O Children of Israil!... And they shall not be helped.
After providing conclusive, logical and miraculous evidence on the authenticity of Prophet Muhammad-SW Allah-SWT directly addresses the Bani Israil. He-SWT reminds them of His-SWT Favours of giving them superiority over the then known world. This superiority they enjoyed for a long time, that even at the time of raising of the Holy Prophet-SW these people were the leaders and held sway over the other religions of the world. The infidels of Arabia too reverted to them for guidance when in difficulty. The former would go to the Jewish scholars in Madinah to elicit questions they must put forth to the Prophet-SW of Islam and then travel to Makkah to ask those questions. Indeed their religious superiority was well established over other great empires of the world at the time. When the Holy Prophet-SW migrated to Madinah, the Arabs watched with great interest how the Jewish scholars would treat him. They must have stupidly thought that these scholars were very competent and would subdue the Holy Prophet-SW.
But the Quran established its authenticity there and subsequently before the entire world. Even an ordinary person with the lowest level of intellect can get to the truth, when he strives sincerely with his heart and soul. When People of the Book have known beyond any doubt that believing in the Holy Prophet-SW is indeed the true faith then the other religions can have no excuse. The crux of the matter is that Allah-SWT deserves to be worshipped, as He-SWT Alone is worthy of it!
The Levels of Worship
However if someone cannot conceive this fact, he should at least as second level of worship, recount His-SWT Favours. He-SWT showered His-SWT Bounties upon the Bani Israil individually and collectively as a nation by making them the leaders of the world. He-SWT blessed them generation after generation with power and Prophethood, thus granting them both physical and spiritual superiority. The third level of worship, for the one who fails to appreciate any Divine Favour, would be at least to fear the Day of Judgement, which will be a Day of accountability and requital, and from which no one can escape.
Three levels of worship have been stated here. The first level is the lot of the chosen few who worship Him-SWT ,acknowledging His-SWT Greatness and the fact that He-SWT Alone is worthy of it. The second level is of those Aulia, who worship Him-SWT seeking the eternal rewards of the Akhirah, because these, after all, are the manifestation of Allah-SWT's Pleasure. The third level is for the ordinary people who obey Him-SWT fearing the eternal punishment and doom
The disbelief to which the Bani Israil are clinging is indeed a curse, which will render every disbeliever hopeless and helpless. No one will intercede for them nor will the intercession benefit anyone. And then there will be no one to rescue them by force. In short, all possible routes to salvation and escape would close down. The one and the only way open today is to accept Islam which they are not willing to choose. Along with such disbelief they also claim to be heirs to Prophet Ibrahim-AS and followers of his teachings. Now the idolaters of Arabia, as well as the Christians shared this claim. The former went to the extent of erecting statues of Prophet Ibrahim-AS and his son Prophet Isma'il-AS in the Ka'abah. In this context was revealed the following Ayah:-
And when Ibrahim was put to test... does not extend to the evil-doers."
O Children of Israil! Prophet Ibrahim-AS was not like you. Your lust for power stands in your way to accept Islam. Some of you are barred by avarice while others are slaves of rituals and kinship. But Allah-SWT put Prophet Ibrahim-AS to numerous trials and he came out triumphant every time.
The hardships faced in the cause of Allah-SWT are termed as trials, because the things liked by a person have to be sacrificed in His-SWT way. This sacrifice becomes a trial. It does not mean that Allah-SWT is not aware of a person's capabilities and wants to know through trial. But these trials are necessary for the training and spiritual elevation. For example, Shahadah is a stage of the Divine nearness but one has to sacrifice his life in His Cause in order to attain it.
The Stages of Divine Nearness
Although Prophethood is a Divine endowment upon Prophets-AS, even so Prophets-AS too continue to progress in Allah-SWT's nearness. Just as He-SWT is Limitless, so are the stages of His-SWT nearness. To attain this progress, endless struggle, whether voluntary or involuntary is required. The Holy Prophet's-SW most difficult phase of life in Makkah, the journeys undertaken to propagate Islam, migration, Jihad, the establishment of Islamic State, the loss of his-SW teeth in battle, are all milestone of the path of this Divine nearness. On the other hand, the Wilayah though sometimes also gifted, is earned through hard work and cannot possibly be free from hardships. And since the stages of nearness are endless, it is very difficult to claim that a person had covered the entire Suluk. The fact is that the Prophets-AS and the Aulia continue to progress in Allah-SWT's nearness in this world, in Barzakh and ultimately in Paradise. Prophet IbrahIm-AS himself went through all these stages. He was born and brought up amidst idolatry and had to bid farewell to the society and his brotherhood. He confronted the ruler against idolatry; was plunged into fire by him; had to leave his native land; was ordered to abandon his son and wife in the wilderness; ultimately, was commanded to sacrifice that son and he, without a second thought, whole-heartedly put to the knife. In short, he obeyed all Divine Commands.
