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Follow the Direction and Race in Good

This audio file is transcribed by Reading Islam team.

{Everyone has a direction towards which he turns, so race to do good deeds.} (Quran 2:148)

This verse comes in a sequence or a passage which talks about the changing of the prayer direction of the Muslims, as they had been facing towards Jerusalem and now recommended to turn their faces towards the Ka’bah in the city of Makkah.

They faced many objections and even mockery from people outside the faith who saw in this as a kind of inconsistency or confusion, but then this verse comes to affirm the divine wisdom in diversity; to affirm that as God has created different colors, different races, people who speak different languages, both the genders of male and female… likewise part of His wisdom in His creation is that people will continue to differ even in matters of religion.

Yes, as Muslims, we believe that there is one truth and we are entitled to believe in Islam and the Quran Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the truth but there is a difference between in the one hand believing in something to be true and ultimately correct and to call to that truth, and on the other hand, negating the to believe in what they hold to be true and attempting to force them to accept our way.

{Everyone has a direction towards which he turns.}

So this verse is telling us that everyone will continue to have their own direction they choose, their own perspective, and their own choices they’re making in life and this is like the end of chapter Al-Kafirun which says: {To you is your religion and to me is mine.} (109: 6)

We may disagree with each other, we may debate with each other but ultimately we must give each other the space to follow our own conscience.

So everyone has a direction towards which he’s turning. Every community has a direction towards which they are traveling and this reminds us that we also, as Muslims, as individuals, and as communities, we must have a direction that we’re facing; we must have a vision; we must have a strategy; we must have a purpose and a mission as living in this planet as believers of God and people who are trying to live as exemplify and call to His way.

But we should remember that even the Muslims have one Qiblah, one direction that we’re facing together and the same time there is still room for differences and variations in the approaches that we take in practicing our faith and to respect each other rather than abstracting each other to prevent them progressing in their own direction.

So everyone has a direction towards where he turns. And this is expression is followed by what it completes it:

{Everyone has a direction to which he turns, so race to do good deeds.} (Quran 2:148)

So race to do good deeds.

I want to highlight two meanings: the first is to don’t waste time for the haters. They’ve always been people who have objections and criticism of choices that you make, decisions that you take and steps that you walk. But instead of being concerned of those criticisms and becoming disheartened by that blame, you should race along the path that you are convinced by.

And you can find other expressions in the Quran that not to mind the haters. In 5:54, God speaks of those whom He loves and who love Him and among those characteristics is that they don’t fear the blame of the blamers.

Also be frequent to recite the last two chapters of the Quran, at the chapter 113 Al-Falaq, that {I seek refuge from the envier when he envies}

So we should trust in God and not allow these people to abstract our path. Instead, we should busy ourselves by racing.

Racing against your self before others. Racing against your self means doing better today that yesterday; making tomorrow better than today; surpassing your expectations and striving for excellence and perfection.

As for racing others, then of course, there is friendly competition even among the believers on the same path, but I want to suggest that there another meaning as well:

Every community has their own beliefs, their own values, their own direction. If we believe that our values are better, if we believe that our teachings are sounder and more beneficial for this world, then show that not through many words and certainly not through argumentations and disputation but we should show that through our actions.

Race in good deeds. Vie one another. Compete with one another in doing good.

Perhaps if we strive to show people how our direction is so good and so beneficial to humanity, then more people will appreciate these realities and join us in this path.

{For each [religious following] is a direction toward which it faces. So race to [all that is] good. Wherever you may be, Allah will bring you forth [for judgment] all together. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.}

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About Sohaib Saeed

Sohaib Saeed is a Scottish Muslim scholar specializing in Quranic studies and exegesis. He is founder and director of Quranica, an institute for research, education and outreach (www.quranica.com).

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