41-60: Questions and Answers
41 -What is the "decisive speech" that Allah gave to Prophet Dawud (as)?
We made his kingdom strong and gave him wisdom and decisive speech. (Surah Sad, 20)
Decisive speech is the ability to explain the truth in the most concise, most articulate, and most influential way. In other words, it is the ability to talk wisely. The most significant characteristic of such speech is that its very sincerity and fluency moves the conscience of others. Those who have decisive speech deeply influence other people by causing them to alter their thoughts, ideologies, and ways of living, and to adopt the right path.
Remember that decisive speech is not the result of being well-cultured, having read many books, being experienced, knowing the rules of grammar, or making perfect sentences. Rather, it is a gift of Allah to His firmly believing, sincere, and true servants.
42- Does Allah reward the believers in this world for their faith?
Allah provides great rewards to His sincere servants during their lives in this world. He guides them to the right path, provides them with ease in their affairs, sends down serenity and peace upon their hearts, multiplies His blessings to them many times over, and helps them in return for their services in His way. He may also send them some difficulties to test their faith. However, in addition to all of these, He provides them with a good life. Allah states that He will reward the believers' good deeds:
Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and will recompense them according to the best of what they did. (Surat an-Nahl, 97)
Say: "O My servants who believe. Be in awe of your Lord. For those who do good in this world there is good, and Allah's Earth is spacious. The steadfast will be paid their wages in full, without any reckoning." (Surat az-Zumar, 10)
So Allah gave them the reward of this world and the best reward of the Hereafter. Allah loves good-doers. (Surah Al `Imran, 148)
43 -Does Allah punish the unbelievers in this world?
Allah states: "As for those who do not believe, I will punish them with a harsh punishment in this world and the Hereafter. They will have no helpers." (Surah Al `Imran, 56) In this verse, Allah informs us that He will recompense the unbelievers in this world too. The Qur'an points out that these people may experience both a physical and a spiritual punishment. As outlined in the verse "Do they not see that they are tried once or twice in every year? But still they do not repent. They do not pay heed," (Surat at-Tawba, 126) Allah mentions that He sometimes strikes the unbelievers with various afflictions in this world. In addition, the Qur'an contains accounts of past nations that suffered such punishments as earthquakes, drought, scarce crops, flood, lightning, or perishing all together at the same time.
On the other hand, their spiritual punishment continues as long as they are alive. These people, who do not follow the right path to which their consciences guide them, can never escape their remorse. Likewise, since they do not live by the Qur'an's morals, they can never experience true happiness, friendship, love, and loyalty. The people around them also do not adhere to the Qur'an's morals, and so live in a world of disorder, chaos, and anxiety. Although Allah gives them many blessings in this world, the Qur'an points out that they are created only to try them:
Do not let their wealth and their children impress you. Allah merely wants to punish them by them in this world, and for them to die while they do not believe. (Surat at-Tawba, 85)
44 -Is it possible to distinguish those people who are more pious? How is piety (taqwa) displayed?
It is impossible to determine who has the most piety in Allah's sight. A person's true piety, sincerity, and faith are hidden in his or her heart, and only Allah knows them, whereas people may only form a strong opinion about somebody's piety. People form their opinions about others based upon their conduct. For example, a person's sincerity toward Allah, loyalty to the religion, sincere effort to earn Allah's good pleasure, eagerness and resoluteness to serve religion, love for the believers and loyalty allow others to form an opinion about that person's piety. Even so, the final judgment belongs to Allah alone. People become pious by avoiding sins, forbidden acts, or behavior that does not comply with the Qur'an's morals. Whoever is firmer in living according to good morals, makes more effort to help religion, and is more devoted to adhering to the religion's commands increases his or her piety.
Pious believers also can be identified by their wisdom. Their decisions are right, they find much easier and quicker solutions to problems, and their speech is much wiser and more impressive. They can perceive aspects of events that remain unnoticed by others, and have a much keener awareness. They do not do things to put themselves forward, but display a sincere manner. They do not seek the adulation and praise of other people, but only Allah's good pleasure. Regardless of the situation, they always observe the limits set by Allah. People who possess all of these features may be expected to have a high degree of righteousness. However, one still cannot form a definite opinion concerning another's degree of piety or level of faith in relationship to other people, for all such evaluations are only superficial, being based upon what is seen from the outside. Peoples' true faith, devotion, sincerity, and nearness to Allah is known only by Allah.
