21-40: Questions and Answers
21- How will the unbelievers be recognised on the Day of Judgement?
The evildoers will be recognised by their marks and seized by their forelocks and their feet. . (Surat ar-Rahman, 41)
In the above verse Allah states that unbelievers will be recognised on the Day of Judgement by their marks. A person might have a beautiful or an innocent face in this world. Nevertheless, these people's faces after being raised up on the Day of Reckoning are described in the Quran as "downcast", "dust-covered" and "overcast with gloom". It is related in the verses that unbelievers will be gathered blind. Apart from blindness, their eyes will be horrible in appearance and, as related in the Qur'an, evildoers will be "blue-eyed" with terror. Every unbeliever will be raised up on the Day of Judgement in such a horrible state.
22- How do believers react to diseases or hardships?
Believers know that Allah tries men with hardships or diseases. For that reason they are always steadfast. They put their trust in Allah even at the time of a severe disease or a hardship, and never give way to despair. Being aware of the fact that it is Allah Who gives the disease or the hardship and that only He will cause it to cease, they turn towards Him. They hope for the reward for their good behaviour both in this world and in the Hereafter only from Allah. Allah informs us of the virtuous manner of believers faced with hardships as follows:
We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits. But give good news to the steadfast: Those who, when disaster strikes them, say, "We belong to Allah and to Him we will return." Those are the people who will have blessings and mercy from their Lord; they are the ones who are guided. (Surat al-Baqara, 155-157)
23- What are the advantages of consultation among believers?
Allah relates in the Qur'an that believers "respond to their Lord and establish prayer, and manage their affairs by mutual consultation…" (Surat ash-Shura, 38) Such consultation has both physical and spiritual benefits. Before all else, consulting another person and asking for his or her opinion is a sign of that person's modesty, which Allah approves. Besides this, a number of people working in unison are more likely to arrive at wise decisions than one acting alone. One party may consider a point that another might not have, eliminating any gaps, so that a much more productive and effective result ensues. The consequent success attained in the affair belongs to a number of people, and not only to a single person. This protects the soul from boasting of the success or claiming it as his own.
24- What is the reason for the narration of stories mentioned in the Qur'an?
There is instruction in their stories for people of intelligence. This is not a narration which has been invented but confirmation of all that came before, a clarification of everything, and a guidance and a mercy for people who believe. (Surah Yusuf, 111)
Allah states that there is instruction in the stories related in the Qur'an. Events narrated in these stories provide an example for believers in many respects. These stories assume great importance for believers, in terms of enabling them to recognise and not to repeat the mistakes of those who have passed away; to discern how past messengers and believers behaved in particular cases, and to take them as role models; to discern and adopt their virtuous characters; and to evaluate current events by considering past events and their outcomes.
25- How were past nations destroyed?
Allah sent messengers to nations who have passed away and warned them of the presence of the Hereafter and the Day of Reckoning. Yet most of these nations did not pay heed to these warnings, they opposed Allah and His messengers and forgot their Islamic morals, upon which Allah struck them with disasters as a reminder, and destroyed those who did not take heed of the warning. The punishments that befell these nations were varied in nature. However, what is common is that it came to them from where they did not expect, and at an unexpected time, usually while they were asleep. These punishments sometimes destroyed a whole city or an entire nation, they did not leave any trace of the city, and were painful and fearful. Allah refers to such perished nations in many verses in the Qur'an as a reminder to people:
Do they not see how many generations before them We have destroyed and that they will not return to them? (Surah Ya Sin, 31)
Of the punishments mentioned in the Qur'an some are listed as follows:
- Drowning, (Surat al-Isra, 103)
- Plague sent down from heaven, (Surat al-Baqara, 59)
- Earthquake,(Surat al-A'raf, 78)
- Gushing springs, (Surat al-Qamar, 12)
- A great blast, (Surah Hud, 67)
- Raining down stones of hard baked clay, (Surah Hud, 82)
- Howling wind, (Surat al-Qamar, 19)
- Thunderbolt, (Surat adh-Dhariyat, 44)
- Overturning, turning upside down… (Surat an-Najm, 53)
26- Who should be reminded?
