Quranic Reflection No. 402. Ayat 12:108 Inviting towards God with Basīrah (insight)

قُلْ هَٰذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللَّهِ ۚ عَلَىٰ بَصِيرَةٍ أَنَا وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِي
Qul hādhihi sabīlī ilallāhi ‘alā basiratin anā wamanit-taba‘anī
Say, ‘This is my way. I invite towards Allah with insight —I and he who follows me.
(Sūrat Yusuf, No.12, Āyat 108)

The Prophet sallallāhū ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wa-sallam is told to specify his mission in this verse. He calls people towards Allah ‘azza wa-jall. Towards understanding His oneness and His qualities. That is the first part of the statement of the Prophet in this verse. The second part declares that he does this work with insight. With awareness and knowledge, not blindly or in ignorance. Those who follow him also do the same.

A leader is very clear on what exactly he wants to do. He and his followers have an objective and are focused on it. His objective is much bigger than himself. He does not call people towards himself, to revere him and cater to his whims.

This verse mentions ‘basīrah’ or insight as the necessary quality for all those who wish to invite towards God. Basīrah comes from the word ‘basura’ (to see) and means the ability to see with the eyes of the heart. It is the capacity of the heart to perceive deeper concepts and truths. General meanings for the term basīrah include knowledge, spiritual insight, Nūr (inner light), wisdom, cognition, etc. – but there is an emphasis in all interpretations on knowing and recognition. However basīrah is not the same as knowledge. Not everyone who has knowledge has basīrah.

The Holy Prophet (s) says: There isn’t a servant except that he has in his head two eyes through which he perceives the affairs of the lower world and two eyes in his heart through which he perceives the affairs of the world Hereafter, so if (the Almighty) wills for goodness for a servant, He opens his two eyes which are in his heart, so he perceives what He had promised him through the hidden, thus believing in the hidden using the hidden (eyes)  (Kanzul Ummāl, 2:42, H. 3043).

The placement of this verse after the story of Prophet Yusuf ‘alayhis salām tells us that his path was not different from that of the Prophet (s). Prophet Yusuf invited people towards God, even in the prison. The Prophet would also do that throughout the different circumstances in his life. And that is what believers do throughout their life. Their love and awe for God creates a desire that other people should know Him too. That they should also love Him.

Imam Al-Bāqir (a) narrates the following conversation between Allah subhānahu wa-ta‘āla and Prophet Musa alayhis salām: O Musa! Love me and make my people love me. Prophet Musa replied: ‘My Lord. You know that there is no one more beloved to me than You. However, [tell me] how can I make your love the greatest thing in hearts of Your servants?’ Allah says: Remind My servants of My favors and My blessings for them. (Mishkāt al-Anwar, Tabarsī, p. 332)

Dr. Mohamedali Shomali writes about this Hadith: I believe this can be adopted as a general policy in our life. If a person is able to love Allah (swt) and make other people love Him, he will attain all that is good. We should constantly evaluate our performance and progress in this regard. People should evaluate how much they love Allah and how much they have made their children, colleagues, neighbors, relatives, and friends love Allah.  (http://messageofthaqalayn.com/44-mercy.pdf)

Let this verse remind you of the importance of calling towards God with insight and understanding. Without this quality it can be easy to put off people from God and religion rather than make them incline towards Him. Pray that God may grant you basīrah in His religion so you can have the honor of calling towards Him.

Sources: Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh