddiq and he is one who brings out the truth. If the Quran and the prophet is the fountain of all religious knowledge, then a Siddiq is one who brings out the true nature of this knowledge. Outside the religious domain, a Siddiq is a scientist whose role is equally important even to correctly understand the nature of God and purpose of our creation. If there is faith to begin with, it is advanced and strengthened by all true knowledge. The journey begins with the Shahadah which are just words. Who is Allah, what is His nature or attributes? What has Allah created? How much do we know of Allah’s creation? Without acquiring knowledge, what is it that we worship except our own defective concept of Allah? It is only through acquiring knowledge that we perfect our understanding of Allah. Our concept of Allah therefore changes as we go along and the nearer it is to reality the better becomes our faith.
Without any doubt, the Siddiq is a person who pursues secular knowledge as well. All knowledge is about God’s creation whether it covers the physical or the behavioural sciences. The laws of physics are the laws of God. Can we be called Siddiq without acquiring knowledge of physics for example? The Quran describes the types of people who will believe and those who will not believe. Knowledge of the behavioural sciences helps us to better understand why some people advance on the path of belief and why some go down the path of disbelief -. Why some are atheists and others agnostics and why some become apostates. Our sense of balance or Mizan derives from knowledge of human nature and behaviour and helps us strike the right balance between justice and compassion, between the rights of an individual and what is good for the society. Our knowledge of God and his purpose is enriched greatly by our secular knowledge. There are several allegorical verses covering even knowledge of the world simply because the knowledge and therefore the words to describe such knowledge did not exist. We are able to correctly and fully understand such verses today because of our secular knowledge covering the physical and the behavioural sciences has improved. Secular knowledge clearly helps us understand the Quran even better and makes us advance on the path of becoming worthy of being raised to the rank of Siddiq.
The Quran uses the term Shuhada in its ordinary sense as a witness and also in an exalted sense. It depends upon what is being witnessed.
Consider the verse:
(2:143) Thus, have We made of you an Ummat justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses (Shuhada) over the nations, and the Messenger a witness (Shaheeda) over yourselves;
The Messenger’s function as a witness over the Muslims is to provide evidence to God on the Day of Judgment that His message was delivered. For an example, read verses 5:109 to 118 which describe how Jesus Christ (pbuh) will provide such evidence on the Day of Judgment. Those who do Dawah among the Ummat or followers of the Messenger in turn will provide evidence of having spread this message to the rest of the world.
(39:68) The Trumpet will (just) be sounded, when all that are in the heavens and on earth will swoon, except such as it will please Allah (to exempt). Then will a second one be sounded, when, behold, they will be standing and looking on!
(69) And the Earth will shine with the Glory of its Lord: the Record (of Deeds) will be placed (open); the prophets and the witnesses will be brought forward and a just decision pronounced between them; and they will not be wronged (in the least).
(70) And to every soul will be paid in full (the fruit) of its Deeds; and (Allah) knoweth best all that they do.
The Shuhuda communicate the message through words as well as by example. Their life, deeds and every action is in accordance with the religion of Allah. They provide evidence to the people about Allah, His attributes and His religion by what they say and by what they do. They also provide witness or evidence to God that His message has been properly communicated. They are exemplars par excellence. The highest category of the Shuhada is the prophets and the people who do Dawah in an exemplary manner by word and deed.
The Importance of Rendering Justice in Islam
The second category of Shuhada is those who render perfect secular justice.
Is there any other duty of greater importance in the sight of Allah than rendering perfect (secular) justice in all matters? Let us examine the evidence.
(3:18) there is no god but He: That is the witness of Allah (Shahedullah), His angels, and those endued with knowledge, standing firm on justice. There is no god but He, the Exalted in Power, the Wise.
The above verse can also be read as: Those endued with knowledge about God, His Oneness, His Exalted Power and Wisdom, provide proof or evidence of such knowledge (witness) by standing firm on justice.
(4:135) O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah (Shuhada Lillah), even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.
What is stressed in the verse above is perfect secular justice disregarding every other consideration as witnesses to Allah from whom nothing is hidden – not even the innermost thoughts, desires, prejudices, rancour, love or hatred for those being judged.