Allah has informed us in the Qur'an whom shall take heed and remember, and in the verse, "Remind, then, if the reminder benefits" (Surat al-A'la, 9) He commands believers to remind those who are of such character. Some of the attributes of those who shall benefit from a reminder are as follows:
… This is admonishment for all who believe in Allah and the Last Day… (Surat at-Talaq, 2)
He who has fear will be reminded; (Surat al-A'la, 10)
… It is only people of intelligence who pay heed. (Surat ar-Ra'd, 19)
... But none pay heed save those who repent. (Surah Ghafir, 13)
... So remind, with the Qur'an, whoever fears My Threat. (Surah Qaf, 45)
And remind them, for truly the believers benefit from being reminded. (Surat adh-Dhariyat, 55)
27- What is the best response to a reminder?
In the verse, "The reply of the believers when they are summoned to Allah and His Messenger so that he can judge between them, is to say, 'We hear and we obey.' They are the ones who are successful." (Surat an-Nur, 51) Allah points out here how believers should respond to a reminder. Allah promises Paradise to those who hear and unhesitatingly obey the reminder of Allah and His messengers. In another verse Allah states that, "Those who listen well to what is said and follow the best of it, they are the ones whom Allah has guided, they are the people of intelligence" (Surat az-Zumar, 18) On the advice of this verse, believers are open to all reminders from those who have faith in Allah. They remember that believers always command them the right and forbid the wrong, and sincerely put it into practice.
28-What does "giving in the way of Allah" mean?
Giving away means spending the wealth and opportunities one has in the way of Allah. In recompense for spending in His way as defined in the verse, "Whatever is surplus to your needs (Surat al-Baqara, 219) Allah promises this person Paradise in the Hereafter and to compensate for what he gives in this world:
Say: "My Lord expands the provision of any of His servants He wills or restricts it. But anything you expend will be replaced by Him. He is the Best of Providers." (Surah Saba, 39)
… [those who] give of what We have provided for them, secretly and openly, hope for a transaction which will not prove profitless. (Surah Fatir, 29)
29- What is the best attitude while giving away? How should one give?
Allah informs us that one may give away his wealth "secretly and openly" (Surat al-Baqara, 274) Besides this, Allah states that those who give away should not do so to "show off", nor should they demand gratitude or insult others after spending their wealth. Allah reminds us that those who spend their wealth just to show off to other people shall have no reward:
Correct and courteous words accompanied by forgiveness are better than a charitable deed followed by insulting words. Allah is Rich Beyond Need, All-Forbearing. You who believe! Do not nullify your charitable deeds by demands for gratitude or insulting words, like him who spends his wealth, showing off to people and not believing in Allah and the Last Day. His likeness is that of a smooth rock coated with soil, which, when heavy rain falls on it, is left stripped bare. They have no power over anything they have earned. Allah does not guide disbelieving people. The metaphor of those who spend their wealth, desiring the pleasure of Allah and firmness for themselves, is that of a garden on a hillside. When heavy rain falls on it, it doubles its produce; and if heavy rain does not fall, there is dew. Allah sees what you do. (Surat al-Baqara, 263-265)
30- What is the reprisal in the sight of Allah for hoarding wealth or being tight-fisted?
Some people hoard up their wealth and money throughout their entire life and do not use it for good causes as defined in the Qur'an. With insatiable greed, they persistently try to possess more and more wealth. As for what they gain, they do not spend it in the way of Allah, or to feed those in need, but just to enjoy themselves. They hoard up much more than they will ever need and do not use it for good deeds apart from some small expenditures which serves as a means to show off. These people will have a terrible reprisal in the Hereafter, which is related in the Surat at-Tawba as follows:
… As for those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in the Way of Allah, give them the news of a painful punishment on the Day it is heated up in the fire of Hell and their foreheads, sides and backs are branded with it [when it will be said]: "This is what you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you were hoarding!" (Surat at-Tawba, 34-35)
Those who hoard their wealth and are parsimonious are in fact those who are greedily attached to this world with what they possess and who cannot grasp that Allah has given them wealth and assets to try them in this world. Yet Allah is the One Who is rich beyond need, and is the true owner of all wealth. It is man who needs a reward from Allah by spending in His way. This fact is related in a Qur'anic verse as follows:
Here you are then: people who are called upon to spend in the Way of Allah and then some of you are tight-fisted! But whoever is tight-fisted is only tight-fisted to himself. Allah is Rich and you are poor. If you turn away, He will replace you with a people other than yourselves and they will not be like you. (Surah Muhammad, 38)
31- Will wealth be of any use in the Hereafter?
