As mentioned earlier, this Surah was revealed in Madinah, where the Jews were very influential. They owned fortresses and properties, and were successful entrepreneurs. There were renowned scholars amongst them and they also claimed to be the followers of a Divine religion.
O Children of Israil! ... And of Me-SWT stand in awe.
After highlighting the traits of a believer, the qualities of a non-believer and a hypocrite, and after extending a general invitation to the entire mankind, Allaah-SWT directly addresses the Jews, also called ‘Bani Israil’ (the Children of Isrãil). Israil was the title of Prophet Yaqub-AS and all Prophets-AS from him down to Prophet ‘Isa-AS were from the Children of Israil. This singular honour, that the institution of Prophethood remained for centuries within Bani Israil, is in itself very grand. By the virtue of this blessing, they not only enjoyed worldly affluence and power but also the eternal bliss. One very important information given as an essential article of faith by all Prophets-AS to their people, including the Prophets-AS of Bani Israil’, substantiated by Divine Books, was the advent of Prophet Muhammad-SW as Khatam al-Unbiya’ (the Final Prophet). This was not only given as information to people but as an injunction, and believing in him was part of their faith. Anyone denying it was termed as a non-believer. So when believing in him even before his advent was mandatory for the Bani Israil, it became the basis of faith after his arrival. Now, they were not only to believe in him-SW, but were also obliged to help him-SW in every possible way. The Jews had long awaited the raising of the last Prophet-SW but when it actually happened they denied it.
Allah-SWT reminds them of the promise they had made Him-SWT , generation after generation. If they fulfilled it, Allaah-SWT would also honour His-SWT promise of blessing them with both worldly and eternal honour. And this will only be possible if they feared only Him-SWT , for if they attached their hopes or fears with others than Allah-SWT, they would also end up following the wrong path.
And believe in what I-SWT reveal.., and of Me-SWT remain conscious.
The Jews must believe in the Quran revealed by Allah-SWT, which not only endorses their Books Torah and the Bible as Divine Scriptures, but also practically confirms their prophecies about the advent of the last Prophet-SW. Thus it does not befit the Jews to be the first to deny him, because all others who look up to them as scholars will also follow them. In that case they will not only be accountable for their own denial but also for the disbelief of others. According to Hadith, a person who guides others to do good deeds receives an equal reward, and the one who invites people to evil and invents sinful ways receives his proportional share of their sins. Herein is a delicate point for the Sufis, lest their careless actions lead others into harbouring doubts about the Aulia, for which they will be directly responsible. And when people practise something contrary to the Sunnah, a constant burden of wrongdoing is being put on them. Therefore a Sufi ought to be vigilant over his habits, being a trendsetter and a guide.
The Jewish scholars are being directed not to bargain over Divine verses for mundane benefits. Even if the entire world is attained in barter, it is a petty gain. So do not alter the text of Torah, and fear Allaah-SWT and His-SWT displeasure more than any other loss. The point whether scholars can receive remuneration for their jobs in the masaajid or can be paid for teaching the Quran have been discussed at length in Mu’Arifal-Quran. But this Ayah does not refer to that; it rather warns those who sell their verdicts in matters of Shari’ah, against the spirit of Islam, for money, status or another benefit. This is a direct insult to the Divine Commands, and this is exactly what the Jewish scholars practised. They knew that the Holy Prophet-SW was Allaah-SWT ’s Messenger-SW, but issued verdicts against it. Therefore, Allaah-SWT tells them to fear Him-SWT alone, if they are righteous as they claim, and not to fear the loss of power and worldly achievements.
And do not cover Truth with falsehood, nor knowingly conceal ’the Truth’
The truth must not be mixed up with falsehood, nor the facts be concealed deliberately. The Jewish and Christian scholars and the Patriarch knew about the excellence of the Holy Prophet-SW and the attributes of his Companions-RAU so well, that they willingly surrendered Bait al-Maqdas merely upon seeing Hadhrat ‘Umar Faruq-RAU, recognising him as the conqueror, foretold by their Books.
And establish ... with those who bow down (in worship).
