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Among people there are also many who worship God on the borderline... (Al-Hajj 22:11)

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Sūratu’l-Hajj (The Pilgrimage)

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وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ حَرْفٍ ۖ فَإِنْ أَصَابَهُ خَيْرٌ اطْمَأَنَّ بِهِ ۖ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ فِتْنَةٌ انقَلَبَ عَلَىٰ وَجْهِهِ خَسِرَ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةَ ۚ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ هُوَ الْخُسْرَانُ الْمُبِينُ
Among people there are also many who worship God on the borderline (of faith) in expectation of only worldly gains. If any good befalls him, he is satisfied with it, but if a trial afflicts him, he turns away utterly, reverting back to unbelief. He (thereby) incurs loss of both this world and the Hereafter. This indeed is the obvious loss. (Al-Hajj 22:11)

There are lots of similar verses throughout the Qur’ān. Actually, God often tests the believers, hypocrites, and unbelievers in order to reveal the differences among their inner worlds. He puts their conscience to the test with troubles and disasters and even with the things relating to good. Thus, God reminds them of their actual worth or makes them aware of themselves. Indeed, it has been established with many experiences that even the people who sacrifice in different ways in God’s cause suffer occasional, even frequent setbacks, reverses, and tribulations. Their business and financial situation may come to a standstill, and their work destabilized. This is nothing but God’s testing His servant. However, this does not mean that God, Who is the Absolutely Wealthy and Generous One, will abandon His servants who renounce their world and make sacrifices in order to exalt His religion or that He will leave them to be oppressed under hard conditions. Yet, the All-Holy Creator, Who has innumerable instances of wisdom in every act and never does anything useless, tests His servants’ sincerity and loyalty through their behavior and on the scales of the judgments of their conscience. There may always appear some who fail this test and lose both in this world and with respect to the next one. The Qur’ān concludes this matter with the statement, “This indeed is the obvious loss.”

Those mentioned in the verse who failed in their test and incurred loss in both this world and the Hereafter were generally the hypocrites. They did not achieve the unity of the heart and the tongue; thus, they could not attain true faith. With their faith on the tip of their tongues, they watched occurrences suspiciously and lived a life at the edge of the religion, without ever adopting it fully and sincerely in their lives. They always remained on the borderline between belief and unbelief, being alert not to lose the worldly advantages of being a believer in the community of believers, like a fly that intends to light on the honey. In their opinion, they were deliberate and cautious against religious obligations and certain heavy duties that they found disadvantageous.

In such a position they adopted, the hypocrites made plans to benefit from any advantages that Muslims might enjoy. If they got what they expected, they adhered to it and showed off as if perfect and contented believers. Yet, if an affliction or tribulation appeared on the horizon, they immediately turned back to their previous attitudes.

A believer may not be able to be a true believer in every act. All acts, attitudes, and attributes of a believer may not arise from belief—I wish this were not so. Because of this, some believers may fall under the influence of such hypocritical considerations and wish the wind blew according to their desire, rain poured according to their own interests, and the wheel of fate always turned to their advantage. Just as there were such people during the earliest period of Islam who turned their back to Islam when they did not attain what they expected, it is inevitable in our time that many will suffer deviance in their inner worlds and confusion in feelings and attitudes.

Our Lord! Do not let our hearts swerve after you guided us. And, bestow upon us mercy from your Presence. Surely You are the All-Bestowing.