Neither being rich nor possessing power in this world will be of any use in the Hereafter. No matter how much money or wealth one has in the world, this wealth will not be of any use when one is dead and buried in the earth. If he is a disbeliever, he will be treated in the same way as all other unbelievers and will be flung into the punishment of Hell. These people who used to get special treatment due to their wealth will be humiliated in the Hereafter with an incomparable humiliation. This is because they were too proud because of their worldly wealth and rejected the signs of Allah. In the Hereafter people will be treated based on their faith in Allah, fear and awareness of Him and the intention behind the deeds they performed. The wealth or power which they used to have in the world will not grant them any privilege. The following verse confirms that wealth is of no value in the presence of Allah:
We never sent a warner into any city without the affluent people in it saying, "We reject what you have been sent with." They also said, "We have more wealth and children. We are not going to be punished." Say: "My Lord expands the provision of anyone He wills or restricts it. But the majority of mankind do not know it." It is not your wealth or your children that will bring you near to Us—only in the case of people who believe and act rightly; such people will have a double recompense for what they did. They will be safe from all harm in the high halls of Paradise. (Surah Saba, 34-37)
32- How does one avoid the dangers of self- exoneration?
The self commands man to do evil. This fact is related in Surat ash-Shams as follows:
By the soul and the One Who proportioned and inspired it with knowledge of depravity and with its sense of duty, he who purifies it has succeeded, he who covers it up has failed. (Surat ash-Shams, 7-9)
Another verse pointing out the capacity of the soul to command to do evil is about the Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him), It is told in the verse that when a lie was forged against him though he was innocent, he said:
I do not say my self was free from blame. The self indeed commands to evil acts—except for those my Lord has mercy on. My Lord, He is Forgiving, Merciful. (Surah Yusuf, 53)
As it is told in the verse, the self always commands to evil. For that reason it would not be appropriate to try to defend oneself or to prove one's rightness immediately, for one might have momentarily and unawares followed what the self desired. What should indeed be done in such a case is to stop and reflect first before acting. When a person reflects sincerely and honestly, he may see that he in fact did wrong in many instances in which he assumed himself to be right. Perceiving things in this way is an enormous gain to the believer, because seeing and admitting one's own mistakes and amending one's wrongdoing is the first step in seeking the forgiveness of Allah. Otherwise, no matter how right a person may appear to be in the eyes of people, however hard he tries to vindicate his soul and avoids attributing any mistakes to himself, Allah knows the truth. And this truth he will meet in the Hereafter. It is a good action in the sight of Allah to reproach oneself, to admit one's own imperfections and failings and to turn to Allah in order to eliminate them, rather than to defend one's lower self.
33- How can one avoid being swept away by the life of this world?
This world is a particular place created by Allah where man is being tested and is being prepared for the abode of the Hereafter. Part of this test is that it is made to seem fair and attractive to man. Some features of this world that are alluring to people are stated in a Qur'anic verse as follows:
To mankind the love of worldly appetites is painted in glowing colours: women and children, and heaped-up mounds of gold and silver, and horses with fine markings, and livestock and fertile farmland. All that is merely the enjoyment of the life of this world. The best homecoming is in the presence of Allah. (Surah Al 'Imran, 14)
As stated in the verse, invaluable ornaments, wealth, profitable commerce, charming and wealthy mates, healthy children, pleasing houses, cars in any colour or model, assorted food are the values that attach man to this world. Yet man should remember that these are bestowed by Allah as a temporary benefit, all of them are merely the perishable goods of this world and, as announced in the verse above, "the best homecoming" is in the Hereafter. As for these benefits he is given, he should not squander them during his worldly life, but use them in making preparation for the Hereafter. Those who behave in accordance with this absolute truth are not swept away by the life of the world.
