03 Nov Sūratu’l-Māedah [The Table] : (5:54).Part3
ى الْكَافِرِينَ يُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلَا يَخَافُونَ لَوْمَةَ لَائِمٍ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ فَضْلُ اللَّهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
O you who believe! Whoever of you turns away from his Religion, (know that) in time God will raise up a people whom He loves, and who love Him, most humble towards the believers, dignified and commanding in the face of the unbelievers, striving (continuously and in solidarity) in God’s cause, and fearing not the censure of any who censure. That is God’s grace and bounty, which He grants to whom He wills. God is All-Embracing (with His profound grace), All-Knowing. (Al-Māedah 5:54)
The verse continues:
“Dignified and commanding in the face of the unbelievers.”
This means that they are not stern as the Companions were against the uncivilized disbelievers of the desert. As stated above, since at the present the victory over hostile ideas is through persuasion rather than force, it will be enough for us to stand firm and dignified with the honor of Islam in the face of the unbelievers.
Their “striving in God’s cause and fearing not the censure of any who censure,” as it is stated in the continuation of the verse, is related to this point.
As it is well-known, believers used to be despised, and one’s saying “I am Muslim” was a reason to be despised for many years. Therefore, a Muslim’s honor and dignity always lie not in their social status or wealth or profession but in being a Muslim. Indeed, all might, dignity, and glory belong to God, to His Messenger, and to the believers as pointed out clearly in Sūratu’l-Munāfiqūn (63:8).
Therefore, we should continue serving Islam everywhere―at home and in schools, in the streets and at the markets―feeling in ourselves the honor and glory of Islam without fearing the censure of anyone who will censure and without feeling any inferiority complex in the face of unbelievers.
While stating the attributes of the dignified community which God will raise up to exalt Islam, the Qur’ān also miraculously points to certain characteristics of our time. When considered even only from this perspective, the verse under discussion is full of meanings and predictions, which have come true.No matter when and in what circumstances this verse was revealed, it extends ropes of relations to all times and places after its revelation.
With a quivering style, it warns the believers concerning an extremely important matter:
the dispute and discord among the believers which is so common that it trembles Muslims in every age.
Many peoples and tribes from the time of the Prophet and his rightly-guided successors, such as Banū Mudlij (Children of Mudlij) headed by Aswad al-Ansī and who apostatized after the Prophet, the apostates of Banū Hanifa led by Musaylima the Liar, the transgressors of Banū Asad provoked by Tulayha ibn Huwaylid, and many other tribes which revolted during the Caliphate of Abū Bakr such as Fazāra, Ghatafan, Banū Salim, Banū Yarbu‘, some from among the Tamim, and Kinda, Banū Bakr and Ghassan were the unfortunate groups included in the meaning of this. Moreover, even the Umayyads, the ‘Abbasids, the Seljuks, and the Ottomans also proved to be among those threatened by this verse, as they failed to be able to continue serving Islam to certain extent.
Hence, the verse warns all of those whom God chooses to serve Islam, meaning:
“O people of faith! If you apostatize or abandon serving Islam either partly or totally, know that God will replace you with an honorable people whose characteristics are known, although it is not known to you who they exactly are and where and when they will appear. God loves them and they love Him deeply. They are extraordinarily humble and modest towards the believers, while they are firm, dignified, and commanding in the face of unbelievers, heretics, and aggressors. They persist to gain control of the balance of powers and always strive in God’s cause, aiming to obtain God’s good pleasure and exalt the Word of God. While doing this, they disregard the condemnation or disapproval of all people; they do not pay attention to others’ consideration. Instead, they try to accomplish their mission always with a high performance. This is a special favor of God for them.”
The style of the verse also indicates that this reality of human history is not particular to a certain period of time. It repeats itself, and those who appear in the arena of history one after the other depart only to be replaced by new ones.
Thus, it is always God and His friends whom He loves and exalts to be remembered while those who abandon the Religion of God or serving It have been left to the dusty pages of history in the recurring course of events in human history.