By Khwaja Mohammed Zubair
18 August 2010
Let us study the foundation on which the Holy Quran wants to develop man’s relationship with Almighty Allah and the concept of life, which naturally follows from that relationship.
The Holy Quran deals with this problem on many an occasion, but the entire concept of life envisaged by it is epitomised in the following verse:
“Verily Allah hath bought of the believers their lives and their properties for the price that theirs shall be the Paradise; so they fight in the way of Almighty Allah and slay and are slain. It (i.e. the promise of Paradise) is a covenant, which is binding on Him in the Tawrah and Injeel and the Holy Quran. And who is more faithful unto his covenant than Almighty God: Rejoice then in your bargain that ye have made, for that is the supreme triumph” (9:3).
In the above verse the nature of relationship which comes into existence between man and God because of Iman (the act of reposing faith in Allah) has been called a ‘bargain’. This means that Iman in Almighty Allah is not a mere metaphysical concept; it is in the nature of a contract by which man barters his life and belongings with Almighty Allah in exchange of Paradise in the Life Hereafter.
The fact of the matter is that each and everything in this world belongs to Almighty Allah. He is the real owner of all. As such, man’s life and riches, which are part of this world, also belongs to Him, because it is He who created them and it is He who has assigned them to each man for his use. Looking at the problem from this angle, the question of any sale or purchase does not arise at all. Almighty God is the real owner, there is no question of His purchasing what is already His. Man is not their real owner; he has no title. But there is one thing that has been conferred on man, and which now belongs fully to him, and that is his free will, the freedom of choice of following or not following the path of Almighty Allah.
As man has been endowed with free will in this respect, he is free to acknowledge or not to acknowledge the reality of things. Although this freedom of will and choice that man possesses, does not automatically make him the real owner of all the energies and resources on which he has command, it does mean that he is free to acknowledge the Sovereignty of Almighty God and His Lordship in his own life and belongings or refuse to acknowledge it and to arrogate to himself the position of total independence.
Now Almighty God demands that man should willingly and voluntarily (and not under duress or compulsion) acknowledge those things as His. These really belong to Him and he should use them as a trust from Almighty God and not as something that is his own, to be used as he pleases.
Thus a man who voluntarily renounces the freedom even to refuse Almighty God’s supremacy and instead acknowledges His sovereignty effectively ‘sells his ‘autonomy’ (which too is a gift from Almighty God and not something that man has acquired of his own) to Almighty God, and gets in return Almighty God’s promise of eternal bliss that is Paradise.
A man who makes such a bargain is a Mumin (believer) and Iman (belief) is the Islamic name for this contract; while the one who chooses not to enter into this contract, or after making such a contract adopts a behaviour in contravention thereof, is a Kafir and the attempt to avoid or abrogate this contract is technically known as Kufr.
Such is the nature of the contract.
Now let us briefly study its various aspects and stipulations.
1) Almighty God has put us to serious trial on two counts: (a) He has left man free, but even after giving him that freedom He wishes to see whether or not man realises his true position; whether he remains honest and steadfast and maintains loyalty and allegiance to the Lord, or loses his head and revolts against his own Creator, whether he behaves like a noble soul, or tramples under foot all values of decency.
2) He wants to see whether man is prepared or have such confidence in Almighty God as to offer his life and wealth in return for what is a promise, that is to materialise in the next world - and whether he is prepared to surrender his autonomy and all the charms that go with it, in exchange for a promise about the future.
It is an accepted principle of Islamic law that Iman consists in adherence to a certain set of doctrines and whosoever reposes faith in those doctrines becomes a Mumin. A Muslim who has real faith in Almighty Allah, makes every aspect of his life subservient to the will of Almighty Allah. The will of Almighty God, which it is obligatory upon man to follow, is the one that Almighty God has Himself revealed for man’s guidance. Therefore, if a person or society is honest and steadfast in its contract with Almighty Allah, it must scrupulously fashion its entire life in accordance with the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
Paradise is therefore, not the reward for the mere profession of the bargain, it is the reward for the faithful execution of the contract. - From Islamic Way of Life by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.
Khwaja Mohammed Zubair is former Khaleej Times staffer
Source: Khaleej Times