21-40: Questions and Answers
21 -Who is responsible for spreading the message of religion?
Enjoining right and forbidding wrong is everyone's responsibility, anybody who knows the truth is obliged to convey it to others. For that reason, conveying the message of religion and inviting people to believe in Allah is not restricted to Allah's Messengers; every person who believes in Allah must be engaged in this undertaking. Allah informs the believers that calling people to religion and showing them the right path is the way to endless salvation in the Hereafter:
Let there be a community among you who calls to the good, enjoins the right, and forbids the wrong. They are the ones who have success. (Surah Al `Imran, 104)
22 -How does the Qur'an define wrongdoing?
The Qur'an classifies those people who refuse to worship Allah, despite being reminded by His signs, as "those who do wrong," as follows:
Who could do greater wrong than those who lie about Allah and deny the truth when it comes to them? Do the unbelievers not have a dwelling place in Hell? (Surat az-Zumar, 32)
Among the most significant signs of the erroneous path taken by these people is their inability to be grateful to Allah for His innumerable gifts and favors, as well as their lack of reflection on their weakness before His greatness. Besides drawing themselves to Hell by means of their erroneous character, they also call other people to the same evil conduct. Preventing others from living by the religion, they lead them to a great punishment both in this world and in the Hereafter. This is why Allah warns against following such people: "Do not rely on those who do wrong, thus causing the Fire to afflict you, for you have no protector besides Allah. Then you will not be helped." (Surah Hud, 113)
23- Is saying "I am a Muslim" sufficient to be considered one of the faithful?
No, because people are considered believers only if they verbally affirm their belief and then live according to it and call others to follow Allah's commands. According to the Qur'an, the believers have the following attributes:
They pay constant attention to living by the values of religion, sacrifice their personal benefits for the common benefits of religion, overcome the selfish passions of their own souls, pardon others, control their rage and are moderate in their behavior, sacrifice for others even when they are in need, spend their wealth in the way of Allah, are steadfast, convey the message of Islam to spread the religion, remember Allah constantly, perform the prayers meticulously, control their temper even when faced with injustice, are just, and who make sincere efforts in many other such matters.
None of these actions can be fulfilled only by speaking. In other words, it makes no sense to say: "I am doing my best" when no actual effort is being made, or to say: "I will spend my wealth when necessary" and then not doing so. Accordingly, even though saying "I am a Muslim" may be the first step in becoming one of the faithful, it will become true faith only when the person sincerely adheres to Allah's commands to the best of his or her ability. This is explained in the Qur'an, as follows:
Who could say anything better than someone who summons to Allah and acts rightly and says: "I am one of the Muslims"? (Surah Fussilat, 33)
24- How does the Qur'an explain that unbelievers are also under Allah's control?
All beings in the universe, whether living or nonliving, are under Allah's absolute control. Whether they are aware of it or not, the unbelievers are under His control at every instant of their lives, for as "... all things We created with predestination" (Surat al-Qamar, 49) reveals, only Allah has the power to determine the destiny of all beings. As He has predetermined their destinies, they live throughout their lives completely dependent on this destiny. Allah relates this fact in the following verse:
Is it other than the religion of Allah that you desire, when everything in the heavens and Earth, willingly or unwillingly, submits to Him, and to Him you will be returned? (Surah Al `Imran, 83)
Given that Allah's existence surrounds the entire universe, He sees and hears the voice of every living being.
Everything, from the unbelievers' subconscious to a thought that crosses their mind, from a single spoken word to any act, is known to Allah at every instant. Therefore all people without exception live, always and everywhere, under His control and oversight. As the Qur'an states:
You do not engage in any matter, recite any part of the Qur'an, or do any action without Our witnessing you while you are occupied with it. Not even the smallest speck eludes your Lord, either on Earth or in Heaven. Nor is there anything smaller than that, or larger, which is not in a Clear Book. (Surah Yunus, 61)
25- How should we love Allah?
Love for Allah, a very deep-rooted affection, is a combination of various emotions. This love contains a feeling of submission to our Creator, Who is the Lord of infinite might, a strong trust in His infinite mercy, a respect for His infinite wisdom, and a great admiration for the infinite beauty He creates. Knowing that Allah is the Lord of all adds loyalty and devotion to this love. Those who are aware of all of these things become devoted to our Lord with a very intense love, which is utterly real and pure. The love that the believers feel for our Lord is expressed in the Qur'an, as follows:
Some people set up equals to Allah, loving them as they should love Allah. But those who believe have a greater love for Allah. If only you could see those who do wrong at the time when they see the punishment, and that truly all strength belongs to Allah, and that Allah is severe in punishment. (Surat al-Baqara, 165)
26 -What does "being mighty against the unbelievers" mean?
O You who believe. If any of you renounce your religion, Allah will bring forward a people whom He loves and who love Him, humble to the believers and powerful against the unbelievers, who strive in the Way of Allah and do not fear the blame of any censurer… (Surat al-Ma'ida, 54)
Allah commands the believers to conduct themselves according to the Qur'an's morals and, no matter what happens or how they are treated, always to be resolute in this respect. On the other hand, unbelievers exhibit some behaviors that are completely opposed to the believers' good morals. Upon encountering such behavior, the believers do not respond in the same way, but rather respond in a mighty and dignified manner and, by displaying their strong decisiveness, never neglect the Qur'an's morals. They respond to corrupt words with good words, arrogance with humility, injustice with justice, and mercilessness with mercy. They never consider it necessary to adopt attitudes resembling the attitudes of those who reject belief.
The Qur'an gives several examples of believers' maintaining their dignity toward the unbelievers, as follows:
Those who do not bear false witness and who, when they pass by worthless talk, pass by with dignity. (Surat al-Furqan, 72)
The servants of the All-Merciful are those who walk lightly on the land and who, when the ignorant speak to them, say: "Peace." (Surat al-Furqan, 63)
27- Is the person who communicates the religion responsible for someone's decision to believe or not to believe?
No, because each person is responsible only for himself or herself. The believers are responsible only for conveying the message to others in the best way and to call them to believe in Allah. Nevertheless, the heart of the person to whom the religion is communicated is completely in Allah's hand. If it is that person's destiny to believe, Allah will give him or her the love of Islam and will settle faith in his or her heart. Accordingly, Allah states in the Qur'an that Muslims communicate the religion, but only He guides the person:
You cannot guide those you would like to, but Allah guides those whom He wills. He has best knowledge of the guided. (Surat al-Qasas, 56)
28- Can a Muslim live in isolation from other Muslims?
As long as they do not have sound reasons for being alone, Muslims should live with other Muslims in order to exhibit good morals, generosity, submissiveness to advice, humbleness, love, and loyalty.
The believers should be together, because they cannot be loyal to those who are irreligious, yield to the unbelievers' conduct, be submissive to unbelievers or remember Allah with unbelievers. Therefore, the believers must be with other believers in order to live the Qur'anic lifestyle.
Besides this, the believers have to spread the morals of Islam among people so that everyone can live by them, since this is one of the responsibilities that Allah has given to the believers. Such a responsibility requires that the believers support each other as much as possible, for Allah commands them to act "in ranks like well-built walls."(Surat as-Saff, 4)
In addition, the believers can be at ease only when they are with other believers who live by the Qur'an's morals. They find pleasure only in the friendship of people who have taken Allah as their Friend. They would like to see people with good morals, who are deeply devoted to Allah, and would wish to live in the world with people whom they desire to be with eternally in the Hereafter. Allah has related this command in the Qur'an, as follows:
Restrain yourself patiently with those who call upon their Lord morning and evening, desiring His face. Do not turn your eyes from them, desiring the attractions of this world. And do not obey someone whose heart We have made neglectful of Our remembrance, who follows his own whims and desires, and whose life has transgressed all bounds. (Surat al-Kahf, 28)
29 -Can one be happy without religion?
People who do not live by the religion cannot be happy, in the true sense of the word, for in order to be happy, first of all one's conscience needs to be at ease. In other words, nothing should cause them distress or confusion, or make them feel remorse. Ease of conscience can be attained only by living by the religion. One's conscience, which is under Allah's control, always commands a person to believe in Allah, to fulfill the religion's requirements, and to adhere to the Qur'an's values. For that reason, irreligious person, one who has struggled against this command of his or her conscience throughout his or her life, cannot be truly happy. Allah reveals that people can attain ease of heart and true peace only by having faith in Him:
Those who believe and whose hearts find peace in the remembrance of Allah. Only in the remembrance of Allah can the heart find peace. (Surat ar-Ra`d, 28)
30- Is everybody responsible for living by the religion?
Everybody, from the moment one gains consciousness to comprehend Allah's existence, is responsible for fulfilling His commands. Being sick or poor, very rich or very famous, or having a high rank does not hinder a person from living by the religion. No one can change the fact that people are created to serve Allah. The Qur'an informs us that only physically disabled people will not be held accountable for some of the religion's commands. Apart from this, every person is to worship Allah and fulfill His religion's commands. Allah states that the Qur'an is a binding duty upon humanity:
It [the Qur'an] is certainly a reminder to you and to your people, and you will be questioned. (Surat az-Zukhruf, 44)
31 -Can Isa' (as), Musa (as), and other Prophets be referred to as "Muslims"?