45 -Can one person bear another's burden and be punished for him or her in the Hereafter?
The Qur'an states that such a situation is not possible, for every person is responsible for his or her actions and will be judged in Allah's presence. This is so because Allah has given each person a conscience that distinguishes between right and wrong and always calls him or her to seek Allah's good pleasure. Furthermore, by sending a book to teach them what is right and wrong, and communicating His religion through His Messengers, He has warned all people against the punishment of Hell. Those who turn away from the truth after all of these warnings make their individual choices by their free will, reasoning, and desires. Each one of them will be held accountable for their ultimate decision. The Qur'an proclaims this, as follows:
No one can bear another's burden. If someone weighed down calls for help to bear his load, nothing of it will be carried, even if he should be his close relative. You can only warn those who fear their Lord in the Unseen and establish prayer. Whoever is purified, is purified for himself alone. Allah is your final destination. (Surah Fatir, 18)
In another verse, Allah informs humanity that those who drive people to wrongdoing by promising what they cannot deliver are liars, and warns humanity about them, as follows:
Those who do not believe say to those who believe: "Follow our way, and we will bear the weight of your mistakes." They will not bear the weight of a single one of their mistakes. Truly they are liars. (Surat al-`Ankabut, 12)
46 -How can Islam and the Qur'an be conveyed to others?
Religion is best conveyed to a person by communicating it both verbally and physically. By explaining the religion's commands and the Qur'an's morals, and then living according to them, those who are not yet believers can grasp the truth's meaning far more accurately. Since sincerity is measured by the consistency of a person's words with his or her actual actions, the sincerity of the conveyor significantly helps the person to perceive the beauty of religion. For example, if the person explains why self-sacrifice is a virtuous action and, on the other hand, exhibits selfishness, this will diminish the effect of his or her words and raise serious doubts about that person's sincerity. However, if a person displays good morals and invites other people to do the same, they will form a strong opinion about that person's sincerity and observe how the good morals that he or she mentions can be practiced in daily life. Likewise, if the person explaining modesty displays it in his or her actions, it becomes the best way to spread the religion. Allah reminds believers to do what they tell other people to do:
O You who believe. Why do you say what you do not do? It is deeply abhorrent to Allah that you should say what you do not do. (Surat as-Saff, 2-3)
47- Is there any limit to good morals? Can one say "that's enough" after attaining a certain level of good morals?
There are no limits to good morals. For every action and word, there is certainly a better one. One can never say "this is enough" or "this is the best." Furthermore, whenever people deem themselves to have reached a satisfactory level, moral and behavioral corruption sets in. Since they believe that they have no further need to renew themselves, they cannot benefit from any beauty or show any improvement in their characters. Allah points out that those who see themselves as sufficient are arrogant:
No indeed! Truly man is unbridled, seeing himself as self-sufficient. (Surat al-`Alaq, 6-7)
Thus people should always seek to improve themselves, because nobody can be sure of earning Paradise and Allah's good pleasure before Allah's decision about him or her is known.
48- How should Muslims spend their time?
In the Qur'an, the concept of "spare time" does not apply to the believers, for every instant of their lives is occupied. Those who are in awe of Allah and scrupulously abide by His commands strive to perform good deeds continuously in order to be among those closest to Allah. They spend their time worshipping Him according to the guidelines that He has laid out in the Qur'an. Finishing one thing, they embark upon another one in their eternal quest for goodness and beauty. There are no interruptions, pauses, or limits during these efforts, because the believers understand that they should spend every moment working to earn Allah's good pleasure and that they will have to account for every instant of their lives. The Qur'an refers to these efforts, as follows:
So when you have finished, work on, and make your Lord your goal! (Surat al-Inshirah, 7-8)
49- Can any reward be expected from people in return for conveying the religion's message?
The believers convey this message in order to earn Allah's good pleasure and to fulfill the related Qur'anic command. In return, they expect no worldly wage, but only Allah's good pleasure and Paradise.
All Prophets strove with this purpose in mind until the end of their lives; however, they never asked for any worldly recompense from the people and made it clear that they expected none. This greatness of spirit is exemplified in the Qur'an, as follows:
So heed Allah and obey me. I do not ask you for any wage for it. My wage is the responsibility of no one but the Lord of all the worlds. (Surat ash-Shu`ara, 179-180)
50- What does the Qur'an say about orphans?
