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The Necessity of Holding to the Path of Allah and the Community of the Believers

Allah said next,

﴿ وَٱعۡتَصِمُواْ بِحَبۡلِ ٱللَّهِ جَمِيعً۬ا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُواْ‌ۚ

(And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves.) It was said that,

﴿ بِحَبۡلِ ٱللَّهِ

(to the Rope of Allah) refers to Allah's covenant, just as Allah said in the following Ayah,

﴿ ضُرِبَتۡ عَلَيۡہِمُ ٱلذِّلَّةُ أَيۡنَ مَا ثُقِفُوٓاْ إِلَّا بِحَبۡلٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَحَبۡلٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلنَّاسِ

(Indignity is put over them wherever they may be, except when under a covenant (of protection) from Allah, and from men;) (3:112), in reference to pledges and peace treaties.

Allah's statement

﴿ وَلَا تَفَرَّقُواْ‌ۚ

(and be not divided among yourselves), orders sticking to the community of the believers and forbids division. There are several Hadiths that require adhering to the Jama`ah (congregation of believers) and prohibit division. Muslim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

« إِنَّ اللهَ يَرْضَى لَكُمْ ثَلَاثًا، وَيَسْخَطُ لَكُمْ ثَلَاثًا: يَرْضَى لَكُمْ أَنْ تَعْبُدُوهُ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا، وَأَنْ تَعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا، وَأَنْ تَنَاصَحُوا مَنْ وَلَّاهُ اللهُ أَمْرَكُمْ. وَيَسْخَطُ لَكُمْ ثَلَاثًا: قِيلَ وَقَالَ، وَكَثْرَةَ السُّؤَالِ، وَإِضَاعَةَ الْمَال »

(It pleases Allah for you to acquire three qualities and displeases Him that you acquire three characteristics. It pleases Him that you worship Him Alone and not associate anything or anyone with Him in worship, that you hold on to the Rope of Allah altogether and do not divide, and that you advise whoever Allah appoints as your Leader. The three that displease Him are that you say, `It was said,' and, `So-and-so said,' asking many unnecessary questions and wasting money.)

Allah said,

﴿ وَٱذۡكُرُواْ نِعۡمَتَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡكُمۡ إِذۡ كُنتُمۡ أَعۡدَآءً۬ فَأَلَّفَ بَيۡنَ قُلُوبِكُمۡ فَأَصۡبَحۡتُم بِنِعۡمَتِهِۦۤ إِخۡوَٲنً۬ا

(and remember Allah's favor on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His grace, you became brethren) (3:103).

This was revealed about the Aws and Khazraj. During the time of Jahiliyyah, the Aws and Khazraj were at war and had great hatred, enmity and ill feelings towards each other, causing long conflicts and battles to occur between them. When Allah brought Islam, those among them who embraced it became brothers who loved each other by Allah's grace, having good ties for Allah's sake and helping each other in righteousness and piety. Allah said,

﴿ هُوَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَيَّدَكَ بِنَصۡرِهِۦ وَبِٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ وَأَلَّفَ بَيۡنَ قُلُوبِہِمۡ‌ۚ لَوۡ أَنفَقۡتَ مَا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ جَمِيعً۬ا مَّآ أَلَّفۡتَ بَيۡنَ قُلُوبِهِمۡ وَلَـٰڪِنَّ ٱللَّهَ أَلَّفَ بَيۡنَہُمۡ‌ۚ

(He it is Who has supported you with His Help and with the believers. And He has united their hearts. If you had spent all that is in the earth, you could not have united their hearts, but Allah has united them) ( 8:62,63), until the end of the Ayah. Before Islam, their disbelief had them standing at the edge of a pit of the Fire, but Allah saved them from it and delivered them to faith. The Messenger of Allah reminded the Ansar (from both Aws and Khazraj) of this bounty when he was dividing the war booty of Hunayn. During that time, some Ansar did not like the way the booty was divided, since they did not get what the others did, although that was what Allah directed His Prophet to do. The Messenger of Allah gave them a speech, in which he said,

