A believer is one who has been purified of idolatry and other forms of ignorance, such as placing his hopes on imaginary deities or seeking their approval, thereby becoming subservient to them. He serves Allah alone and seeks the approval of Allah alone. As mentioned earlier, he does this by "striving with all due striving."

The key to "striving with all due striving" on Allah's way is to seek what pleases Allah most. In the face of several choices, all of which are legitimate, a believer must choose the one that pleases Allah most.

This can be briefly described as follows:

- A believer must spend his entire life doing what is "lawful." The Qur'an makes clear which actions are unlawful, and these are indeed very few in number. Anything other than these unlawful deeds is lawful.

- In addition to this, what a believer must do is attend to the deeds and thoughts that please Allah most. In this endeavour, his wisdom and "foresight" guide him.

The example of "spending in the way of Allah" (infaq) will make this concept clearer. A believer is a person who has sold his "property and self" to Allah. He should put whatever he has to use in the way that pleases Allah most. However, he may frequently encounter many choices. Let us assume that he has a considerable amount of money with which he could buy a new suit for himself. This is indeed a legitimate and lawful thing to do; being meticulous about one's appearance is surely something in conformity with Allah's will. However, there may be other things to do with this money which would please Allah better. Giving it to a needy person might well please Allah more. However, this is a decision that rests entirely with the person himself. Considering the specific conditions and environment he is in, he must establish his priorities by consulting his conscience.

Another example will lead to a better understanding of this concept: A believer is responsible for "enjoining good and forbidding evil," communicating Allah's religion and carrying out a struggle on intellectual grounds against the tyrants in the world. Shouldering this all-important responsibility is one way to earn the good pleasure of Allah. Such a responsibility means that certain duties always take precedence. Since there are so many duties demanded by such an important responsibility, it would be incorrect to give priority to any other deed, albeit a legitimate and lawful one. For instance, a man is responsible for taking care of his family; he is the one who provides security and sustenance for the family members. However, using this as an excuse to avoid the responsibility of "enjoining good and forbidding evil" would be conduct unbecoming to a believer.

Indeed, upon reflection, we can see that the "soul" (an-nafs) is involved when one prefers what is less valuable in the presence of Allah. Preferring the less valuable to the more valuable in the presence of Allah is a consequence of setting aside a "share" for one's soul. In this sense, what one needs to accomplish is not to be guided by one's soul, but to go all-out to seek the total approval of Allah. Seeking Allah's consent by a ninety nine percent effort and setting aside a one percent share for the soul may not be acceptable in the eyes of Allah. That is because the person in question has associated his soul with Allah. A mere one percent of idolatry may render his services unacceptable. The situation of those who ascribe partners to any being other than Allah is described as follows:

They assign to Allah a share of the crops and livestock He has created, saying, "This is for Allah,"-as they allege-"and this is for our idols." Their idols' share does not reach Allah, whereas Allah's share reaches their idols! What an evil judgement they make! (Surat al-An'am: 136)

If a person risks his life to protect his family in the event of some injustice done to him, but remains heedless and involves himself with his own business when there is oppression and slander against other believers, we can say that he does not seek Allah's approval. Such an attitude indicates man's inclination towards and submission to his soul (nafs), which is entirely against the Islamic goal of "serving Allah alone." Furthermore, acting in compliance with the desires of the soul is defined in the Qur'an as setting up partners with Allah:

Have you seen him who has taken his whims and desires to be his god? Will you then be his guardian? (Surat al-Furqan: 43)

A believer, on the other hand, devotes all his possessions and his entire life to Allah. This superior attribute of believers is indicated in the Qur'an as follows:

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)

As for seeking what most pleases Allah, the attitude of believers in wartime in the days of the Prophet (saas) is related in the Qur'an. In the face of two groups of enemies, believers preferred to fight against the weaker of the two. Yet it was Allah's will that there should be a fight against the stronger. These events are related in the verses as follows:

When Allah promised you that one of the two parties would be yours, you would have preferred the unarmed one, whereas Allah sought to fulfill His promise and to rout the last remnant of the disbelievers. This was so that the Truth should triumph and falsehood be discomfited, even though the evil-doers hated that. (Surat al-Anfal: 7-8)

Finally, Allah made the believers confront the stronger party and led them to the one thing that would please Him most. Ultimately, they triumphed with the help of Allah.