It is commanded in the Qur'an to be good and compassionate towards orphans, for they have no parents to look after them or to ensure their education:
So as for orphans, do not oppress them. (Surat ad-Duha, 9)
In other verses, Allah commands people to respect their rights, set aside part of their goods and income for them, and to treat them well. Furthermore, He recommends that an orphan's assets be used justly, and that these should be returned when he or she reaches mental maturity.
Allah advises people to be careful and meticulous about an orphan's education so that he or she can be brought up as a good person and have the good morals of the Qur'an. He encourages the believers to provide orphans with protection and material assurance:
… They will ask you about the orphans. Say: "Improvement for them is best." If you mix your affairs with theirs, they are your brothers... (Surat al-Baqara, 220)
The believers always avoid being unjust with an orphan's property, because Allah defines the pitiless behavior of those who covet such property and benefit from it as a serious crime:
Give the orphans their property, and do not substitute bad things for good. Do not assimilate their property into your own, [for] doing that is a serious crime. (Surat an-Nisa, 2)
As a result of these verses, the believers protect the orphans' property carefully until they grow up and can take care of themselves, and then hand over all of their rights to them.
51- Is it proper to argue when one's knowledge of an issue is incomplete?
Allah advises people not to argue about issues of which they have no knowledge, because over everyone with knowledge is someone who knows better. People do not derive any benefit from arguing over things about which they are not knowledgeable. The best behavior in such a case is to consult those who are more knowledgeable in order to learn the correct information.
The Qur'an reminds people not to pursue things of which they have no knowledge, as follows:
Do not pursue what you have no knowledge of. Hearing, sight and hearts will all be questioned. (Surat al-Isra, 3-4)
52- What about people who warn others, yet do not personally practice what they recommend?
The Qur'an advises the believers to enjoin one another to do right and to forbid wrong. This surely pleases Allah. However, the really important thing is to do what they ask others to do, thereby setting an example in their own behavior and good morals. If somebody knows that a particular action is wrong and is disturbed to see someone else doing it, then he or she is equally responsible for abandoning this act and performing the right action. Allah reminds the believers of this, as follows:
Do you order people to devoutness and forget yourselves, when you recite the Book? Will you not use your intellect? (Surat al-Baqara, 44)
53 -People, in general, pray only during times of hardship. What does the Qur'an say about this?
People who are far from the Qur'an's morals pray to Allah only when they become sick, or face hardship or some other "disaster." At these times, they understand how helpless they are. However, those who seek refuge in Allah at such times and pray to Him continuously to free them from their troubles and grant them blessings change the minute the situation is resolved. They forget to pray to Allah and thank Him for His blessings. As soon as they are freed from their difficulties, they immediately reveal their insincerity toward Allah. Their hypocritical and insincere manner is described in the following terms:
When the waves hang over them like canopies, they call upon Allah, making their religion sincerely His. But then when He delivers them safely to the land, some of them are ambivalent. None but a treacherous, thankless man denies Our Signs. (Surah Luqman, 32)
54- Has Allah sent a warner / Messenger to all nations?
The verse "... There is no community to which a warner has not come" (Surah Fatir, 24), clearly states that Allah has done so. These Messengers explained Allah's religion to their people, as well as the rituals of worship that they should perform, gave them the glad tidings of Paradise, and warned them about the punishment of Hell. In addition, the Messengers have always been role models for their people, due to their meticulous fulfillment of Allah's religion, their good morals, and the intense awe of Allah that they feel. Another reason why Allah warns humanity through His Messengers is as follows:
Messengers bringing good news and giving warning, so that people will have no argument against Allah after the coming of the Messengers. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. (Surat an-Nisa, 165)
This is a manifestation of Allah's superior justice. On the Day of Judgment, no one will be able to say that he or she was not warned of Allah's punishment or had not been told of his or her responsibilities to Allah. In other words, everybody will be justly paid in full.
55- How does the Qur'an define "suspicion"?
Allah does not approve of people acting on suspicion and conjecture. In fact, He indicates in many verses that this is a characteristic of the societies of ignorance and that it benefits no one. Following His command to avoid suspicion, the believers do not base any of their ideas on unfounded information. All of their words and ideas always comply with the Qur'an's morals, are based on absolute evidence, and are just. They do not arrive at suspicion-based decisions about a person; rather, they ask his or her opinion or gather valid evidence.
The believers' awe of Allah causes them to pay serious attention to this issue. Knowing that they will be judged for each action in the Hereafter and doing their best to earn His Paradise, they are very careful and just in this respect. Allah defines suspicion in these words:
"O You who believe. Avoid most suspicion. Indeed, some suspicion is a crime..." (Surat al-Hujurat, 12)
56 -Is it acceptable to defer one's acts of worship until old age?
AAllah holds everybody who has a sound mind and consciousness responsible for living by the Qur'an's morals and for fulfilling the religion's commands. Those who perform acts of worship live a good life in this world and earn eternal life in Paradise. Intentionally deferring these prayers with such thoughts as "I'd better enjoy my youthful years, I can worship when I get older and thus earn the life in the Hereafter" may cause people to lose their lives in the Hereafter, for "There is no repentance for people who persist in doing evil until death comes to them and who then say: "Now I repent," nor for people who die as unbelievers. We have prepared for them a painful punishment." (Surat an-Nisa, 18) Also remember that no one knows when he or she will die. Thus, it is a great mistake to defer one's worship, for after death there are no more chances, regardless of the level of regret or of the desire to be sent back.
57- Is it acceptable to defer acts of worship, saying: "I have a pure heart"?
The world is a place of testing for everyone. Allah informs humanity of this fact in "He Who created death and life to test which of you is best in action..." (Surat al-Mulk, 2). As a requirement of this test, people are accountable for every action and every act of worship that they actually perform or defer. In such a case, the chastity of one's heart alone cannot be a measure. No doubt this chastity, goodwill, and honest personality are valuable in Allah's sight, but the most significant sign of chastity and sincerity is the meticulous fulfillment of His commands. Therefore, no matter how benevolent they claim to be, people who do not perform the prescribed acts of worship, stand in awe of Allah, and do not take the Qur'an and His good pleasure as their measure will not meet with what they expect in the Hereafter.
Besides these, only the Qur'an can measure the "chastity of heart." In other words, people can say that they are chaste only if they are sincere according to the Qur'anic meaning of the term. Thus, it is senseless for them to claim to have a chaste heart based upon their own code of values or that of the societies of ignorance.
58 -How does the Qur'an view the holy books that were revealed before it?
Allah revealed the Torah to Prophet Musa (as), the Psalms to Prophet Dawud (as), and the Gospel to Prophet `Isa (as) before He sent down the Qur'an to Prophet Muhammad (saas). Each of these books were books of truth that conveyed the message of Allah's religion at a particular point in time. However, over time they were distorted by people who held mistaken and false beliefs and became mixed up with false information. Due to this development, humanity had no book of truth that conveyed the true religion, and so Allah sent the Qur'an to inform humanity of His religion once again. The Qur'an is protected until the Day of Resurrection by Allah, for "It is We Who have sent down the Reminder and We Who will preserve it." (Surat al-Hijr, 9) ayeti gereği kıyamete kadar Allah korumaktadır.
59- Who are the "People of the Book"?
They are the Jews and the Christians, to whom the Torah and the Gospel were sent. But since these books have been distorted over time, Allah sent Prophet Muhammad (saas) to warn them, and the Qur'an as their holy book. Some of the verses related to them are as follows:
They are not all the same. There is a community among the People of the Book who are upright. They recite Allah's Signs throughout the night, and they prostrate. They believe in Allah and the Last Day, enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and compete in doing good. They are among the righteous. (Surah Al `Imran,113-114)
Among the People of the Book are some who believe in Allah, in what has been sent down to you and what was sent down to them, and who are humble before Allah. They do not sell Allah's Signs for a paltry price. Such people will have their reward with their Lord. Allah is swift at reckoning. (Surah Al `Imran 199)
60- What is the point of not being punished immediately for one's mistakes?
The fact that their punishment is not immediate should not encourage people to be slack, for Allah gives people a specified time and thus tests them. He promises the life of Paradise to those who do good, and the life of Hell to those who do evil. This being the case, those who are not punished immediately should realize that Allah, out of His love and compassion, has given them time to repent. The Qur'an states:
"If Allah were to take mankind to task for what they have earned, He would not leave a single creature crawling on it, but He is deferring them until a specified time. Then, when their time comes, Allah sees His servants! " (Surah Fatir, 45)