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Chapter 110: An-Nasr (The Help)
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Chapter 110:

The Help

This chapter was revealed during the Farewell Pilgrimage of the Holy Prophet Muhammad in the middle of the days of Sacrifice. It clearly demonstrates that so great was the help that Allah gave to His servant that notwithstanding the concerted opposition of the unbelievers, Allah gave him such a resounding victory that even in his life-time all the unbelievers were defeated and idolatry and unbelief were obliterated throughout the land of Arabia.

Izaa ja’a nasrul-Lahi wal fath
  1. When Allah’s help and victory comes,
Wa ra‘aitan-nasa yadkhuluna fid-dinil-Lahi afwaja
  1. And thou seest men entering the religion of Allah in companies,
Fa sabbih bihamdi Rabbika wastaghfir. Innahu kana Tawwaba.
  1. Celebrate the praise of thy Lord and ask His protection. Surely He is Ever-Returning (to mercy).

Many people believe that fath (victory) refers to the conquest of Makkah, and that is true for it is one manifestation of Allah’s help. But when the Almighty Himself explains this victory in the following words: And thou seest men entering the religion in companies, there is no need for additional commentary.

Tasbih (sanctification) means that one should understand that Allah’s attributes are free of defects or faults, and we should conceive and recite this openly.

Taqdis (glorification) means that we should perceive that Allah’s actions admit of no fault nor defect, and we should openly confess this belief.

By tahmid (praise) is meant that Allah’s attributes and actions encompass the most sublime and exalted excellence, and we should understand and recite this truth publicly.

So the expression: Fa sabbih bi hamdi Rabbika (Celebrate the praise of thy Lord) contains all the above meanings and obligations.

Istighfar means the seeking of protection and this can be done in three ways. Firstly, protection is sought against the evil consequences of our sins. Secondly, it means the seeking of protection from the commission of sins because of human weakness. The more a person makes istighfar, the more is he saved from sinful deeds. For example, a person may hate the telling of lies and he considers it so great a weakness that he wishes to be saved from it, so he strives hard to protect himself from this evil and supplicates Allah to preserve him from falling into it.

Again, a person may face the possibility of meeting a lion in the jungle. He can be saved only if he takes the fullest precaution beforehand. In the same way, only if a person makes the fullest provisions in advance can he safe-guard himself from the sins of this world, and the greatest precaution is seeking the protection of Allah, which in the terminology of the Holy Quran is called istighfar. So the more a person seeks protection the more is he preserved from transgression, for an indispensable prerequisite of chastity and sinlessness is istighfar. Whenever our Holy Prophet Muhammad found himself in the company of people he used to make istighfar seventy times before taking his leave. The intention was to prevent his heart from being affected by any evil influences that may have existed in that group. From this we can gauge how much he feared and hated sins. As a result he was constantly engaged in asking Allah for protection. This accounts for his sinlessness and the supreme excellence of his morals which no man can surpass or even equal.

The third aspect of istighfar is that sometimes a person may wish to advance in the doing of good but he experiences an inner weakness which prevents him, and so he seeks protection from this ailment. For example, a person may pay his zakat in full, but his mind baulks at making further sacrifices, or he may read his five daily prayers, but feels reluctant to perform the Tahajjud prayer. For this condition, too, istighfar is necessary. In other words, he should seek the protection of Allah from that kind of weakness which restrains him from climbing higher on the ladder of goodness, for man cannot achieve perfection without istighfar. So if a good person makes istighfar abundantly, he can continue to rise to the highest rungs of perfection. That is why it is mentioned in the Holy Quran that the inhabitants of Paradise will pray thus: Our Lord, perfect our light for us and grant us istighfar (protection) (66:8).

Now, it is known by all that there will be no sin in Heaven as the Holy Quran testifies: They hear therein no vain nor sinful talk (56:25). So it is baseless to think that the people of Paradise will be seeking protection from the consequences of having sinned there, or for protection against their committing sins in Paradise, for it is impossible to have sins in Heaven. What is really meant here is the third aspect of istighfar, that is, seeking higher and higher levels of advancement and beseeching Allah to cover up the defective stages of their progress. This is what the expression Our Lord, perfect for us our light elucidates. In other words, they already have light, but the yearning is for perfect light. In short, the word istighfar can bear any one of the above meanings of istighfar as the situation demands.