« يَا مَعْشَرَ الْأَنْصَارِ أَلَمْ أَجِدْكُمْ ضُلَّالًا فَهَدَاكُمُ اللهُ بِي، وَكُنْتُمْ مُتَفَرِّقِينَ فَأَلَّفَكُمُ اللهُ بِي، وَعَالَةً فَأَغْنَاكُمُ اللهُ بِي؟ »

(O Ansar! Did I not find you misguided and Allah directed you to guidance because of me? Were you not divided beforehand and Allah united you around me Were you not poor and Allah enriched you because of me)

Whenever the Prophet asked them a question, they would answer, "Indeed, Allah and His Messenger have granted us bounty.''

﴿ وَلۡتَكُن مِّنكُمۡ أُمَّةٌ۬ يَدۡعُونَ إِلَى ٱلۡخَيۡرِ وَيَأۡمُرُونَ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَيَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنكَرِ‌ۚ وَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡمُفۡلِحُونَ وَلَا تَكُونُواْ كَٱلَّذِينَ تَفَرَّقُواْ وَٱخۡتَلَفُواْ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَهُمُ ٱلۡبَيِّنَـٰتُ‌ۚ وَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ لَهُمۡ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ۬ يَوۡمَ تَبۡيَضُّ وُجُوهٌ۬ وَتَسۡوَدُّ وُجُوهٌ۬‌ۚ فَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ ٱسۡوَدَّتۡ وُجُوهُهُمۡ أَكَفَرۡتُم بَعۡدَ إِيمَـٰنِكُمۡ فَذُوقُواْ ٱلۡعَذَابَ بِمَا كُنتُمۡ تَكۡفُرُونَ وَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ ٱبۡيَضَّتۡ وُجُوهُهُمۡ فَفِى رَحۡمَةِ ٱللَّهِ هُمۡ فِيہَا خَـٰلِدُونَ تِلۡكَ ءَايَـٰتُ ٱللَّهِ نَتۡلُوهَا عَلَيۡكَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ‌ۗ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ يُرِيدُ ظُلۡمً۬ا لِّلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ
﴿ وَلِلَّهِ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۚ وَإِلَى ٱللَّهِ تُرۡجَعُ ٱلۡأُمُورُ

(104. Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma`ruf (all that Islam orders) and forbidding Al-Munkar (all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful.) (105. And be not as those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them. It is they for whom there is an awful torment.) (106. On the Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) when some faces will become white and some faces will become black; as for those whose faces will become black (to them will be said): "Did you reject faith after accepting it Then taste the torment (in Hell) for rejecting faith.'') (107. And for those whose faces will become white, they will be in Allah's mercy (Paradise), therein they shall dwell forever.) (108. These are the Ayat of Allah. We recite them to you in truth, and Allah wills no injustice to the `Alamin.) (109. And to Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And all matters go back (for decision) to Allah.)

The Command to Establish the Invitation to Allah

Allah said,

﴿ وَلۡتَكُن مِّنكُمۡ أُمَّةٌ۬

(Let there arise out of you a group of people)

that calls to righteousness, enjoins all that is good and forbids evil in the manner Allah commanded,

﴿ وَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡمُفۡلِحُونَ

(And it is they who are the successful.)

Ad-Dahhak said, "They are a special group of the Companions and a special group of those after them, that is those who perform Jihad and the scholars.''

The objective of this Ayah is that there should be a segment of this Muslim Ummah fulfilling this task, even though it is also an obligation on every member of this Ummah, each according to his ability. Muslim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

« مَنْ رَأَى مِنْكُمْ مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُغَيِّرْهُ بِيَدِهِ، فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ، فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِع فَبِقَلْبِهِ، وَذلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الْإِيمَان »

(Whoever among you witnesses an evil, let him change it with his hand. If he is unable, then let him change it with his tongue. If he is unable, then let him change it with his heart, and this is the weakest faith.) In another narration, The Prophet said,

« وَلَيْسَ وَرَاءَ ذَلِكَ مِنَ الْإِيمَانِ حَبَّةُ خَرْدَل »