All Prophets, including `Isa (as), Musa (as), Sulayman (as), Ibrahim (as), Nuh (as), and Yusuf (as), are referred to in the Qur'an as "Muslims," because Allah's religion is one: Islam. The religion that has been taught since Prophet Adam (as) has always been the same. The essence of the Gospel of Prophet 'Isa (as), the Torah of Prophet Musa (as), and the Psalms of Prophet Dawud (as), before they were distorted, conveyed the message of this religion. For that reason, all of Allah's Prophets communicated and belonged to the religion of Allah—Islam—the religion of truth. This point is explained in the Qur'an, as follows:
Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but a man of pure natural belief—a Muslim. He was not one of the associaters. (Surah Al `Imran, 67)
In another verse, Prophet Musa (as) referred to his followers as "Muslims":
Musa said: "My people. If you believe in Allah, then put your trust in Him if you are Muslims." (Surah Yunus, 84)
Another verse informs us that the disciples of Prophet 'Isa (as) also referred to themselves as Muslims:
And when I inspired the Disciples to believe in Me and in My Messenger, they said: "We believe. Bear witness that we are Muslims." (Surat al-Ma'ida, 111)
32- What does "being pleased with Allah" mean?
This phrase means that people should be content with the destiny that Allah has predetermined for them and with what He gives them, both unconditionally and without any internal resistance. People may not realize the goodness in a given event at that very moment. But whether they realize it or not, they know that Allah wills goodness in a given event at that very moment and in every event. In fact, believers always have infinite trust in Allah in everything that befalls them. They never wonder whether that event will bring them good or bad; rather, they trust in Allah unceasingly and know that they will always find good.
One may become fatally sick, have a serious accident and become physically disabled, lose all of his or her wealth, be wronged by others, or encounter an utterly unexpected event. No matter what happens, one should know that all of these things take place under Allah's complete control, and therefore feel at peace. That person submits completely to Allah's wisdom and mercy and thanks Him, regardless of the circumstances in which they find themselves. This is the behavior exhibited by those who are pleased with Allah, about whom Allah states the following:
Allah will say: "This is the Day when the sincerity of the sincere will benefit them. They will have Gardens with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, forever and ever. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him. That is the Great Victory." (Surat al-Ma'ida, 119)
… Allah has inscribed faith upon such people's hearts, and will reinforce them with a Spirit from Him and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, forever. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him. Such people are the party of Allah. Truly it is the party of Allah who are successful. (Surat al-Mujadala, 22)
33- Is it appropriate to believe in superstitions?
Superstitions are irrational and mistaken beliefs that spread among the people. Some people may become nervous due to their unfounded beliefs, such as believing that some beings bring bad luck. However, no one or thing can bring good or bad luck, for nothing in the universe comes into being by mere chance. Every person, plant, animal, or object has its own destiny. How long they will live, how their life will be, what they will look like, and everything else is already known in Allah' s sight, for not a leaf falls without Him knowing it.
Every event that has taken place since the creation of the universe, and that will take place in the future, occurs according to Allah's will. No person, animal, or object has the strength to change this destiny. If a person meets with an unexpected accident, this is due to his or her destiny, which was predetermined even before he or she was created. Achieving success, regaining one's health, or coming across something good is not due to good luck, but to Allah's favor:
The keys of the Unseen are in His possession. No one knows them but Him. He knows everything in the land and sea. No leaf falls without His knowing it. There is no seed in the darkness of the earth, and nothing moist or dry, which is not in a Clear Book. (Surat al-An`am, 59)
34- Has the Qur'an been sent to all nations, regardless of time or location?
Yes, for the Qur'an's commands are for every person who lives until the Day of Resurrection. Those who lived 1,000 years ago and those who will live from now on will all be judged by the same book and the same commands. Entering a new century or changing technology or cities do not change humanity's responsibilities to Allah. Whether a person lives in the midst of a great desert or in an apartment in a skyscraper, he or she must pray and adhere to the Qur'an's values. Allah reveals that the Qur'an is sent to all beings and that all people will be judged from this book:
Blessed be He Who has sent down the Criterion (Furqan) to His servant, so that he can be a warner to all beings. (Surat al-Furqan, 1)
35- Is it proper to complain about a disease, a disability, a physical defect, or poverty?
Such imperfections are specially created by Allah in order to make people grasp the temporary nature of this world's life and yearn for Paradise, so that they will strive to attain it. Hence, and in fact, these imperfections are blessings that Allah grants to His servants. For those who know how to take heed, situations that seem to be difficulties in the world turn out to be great blessings in respect to the eternal life. Allah promises Paradise to His servants who, when faced with the deficiencies and difficulties of this world's life, trust Allah and are steadfast in order to earn His good pleasure. Furthermore, Allah will remove all imperfections, both spiritual and physical, of those who attain Paradise and will create them in the most beautiful and eternal form.
