A person, when reading the Qur'ân must pause to think when he reaches this verse, which is the final verse of the chapter entitled al-Saff
. This verse contains a blessed summons. It is a clear invitation, specifically aimed at the believers of the Muslim community, to distinguish themselves by helping Allah – by helping His religion, His Law, and His people. It calls them to make this effort their overriding concern as opposed to advancing the interests of a specific person, organization, family, country or sect.
The verse then goes on to mention the words imparted by Jesus (peace be upon him) to his disciples: “Who will be my helpers for Allah?”
To this the disciples reply“We are the helpers of Allah.”
It should be observed that Jesus's statement – “Who will be my helpers for Allah?” – differs in word choice from the command at the beginning of the verse – “O ye who believe! Be ye helpers of Allah.” Jesus (peace be
upon him) refers the help back to himself, not for his own sake, of course, but because he is calling them to Allah.
The two statements are clearly different. Jesus's choice of words is suitable for the Children of Israel, or the select among them who were his disciples and those who resolved themselves to aid him. In spite of this, some of them showed hesitation and doubt.
It may also be said that this specific choice of words fits in with the
nature of the mission of Jesus (peace be upon him) with these people at
that specific time in history. The presence of this Prophet among them was one of
the best possible guarantees that they would remain on the truth and not
relapse into error. When the disciples responded with “We are the
helpers of Allah”, it is as if they were showing a devotion and
constancy in their assistance far more absolute and unwavering than they
were actually capable of. And Allah knows best.
On the other hand, the statement: “Be ye helpers of Allah” is meant for
the Muslim nation whose very existence is based on an intimate adherence
to the way of Allah alone, whether or not the Messenger (peace be upon
him) is present among them. This is because they are the final nation,
the final community that has no time limit set for them. This is why
Allah says to them: “And Muhammad is naught but a
messenger, and many are the messengers who have gone before. If he were
to die or be killed,would you turn back on your heels?” [Sûrah Al `Imrân
The mission of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not directed towards one specific nation or people, but to everyone. For this reason, faith and striving for the faith will continue until the Final Hour. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There is no compulsory emigration after the opening of Mecca, but there is stribving for the faith and sincere intention.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî
and Sahîh Muslim
He also said: “There will always be a group of my followers who are on the truth, prevailing until the Final Hour.”
There are many more hadîth of similar meaning.
For this reason, the Muslim nation is summoned to give its help to Allah and no one else, with the understanding of course that helping the Prophet (peace be upon him) is helping Allah, as is helping the believers. This help remains incumbent on the Muslims as long as there remains day and night on Earth, whether they are weak or strong, wealthy or poor, many or few. Allah, though, does not burden any soul more than it can bear.
In this is a message to devout people that the help that they embark upon for their Lord and the work that they do calling people to faith should not be tied in with any specific person. They should maintain a proper perspective about other people, neither overemphasizing their importance nor viewing them with contempt. They should protect the message that they call toward and their community from the deviance of the People of the Scripture who venerated and held sacred their priests and monks in violation of the teachings of Allah. The Muslims should be loyal to the way presented by the Law of Allah as found in the Qur’ân and Sunnah instead of following the ways of this person or that.
Every people has its imâms and notables, but those imâms only deserve their noble title on account of their adherence to the proper methodology and their honest representation of the teachings of Allah and His Messenger. If they fall short of this, then they must be removed and replaced with others. This cannot happen unless the Muslim nation is attentive, active, and alert. It must not be a nation that establishes its faith on the basis of cultural traditions, blind following, and vain desires. It must instead establish its faith on the basis of knowledge, evidence, and the sacred texts. The Muslim nation is not a flock of sheep unconsciously driven without knowing anything except its blind trust in the one it bleats after. This is a nation that has been called on to help Allah alone. The help and support that is given to others is conditional upon those others being helpers of Allah. When those people are deficient in being helpers of Allah, then it is not proper for people to follow and emulate them.
Where can you find this clear guidance in the Muslim nation today? The vast majority of people, students of knowledge, and Islamic organizations mobilize themselves blindly and uncritically behind different personalities such as scholars, Islamic workers, and political leaders.
When Allah establishes this idea of help and assistance, he brings this meaning out by saying:
“Allah will certainly help those who help Him, for verily Allah is the Powerful, the Mighty.” [Sûrah al-Hajj: 40]
Every individual, organization, or faction claims to be helping the cause of Allah and asserts that it is not motivated by self-preservation, greed, or political power. This is the reason why Allah defines in this verse who it is that is truly helping him. Is it those who are making the claim?
Far from it; the helpers of Allah are as Allah says in the verse that follows the one mentioned above: “They are those who, if We establish them in the land, establish regular prayer, give regular charity, enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And with Allah rests the outcome of all affairs.” [Sûrah al-Hajj: 41]
You can see that Allah attributes to them certain characteristics that will only be visible in the future when he says: “…if We establish them in the land…” How many are the claimants who go back on their promises and break their covenants and then dedicate themselves to worldly pursuits?
Many people get carried away by rosy dreams and paint a picture of a faultless, idealistic future. Alas, when that future materializes before them and it turns out not to be the utopia that they had hoped for, principles and hearts start to change and greed takes over. Things begin to fall apart and accusations start to fly.
The verse does not associate the help of Allah with those who promise to establish prayer and pay charity but with those who Allah knows will actually do so in the future as well as enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong if they are established in the Earth.
Falling captive to the appeal of personalities and forgetting one’s principles or disregarding them on account of an individual or group is a perilous and crooked path that has often been taken in the history of calling people to Allah and in the history of nations. There is nothing like the Qur’ân when it comes to restoring people to balance and preserving the principles for which they owe their existence. This summons of “Be ye helpers of Allah” that accompanies the activities of Islamic work comes as a reminder that loyalty to Allah, His Messenger, and his faith must come before all other loyalties to people, groups, or organizations. So, will anyone take heed?