So what is the ultimate goal of Islam? What was the transformation of the people and what does the religion bring to the world?
The beginning of each chapter of the Quran except one states-
“In the Name of God, The Compassionate The Merciful”.
These two primary descriptions of God can also be translated as Affectionate, Benevolent, Beneficent, Caring, Kind or Loving.
God wants us to remember His nature as we begin to read His message. Therefore, it is these qualities at the core of His message that should deeply affected us as we embrace the light of Divine guidance.
Emphasizing this point, God defined the whole mission of His final messenger Muhammad (PBUH) as such using the majestic plural pronoun or the royal “We”.
“We have merely sent you as an act of Compassion to all on Earth.” (21:107)
It is in the spirit of this fundamental call that we will realize the true essence of faith.
The only way we can do this is engage in self-accountability checking our egos and desires by our commitment to God. As beings with many imperfections we must seek peace and comfort in closeness to perfection.
“He guides those who turn to him. They are those whose faith brings tranquility to their hearts. It is truly in the remembrance of God do the hearts become tranquil.” (13:27-28)
When you are close to and in the remembrance of THE Merciful Loving Compassionate Benevolent Beneficent God, then you will be affected accordingly.
In the chapter 89 of the Quran known as “The Dawn”, God addresses man’s corruption from tyrants to selfish individuals. Perhaps it is called The Dawn because it depicts what it takes to shed light on a world given to the darkness of tyranny from top to bottom. In this chapter, He t challenges us to not be part of the problem by embracing altruism and benevolence. He calls us to account for our lack of special care for the orphans or feeding the poor. He warns us of fighting over inheritance, hoarding wealth and materialism. Then he reminds us of the coming hour of the Day of Judgment and how many people will regret their lives wishing they had not been so selfish and materialistic. Then in the end he depicts the reality of the altruistic benevolent believer,
“O tranquil soul, return to your Lord whom you were content. Enter eternal bliss among My servants.” (89:27-30)
The very next chapter of the Quran is called “The Homeland”. It speaks again to man’s negligence of his soul and his accountability thereof. It tells us of the purpose of life and what we are to use our gifts for,
“Didn’t We (Majestic Plural) give each of you two eyes to see with and a tongue and lips to speak with? Didn’t We guide you to know the difference between good and evil. But man has not embarked on that steep climb of morality. What is this steep climb of morality? Free the slaves! Feed those in hunger! Eradicate poverty, take under your wing the orphans close to you. The reality is that those on the right path are the believers who others in perseverance and fortitude as well as compassion and benevolence.” (90:8-18)
Islam calls us to benevolence and excellence in character toward others. The Quran relates the worship of God as only true if it moves us to be Godly toward those around us.
“Worship God alone and excel in beautiful character toward your parents, your family, the orphans, the poor, your immediate neighbors and those after them, your friends and colleagues, the wayfarer and those under your authority. Indeed God does not like the arrogant and boastful.” (4:36)
This is what the prophet meant when explaining the pinnacle of faith. He used the word Ihsan which is translated in the first line of the previous verse, “excel in beautiful character”. When the prophet (PBUH) was asked about the nature of Ihsan he answered,
“Worship God as though you see him and since you can’t literally see Him, then know that He sees you!” (Bukhari 50)
In other words, serve The Compassionate Benevolent One as though you are in His presence where those qualities are definitive and authoritative. A sense of constant embodiment of these lofty divine traits that blessed us with our life and everything in it and a desire to spread that divine truth to everyone!
The Prophet (PBUH) was once sitting with his companions and boldly told them,
“You are not true believers until you are benevolent. They responded, “But we are O messenger of God!” He then taught them, “It is true benevolence when it is toward your friends or family, but rather it must be toward everyone.” (Al-Majma’ 8/189)