This explanation is to refute the false assumption of Bani Israil, who though claim to be the followers of Prophet Ibrahim-AS yet neither take Shahadah nor have the courage to accept the truth. Allah-SWT promised the leadership of mankind to Prophet Ibrahim-AS, which means all the excellence possibly attainable by a human being. All the accomplished personages who tread the paths of Divine nearness will find his footprints already there. Imam literally means a guide or a leader in the modern sense.
The Meaning of Imam
Imamat is not an office. The logic put forth by the Imamiah Sect, that an Imam is innocent and since Imamat is conferred after the Prophethood, it is superior to it, simply cannot be proved. The Quran has used the term Imam in the sense of a guide, a leader. Hadhrat Ibrahim-AS was a Prophet and a leader amongst them. On the other hand, those who excelled in infidelity, and became leaders of the infidels are also termed as Imam by the Quran e.g. Wa QateluAi'ma-tul Kufr (and kill the leaders of disbelief). Prophethood is an office, and no matter how great a leader, he has never been called a Prophet-AS save those appointed by Allah-SWT . Whosoever leads the congregational Salat is termed as Imam; whosoever excels in the faculty of Hadith, or Fiqh is also called Imam of his respective field and so on.
When Prophet Ibrahim-AS was blessed with this honour he requested the same to be conferred upon his children, so that they too may attain leadership in piety and in Divine nearness. Allah-SWT said, certainly it will be conferred upon the righteous, and not the transgressors. In other words, they would not qualify for the Divine Blessings on the basis of being Prophet Ibrahim-AS's children, but justice would prevail. That is to say that the system of inheritance in Wilayah, passing it down as a legacy from father to son no matter what character the son has, will not work. The basis of Imamat will be true beliefs, which were not held by those who confronted Prophet Muhammad-SW at that time. The claim of Bani Israil is, therefore, absurd. Now the assumption of the idolaters that they are the caretakers of Ka'abah and need not believe in Prophet Muhammad-SW is equally absurd. The honour of reconstructing the Ka'abah was conferred upon Prophet Ibrahim-AS for reasons to follow.
And We made the House ... who meditate and those who bow and do Sajdah.
We-SWT declared Ka'abah as the centre for people to assemble for blessings, and a place of peace. And We-SWT also commanded the Muslim Ummah to offer their Salat at the place of Prophet Ibrahim-AS and included it in the ceremonies of Hajj. At the very time of its construction We-SWT took promise from Prophets Ibrahim-AS and Isma'il-AS that they would keep this House free from any impurity, hidden or manifest. To go into the details of how Prophet Ibrahim-AS, his wife Hajirah and their son Prophet Isma'il-AS moved from Syria to Makkah and how Prophet Ibrahim-AS returned back leaving his wife and child there, would only lengthen the discourse. This event is extensively discussed in various Tafasir and may be referred to if desired. I would like to explain that Allah-SWT has made Ka'abah the focal point of His-SWT Splendour, which attracts the heart of every believer, and frequent visits for Hajj only add to the zeal for beholding its grace. And it has been declared a place wherein even the non-believers found peace, safety and immense worldly benefit, while a believer reaching there would attain both including the eternal bliss. The place where Prophet Ibrahim-AS stood for his Salat has by itself a distinctive status.
Therefore, this House must be kept clean and purified exclusively for Allah-SWT's worship, and must not be polluted by misdeeds or foul beliefs. It should be dedicated exclusively to those who do Tawaf and who retire therein for worship. There will neither be any hindrance for them, nor must there be any action in contravention of the Shari'ah. This applies not only to all the masaajid, built for Allah-SWT's worship, but also to the heart of every believer, which must be free from all forms of polytheism, innovations and vices like arrogance and jealousy. It must only be inhabited by Allah-SWT's name, His-SWT Zikr, and the will to obey Him-SWT , and certainly not like the polytheists of Makkah who claimed to be religious while cramming Bait Allah with idols. The seekers of Suluk must know that the slightest innovation in Dm is intolerable. There must be a complete adherence to the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet-SW in its pristine purity.
And when Ibrahim said,...to the torment of Fire. An awful destination!"
