Question: How can we make use of the abilities God has given us in the service of faith? Do we fulfill our responsibility with financial assistance only?
Every blessing of God is an opportunity given to human beings that calls for a corresponding responsibility.
Health is a blessing that should be used to fast, to pray, and to strive on God’s path so that one can express gratitude for this blessing. If a person gives this gratitude, God will return that body in the next world for eternity and without flaw, and with all its potential revealed.
Intelligence is one of God’s favors. If the horizon of one’s mind has been enlightened by the lights of revelation, and he is therefore distanced from inappropriate things and makes decisions according to the true path, intelligence is a source of inspiration. If he uses the blessing of his mind appropriately and introduces Truth to those who have strayed, he is giving the mind its due. On the contrary, if he only uses intelligence for worldly or evil tasks, he is being ungrateful for that blessing.
Power of expression is one of the greatest blessings that God has given humanity—so much so, that the name of the Qur’anic chapter where this is explained is called Rahman (Mercy). Al-Rahman is one of the Exalted Names of God. Some of the manifestations of God’s Mercy are giving means of subsistence in a broad circle to everyone even if they are not believers, and nourishing creation with various blessings, including human’s power of expression. This ability makes them eligible to be an addressee to God. They may understand God’s words and at the same time express their thoughts to Him. God says, “Come, pray to Me and bow in My presence.” Then they can say, “praise be to God” and with faithful and obedient devotion they can stand in God’s presence. In one sense, this is understanding God and speaking with Him. One of the Successors (the generation after the Companions of the Prophet) said, “If a person who reads the Qur’an says that he spoke with God, it would not be a lie.” Therefore one who says, “praise be to God” can be considered to have spoken with God.
The prayers that believers recite every day actually reflect a conversation with God:
You are the Most Beneficent and the Most Compassionate: You first gave me consciousness and then the ability to express this consciousness. This is a manifestation of Your Mercy.
You are the Master of the Day of Judgment: I am preparing for that day within the framework of Your commands.
I serve only You and I seek help only from You: I do so in order not to be smashed under the weight of servanthood.
Most people probably never really ponder the prayers in this way, but if they were to reflect, the prayers allow them to rise to a very honorable station.
If a person went and spoke with a head of state, he would talk about it everywhere; he would find an opportunity in every environment to mention that conversation. Therefore, if a person views talking with a head of state as this important and mentions it everywhere, then he should think deeply about what it means to have the privilege of addressing God.
A sacred saying from the Prophet (hadith qudsi) is stated as follows:
“I share the recitation with my servant in prayer; half belongs to Me and half to him and what My servant wants will be given to him. When the servant says, ‘Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds,’ Exalted and Glorious God says, ‘My servant praised Me!’ When he says, ‘Most Glorious, Most Merciful,’ God says, ‘My servant glorified Me.’
“When he says, ‘Master of the Day of Judgment,’ God says, ‘My servant exalted Me.’ When he says, ‘You do we worship and Your aid we seek,’ God commends him: ‘This is a pledge between Me and My servant. I gave him what he wanted.’
When the servant says, ‘Show us the straight way, the way of those on whom You have bestowed Your grace, Those whose portion is not wrath, and who go not astray,’ God says, ‘This belongs to My servant and he has been given what he wants.’”
In recitation, the chapter al-Fatiha is divided between the servant and God—some is spoken by the servant, and some is answered by God. In a sense, this is nothing other than a conversation with God. Consequently, the power of expression is a great blessing from God, and its greatest right is to praise God, who honored human beings with the power of expression.
Like a town crier, we must speak of our Lord, who gave us the capability of expression, everywhere we go. If you give a crier a little money, he will promote his wares from morning till evening in the marketplace. Salesmen do the same thing; they go to houses, fawn on people and try to sell their goods. In the end, what they will sell is one or two pots and pans. In the same way, Heaven will be given to us for doing very easy tasks. We are in a position to be made worthy of seeing God’s Beauty by using, in the best way, the power of expression bestowed upon us by God. Even if no one remained on earth to hear us, then we have the responsibility to climb the mountains to the skies and live for the excitement of talking of God to the jinn and demons. As a friend of truth said, even if one is imprisoned and there is no one around, then he should try and teach the demons about God to fulfill his responsibility.
The subject is the importance of a person returning a favor given by God by making the best use of the ability bestowed. Only by means of this kind of reciprocation can gratitude for that blessing be fully shown. God will continue bestowing that blessing here and in the next world. If a person only gives the right of property, but does not give the right of his mind, health, or power of expression, then he still will have been ungrateful. If a person cannot speak, he has a pen. If he does not give the due of the pen, then he will have shown ingratitude before God. If one who has strong mental abilities does not use them for God, then he will have been unjust. Whatever God has given a person should be used on the path of God to teach others about Him.
If a person does not give gratitude for his other blessings, but only gives financial aid when his financial situation is favorable, then at least he has performed a large part of his responsibility. If he gives help beyond the alms tax, financial aid is a serious sacrifice, and voluntary acts and altruism within this framework is great, because it is the virtue of giving for God’s sake. In fact, our Prophet said, “Generosity is like a tree. Its roots are in Heaven and its branches have hung down to this world. Whoever lives under that tree and behaves generously, sooner or later he will hold on to one of the branches and rise to Heaven where the tree’s roots are.” It can be understood from this that a generous person, even if he is a sinner—God willing—will eventually enter Heaven. If a sinner does not deny God, and he is generous, it is said that he will enter Heaven. Saying, “A stingy person is closer to Hell,” our Master used an expression of warning for miserliness. We can infer that since generosity is one of God’s attributes, He will not put a person with that attribute into Hell.
Attributes are very important; people must give what is due to the attributes God blessed them with. In this way, one’s work should be arranged according to God’s blessings. Worldly tasks should not be forgotten and neglected. Regardless of where he is, a believer should always be at the forefront of those living in his own time. Doing this, he will always be avant-garde—but while doing this, he should put his life in order and never neglect God’s rights. In short, a believer should use all the abilities God has bestowed upon him, and use them in such a way that he has given those blessings their due.