(There is no faith beyond that, not even the weight of a mustard seed.)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Hudhayfah bin Al-Yaman said that the Prophet said,

« وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِه، لَتَأْمُرُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ، وَلَتَنْهَوُنَّ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ، أَوْ لَيُوشِكَنَّ اللهُ أَنْ يَبْعَثَ عَلَيْكُمْ عِقَابًا مِنْ عِنْدِهِ، ثُمَّ لَتَدْعُنَّهُ فَلَا يَسْتَجِيبَ لَكُم »

(By He in Whose Hand is my soul! You will enjoin righteousness and forbid evil, or Allah shall send down a punishment from Him to you. Then, you will supplicate to Him, but He will not accept your supplication.)

At-Tirmidhi also collected this Hadith and said, "Hasan''. There are many other Hadiths and Ayat on this subject, which will be explained later.

The Prohibition of Division

Allah said,

﴿ وَلَا تَكُونُواْ كَٱلَّذِينَ تَفَرَّقُواْ وَٱخۡتَلَفُواْ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَهُمُ ٱلۡبَيِّنَـٰتُ‌ۚ

(And be not as those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them) (3:105).

In this Ayah, Allah forbids this Ummah from imitating the division and discord of the nations that came before them. These nations also abandoned enjoining righteousness and forbidding evil, although they had proof of its necessity.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu `Amir `Abdullah bin Luhay said, "We performed Hajj with Mu`awiyah bin Abi Sufyan. When we arrived at Makkah, he stood up after praying Zuhr and said, `The Messenger of Allah said,

« إِنَّ أَهْلَ الْكِتَابَيْنِ افْتَرَقُوا فِي دِينِهِمْ عَلى ثِنْتَيْنِ وَسَبْعِينَ مِلَّةً، وَإِنَّ هذِهِ الْأُمَّةَ سَتَفْتَرِقُ عَلى ثَلَاثٍ وَسَبْعِينَ مِلَّةً يَعْنِي الْأَهْوَاءَ كُلُّهَا فِي النَّارِ إِلَّا وَاحِدَةً وَهِيَ الْجَمَاعَةُ وَإِنَّهُ سَيَخْرُجُ فِي أُمَّتِي أَقْوَامٌ تَجَارَى بِهِمْ تِلْكَ الْأَهْوَاءُ كَمَا يَتَجَارَى الْكَلَبُ بِصَاحِبِه، لَا يَبْقَى مِنْهُ عِرْقٌ وَلَا مَفْصِلٌ إِلَّا دَخَلَه »

(The People of the Two Scriptures divided into seventy-two sects. This Ummah will divide into seventy-three sects, all in the Fire except one, that is, the Jama`ah. Some of my Ummah will be guided by desire, like one who is infected by rabies; no vein or joint will be saved from these desires.)

(Mu`awiyah said next: By Allah, O Arabs! If you do not adhere to what came to you from your Prophet then other people are even more prone not to adhere to it. '' Similar was recorded by Abu Dawud from Ahmad bin Hanbal and Muhammad bin Yahya.

The Benefits of Brotherly Ties and Unity and the Consequence of Division on the Day of the Gathering

Allah said next,

﴿ يَوۡمَ تَبۡيَضُّ وُجُوهٌ۬ وَتَسۡوَدُّ وُجُوهٌ۬‌ۚ

(On the Day when some faces will become white and some faces will become black;) (3:106) on the Day of Resurrection. This is when the faces of followers of the Sunnah and the Jama`ah will radiate with whiteness, and the faces of followers of Bid`ah (innovation) and division will be darkened, as has been reported from Ibn `Abbas. Allah said,

﴿ فَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ ٱسۡوَدَّتۡ وُجُوهُهُمۡ أَكَفَرۡتُم بَعۡدَ إِيمَـٰنِكُمۡ

(As for those whose faces will become black (to them will be said): "Did you reject faith after accepting it")

Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, "They are the hypocrites.''

﴿ فَذُوقُواْ ٱلۡعَذَابَ بِمَا كُنتُمۡ تَكۡفُرُونَ

(Then taste the torment (in Hell) for rejecting faith,) and this description befits every disbeliever.