The example related above is an event shaped within the conditions of that period. Yet the fact remains that in every age Muslims are put to the test through different events. Today, for instance, Muslims must engage in a struggle on intellectual grounds against those who deny the Qur'an and the facts of creation and who strive to sow immorality in society. Muslims should determine the best course to follow in this struggle they take upon themselves and then carry it out with commitment. Yet, even if one has the strength to shoulder this responsibility, if one involves oneself with issues of no great urgency only to satisfy one's own desires, that will only incur the displeasure of Allah.

In any case, such a tendency does not conform to a Muslim's sense of right conduct. He is someone who has been chosen by Allah and to whom faith has been granted; he is held responsible for extirpating wrongdoing from society, replacing it with peace, and establishing an environment where everyone lives by Allah's religion. He is responsible for struggling for those men, women and children who are oppressed and who say: "Our Lord, take us out of this city whose inhabitants are wrongdoers! Give us a protector from You! Give us a helper from You!..." (Surat an-Nisa: 75)

This concept is not confined to an intellectual struggle only. Throughout his life, a Muslim must maintain this standpoint in his daily life, his worship and in all the events he encounters.

Meanwhile, we need to bear in mind that the expression, "doing what is most pleasing to Allah" is used to make the concept more comprehensible. Turning away from what pleases Allah most and involving oneself with tasks of secondary importance is in fact displeasing to Allah. Hence, that one thing that pleases Allah most is, under all circumstances, whatever is in accordance with His will. To put it another way, there is no alternative to what pleases Allah most.

Not seeking what will please Allah best, and being contented with less, is actually a consequence of a flawed outlook on the hereafter. Such an outlook is formed because one thinks one deserves paradise. However, nobody can be assured of such a reward. In the Qur'an, Allah warns even the Prophet (saas) with the verse, "…If Allah willed, He could seal up your heart…" (Surat ash-Shura: 24). This being the case, it is obvious that no one is guaranteed paradise.

In any case, a sincere believer, as described in the Qur'an, never thinks that he or she definitely deserves paradise or becomes carried away by this feeling. The true believer typically prays to Allah in "fear and hope." (Surat al-A'raf: 56)

Those lacking real faith also think they deserve paradise because they do not fear Allah as they should and assume that the deeds they do are good. With their flawed rationale, they say, "We will be forgiven anyway." However, this is an attitude peculiar to those who do not fear Allah as He should be feared. Of the situation of these people Allah states the following:

An evil generation has succeeded them, inheriting the Book, taking the goods of this lower world, and saying, "We will be forgiven." But if similar goods come to them again they still take them. Has not a covenant been made with them in the Book, that they should only tell the truth about Allah and have they not studied what is in it? The Final Abode is better for those who have fear of Allah. Will you not use your intellect? (Surat al-A'raf: 169)

There are also those who, deceived by the material wealth granted to them in this world, arrive at the erroneous conclusion that Allah loves them, thereby believing that they too will be welcomed into paradise-although they harbour doubts about its existence. The Qur'an gives us a relevant example:

Give them this parable. Once there were two men, to one of whom We gave two gardens of grape-vines and surrounded them with date-palms, putting between them some cultivated land. Both gardens yielded their crops and did not suffer any loss, and We made a river flow right through the middle of them. He was a man of wealth and property and he said to his companion, which conversing with him, "I have more wealth than you and my clan is mightier than yours." He entered his garden and wronged himself by saying, "I do not think that this will ever end. I do not think the Hour of Doom will ever come. But if I should be sent back to my Lord, I will definitely get something better in return." (Surat al-Kahf: 32-36)

A Muslim, contrary to people with such a mindset, fears "going astray after being guided to the right path." The prayer of believers in the Qur'an is as follows:

Our Lord, do not cause our hearts to go astray after You have guided us. And grant us mercy. You are the Ever-Giving. (Surah Al 'Imran: 8)

However, it is also worth mentioning that this is not the kind of fear that arouses dread or uneasiness in a believer's heart. On the contrary, fear of Allah motivates believers to have zeal in striving to be servants who deserve to enter Paradise and ensures that they spend the life of this world in the best way possible.

A Muslim aims at earning the approval of Allah in the life of this world, which is inherently temporary and short. His thoughts concentrate on a single great event that will happen soon: He will certainly die one day and give an account of his deeds in the presence of Allah. This will lead him either to eternal terrible ruin or to eternal salvation. It would certainly be unwise to pursue some other course or to remain heedless while there is such a great event ahead of him.

For his salvation, a believer is responsible for seeking "what pleases Allah most." Failing to do so means being unaware of the danger waiting ahead. In the face of the humiliation one will face in hell and in the presence of Allah, it is surely essential to seek "what pleases Allah most."

