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Answer Allah and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which will give you life


In The Name of Allah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.

Allah [The Most High] said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَجِيبُوا لِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ ۖ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَأَنَّهُ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ

O you who believe! Answer Allah and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which will give you life, and know that Allah comes in between a person and his heart. And verily to Him you shall (all) be gathered. [8:24]

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim [may Allah have mercy upon him] said:

This Ayah comprises some affairs and one of them is that a beneficial life is only attained through obedience to Allah and His Messenger, therefore, whoever does not submit to this call (of Allah and His Messenger) will have no life (upright guidance), even though he has a life similar to that of the most despicable animals (eats, drinks and fulfils desires whilst devoid of the sound faith that enables a person to distinguish between guidance and misguidance). A real and good life is the life of that one who answers the call of Allah and His Messenger- outwardly and inwardly. They are those who are alive (with sound faith in this life), and even if they have passed away (their righteous example remains). As for others besides them, they are dead (with hearts devoid of sound faith), even if their bodies are alive. This is why the one with the most perfect life amongst the people is the one with the most perfect response to the call of the Messenger because there is life (upright guidance) in everything he calls to. Therefore, whoever missed a portion of it will miss a portion of life and there is life in accordance with his response to his call.

[لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ -To that which will give you life]. Mujaahid [may Allah have mercy upon him], “Meaning, the truth”. Qataadah [may Allah have mercy upon him] said, “Meaning, this Qur’an in which is life (upright guidance), safety and protection in the life of this world and the hereafter. As-Sa’dee [may Allah have mercy upon him] said, “Meaning, Islam. They were given life (upright guidance) by way of it after being dead (completely misguided) through disbelief. Ibn Ishaaq [may Allah have mercy upon him] said that Urwa Bin Zubayr [may Allah have mercy upon him] said, “Meaning, through Jihaad Allah, gave you might after they had been subdued, made them powerful after being weak and protected against your enemy after being overpowered by them.

All these interpretations are of a singular reality, and that is to fulfil what the Messenger [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] conveyed – outwardly (deeds) and inwardly (sound belief in the heart). Al-Farraa’i [may Allah have mercy upon him] said, “If you are called to that which gives life” means when you are commanded to perform Jihaad against your enemy. He intends that the believers become strong through Jihaad, and if they were to abandon Jihaad their authority would become weak and their enemy would gain an advantage over them. Jihaad is one of the greatest of affairs by way of which they are given life in the worldly life (enabled to establish and follow the upright religion), in the Barsakh (life of bliss in the grave) and in the Hereafter (a life of bliss in paradise). As for the worldly life, their power and domination over their enemy is by way of Jihaad. [Footnote a] And regarding the Barsakh, Allah said: [وَلاَ تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتًا بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ – Think not of those who are killed in the Way of Allah as dead. Nay, they are alive, with their Lord, and they have provision].[Surah Al-Imran. Ayah 169]

As for in the Hereafter, indeed the share of the Mujaahideen and Shuhadaa with regards to life and bliss would be greater than that of others besides them. For that reason, Ibn Qutaybah [may Allah have mercy upon him] said regarding Allah’s statement:[لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ -To that which will give you life] means martyrdom. Some of the Mufassiroon said that it means Paradise because it is the abode of the eternal good life. The Ayah includes all these affairs because Imaan, Islaam, the Qur’an and Jihaad give the hearts a good life (upright guidance) and perfect life in Paradise, and the Messenger is a caller to Imaan and Paradise, therefore, he is a caller to life in the life of this world and the Hereafter.

The life of the body enables a person to be conscious of what benefits and harms, so he chooses that which benefits over what harms him. When deprived of this, he is affected by pain and weakness. Due to this, the life of the sick person, the grief-stricken, the one afflicted with anxiety, distress, fear, poverty and humiliation is inferior to the life of the one protected from that. The life of one’s heart and soul enables a person to distinguish between truth and falsehood, between misguidance and guidance, so the person chooses the truth and not its opposite. This life benefits him with the strength to distinguish between benefit and harm in affairs of knowledge, intent and action; benefits him with the strength of Imaan, intent, love for the truth and the strength to abhor falsehood. Therefore, self-consciousness, discernment, love and aversion are (judged in accordance with) what one possesses of this life (of the heart and soul), just as the body that is alive is (judged in accordance with) its self-consciousness and perception of what is of benefit and what brings about pain.