﴿ وَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ ٱبۡيَضَّتۡ وُجُوهُهُمۡ فَفِى رَحۡمَةِ ٱللَّهِ هُمۡ فِيہَا خَـٰلِدُونَ

(And for those whose faces will become white, they will be in Allah's mercy (Paradise), therein they shall dwell forever.) in Paradise, where they will reside for eternity and shall never desire to be removed. Abu `Isa At-Tirmidhi recorded that Abu Ghalib said, "Abu Umamah saw heads (of the Khawarij sect) hanging on the streets of Damascus. He commented, `The Dogs of the Fire and the worst dead people under the cover of the sky. The best dead men are those whom these have killed.' He then recited,

﴿ يَوۡمَ تَبۡيَضُّ وُجُوهٌ۬ وَتَسۡوَدُّ وُجُوهٌ۬‌ۚ

(On the Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) when some faces will become white and some faces will become black;) until the end of the Ayah. I said to Abu Umamah, `Did you hear this from the Messenger of Allah' He said, `If I only heard it from the Messenger of Allah once, twice, thrice, four times, or seven times, I would not have narrated it to you.' '' At-Tirmidhi said, "This Hadith is Hasan.'' Ibn Majah and Ahmad recorded similarly.

Allah said,

﴿ تِلۡكَ ءَايَـٰتُ ٱللَّهِ نَتۡلُوهَا عَلَيۡكَ

(These are the Ayat of Allah. We recite them to you) meaning, `These are the verses of Allah, His proofs and signs that We reveal to you, O Muhammad,'

﴿ بِٱلۡحَقِّ‌ۗ

(in truth) making known the true reality of this world and the Hereafter.

﴿ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ يُرِيدُ ظُلۡمً۬ا لِّلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ

(and Allah wills no injustice to the `Alamin. ) for He never treats them with injustice. Rather, He is the Just Ruler Who is able to do everything and has knowledge of everything. Therefore, He does not need to treat any of His creatures with injustice, and this is why He said next,

﴿ وَلِلَّهِ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۚ

(and to Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the Earth.),

they are all His servants and His property,

﴿ وَإِلَى ٱللَّهِ تُرۡجَعُ ٱلۡأُمُورُ

(And all matters go back to Allah,) for His is the decision concerning the affairs of this life and the Hereafter, and His is the Supreme Authority in this life and the Hereafter.

﴿ كُنتُمۡ خَيۡرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخۡرِجَتۡ لِلنَّاسِ تَأۡمُرُونَ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَتَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنڪَرِ وَتُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ‌ۗ وَلَوۡ ءَامَنَ أَهۡلُ ٱلۡڪِتَـٰبِ لَكَانَ خَيۡرً۬ا لَّهُم‌ۚ مِّنۡهُمُ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ وَأَڪۡثَرُهُمُ ٱلۡفَـٰسِقُونَ لَن يَضُرُّوڪُمۡ إِلَّآ أَذً۬ى‌ۖ وَإِن يُقَـٰتِلُوكُمۡ يُوَلُّوكُمُ ٱلۡأَدۡبَارَ ثُمَّ لَا يُنصَرُونَ ضُرِبَتۡ عَلَيۡہِمُ ٱلذِّلَّةُ أَيۡنَ مَا ثُقِفُوٓاْ إِلَّا بِحَبۡلٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَحَبۡلٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلنَّاسِ وَبَآءُو بِغَضَبٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَضُرِبَتۡ عَلَيۡہِمُ ٱلۡمَسۡكَنَةُ‌ۚ ذَٲلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمۡ كَانُواْ يَكۡفُرُونَ بِـَٔايَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ وَيَقۡتُلُونَ ٱلۡأَنۢبِيَآءَ بِغَيۡرِ حَقٍّ۬‌ۚ ذَٲلِكَ بِمَا عَصَواْ وَّكَانُواْ يَعۡتَدُونَ

(110. You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma`ruf (all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah. And had the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) believed, it would have been better for them; among them are some who have faith, but most of them are Fasiqun (rebellious).) (111. They will do you no harm, barring a trifling annoyance; and if they fight against you, they will show you their backs, and they will not be helped.) (112. They are stricken with humility wherever they may be, except when under a covenant (of protection) from Allah, and a covenant from men; they have drawn on themselves the wrath of Allah, and destitution is put over them. This is because they disbelieved in the Ayat of Allah and killed the Prophets without right. This is because they disobeyed (Allah) and used to transgress (the limits set by Allah).)

