Today I want us to ponder on the following verse, Allah says in the Quran:
“Muhammad is the apostle of Allah. and those who are with him are strong against Unbelievers, (but) compassionate amongst each other. Thou wilt see them bow and prostrate themselves (in prayer), seeking Grace from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure. On their faces are their marks, (being) the traces of their prostration. This is their similitude in the Taurat; and their similitude in the Gospel is: like a seed which sends forth its blade, then makes it strong; it then becomes thick, and it stands on its own stem, (filling) the sowers with wonder and delight. As a result, it fills the Unbelievers with rage at them. Allah has promised those among them who believe and do righteous deeds forgiveness, and a great Reward”
(Surah Al-Fath, Chapter #48, Verse #29)
Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) gives 2 descriptions of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The first description is found in the Taurat (The Torah – the Jewish Scriptures) which describes the adherence of the Companions of the Prophet to their prayers: “Thou wilt see them bow and prostrate themselves (in prayer), seeking Grace from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure. On their faces are their marks, (being) the traces of their prostration. This is their similitude in the Taurat”.
The second description is found in the Injeel (The Gospel – the Christian Scriptures) where it describes them as seeds that grow into strong plants that are able to stand on their own: “And their similitude in the Gospel is: like a seed which sends forth its blade, then makes it strong; it then becomes thick, and it stands on its own stem, (filling) the sowers with wonder and delight”.
The first question we ask is why Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) described the companions differently in the different Books. The scholars who delved into this verse say that because the Jewish people didn’t adhere to the Law that was set for them and did not follow it properly (they had the knowledge but didn’t follow it), Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) wanted to show them the example of a future nation who would abide by the Law and worship Allah, hence the beautiful description of the Companions and their Salah.
On the other hand, the Christians were extremely religiously committed; doing things they weren’t even asked to do, such as becoming monks and nuns, and shunning the life of this world. Thus, Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) wanted to give them the example of a future nation that would be religious whilst also productive and active. Similar to a plant which stands on its own, the sahaba did not rely on others to give them sustenance, and brought delight and wonders to those around them.
These two descriptions combined give the exact formula for what a Productive Muslim should be: somebody who is extremely religiously committed, performs his/her duties on time, and if you see them you’d think he/she is a monk. BUT at the same time, this individual goes out in life, seeks the bounties of his Lord, is productive and active, hence spreads his goodness and the benefit of his work to those around him like a strong beautiful plant.
Let me put it bluntly; today we have some Muslims who are (MashaAllah) extremely religiously committed. They are in the Mosque all day long, they pray at night, fast during the day and so on. However, their benefit is to themselves and they are not able to go beyond this and be productive and active to those around them. What they are doing is not bad or without merit, however one should balance their lives and become active in their communities, active at work, seeking Allah’s blessings and committing to a balanced lifestyle.
At the same time, we have Muslims who unfortunately do not observe their Islamic duties, but are extremely productive in the outside world. They have high-flying careers, are extremely hardworking individuals, are involved in many great community projects, produce lots of amazing work… but when you dig deeper into their lives, you notice missed prayers, no hijab, missed fasting and so forth.
You might be asking, why can’t we have both? Why can’t we have truly productive muslims who are religiously committed AND extremely successful and productive in the outside world? Why can’t we show the world this unique example of Muslims, these ‘productive monks’ in the same way Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) described the Companions in His Book?
The above verse specifically describes the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as they were true examples for generations before them and generations to come. In following them in our lives today, we can become productive muslims inshaAllah. As the inheritors of this great religion from the Prophet and his Companions, we should aim to embody the above meanings in our lives as well so that we’re neither swayed one side nor the other.
And Allah Knows Best.