However, one should bear in mind that it does not necessarily follow that the person who makes istighfar is a sinner. In fact, it is plain as daylight that the person who seeks istighfar (protection) feels revulsion towards sin, and in his attempt to save himself from pollution he continually seeks the protection of Allah. Such a person will certainly attain that degree of perfection in virtuous deeds which is called the state of sinlessness or union with Allah, Most High, and the more he engages in istighfar, the greater will be his advancement and he will become the inheritor of spiritual excellence.

At-Tawwab is one of the attributes of Allah, and means the One Who is Oft-Returning to mercy. For example, if a person turns back from the commission of sins, Allah, Most High, turns to him mercifully. But it is wrong to deduce from this that tawwab means turning mercifully only to those who have given up a sinful life. In fact, whenever and however a servant turns to his Lord, so, too, will his Lord favour him with compassion. In this regard, it is mentioned in the Hadith that if a person walks one yard towards Allah, Most High, He (Allah) will run towards him regardless of whether the person has turned his back on a life of sin or whether he is advancing step by step in the doing of good and so is turning to Allah more and more. For example, a person may be reading his five daily prayers regularly. That, of course, is turning to Allah. But let us say that he increases his efforts and turns to Allah more by now performing the Tahajjud and other supererogatory prayers, then Allah will turn even more to him. So at that point it can be said that he will find Allah to be Tawwab, that is, the more he turns to Allah, the more will Allah turn to him.

After having thrown light on the above matters, we shall now address our attention to the real subject of this chapter. The help of Allah and His victory eventually came to the Holy Prophet Muhammad . After great trials and tempestuous storms, Makkah was at last conquered, and people were entering the religion in large numbers. There came that day when the whole Arab nation shone with the light of Islam, and an entire nation of wild and unlettered people, who were slaves of all kinds of gods and idols and who were sunk in every kind of immorality and barbarity, was transformed into a civilised, cultured and God-fearing people. That is why the Holy Quran commands:

(And when) thou seest men entering the religion of Allah in companies, celebrate the praise of thy Lord and ask His forgiveness. Surely He is the Oft-Returning to mercy.

The question arises: Who is the person whom Allah addresses in the above verses? The answer to that is that it can refer to the Holy Prophet Muhammad or to every believer, either individually or collectively. We shall now consider the three applications of this command.

Firstly, if the Holy Prophet is the one spoken to, then the above verses are instructing him to educate the new converts to the religion. In particular, he must give them the true teaching concerning the sublime and perfect attributes of Allah and, having rid them of ignorance and the worship of false gods, he should ingrain in them the real meaning of the Oneness of Allah, and give them deeper understanding of religious truths. One probable reason for the order to praise and glorify Allah when someone is converted is that it is a binding obligation on Muslims to be well-grounded in spiritual knowledge and in the understanding of the concept of the Oneness of Allah. This is so because the ascribing of partners to Allah is the enemy of Allah’s subhaniyyat (His glory and freedom from imperfection), for having a partner is a confession of weakness.

For example, the Christians believe that God has a son, for as they say, God the Father is the God of justice and not of mercy. Therefore, to remove this weakness, a Son was created who they opine is the embodiment of mercy. So now there is a defect in both Father and Son, for there is no mercy in the Father and no justice in the Son. In this way when people attribute power to other beings besides Allah, they unwittingly admit that there is imperfection in Islam. A Being Who is perfect and free from all faults and free from imperfection and blemish does not stand in need of a partner. Therefore, the greatest way to glorify Allah is to inculcate the concept of His Oneness in oneself and others. Similarly, to glorify that Being without praising Him is to deny that He is the Possessor of all perfect attributes. That is, every attribute of His must also embody the highest perfection. For instance, if He is beneficent and merciful, then He must be so to the highest level. Similarly, if he is powerful and knowing, then He must be so to the utmost limit. In short, not only must He be free from every defect and fault, but he must be the Possessor of every excellent attribute to the zenith of perfection. Before the revelation of the Holy Quran, this knowledge and this concept of the Oneness of Allah did not exist anywhere in the world.