Virtues of the Ummah of Muhammad (peace be upon him), the Best Nation Ever

Allah states that the Ummah of Muhammad is the best nation ever,

﴿ كُنتُمۡ خَيۡرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخۡرِجَتۡ لِلنَّاسِ

(You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind) (3:110).

Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Hurayrah commented on this Ayah, "(You, Muslims, are) the best nation of people for the people, you bring them tied in chains on their necks (capture them in war) and they later embrace Islam.'' Similar was said by Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Atiyah Al-`Awfi, `Ikrimah, `Ata' and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas that,

﴿ كُنتُمۡ خَيۡرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخۡرِجَتۡ لِلنَّاسِ

(You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind;) means, the best of peoples for the people.

The meaning of the Ayah is that the Ummah of Muhammad is the most righteous and beneficial nation for mankind. Hence Allah's description of them,

﴿ تَأۡمُرُونَ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَتَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنڪَرِ وَتُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ‌ۗ

(you enjoin Al-Ma`ruf and forbid Al-Munkar and believe in Allah) (3:110).

Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and Al-Hakim recorded that Hakim bin Mu`awiyah bin Haydah narrated that his father said that the Messenger of Allah said,

« أَنْتُمْ تُوَفُّون سَبْعِينَ أُمَّةً، أَنْتُمْ خَيْرُهَا، وَأَنْتُمْ أَكْرَمُ عَلَى اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَل »

(You are the final of seventy nations, you are the best and most honored among them to Allah.)

This is a well-known Hadith about which At-Tirmidhi said, "Hasan'', and which is also narrated from Mu`adh bin Jabal and Abu Sa`id. The Ummah of Muhammad achieved this virtue because of its Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him) the most regarded of Allah's creation and the most honored Messenger with Allah. Allah sent Muhammad with the perfect and complete Law that was never given to any Prophet or Messenger before him. In Muhammad's Law, few deeds take the place of the many deeds that other nations performed. For instance, Imam Ahmad recorded that `Ali bin Abi Talib said, "The Messenger of Allah said,

« أُعْطِيتُ مَا لَمْ يُعْطَ أَحَدٌ مِنَ الْأَنْبِيَاء »

(I was given what no other Prophet before me was given.)

We said, `O Messenger of Allah! What is it' He said,

« نُصِرْتُ بِالرُّعْبِ، وَأُعْطِيتُ مَفَاتِيحَ الْأَرْضِ، وَسُمِّيتُ أَحْمَدَ، وَجُعِلَ التُّرَابُ لِي طَهُورًا، وَجُعِلَتْ أُمَّتِي خَيْرَ الْأُمَم »

(I was given victory by fear, I was given the keys of the earth, I was called Ahmad, the earth was made a clean place for me (to pray and perform Tayammum with it) and my Ummah was made the best Ummah.).''

The chain of narration for this Hadith is Hasan. There are several Hadiths that we should mention here.

The Two Sahihs recorded that Az-Zuhri said that, Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib said that Abu Hurayrah narrated to him, "I heard the Messenger of Allah saying,

« يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ مِنْ أُمَّتِي زُمْرَةٌ وَهُمْ سَبْعُونَ أَلْفًا، تُضِيءُ وُجُوهُهُمْ إِضَاءَةَ الْقَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْر »
فقال أبو هريرة: فقام عكاشة بن محصن الأسدي يرفع نمرة عليه، فقال: يا رسول الله، ادع الله أن يجعلني منهم، فقال رسول اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلّم:
« اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْهُ مِنْهُم »
ثم قام رجل من الأنصار فقال: يا رسول الله ادع الله أن يجعلني منهم، فقال:
« سَبقَكَ بِهَا عُكَّاشَة »

