Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Discover God | Al Risala, August 1988
According to Abu’l-Aaliyah, the Companions of the Prophet were at one stage of the view that no harm would come to them because of their sins, provided that they testified that there is no God but Allah, just as, conversely, no good deed would benefit anyone who held that God could have equals. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 7, p. 298) Then a verse of the Quran was revealed which said: “Believers, obey God and obey the Messenger: do not let your deeds go to waste” (47:33). After this, the Companions went in constant fear of losing whatever good standing they had with their Maker on account of their sinful behaviour.
Faith must be looked at as a kind of contract. When a man utters the testimony of faith, he enters into an agreement with God. He makes a promise to his Maker: “I will take You, God, as my Lord and Master. I will follow, both in word and deed, the path You have revealed through Your Apostle!” But what if, after mouthing the words of the contract, the signatory does not care to honour the spirit of the agreement? In that case, the contract would be worthless in the eyes of God. Quite obviously, if a man does not abide by the terms of a contract, he cannot hope to receive the benefits that should accrue from it.
Faith is of sterling quality only if it can stamp its impression quite indelibly on a man’s thoughts, words and deeds, so that whenever he speaks, his words are in total consonance with the tenets of his faith, and whenever he acts, his deeds reflect the brightest hues of his beliefs. Unless faith becomes a beacon, guiding one past the reefs of life upon which one could so easily flounder, it is no faith at all.
The validity of every contract in this world is entirely dependent upon whether it is adhered to or not. If both the parties feel it binding upon them to keep to its terms, the contract will remain valid – otherwise it might as well never have been drawn up. Similarly, the validity of the contract of faith may be judged by the extent to which its principles are regularly put into practice. If its terms are wantonly flouted, it will be declared null and void by God Almighty Himself.