To remain steadfast on truth, it is important that the Salat is established and Zakat is paid as prescribed The performance of these physical and fiscal acts of Worship with complete dedication is the very spirit of Islam. ‘Establish’ does not only mean to offer Salat, but to fulfil all the conditions diligently, such as purity of body and garments, ablution, timings, and congregation. The components of Salat i.e. Qiyam (standing up), Ruku’ (bowing down), Sajdah (prostration) and Jalsa (to sit up in pause between two Sujüd) must all be properly performed. Inviting others to Salat and imparting knowledge of Salat is also part of establishing it. Moreover, bowing before Him-SWT collectively, as well as paying Zakat are obligatory.
Many scholars have taken this Ayah as evidence to declare Salat in congregation as compulsory, They maintain that without a genuine excuse, a man’s obligatory Salat cannot be offered at home and laziness is no genuine excuse. The amount of emphasis laid on congregational Salat in Hadith corroborates the above stance. The Holy Prophet-SW did not exempt even a blind Companion-RAU from attending the congregation in the masjid. All men of the locality, within which the Azan is heard, must offer their salãt in the masjid. This refers to Azan in the voice of an average person and not to the loud speaker. It also proves that Muslims must remain united. The present trend of deriding and ridiculing attendants of one masjid by those of the other masaajid is totally wrong. It is surprising that the extremists, who do not hesitate in issuing the verdicts of disbelief upon attendants of a masjid, do not raise a finger at those who go to gambling clubs or spend their nights in the dens of debauchery, whereas even these acts, though great sins, are not infidelity. The righteous scholars have highlighted this quality of a true believer that if he is sincere in the service of Islam, he will appreciate the endeavours of his fellow brothers for the same cause. Otherwise he will feel jealous, a common phenomenon today.
Do you enjoin people to be good ... Will you not understand?
The Jewish scholars advised their relatives who converted to Islam to remain steadfast, as it was the right path, but would not embrace it themselves. This attitude should be an eye opener for those who deliver sermons to others but do not mend their own ways in practical life. They do what they prohibit others from doing. It was the Jewish scholars who had the knowledge of the Divine Scriptures, whereas the common man merely followed them. They should have had better sense to realise that the basis of all virtues is belief, and any one who does not pay attention to correct the base, can do no other good. Their preaching of virtue without correcting the beliefs was an effort in vain. The belief in the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet-SW was the basis of faith, but they neither preached nor practised it. Their pursuit was the mundane power and wealth, so that life be spent in luxury and comfort. Indeed, such thinking is against the transcendental reality. This world is a place of trials and tribulation. A person can desire things, but the fulfilment of his desires is beyond his control. The unrealised dreams make his life miserable. Therefore, it is best not to run after wealth and power but to pursue the path of truth.
And seek Allah-SWT ’s help through patience and Salãt. ... Him-SWT they shall return.
Patience denotes the quality to compel oneself to comply with Allaah-SWT ’s commands, and to restrain the soul from disobedience.
Two Principles of Leading the Life
In other words abandon the ‘Principle of Suggestion’ in favour of the ‘Principle of Trust’. Do not suggest anything to Allaah-SWT and place your trust totally in Him-SWT . First of all, restrain yourself from all activities prohibited by Shari’ah. Once this is achieved, a great deal of worries is over. Now work in the non- prohibited field to the best of your ability, pray for success, but leave the results to Allaah-SWT . Never must you feel that the result of your effort would be according to your expectation, as this is beyond your control. Nor put your supplication to Allaah-SWT as an order, which He-SWT must fulfil, but always beg Him-SWT for help. If the results are according to your expectations, there is nothing like it. You have attained eternal bliss by following Shari’ah, availed the opportunity of conversing with Allaah-SWT through prayers, and your goal is also realised. And if the outcome is not according to your expectations, you have still got the other two benefits, not knowing that Allaah-SWT may bless you with something even better than what you worked for, and this is what exactly happens.
This Principle of Trust in Allaah-SWT also leads to comfort and respect in the worldly life and one does not resort to vices like theft, bribery and concealment of truth, and is spared of all troubles. However, to adopt this principle is very difficult for all, save those who bear a deep-rooted fear of Allaah-SWT ’s annoyance in their hearts. It is the feeling developed in the heart by the realisation of one’s helplessness and worthlessness before the Grandeur and Magnificence of the Creator-SWT of the entire universe, Who-SWT is also the Owner, Provider and Sustainer. This earth is only a speck in the expanse of the vast universe, which is inhabited by countless living species; amongst them the entire mankind constitutes only one unit. Now what is the comparative position of a single human being? Just try adding zeros after the decimal and see if you can ever get to write the digit one during your lifetime.