A few examples of the attitude one displays in the face of dangers that one may encounter in this world and the efforts one makes to deal with them will lead to a better understanding of how one seeks what pleases Allah most:

- Assume that you are face to face with a giant torrent and the water level is rising rapidly. In this situation, would you run to the top of a ten-storey building to save yourself, or remain on the fifth-floor and say, "This place is high enough to save me"?

- Let's assume that there is a lift that can take you to the top floor. This lift is not free of charge and it will operate only once. You have just the right amount of money to take you to the top floor. Would you give all the money you have to go to the top, or remain at a lower storey which is vulnerable to the torrent?

- Again, let's assume that there is a party being held on the sixth-floor, where you have taken refuge. Would you attend the party or strive to find a way to the top floor?

- As another example, let's assume that one of your close friends has had a heart attack and he or she should immediately be taken to the emergency room. In this situation, would you drive as fast as you can or not drive so fast and say, "This is fast enough, he or she must bear up."?

As is apparent from the examples above, in the face of danger, a man becomes vigilant and does his utmost to be saved from it. The biggest threat to man is hell. One of the most important goals of a person who seeks what pleases Allah most, is his inner inclination to avoid this danger.

For a moment, let's assume that you are on the edge of hell, around which people will be gathered on the Day of Judgement and witness its stunning images. Having seen hell, would you not choose what pleases Allah most out of a number of alternatives?

Once a person is sent to hell, he will no longer have the opportunity to make choices but will only give an account of his deeds. This being the case, one must already start acting in that light. Indeed, a believer always acts in the light of the idea of the nearness of hell, considering that he can, at any moment, go to the hereafter. On numerous occasions the Qur'an draws attention to the fact that any regret felt in the hereafter will be in vain. One of the relevant verses is as follows:

There they will shout out: "Our Lord! Take us out! We will act rightly, differently from the way we used to act!" But He will answer: "Did We not let you live long enough for anyone who was going to pay heed? And did not the warner come to you? Have a taste of it then! There shall be no helper for the wrongdoers." (Surah Fatir: 37)

On the other hand, just as we strive to stay away from danger, we need to devote similar and even greater efforts to attaining blessings. It is surely unwise to feel contented with having less in paradise. When leaving an island abounding in gold, would you not take as much gold as possible with you? When the time comes to depart from this world, a Muslim should not feel regret and say, "I wish I had done such and such a thing" or "I wish I had gained the rewards of doing a particular righteous deed." To avoid this situation, he should be cautious to choose what pleases Allah most.

Disbelievers do their best to "make the most" of their lives, which is nothing but "a brief enjoyment" (Surah Al 'Imran: 197). While this "brief enjoyment" is doomed to a bitter end, Allah promises His approval, mercy and paradise for believers. A believer, who wishes to avail himself of these promises of Allah, must strive hard to seek what most pleases Him.

The Key to the Approval of Allah: Conscience

In the face of several choices, a believer must choose the one with which Allah will be pleased most. In this, conscience is the most important criterion that will guide him to the correct choice. Allah's Messenger, the Prophet Muhammad (saas) drew attention to the importance of conscience during a conversation with a man:

A person asked Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him): "What is faith?" He said: "When a good deed becomes a source of pleasure for you and an evil deed becomes a source of disgust for you, then you are a believer." He again said to Allah's Messenger: "What is a sin?" Whereupon he said: "When something pricks your conscience, give it up." (Tirmidhi)

One of the most important differences between a believer and a disbeliever is that while the believer will adhere to his conscience, the disbeliever will comply with his soul which inspires evil deeds. Consequently, a believer displays his most natural state when he heeds his conscience.

However, it is by no means true that a believer is immune to the temptations of his self. As the Prophet Yusuf (as) said, "The self indeed commands to evil acts." (Surah Yusuf: 53) Accordingly, it will command the alternatives that are against Allah's Will.

A believer avoids the tricks of his soul by means of his conscience. Faced with a choice, a believer initially tends to select the one that first occurs to him, which is generally the one that pleases Allah most. Then, the self intervenes: it tries to make other alternatives seem more alluring and finds pretexts to legitimise them. A believer must disregard these pretexts and comply with the initial and absolutely correct choice to which his conscience leads him.

Loving for Allah's Sake

That is the good news (the promise of paradise) which Allah gives to His servants who believe and do right actions. Say: "I do not ask you for any recompense for this [but] only good will through kinship. If anyone does a good action, he shall be repaid many times over. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Thankful." (Surat ash-Shura: 23)

A believer devotes his entire life to Allah. He lives for Allah, works for Allah and loves for Allah's sake.

