Faith: The Life-Changing Key

By Dr. Ali Al-Halawani

– Writer and Researcher

Faith the Life changing PowerNaturally, every sealed lock has to be manipulated by its own key to be unlocked. No matter what the endeavors one makes to unlock it using other than the suitable key, all these efforts will go in vain.

Particularly, the key to the Muslim personality is religion … faith … Islam. With this Faith the Prophet’s Companions and early Muslims set out to bring the world out of darkness into light; from the tightness of this present world into the vastness of the present as well as the next life; from the injustice of false religions into the perfect justice of Islam as were well pronounced by the Companion Rib`i ibn `Amir in front of Khosrau, king of Persia, one of the greatest two powers of the time.

With this Faith, Muslims were capable of defeating the Crusaders in nine consecutive Crusades where Europe advanced its best abilities and capabilities to defy Muslims and capture their lands in the name of Christ. Indubitably, Christ, the messenger of Allah, is innocent of all the massacres they were responsible for!

With this Faith, Muslims were capable of overcoming and defeating the Tartars who plagued Asia, Europe and some parts of the Muslim lands in the 13th century and only Muslims from Egypt and the Levant were able to stop them under the banner of faith and the leadership of Al-Muzaffar Sayf al-Din Qutuz who pronounced his famous cry for Islam, “wa islamah” (Oh my Islam!).

Another thing is that, if one is asked, “What does man need most?” One would answer, “To feel one’s humanity and dignity and to be able to achieve happiness in this present life and in the hereafter.” Truly, none of these will ever be attained but through faith in Allah and through fulfilling the true meaning of servitude to Him.

In addition, reforming people and communities cannot be carried out randomly or haphazardly. Rather, a nation cannot be reborn or revived except through a very long process of genuine education or radical change that affects all its joints. Almighty Allah says in His Ever-Glorious Qur’an what means:

Lo! Allah changeth not the condition of a folk until they (first) change that which is in their hearts. (Ar-Ra`d 13: 11)

This changing of the condition of individuals and folks is not an easy task as it involves a hard as well as an ongoing process of reform and nothing is capable of doing so except faith in Allah the Almighty; faith is the wonder-worker.

Noteworthy, faith does not recognize age or the phases put forward by some psychologists or educationists as prerequisites to success of educational labor. They claim that the golden age for a person to be changed and/or reformed in terms of habits and behavior is early childhood. To them, if this age is past, nothing would ever be capable of changing any person for the better. They further believe in the English proverb that reads, “Always has been, always will be.”

In the same vein, a poet once said what means,

Education may benefit the young,

None could avail those of old age,

If fixed, erect becomes the twig,

Never softens, if wished, a bocage.

Amazingly, faith, if penetrated into one’s soul and found itself the right place in one’s heart, would change one’s direction, attitude towards the Creator and the creation, judgment on things and issues, and it would change one’s worldview and no age – or anything else – would ever stand in its way.

To see how Faith can change people’s worldview and behavior, let us take as an example the story of Pharaoh’s sorcerers as narrated by the Qur’an,

And when the wizards came they said unto Pharaoh: Will there surely be a reward for us if we are the winners? He said: Aye, and ye will then surely be of those brought near (to me). Moses said unto them: Throw what ye are going to throw! Then they threw down their cords and their staves and said: By Pharaoh’s might, lo! We verily are the winners. Then Moses threw his staff and lo! It swallowed that which they did falsely show. And the wizards were flung prostrate. Crying: We believe in the Lord of the Worlds. The Lord of Moses and Aaron. (Pharaoh) said, Ye put your faith in him before I give you leave. Lo! He doubtless is your chief who taught you magic! But verily ye shall come to know. Verily I will cut off your hands and your feet alternately, and verily I will crucify you everyone. They said: It is no hurt, for lo! Unto our Lord we shall return. Lo! We ardently hope that our Lord will forgive us our sins because we are the first of the believers. (Al-Shu`ara’ 26: 41-51)

And, in Surat Taha, Almighty Allah relates the threats Pharaoh made the sorcerers as saying what means,

Now surely I shall cut off your hands and your feet alternately, and I shall crucify you on the trunks of palm trees, and ye shall know for certain which of us hath sterner and more lasting punishment. They said: We choose thee not above the clear proofs that have come unto us, and above Him Who created us. So decree what thou wilt decree. Thou wilt end for us only the life of the world. Lo! We believe in our Lord, that He may forgive us our sins and the magic unto which thou didst force us. Allah is better and more lasting. (Taha 20: 71-73)

How did they undergo a personality change? How did they change their own judgments concerning issues? How were their behaviors amended?

Their eagerness was to money and wealth, {Will there surely be a reward for us if we are the winners?}, and their earnest hopes were closely associated with Pharaoh, {By Pharaoh’s might!}.

That was their logic before faith touches their hearts. However, when they tasted the sweetness of faith, their only reply to the terrible threats made by Pharaoh was,

We choose thee not above the clear proofs that have come unto us, and above Him Who created us. So decree what thou wilt decree. Thou wilt end for us only the life of the world.

At first, their dreams and aspirations were for the perishable luxuries of this present life, but then, their hopes and aspirations were redirected towards the hereafter.

At first, they swore by the dignity and might of Pharaoh, then, they started to swear by Allah, the Creator.

Amazingly, the direction was changed… the logic was changed… the personal behavior was changed… even the words and phrases were changed… their selves and souls changed… and nothing could have ever done that except faith.

Let us look into another example of what faith is capable of doing to the life of human beings. Here is the example of `Umar ibn Al-Khattab, Leader of the Faithful who succeeded Caliph Abu Bakr As-Siddiq.

`Umar was known for his cruelty and hard heart. Not only did he torture weak Muslims in the early days of Islam, but he also set out to murder the Prophet, an attempt that he delayed until he “disciplines” his sister who embraced Islam. The news of her conversion drove him mad that he slapped her on the face, in her house and before her husband, causing her face to bleed.

Yet, after reading few verses from Surat Taha, the light of faith found its way to `Umar’s soul. When `Umar tasted the sweetness of faith and realized the eternal beauty of Islam both his reason and heart were set free and emancipated from the bonds of ignorance, polytheism and diversion.

As a proof of the emancipation of his reason, he cut the tree under which the Companions paid homage to the Prophet as to fight against the polytheists on the day of Hudaibiyah lest the people forget and then start to glorify that tree in complete contradiction to what Islam teaches.

And, as a sign of the emancipation of his heart, he was reported to have said, if a mule stumbled at the bank of the Euphrates, I would be responsible for it in front of Allah… why haven’t I paved the way for it?!

What was the main factor behind this radical change that affected `Umar and changed his whole being? It was nothing but Faith.

That is how faith changes people for the better and how it gets the best out of everyone. Indeed, Faith is the wonder-worker.



Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation, Misr University for Science Technology (MUST); Former Editor-in-Chief of the Electronic Da`wah Committee (EDC), Kuwait; Former Deputy Chief Editor and Managing Editor of the Living Shari`ah Department,; Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS); and member of the World Association of Arab Translators Linguists (WATA). You can reach him at [email protected].


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