(A group of seventy thousand from my Ummah will enter Paradise, while their faces are radiating, just like the moon when it is full. '`Ukkashah bin Mihsan Al-Asadi stood up, saying, `O Messenger of Allah! Supplicate to Allah that I am one of them.' The Messenger of Allah said, `O Allah! Make him one of them.' A man from the Ansar also stood and said, `O Messenger of Allah! Supplicate to Allah that I am one of them.' The Messenger said, `Ukkashah has beaten you to it.')

Another Hadith that Establishes the Virtues of the Ummah of Muhammad in this Life and the Hereafter.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah saying,

« إِنِّي لَأَرْجُو أَنْ يَكُونَ مَنْ يَتَّبِعُنِي مِنْ أُمَّتِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ رُبُعَ الْجَنَّة »
قال: فكبرنا، ثم قال:
« أَرْجُو أَنْ يَكُونُوا ثُلُثَ النَّاس »
قال: فكبرنا، ثم قال:
« أَرْجُو أَنْ تَكُونُوا الشَّطْر »

(`I hope that those who follow me will be one-fourth of the residents of Paradise on the Day of Resurrection.' We said, `Allahu Akbar'. He then said, `I hope that they will be one-third of the people.' We said, `Allahu Akbar'. He then said, `I hope that you will be one-half.')''

Imam Ahmad recorded the same Hadith with another chain of narration, and this Hadith meets the criteria of Muslim in his Sahih. In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said, "The Messenger of Allah said to us,

« أَمَا تَرْضَوْنَ أَنْ تَكُونُوا رُبُعَ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ؟ »

(Does it please you that you will be one-fourth of the people of Paradise)

We said, `Allahu Akbar!' He added,

« أَمَا تَرْضَوْنَ أَنْ تَكُونُوا ثُلُثَ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ؟ »

(Does it please you that you will be one-third of the people of Paradise) We said, `Allahu Akbar!' He said,

« إِنِّي لَأَرْجُو أَنْ تَكُونُوا شَطْرَ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّة »

(I hope that you will be half of the people of Paradise.)'' Another Hadith

Imam Ahmad recorded that Buraydah said that the Prophet said,

« أَهْلُ الْجَنَّةِ عِشْرُونَ وَمِائَةُ صَفَ، هذِهِ الْأُمَّةُ مِنْ ذلِكَ ثَمَانُونَ صَفًّا »

(The people of Paradise are one hundred and twenty rows, this Ummah takes up eighty of them.)

Imam Ahmad also collected this Hadith through another chain of narration. At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah also collected this Hadith, and At-Tirmidhi said, `This Hadith is Hasan. `Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that, the Prophet said,

« نَحْنُ الْآخِرُونَ الْأَوَّلُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، نَحْنُ أَوَّلُ النَّاسِ دُخُولًا الْجَنَّةَ، بَيْدَ أَنَّهُمْ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِنْ قَبْلِنَا وَأُوتِينَاهُ مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ، فَهَدَانَا اللهُ لِمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ، فَهَذَا الْيَوْمُ الَّذِي اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ، النَّاسُ لَنَا فِيهِ تَبَعٌ، غَدًا لِلْيَهُودِ، وَلِلنَّصَارَى بَعْدَ غَد »

(We (Muslims) are the last to come, but the foremost on the Day of Resurrection, and the first people to enter Paradise, although the former nations were given the Scriptures before us and we after them. Allah gave us the guidance of truth that they have been disputing about. This (Friday) is the Day that they have been disputing about, and all the other people are behind us in this matter: the Jews' (day of congregation is) tomorrow (Saturday) and the Christians' is the day after tomorrow (Sunday).)

Al-Bukhari and Muslim collected this Hadith. Muslim recorded Abu Hurayrah saying that the Messenger of Allah said,

« نَحْنُ الْآخِرُونَ الْأَوَّلُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، نَحْنُ أَوَّلُ مَنْ يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّة »

(We (Muslims) are the last (to come), but (will be) the foremost on the Day of Resurrection, and will be the first people to enter Paradise...) until the end of the Hadith.

