By Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali
For a Muslim, the most honorable and the holiest covenant is the one which he has made with his Lord, for Allah has created him with His Power. He has nourished him under the shadow of his favors and blessings, and has demanded of him that he should recognize what is the reality and admit it.
No misguiding factors should cause him to deviate from the right path lest he may deny these realities or he may lose sight of them:
Did I not enjoin on you, 0 you children of Adam! that you should not worship Satan.. for that he was to you an enemy avowed? And that you should worship Me, (for that) this was the straight way? (Ya-Sin 36:60-61)
Those who do not listen to the Prophets and do not follow their teachings, in their nature also there is a motivator which pricks them, shows them the path of their Lord, and tries to make them realize the greatness of the Creator, however corrupt and polluted the environment may be:
This is the meaning of this covenant which Allah has taken from all the humans:
When your Lord drew forth from the children of Adam-from their loins-their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves, (saying).. . Am I not your Lord ( Who cherishes and sustains you)?’ They said: .Yes, we do testify.’ (This), lest you should say on the Day of Judgment: ‘Of this we were never mindful.’ Or lest you should say: ‘Our fathers before us may have taken false gods but we are (their) descendants after them.. will you then destroy us because of the deeds of men who were futile?’ Thus do We explain the signs in detail in order that they may turn (to Us). (Al-A`raf 7:172-174)
Here, no regular dialogues had taken place as is clear from the apparent sense of these verses, but this is a picture of the right-natured people showing how they are mindful of Allah, how they recognize Him, how they discover His Oneness and Greatness from the proofs scattered in the universe, and shun from all the conventional customs and habits which keep men away from this Lord, and which associate someone with Allah. This style of speech and writing is common in the Arabic language.
With honoring this Covenant, a man’s faithfulness is the foundation of his respect and honor in this world and of success and glory in the next world.
It is an undue misgiving and fear from Allah that we should fulfill the covenant made with Him and still be apprehensive that some disaster would befall us:
“Recall the favor, which I bestowed on you, and fulfill your Covenant with Me ” I will fulfill My Covenant with you, and fear none but Me.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to give these instructions to the tribes which came to him, while conveying the Message of Islam, and used to place before them only a few aspects in the beginning according to the intellectual and physical capacities of the people instead of giving them the complete teachings.
`Awf bin Malik says that he was with the Prophet when there were about seven, or eight or nine persons present. He asked us: “Will you not take a pledge on the hand of the Messenger of Allah?” We stretched our hands and said: “We take a pledge on your hand, a Messenger of Allah!”
He said: “(Your pledge is) That you should worship Allah. Do not associate anybody with Him, and offer salah for five times and listen and obey.” And he said in a low voice: “And do not ask for anything from the people.”
Auf bin Malik says: “I saw some of these persons who had taken pledge that when their hunter fell on the ground, they did not ask anybody to pick it up and give it to them.” (Muslim)
How scrupulously the pledge is being observed and how severely and strictly it is being enforced! There was no special significance of this pledge. Every group used to be instructed according to its nature and circumstances. The ruler used to be advised not to be cruel. The trader used to be instructed not to indulge in adulteration and deceit, and the employees were admonished against accepting bribes.
Otherwise, every Muslim is bound to follow the entire religion, all its tenets and principles, and he will be asked on the Day of Judgment about the entire Shari`ah.
However, in the Islamic world there have appeared a few sects which take a pledge of a special kind. They should not be entertained.
They are like quacks who pose as physicians. They administer spurious drugs and complicate the disease and endanger the life of their patient.
Islamic teachings cannot be divided and distributed. All of them must be followed, and their enforcement is necessary in every place at every time.
The article is an excerpt from the book “Muslim Character”, a translation of Muhammad Al-Ghazali’s “Khuluq Al-Muslim”.