Modern history is a chronicle of a struggle by every
qaum (nation) for glory and eminence. What are the values and qualities that take nations to greatness? From the study
of the Glorious Qur'an, I have drawn the conclusion that there are four values on which the evolution and progress of a nation
depends. These are:
1. Iman (Faith)
2. Taqwa (Fear of Allah)
3. Sabr (Perseverance)
4. Astaghfaar (Seeking Forgiveness)
When we talk about Iman (faith) and Taqwa (God fearing) we
think about benefits in the hereafter. However the Glorious Quran links these values with the benefits in this lifetime also
in the form of Allah's blessings and bounties.
The Glorious Qur'an says:
"If the villagers adapted the way of Iman and Taqwa, then
I would shower them with blessings and bounties from the sky and the ground."
Similarly the Qur'an says:
"If you have Sabr (perseverance) and Taqwa (God fearfulness)
then any trick, attempt and attack of your enemy will not harm you."
1. Iman (Faith)
Iman is not the mere utterance of words. The Qur'an mentions
some groups who expressed their belief in words but faith had not entered in their hearts. True Iman is a conviction that
reigns supreme upon the heart and mind, and shapes the course of one's actions. The meaning of Iman is trust, faith and belief,
but the first part of Iman is love. In fact, the lack of love of one's belief is the basic cause for most of the flaws in
national character. When the love of wealth, of family, of tribe, predominates one's love for Allah and the hereafter, the
qaum (nation) begins to decline.
However, when a qaum loves its beliefs over all other
loves, its beliefs become the guiding principle of all their individual and collective actions. That is why they Qur'an describes
those who believe as those who are the strongest in their love of Allah.
Iman also eliminates any traces of gloom and hopelessness because
faith and despair cannot coexist at the same place. Losing faith in the mercy of Allah is a sign of weak Iman.
2. Taqwa (Fear of Allah)
The meaning of Taqwa is to save oneself. However there are
many hidden meanings in this. We save and protect ourselves from harm. This means that it is necessary for Taqwa to be able
to distinguish between right and wrong, between the beneficial and the harmful. Taqwa is the name of the ability by which
we can refrain us from that which is wrong, accept only that which is right and therefore beneficial. Thus taqwa lies in a
3. Sabr (Perseverance)
The third attribute is Sabr (perseverance). This is
a necessary part of all the attributes. Sabr does not mean helplessness, and it does not mean being powerless and insignificant
before others. Actually, it means having the power which allows a person to face all challenges and obstacles steadfastly,
and to strive for the cause and belief in which he has Iman, which is the purpose, which is desired of him. One of the literal
meanings of Sabr is to "tie oneself up". Thus, it means to be firm in the face of trials and tribulations.
It is through sabr that nations achieve cohesion amongst themselves,
and protects them from division and internal conflict.
4. Astaghfar (Seeking Forgiveness)
The fourth attribute needed for achieving greatness for a Muslim
nation is the act of Astaghfar, seeking forgiveness from Allah. And this is the main part of the call from all the messengers
of Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala). Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala) mentions in the Qur'an:
"Allah calls you and invites you to his heavens and forgiveness."
"Compete to obtain the forgiveness from your Lord and Jannah
If you ponder over the nature of Astaghfar, you will
realize that it involves accepting the fact that a mistake has been made, and trying to undo the wrong. It also means working
against the bad consequences of a wrong action. The lives of individuals and nations move towards greatness, only if they
have the courage to go through a process of self correction.
Thus, the four values outlined above play a crucial role in
the destiny of individuals and nations. A nation needs to have the right belief and a devoted love for this belief. There
can be no cause and no belief greater than submitting our will to the Will of Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala).
The qaum (nation) needs to develop the ability and strength
to follow its beliefs collectively. Lip service, even to the greatest beliefs, does no good to anybody.
Moreover, the people must collectively endure the hardships
and tribulations that will arise as a result of following the Truth. Lastly, the process of self-correction must always be
active if a nation is to learn from its mistakes.
Al-Qur'an is absolutely right in ascribing the rise of nations
based on these principles.
We have Iman, to a certain extent we have Taqwa, we practice
Sabr and we constantly seek the forgiveness of Allah. The question then arises, "Why are we still dominated by non-believers?"
The simple answer to this question is that the duality in belief
has no weight in nature. One who passionately believes in a wrong cause will be more powerful than someone who mixes his belief
with duality and disbelief (Nifaq). Nifaq makes a person as well as the entire qaum weak. Nifaq incurs the displeasure
The nations that dominate the world scene today, have a firm
belief in their ideals, however devoid of guidance they may be. Their beliefs are translated into action. America, for instance
has toiled hard, and used all means to bring the country to its present condition. Europe too gained supremacy in the world,
because much of its early conquests were based on the assumption that Europe had a duty to teach the rest of the world, what
they perceived as a more civilized way of life.
Islamic history is also a testament to the power of conviction
in one's beliefs. Early Muslims had little arms and technology. Yet, it was their passion for conveying the message of Allah
to all humanity, that enabled them to overcome seemingly insurmountable problems. In a hundred years they set the basis of
a great civilization which is still alive and was dominant over the world for a thousand years.
This is not to give a material explanation for the need for
faith, Taqwa, Sabr and Astaghfar. All I am saying is that a lack of these qualities results in failure even if the cause is
just. Muslims have an additional law of having entered into a contract with Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala). It is the fulfilling
the terms of this contract that can bring us to our goal in this life and in the hereafter. If we think we can achieve our
goal by aping the European nations and chasing material gains, we are wrong.
We must believe in our Islamic values and strive utmost to
put them into practice, at the individual and the collective level. We must turn back to Allah and his Message. Only then
can the Muslim Ummah rise up to be among the great nations of the world.