Those Who Avoid Self-Sacrifice Avoid Supporting the Sincere Believers
In the previous section, we saw that people intimidated by hardship do nothing to stop the oppression that dominates the world, help those in need, or call others to goodness and truth. However, their reluctance is so severe that they even hesitate to support anyone who is trying to fulfill their responsibilities in a way pleasing to Allah. But Allah tells the believers to help each other live in goodness and piety:
Help each other to goodness and heedfulness. Do not help each other in wrongdoing and enmity. Fear [and respect] Allah. Allah is severe in retribution. (Surat al-Ma'ida: 2)
Believers who follow virtue and their conscience strive to explain the Qur'an's moral teachings to others and end the injustice that dominates the world; those who are caught up in their own problems remain on the sidelines. Although they know that their help and support would please Allah, either their love of this world or their concern to please others prevents them from supporting those who have decided to sacrifice what they have in His cause. Seeing no advantage for themselves, these weak supporters refuse to get involved.
Some of them support the believers to a certain extent, provided that they do not have to assume any real responsibility and can, thereby, avoid facing any real worries or hardships. Many such people existed during the time of our Prophet (saas). Hypocrites try to show that they support the believers, but only until such support conflicts with their interests. Even if their interests are not harmed, they might withdraw their support due to potential hardship. Thus they leave Muslims in the lurch, forgetting that only Allah can determine what will happen to them.
Hypocritical people show the same powerlessness and insincerity when believers are falsely slandered or accused. But they know that all prophets opposed such attacks in both word and deed, for Allah states:
You will be tested in your wealth and in your selves, and you will hear many abusive words from those given the Book before you and from those who are idolaters. But if you are steadfast and guard against evil, that is the most resolute course to take. (Surah Al 'Imran: 186)
Despite this knowledge, they still abandon the believers and do not think about how they will account to Allah for what they have done. But Allah explains how believers should behave toward each other in such situations:
O you who believe. If a deviator brings you a report, scrutinize it carefully in case you attack people in ignorance and so come to greatly regret what you have done. (Surat al-Hujurat: 6)
In another verse, Allah says that when believers are slandered, they must continue to think positively:
Why, when you heard it, did you not, as men and women of the believers, instinctively think good thoughts and say: "This is obviously a lie"? (Surat an-Nur: 12)
You were bandying it about on your tongues, your mouths uttering something about which you had no knowledge. You considered it to be a trivial matter, but, in Allah's Sight, it is immense. Why, when you heard it, did you not say: "We have no business speaking about this. Glory be to You! This is a terrible slander!"? (Surat an-Nur: 15-16)
Even though these people know all about such verses, they still try to justify their non-involvement when believers are slandered or face hardships. Allah reveals:
Among you are people who hang back and, if you encounter a setback, say: "Allah has blessed me in that I was not there with them." (Surat an-Nisa': 72)
If good happens to you, it galls them. If a mishap occurs to you, they say: "We made our preparations in advance" and turn away rejoicing. (Surat at-Tawba: 50)
GIt would violate the Qur'an's moral teachings if one, when oppressed and faced with a difficulty, gave up and was happy not to be with those believers who strive to communicate to others the nature of the Qur'an's morality. Of course, believers should make every effort to banish the kind of ignorance that fosters oppression, injustice, cruelty, turmoil, and disorder and replace them with the Qur'an's moral teachings, which will establish peace, justice, and contentment. While doing so, they must be aware, patient and courageous, self-sacrificial in many things, and forge ahead undaunted by hardship or difficulty. Moreover, they can expect to be opposed every step of the way:
They will do anything to harm you. They love what causes you distress. Hatred has appeared out of their mouths, but what their breasts hide is far worse. We have made the signs clear to you, if you use your intellect. (Surah Al 'Imran: 118)
The believers are well aware of this truth.
Allah tells us that this world is a place of testing and that only those who make a sincere effort here will obtain blessings and peace in the Hereafter. Therefore, when confronted with the unbelievers' oppression and harmful actions, believers know that they have to support each other by living in accord with the Qur'an. Allah also announces that their doing so will enable them to repel the unbelievers' onslaught and that their trust in Him and patience will give them success.
So fight in the way of Allah – you are only answerable for yourself – and spur on the believers. It may well be that Allah will curb the force of those who do not believe. Allah has greater force and greater power to punish. (Surat an-Nisa': 84)
O Prophet. Spur on the believers to fight. If twenty of you are steadfast, they will overcome two hundred. And if there are a hundred of you, they will overcome a thousand of those who do not believe, because they are people who do not understand. (Surat al-Anfal: 65)
Those Who Do Not Sacrifice Are Losers
In the Qur'an, Allah informs us that the hypocrites rejoiced when they avoided our Prophet's (saas) call for them to sacrifice and struggle in the way of Allah: "Those who were left behind were glad to stay behind the messenger of Allah. They did not want to strive with their wealth and their selves in the way of Allah. They said: ‘Do not go out to fight in the heat.' Say: ‘The Fire of Hell is much hotter, if they only understood'" (Surat at-Tawba: 81). They were delighted, thinking that they had avoided this responsibility that would bring them no reward. Such people ignore the fact that Allah bestows whatever they possess and can withdraw it whenever He wills. Allah says that those who set traps will never win: "When the unbelievers were planning to imprison, kill, or expel you: they were planning, and Allah was planning. However, Allah is the Best Planner" (Surat al-Anfal: 30).
Indeed, this example provides a good lesson for those who take the Qur'an as their guide. Those who believe and live according to it never think that shirking their responsibility will give anyone an advantage, for Allah states that those who think only of their own gain and thus avoid any sacrifice and opportunity to win His approval will find their "reward" to be extremely limited and short-lived:
Flight will not benefit you if you try to run away from death or being killed. Then you will only enjoy a short respite. (Surat al-Ahzab: 16)
Such people may never have the opportunity to enjoy all of their possessions, or may lose all of them through a natural disaster, an illness, an accident, or some other disaster. This clear truth should cause them to wonder what reward they will receive in the Hereafter for their moral character. Moreover, Allah can turn all of their worldly possessions into sources of misery and heartache, if He so wills. And, on the Day of Judgment, He will not allow them to make excuses:
This is the Day on which they will not say a single word, nor will they be allowed to offer any excuses. (Surat al-Mursalat: 35-36)
Given this reality, all people must do everything they can to live a moral life pleasing to Allah. Postponing the decision to do so or not recognizing its importance will only result in eternal sorrow. In the Qur'an, we can read His promise to reward and support, with His mercy in both worlds, everyone who uses their possessions to win His approval:
Whatever good you give away is to your own benefit, when you give desiring only the Face of Allah. Whatever good you give away will be repaid to you in full. You will not be wronged. (Surat al-Baqara: 272)