Quranic Reflection No 637. Āyat 9:111 – A transaction with Allah ‘azza wajall. 

إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ ٱشْتَرَىٰ مِنَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَنفُسَهُمْ وَأَمْوَٰلَهُم بِأَنَّ لَهُمُ ٱلْجَنَّةَ 

Indeed, Allah has bought from the faithful their souls and their possessions for paradise to be theirs. 

[Surah al-Tawbah 9: 111] 

            In this beautiful verse of Surah al-Tawbah, Allah (swt) partakes in an astonishing transaction: He purchases the souls and belongings of the believers and, in return, bequeaths them everlasting felicity in the Hereafter. Allah, the true owner of everything, is introducing Himself as the buyer of that which He already owns. In His magnanimity, He creates more and more ways for His creatures to benefit from His infinite grace; all we have to do is put in a little effort, strive in His way (with the energy and determination which is gifted to us by Him, no less), and we can become privy to His most beautiful blessings. And so, one who turns to other than Allah, transacting with them instead, is in infinite loss. It’s not unreasonable to exchange a valueless thing for something equally worthless; but how catastrophic is it to give up something of immeasurable value (the human soul) in exchange for something as lowly as this dunya?! The true price of the human being, deemed to be the ashraf al-makhlooqat (the noblest of creation), is nothing short of unlimited, everlasting felicity. In the luminous words of Imam Sadiq (a): O one who lacks determination! There is no price worthy of your bodies except Paradise; so don’t sell yourself in exchange for anything else.(Hadith quoted in Tafsīr Nūr al-Thaqalayn) 

The original intended purpose of this verse was to encourage the early Muslims to go to the battlefield and fight against the enemies of Islam. However, the meaning of the verse is not limited to a physical jihad. Rather, it is the jihad of the tongue and the actions that, in many circumstances, can be a more suitable means of propagating the religion and inviting people towards Truth. Especially in today’s atmosphere of falsehood presented as truth, widespread fitnah, and the deliberate distortion of reality, beautifully presenting and clarifying pure Muhammadan Islam – what many scholars have termed the “Jihad of Clarification” (جهاد التبیین) – becomes extremely important. 

            How does one partake in this form of jihad, thereby selling their souls and possessions to Allah in exchange for everlasting Paradise? The first and most obvious step is to strive to live our lives completely in line with Islamic teachings, to subsume our will entirely with the will of Allah and the Imam (a), eventually becoming the very manifestation of the Action of Allah. One who truly lives in such a manner is able to witness the reality expressed in this beautiful and oft-repeated hadithfrom Imam Sadiq (a): Invite people [to the truth] without using your tongues. (al-Kafi, v.2, p.78) 

The message here isn’t that there’s never any need to verbally express the truth in order to attract people to it. Rather, one who becomes a living manifestation of the truth and therefore radiates light is often able to guide many simply by means of this light without having to utter a word. It’s important to note, however, that this is not doable by sitting at home and engrossing ourselves in acts of worship. It requires active engagement with society, to live amongst the people and be acutely concerned with their spiritual welfare. 

             There is a great need for verbal clarification of truth in today’s world as well. Guidance by action is not enough when the reality of Islam has been so wholly corrupted, such that the average non-Muslim – and, unfortunately, many a Muslim – living in most parts of the world has no real understanding of Islam. Therefore, the next step in the process of the Jihad of Clarification is to engage in discussions with open-minded people and explain the fundamentals of Islam to them in ways they will understand. 

            Those who genuinely make this bargain with Allah (swt), truly putting themselves and their belongings at the service of Allah and His religion and attain Paradise in return, are to rejoice in this transaction even though from a material, worldly perspective, they may be in difficulty. Like the early Muslims who often lost their entire livelihoods in defense of Islam, we too must be willing to lose what is dear to us on this material plane in order to attain that which is higher. Like Hurr and Zuhair on the plains of Karbala, we must be willing to leave behind the glitter of this world, turning towards Allah and sacrificing all in His path. And while it may be painful in the short-term to put ourselves in the line of fire from the enemies of Islam, the reality is that engaging in this bargain with Allah allows us to become privy to al-fowz al-‘adheem – the great success. Truly, there is no buyer better than Allah and no transaction more profitable than this! 

Sources: Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āytaullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; Agha Muhsin Qarā’atī, Tafsīr Nūr