Prophet Ibrahim-AS prayed to Allah-SWT , the Bestower of all hidden and manifest qualities and the Sustainer of everyone, to make this city a city of peace and provide its dwellers with 'fruits', that is, all sorts of provisions required for human life. And the effects of this prayer could be seen on the Makkans who enjoyed complete security and no tyrant could ever conquer it, including the People of the Elephant as mentioned in the Quran. According to Wafa al-Wafa, a ruler, who conquered Makkah, was inflicted by a disease of an obnoxious oral discharge. He called his scholars who advised him to abandon his conquest and entertain the residents of Makkah. So he honoured them and tried his best to comfort them for a long time. His scholars also predicted the coming of the Holy Prophet-SW in this city and his migration to Madinah. Impressed by the sanctity of Makkah, the king became a believer, and also visited Madinah. He wrote a letter to the Holy Prophet-SW, settled some of his scholars in the city and told them to deliver his letter to him upon his-SW arrival. The eminent companion Hadhrat Abu Ayub Ansari-RAU was the descendant of one of those scholars and is said to have presented that letter to the Holy Prophet-SW upon his migration to Madinah.
In short, Makkah is a city of peace in every sense of the word. Anything grown in any part of the world, regardless of the season, is available in Makkah throughout the year. Prophet Ibrahim-AS added the condition that the recipients of those provisions ought to be the believers in Allah-SWT and the Day of Judgement, probably in the light of Allah-SWT's answer to his earlier prayer in Ayah 124 above. However, those blessings pertained to spiritual elevation and Allah-SWT's nearness, whereas this prayer referred to worldly benefits and He-SWT did not deny those even to the disobedient in Makkah. Nevertheless, a non-believer may enjoy all the worldly benefits but will ultimately be condemned to Hell, which indeed is a terrible place.
Another concept clarified here is that temporal affluence is no indication of Divine pleasure, rather the faith adorned with correct precepts and practices, even without affluence, is the real criterion. Wealth together with faith is an additional reward, otherwise a cause of punishment.
The argument by the non-believers that had they not been on the right path they would not have been enjoying the comforts of life in the city of Makkah amidst the barren desert stands refuted. They must know that this is because of Prophet Ibrahim's-AS prayer that worldly blessings are extended to the believers and non-believers alike. But the latter must not consider this temporal affluence an evidence of eternal bliss, rather must cultivate the virtues of Prophet Ibrahim-AS.
And when Ibrahim was raising ...Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful."
Prophet Ibrahim-AS had lived his entire life in Allah-SWT's obedience, sacrificing everything he had in His-SWT Way. Nevertheless he and his son, while reconstructing Ka'abah, have no feelings of pride over their obedience. Instead their hearts are full of humility and awe. They beseech their Rabb-SWT , to accept their humble efforts, He-SWT being the Sustainer and they the needy, and to bless them with steadfastness. This is the essence of Allah-SWT's cognition, the more it is attained, the greater one becomes aware of Allah-SWT's Greatness and one's own humbleness. Even the Holy Prophet-SW proclaimed "O Allah-SWT ! We could not worship You-SWT as You-SWT rightfully deserve". This is real cognition. Whereas people having offered a few Salat complain that we have worked so hard but have not achieved any elevation. This is nothing but sheer ignorance of Allah-SWT's Greatness.
Praise be to Allah-SWT ! How dear is the posterity to Prophet Ibrahim-AS who had not hesitated even to sacrifice his son in His-SWT Cause that he never fails to think of the welfare of his coming generations. While a worldly-wise father only plans for a better and secure future for his children, the real destiny remains out of his sight. But Allah-SWT's true bondsmen have their eyes on both the worlds; and they pray for their welfare and success in both.
Prophethood and Offices of Wilayah conferred on Noble Families
Prophet Ibrahim-AS and his son prayed to Allah-SWT for a nation completely submissive to Him-SWT from their lineage, because the people of higher status wield influence in a society. If their children act righteously, it will have salutary effect on the common people and may lead to the reformation of the masses. This is why all the Prophets-AS belonged to the noble families, and a Wali holding an office too, is always from a noble background. His lineage can often be traced back to any one of the four Caliphs-RAU. At least the offices of Aqtab and above are held by the Aulia from such noble families. Thus, this prayer is not only for the sake of children but also a source of reformation of the mankind. 'Show us a proper way of worship, which is acceptable to You-SWT , they continue. These may include the rites of pilgrimage, and it is possible that after the construction of Ka'abah, Prophet Ibrahim-AS and Isma'il-AS asked Allah-SWT to show them by the physical or the spiritual eye, how to perform these rites of Hajj. Because no individual, no matter how exalted and pious, can dare invent any form of worship. Only that method will be acceptable which Allah-SWT teaches to His-SWT Prophets-AS and through them to mankind. Therefore, it is inevitable for any worship that its basis is found in the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet-SW, other wise it will be an innovation.
