Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Sincerity and Determination of The Prophet Muhammad's Tabligh

There are many wisdoms we may draw out from the Prophet’s life and work which lead to his incomparable success, but perhaps the most significant was his unswerving constancy in maintaining sincerity and devotion when conveying the message of Islam.[1]

Sincerity is an action performed with purity of the heart, for the sake of Allah alone and with no beneficial intention or objective. When we use the word sincerity in daily life, worship comes to mind and we persist in keeping the sincerity of worship distant from any other aspects of worldly life. In fact, this is a mystery that we must seek in every action we perform, for even the most marginal act of piety performed with the intention of sincerity in the heart is much greater than an action of major significance which is carried out insincerely.
True sincerity in Islam is to perform an action without expecting any worldly benefit; an action of sincere intention should also be conducted with no expectation of benevolence in the Hereafter, for the thought of obtaining the eternal joys of Paradise distorts the sincerity of a person’s intention because stipulation can sometime induce actions which could possibly lead to a person sacrificing Paradise. The most striking examples of sincerity in action is that of ‘Alî; throwing an unbeliever to the ground in a struggle, he pulled his sword with the intention of killing the man. Just at that moment, the man spat in Ali’s face with fury; ‘Alî, with all mercy, lowered his sword and set him free. The man out of astonishment asked: “Why did you set me free?” ‘Alî replied: “I was about to kill you for the sake of Allah but when you spat at me I felt a pang of anger in my soul and that tarnished the sincerity of my intention; I would have killed you for revenge, to satisfy my own ego. That is the only thing that deterred me!”
So when the enemy heard ‘Alî’s assessment of nobility and sincerity he said: “I acted in such a way, I provoked and annoyed you to ensure that you would kill me outright without inflicting any kind of torture. Your forgiving and charitable actions must be due to the mercifulness and verity of Islam; I now accept faith and bear witness to the unification of Allah.”
This person, who was a disbeliever, embraced Islam and submitted himself to Allah due to ‘Alî’s actions of sincerity.
There are various verses of the Qur’ân which stress that the sole duty of the Prophets was to convey the words of truth to others.
 “The messenger’s duty is but to proclaim (the message).” (Al-Mâ’idah, 5:99)
“What is the mission of the Messengers but to preach the clear message.”(Nahl, 16:35)   
The messenger fulfills his duty by proclaiming the word of faith; but the people’s acceptance of the message, their abandonment of blasphemy and their acceptance of the religion and reaching true faith is in the hands of Allah, for He is the One who sows the seeds of faith in the hearts of humans. Indeed, Allah tells the Prophet in this verse of the Qur’ân:
“Thou wilt not be able to guide everyone whom thou lovest; but Allah guides those whom He wills.”(Qasas, 28:56)
I would like to point out that it is natural for those who convey the message of Islam to have a sense of aspiration and a desire for others to accept their call to faith; this is their greatest objective and ideal in life and there is nothing that would please them more than a disbeliever accepting faith; likewise, nothing could cause them more anguish and distress than a person rejecting their call. Yet none of this causes an impediment to their sincerity. Sincerity is eliminated when the one performing tablîgh sees no apparent success in his efforts and loses his determination and makes the grave mistake of thinking that he is striving in vain because nobody is accepting his call to faith.
In the life of the Prophet Muhammad, when life in Mecca was full of indulgence, torture and all kinds of social oppression, is a goodly example. Ibn Sa‘d reports that the Prophet Muhammad would visit the tents of all the groups who had come from other cities and towns to perform the pilgrimage and speak to them about the Islamic faith: “At the beginning of the prophethood, the Prophet Muhammad lived his faith in secret in Mecca for three years and in the fourth year (when he was given the order of spreading Islam openly) he declared his prophethood and continued to call the people to Islam for a further ten years. Every year, during the Hajj season, the Prophet would go to the places where the pilgrims made camp, to the bazaars like Ukkâz, Majannah and Zil Majâz where the people gathered and he would convey the message of Islam, calling them to faith and telling them how they would find Paradise. Nobody would offer assistance to the Prophet or accept his call to Islam. He would visit the tribes telling them:
