Practicing Islamic teachings in modern society is not easy. The rise of fanatical liberalism and a life without God has forged a nihilistic and egocentric culture in which materialism and faithlessness reign supreme, especially in the West.
Lust-laden promiscuity, idealisation of wealth, reckless absolute freedom and the pursuit of endless “pleasure and happiness” plague modern environments, leaving little room for escape.
Practicing our religion has truly become like “grasping a hot coal”, as foretold by the Holy Prophetsa, who said:
يَأْتِيْ عَلَى النَّاسِ زَمَانٌ الصَّابِرُ فِيهِمْ عَلَى دِينِهِ كَالْقَابِضِ عَلَى الْجَمْرِ
“There shall come a time upon people in which the one who is patient upon his religion will be like the one holding onto a burning piece of coal.”(Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi, Kitab al-Fitan)
In books of ahadith, there are whole chapters labelled as “Kitab al-Fitan” – often translated as the chapter of turmoil, afflictions and the end times. But the Arabic root of فتن (fitan) and its lexical definition equally means temptations, trials, seduction and misleading from the right path – signifying a period of not only conflict and sedition, but tests and trials for believers.
A powerful – and often inescapable – anti-religious society is the Dajjal that Prophet Muhammadsa strongly warned of.
With sin widespread and alluring, feelings of despair, hopelessness and a lack of motivation creep into the will of believers. After all, in such a testing environment, how much can one truly resist?
There is, however, great hope and solace for believers in modern times.
In his great commentary of the Holy Quran, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra expounds on the commentary of the Promised Messiahas about the fulfilment of prophecies in Surah al-Takwir (81st chapter of the Holy Quran) relating to modern society, new inventions and the rapid development of technology.
After discussing the technological advancements of modern society foretold in Surah al-Takwir from verses 1-12, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra gives an insightful commentary of verses 13 and 14. The verses are:
وَ اِذَا الۡجَحِيۡمُ سُعِّرَتۡ
“And when the Fire is caused to blaze up”;
وَ اِذَا الۡجَنَّةُ اُزۡلِفَتۡ
“And when the Garden is brought nigh”.
These verses come after the description of drastic world changes (described in verses 1-12) that were to occur; for example, the formation of a global village, new transport systems and the spread of books and libraries.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra explained that these prophecies directly referred to modern times and in such an age, the Holy Quran says, “the Fire” will be “caused to blaze up”.
This verse, according to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra, signifies sin would be so rampant and widespread during this time that as a result, the fire of Hell would be “caused to blaze up” and burn stronger – the number of Hell-bound people would be huge.
Modern society is proof of the fulfilment of this Quranic prophecy too with faithlessness and sin engulfing every society.
The next verse, however, is where the hope lies for believers.
At the face of it, “And when the Garden is brought nigh” seems to contradict the preceding verse. If the fire of sin is rife and Hell is caused to burn fiercer, then how can the “Garden” (Heaven) be closer for people?
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra explains this by saying:
“[‘And when the Garden is brought nigh’] is the natural result of وَ اِذَا الۡجَحِيۡمُ سُعِّرَتۡ [‘And when the Fire is caused to blaze up,’] because when sins increase and people do not pay attention to God Almighty, in such an atmosphere, Heaven is also brought closer and people can attain Heaven with little effort and sacrifice.
“To attain Heaven in an age where good deeds prevail and are common is not as easy compared to an age in which, generally, people are averse to faith. This is because in such a climate [of faithlessness], even paying a little attention to God Almighty makes one worthy of His pleasure.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 8, p. 228)
This creates great hope for any believer struggling to practice faith – even the slightest good deed weighs heavier today, than ever before.
Yes, it is not always easy to practice our faith in modern society – after all, to err is human – but the message Allah gives us in the above verses is of hope and not to despair. Allah is the Most Gracious and Ever Merciful and understands every situation.
We published a great vision of Hazrat Mir Muhammad Ismailra – the brother-in-law of the Promised Messiahas – titled “Scenes of God’s Forgiveness”. This vision confirms the unimaginable mercy Allah the Almighty will show on the Day of Judgment and is a means of great hope for believers. The vision can be read here: www.alhakam.org/scenes-of-gods-forgiveness/
No matter how challenging, we must continue to strive to practice our faith as Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa exhorts in every sermon, speech and meeting.
The knowledge, in the back of our minds, that a helping hand will be given to believers living in modern times where sin is rampant and widespread, remains a great means of hope and enthusiasm.
Be that as it may, one can never be too certain in this life of Allah’s forgiveness; therefore, a concerted effort for gaining his pleasure is best.