Sunday, 22 April 2018

Tafsan 

 

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TOPIC: STEADFASTNESS (AL-ISTIQĀMAH) IN ISLĀM

All praise is due to Allāh, Lord of the Worlds, He who has commanded with Steadfastness (Al-Istiqāmah) and upon that Allāh established a tremendous reward. Istiqāmah is a comprehensive term. It is to stand before Allāh in all truthfulness in the fulfillment of one’s covenant – and it is related to what is uttered upon the tongues, what is carried out upon the limbs and what is concealed in the heart of intentions and sincerity – and also one’s outward state.

The phrase Istiqāmah (from the foundation qāma) means to go straight into the proper route, performing rightly, permitting no deviation. It’s from the identical root that the phrase mustaqīm is derived (i.e. sirat al-mustaqīm — the straight path). It may be translated as ‘steadfastness’. Allah says in al-Qur’ān 12:112. “So stand you (O Muhammad) agency and straight as you might be commanded and people who flip in repentance with you, and transgress not. Verily, He’s All-Seer of what you do.” 

One of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (saw), Ibn Abbas stated that no different verse from the whole al-Qur’ān was revealed upon the Messenger that was tougher upon him than this verse. The opinions of some of the companions on this Islamic Concepts are as follows, Abū Bakr when asked concerning the meaning of Istiqāmah, replied: “That you don’t affiliate companions with Allah. cUmar ibn al-Khattab opined: “It’s that try to be steadfast on the issues which might be obligated, and to desert the prohibitions.” cUthman ibn Affan mentioned: “To have ikhlās (sincerity) to Allah solely in doing actions. Ibn cAbbas mentioned: “It means to meet your duties to Allah.”

The literal meaning of “Istiqāmah” “is to go straight into the right direction, acting rightly, allowing no deviation, which implies the continuity of doing something, following up with it and making sure that it is done in the right way and there is neither deviation nor swerving.” It can be inferred that Istiqāmah is to stand firm and be steadfast to what we have been commanded by Allah.

Al-Qur’ān is the foremost aid to standing firm i.e Steadfastness in Islam. It is the strong rope and clear light of Allāh. Whoever adheres to it, Allāh will protect him; whoever follows it, Allāh will save him; and whoever calls to its way will be guided to the Straight Path. Allah says in Al-Qur'ān the purpose of revealing the Book in stages was to help His Prophet (saw) to stand firm in his faith.

 

“And those who disbelieve say, ‘Why is not the Qur’ān revealed to him all at once?’ Thus (it is sent down in parts), that We may strengthen your heart thereby. And We have revealed it to you gradually, in stages. And no example to similitude do they bring (to oppose or to find fault in you or in this Qur’ān), but We reveal to you the truth (against that similitude or example), and the better explanation thereof.” (Al-Qur’ān 25:32-33)

 

Istiqāmah is to navigate upon Sirāt al-Mustaqim, the Straight Path of guidance, without deviating to the left or the right so that one does not go beyond the limits nor does he fall short: not being extreme and not being negligent. The Shaitān whispers into the heart of the servant and puts it to test. So that he turns away from religion, or is lazy and lackadaisical when it comes to the obedience of Allāh, and such a person distances himself from the religion until the person disengages from the Religion totally, so he abandons the obligations and falls into the Harām.  

According to Ibn al-Qayyim, there are five conditions to achieve Istiqāmah in performing required deeds:

1.         The act should be done for the sake of Allah alone (sincere).

2.         It should be done on the basis of knowledge.

3.         Performing worship should be in the same manner that they have been commanded.

4.         To do it in the best way possible.

5.         Restricting oneself to what is lawful while performing those deeds.

Ability to be upright or increase steadfastness is premised on being aware of the final destination, the Day of Judgment (Akhirah). Once there is commitment that he/she will be steadfast and will do things in the right way and in the best way possible through proper adherence to the injunctions of Islam. This commitment requires continuous efforts to bring that commitment to reality.

