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In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

By Dr. Ja`far Sheikh Idris

These in resume are the basic truths to which the Prophet Muharnmad invited his people. The best proof -besides the foregoing argumets -- of their being truths, and very important truths for man, is the good effect which they produce in man's internal state, and thus his outward beaviour We have already, in dealing with belief in God, pointed to some of the feelings towards Him, brought about by belief in His existence and His attributes of perfection.

Since man's atttude in relation to his fellow-human beings is very much connected with his attitude towards God, that belief in God with resulting feelings towards the Divine, is bound to produce in man's heart feelings towards other men that are appropriate to it. And since man's outward behaviour regarding God and other men is generated. by his real beliefs about and feelings towards them, it is only to be expected of true religion to call for a set of behaviour that is both a natural outcome of its set of beliefs and a factor of strengthening them. The internal state to which Muhamrnad invited men is called 'Imaan' (faith or belief). The external behaviour based on it is called Islaam. At the Mnkkan period he concentrated mostly on the first, without entirely neglecting the second, which he elaborated at Madina when the first Muslim independent community was formed. Even at Makka the Prophet Muhammad was directed by God to invite people to the following acts of worship and moral behaviour.

1. To keep their faith alive and strengthen it Muslims were told to recite the Qur'an and study it carefully, to learn from the Prophet and say as often as possible, and especially on some specified occasions, certain prayers, and to perform prayer in the manner which Gabriel demonstrated to the Prophet. All this is salat in its widest sense.

2. After salat the serving of God, comes zakaat which in its broadest sense includes any act of service to other men. Being good to men is the fruit and therefore the proof of the tree of faith. He is not truthful who harms men and yet claims to believe in and love God.

"Hast thou seen him who does not believe in retribution (in the hereafter)? Tthat is he who repulses the orphan and urges not the feeding of the needy. So woe to those that pray and are heedless of their prayers, to those who make display and refuse charity." [Ma'un, CVII]..

Tile first three verses of this Sura were revealed at Makka and the rest at Madina. The Madinan verses speak about the hypocrites who perform outward acts of worship that do not originate from any sincere faith. But their behaviour betrays them, since it is the same as that of the Makkan professed unbelievers.

Following are a few examples of Zakaat which the Qur'an advocated at this early period.

Acquisition of wealth for its own sake or so that it may increase the worth of its collector is condemned. Mere acquisition of wealth counts nothing in the sight of God. It does not give man any merit whether here or in the hereafter.

"Who gathered riches and counted them over thinking that his riches have made him immortal." [Humaza, CIV: 2-3].

Those "who amassed and hoarded " wealth in this life are to he called in the hereafter by a furnace that 'scathes away the scalp' [Ma'arij, LXX: 15-18]. Wealth for its own sake is among the vices of men which can be eradicated only by the kind of belief and practices which Muhammad taught. [Ma'arij, LXX: 19-27].

Man should acquire wealth with the intention of spending it on his own needs, and the needs of others. "Man, the Prophet tells us, says: 'My wealth! My wealth!' Have you any wealth except that which you wear and tear, eat and consume up, give as alms and thus preserve!" Wealth should be spent on the needy (specially if they are pa rents or relatives), on orphans and those who ask owl ng to poverty, on the freeing of slaves etc. The following verses were among the earliest that were addressed to the Prophet.

"As for the orphan, do not oppress him, as for the beggar, scold him not." [(Dhuha, XCIII: 9-10]

Among the qualities that characterize a true believer is the quality of giving the needy and the outcast, as their right, a specified portion of his wealth. [Ma'arij, LXX: 24-25].

There is on the way to success in the hereafter a steep path that can be attempted only by one who performs the following deeds:

"The freeing of a slave, or giving food upon a day of hunger to an orphan near of kin or a needy man in misery"

And then

"become of those who believe and council each other to be steadfast, and counsel each other to be merciful." [Balad, XC: 13-17].

Besides helping his fellowmen in this way man should also be truthful and honest with them and fulfil his promises to them. [Ma'arij, LXX: 32-33]. He should not infringe upon their rights especially those of life [LXXX: 83], and of decency. [Ma'arij, LXX: 29-31].

That briefly, is the message which Muhammad addressed to his Makkan audience.

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