Status as the best community

Q614 :Why do we, Muslims, always think that we are the best people on earth, whether we do well or badly. We believe as if heaven is waiting for us. Such an attitude is certainly not helpful in identifying our own faults. Please comment.

A614 : There is a Qur'anic verse which may be rendered in translation as follows: "You are the best community ever raised for mankind. You enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong and you believe in God." (3;110). If we consider this Qur'anic verse very carefully we are bound to conclude that the status of the best community ever raised for mankind belongs only to a community which fulfills three conditions: Doing and enjoining others to do what is right; refraining from and forbidding what is wrong and having faith in God. If any of these three qualities is absent in a particular community, then that community cannot be of the best type. Even when people in that community are good believers and always do what is right, they still cannot be considered among the best if they do not fulfill the other condition, which is "to forbid what is wrong". In other words, if people in that community see wrong practices being committed in public without taking any action to stop them, then their status is certainly well below that of the "best community". Indeed, the requirements of doing and enjoining what is right as well as its counterfoil of forbidding and refraining from what is wrong make for a great quality. They ensure that the corrective attitude is paramount in the minds of people in that community, urging them all the time to aim for the best standard. The fulfillment of those three conditions is an essential requirement for acquiring a "best" status. These requirements can be fulfilled by any Muslim community, regardless of its race or ethnic origin. There is no hint in the Qur'anic verse that racial or ethnic affiliation is of any importance in this regard. Therefore, any Muslim community, wherever it exists and whatever its standard of development, belongs to this noble group whom God describes as "the best community ever raised for mankind", provided that it fulfills those three conditions: Doing and enjoining what is right, refraining from and forbidding what is wrong and having faith in God. Unfortunately, some of us take the first part of the Qur'anic statement and claim that it is a description of Arabs, or Muslims in general. They disregard the three conditions and claim, out of ignorance or false self-esteem, that God has conferred this best status on the Arabs generally. This is certainly a false claim that cannot be supported by any evidence from the Qur'an or the Sunnah. It has two main defects. One of them is that which you have mentioned; making us unable to identify our faults and correct them. But the other and more important defect is that we attribute to God what He has not stated. Thus, the claim is false. Moreover, it is in conflict with the basic Islamic principle which considers all people equal. Those who believe in God are certainly better than non-believers because of having faith. The more conscientious they are in implementing their faith, the better they are. This applies to individuals and communities alike. Those who practice their faith are better than those who do not, and those who try to make Islamic teachings the guiding principle in choosing their way of life are better than those who do not. The Qur'an denounces the Christians and the Jews for claiming that they are the beloved sons of God. "Both the Jews and the Christian say: 'We are God's children, and His beloved ones.' Say: 'Why, then, does He cause you to suffer for your sins? Nay, you are but human beings of His creating. He forgives whom He wills; for God's is the dominion over the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and with Him is all journey's end." (5;18). So, any claim to a "favored" status must be supported by the proper action. Therefore, those who think that heaven is waiting for them with open doors to accommodate them, regardless of whether they do well or badly, only deceive themselves. Moreover, good action must always be based on proper faith. It must be motivated by the desire to earn God's pleasure. If it is not, then it is devoid of the very basis that gives it value. It is through faith and good actions that we hope to earn God's pleasure and gain admittance into heaven in the hereafter.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )