The Misinterpretation Of Loyalty
They Do Not Keep Their Word
In societies ignorant of the morality of the Qur'an, faithfulness is understood in regard to personal gain. Those who understand its meaning in this way will happily show loyalty to whomever and whatever is necessary for the sake of profit. However, this is an insincere kind of faithfulness. Their degree of faithfulness is dependent on the value and size of the reward they are to obtain. If the only way to achieve their aim is to feign loyalty, they will willingly do so.
Moreover, the reason often for so much conflict between people is because of their failure to keep their promises to one another. The basic cause of this is their being opportunistic. Because they seek profit at every chance, disbelievers exploit others merely to get what they want, through trying to hide their real intentions. And, the best way to get what they want is, they think, to win the other person's trust. Having done so, they will then lead that person to think positively of them, and create the situation by which they can attain what they want without the other person knowing. In order to create such a "relationship of trust," and to achieve their aims, those so perverse have the tendency to make false promises, giving their word without the intention of keeping it. The oath pronounced by Satan to the Prophet Adam (as) was an important example presented in the Qur'an, to show how those who are ill-intentioned will do the same to deceive others by first winning their trust. Allah tells revealed this incident in the Qur'an:
In order to convince the Prophet Adam (as) that what he said was true, and thereby, to win his trust, Satan followed his speech with an oath. In many verses of the Qur'an, Allah informs us that people also do the same to achieve some personal benefit.
In the Qur'an, Allah also informs us that the hypocrites with sickness in their hearts offer oaths in this same way to hide their lack of faith, and to make the believers believe they are sincere. Only through strong faith in Allah and loyalty to Him is it possible to remain upright in the way of Allah, conform to the moral teachings of the Qur'an, and to be patient through the difficulties involved in inviting others to accept true religion. For this reason, it is not possible for those who exhibit the attributes of hypocrites, who are not sincere in faith, to expend veritable effort, and to follow the way of the prophets in the pursuit of Allah's good pleasure. The insincere, though, being aware of this fact, will swear an oath in the name of Allah to attempt to mislead the prophets and devout believers. But, when they experience the least adversity, they do not hesitate to breach their oath, disregarding what they swore before Allah. The Qur'an describes the condition of those who promised to band together with believers, but then went back on their commitment when it came time to fight alongside the Prophet (saas):
To hide their evil intentions, and to attempt to win the trust of the Prophet (saas), they swear in the name of Allah. In this way they thought they could disguise their unfaithfulness and the true intentions hidden in their hearts, that they might achieve what they wanted. However, their behavior inevitably reveals their true intentions. One of the most definite signs of sincere loyalty to Allah is a person's willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of gaining His favor. Those who have no conception of the significance of such faithfulness invent unfounded excuses to avoid self-sacrifice, swearing in the name of Allah to convince others otherwise.
One of the reasons why such people swear false oaths is because they want to exploit the loyalty of the believers for their own advantage. They think they assume the characteristics of a believer, who is self-sacrificing, generous and compassionate, and enjoy the same benefits without putting forth the effort. But, when Allah revealed their real intentions, they feared they would be rejected, and so swore false oaths that they might continue to be accepted by the believers. Allah describes their insincerity in the Qur'an:
The reason for their swearing of false oaths is not only to hide their desire for personal gain; they also want to divert the believers from following the way of Allah. Just as Satan swore an oath to the Prophet Adam (as) and his wife to deceive them and prevent them from obeying the command of Allah, these people operate with the same satanic deviousness. In order to mislead the believers from the true way, or, at least, to cause them some harm, they swear oaths as did Satan. In the Qur'an, Allah describes that these people use oaths as a "shield"
But, as Allah announces in this verse, the evil designs of these sick-hearted individuals against the believers always comes to naught-by the will of Allah-resulting only in their own humiliation.
Their attempt to pit believers against one another, by breaking their word, is a clear indication of their lack of faithfulness. Those so morally debased may even think they can make a positive impression on their associates, and, through their false promises, feign loyalty. But, their real intentions will be disclosed when they will be required to demonstrate that loyalty. Allah describes their false character in the Qur'an:
They swore to Allah that they would follow their messenger if He were to send them one. But, the hatred they felt for the messenger sent to them demonstrated clearly that they were not true to their promise.
As Allah revealed in the 77th verse of Surah Al 'Imran, they sold their promise "for a paltry price"
For that reason, Allah will remove them from His mercy on the Day of Judgment. Though, when they will come into His presence to be judged, they will again believe they can escape His punishment by the swearing of oaths. Allah reveals this case in the Qur'an:
Those who are guilty of this manner of thinking behave similarly with regards to pledges they make to others. Their refusal to abide by their word, recognizing the rights of others, derives from the fact that they do not want the responsibility of loyalty expected of them to interfere with their personal gain. For this reason, agreements ratified with such people will usually end in betrayal. Allah tells us in the Qur'an that they do not abide by their word, but seize the first opportunity available to break an agreement:
Allah describes their condition in the following words:
Moreover, Allah tells us that these hypocrites, in order to gain His favor, give Allah their word that they will not shrink from performing deeds of self-sacrifice, but fail to keep their promise:
Those fraught with such shortcomings are constantly betraying Allah, the messengers, their associates, and others. Satan's hypocrisy is an example of the poor morality of such individuals. Satan makes false promises only to later admit that those promises were lies. In the Qur'an, Allah tells us about Satan's hypocrisy:
It is not possible for individuals of such base morality to feel a sincere bond with Allah and His messengers, or to be patient through difficulties. Rather, they use every opportunity in which they can swear an oath to hide their treachery, though associating with believers, so as to exploit them for their own advantage. But, their insincerity is so severe that they break every promise they make, even making known the hostility they harbor inside. However, no matter how hard they try to deceive believers with their false oaths and promises, Allah will bring their efforts to naught, and reveal their true intentions to those who are sincere.
One reason why such people act with such a lack of conscience is that Allah has hardened their hearts. Allah reveals in the Qur'an, that they are condemned because they break their promises, also warning believers of their intentions:
From the above verse, we learn that those whose mindset is so distorted have no conception of faithfulness. We can clearly see the error in their perception of the meaning of faithfulness by their breached oaths, broken promises and failed agreements.
They Are Faithful to the Religion of Their Ancestors
A human being's personality is formed by what one learns from those around him, and from the customs, practiced in the society he lives in. Some choose to conform their beliefs and actions to these norms, even after their invalidity has been made known to them and though they had been shown the right way. This errant decision closes their minds to reform, and causes them to resist change. They realize that their traditional practices are groundless, but defend them nevertheless, being obstinate in their devotion to them. They convince themselves that the customs of their ancestors are still valid, or even more to be trusted. They regard any questioning of their belief system as an evil. For this reason, they are opposed to all such change, even if it is positive. Habitually, they are sentimental about the example of their ancestors, and determine their actions according to the past practices of their forebears. For this reason, they regard any idea contrary to their inherited traditions as a threat. Even if they were taught something that was more correct than what they believe, they would refuse to try to understand it, or even rejecting it outright without even giving it a chance. Their receiving every suggestion aggressively, and their adamant refusal to even consider them, shows how blindly attached they are to their traditional superstitions. The response offered by the leaders of the people to Prophet Ibrahim (as), when he called them to believe in Allah, is an example of their blind adherence to the cult of their ancestors. Allah tells us of this instance in the Qur'an as follows:
This incident mentioned in the Qur'an shows that these people were faithful to their ancestors. But, this devotion was ill-formed. When the real nature of their gods was revealed to them, they objected, citing that the only reason they worshipped these things was because their ancestors had. This devotion to idols shows that their cult is but vanity.
We can see that an unfounded sense of loyalty causes these people to oppose the commands of Allah, to rebel against it, and even to be hostile to anyone who adheres to the principles of its morality and tries to inform others about it. They went to the point of asking our Prophet (saas) to change the Qur'an:
Because it refuted their unjust beliefs, these people wanted our Prophet (saas) to revise or change the Qur'an. Their devotion to these systems prevented them from obeying the Word of Allah. For this reason, those messengers that Allah has sent throughout the centuries, to proclaim His religion, have persistently encountered among their people such obstinacy to their superstitious beliefs. They were falsely accused and treated with hostility, just because they called others to what was good and true. This deliberate animosity against the messengers shows how determined were these people to their unjust faiths. As Allah informed us in the Qur'an, when these people were called to practice the religion, they said about the messenger:
He further revealed that they have also turned their backs from the true Way:
Another corrupt tendency, to be found among those who are committed to their deviant faith, is their claim that it is Allah Who has commanded them to remain true to the religion of their ancestors. They know what they believe is not correct, but they try to justify their adherence to the religion of their ancestors by saying that they are doing so by the command of Allah. Nevertheless, they are certainly aware of their lack of sincerity in this regard. Their basic aim is not to win the favor of Allah, but to seek personal gain and to fulfill the selfish desires of their lower-selves. This is their devious excuse, used to hide their lack of sincerity, and to promote their system contrary to the morality of the Qur'an. They surely know they are leading a life far removed from the morality commanded by Allah, and that what they do was not commanded by Him, but that they simply practice by their own choice the religion enjoined by their ancestors.
The ideas of such people are convoluted, because they did not learn morality from its true source, and they use contradictory language, not having broken away from the practices of their ancestors. For this reason, they may approve of inappropriate behavior though Allah has forbidden it. In the Qur'an, Allah tells us about the insincerity of these people:
Those who tend towards such behavior aim to determine their affairs by referring to the practices of their ancestors, and so, continually distance themselves from Allah and the true religion. In the Qur'an, Allah explains this error:
In order to test these people, Allah has alleviated their difficulties and given them this mercy. But instead of coming to understand their faults, and learning to be grateful to Allah, they remained ungrateful, continuing to evaluate their situations with regard to the experiences of their ancestors. They failed to appreciate that it was Allah Who removed their anxiety, Who had granted them His blessings; they asserted perversely that their current circumstance is merely a perpetuation of the way things occurred in the past.
The reason why they are so confused in their understanding, and cannot act with a true comprehension of the meaning of loyalty, is because they do not reflect upon the words of the Qur'an, and so remain without the true intelligence that it can give rise to. Allah explains this truth in the Qur'an as follows:
They Must First Discern What They Deem a Mark of Superiority
They say, "We will not believe you until you make a spring gush out from the earth for us; or have a garden of dates and grapes which you make rivers come pouring through; or make the sky, as you claim, fall down on us in lumps; or bring Allah and the angels here as a guarantee; or possess a house built out of gleaming gold; or ascend up into heaven-and even then we will not believe in your ascent unless you bring us down a book to read!" Say: "Glory be to my Lord! Am I anything but a human messenger?" (Surat al-Isra', 90-93)
Allah tells us in another part of the Qur'an that these insincere individuals, who were looking for excuses not to believe, wanted our Prophet (saas) to perform miracles. He answered:
Say: "I do not say to you that I possess the treasuries of Allah, nor do I know the Unseen, nor do I say to you that I am an angel. I only follow what has been revealed to me." Say: "Are the blind the same as those who can see? So will you not reflect?" (Surat al-An'am, 50)
We can see that the miracles they asked our Prophet (saas) to perform, in order to confirm what they had said, were beyond human capacity. According to their faulty reasoning, whoever they followed and listened to would have to be superior to them, but according to their distorted values. For this reason, as Allah reveals in verse 31 of Surat az-Zukhruf, they say, 'Why was this Qur'an not sent down to one of the great men of the two cities?', and were surprised that so great a mission should be imparted to the messengers sent to them. For that alone, they rejected Allah's prophets, and tried to impede their mission by preventing them from bringing people to the right Way. In the Qur'an, Allah gives examples of this kind of behavior:
Their Prophet said to them, "Allah has appointed Talut to be your king." They said, "How can he have kingship over us when we have much more right to kingship than he does? He has not even got much wealth!" He said, "Allah has chosen him over you and favored him greatly in knowledge and physical strength. Allah gives kingship to anyone He wills. Allah is All-Encompassing, All-Knowing." (Surat al-Baqara, 247)
They desire to see in the prophets a trait of superiority, corresponding to their own false expectations. But these same expectations prevent them from understanding the true superiority to be found in prophets, that is, superiority "in knowledge and physical strength," that Allah has granted them. They do not grasp the virtue and superiority of the prophets sent to them, and, therefore, persistently turn their backs to their call. In the verse quoted below, Allah tells us that this is the only reason for their not believing in the prophets:
Nothing prevents people from having faith when guidance comes to them but the fact that they say, "Has Allah sent a human being as messenger?"(Surat al-Isra', 94)
They do not believe in the prophets, or accept their Way, but accuse them of pursuing some personal gain. According to their way of thinking, one who otherwise does not possess any traits of superiority, would seek only to gain a following. For this reason, the leaders of the disbelieving societies, who were wealthy and prestigious, tried to accuse the prophets of ulterior motives, and sought every opportunity to discredit them. Pharaoh's reaction to the Prophet Musa (as), and his brother Harun (as), after he had called him to the service of Allah, is an example that demonstrates the behavior of those with this distorted opinion of Allah's messengers. The Qur'an recounts the conversation that took place between Pharaoh and Musa (as):
When the truth came to them from Us, they said, "This is downright magic!" Musa said, "Do you say to the truth when it comes to you, 'This is magic?' Magicians are not successful." They said, "Have you come to us to turn us from what we found our fathers doing, and to gain greatness in the land? We do not believe you."(Surah Yunus, 76-78)
In general, the way the disbelievers reacted to the prophets who invited them to accept what is good and true is no different from that of Pharaoh. The fact that they look for some false trait of superiority in someone before they grant him their loyalty clouds their intelligence, and prevents them from understanding the significance of the invitation to follow the right Way that would lead them to salvation in this world and the next.
However, true superiority belongs only to Allah. He is the true possessor of all things. Ultimately, it is only to Allah that we must be loyal to; we must be bound to Him by sincere love. He has bestowed in abundance upon the prophets from His mercy-whenever and however He pleased; He has endowed them with possessions, and made them superior to other men. Allah tells us that he made Prophet Dawud (as) and Prophet Sulayman (as) superior to other men:
We gave knowledge to Dawud and Sulayman who said, "Praise be to Allah Who has favored us over many of His servants who are believers." (Surat an-Naml, 15)
The corrupt notions of the disbelievers have for ages kept them from the Way of Allah. But, true loyalty is only that which is felt towards Allah and His messengers. Those who think otherwise must immediately abandon all such ideas, try to appreciate the power and majesty of Allah, and to seek to understand the true meaning of loyalty.
When they consider their past, many remember various difficulties and anxieties they have experienced. Allah has created the life in this world, together with its difficulties, and better times, to determine whose actions will be most virtuous. Therefore, it is inevitable that all will encounter anxiety or setbacks in his or her life. But, those who are unaware of the purpose of Allah's creation regard all such difficulties merely as "life struggles." However, all such circumstances were foreordained and intended that human beings may find the true Way, and see that there is no other power other than Allah, from Whom they may seek help and refuge.
Therefore, the variances in the way a person feels, thinks, and behaves, are demonstrated under two opposite conditions, namely, difficulty or prosperity. In difficult times, one has greater difficulty concealing what is hidden in his heart. When a person shows patience through adversity that may afflict him, he is demonstrating his sincere devotion and loyalty to Allah. As such, it is usually in times of difficulty and anxiety that the best aspects of an individual's character are most truly shown forth. In this way, the extent of a person's sense of determination, and the depth of his loyalty to what he believes are to be discerned according to the way he acts through such times.
A clear manifestation of this, in societies ignorant of the morality taught in the Qur'an, is in marriage. In spite of the fact that marriage is a holy union, some may resort to it as a means of profit. For such people, the extent of their loyalty and devotion in marriage is dependent on certain conditions. For this reason, the difficulties and problems that inevitably arise between a couple over time may eventually become cause for argumentation and distress. After a certain period, there is nothing left for each partner to derive from the other, and divorce becomes unavoidable.