These and other Hadiths conform to the meaning of the Ayah,

﴿ كُنتُمۡ خَيۡرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخۡرِجَتۡ لِلنَّاسِ تَأۡمُرُونَ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَتَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنڪَرِ وَتُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ‌ۗ

(You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma`ruf (all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah).

Therefore, whoever among this Ummah acquires these qualities, will have a share in this praise. Qatadah said, "We were told that `Umar bin Al-Khattab recited this Ayah (3:110) during a Hajj that he performed, when he saw that the people were rushing. He then said, `Whoever likes to be among this (praised) Ummah, let him fulfill the condition that Allah set in this Ayah.''' Ibn Jarir recorded this. Those from this Ummah who do not acquire these qualities will be just like the People of the Scriptures whom Allah criticized, when He said,

﴿ ڪَانُواْ لَا يَتَنَاهَوۡنَ عَن مُّنڪَرٍ۬ فَعَلُوهُ‌ۚ

(They did not forbid one another from the Munkar which they committed...) (5:79).

This is the reason why, after Allah praised the Muslim Ummah with the qualities that He mentioned, He criticized the People of the Scriptures and chastised them, saying,

﴿ وَلَوۡ ءَامَنَ أَهۡلُ ٱلۡڪِتَـٰبِ

(And had the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) believed) (3:110),

in what was sent down to Muhammad ,

﴿ لَكَانَ خَيۡرً۬ا لَّهُم‌ۚ مِّنۡهُمُ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ وَأَڪۡثَرُهُمُ ٱلۡفَـٰسِقُونَ

(it would have been better for them; among them are some who have faith, but most of them are Fasiqun (rebellious).)

Therefore only a few of them believe in Allah and in what was sent down to you and to them. The majority of them follow deviation, disbelief, sin and rebellion.

The Good News that Muslims will Dominate the People of the Book

While delivering the good news to His believing servants that victory and dominance will be theirs against the disbelieving, atheistic People of the Scriptures, Allah then said,

﴿ لَن يَضُرُّوڪُمۡ إِلَّآ أَذً۬ى‌ۖ وَإِن يُقَـٰتِلُوكُمۡ يُوَلُّوكُمُ ٱلۡأَدۡبَارَ ثُمَّ لَا يُنصَرُونَ

(They will do you no harm, barring a trifling annoyance; and if they fight against you, they will show you their backs, and they will not be helped.) (3:111)

This is what occurred, for at the battle of Khaybar, Allah brought humiliation and disgrace to the Jews. Before that, the Jews in Al-Madinah, the tribes of Qaynuqa`, Nadir and Qurayzah, were also humiliated by Allah. Such was the case with the Christians in the area of Ash-Sham later on, when the Companions defeated them in many battles and took over the leadership of Ash-Sham forever. There shall always be a group of Muslims in Ash-Sham area until `Isa, son of Maryam, descends while they are like this (on the truth, apparent and victorious). `Isa will at that time rule according to the Law of Muhammad, break the cross, kill the swine, banish the Jizyah and only accept Islam from the people.

Allah said next,

﴿ ضُرِبَتۡ عَلَيۡہِمُ ٱلذِّلَّةُ أَيۡنَ مَا ثُقِفُوٓاْ إِلَّا بِحَبۡلٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَحَبۡلٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلنَّاسِ

(Indignity is put over them wherever they may be, except when under a covenant (of protection) from Allah, and a covenant from men;) meaning, Allah has placed humiliation and disgrace on them wherever they may be, and they will never be safe,

﴿ إِلَّا بِحَبۡلٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ

(except when under a covenant from Allah,) under the Dhimmah (covenant of protection) from Allah that requires them to pay the Jizyah (tax, to Muslims,) and makes them subservient to Islamic Law.