Prophet Muhammad (saw) in one of his sayings encourages “Self accountability”, in the following, “…Assess yourself before you would be assessed…” Muslim is expected to assess himself twice on issues: Firstly, before we start doing something, we should ensure that it pleases Allah, that we do it for His sake only, realizing the right way it should be done. Secondly, after the action has been done, to check whether we have achieved what we aimed for, and to check for defects and shortcomings, and that we still could have done it better by not being satisfied with our action. 

It should be emphasized that these steps/conditions apply to worldly matters as well as worship and good religious deeds.

Factors that lead to the weakening of Istiqāmah include:

1.         Committing sins: insisting on repeating them again and again, without istighfār (seeking Allah’s forgiveness) and without practicing repentance.

2.         Shirk (associating anything with Allāh) whether in intentions, by showing off our good deeds to others, seeking others’ appraisal, avoiding being blamed by others, being afraid of someone, or to seek rewards from others than Allāh.

3.         Nifāq (hypocrisy). There are two forms of nifāq: in belief and in action. The Muslim who surrenders totally to the will of Allah and accepts Islām based on his/her choice is free from the first form of hypocrisy. However any Muslim could fall into and should avoid the second form of nifāq.

4.         Bidcah (innovations in worship), whether genuine Bidcah (performing worship which has not been ascribed by Sharīcah, i.e revelation.

 

Trials and tribulations can cause the heart to change. Whether they are the trials of ease or of hardship, only those who have understanding and whose hearts are filled with faith can remain steadfast. Persecution, trials from one’s relationship i.e wife, child(ren) friend or family member, trials as a result of reduction in someone’s wealth, position or power. Allah says in Al-Qur’ān 47:31 “And We will surely test you until We make evident those who strive among you (for the cause of Allah) and the patient (steadfast), and We will test your affairs.” 

So also a Muslim is expected to be steadfast in the cause of justice as mentioned in Al-Qur’ān 4:135 "O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allāh, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allāh can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allāh is well-acquainted with all that you do."

The Prophet and his companions faced series of trials and tribulations. He was persecuted as well as many of his companions all in their efforts towards the growth and development of Islam. While the Prophet was in the midst of the companions and the revelation is still ongoing, there was growth in the steadfastness of the companions. Such privilege is not available now, but for Muslims to have similar steadfastness he needs to adhere to Al-Qur’ān, Sunnah, Stories of the Companions and other remembrance of Allāh.

Our lord, make us not objects of torment for the disbelievers and forgive us, our Lord. Indeed, it is You Who is the Exalted in might, the Wise (Amin).

The du’aa’, “O Allāh, I ask You for steadfastness in this matter …” is a proven du’aa’ of the Prophet (saw). Ahmad (17155), al-Tirmidhi (3407) and al-Nasaa’i (1304) narrated that Shaddaad ibn Aws (rta) said: The Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) taught us to say: “Allāhumma inni as’aluka al-thabaat fi’l-amri, wa as’aluka ‘azeemat al-rushd, wa as’aluka shukra ni’matika wa husna ‘ibaadatika, wa as’aluka lisaanan saadiqan wa qalban saleeman, wa a’oodhu bika min sharri ma ta’lam wa as’aluka min khayri ma ta’lam, wa astaghfiruka mimma ta’lam, innaka anta ‘allaam ul-ghuyoob (O Allāh, I ask you for steadfastness in this matter, and I ask You for the resolve to adhere to the path of guidance, and I ask You for gratitude for Your blessings and to worship You well, and I ask You for a truthful tongue and a sound heart, and I seek refuge with You from the evil of what You know, and I ask You for the good of what You know, and I ask You for forgiveness for what You know; You are the knower of the Unseen).”

We say ihdinaa siratal mustaqim ( may Allah continue to guide us on the right path). This is istiqamah, indeed.