There is a slight variation in 5:8 where the term could easily have been Shuhada Lillah but the term Shuhada Bilquist has been used and the context is again rendering exemplary justice standing out firmly for Allah.
(5:8) O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing (Shuhada Bilquist), and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.
It is made amply clear that justice cannot be comprised for any extraneous consideration and must be rendered in a manner that can be justified to Allah from whom nothing is hidden regarding your motives or the facts of the case and in turn providing evidence (witness) of your submission to Allah and His divine attributes of Oneness, Exalted Power and Wisdom.
The attribute of Oneness make all equal in the sight of Allah which must be reflected while rendering justice. The reminder of Allah’s attribute of Absolute Power helps to resist the pull of every other extraneous consideration. ‘Justice’ rendered by allowing extraneous consideration to influence is oppression. The opposite of justice is oppression and an oppressor witnesses or provides evidence of evil or Iblis/Satan. Rendering perfect justice provides evidence of Allah and His attributes as well as of the judge’s submission to such a deity.
The attribute of Wisdom requires rendering justice tempered with compassion since Allah has inscribed for Himself the rule of mercy. The rule of mercy makes the objective of justice promoting the greater good of the society while protecting the rights of the individual.
The Importance of Patient Perseverance:
The third category of Shuhuda is those who remain constant in their devotions and follow the straight path with patience and perseverance all through the trials and tribulations of life. They never waver or lose heart when distress strikes. These people provide clear evidence of the power of faith and the truth about the promise of Allah when they are made to finally prevail as they must. One outstanding example is that of Job or Prophet Ayyub (AS). He was however a prophet.
The best example among ordinary men is the vanguard or the early Muslims. Surah 98 Al-Bayyina describes them as Khairy ul Baryati or the best of creatures. The reward of Heaven is promised to them in the Surah itself or in their lifetime. Why is it that the Quran has exclusively used the description Khair ul baryati for these people?
This is a very early Medinian Surah (perhaps even before the permission for fighting was given).After the first battle of Badr, the fortunes appeared to be changing for the better for the Muslims which then attracted the opportunist freeloaders called the Munafiqin or the hypocrites. Until such time, the Muslims were only among those Meccans who had sacrificed everything for Islam and even left their homes and migrated to Medina and the Ansars or the Medinians who had provided support and shelter. These people never had any expectations of a Prophet coming but when he did come, they believed and suffered for their beliefs torture and persecution in Mecca for 13 years and were finally compelled to migrate leaving behind their homes and businesses. The Medinians made huge sacrifices and provided support and shelter to the immigrants. These were true believers and supporters of the Prophet and Allah and clearly selfless, sincere and devoted and beyond doubt among the best of creatures. These people had the virtues of the Siddiq. They were genuine seekers of the truth, they recognized truth and accepted it, and they had patience and perseverance and suffered in their mission for 13 long years without losing heart or despairing, only in hope for Allah’s Mercy and Forgiveness and an honourable place in the Hereafter. They sacrificed their wealth and person for the cause. They followed the Messenger although he said:
(7:188) Say: "I have no power over any good or harm to myself except as Allah wills. If I had knowledge of the unseen, I should have multiplied all good, and no evil should have touched me: I am but a warner, and a bringer of glad tidings to those who have faith."
(11:31) "I tell you not that with me are the treasures of Allah, nor do I know what is hidden, nor claim I to be an angel. Nor yet do I say, of those whom your eyes do despise that Allah will not grant them (all) that is good: Allah knows best what is in their souls: I should, if I did, indeed be a wrong-doer."
(6:50) Say: "I tell you not that with me are the treasures of Allah, nor do I know what is hidden, nor do I tell you I am an angel. I but follow what is revealed to me." Say: "can the blind be held equal to the seeing?" Will ye then consider not?
They displayed in ample measure the qualities of the Siddiqin as well as of exemplary patience and perseverance for all of the 22 years of the life of the Prophet as Messenger of God during which they suffered persecution and loss of commerce and wealth for 13 years before the circumstances started changing for the better. They formed the core of the new Ummah and it was based on their unflappable constancy, perseverance and unquestioning devotion that the Muslims prevailed over their powerful enemy proving (witnessing or providing evidence) that God’s promise never fails.
