There is a question, or should I say concern that comes to the mind of many believers whenever the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is mentioned. I don’t mean to say they doubt his greatness, completeness, and honorable rank. No, I mean to say that they doubt whether his teachings have really stood the test of time. They question whether those teachings are applicable today or whether we today have misunderstood them.
I understand the fear and confusion. It’s scary. Every day you log onto the computer or switch on your phone, you’re bombarded with more information. Messages of why everything you believed yesterday is now incorrect, and how you’ve been misled by sloppy scholarship.
It’s all confusing.
In class, we were discussing the need for the specialist in Fiqh (فقيه) to also be a practitioner on the spiritual path. Suppose one of the two (spirituality or Fiqh) is not found. In that case, the person will forever be deficient in their ability. Long story short, in that discussion, we mentioned your words by which you say,
“But God will not punish them while you are among them.”
For most, these lines seem straight forward. However, in Arabic, they take on a new meaning. Instead of using Arabic for “with them,” you said, “In them.” Sure, the understanding that we derive is “with them,” at the end of the day.” However, Tafsir has it’s different fields, and one of them is the spiritual meanings behind the apparent ones.
When the Prophet ﷺ encompasses our hearts, when we live by his practices, when we embody his morals and ethics, when we attempt to live ennobled lives like his, when he lives internally within us, then your punishment will not befall us.
It’s like you said to the believers before us, “There has come to you from God, a light and a clear book.” You didn’t compare the Quran to the light, nope, you made it clear what the light is, or should I say who?
The confusion comes when one reads the book, practices this religion, and lives their life in the darkness. Darkness without the Prophet Muhammad (s). The light for us believers.
Arthur K. Richards