"Loving for Allah's sake" might be an incomprehensible concept for someone who is not well acquainted with true Islam. One who has remained distant from Allah throughout his life, and who has therefore not known Him, will be unaware of how to love Allah intuitively.

However, a believer who knows Allah and witnesses His mercy to him, who recognises that everything he loves is His blessing and that he owes his existence and life to His mercy, loves Allah and attains the noble spirit of loving for the sake of Allah. In the Qur'an, the great difference between believers and other people in this sense is stated as follows:

Some people set up equals to Allah, loving them as they should love Allah. But those who believe have greater love for Allah… (Surat al-Baqara: 165)

As is stated in the verse above, those who associate partners with Allah and who, in their minds, ascribe all attributes of Allah to other beings, love these beings as they should love Allah. This is the kind of love that is based on idolatry.

Aware that everything belongs to Allah and every being's existence is consequential upon Allah's creation, believers love Allah most. This great feature, which is a natural consequence of the believer's recognition of Allah as the One and Only Supreme Being, makes him completely different from other people. This quality of believers is stated in one of the saying of the Prophet (saas) thus:

Whoever has three things discovers the sweetness of faith: that Allah and His Messenger are more beloved to him than all else, that he love another only for the sake of Allah Most High, and that he hate to return to disbelief as he would hate to be thrown into fire." (Muslim and Bukhari)

Those who associate partners with Allah, on the other hand, cannot stand the remembrance of Allah:

...When you mention your Lord alone in the Qur'an, they turn their backs and run away. (Surat al-Isra': 46)

However, it is worthy of mention that remembering Allah next to their idols does not disturb idolaters. The rationale thus expressed: "We are Muslims, but we can enjoy our day as well" is at the basis of their thinking. The believer, however, grasps the following fact:

- Nothing (be it a human being, a thing or an event, etc.) has a beauty of its own. Allah creates all things and endows them with beauty. Since a person, for example, has not designed and formed his or her face himself, that beauty is a beauty that belongs to Allah.

- Allah gives this beauty to man, whom he created from nothing, for a brief time only (since that person will soon grow old and die). Only Allah possesses the power to recreate that beauty in the hereafter, in an even more perfect form.

- As in the case of a human being, all creatures that deserve love are created by Allah and made "pretty." To remind people that the actual owner of this beauty is Allah, He destines the beauty of these beings to perish with death and ultimately with doomsday. In the hereafter, all beings will be recreated.

This being the case, a believer loves all the things he encounters in this world, aware that they all belong to Allah and that he will encounter the "original" form of their beauty in the hereafter. Consequently, his actual love is for Allah, the One Who provides him with everything he loves: He is the real Owner of every kind of beauty.

Contrary to the concept of love based upon faith in Allah that is enjoyed by believers, disbelievers' love is based on idolatry. In the Qur'an, this form of love is described in the words of Prophet Ibrahim (as):

He said, "You have adopted idols apart from Allah as tokens of mutual affection in this world. But then on the Day of Rising you will reject one another and curse one another. The Fire will be your shelter. You will have no helpers." (Surat al-'Ankabut: 25)

Said Nursi, also known as Bediuzzaman (the Wonder of the Age), one of the greatest Islamic scholars of the twentieth century, likens this form of love to that of a man who looks at the sun through a mirror held in his hand. Once the mirror is broken into pieces and light is no longer reflected from it, the man feels profound distress at having lost a source of light. However, he is not intelligent enough to conceive that the light in the mirror does not actually originate from it. The light comes from the sun; mirrors only reflect it.

A believer shows all his love for Allah. Loving Allah is to love beings, aware that they reflect the attributes of Allah and that these attributes actually belong to Him, as in the case of the mirrors.

Consequently, a believer shows his love for Allah by loving believers who make "manifest" the attributes of Allah in their manner and conduct, and who display the moral values foreseen to be good by Allah. This form of love is not based on kinship, race or any kind of interest. Due to the love felt for Allah, it is solely a matter of loving those who love Allah. In the Qur'an, our Lord describes the love between believers by referring to the love between the companions of the Prophet (saas) in his time:

Those who were already settled in the abode, and in faith, before they came, love those who have emigrated to them and do not find in their hearts any need for what they have been given, but prefer them to themselves, even if they themselves are needy. It is the people who are safe-guarded from the avarice of their own selves who are successful. (Surat al-Hashr: 9)

The Qur'an makes it clear that the love felt for believers has been specially granted to them by Allah:

As for those who believe and do right actions, the All-Merciful will bestow His love on them. (Surah Maryam: 96)

"Yahya, observe the Book with firm resolve." We gave him judgement, tenderness and purity while still a child, and he went in fear of Allah. (Surah Maryam: 12-13)

