The True Believers from the Quranic Perspective
Jumada al-Ula 17, 1437 AH / February 26, 2016 CE

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Sermon Plan

  1. Knowledge and Faith
  2. Faith is associated with Good Deeds
  3. Believers’ Qualities:
  4. God-Fearing
  5. Placing Trust in Allah
  6. Keen and Humble Observation of Salah
  7. Giving in Charity
  8. Telling the Truth, Honesty, Keeping One’s Word, Shyness and Good morals
  9. Divine Rewards Promised to the Believers

Sermon Text

 It is out of the divine mercy and kindness that Allah sent messengers to humankind to guide them to the truth and lead them on straight path. As such, no one can have an excuse against Allah. Allah, the Almighty, says, “Those messengers brought good tidings as well as warnings so mankind will have no argument against Allah after the messengers. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise” (the Quran, 4: 165).

Faith is the highest relation that messengers (may Allah’s peace be upon them) preached; it is the firm belief in Allah, His angels, scriptures and messengers as well; as the last day and the decree, good or bad. The believers shall abide by the necessary condition of faith; namely, the enforcement of the duties—commands and prohibition, in conformity with the divine plan as delivered by Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him).

Knowledge is the first step of faith: Allah, the Almighty, says, “Know that there is no god but Allah and seek forgiveness for your sin and for the believing men and women. Yet, Allah knows of your movement and your resting place” (the Quran, 47: 19). Faith and good deeds are inseparably associated. The Quran expresses this fact in several verses, of which the following are exemplary:

  • Allah, the Almighty, says, “But they who believe and do good deeds – those are the residents of Paradise; they will abide therein eternally” (the Quran, 2: 82).
  • “Surely, those who have believed and done good deeds – their Lord will guide them because of their faith. Beneath them rivers will flow in the Gardens of Pleasure” (the Quran, 10: 9).
  • “Those who have believed and done good deeds – they will have the Gardens of Paradise as a lodging” (the Quran, 18: 107).

Faith is heightened by obedience and faded out by disobedience. It has many practical dimensions, which vary from a believer to another in line of one’s degree of faith in Allah. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Faith has over seventy branches – or over sixty branches – the uppermost of which is the declaration that no one has the right to be worshipped but Allah; and the least of which is the removal of harmful object from the road, and modesty is a branch of faith” (al-Bukhari and Muslim). Good deeds are rightly a reflection of good faith. The facts of faith are made clear in the famous account of Gabriel’s visit to the Prophet as reported by ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) that:

“While we were one day sitting with the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him), there appeared before us a man dressed in extremely white clothes and with very black hair. No traces of journeying were visible on him, and none of us knew him. He sat down close by the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) rested his knees against the knees of the Prophet and placed his palms over his thighs, and said: “O Muhammad, tell me about Islam.” The Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) replied: “Islam is to testify that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should perform salah (prayers), pay zakah (obligatory charity), fast during Ramadan, and perform Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House (in Mecca) if you can find a way to it.” He said: “You have told the truth.” We were astonished at his thus questioning him and telling him that he was right.

He went on to say, “Tell me about faith.” The Prophet answered, “It is to believe in Allah and His angels, Books and Messengers as well as in the Last Day, and in predestination, good or bad.” He said, “You have told the truth.” The man said, “Inform me about isan.” The Prophet said, “It is to worship Allah as though you see Him, but if you cannot see Him He sees you.”

He said, “Tell me about the Hour.” The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Indeed, the one questioned knows no more than the questioner.” “Well, tell me of its signs, he said.” The Prophet said, “They are that the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress and that you will see the barefooted ones, the naked, the destitute, the herdsmen of the sheep (competing with each other) in raising lofty buildings.” Thereupon, the man went off. After a while of waiting, the Prophet asked, “O ‘Umar, do you know who that questioner was?” I replied, “Allah and His Messenger know better.” He said, “He is Gabriel; he came to educate you in your religion” (Muslim in his authentic collection).