This is a psychological condition that will effect those who live by the immorality of ignorance in many other situations. When an instance arises in which their patience is required, some choose the easy way out, and seek thereafter to avoid the situation completely. The difference between them and the believers, who are sincerely devoted to Allah, and feel a strong sense of loyalty towards Him, becomes evident in such situations. Because they do not believe in Allah or the Hereafter, disbelievers do not find the strength and patience within themselves to struggle against the difficulties they experience. They recoil from the least problem or obstacle; they will give up on something they had wanted to accomplish in favor of the easy way out. In the Qur'an, Allah relates to us the patience of Luqman (as) in the advice he gave to his son:
[Luqman said,] "My son, perform prayer and command what is right and forbid what is wrong and be steadfast in the face of all that happens to you. That is certainly the most resolute course to follow." (Surah Luqman, 17)
The reason disbelievers are so weak in character is that they do not have the real sense of the meaning of loyalty, nor of the strength and determination that this loyalty arouses. Throughout their lives, disbelievers ascribe partners to Allah, making other gods for themselves. They spend their lives devoted to these gods, and live according to the dictates of this devotion. But, because the gods they have fashioned cannot proffer them the strength they need to persevere in difficult times, they quickly lose their devotion and false loyalty for them. Therefore, difficult and troubling situations are important determining factors to reveal their true character.
People's reaction to trying situations reveals their sham devotion and loyalty to Allah in hypocrites and those with sickness in their heart. Because they do not have a real sense of the meaning of loyalty and devotion to Him, they cannot bear with patience in times of difficulty or anxiety. For this reason, in order to avoid situations that are troubling due to the weakness of their lower-selves, they are constantly offering excuses. In the Qur'an, Allah informs us about the insincerity of those who, when faced with such hard times, tried to avoid them by asking leave from our Prophet (saas). In the following verse, Allah reveals the words and real intentions of these characters:
If it had been a case of easy gains and a short journey, they would have followed you, but the distance was too great for them. They will swear by Allah: "Had we been able to, we would have gone out with you." They are destroying their own selves. Allah knows that they are lying. (Surat at-Tawba, 42)
Because these people did not believe in Allah with certainty, when the time came for them to make a self-sacrifice, they were unable to be devoted or loyal to Allah and His messengers. They could not see that remaining faithful to Allah and His Prophet, and working to earn Allah's favor, would bring them enormous gain both in this world and the world to come. They were deceived by the life of this world, and failed to earn Allah's favor through their lack of patience. In Surat an-Nisa', Allah tells us that those who, because they cannot be patient in time of difficulty or anxiety, do not live as faith dictates, prefer to dissociate themselves from believers:
Among you there are people who hang back and if you encounter a setback then they say, "Allah has blessed me in that I was not there with them." (Surat an-Nisa', 72)
In this verse, Allah tells us that these individuals cannot appreciate the importance and the gravity of the situation in which they find themselves. They regard it as a blessing to have been able to avoid an act of self-sacrifice, that would otherwise have earned them Allah's favor, showing clearly how little they understood.
Another form of insincerity evidenced in these people is that they are loyal and agreeable when they get what they want, how, and when they want it. When they live a life of comfort and ease, having gained the things they want, they do not hesitate to show loyalty to Allah and His messengers. But, when they are required to do something they do not like, or is not to their advantage, their lack of sincerity immediately comes to light. In the Qur'an, Allah tells us about the behavior of such individuals:
When they are summoned to Allah and His Messenger, so that he can judge between them, a group of them immediately turn away. But if right is on their side, they come to him most submissively! (Surat an-Nur, 48-49)
The moral disposition of this hypocritical character is far from the self-sacrifice and patience that believers practice to gain Allah's favor. Because they do not believe sincerely in their hearts, they are unable to live in search of Allah's favor; they cannot submit unconditionally to His commands and prohibitions; and, they cannot believe and trust in the prophets. That is a disposition only those who are bound by true faith and loyalty to Allah can have. The insincere, on the other hand, will not always be able to hide their false loyalty. Allah will eventually distinguish between these hypocrites and the believers, who submit to Him with faithfulness, and He will create those situations in which believers will be able to recognize their true character.