Believers love only Allah and those who place faith in Him. This being the case, they have no love for anybody who rebels against Allah. This subject is emphasised in the following verses of the Qur'an:

You who believe! Do not take My enemy and your enemy as friends, showing love for them when they have rejected the truth that has come to you, driving the Messenger and yourselves out of your city simply because you believe in Allah your Lord. If you go out to fight in My Way and seeking My pleasure, keeping secret the love you have for them, I know best what you conceal and what you make known. Any of you who do that have strayed from the right way. (Surat al-Mumtahana: 1)

You have an excellent example in Ibrahim and those with him, when they said to their people, "We wash our hands of you and all that you worship apart from Allah, and we reject you. Between us and you there will be enmity and hatred for ever unless and until you have faith in Allah alone…" (Surat al-Mumtahana: 4)

You who believe, do not befriend your fathers or your brothers if they prefer disbelief to faith. Those among you who do befriend them are wrongdoers. (Surat at-Tawba: 23)

You will not find people who believe in Allah and the Last Day on friendly terms with anyone who opposes Allah and His Messenger, even though they be their fathers, their sons, their brothers or their nearest kindred... (Surat al-Mujadala: 22)

As the verses above make it clear, the love of a believer rests on no criterion other than the "love felt for Allah." Setting aside all factors such as kinship or material wealth, this love is deeply rooted in faith and noble values. A believer has love for those whose faith is assured rather than for those possessing fame, money or social status, which are only seemingly important.

Having purified his feelings of love of factors other than "the love felt for Allah," a believer loves the one who fears Allah most and who is most attentive to seeking His pleasure. The more one has of the attributes peculiar to a believer, the more one is cherished by believers. In the Qur'an also, we witness believers holding most dear the Prophet (saas)-the one who is nearest to Allah and the one who fears Allah most:

The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves... (Surat al-Ahzab: 6)

Since a believer's understanding of love is based on faith, he will also establish his marriage on the same grounds. At this point, too, there emerges an all-important difference between believers and disbelievers: disbelievers often base their marriage on mutual material benefits. This is especially true of women, who try to find a "prosperous man" in the expectation of a high standard of living. For such a purpose, a young girl may easily agree to be the life-long spouse of someone for whom she has no affection. This is, in fact, similar to a commercial agreement from which both parties derive benefits. The only difference is that this agreement is purported to be a life-long one.

The examples of such marriages are legion. There are many young people who marry people who are rich or old or who are known for their immorality, solely because they are wealthy or famous.

Marriages of disbelievers are not always based on purely material benefits. There are also many young people who seek "good looks" or attractiveness in the person they want to marry. Such girls marry men who have nothing but physical charm, who they assume to be a "knight on a white horse."

Yet the rationale behind this viewpoint neglects one crucial fact: all these physical traits are eventually doomed to perish. All human beings will eventually grow old. Furthermore, Allah can take back the fortune, good looks or health of a man in a moment. Similarly, it takes but a few seconds to have an accident and become paralysed, bed-ridden or to lose one's good looks. Under such conditions, what would become of such a marriage?

What would a woman do when her husband was blinded in an accident, for instance, if she married him because he had beautiful eyes? Most probably she would only then realise the unreasonable basis upon which her most important decision rested.

A believer aims at eternal paradise in the hereafter. His life is intended to gain the approval of Allah and to attain "salvation and happiness." Having devoted all his prayers and his entire life to Allah, he will surely also devote his marriage to Allah.

A marriage entered into to gain Allah's approval is surely entirely different from one based on "idolatry." In such a marriage, the criteria can by no means be money, fame or beauty. The sole purpose in marrying will be to gain Allah's approval. The true believer would like to marry someone who will be most instrumental in making him or her earn Allah's approval. Consequently, he or she only marries such person as displays a deep loyalty to Allah and is superior in faith and piety (taqwa).

For the reason described above, certain women who lived during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (saas), expressed a desire to marry the Prophet (saas). Those who preferred otherwise are described in the Qur'an as desiring "the life of the world and its finery":

Prophet, tell your wives: "If you desire the life of the world and its finery, come and I will give you all you need and release you with kindness. But if you desire Allah and His Messenger and the abode of the hereafter, Allah has prepared an immense reward for those among you who do good works." (Surat al-Ahzab: 28-29)

Attributes of Believers

One who lives by the Qur'an will also love those who live by the Qur'an, that is, the believers. Due to their faith in Allah, believers are granted some attributes that make them worthy of love. A believer will also seek these attributes in other believers and, witnessing these attributes in them, he will cherish them.