That is why, when faced with any imperfection, one should remember this fact and utterly yield to Allah, the Lord of infinite wisdom. There is absolute goodness and great wisdom, unknown to any person, in the destiny that Allah has determined for them. It is incompatible with the Qur'an's morals to be displeased with and to complain of situations that people do not like, such as poverty, unattractiveness, or sickness. All men and women should be content with their destiny, for those who complain and are unhappy with a situation are, in fact, displeased with a good thing that Allah has willed for them. Such an attitude displays their ingratitude toward Allah, because He creates every incident in order to test people, and makes it a means for their eternal salvation. The ideal behavior that believers should exhibit is described in the Qur'an, as follows:
Say: "Nothing can happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is Our Master. It is in Allah that the believers should put their trust." (Surat at-Tawba, 51)
36- Will we see the Prophets on the Day of Judgment?
All people who have ever lived, including the Prophets, will be gathered on the Day of Judgment. Each Prophet will return to Allah to bear witness to his people. People will be judged in His presence for all of their actions in the world. Hence, it will be possible, by His will, to see Prophets Muhammad (saas), `Isa (as), Adam (as), Yusuf (as), and all of the other Prophets on that day. Allah relates this in the Qur'an, as follows:
And Earth will shine with the Pure Light of its Lord, the Book will be put in place, and the Prophets and witnesses will be brought. It will be decided between them with the truth, and they will not be wronged. (Surat az-Zumar, 69)
37- Who will accompany the believers in Paradise?
In Paradise, all of the believers who have lived since the time of Prophet Adam (as) will be together. Among these people will be the Prophets, martyrs, and sincere believers who affirmed the Messengers and followed the path they showed. The glad tidings are given to the believers in the Qur'an, as follows:
Whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger will be with those whom Allah has blessed: the Prophets and the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs, and the righteous. What excellent company such people are! (Surat an-Nisa, 69)
38 -What is the place of "boasting of things that one has not done" in the Qur'an?
In the Qur'an, Allah advises humanity to be sincere in every deed and to seek only His good pleasure. On the other hand, any expectation of praise results from seeking the appreciation of other people and trying to please them. Those who have such a point of view attempt to boast about what they have and have not done. However, taking credit for what one has not done and using it to gain other people's esteem is simply lying to Allah, for He knows what each person has and has not done. The Qur'an condemns trying to profit from knowledge unknown to people, whereas Allah knows it, and boasting. Even though such people may seem to be gaining some benefit at that very moment, they are, in fact, losers, for Allah will hold them responsible for every word they utter and will certainly pay them their due in the Hereafter. Their situation is explained in the Qur'an, as follows:
Those who exult in what they have done and love to be praised for what they have not done should not suppose that they have escaped the punishment. They will have a painful punishment. (Surah Al `Imran, 188)
39 -How should Muslims understand art?
Allah has created many beautiful things; art is the product of people's activities, those who take beauty as a model and imitate it. Given that art is a favor that Allah grants to humanity, it is part of human nature to appreciate aesthetics and beauty. The believers, especially, are people who can appreciate Allah's blessings, perceive the subtleties in them, and are broad-minded in terms of aesthetics. As a result, the pleasure they find in art multiplies.
The believers consider art as a gift of Paradise. The Qur'an relates that Paradise is furnished with unparalleled elegant art, which deeply impresses the soul.
In addition, it relates that Paradise contains gold-embroidered cushions, garments made of rich brocade, jewels, lofty chambers, green garments made of the finest silk, and thrones encrusted with gold and precious stones. All of this beauty, which Allah commends, are blessings for the believers in this world, too.
Besides these, the exquisiteness of Prophet Sulayman's (as) palace, as mentioned in the Qur'an, is noteworthy in terms of revealing the believers' understanding of art and aesthetics. Prophet Sulayman (as) decorated his palace with pools, large basins, and statues, and produced such excellent work of art that everyone was struck with admiration.
40 -What does "wisdom" mean?
Wisdom is the ability to determine what is right and most appropriate. All speech, decisions, and behavior of people of wisdom are wise and proper. They can explain a subject in the most correct, most concise, and wisest manner; can make the right diagnosis of an event, a person, or a behavior; react to events wisely; and can exhibit the finest behavior. Therefore, people of wisdom are also people of high intelligence.
One can have wisdom only through belief in Allah and following the Qur'an, for the Qur'an is the only source that teaches humanity the truth of events, good and wise behavior, thought, and speech.
Allah gives wisdom as a blessing to His sincere servants who turn to Him. The Qur'an points out that Allah grants this gift to whom He wills:
He gives wisdom to whoever He wills, and he who has been given wisdom has been given great good. But no one pays heed but people of intelligence. (Surat al-Baqara, 269)