Surely those who say Our Lord is Allah, then are steadfast, the angels descend upon them saying; Fear not, nor be grieved, and receive good news of the garden which you were promised. We are your guardians in life of this world and in the hereafter, you shall have therein what your souls desire and you shall have therein what you ask for. A provision from the Forgiving, the Merciful. (41:30-32)
These verses mention two important qualities of a believer;
1) Faith in Allah as their Lord,
2) Steadfastness in His way.
Professing faith is only the first step. A higher requirement is action. An even higher stage is the state of Istiqamah, i.e. firmness in action, continuing and persevering in good. That is the true test of a believer. Most believers have faith and do good actions. But when exposed to discomfort and difficulty, it becomes hard to stay firm on faith. Weakness, lethargy, skepticism . . creep in..
Believers who have the strength and determination to persevere after the proclamation of faith are honored by the descent of angels on them who whisper to them the promise of many rewards.
They are promised that:
a) They will have no fear or grief on them. Many verses of the Qur’an promise the removal of fear and grief from believers. Commentators explain that fear is for the future, of events that have yet to occur. Grief is about the past, of sins committed, mistakes made, or unpleasant events that took place in the past. Believers will achieve a state of tranquility that will set their hearts at rest about the future, for Allah will be with them in whatever they do. They are also not grieved or haunted about the past as they hope that Allah has forgiven them their sins and has rewarded them for all the troubles they bore in the past.
b) The angels will be their guardians and their friends in this world as well as in the hereafter. Although these angels cannot be seen or heard, their protection and guidance is transmitted to the human being through inspirations of the mind. This inspiration brings strength and Sukoon (peace) to the believers. Examples of this unexplainable strength can be seen in history, where small groups of believers were able to face great odds with a lot of courage and calmness.
c) The reward of Paradise will be theirs. They will be given all they wish for, and call for therein. The greatest honor and pleasure for believers is that they will receive all these rewards as the honored guests of Allah in Heaven. Although there will be many material and physical rewards in Heaven, the ultimate reward is the mental and spiritual pleasure derived from knowing that Allah is pleased with them. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: Allah has promised to the believing men and the believing women gardens beneath which rivers flow, to abide therein, and goodly dwellings in gardens of perpetual abode, and the best of all is Allah’s pleasure, that is the grand achievement. (9:72)
The verses above emphasize the importance of steadfastness. Steadfastness or Istiqamah is the ability to remain firm on what one believes, and not to be swayed by desires, outside influences, circumstances etc. A hadith of Imam Ali (a) says; Allah dislikes that His creatures be of many colors, so do not sway from the truth Shaykh Muhammad Jawad Mughniyyah when commenting on the verse: keep us guided on the right path (1:6) in Tafsir al-Kashif says that Istiqamah is such an important attribute that we can say that entire Islamic teachings can be summarized in this word.
Believers are very firm on the right path. Their resolve is strong, and the winds of change do not shake their strong roots. This quality shows itself during:
i) Times of difficulty when it requires great strength to be patient and persevere.
ii) Moments of temptation when it seems attractive to do that which God would not like you to do.
iii) When the resolve to continue serving God and His people seems to weaken. Too much opposition in various aspects eats away at the determination to work for God, and it requires Istiqamah to continue.
How strong is your Istiqamah? Test yourself in the above situations and see if you are among those whom the angels visit and whisper promises to. It is an other-worldly connection reserved for those who are strong in their faith and determined to keep on.
Ayatullah Mohammad Husain Tabatabai, Tafsir al-Mizan
Ayatullah Nasir Makarim Shirazi (ed.), Tafsire Namune
Agha Muhsin Qara’ati Kashani, Tafsire Noor
Muhammad al-Ray Shahree, Mizanul Hikmah