إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ وَالْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْقَانِتَاتِ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالصَّادِقَاتِ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّابِرَاتِ وَالْخَاشِعِينَ وَالْخَاشِعَاتِ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقِينَ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقَاتِ وَالصَّائِمِينَ وَالصَّائِمَاتِ وَالْحَافِظِينَ فُرُوجَهُمْ وَالْحَافِظَاتِ وَالذَّاكِرِينَ اللَّهَ كَثِيراً وَالذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْراً عَظِيماً
“Verily, the Muslims (those who submit to Allaah in Islam) men and women, the believers men and women (who believe in Islamic Monotheism), the men and the women who are obedient (to Allaah), the men and women who are truthful (in their speech and deeds), the men and the women who are patient (in performing all the duties which Allaah has ordered and in abstaining from all that Allaah has forbidden), the men and the women who are humble (before their Lord Allaah), the men and the women who give Sadaqat (i.e. Zakat, and alms, etc.), the men and the women who observe Saum (fast) (the obligatory fasting during the month of Ramadan, and the optional Nawafil fasting), the men and the women who guard their chastity (from illegal sexual acts) and the men and the women who remember Allaah much with their hearts and tongues (while sitting, standing, lying, etc. for more than 300 times extra over the remembrance of Allaah during the five compulsory congregational prayers) or praying extra additional Nawafil prayers of night in the last part of night, etc.) Allaah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward (i.e. Paradise).”
This verse was revealed after Umm Salamah radiyAllaahu `anha complained to the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam about the previous revelations being only about men.
It has been recorded by Imam Ahmad that Umm Salamah said: “I said to the Prophet , “Why is it that we are not mentioned in the Qur’aan as men are?” Then one day without my realizing it, he was calling from the minbar and I was combing my hair, so I tied my hair back then I went out to my chamber in my house, and I started listening out, and he was saying from the minbar:
“O people! Verily Allaah says: ‘Verily, the Muslims men and women…’ until the end of the ayah.”
Something that stands out in this verse is the mention of women alongside with men. We see feminists and the western media quick to label Islaam with being a misogynistic religion. Well, this verse being an epitome of equity between the two genders is a slap on their face.
Another lesson that we learn from this is the eagerness of the wives and (female) companions of the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam had to compete with men in that which is good for their hereafter. We don’t see them complaining about not being able to work like men, rather, their concern is solely to seek the Pleasure of their Lord. They were women who had a vision and who made sure they had access to every avenue (as men) to gain the ultimate reward from Allaah (i.e. Paradise).
So Allaah mentions ten sifaat (characteristics) that the believers – both men and women – should have in order to achieve His forgiveness and the greatest of rewards, i.e. Jannah. These sifaat are our key to Jannah, so search your soul for them and try your utmost to not only develop these within yourselves but also perfect them.
Now, to derive maximum benefit from every word in this verse, I will dissect it into different parts by going over every sifah individually. The beauty of this ayah is that it starts with the core of everything that our religion is based on: Islaam (الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ) = submission to Allaah and then followed by Imaan (الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ). Only after that does Allaah bring up the other sifaat. There is great wisdom behind this and that is to ensure that our foundation is sound and strong so that it will be easier for us to implement the sifaat that follow in the rest of this verse. Once we submit to Allaah, and believe that there will be a Day of Reckoning, our minds automatically accept every commandment that comes from Allaah, without question or doubt.
الْمُسْلِمِينَ – is from the root س ل م and from amongst its meanings are: security, immunity, submission, obedience, without blemish and so on. Essentially, it means to submit and surrender to the commands of Allaah. The word سلا م which means peace, also comes from the same root. There are two things to learn from here:
1. A person will not attain peace until he submits himself or herself completely to His Creator. We can acquire as much secular knowledge as we want, read as many books on positive thinking or bask in a mountain of wealth and luxuries, but our hearts will not be at peace until we surrender to Allaah, i.e. we testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam is His Messenger.
2. Secondly, a Muslim as described in a hadeeth mentioned in Kitaab al-Imaan in Saheeh al-Bukhaari, is one from who’s tongue and hands other Muslims are safe [ المسلم من سلم المسلمون من لسانه ويده]. A grammatical rule of arabic is that when something is mentioned with a definite article, it is indicative of the most perfect meaning of the word. So the word المسلم eludes to the fact that the Muslim is what is described in the hadeeth. Hence, a Muslim be it man or woman is one who does not harm another Muslim, physically or verbally. We guard each other’s honor, and provide one another safety and security from ourselves (tongues and hands) and others.
In a hadeeth narrated by `Imraan ibn Husayn states that the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam said: “I looked into Paradise and I saw that the majority of its people were the poor. And I looked into Hell and I saw that the majority of its people are women.” (al-Bukhaari/ 3241, Muslim/2737)
This is because of our tongues. Very so often this organ prevents us from attaining that which is good and brings us nothing but distress when its void of the remembrance of Allaah. Al-Khattaabi said: “There would be great good in seclusion even were it to bring nothing more than safety from backbiting and from seeing evils which one cannot remove.”
With regards to the first point, we often think that saying the shahaadah is sufficient for entrance into Jannah but we are only deceiving ourselves. The saying of Wahb ibn Munabbih summarizes the above very well. He was once asked: “Is not the testification that ‘none has the right to be worshipped save Allaah’ the key to Paradise?” He replied: “Ofcourse, by every key has its teeth: if you bring a key that has teeth, the door shall open; but if not, it will not.” [Bukhaari, Kitaab Janaa’iz]
Tips for self-betterment:
1. Make a habit of renewing your Imaan every day. Every morning you wake up, renew your commitment with Allaah and every night before going to bed, take your soul and your deeds into account.
2. Be sure to never leave your salaah. Its an act of submission to Allaah so make every effort to pray on time and perfect your salaah. It is the key to improving your connection with your Creator.
3. Repent, repent, repent! You can never repent enough.
4. Avoid backbiting, gossip and unnecessary talk. If you are in a gathering of women thats full of gossip, excuse yourself and leave. Seclusion in a cave is better than sitting in company like that.
5. Some of the righteous Salaf have said that, it is a sign of the slaves fiqh (knowledge of the religion) that he concerns himself with enhancing the status of his Imaan when it experiences a decrease. So identify the things that decrease your Imaan and once you do, stay away from them. Likewise, keep yourself constantly busy with things that increase your Imaan.
You can also follow my series posted on MuslimahSource.