Say: My prayers and my sacrifices, and my living and my dying are for God alone, the Lord of all the worlds. No partner has He. Thus I have been commanded, and I am foremost among those who surrender [themselves unto Him]. (al-An’am, 6: 163-164)
The same theme is elucidated by the Prophet, blessing and peace be on him:
One who loves for the sake of Allah alone and hates for the sake of Allah alone; and whatever he gives, gives for the sake of Allah alone, and whatever he withholds, withholds for the sake of Allah alone – indeed, he perfects his Iman. (Abu Daud)
The Quran makes clear what Allah demands of you. You should devote yourselves wholly to the service of Allah, you should live for Him alone, and you should die for Him alone. You, and the world around you, entirely belong to Allah; let nobody have a share in what belongs to Allah. That is to say, you should not server anyone but Him, nor live or die for anyone but Him.
The Prophet, blessing and peace be on him, explains what the Quran has said. To be a true believer your love and enmity for everything, all your affections, all relations and transactions in your lives, should have only one purpose: to seek the Allah’s pleasure. Without this your Iman itself will not be complete; the possibility of rising higher in the sight of God does not arise. The greater efficiency is this respect, the more defective the Iman.
Some people think that these qualities are required only to reach higher spiritual stations and are not essential to Iman and Islam. In other words, even without these qualities a person can be a good Mu’min and Muslim. This mistaken notion has arisen because people in general do not differentiate between legal Islam and true Islam which alone is truly authentic in the sight of Allah.
Two types of Islam
Under legal Islam, on which jurist and states must base their dealings, what lies in your hearts and minds is not taken into account, nor can it be. Your verbal affirmation and those essential signs which must flow out of that affirmation are accepted as sufficient evidence of your Islam.
Anyone who affirms by word of mouth belief in Allah, the Messenger, the Quran, the Hereafter and other articles of faith, and who also fulfils those necessary conditions which provide proof of his affirmation, is considered part of Muslim society and al dealings with him are to be conducted as with a Muslim.
The definition provides the legal and cultural basis on which Muslim society is organized. Its purpose is no more than that all those who enter into the Muslim Ummah are recognized as Muslims: nobody from among them can be called a Kafir; every one of them must have the same mutual legal, moral and social rights; they should be entitled to marry among Muslims; they should be eligible to receive their share in inheritance; all other civil relations should be established with them.
However, in the world-to-come, you cannot be judged as a Muslim and a Mu’min on the basis of this legal affirmation, nor on this basis will God accept you as one of His chosen servants. What will count then is then having faith in hearts, and willingly and wholly submitting lives to God. Whatever is verbally affirmed is meant for courts and for the common man and the Muslim society. For they can only see the exterior, but Allah sees deep into your hearts and knows precisely the degree of your Iman.
How will He judge a man? Allah will see whether he lived and died for Him alone, whether his obedience and his service, indeed his entire life, were devoted only to Him. If they were solely for Allah then he will be adjudged a Mu’min and a Muslim, but if they were for someone else, then he will not be adjudged a Muslim nor Mu’min.
Whoever falls short of this criterion will, to the extent he falls short, be lacking in Iman and Islam, irrespective of how important a Muslim the world may judge him and any high positions he may hold. With Allah only one thing matters; whether or not you have given away in His way all that He has given you.
If you have, you will be granted the reward which is reserved for those who are loyal and render the service that is due. But if your submission has been less than total, if you spare any part of your life from His service, your claim to be Muslims, which implies that you have wholly given up yourselves to God, will be a deceptive claim. Although you may be able to mislead the world and persuade the Muslim society to grant you its membership and all the right of Muslims, God cannot be deceived into assigning a place for you among His faithful.
Reflect on the differences between legal Islam and true Islam and you can see that their consequences will vary greatly, not only in the Hereafter but also in this world; the life pursuits, character and disposition of a true Muslim will be totally different from one who merely parades the outward trappings of faith. You will always encounter these two types of Muslims.
to be continued…
Source: Let Us Be Muslims by Abul ‘Ala Maududi, edited by Khurram Murad.