INsights 017, Friday 17th June 2022
INsights 017, Friday 17th June 2022
Unlocked by revelation
Assalamu-alaikum, Peace be upon you.
In order to realise the power of the Qur’an in improving the quality and direction of your own life, it’s important to understand the effect it had on the mindset of the initial recipients of revelation themselves.
If we were to fully appreciate the groundbreaking results that revelation brought in the span of just over two decades at the hands of previously directionless and idol-worshipping people, surely we would approach the Qur’an a lot more differently and seriously in order to unlock similarly profound and positive outcomes in today's context.
In Part 3 of this mini-series on the mission-driven life, I discuss the role of revelation in empowering the prophetic mission and what that means for us today.
Messenger on a mission
There are many verses that highlight the purpose of revelation. The Qur’an is guidance, illumination, insight, reminder, teaching, healing and more.
But what’s interesting is that most of the verses on the role of revelation that are directed to the messenger himself, may God grant him blessings and peace, specifically emphasise the function of the Qur’an in empowering his mission. It equipped him and enabled him to fulfil his purpose.
Consider the following passages:
Alif Lam Ra. This is a Scripture which We have sent down to you so that, with their Lord’s permission, you may bring people from the depths of darkness into light, to the path of the Almighty, the Praiseworthy One. (14:1)
So We have revealed an Arabic Qur'an to you, in order that you may warn the capital city and all who live nearby. And warn [especially] about the Day of Gathering, of which there is no doubt, when some shall be in the Garden and some in the blazing Flame. (42:7)
Ya Sin. By the wise Qur'an, you [Muhammad] are truly one of the messengers sent on a straight path, with a revelation from the Almighty, the Lord of Mercy, to warn a people whose forefathers were not warned, and so they are unaware. (36:1-6)
When we read these verses, it’s important that we don’t just read them as history. It’s too easy to see them as directed to Muhammad, may God grant him blessings and peace, and therefore irrelevant to us.
Rather, we should realise that if one of the core purposes of revelation was to empower the messenger to guide his people, then surely it should also encourage us to take on an ambassadorial role in our own context.
Being guided by the Qur’an on a personal level is the beginning of a journey that should continue with us using it and being inspired by it to guide others too.
We attribute all positive outcomes to God. All praise belongs to Him. At the same time, He delivers change at the hands of those who direct themselves to lofty goals and aspire to great heights.
In the environment of revelation and under the leadership of the messenger, it was the transformation in the hearts, minds and actions of the companions that allowed the mission of monotheism to succeed.
The cultivation of the qualities of endurance, self-discipline and sacrifice is as critical now as it was then. Consider how the companions reacted to these rallying calls to raise their game, and how we must respond similarly now!
Did you think you would enter the Garden without God first proving which of you would struggle for His cause and remain steadfast? (3:142)
You who believe, be mindful of God, seek ways to come close to Him and strive for His cause so that you may prosper. (5:35)
Say, ‘If your parents, children, siblings, spouses, tribes, the wealth you have acquired, the trade which you fear will decline, and the dwellings you love are dearer to you than God and His Messenger and the struggle in His cause, then wait until God brings about His punishment.’ God does not guide those who break away. (9:24)
Today we listen, recite and perhaps memorise verses like the ones above... then we tend to continue living the same lives as we were before.
At that time, they listened, recited and memorised... but they also changed their perspective and were mobilised into living mission-driven lives.
What does all this mean for me and you today?
If any human being led a truly meaningful and successful mission-driven life, then it was the final messenger, may God grant him blessings and peace. If you want to emulate his example, you cannot avoid considering a path in life that is defined by service and sacrifice to bring about a social order on earth that aligns with the divine will.
What's also important to realise is that whilst he was special, he was still a human being. He had difficulties, worries and plenty of challenges as a prophet and leader, just as anyone faces when trying to achieve a mammoth task, and just as each of us will too.
A prime source of strength and inspiration for him was the revealed messages from His Lord, sometimes reassuring him, sometimes warning him, and always pointing him to the end goal.
If you are serious about unlocking the power of monotheism in society today, then you need to:
i) allow revelation and the prophetic example to set you on a course for a much more purposeful mode of living
ii) maintain an engagement with revelation through which you seek a higher level of direction and encouragement for your new mission-driven life
This means interacting with the Qur’an not just as God’s subject but as His ambassador.
You would then see more clearly the implications of the message not just for your role as a worshipper but also for your role as a representative and leader in continuing the prophetic mission.
When you approach it in this way, with a sincere intention to live your best possible life for His sake and His cause, your experience of revelation will be unlike anything you’ve felt before. There’s no way to explain it that can do justice to it. You just have to set out on the path and taste it for yourself…
One to go
Here's what we've covered so far in this mini-series on the mission-driven life...
- Part 1: If understood properly, our Salat should inspire us to think carefully about how to spend the time in between prayers in a way that is more meaningful and impactful.
- Part 2: Then once we set out on a path of serving others for the sake of God and furthering God’s cause, our Salat is vital in lifting us up when things are difficult and humbling us when things are going well.
- Part 3: One of the core functions of the Qur’an was to encourage, equip and enable the messenger to guide his people to better outcomes and more fulfilling lives. We should be inspired by his example and that of his companions who were motivated by revelation to devote themselves to God fully and embrace all the struggle and sacrifice that this requires.
Here's what's coming up next...
In Part 4, the final instalment of this mini-series, I’ll share key principles that will help you identify a worthy cause and pursue a life of service and leadership, God willing.
Before you go...
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Have a blessed fortnight. I'll see you in two Fridays, God willing.