In His wise Book, Allah, the Almighty, mentions many of the believers’ characteristics as follows:

  • Perfect fear of Allah as a high and grand status of a believer: “The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts are held in fear, and when His verses are recited to them, they are raised in faith; and upon their Lord they rely – the ones who establish prayer, and from what We have provided them, they spend. Those are the true believers; for them are degrees of high position with their Lord and forgiveness and noble provision” (the Quran, 8: 2-4). This perfect fear personifies the perfect apprehension of Allah, as Allah says, “Indeed, those who are apprehensive from fear of their Lord; and those who believe in the signs of their Lord; and those who do not associate anything with their Lord; and those who give what they give while their hearts are fearful because they will be returning to their Lord— It is those who hasten to good deeds” (the Quran, 23: 57-61).
  • Allah, the Almighty, also says, “You shall only warn those who follow the reminder and are in awe of the Most Merciful while unseeing of him. So give him good news of forgiveness and noble reward” (the Quran, 36: 11).
  • Indeed, the Prophet set us the example of the best fearing-God human being. Mutarref narrated from his father who said, “I saw the Prophet praying while his chest is loudly sounding like a boiling kettle” (Ibn Khuzaymah). The Prophet even used to supplicate Allah for a good watchful heart filled with apprehension of Allah.
  • Abu Mejlaz said, “Once ‘Ammar Ibn Yasir led us in a prayer, which he made brief. Some people disliked his act. He said: ‘Have I not perfected its bowing and prostration? Yes, they replied. However, I have made a supplication that I heard the Messenger of Allah saying,
  • “O Allah, by Your knowledge of the unseen and Your absolute power over the creation, keep me alive so long as You know that life is good for me and cause me to die when You know that death is better for me. O Allah, decree me to harbor fears of You in all circumstances; and to say the truth in times of pleasure and anger; and to prove prudently moderate in poverty and riches; and grant me the everlasting joy of looking at Your face and longing for your meeting. I seek refuge with you from a harmful calamity or a misguiding trial. O Allah, beautify us with the adornment of faith and make us among those who guide and are rightly guided” (Ahmad).
  • A poet once said,

Fear God and hope Him for all calamities and obey not a disobedient soul to escape regret

Be between fear and hope, and have good news of divine pardon if you’re proved a true Muslim