The following are the notable attributes of believers as explained in the Qur'an:

- Believers serve Allah only. There is no being that they have idolised in their minds but Him. (Surat al-Fatiha: 1-7; Surat an-Nisa': 36)

- They fear Allah. They refrain from doing anything that Allah has forbidden or that is contrary to the will of Allah. (Surah Al 'Imran: 102; Surah Ya Sin: 11; Surat at-Taghabun: 16; Surat az-Zumar: 23)

- They trust Allah alone. (Surat al-Baqara: 249; Surat at-Tawba: 25-26)

- They fear no one but Allah. (Surat al-Ahzab: 39)

- They always feel grateful to Allah. Prosperity or destitution does not lead them to be boastful or to feel sorry for themselves. (Surat al-Baqara: 172; Surat al-Isra': 3; Surah Ibrahim: 7)

- They have certainty in their faith. The thought of turning away from earning the approval of Allah does not even occur to them. They unceasingly render their services with ever-increasing zeal and ardour. (Surat al-Hujurat: 15; Surat al-Baqara: 4)

- They are committed to the Qur'an. They reorient all their deeds in compliance with the Qur'anic stance. They immediately disown an attitude once they realise it is not in conformance with the teachings of the Qur'an. (Surat al-A'raf: 170; Surat al-Ma'ida: 49; Surat al-Baqara: 121)

- They remember Allah continually. They know that Allah is ever the Hearer and Seer of everything, and always keep in mind the eternal might of Allah. (Surah Al 'Imran: 191; Surat ar-Ra'd: 28; Surat an-Nur: 37; Surat al-A'raf: 205; Surat al-'Ankabut: 45)

- They know their weakness before Allah. They are humble. (However, this does not mean they are weak and thus display unconfident attitudes towards people.) (Surat al-Baqara: 286; Surat al-A'raf: 188)

- They know nothing will happen to them, except what Allah has decreed. They do not become overwrought about anything and always remain calm and put their trust in Allah. (Surat at-Tawba: 51; Surat at-Taghabun: 11; Surah Yunus: 49; Surat al-Hadid: 22)

- They turn towards the hereafter; their main target is the hereafter. They also benefit from worldly blessings and aspire to an environment in this world very similar to paradise. (Surat an-Nisa': 74; Surah Sad: 46; Surat al-A'raf: 31-32)

- They take only Allah and believers as their friends and intimates. (Surat al-Ma'ida: 55-56; Surat al-Mujadala: 22)

- They are the people endued with understanding. Never losing their consciousness of worshipping, they remain cautious and vigilant at every moment. They always render services which are in the interests of believers and religion. (Surat al-Mu'min: 54; Surat az-Zumar: 18)

- They strive to the utmost in the way of Allah. They struggle with disbelievers on intellectual grounds, especially with the leaders of disbelief. They never feel frustrated or weak-hearted in this struggle. (Surat al-Anfal: 39; Surat al-Hajj: 78; Surat al-Hujurat: 15; Surat at-Tawba: 12)

- They do not hesitate to speak the truth. They do not refrain from telling the truth because of their fear of others. They do not mind rejecters' ridiculing and attacking them and are fearless of human censure. (Surat al-Ma'ida: 54, 67; Surat al-A'raf: 2)

- They resort to various methods to convey Allah's message and to summon people to Allah's religion. (Surah Nuh: 5-9)

- They do not oppress others. They are merciful and tender-hearted. (Surat an-Nahl: 125; Surat at-Tawba 128; Surah Hud: 75)

- They are not carried away by their anger; they are tolerant and forgiving. (Surah Al 'Imran: 134; Surat al-A'raf: 199; Surat ash-Shu'ara': 40-43)

- They are trustworthy people. They impress people with their strong personality and make them feel how trustworthy they are. (Surat ad-Dukhan: 17-18; Surat at-Takwir: 19-21; Surat al-Ma'ida: 12; Surat an-Nahl: 120)

- They are accused of being sorcerers or of being mad. (Surat al-A'raf: 132; Surah Yunus: 2; Surah Sad: 4; Surat al-Hijr: 6; Surat al-Qamar: 9)

- They are subjected to oppression. (Surat ash-Shu'ara': 49; 167; Surat al-'Ankabut: 24; Surah Ya Sin: 18; Surah Ibrahim: 6; Surat an-Naml: 49, 56; Surah Hud: 91)

- They persevere in the face of adversity. (Surat al-'Ankabut: 2-3; Surat al-Baqara: 156, 214; Surah Al 'Imran: 142, 146, 195; Surat al-Ahzab: 48; Surah Muhammad: 31; Surat al-An'am: 34)