34- What will be the end of those who are satisfied with the life of this world?
Some people are greedily attached to the world, forgetting that it is imperfect and short-lived. Allah characterises these people in the Qur'an as follows:
As for those who do not expect to meet Us and are content with the life of this world and at rest in it, and those who are heedless of Our Signs, their shelter will be the Fire because of what they earned. (Surah Yunus, 7-8)
Those who are blindly attached to this world, forgetting their Creator, should know that in reprisal for what they do, they will suffer the eternal punishment of Hell. These people, on account of preferring a very short life of enjoyment, will lose an endless life of bliss. In the Hereafter they will not, even for a single instant, be able to enjoy those benefits which they are so greedily attached to in this world.
35- Can a person spend his entire life for Allah?
In order to understand how to spend one's entire life for Allah, one first needs to know the real meaning of life. Allah informs us about the real meaning of the life of this world in the Qur'an:
He Who created death and life to test which of you is best in action. He is the Almighty, the Ever-Forgiving. (Surat al-Mulk, 2)
As stated in this verse, everybody is tested in his deeds. Those who do good desire to earn the pleasure of Allah and to enter Paradise. And they know that they therefore need to spend every moment of their lives engaged in such an effort. Some people, however, are mistaken on this point. They think that only observing some religious practices and avoiding what is forbidden are for the pleasure of Allah, and that the rest of the time is not connected to the religion. In fact man should try to earn the good pleasure of Allah at every single moment, in every word, in every thought and in every deed. Someone who intends to devote every moment of his life to Allah always speaks in a manner that will be pleasing to Him. For example, everyone in the world works and earns money. Yet he who lives for Allah works in order to serve His religion and, setting aside of his earnings for himself only what he needs, spends the rest in deeds that would please Him. This person always talks in the way that would please Allah most. He reminds people of Allah, forbids them what is wrong and commands them to do what is right. He makes friendships with those whom Allah would be pleased with. While making this selection, he does not take into consideration his worldly interests or the criteria of people who do not live by Islamic morals. At every instant, he considers how he can best earn the good pleasure of Allah. To spend one's entire life for Allah is among the basic demands of the religion. Therefore Allah commands believers to: Say: "My prayer and my rites, my living and my dying, are for Allah alone, the Lord of all the worlds. " (Surat al-An'am, 162)
36- Why should man not deem himself self-sufficient?
The main purpose of a person who fears Allah is to be pleasing to Him. This person knows that he needs to improve himself and to engage in a continual effort to be better in behaviour; virtues such as sincerity, honesty, diligence, self-sacrifice and modesty have no "upper limits". In other words no one can say, "I have achieved model behaviour, it couldn't be any better than this."
A person's spiritual improvement will be rapid if he sees himself as imperfect and seeks to become better. Such a person purifies himself of his wrongdoings and progresses towards even better behaviour every single day. If someone sees himself as sufficient in any matter, then he will not attempt to seek or make any improvement. As a matter of fact, he is unable to find his faults and imperfections and so cannot amend them, which prevents improvement. Allah states in the Qur'an, that imagining oneself to be self-sufficient is a serious mistake:
No indeed! Truly man is unbridled seeing himself as self-sufficient. (Surat al-'Alaq, 6-7)
For that reason man should not deem himself sufficient, neither in performing good deeds that would please Allah nor in spiritually improving himself. Using the reason and conscience that Allah granted him he should always ask for what is better and the superior, and make a sincere effort to attain it.
37- Is there any compulsion in religion?
