Islam – Religion of Action Not Just Philosophy

Islam is a din of action not just philosophy. It is more than the decadent acquisition of knowledge. Many times we as Muslims describe the key tenets of our faith as abstracts: taqwa, ihsan (for a definition of taqwa, see the Glossary), etc. And yet, these two words, as they are used in the Qur’an are often in the imperative form: in other words, taqwa and ihsan are things you do, not simply think.

Who are the people of taqwa? God says:

لَّيْسَ ٱلْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّوا۟ وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ ٱلْمَشْرِقِ وَٱلْمَغْرِبِ وَلَٰكِنَّ ٱلْبِرَّ مَنْ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْءَاخِرِ وَٱلْمَلَٰٓئِكَةِ وَٱلْكِتَٰبِ وَٱلنَّبِيِّۦنَ وَءَاتَى ٱلْمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِۦ ذَوِى ٱلْقُرْبَىٰ وَٱلْيَتَٰمَىٰ وَٱلْمَسَٰكِينَ وَٱبْنَ ٱلسَّبِيلِ وَٱلسَّآئِلِينَ وَفِى ٱلرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتَى ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَٱلْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَٰهَدُوا۟ ۖ وَٱلصَّٰبِرِينَ فِى ٱلْبَأْسَآءِ وَٱلضَّرَّآءِ وَحِينَ ٱلْبَأْسِ ۗ أُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ ٱلَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا۟ ۖ وَأُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْمُتَّقُونَ

“Goodness does not lie in turning your faces to the East or to the West. Rather, those with true devoutness are those who believe in God and the Last Day, the Angels, the Book and the Prophets, and who, despite their love for it, give away their wealth to their relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to travellers and beggars and to set slaves free, who establish prayer and pay zakah; those who honor their contracts when they make them, and are steadfast even in poverty, illness, or duress. Those are the people who are prove truthful. They are the people who have taqwa.” Qur’an, 2: 177.

Likewise, regarding ihsan, God says:

وَٱبْتَغِ فِيمَآ ءَاتَىٰكَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلدَّارَ ٱلْءَاخِرَةَ ۖ وَلَا تَنسَ نَصِيبَكَ مِنَ ٱلدُّنْيَا ۖ وَأَحْسِن كَمَآ أَحْسَنَ ٱللَّهُ إِلَيْكَ ۖ وَلَا تَبْغِ ٱلْفَسَادَ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ ۖ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُفْسِدِينَ

“Seek the abode of the Next World with what Allah has given you, without forgetting your portion of this world. And do good as Allah has been good to you. And do not seek to cause corruption in the earth. Allah does not love corrupters.” Qur’an, 28: 77.

A lack action, something we are guilty of as a community, is one of the things the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم warned us about:

النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال‏:‏ ‏”‏ خيركم قرني، ثم الذين يلونهم، ثم الذين يلونهم‏”‏ قال عمران‏:‏ فما أدري قال‏:‏ النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم مرتين أو ثلاثاً ‏”‏ ثم يكون بعدهم قوم يشهدون ولا يستشهدون، ويخونون ولا يؤتمنون، وينذرون ولا يوفون، ويظهر فيهم السمن

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: said, “The best of you, are my contemporaries, then those who follow them, then those who will come after them. (‘Imran said, I do not know if he said this twice or thrice). Then, they will be followed by those who will testify but will not be called upon to testify; they will betray the trust, and will not be trusted. They will make vows but will not fulfill them, and obesity will prevail among them.” Related by ‘Imran bin al-Husayn as well as Ibn ‘Umar from Ibn Hibban amongst others.

Truthfulness is not simply a state of mind but also what one does. Both the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and Abu Bakr رضى الله عنه had titles, based on their actions:

  • Abu Bakr was “al-Siddiq” because he did actions of trustworthiness and came to be known by them/كيف سمّى أبا بكر “الصديق”؟ قد تصدق
  • The Prophet was called “al-Amin” because he was reliable, trustworthy and saw to others/كيف سمّى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم؟ قد أمن وأمّن

And with God is all success.

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