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Friday, November 16, 2012

Argument No. 1: Injunction for seeking means of approach

It is commanded by Almighty Allah as the holy Qur’ān states:
O believers! Fear Allah and seek means (of approach to) His (presence and to His nearness and accessibility) and strive in His way so that you may prosper.[1]
The Qur’ānic verse stresses four things:
  1. faith,
  2. piety,
  3. search for means of approach, and
  4. struggle for Allah’s sake.
First of all, the Qur’ān mentions faith. After faith it enjoins piety upon the believers because a heart laced with fear of Allah, is in fact a heart laced with His obedience. A man who possesses piety never disobeys Allah. Each moment of his life is spent in pleasing Him and, incidentally, all of his other concerns are pushed into the background. As a matter of fact, obeying the divine regulations becomes a part and parcel of his existence. Virtue and good deeds shape up as inseparable parts of his character and conduct. His desire to be close to Allah elevates him in His eyes. He is always engaged in acts that will earn him the pleasure of Allah and nearness to Him. The word ittaqū [derivative of taqwā (piety)] is a comprehensive word and it embodies all acts that save him from Allah’s displeasure and bring him closer to Him.
The third regulation stresses the search for means of approach. The Qur’ān says, “Seek means (of approach to) His (presence and to His nearness and accessibility).” Some of the religious scholars have interpreted wasīlah (the means of approach) mentioned in the Qur’ānic verse as faith and good deeds while others, who are in the majority, have explained the word as the prophets, the righteous and the favourites of Allah. They argue that the expression ittaqullāh subsumes faith, good deeds and all forms of worship. But the fact is that the verse enjoins upon the believers to search means of approach to Allah’s presence. As far as faith and virtuous acts are the means of drawing close to Allah, the prophets and His favourites are ranked above all others. Thus, Shāh Walī Allah Muhaddith Dihlawī has explained wasīlah as allegiance to the guide[2] while Shāh Ismā‘īl Dihlawī believes that wasīlah is the guide himself. He says:
It is almost impossible to receive (divine) guidance without the direction (provided) by the guide.[3]
Referring to the same situation, Mawlānā Rūm believes that he has attained nearness to Allah on account of the company of Shams Tabrīzī.[4]
The fourth regulation relates to jihad. Jihad also serves as a means to promote Islam, to strengthen and consolidate it and to implement divine injunctions. When, in the same Qur’ānic verse, faith, piety and struggle in the way of Allah are vested with legitimacy, the fourth regulation relating to wasīlah becomes automatically legitimate. Thus wasīlah does not amount to associating partners with Allah. Instead of encouraging polytheism among the believers, it rather reaffirms the Oneness of Allah. And, besides, when reliance on it is being confirmed by the Qur’ān itself, any objections or reservations against it are in fact a denial of the Qur’ānic truth.

[1]. Qur’ān (al-Baqarah) 2:186.
[1]. Qur’ān ( al-Mā’idah) 5:35.
[2]. Shāh Walī Allah Muhaddith Dihlawī, al-Qawl-ul-jamīl (p.34).
[3]. Ismā‘īl Dihlawī, Sirāt mustaqīm (p.58).
[4]. Mawlānā Rūm, Mathnawī ma‘nawī.