By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
09 September 2019
Quran, the scripture Muslims take it as their Book of Faith, mentions scores of times the phrase A'millus-Sawlihaat – translated generally as “goodly acts” extolling the Faithful to follow them.
However, for the religious establishments, this action is taken strictly in the context of liturgical and spiritual functions, like prayers and chants for holy reward. The earthly efforts are only included when made in the name of God and endorsed by a religious establishment.
The acts and works for worldly rewards, such as tilling the land, trading in business or toiling for wages etc. that benefit the individual, the family, the community and nation are not included in that category. Being busy and preoccupied in these is only a Shugul, distraction from spiritual activities and is not considered as A'millus-Sawlihaat.
High school students are taught and explained that all actions have a reaction and so the adjective 'productive' or 'useful' is attached as conditional to make it tangibly beneficial. But in religion that is not given the importance it deserves (as for example the word Tayyib in Halal enterprises). As this distinction is generally blurred, it is attempted here in layman's terms to look at it in general and where possible in the context of the Quran.
Generally and simplistically, Work/Act/A'mal is done when energy transfer takes place when an object, is moved over a distance in the direction of the applied push. Thus productive/positive Work is accomplished only when there is a change in the object's position on application of the push; otherwise it is wasted energy and effort; just like pushing a vehicle, which is stuck in soft sand or mud, without shifting it, because NO resultant positive change has occurred in the vehicle's position. Energy expended in moving the vehicle in deeper rut is negative work, that is, it is counterproductive!
In the context of Quran, the following verse, gives some hint as to what A'millus Swalihaati is:
2:112- Nay, who ever submits himself entirely to God (obeys His laws) and is the doer of good (to others)– Mohsinun, he has his reward from his Lord, and there is no fear for such nor shall they grieve . … A resultant condition.
The word 'Mohsinun' in the above verse draws our attention to the fact that the mohsin -doer of the kind act must interact with another person (the object) and primarily for good and for their mutual benefit such that it eliminates some part of the deficit of the other, ushering in a change in mutual trust and harmony among the parties concerned. Therefore this act of kindness – Ahsan is distinctly different from the act and function of religious ritual of worship, which is for an individual's intangible reward, not unlike pushing the bogged vehicle without changing its position.
This is referred also in almost the same terms in the verse 4:125:
4:125- And who is better in (upholding) the Deen than he who submits himself entirely to God while doing good (to others) – Mohsinun- and follow the faith of Abraham the upright one?... Abraham had set out to change the condition of his people for the good.
Verse 2:62 is more elaborate:
2-:62 -Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews and Christians and the Sabians (some people of the Books), who believe in God and the last day and does good (A'millus Swalihaati), they have their reward with their Lord and there is no fear for them nor shall they grieve. (Magians and polytheist are referred in 22:17)
It further enforces the scriptures' message that it is the goodly, practical and tangible result-orientated acts of one person for another that get translated in God's 'worship' when carried out in submission to Him. This then gives a clue as to what is Worship. Goodly acts – useful work that brings out change in mankind's society to progress in harmonious environment, an environment where there is no fear and grief.
41:34- ...repel evil with what is best (A'millus Swalihat), when Lo! he between whom and you is enmity would be as if he were a warm friend.
Thus positive effort is required to change the condition.
Chants, mantras, rolling of worry beads and other rituals in God's praise may have its place in individuals' remembrance of the Creator for focusing attention towards the Creator's commands to do good to others, which is the ultimate worship that God says He likes. Ritual acts of religious worship done often as advertisement of piety are not the “be all and end all” for fostering good human relations and harmony. Refer to Quran verse 2:177 and chapter 107 that lists some of the 'dos and don'ts' of goodly/Ahsan/ kindly acts, necessary for being a Mohsin, one of the characteristic of the conscientious keeper of duty to humanity and therefore to God.
How is this then to be related to what is the religion of majority of mankind who Believe in their holy scriptures. As for Muslims, they profess Belief in Quran and have been doing so for centuries that they are acting according to the ad Deen /codes given therein. But all there is to see is negative acts and efforts in pushing the so called Ummah – Muslim nation further in the deep rut, not only by themselves as believers but with the help of their trusted friends too! A sort of negative jihad of Believers on Believers for Believers.
59:2- … … but God came to them from a place they expected not and cast terror into their hearts - they demolished their homes with their own hands and the hands of Believers. So take a lesson O you who have eyes!
Do any have eyes with which to see how deeply bogged they are in the quicksand? Let alone many other areas of the world; Yemen is a glaring example today to see where all the elements mentioned in the above verse have come together in the conflict?
This historic country and its cities dating back over two thousand years and connected to Biblical and Quranic events; beautiful Sana'a its capital which is designated a world heritages by the UN; yet the country as a whole is being bombed since the war between Believers has started causing untold misery.
This and many other countries are now monuments of blindness of the ancestors for the next generations to see how they were blind to act exactly contrary to the scriptures commands for goodly acts to humanity and of Quran's command of preserving such historic sites for “lessons” to be learned.
The Believers are truly blind! For, at their hands not even the Masajid/houses of worship are safe for life anywhere in the world where God's name is chanted for spiritual reward.
17:72- And those who are Blind in this world will be Blind in the Hereafter....
“The organization (UN) listed the al-Qasimi area in Sanaa, the Old City of Saadah and Marib Dam, the archaeological city of Baraqish, Al Qahirah citadel in Taiz and Hadramout’s ancient tombs as being severely damaged. It said the 9th century mosque of Bani Matar and Dhamar Museum has been completely destroyed”.
The terror is there, as a reaction to action taken. According to nature's Laws and because the blind erroneously believe that they are doing goodly Work and pretend they are worshipping God. Mankind seems to be hardwired for negative jihad.
So the Book says:
13-11... … indeed never will God change the condition of the people unless they change it themselves... …
It is therefore assumed that not only Muslims but mankind has been engaged in negative jihad to change its own condition, according to its worldly strategy and God is assisting them in accordance to His fixed Laws.
Muslims therefore, should stop shouting Allahu Akbar, and excise Allah altogether from their earthly work so as to make it the work for earthly rewards; which is what it really is, and let natures laws take care of the reward, as it has always done and will always do.
A regular contributor to NewAgeIslam.com, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer
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