Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verses 3 & 4
Chapter 2, verses 3 and 4
Those who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them (2:3)
We continue with the qualities that you and I should possess and practice in order to receive God’s support and guidance. In previous sessions we covered the qualities of being mindful of God, and believing in the unseen.
The verse continues with the third quality that states: "and establish prayer".
Prayer is the meansof maintaining the connection you and I have with our creator. It is our expression of love, loyalty and humility. God wants this connection to never be severed. He commands us to maintain our daily prayers under all circumstances. If you are unable to perform your prayer standing up, Allah asks you to pray sitting down. If you are unable to do that, then you should pray lying in bed, or even to perform the prayer with eye movement if necessary. You can never be free from the duty of maintaining the five daily prayers until death overtakes you.
The fourth quality in the verse states: "and they spend out of what we have provided them." When we hear the words ‘spend’ and ‘wealth,’ most of us automatically think of money. This, however, is incorrect. The words ‘spend’ and ‘wealth’ refer to anything that benefits you and those around you. For example, your physical health and ability are wealth that can be spent helping others. Your knowledge and experience are also wealth that can lift up the ignorant. Likewise, wisdom and humility are wealth that benefits the society. In fact, anything that can be used for the betterment of life is wealth. So, do not despair if you do not have money to spend, God has given you plenty of wealth to spare in his cause. Use your knowledge to teach others, and your strength to help the weak. The verse: 'they spend from what we have provided them' encompasses all aspects of life.
God continues with the fifth and sixth qualities in the next verse:
Those who believe in the revelation sent down to you, and in what was sent before you, and those who have firm faith in the Hereafter. (2:4)
The phrase ‘what has been revealed to you' refers to the Noble Quran. 'And what was sent before you' refers to previous scriptures such as the Bible and the Torah. This point is important because, with the coming of Islam and the revelation of the Quran, faith in previous messengers and scriptures is no longer enough. Islam came to guide two different parties, the disbelievers who did not believe in God, and the people of the scripture who believed in God, his messengers and his books –namely the Christians and the Jews-. In their view, believing in God, receiving books and scriptures from him and following the messengers is enough for salvation. However, the connection they had with God had weakened over time, and much of the original teachings of the faith had been lost or altered. This called for a new message to reestablish the connection with God and bring people back to the straight path. Islam is the message that fulfills these needs. In fact, God Almighty had described Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the Bible and the Torah, and stipulated that those who witness his advent should follow his message. The scriptures included Prophet Muhammad’s name, and description in such detail that left no room for doubt. The Jewish tribes of Medina, for instance, had such certainty in this information that they used to say to the non-believers: ‘the time for a messenger from God is very near; we shall believe in him and we shall fight with him, and rule over you’. Unfortunately, when Muhammad attained prophethood, and brought the message they were awaiting, they were first to oppose him. God Almighty says:
And when there comes to them a Book from Allah, confirming what is with them— Although from the past they had prayed for victory against those without Faith— When there comes to them that which they have recognized, they refuse to believe in it. So the curse of Allah will be upon the disbelievers.(2:89)
The prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not come as a surprise to the people of the book, rather they were awaiting his arrival as their scriptures instructed. How could they have foretold the disbelievers about the coming of a Prophet, unless they had certain knowledge of the characteristics of Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the Torah and the Gospel?
We now come to the sixth and final quality. Godsays: ‘And those who have firm belief in the Hereafter’. In the Quran, Allah emphasizes faith in the day of resurrection to such an extent that those who claim to believe in God, His books, and messengers and deny the hereafter are not considered believers. Islam came to reflect faith in its entirety. Belief in God indicates ultimate faith in the beginning of creation, and belief in the last day indicates ultimate faith in its conclusion. Both belong to God almighty. So whoever does not believe in the hereafter, in accountability to our creator, in paradise as a reward, and hellfire as punishment belongs to the ranks of the disbelievers who regard this world as the only objective.
The believer works hard on the straight path in this world in order to earn God's pleasure in the hereafter. He restricts his actions and desires according to God's will. The disbeliever, on the other hand, tries to fulfill every need and desire and fights for his or her full share of the world. At the end both will die, and if there had been no hereafter –in essence no accountability- then the disbeliever would have lived a more fulfilling life and would be considered fortunate. Here you can see the immense value of faith in the hereafter in bringing balance and justice to this life and the next. Hence, faith in Allah is the ultimate belief that the beginning belongs to him Almighty, and faith in the hereafter is the ultimate belief that the end also belongs to God.