“Acknowledge the Oneness of Allah so that you may attain deliverance. With the strength of faith you can control the entire world, you can make the people obey your orders and you can find a place in Paradise, in the next world”. Abû Lahab would follow the Prophet and tell the people, “O people! Don’t believe in what he says, because he is campaigning against the religion of your ancestors and his words are baseless”. The people rejected the Prophet, saying abruptly: “If your religion was true and profitable, members of your own family would not have opposed you!” Many more remarks similar to this were made to dispute his words and faith. But the Prophet never gave up; he would continue to preach and call them to faith saying: “O Allah! If you so willed they would not have rejected my call.”
Ibn Sa‘d reported that before the Prophet reached the group of pilgrims from Medina he was rejected by fifteen tribes but persisted in his mission.
The Prophet had truly believed and devoted himself to his duty and mission of conveying the word of truth and showed great enthusiasm that was unparalleled; when he reached the tent of the pilgrims from Medina, a group of around six or seven people from the tribes of Aws and Khazraj responded and he finally began to acquire a positive response for his efforts for they accepted the Prophets call to faith.
This was an excellent result for the Prophet which, following the completion of the pilgrimage, lead to the great event of the first Pledge of ‘Aqabah.
In the Qur’ân there is mention that the duty of the Prophet was solely to convey the message of faith: “O Messenger! Proclaim the (message) which hath been sent to thee from thy Lord. If thou didst not thou wouldst not have fulfilled and proclaimed His mission”(Mâ’idah, 5:67)
Despite the Prophet’s efforts in conveying the message of Islam, the death of the his uncle Abû Tâlib, who died without declaring faith, greatly grieved him for he had not only undertaken the guardianship of the orphaned Muhammad at a young age, he had also protected him during the times of difficulty in the early days when his nephew was first blessed with prophethood.
The command revealed by Allah with regards to the duty of conveying Islam, “If thou didst not thou wouldst not have fulfilled and proclaimed His mission”, was then followed by the warning, “Thou wilt not be able to guide everyone whom thou lovest.”    
In a report of Muslim, there were Prophets sent in history who had no followers at all; this suggests that to obtain the attribute of prophet is not dependant on people accepting faith. A prophet is the one sent on the command of Allah to convey His message to humanity. The Prophets were sent to the people as messengers and obtained the blessing of prophethood for their duty of conveying faith, which means each will be blessed in the Hereafter with the title ‘prophet’.
The principle of not expecting a result in the mission of tablîgh is an important point, one which every person who conveys the word of faith must understand. This is because it is the main aspect which enables a person to continue and provides him with the power to persist in his plight for the tablîgh.
One with high expectations, however, will only find the energy to continue this holy mission if his efforts are rewarded with acceptance; such a person’s mission will inevitably be short lived because when such a person faces rejection he loses determination and enthusiasm and begins to think that his efforts are in vain.
It is important that those who devote themselves to conveying Islam with the values portrayed by the Companions, a matter which has only recently become an issue of greater importance, understand the significance of both their duty and expectations.
We must consider every move we make, every seed sown in the undertaking of tablîgh for the souls, hearts and social conditions are the places in which these seeds will flourish. While some seeds immediately bloom into the buds of spring, others need more time to grow and mature; the soil in one field may be rich while another infertile and whether this is due to the climate, the heat or water, there is something here that needs great consideration, and that is that the conditions must be suitable for a sound result.
So in this case, the result is not actually in our hands; it is greatly dependant on other conditions and the only thing we can do is to perform our duty of sowing the seed of faith and continue to sow these seeds one after another with no expectations of either the effect or the outcome. Although we may not see the results of these seeds blooming into flowers immediately, with time those to come after us might.
It is our duty as believers to abide by the command of Allah and the Prophet’s Sunnah:  proclaiming the Divine message and leaving the result to the Creator, the Knower of all, for even if nobody accepts our call, we will certainly be rewarded by Allah for our determination and devotion.
“Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar” (Ahzâb, 33:21)

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