Some devout forget everything in their devotion to Aulia. If a Wali is doing something apparently against the Sunnah, he may have a pretext. For example, if a Shaikh for some problem cannot stand up for offering the Salat, and offers it while sitting, the disciples have no reason to do so without any genuine excuse. This is just an example; whereas today anyone asked about the basis of any anti-Shari'ah action simply says that it is practised by the Aulia. When there is no greater Wali than Prophet Muhammad-SW, why not follow him? So, Prophet Ibrahim-AS requested Allah-SWT to teach them the proper way and also to accept their worship. In spite of so much piety, he still feels that their efforts can only be accepted by Allah-SWT's Grace as He-SWT is the Most Exalted, and the human endeavour ever so lacking. Praise be to Allah-SWT; Who is Merciful and accepts the repentance of His-SWT servants. This is the way of Prophet Ibrahlm-AS. O' children of Israil, You are neck-deep in pride and arrogance. Take a look at your conduct!
"O our Rabb Raise among them ... You Alone are the Mighty, the Wise."
Prophet Ibrahim-AS prayed, O my Rabb-SWT ! Raise amongst my descendants a Prophet-AS, the one most exalted in status, who would read out Your Ayat to them, teach them the Book, the wisdom and also purify them. O Allah-SWT ! You are the Mightiest and the Wisest, capable of doing things in the most excellent manner!
The most exalted Prophet-SW along with a group of righteous people, was the Divine response to Prophet Ibrahim's-AS prayer. The Holy Prophet-SW is reported to have said that he was an answer to the prayer of his forefather Prophet Ibrahim-AS, the glad tidings given by Prophet 'Isa-AS and the dream of his noble mother.
Companions, a Manifestation of Same Prayer
Many scholars list the above Hadith, but for some unknown reasons, overlook the words of Prophet Ibrahim's-AS prayer: Umma turn Muslimatalak (a nation submissive unto You-SWT ), which means that the Companions-RAU too, were very, much the manifestation of the said prayer. The prayer for the raising of an exalted Prophet is accepted by Allah-SWT like all his preceding prayers, and can be seen in the form of the Final Prophet-SW and his duties namely (1) The recitation of Ayat of the Quran (2) The teaching of the Book (3) The teaching of the wisdom and (4) The purification of souls.
Recitation of the Quran; a Permanent Injunction
It is clarified that, recitation of the Quran itself is an objective, and its knowledge and understanding a separate task. Allah-SWT's Book is not like any other book that if the meanings are not understood its reading is ignored. Had the aim been only to understand the meaning and act upon it, the Holy Prophet-SW and the Companions-RAU would not have read it over and over again. Some of them recited the whole of it in a day, while others in three days and the majority would do so in seven days. The word Ayatika (Your verses) proves that only those words constitute Quran, which are revealed by Allah-SWT . Its translation into any other language, published without the Arabic text, cannot be termed as Quran. Since teaching of the Quran was also a duty of the Holy Prophet-SW: Only those meanings given by him will be deemed authentic. All efforts of translating by people, no matter how well versed in Arabic, will not be acceptable unless derived from the Holy Prophet's-SW teachings. For that matter, Abu Jahal too, was well versed in Arabic. Some of the Companions-RAU were highly acclaimed for their literary excellence, but they were all dependent on the Holy Prophet-SW for learning the Book as he held the office of the ‘Teacher of the Book’.
This refutes the vain assumption of those who argue that the Quran is sufficient, and Hadlth being interpolated cannot be depended upon. But they forget the promise made by Allah-SWT; "Verily it is We-SWT Who-SWT have revealed the (Quran) and it is We-SWT Who-SWT will protect it". If this Divine Protection is confined only to the text, who will vouch the correct meanings and sense of Divine Revelation? Which the exalted scholars like Hadhrat Abu Bakr-RAU and 'Umar-RAU are dependent upon the explanations given by the Holy Prophet-SW, where do the scholars of today stand without the guidance from Hadith? It is true that the words of Quran are in their pristine form. Efforts have been made by the enemies of Islam to interpolate Hadith just to create confusion in the teachings of the Holy Prophet-SW. But see the sublimity of Divine protection! He-SWT created masters who devoted their entire lives to sieve the truth from the falsehood and exposed every such effort.