The (first affair) is regarding the life of the body and the (other one) is about the life of the heart. The discernment of the heart ceases when the life of the heart. Even if it possesses an aspect of discernment, it will not have the strength by way of which it chooses what benefits over harm. And just as the human being cannot have life (physically) until the Angel blows the soul into him – because prior to this, he was lifeless; also, is the life of his soul and heart until the Messenger conveys to him the revelation. Allah said:

يُنَزِّلُ الْمَلاَئِكَةَ بِالرُّوحِ مِنْ أَمْرِهِ عَلَى مَنْ يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ

He [Allah] sends down the angels with [Rooh (i.e. revelation)] of His Command to whom of His slaves He pleases (i.e. the chosen Messengers)]. [16:2]

Allah said:

وَكَذَلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ رُوحًا مِنْ أَمْرِنَا مَا كُنْتَ تَدْرِي مَا الْكِتَابُ وَلاَ الإِيمَانُ وَلَكِنْ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُورًا نَهْدِي بِهِ مَنْ نَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا

And thus We have sent to you (O Muhammad) Roohan (an Inspiration, and a Mercy) of Our Command. You knew not what is the Book, nor what is Faith? But We have made it (this Qur’an) a light wherewith We guide whosoever of Our slaves We will.

[Life of the body begins] through the angel sent by Allah to blow the soul into a person and [life of the heart through upright guidance is made possible through] the advent of the human Messenger. So, whoever receives the Rooh [i.e. the soul] brought by the Angel Messenger and the Rooh [i.e. revelation conveyed by the human Messenger] will receive two types of life. The one who receives the Rooh [soul], but not the [other Rooh (the revelation conveyed by the human Messenger)] will receive one type of life and miss the other. Allah said:

أَوَمَنْ كَانَ مَيْتًا فَأَحْيَيْنَاهُ وَجَعَلْنَا لَهُ نُورًا يَمْشِي بِهِ فِي النَّاسِ كَمَنْ مَثَلُهُ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ لَيْسَ بِخَارِجٍ مِنْهَا

Is he who was dead and We gave him life and set for him a light whereby he can walk amongst men, like him who is in the darkness from which he can never come out?

Therefore, he is given both light and life, just as the one who turns away from the (Qur’an and Sunnah) receives both death (a misguided heart) and darkness (misguidance). Ibn Abbaas [may Allah be pleased with him and his father] and all the Mufassiroon said that such a one [i.e. the one who is guided] used to be an unbeliever, so Allah guided him.

And regarding Allah’s statement:

وَجَعَلْنَا لَهُ نُورًا يَمْشِي بِهِ فِي النَّاسِ

And set for him a light whereby he can walk amongst men.

This includes a number of affairs and one of them is that he walks amongst the people with light, whilst the people are in darkness, therefore, his example and theirs is like that of a people who got lost during nightfall and could not find their way, whilst he had light whereby he could walk in the road, and could see as well as see what he is to be cautious of. The second affair is that he walks amongst them with his light, so they borrow from it due to their need for it. The third affair is that he walks with his light on the day of judgement on the bridge of As-siraat, whilst the people of Shirk and Nifaaq remain in the darkness of their Shirk and Nifaaq.

And regarding Allah’s statement:
وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَأَنَّهُ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ

And know that Allah comes in between a person and his heart. And verily to Him you shall (all) be gathered.

The first explanation of this statement is that it is well known that Allah is the one who intervenes between the believer and disbelief, between the disbeliever and Imaan, between the people of obedience and their disobedience to Him, and between the people of disobedience and their obedience to Him. This is the saying of Ibn Abbaas and the majority of the Mufassiroon.

The second explanation is that Allah is close to the heart of the human (by His All-Encompassing Perfect knowledge) and no secret is hidden from Him. This was mentioned by Al-Waahidiy from Qataadah. It appears that this statement (reported from Qataadah) is more in conformity with the context because the basis of this Istijaabah [i.e. responding to the call of Allaah and His Messenger] is by way of the heart. A bodily response is of no benefit without the response of the heart because Allah comes between a person and his heart and knows whether the person has responded to Him with his heart or hides the opposite of that.

With regards to the first statement (i.e. the statement of Ibn Abbaas and the majority of the Mufassiroon), it is the fact that if one turns away from (responding to the call of Allah and His Messenger), he will not be safe and thus Allah comes between him and his hearts as a punishment because he abandoned (this response) after the truth had been explained and made clear. So, he will be like what (has been mentioned) in the statement of Allah:

وَنُقَلِّبُ أَفْئِدَتَهُمْ وَأَبْصَارَهُمْ كَمَا لَمْ يُؤْمِنُوا بِهِ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ

And We shall turn their hearts and their eyes away (from guidance), as they refused to believe therein for the first time.

فَلَمَّا زَاغُوا أَزَاغَ اللَّهُ قُلُوبَهُمْ

So when they turned away (from the Path of Allah), Allah turned their hearts away (from the Right Path).

فَمَا كَانُوا لِيُؤْمِنُوا بِمَا كَذَّبُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ

But they were not such as to believe in that which they had rejected before.

This Ayah is a warning against (failing to respond) with the heart even if a response had been made by way of the limbs. [(1)]

[Footnote a]: https://www.abukhadeejah.com/salafi-shaikh-fawzaan-on-jihaad-in-our-times-and-the-guidelines-of-jihaad-according-to-islam/


[(1)]: Al-Fawaa’id. pages 140-144. Slightly paraphrased]

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