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  2. O you who have believed! A Call from Almighty Allah to the Believers: Written by Ali Ben Nayif al-Shahoud
  3. The 39th Call: Testing those in a State of Ihram with Games

The 39th Call: Testing those in a State of Ihram with Games

Article translated to : العربية

Almighty Allah says (what can be translated as): “O you who have believed, Allah will surely test you through something of the game that your hands and spears [can] reach, that Allah may make evident those who fear Him unseen. And whoever transgresses after that - for him is a painful punishment.” (Al-Ma’idah: 94)


Almighty Allah says that He tests his believing servants when they are in a state of Ihram by letting the small hunting animals and games in the reach of their hands. If they want, they can take them with their hands. He will also test them by making the big hunting animals in the reach of their spears; they would find them easily in front of them while traveling. Allah does that to know who obeys Him in secrecy and in public and who would not hunt as long as he is in a state of Ihram. Whoever transgresses after this warning from Allah, he will have a painful torture for opposing the command of Allah.


It is a very easy game that is brought with­in their vicin­ity. They could eas­ily grab it with their hands, or with their spears. Some re­ports sug­gest that such game would come as close as the doors of their tents or homes. This, then, was a tri­al of temp­ta­tion. Sim­ilar in na­ture to that which the Chil­dren of Is­rael were asked to en­dure in for­mer times, but in which they failed. They had plead­ed with their Prophet, Moses (Peace Be up­on Him), to ap­point a day when they would not have to at­tend to any as­pect of their dai­ly af­fairs. Rather, they would rest and spend the whole day in wor­ship. Thus, the Sab­bath was es­tab­lished for them. They were then tempt­ed with wa­ter game, where­by fish of all types came right to the sea shore on the day of the Sab­bath. On oth­er days, it went far in­to the wa­ter in the nor­mal be­havior of fish. The Chil­dren of Is­rael, how­ev­er, could not re­sist the temp­ta­tion, could not keep their covenant with Allah. In the end, they resorted to play­ing tricks hold­ing the fish in en­clo­sures with­out ac­tu­al­ly tak­ing them out of the wa­ter. They on­ly cap­tured the fish from those en­clo­sures on the fol­low­ing morn­ing, when the Sab­bath was over. In­deed, Allah in­structs the Prophet Muham­mad (Peace Be upon Him) to ques­tion them about this, confronting them with their trick­ery: “And ask them about the town that was by the sea - when they transgressed in [the matter of] the Sabbath - when their fish came to them openly on their Sabbath day, and the day they had no Sabbath they did not come to them. Thus did We give them trial because they were defiantly disobedient.” (Al-‘Araf: 163) It is this same tri­al which the Mus­lim commu­ni­ty came through suc­cess­ful­ly, while the Jews did not. This is the proof of Allah’s de­scrip­tion of the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty: “You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. If only the People of the Scripture had believed, it would have been better for them. Among them are believers, but most of them are defiantly disobedient.” (Ali Imran: 110) In fact the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty has passed the test on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions where­as the Jews did not pass any sim­ilar tests. Hence, Allah de­prived them of their lead­er­ship role and as­signed it to the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty, giv­ing it more pow­er to es­tab­lish its en­ti­ty on earth than He has given to any oth­er com­mu­ni­ty. The fact re­mains that the code of liv­ing laid down by Allah was nev­er im­ple­ment­ed in a prac­ti­cal sys­tem reg­ulat­ing the whole of human life un­til it was put in­to prac­tice by the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty. But that was when that com­mu­ni­ty was tru­ly Is­lam­ic, when it knew and ac­cept­ed that Is­lam means that the Di­vine re­li­gion and its laws must be im­ple­ment­ed in hu­man life. It al­so re­alized that it was placed in a po­si­tion of trust, un­der­tak­ing the ful­fill­ment of that great task and pro­vid­ing lead­er­ship for mankind in im­ple­ment­ing the Divine law.


The tri­al of pro­vid­ing easy game at the time when it was pro­hib­it­ed to kill dur­ing the pe­ri­od of con­se­cra­tion, i.e. Ihram, was one of the nu­mer­ous tests that the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty suc­cess­ful­ly passed. The care Allah took of this Mus­lim commu­ni­ty and its ed­uca­tion is re­flect­ed in such tests. In this par­tic­ular in­ci­dent, Allah tells the be­liev­ers of the pur­pose be­yond His test: “…that Allah may make evident those who fear Him unseen.” (Verse 94) Be­ing tru­ly Allah-​fear­ing, or fearing Him in one’s heart, is the sol­id ba­sis on which faith is es­tab­lished in a person’s con­science. It mould’s one’s be­havior and it is the essence of putting man’s vicegeren­cy, i.e. Khilafah, on earth in­to prac­tice.


Hu­man be­ings do not see Allah, but they feel His pres­ence in their hearts when they tru­ly be­lieve in Him. To them, He is be­yond the reach of all their fac­ul­ties of per­cep­tion, but their hearts know and fear Him. The cer­tain­ty of this great truth in a firm, un­shake­able be­lief in Allah, and achiev­ing, with­out see­ing Him or feeling His pres­ence with our sens­es, a strength of be­lief equal, if not su­pe­ri­or, to that based on one’s sens­es is some­thing great in­deed. A be­liev­er de­clares that “there is no de­ity oth­er than Allah” with­out hav­ing seen Him. To have such be­lief is in­dica­tive of a huge step for­ward to­wards a su­pe­ri­or lev­el of hu­man­ity that taps man’s nat­ural fac­ul­ties and makes the best use of all his nat­ural abil­ities. This rep­re­sents a great de­par­ture away from the realm of an­imal ex­is­tence that cannot look up to any­thing be­yond its im­me­di­ate per­cep­tion. On the oth­er hand, when man bars his soul from look­ing up to what lies be­yond the reach of his facul­ties of per­cep­tion and con­fines his feel­ings to the ma­te­ri­al world surrounding him, he shuts down his su­pe­ri­or fac­ul­ties and lingers per­ma­nent­ly in his ma­te­ri­al and sen­su­al world.


Hence, Allah makes this qual­ity of fear­ing Him in our hearts the cru­cial point of this test, mak­ing it clear to the be­liev­ers so that they are able to use all their powers to achieve it. Allah cer­tain­ly knows, ini­tial­ly, who fears Him in his heart, but He does not hold peo­ple to ac­count on the ba­sis of His ini­tial knowl­edge. They are ac­count­able on­ly for what they ac­tu­al­ly do, which Allah al­so knows on the ba­sis of its tak­ing place. “And whoever transgresses after that - for him is a painful punishment.” (Verse 94)


Man is thus told of the tri­al to which he is be­ing put. He is in­formed of its pur­pose and warned against yield­ing to temp­ta­tion. All means of suc­cess have been giv­en to him. Hence, should he transgress af­ter all this, it is on­ly fair that he should be made to en­dure grievous suf­fer­ing as it is his own choice.

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