(58:21) Allah has decreed: "It is I and My messengers who must prevail": For Allah is One full of strength, able to enforce His Will.
They are therefore among the Shuhuda.
It is the same quality of patience and perseverance that is being clearly mentioned in the following verses for which Allah promises that he will raise those who show these qualities in ample measure to the ranks of the Shuhuda. The addresses are neo Muslims in the battle of Uhud who are yet to prove themselves and who are demoralized by the fact that the Prophet himself was wounded. They also abandoned the injured Prophet and did not heed his call. They are in total disarray. It is they who are being told that if they remain steadfast, Allah may take the Shuhuda from their ranks as well.
(3:139) So lose not heart, nor fall are already in despair after suffering wounds and reverses in battle and completely demoralized into despair: For you must gain mastery if you are true in Faith.
(140) If a wound has touched you, be sure a similar wound has touched the others. Such days (of varying fortunes) We give to men and men by turns: that Allah may know those that believe, and that He may take to Himself from your ranks Shuhuda. And Allah loveth not those that do wrong.
(141) Allah´s object also is to purge those that are true in Faith and to deprive of blessing Those that resist Faith.
(142) Did ye think that ye would enter Heaven without Allah testing those of you who fought hard (In His Cause) and remained steadfast?
(143) Ye did indeed wish for death before ye met him: Now ye have seen him with your own eyes, (And ye flinch!)
(144) Muhammad is no more than a messenger: many were the messenger that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will ye then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; but Allah (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) with gratitude.
Some of the neo Muslim survivors of Uhud and those who joined later were admitted to the ranks of Shuhuda whether they were slain in battle or not. These were those who followed or emulated the “Khair Ul Bariyati” in all good deeds.
(9:100) The vanguard (of Islam)- the first of those who forsook (their homes) and of those who gave them aid, and (also) those who follow them in (all) good deeds,- well-pleased is Allah with them, as are they with Him: for them hath He prepared gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein for ever: that is the supreme felicity.
Will Those Slain In The Cause Of Allah Join The Ranks Of The Shuhuda?
Those slain in the cause of Allah are not in the category of the Shuhada unless the slain is a Shuhuda by qualifying to be so in the eyes of Allah, through his deeds under one or more of the three categories of Shuhuda described above. There are 11 verses in the Quran where the subject is those slain fighting in the cause of Allah. In none of these verses, the slain are referred to as Shaheed or Shuhada. The terms used are Qutelu for slain or Qutelu Fi Sabilillah for those who are slain in the cause of Allah. The rewards are not for the Qutelu but for the Qutelu fi Sabilillah. The verses are: 2:154, 3:144, 3:157, 158, 168, 169, 195, 4:74, 9:111, 22:58, and 47:4
How then the slain are referred to as Shaheed by most Muslims? By misinterpreting verse 3:140
(3:140) If a wound has touched you, be sure a similar wound has touched the others. Such days (of varying fortunes) We give to men and men by turns: that Allah may know those that believe, and that He may take to Himself from your ranks Shuhuda. And Allah loveth not those that do wrong.
Can Shuhuda in 3:140 mean martyrs? If so, let us substitute martyr for Shuhuda in the verse and see how it looks:
(3:140) if a wound has touched you, be sure a similar wound has touched the others. Such days (of varying fortunes) We give to men and men by turns: that Allah may know those that believe, and that He may take to Himself from your ranks martyrs.
What the verse now means is that Allah will test the belief or faith of people by giving them wounds and varying fortunes and those who pass this test and prove to be good believers, He will select the best and make them die as martyrs! This is nonsensical. Allah’s purpose is not to make the believers die in battles as a reward for their belief! Those who die in the cause of Allah are rewarded but giving death in the cause of Allah is not a reward. Shuhuda therefore does not mean martyr in this or any other verse. The correct meaning of Shuhuda in verse 3:140 has already been discussed. They are people who help establish the truth of Allah’s promise through striving in patience and perseverance without despairing and help prove that God’s promise never fails.