- They have no fear of oppression or death. (Surat at-Tawba: 111; Surah Al 'Imran: 156-158, 169-171, 173; Surat ash-Shu'ara': 49-50; Surat as-Saffat: 97-99; Surat an-Nisa': 74)

- They are attacked and plotted against by disbelievers; they are mocked. (Surat al-Baqara: 14, 212)

- They are under the protection of Allah. All plots devised against them prove to be futile. Allah protects them against all slanders and plots and exalts them. (Surah Al 'Imran: 110-111, 120; Surah Ibrahim: 46; Surat an-Anfal: 30; Surat an-Nahl: 26; Surah Yusuf: 34; Surat al-Hajj: 38; Surat al-Ma'ida: 42, 105; Surat an-Nisa': 141)

- They are on their guard against disbelievers. (Surat an-Nisa': 71, 102; Surah Yusuf : 67)

- They treat Satan and his followers as enemies. (Surah Fatir: 6; Surat az-Zukhruf 62; Surat al-Mumtahana: 1; Surat an-Nisa': 101; Surat al-Ma'ida: 82)

- They struggle with hypocrites. They do not keep company with people displaying hypocritical attributes. (Surat at-Tawba: 83, 95, 123)

- They prevent the tyranny of rejecters. (Surat al-Ahzab: 60-62; Surat al-Hashr: 6; Surat at-Tawba: 14-15, 52)

- They act by consulting each other. (Surat ash-Shura: 38)

- They do not long for the ostentatious lives of disbelievers. (Surat al-Kahf: 28; Surat at-Tawba: 55; Surah Ta Ha: 131)

- They are not impressed by wealth or status. (Surat al-Hajj: 41; Surat al-Qasas: 79-80; Surat an-Nahl: 123)

- They practise every act of worship in the best manner. (Surat al-Baqara: 238; Surat al-Anfal: 3; Surat al-Mu'minun: 1-2)

- They do not follow the majority, but rather the criteria that Allah has provided. (Surat al-An'am: 116)

- They strive to draw nearer to Allah, and to serve as good examples for those who believe. (Surat al-Ma'ida: 35; Surah Fatir: 32; Surat al-Waqi'a: 10-14; Surat al-Furqan: 74)

- They are not influenced by Satan. (Surat al-A'raf: 201; Surat al-Hijr: 39-42; Surat an-Nahl: 98-99)

- They do not follow their fathers blindly. They behave in compliance with Qur'anic teaching. (Surah Ibrahim: 10; Surah Hud: 62, 109)

- They do not let women be ill-treated. (Surat an-Nur: 4; Surat at-Talaq: 6; Surat al-Baqara: 231, 241; Surat an-Nisa': 19)

- They avoid extravagance. (Surat an-An'am: 141; Surat al-Furqan: 67)

- They guard their chastity, wed and conduct their married lives in the way Allah desires. (Surat al-Mu'minun: 5-6; Surat an-Nur: 3, 26, 30; Surat al-Baqara: 221; Surat al-Ma'ida: 5; Surat al-Mumtahana: 10)

- They are moderate while practising their worship. (Surat al-Baqara: 143; Surat an-Nisa': 171)

- They are self-sacrificing people. (Surat al-Insan: 8; Surah Al 'Imran: 92, 134; Surat at-Tawba: 92)

- They are careful about being clean. (Surat al-Baqara: 125, 168; Surat al-Muddaththir: 1-5)

- They attach importance to aesthetics and art. (Surah Saba': 13; Surat an-Naml: 44)

- They do not spy on or backbite believers. (Surat al-Hujurat: 12)

- They avoid jealousy. (Surat an-Nisa': 128)

- They ask for forgiveness from Allah. (Surat al-Baqara: 286; Surah Al 'Imran: 16-17, 147, 193; Surat al-Hashr: 10; Surah Nuh: 28)

Oppression against Believers

The attributes of believers stated above are actually of two kinds:

The first kind are those which believers display of their own volition; being a servant to Allah, self-sacrifice, and modesty can be cited amongst these.

The second kind, however, are those which they evince in matters beyond their control, e.g. the plots devised against them or their being mocked by disbelievers. In fact, these are very important in enabling one to identify sincere believers. That is because many of the attributes displayed by believers are of an "imitable" nature. For instance, a hypocrite can also practise every act of worship or make sacrifices, provided that he gains from doing so. But the attributes displayed in situations beyond their control are "non-imitable," e.g. when disbelievers subject sincere believers to oppression.

