Shaykh Muhammad b. Salih al-Uthaymin
Allah says, “You who believe, endure and be patient, guard your territory, and be conscious of Allah, so that perhaps you may be successful.” [Surat ‘Ali-Imran, 3:200]
Allah commands the believers, as a requirement of their faith, with the following four commandments: 1) patience in staying away from acts of disobedience, 2) patience in Allah’s obedience, 3) guarding the territory, and 4) taqwā (being conscious of Allah). “Be conscious of Allah, so that you may be successful.”
Therefore, patiently restrain yourselves from what Allah has made unlawful. Do not commit them, but stay far away from them and do come near them. It is well known that ṣabr restrains an individual from committing acts of disobedience even after his soul invites him to it. Concerning the person who has no consideration of being disobedient, then it cannot be said that he is being ṣabr by restraining himself, since a person can only restrain himself upon obedience after his soul calls him toward disobedience. Regarding perseverance, then it is considered as being upon obedience. There are two issues when it comes to obedience:
- An individual performing what is required of him, and being firm in this.
- The difficulty it has on the soul. This is because performing acts of obedience is akin to avoiding acts of disobedience, the latter being something difficult for a soul that commands its owner to evil.
It is for this reason that an individual who is patient in Allah’s obedience is more virtuous than the one who patiently restrains himself from Allah’s disobedience, and is why Allah says, “Endure and be patient.”
Concerning the “guarding of territory (ribāṭ)” and being consistent in it, it contains an enormous amount of good. It has been related in a Prophetic ḥadīth, “Performing (isbāgh) wuḍū’ during difficulties, taking many steps to the mosque, and waiting for the prayer after a prayer; that is your ribāṭ, that is your ribāṭ.” (Muslim) All of this involves engaging in obedience and being consistent in it.
As for having “taqwā,” then it is inclusive of all this because it is what shields a person from Allah’s punishment, and it can only be attained through the performance of Allah’s commandments and abstinence from His prohibitions. Mentioning taqwā last is like mentioning the general along with those things that are specific.
Afterwards, Allah clarifies that upholding these four commands is a means to success by saying, “that perhaps you may be successful.” The word falāḥ (success) encompasses two things: 1) gaining that which is desired, and 2) deliverance from that which is feared. Therefore, whoever has taqwā of Allah will gain what he desires and will be saved from that which he fears.