This Divine Protection includes the fact that there will always remain in this world, people who will be guardians of the truth and on the straight path, the Divine Book is in the guarded tablet, where it is safe. The need for protection is in this world, inhabited by human beings. Thus the promise of protection can stay valid only if the Quran and its meanings given by the Holy Prophet-SW remain in heir original form. Given the Divine Protection to the Text and the Teaching of the Holy Prophet-SW, we now revert to the last part of the Holy Prophet's-SW duty i.e. Tazkiyah. It means that no part of the character of those embracing Islam should remain unacceptable to Allah-SWT , and their hearts are enlightened as a result of the blessed company of the Holy Prophet-SW. It is a glaring fact that whosoever met the Holy Prophet-SW, saw him, or was seen by him after accepting Islam, was elevated to the status of Companionship, which has no parallel in Muslim Ummah.
After the passing away of the Holy Prophet-SW, one could attain Wilayah but no Companionship. In other words the level of Tazkiyah attainable directly from the beneficence of the Holy Prophet-SW was no longer possible. Although this blessing did not cease yet it became indirect. The company of the Companions-RAU produced the Taba'in and they in turn produced Taba' Taba'in, and so one heart enlightened another until the Sufi Orders came into existence, which will always be a direct source of Divine Protection to the Book and its meanings. It was Tazkiyah which converted the polytheists to Unitarians, idolaters to idol-smashers, bandits to brave warriors, transgressors to selfless patrons, gun-runners to guides and the ignorant to accomplished scholars. It created such people the like of whom the heaven had neither witnessed before, would it ever see again. To sum up this discussion (1) To learn the Quran, the knowledge of Hadith is imperative (2) To act according to the teachings of the Quran and Hadith, Tazkiyah is a must and (3) In every era, for the reformation of mankind, Divine knowledge was never sent without a Prophet-AS and vice versa. And wherever these two became available, Tazkiyah was the natural outcome.
Book and Mentor, both must for Tazkiyah
Tazkiyah opens up avenues to practice piety. Some people merely took learning and teaching as Din, and did not appreciate the importance of going to accomplished saints; to them Din was only a source of earning livelihood. Yet others did not bother about the Divine Book and blindly followed only saints and savants, once a practice of the Jews. Both attitudes were incorrect. Only those attained the real goal, who acquired the knowledge of the Book from the scholars and availed the company of accomplished saints, giving due importance to both. It is an established fact that Tazkiyah stands for that inner purity which induces in a person the spirit to obey the Holy Prophet-SW. If a gathering only teaches tricks and jugglery, ignoring religious obligations, such a saint can be a plunderer not a guide. A true guide shall lead a believer to the affectionate audience of the Holy Prophet-SW by preaching precepts and practices in the light of Sunnah, which cleanses the heart from arrogance to an extent, that it realises Allah-SWT's Greatness. This gives the seekers a vision broad enough to visualise both the worlds, living in this world and at the same time ameliorating the Akhirah.
Lineage not a Pre-requisite to Attain Wilayah
There is no specified race or gender for the attainment of Wilayah. Every believer must endeavour to acquire it. To be a Companion-RAU, to whom a Wali is no match no matter how accomplished, there were no conditions of gender, class and education. How can there be any such conditions for Wilayah? The conditions of deep devotion and practical obedience is, however, common to both. To seek inner purification from an accomplished saint is imperative for every Muslim. The concept that only a selected lot can attain Wilayah, is absurd. Every human being has a natural capacity. Even a non-believer who embraces Islam may benefit from the company of an accomplished Shaikh and become a Wali. The life biographies of the great scholars of the yore have one thing in common; invariably every one of them, after completing his education, went to an accomplished Shaikh and acquired Tazkiyah from him. The times have changed. Today the quasi scholars with sketchy knowledge venture to refute Tasawwuf and Suluk altogether.
On the other hand, a class declares it unnecessary to practise Islam altogether and all they do is to adhere to a turban, occupy the seat of a departed saint spend time in futile sport and doom the fate of millions of seekers.
The foregoing discourse clearly highlights the true Din of Prophet Ibrahim-AS and his model. It describes how he prayed to Allah-SWT for sincere and rightful successors, and how his prayers were answered in the form of the Holy Prophet-SW and the Companions-RAU. The Bani Israil should ponder over their own conduct and see the validity of their claim of being the true followers of Prophet Ibrahim-AS, and see who was raised for the fulfilment of the aims and objectives for which he had prayed. And which is that righteous group who emerged from the desert and carried these blessings to the entire world?