This being the case, these attributes gain great importance in one's evaluation of believers. To understand whether a community is one of sincere believers, these criteria, the immutable laws of Allah as explained in the Qur'an, have to be taken into consideration.

While evaluating verbal oppression and slanders against Muslims, the events that befell Muslims in the past should be our reference point. In this sense, the Qur'an gives an account of the difficulties and slanders encountered by the early Muslims:

Or did you suppose that you would enter the Garden without facing the same as those who came before you?... (Surat al-Baqara: 214)

In the verses in which "trials that came to those who passed away in the past" are related, we come across a noteworthy point. The enemies of prophets and believers did not say: "These people believe in Allah and seek His approval" or "These people are not immoral like us, they possess noble values." On the contrary, they tried to slander believers and accused them in the most unbecoming manner.

Certainly, they would not dare to say: "We are rebellious against Allah and we do not observe any moral limits; we just want to oppress these people who do not serve to benefit us." It would be unwise to expect these people to make confessions such as: "These are the people who observe Allah's commands, whereas we are transgressors." On the contrary, they would strive to legitimise their slanders by maligning believers and presenting themselves as "decent and honest" people. In the stories related in the Qur'an, we see the very same method being employed against the believers of the past.

For example, the Prophet Nuh (as)-like all the other prophets-summoned his people to serve Allah alone. A system established on the basis of serving Allah alone surely hampered the advancement of the interests of the leaders of the society, who acquired wealth and status through a system of disbelief. Surely these leaders would not agree to say that what Nuh (as) demanded was not in their interests. On the contrary, they accused him of pursuing his own interests-"status and prestige." The Qur'an gives an account of this situation as follows:

We sent Nuh to his people and he said, "My people, worship Allah. You have no deity other than Him. So will you not take heed?" The ruling circle of those of his people who were disbelievers said: "This is nothing but a human being like yourselves who simply wants to gain ascendancy over you…" (Surat al-Mu'minun: 23-24)

The Prophet Musa (as) and the Prophet Harun (as) were exposed to the same accusation. Pharaoh and his close circle said to them: "Have you come to us to turn us away from what we found our fathers doing, and to gain greatness in the land? We do not believe you." (Surah Yunus: 78)

The slanders made against believers may reach an unimaginable scale. Throughout history, Allah's messengers have been accused of "bewitching and deceiving" the believers around them:

They said, "These two magicians (Musa and Harun) desire by their magic to expel you from your land and abolish your most excellent way of life." (Surah Ta Ha: 63)

… The disbelievers say, "This is a lying magician." (Surah Sad: 4)

The main ambition of those who slander Muslims is to present an image of a Muslim who has the same vices that they themselves display. This went to such great lengths that they dared to say of the noble Prophet Nuh (as): "He is an insolent liar!" (Surat al-Qamar: 25).

Another slander believers are very often exposed to is that of "insanity." In fact, disbelievers' failure to grasp one important rationale of believers accounts for this slander. Having no concept of "earning the approval of Allah," disbelievers have difficulty in understanding the acts of believers that are aimed at this goal alone. They fail to comprehend why believers, who obviously pursue no interests for the services they render, devote their lives to Allah. In their eyes, such an idealistic attitude can be nothing but "insanity." Throughout history, they have often employed this slander. Of the Prophet Musa (as), Pharaoh said: "This Messenger, who has been sent to you, is mad." (Surat ash-Shu'ara': 27) Also, when denying the Prophet Nuh (as), his people said, "He is a madman." (Surat al-Qamar: 9).

Leaving these aside, believers were also accused of adultery. The Prophet Yusuf (as) and Maryam (as), the role models to follow for all faithful men and women, are noble people who were exposed to this slander. Furthermore, disbelievers accused many prophets of "being in plain error." (Surat al-A'raf: 60).

But it would not be correct to assume that all these events pertain to the past. The Qur'an informs us that other believers may have the very same experiences. Accordingly, each believer advocating the true religion, thereby disturbing those who are far removed from the values of that religion, is vulnerable to the same accusations and slanders.

We need to keep in mind that what disbelievers spread about Muslims may be part of such a slander campaign. As the Qur'an advises, prior to extensive investigation, we must avoid believing in such news spread by "deviators." Of this Allah warns us as follows:

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)


The Purpose of a Believer's Life: The Approval of Allah
Seeking the Most of the Good Pleasure of Allah
Life in the Society of Ignorance
The Eternal Abode of Those who have Taken Deities other than Allah: Hell
The Eternal Abode of Those who seek only the Approval of Allah: Paradise

This site is based on the works of Harun Yahya.
© 2004 Harun Yahya International.