  • Placing Trust in Allah: It is also a sign of good faith to rely on Allah and sincerely put your trust in Him in securing benefits and avoiding evils of all matters. One should have firm belief that the only one who can benefit and harm and relieve from evils is Allah alone. A believer should take all necessary means leading to perfect work without placing trust in anything but Allah. Sincere trust does not contradict taking necessary means. ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) saying: ‘If you really put your trust in Allah as due, you will be given provision like birds; they go out hungry in the morning and come back with full bellies in the evening” (al-Tirmidhi). As to the claims of putting sincere trust in Allah without good endeavors and work, it is not a case of trust but a case of idle dependence against which the Prophet forewarned.
  • Mu‘adh Ibn Jabal narrated said “I was riding behind the Messenger of Allah on a donkey known as ‘Ufayr when the Prophet said: Mu‘adh, do you know what right has Allah over His slaves and what right have His slaves over Him? Mu‘adh said: Allah and his Messenger know best. Upon this the Prophet remarked: The right of Allah over His slaves is that they should worship Allah and should not associate anything with Him, and the right of His slaves over Allah, Glorious and Sublime, is that He does not punish anyone who associates not anything with Him. Mu‘adh said to the Messenger of Allah: Should I give this good news to people? The Prophet said: Do not tell them this good news, for they may trust in it alone” (Muslim in his authentic collection). Placing trust in Allah is closely associated with a believer’s life. Indeed, securing the benefits and fending off harms can only come true with placing sincere trust in Allah.
  • Keen and Humble Observation of Salah: It is also a sign of good believers that they permanently perform the prayers in humbleness and submission. Allah, the Almighty, says: “Certainly will the believers have succeeded: They who are during their prayer humbly submissive” (the Quran, 23: 1-2).
  • Salah is the symbol of Islam as asserted in several Quranic verses: “And establish Salah and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience]” (the Quarn, 2: 43). It is also one of the main five pillars of Islam. Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said: “Islam is based on five pillars: testifying that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger; offering the prayers perfectly; paying Zakah (i.e. obligatory charity); performing Hajj i.e. pilgrimage to Mecca; observing fast during the month of Ramadan” (al-Bukhari and Muslim).
  • Admittedly, people vary in their humble performance of prayers; some get the full reward when others only suffer and toil unrewarded. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that he heard the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) saying: “Many people fast and get nothing from their fast but hunger; and many others pray and get nothing from their prayer but a sleepless night” (al-Bayhaqi in his sunan).
  • Salah is also a means to good behavior and lofty character; it drives a person from bad deeds, sins and indecencies. Allah, the Almighty, says, “Establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing” (the Quran, 29: 45). Humble observation of prayers in full submission is a duty indicated in the narration of Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said: “What is the matter with people who lift their gaze to the sky while praying?” He spoke sternly against that until he said: “They must stop that or else they will certainly lose their eyesight” (al-Bukhari in his authentic collection).
  • Giving in Charity is also a sign of true believers. Charity here is generally applied to all forms of giving, be they obligatory or voluntary. The Prophet said, “The upper hand is better than the lower hand (i.e. the giver of charity is better than the one who receives it) and one should first provide for his dependents. Yet, the best charity is that which is given by a wealthy person but whoever abstains from beseeching others for financial help, Allah will give and relieve him sufficiently” (al-Bukhari in authentic collection).
  • Abu Mas‘ūd al-Badri narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “If a man spends on his family (with the intention of having a reward from Allah) sincerely for Allah’s sake, it is a form of alms-giving in reward for him” (Muslim in his authentic collection). A believer knows that he is just in charge of the wealth and that all graces only rest in the hands of Allah; s/he is generous and Allah is generous to him.
  • Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said: “While a person travelling through the wilderness, he heard a voice in the cloud saying: Water the garden of so and so. The clouds soon took aside and poured water on a stony ground filling a certain channel. The traveler followed the water to come upon a person standing in a garden busy with changing the course of water with a hatchet. He said to him: O Servant of Allah, what is your name? He said: So and so. Surprisingly, it is the same name heard in the clouds. The farmer asked: O Servant of Allah, why do you ask about my name? He said: I heard a voice from the clouds of which is the downpour, saying: Water the garden of so and so mentioning the like of your name. What do you do [to receive this divine grace]? He said: Now, as you said that, I look what yield I get from it and give one-third as charity, one-third to sustain myself and my children; and one-third I return to cultivate a new harvest therewith” (Muslim in his authentic collection).
  • The Noble Quran also mentions other qualities for which the believers are distinctively noted, e.g. turning away from idle talk and fulfilling their trusts. Allah, the Almighty, says, “Successful in deed are the believers; (1) they who are submissively humble in their prayer; (2) and they who turn away from idle talk; (3) and they who persistently pay the charity; (4) and they who guard their private parts (5) except from their wives or the female slaves in their possession, for indeed, they will not be blamed— (6) yet, whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors— (7) and they who are true to their trusts and promises; (8) and they who carefully maintain their prayers— (9) those are the inheritors, (10) Who will inherit paradise therein they will abide eternally” (the Quran, 23: 1-11). These verses show the good characters of believers as including humbleness in prayers, avoidance of idle talk, payment of charity, keeping away from illicit relations, maintaining trust, repaying them to their owners and fulfilling one’s promise.
  • A true Muslim shall assume these highly Quranic ethics to join the people of true faith and save himself in this world and in the hereafter. A true faith that controls a believer’s heart helps him/her escape all forms of deviation, intransigence and fanaticism. The believer loves for others the same good he loves for himself; s/he avoids perjury, lying and idle talk sessions and works hard to achieve the welfare of his community and nation. Conversely, pretenders of faith are morally deviant even if their behaviors are apparently legal but their faith is imperfect and meaningless.
  • Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) once came out when a young man of al-Ansar called Harithah ibn al-Nu‘man met him. The Prophet asked, “How are you this morning, O Harithah? He replied, I have become a true faithful in this morning. The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Consider what you are saying, for each true essence reveals real facts, what are the real facts of your faith? In reply, he said: “My soul is really turned away from the world, so I kept my night praying and kept my daytime fasting. It seems as if I look at the Throne of my Lord outstanding and look at the residents of Paradise visiting each other and at the residents of the Fire aggrieving one another. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said: “Really, you know the truth, keep to that. What a servant whose heart is divinely illuminated by faith!” (al-Bayhaqi in Shu‘ab al-Iman).
  • A believer is also characterized by good morals; he is truthful, honest, faithful, generous, shy, upright, merciful, tolerant, modest, just, benevolent, altruist and perfectly follows the Quranic ethics. Allah, the Almighty, says, “O you who believe, fear Allah and be with those who are truthful” (the Quran, 9: 119).
  • Allah, the Almighty, also says, “And those who faithfully keep their trusts and promises” (the Quran, 70: 32).
  • It is also a sign of the true righteous believers that “they fulfill their promise when they promise and are patient in poverty and hardship and in battlefield. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous” (the Quran, 2: 177).

For believers of noble morals Allah promises the best reward saying: “Indeed, those who have believed and done good deeds will have the Gardens of Paradise as a lodging wherein they will abide eternally and never will they desire any other substitute” (the Quran, 18: 107-108).