The understanding and realisation of Allaah-SWT ’s Greatness is a feeling generated within the subtle heart and is termed as humility. It is this feeling that makes a person believe that one day he has to face Him-SWT . Had it not been the destiny of mankind to return to his Creator-SWT , the entire activity of creation would seem meaningless. Any assignment without an outcome is futile and anyone undertaking such an enterprise cannot be termed as Rabb-SWT .
It was also essential for the manifestation of His-SWT Providence to appoint a Day of Judgement when the results of all virtues and evils shall be announced. That is why the term used here is Mulaqu Rabbihim (meet their Rabb-SWT ), because all these matters are manifestations of Allaah-SWT ’s Attribute of Providence. Hence life is the first prerequisite to develop and experience those feelings of exuberance. How can the dead feel cold, experience sorrow or joy? Thus a heart will only be able to feel when it is alive. It is indeed due to listlessness of the heart, that all Worship is ignored. If it isn’t already dead, it is certainly unconscious, a state which often culminates in death. Such people do get trapped into false beliefs and cults. Therefore, it is imperative to look for an accomplished redeemer, whose heart is illuminated with Barakah of the Holy Prophet-SW and who can convey this light to the hearts of others.
The blessings and spiritual beneficence emanating from the Holy Prophet-SW are of two types: firstly, the beneficence of his teachings and secondly, of his company. Only those benefited from his teachings, who received the Barakah of his company, as Muslims. Otherwise, even the infidels had the chance of hearing him. Right now the Barakah of his company are equally essential, as the teachings alone are not giving the desired results. His-SW teachings have been handed down the generations; so have the Barakah of his noble company been transmitted, illuminating the hearts till today. Just take a look at the Sufi Orders; they are there like the authentic Ahadith. Should you find anyone from these Orders, really possessing an illuminated heart, with the ability to initiate the hearts of others, the problem is solved. Only then will humility and a firm belief in meeting Allaah-SWT be attained, and the capability to evaluate human activity with reference to its results in the Akhirah acquired. Otherwise, peace in this world is an impossibility.
The Status of Intention in Worship
Without humility, Salät often falls under the category of impudence, because you pretend to converse with Allaah-SWT while your attention is elsewhere. But when a Muslim adult fails to offer his Salat and ignores his obligations altogether, he crosses the limits of impudence into transgression, a situation of self-destruction. It is better to offer Salat without humility, than not to offer at all. But efforts must be made to keep one’s innerself attentive towards Allah-SWT, Who-SWT is extremely kind, and with a strong hope that He-SWT will accept. Given the spiritual uplift by an accomplished saint, the lights of ones heart touch His-SWT Sublime Throne, creating a special state during worship. Slightest negligence affects that state, but the disruption is immediately discerned, and the worshipper, becoming attentive again, spiritually advances still higher.
I witnessed this phenomenon personally while on my way to Peshawar. I was accompanied by a scholar and a friend blessed with Kashf. I had earlier handed over my revolve being a hindrance in driving, to the former. Enroute we stopped for ‘Asr Salãt and he led the congregation carrying the revolver on his person. After salat my friend asked the scholar as to what did he do, for which the Recording Angel had noted down greater reward in his Register of Conduct than ours? He replied that he had a revolver on his person in adherence to the Holy Prophet-SW’s Sunnah of offering Salat duly armed. Although it was not his personal weapon, yet he intended to follow the Sunnah. Praise be to Allaah-SWT ! What wonders can an intention do in wining additional reward. O Muslim! If you could only cherish and value the Sunnah! May Allaah-SWT bless us with the habit to follow the Sunnah in every sphere of our lives! Illumination of the heart forms the basis of humility and for this reason Qadhi Thana Ullah Pa Patti-RUA asserts that the attainment of Tasawwuf is compulsory for both men and women, because without it, all worship is reduced to mere rituals.