So, our Holy Prophet is told to educate the new converts, and make istighfar to Allah for them; that is, seek Allah’s forgiveness for the evil consequences of their past misdeeds, and His protection against their committing sin in the future, so that He may take them under His wings, and transform them into a pure and righteous people who will advance in goodness. He should also initiate them into the deeper truths of the religion and a perfect appreciation of the Oneness of Allah and seek protection and forgiveness for their actions, for Allah is the Oft-Returning to mercy. He will turn ever compassionately to them and take them under His tender care and pardon them for all past mistakes. Furthermore, He will preserve them from falling into error in future and even more, He will make of them a nation that will make steady progress in goodness and purity. He is the embodiment of compassion, so whatever steps they take for His sake will be rewarded with fresher and fresher manifestations of His mercy until they reach their goal of perfection. And that is exactly how the promise was fulfilled.

The second class of person addressed here is the individual believer who is exhorted to look at the example of the Holy Prophet , whose life was a perfect manifestation of the belief in the Oneness of Allah, and to see how Allah rewarded him for this with help and triumph after triumph, and how he resurrected a dead people by infusing in them the praise, glorification and exaltation of Allah, Most High, through his words, example and preaching. Having seen how these same people joined the religion of Islam, and were metamorphosed from a barbaric and idolatrous horde into a cultured and civilised society, then each believer should emulate them and do the following things:

  1. He should believe with the strongest conviction in the Oneness of Allah and pattern his life on this principle.
  2. He should keep the sublime nature of Allah’s attributes and their excellence always in his heart and strive hard to colour himself with the Divine colours.

The intention behind the recitation of the praise and glorification of Allah is firstly, to develop a true intellectual conception of the Oneness of Allah and to gain Divine gnosis. Next, if we keep on reciting Allah’s praise and glory, it will help in the gradual reformation of our inner weaknesses. In addition, this recitation is also a form of supplication to attract the mercy and compassion of the Divine Being.

Thirdly, every believer is addressed here but not individually as before, but collectively in the capacity of a united community or nation, and so Muslims in general are given the same message, exhortation and promise that the individual believer received. Thus, Muslims, as a body, must observe the Holy Prophet’s example of religious propagation and do the same. That is, they should spread the praise and glory of Allah throughout the world with single-mindedness of purpose, and seek Allah’s protection against their internal weaknesses for it is because of these weaknesses that Allah closed the door of His help and victory and the rising flood of the religion of Islam subsided.

We are also urged to study the history of Islam and observe that as long as the hearts of Muslims were filled with love for the religion, and their zeal for the service and propagation of Islam reigned supreme, how nation after nation entered the fold. But when this enthusiasm waned and worldly concerns gained precedence over religion, then Allah’s help and victory were cut off, and the onward march of Islam was halted. 

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib, Mujaddid of the 14th century, fully understood this weakness in the Muslim nation — that their love of this worldly life superseded every other consideration. When he embarked on the campaign to spread the praise and glorification of Allah through the teachings of Islam, and decided to form an organisation for that purpose, besides asking his followers to make istighfar verbally, he laid down the following condition on the initiated: I shall hold religion above the world. 

He also strongly emphasised in his writings the following point: When a follower makes sajdah (prostration) to Allah and is glorifying Him, if at that time his heart is not on fire for the propagation of Islam, then such a heart is an accursed one. In the Hadith it is written that in sajdah if a person besides reciting the usual prayer of glorification, Subhana Rabbiyal A‘la (Glory be to Allah, the Most High), adds the following words of praise and petition: Subhanaka Allahumma Rabbana wa bihamdika. Allahumaghfirli (Glory be to Thee, O, Allah, Our Lord, and all praise to Thee. Our Lord, forgive me), then that is considered an act of great virtue. However, excellent this may be, one must not limit it to mere lip-profession, but must fight hard with property and person, sacrificing both if necessary, for the sake of religion.

It is this objective that inspired the Mujaddid of the Age, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian, to pen the following couplet:

Is din ka shan-o-shaukat ya Rabb mujhe dikhade
Sab jhootay din mitaa day meri du‘a yehi hai

Dear Lord, show me the glorious splendour of this religion (of Islam),
And obliterate all false creeds from the face of the earth.
This I humbly beg of thee.

Next: Chapter 111: Al-Lahab (The Flame)
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