The answer to this question is given clearly in a Qur'anic verse as follows:
There is no compulsion where the religion is concerned. Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error. Anyone who rejects false gods and believes in Allah has grasped the Firmest Handhold, which will never give way. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Surat al-Baqara, 256)
As stated in the verse, no-one can be compelled to live by Islamic morals. Conveying the existence of Allah and the morals of the Qur'an to other people is a duty that believers are charged with. Believers who desire to perform their duty spread the message of religion in order to guide other people; yet knowing that they cannot do anything unless Allah wills, they leave the rest to Him. Since the existence of Allah and of the Hereafter is evident, it is extremely easy to discriminate between the path that Allah calls to and the indecency that satan calls to. Everyone can easily see which of these is better and beneficial. Therefore, those who fear Allah follow the right path most willingly and with pleasure. Allah states in many verses that believers' only duty is to convey the truth. This is related in a Qur'anic verse as follows: If they argue with you, say, "I have submitted myself completely to Allah, and so have all who follow me." Tell both those who have been given the Book as well as the unlettered, "Have you become Muslim?" If they become Muslim, they have been guided. If they turn away, you are only responsible for transmission. Allah sees His servants. (Surah Al 'Imran, 20)
38- What does "competing to do good deeds" mean?
People are distinguished from each other by their level of faith. There are people who have no faith in Allah, whereas there are those who, due to the strong fear and awareness of Allah they have, always try to do good deeds and serve the religion. These people who aim to attain the contentment of Allah in each instant of their lives are characterised in the Qur'an as follows:
Such people are truly racing to good deeds, and they outstrip [others] therein. (Surat al-Muminun, 61)
These people, at every instant, aim to serve the religion and perform deeds that will be beneficial both to the religion and to believers. In brief, in every step they take, they try to do good which Allah will be pleased with. They, hence, know that they need to reflect, pray, seek and put into practice the behaviour which earns the good pleasure of Allah. For that reason they are profound thinkers who honour Allah's greatness with the reverence that is due to Him to draw nearer to Him. They do not let themselves spend even a minute without thinking of the Hereafter, and are never oblivious to it. Therefore do not engross themselves in the temporal goods of this world. Since they possess pure faith, they spend every instant of their lives for Allah and are not heedless. It strengthens their awareness of Allah to reflect on Him and on His greatness. As Allah commands in the Qur'an, they work on and still toil when they finish a task. These people are the "forerunners", whom Allah promises Paradise:
And the forerunners, the forerunners. Those are the ones brought near in Gardens of Delight. (Surat al-Waqi'a, 10-12)
39- What do believers show patience in?
One of the distinguishing attributes of believers is their patience. However, the concept of patience that we learn from the Qur'an does not mean endurance at times of hardship. What is recommended in the Qur'an is to display patience when it comes to choosing the kind of behaviour that will be pleasing to Allah, in all situations and at all times.
Allah tests believers with a variety of situations, such as hunger, fear and loss of goods or prosperity. The believer described in the Qur'an perseveringly seeks the good pleasure of Allah regardless of the circumstances. In prosperity he gives thanks to Allah; in case of difficulty and hardship he puts his trust in Him. For him the benefits of the religion always take precedence over personal benefits. He patiently fulfils every detail of a virtuous character throughout his entire life. He is sincere, honest, generous, diligent and eager; he always speaks with generosity and gentleness, and always tries to serve the religion. In short, he applies everything that Allah points out as being good. As a reward for this, Allah gives His patient servants glad tidings:
We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits. But give good news to the patient: Those who, when disaster strikes them, say, "We belong to Allah and to Him we will return." Those are the people who will have blessings and mercy from their Lord; they are the ones who are guided. (Surat al-Baqara, 155-157)
40- What is the purpose of the wealth granted to unbelievers?
The wealth and power that unbelievers possess have always led them to even further insolence. This is a mystery explained in the Quran. Allah informs believers that the wealth of unbelievers is only worldly and commands believers not to be impressed by them in any way. He also promises that He will increase their disbelief with this wealth, and ultimately drive them altogether into Hell.
A Qur'anic verse relating to this significant fact states:
Do not let their wealth and children impress you. Allah merely wants to punish them by them during their life in this world and for them to expire while they are disbelieving. (Surat at-Tawba, 55)