﴿ وَحَبۡلٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلنَّاسِ

(and a covenant from men;) meaning, covenant from men, such as pledges of protection and safety offered to them by Muslim men and women, and even a slave, according to one of the sayings of the scholars. Ibn `Abbas said that,

﴿ إِلَّا بِحَبۡلٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَحَبۡلٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلنَّاسِ

(except when under a covenant from Allah, and a covenant from men;) refers to a covenant of protection from Allah and a pledge of safety from people. Similar was said by Mujahid, `Ikrimah, `Ata', Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas. Allah's statement,

﴿ وَبَآءُو بِغَضَبٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ

(they have drawn on themselves the wrath of Allah,) means, they earned Allah's anger, which they deserved,

﴿ وَضُرِبَتۡ عَلَيۡہِمُ ٱلۡمَسۡكَنَةُ‌ۚ

(and destitution is put over them), meaning they deserve it by decree and legislatively.

Allah said next,

﴿ ذَٲلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمۡ كَانُواْ يَكۡفُرُونَ بِـَٔايَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ وَيَقۡتُلُونَ ٱلۡأَنۢبِيَآءَ بِغَيۡرِ حَقٍّ۬‌ۚ

(This is because they disbelieved in the Ayat of Allah and killed the Prophets without right.) meaning, what drove them to this was their arrogance, transgression and envy, earning them humiliation, degradation and disgrace throughout this life and the Hereafter. Allah said,

﴿ ذَٲلِكَ بِمَا عَصَواْ وَّكَانُواْ يَعۡتَدُونَ

(This is because they disobeyed and used to transgress (the limits set by Allah).) meaning, what lured them to disbelieve in Allah's Ayat and kill His Messengers, is the fact that they often disobeyed Allah's commands, committed His prohibitions and transgressed His set limits. We seek refuge from this behavior, and Allah Alone is sought for each and every type of help.

﴿ لَيۡسُواْ سَوَآءً۬‌ۗ مِّنۡ أَهۡلِ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ أُمَّةٌ۬ قَآٮِٕمَةٌ۬ يَتۡلُونَ ءَايَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ ءَانَآءَ ٱلَّيۡلِ وَهُمۡ يَسۡجُدُونَ يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ وَيَأۡمُرُونَ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَيَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنكَرِ وَيُسَـٰرِعُونَ فِى ٱلۡخَيۡرَٲتِ وَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ وَمَا يَفۡعَلُواْ مِنۡ خَيۡرٍ۬ فَلَن يُڪۡفَرُوهُ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمُۢ بِٱلۡمُتَّقِينَ إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ لَن تُغۡنِىَ عَنۡهُمۡ أَمۡوَٲلُهُمۡ وَلَآ أَوۡلَـٰدُهُم مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ شَيۡـًٔ۬ا‌ۖ وَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ أَصۡحَـٰبُ ٱلنَّارِ‌ۚ هُمۡ فِيہَا خَـٰلِدُونَ مَثَلُ مَا يُنفِقُونَ فِى هَـٰذِهِ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَا ڪَمَثَلِ رِيحٍ۬ فِيہَا صِرٌّ أَصَابَتۡ حَرۡثَ قَوۡمٍ۬ ظَلَمُوٓاْ أَنفُسَهُمۡ فَأَهۡلَڪَتۡهُ‌ۚ وَمَا ظَلَمَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ وَلَـٰكِنۡ أَنفُسَهُمۡ يَظۡلِمُونَ

(113. Not all of them are alike; a party of the People of the Scripture stand for the right, they recite the verses of Allah during the hours of the night, prostrating themselves in prayer.) (114. They believe in Allah and the Last Day; they enjoin Al-Ma`ruf and forbid Al-Munkar; and they hasten in (all) good works; and they are among the righteous.) (115. And whatever good they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for Allah knows well the Muttaqin (the pious).) (116. Surely, those who disbelieve, neither their properties nor their offspring will avail them against Allah. They are the dwellers of the Fire, therein they will abide.) (117. The parable of what they spend in this world is that of a wind of Sir; it struck the harvest of a people who did wrong against themselves and destroyed it. Allah wronged them not, but they wronged themselves.)