Those slain fighting in the cause of Allah are rewarded with forgiveness and a place in Heaven but they are not called Shuhada unless they have earned the rank of Shuhuda through their deeds in their lifetime. They are forgiven and admitted to Heaven because their life was cut short denying them an opportunity to do good works which would have entitled them to Heaven.
People earn rewards through striving earnestly in Allah’s cause and the longer they strive, the greater the reward. The highest position they can achieve is to be admitted to the ranks of the Siddiqi nor the Shuhuda or the Saliheen and this is not achieved by getting slain young. Many of the translators have however incorrectly translated Shuhada in verse 3:140 as “martyr witnesses”. The position today is that only those slain are referred to as Shaheed and the three types of genuine Shuhuda are not mentioned at all!
While fighting was a duty enjoined on all Muslims in the Prophet’s time when the Muslims were faced with an enemy who was bent on annihilating Islam, fighting is not considered in the Quran as a normal state. It is an exceptional state under exceptional circumstances. Becoming a Maqtul fi Sabilillah is therefore not what we pray for in Surah Fateha nor is there any prayer in the Quran or among the Masnoon Duas of our beloved Prophet where we pray to God to make us die in the cause of Allah. Our aspirations, our prayers and our strivings should be limited by what Allah has asked us to pray for. This does not include becoming Maqtul fi Sabilillah.
However, since becoming a Shuhuda is part of our prayer, by corrupting the meaning of Shuhuda to mean martyr, and by blotting out the real meaning of Shuhuda in the Quran which is used only for the three types of people discussed above, our Ulema and our politicians have very cunningly and deliberately made fighting and dying while fighting as the only and most sought after goal of our youth to serve their ends. They have practiced this fraud on the people for the last thousand years or more.
Why do they not use the proper terminology of Maqtul fi Sabilillah? Because, then people will ask what Shuhuda means and direct their efforts in that direction. Moreover, they are more likely to consider what cause of Allah is being served before joining any war effort because getting killed serves no purpose and only getting slain in the cause of Allah entitles one to God’s forgiveness and a place in the Heaven. This does not suit the ruler.
Millions of our young men over the last thousand years may only have been slain in unjust wars which do not entitle them to either God’s forgiveness or place in Heaven but on the other hand God’s wrath may befall them for oppressing people if took part in an unjust war.
The Salihin or Those Who Do Good Works Is The Third Category.
All Muslims are expected to be among the Salihin or those who do good or virtuous works. Who are the Salihin and what are their virtuous deeds?
They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers
They spend of their substance, out of love for Him, for their kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves;
They are steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity;
They fulfil the contracts which they have made;
They are firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. (2:177)
They enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works (3:114)
They help each other in righteousness and piety, but help not one another in sin and rancour. They let not the hatred of some people lead them to transgression (and hostility on their part) 5:2
Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men ;( 3:134)
They guard themselves from evil and do good (5:93)
They are good to their parents; kill not their children on a plea of want; come not nigh to shameful deeds, whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah has made sacred, except by way of justice and law (6:151)
And come not nigh to the orphan´s property, except to improve it, until he attain the age of full strength; give measure and weight with (full) justice; whenever ye speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned; and fulfil the covenant of Allah(6:152)
The faith is helped and strengthened by the five (including the sub categories) categories of people discussed on whom is Allah’s Grace. These are the role models to emulate for success in this life and in the Hereafter. Seeking to become Maqtul fi Sabilillah is neither part of any prayer in the Quran or Dua of our Prophet nor a worthwhile goal. The chances of being merely slain in an unjust fight can make us lose both this world and the Hereafter. The worthy goals of becoming one among the Siddiqin or the Shuhuda or the Salihin requires living a long life and doing enough good deeds to qualify for being admitted to these exalted ranks. There is no short cut to Heaven. All temptations and short cuts lead only to Hell. While we pray to Allah to show us the straightway, let us also acquire enough knowledge or become enough of a Siddiq to know when Iblis is making us take the wrong path.
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com.