The Attributes of the Believers
as Defined in Surah Al-Mu'minun

The Attributes of the Believers
as Defined in Surah Al-Mu'minun

One of the pure miracles of the Prophet (peace be upon him.) that the Most Merciful Allah has bestowed upon him, was aiding him with an elite community of believers who fully understood the meaning of Iman.

 The nature of that early Qur'anic generation of believers was governed by their righteous deeds and virtuous attributes.

Today, the Muslim societies are starving for such qualities and attributes that will uplift their faith and strengthen their consciousness with the Exalted Creator.

 The success of the entire Muslim nation in this life and the next, is only possible when they truly comprehend the meaning of Iman, and hence, reflect the noble attributes of the believers.

"Successful indeed are the believers
Those who offer their Salat (prayers)
with all solemnity and full submissiveness
And those who turn away from Al-Laghw
(dirty, evil vain talk, falsehood, and all that Allah has forbidden)
And those who pay their Zakat"

These exalted verses are from Surah Al-Mu' minun which takes its name from the first verse. The name of the Surah reflects its theme and defines its subject, in that it begins with the attributes of the believers and digresses in to the signs of Iman in the oneself and in the universe.

The tone of the Surah is that of declaration and calm argument, of sentimental logic and of feelings that inspire the thought and the consciousness. The mood which dominates the Surah is that which its subject presents, Al-Iman (the Faith). Its opening verse pictures the seen of solemnity and full submissiveness in Salat, " Those who offer their Salat (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness", followed by the splendid description of the believers and the attributes they possess.

The fact that the people who have accepted the Message of the Prophet (peace be upon him) have started acquiring noble qualities of character, is a practical proof of the truth of the message. According to a tradition related by 'Urwan bin Zubair, ' Umar (r.a.a.) who had embraced Islam by that time, said: " This Surah was revealed in my presence and I myself observed the state of the Prophet (peace be upon him) during its revelation. When the revelation ended, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) remarked: 'on this occasion, ten such verses have been sent down to me, that the one who measures up to them, will most surely go to paradise'. Then he recited the initial verses of the Surah" [Ahmad, Tirmithy, Nassa'ey, Hakem].

"Successful indeed are the believers". This is the true promise and the declaration of success to the believers. "It is a Promise of Allah, and Allah fails not in His Promise" [30:6]. The "Believers" , who have attained true success, both individuals and the Jama'ah, are those who have accepted the Message of Muhammad (peace be upon him), and have acknowledged him as their guide, and followed the way of life taught by him.

This assertion cannot be fully appreciated unless one keeps in view the background on which it was made. On the one hand, there were the well to do and prosperous chiefs of Makkah, the opponents of Islam, whose businesses were thriving and who were enjoying every good thing of life, and on the other hand there were the followers of Islam, a majority of whom were either poor from the beginning or had been reduced to poverty by ruthless antagonism to Islam. Therefore, the assertion, "Successful indeed are the believers" with which the discourse begins, was meant to tell the disbelievers in every age that the criterion of success and failure that they had in mind was not correct. It was based on misconceptions besides being transitory and limited in nature, it led to real failure and imaginary success. On the contrary, the followers of Muhammad (peace be upon him) whom they regarded as failures were truly successful, because by accepting the invitation to the Right Guidance given by the Prophet (peace be upon him), they had struck a bargain which would lead them to true success and everlasting bliss in this world, as well as in the Hereafter. Whereas by rejecting the Message, the opponents had incurred loss and would meet with the evil consequences both in this world and in the next. This is the main theme of the Surah and the whole discourse, from beginning to end, is meant to impress the same.

The noble characteristics of the believers pointed out in the next few verses are the arguments to prove the above assertion. It is these characteristics that depicts the Muslim character of the highest eminence, that of Muhammad (peace be upon him) the best of Allah's creation, whom Allah described in His Noble Qur'an, "And verily, you [O Muhammad ] are on an exalted standard of character". When 'Ai'sha (r.a.a.) was asked about the character of the Prophet (peace be upon him), she replied: "His character was the Qur'an", then she recited: "Successful indeed are the believers" till "And t hose who strictly guard their (five compulsory congregational) Salawat (at their fixed stated hours)". Then she said: "That is how The Prophet (peace be upon him) was" [Nasa'ey].

"Those who offer their Salat (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness". Khashi'un in the Text is from Khushu'' (to bow down, to express humility) which is a condition of the heart and the body. Khushu' of the heart is to fear and stand in awe to Allah, and Khushu' of the body is to bow one's head and lower one's gaze and voice in Allah's Company. In Salat, one is required to show Khushu' both of the heart and of the body, and this is the essence of the prayer. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) once saw a person offering his prayer as well as playing with his beard, he remarked: "Had he Khushu' in his heart, his body would have manifested it". Though Khushu' is actually a condition of the heart, as stated by the above tradition, it is manifested by the body as a matter of course. One should neither turn to the right or left, shift about or incline side ways, but must fix the gaze on the place where the forehead would rest in prostration. Similarly, it is disrespectful that one should stand stiffly erect, recite the verses of the Qur'an in a loud resounding voice, or sing them, or belch and yawn repeatedly and nosily. It is also not approved that one should offer the Prayer in a hurry. The injunction is that each article of the prayer should be performed in perfect peace and tranquillity, and unless one article has been completely performed , the next should not be begun.

Along with this etiquette of the body, it is also important that one should avoid thinking irrelevant things during the Prayer by purifying the thought and keeping the mind in full harmony and tune with the tongue. One should also try the utmost to ensure that the mind and heart are wholly turned towards Allah in order to sense His Grace and to worship Him solely.

"And those who turn away from Al-Laghw (dirty, false, evil vain talk, falsehood, and all that Allah has forbidden)".

Literally, Laghw is anything nonsensical, meaningless and vain, which is no way conductive of achieving one' s goal and purpose in life. The believers pay no heed to such useless things and show no inclination or interest in them. If by chance they see such things being indulged in, they keep away and avoid them scrupulously, and treat them with utmost indifference.


This attitude has been described in Al-Furqan [25:72]: " .. if they pass by some evil play or evil talk, they pass by it with dignity".

This is indeed one of the outstanding characteristics of the believer. There are many thoughts that distract the believer from evil vain talk. His attention is diverted towards the remembrance of Allah and the contemplation of His signs in the universe. He is also occupied with obligations in Aqeedah such as purification of the soul, holding steadfast to Iman , enjoining what is good and forbidding what is wrong, protecting the community from corruption, and the obligation of exercising Jihad for the sake of Allah.

Hence, He is a person who feels the burden of responsibility at all times, he regards the world as a place of test, and the life is a limited time allowed for the test. This feeling makes him/her behave seriously and responsibly throughout life and spends each moment of his/her life on works which are useful and productive in his ultimate results. So much so that even in matters of recreation and sport, he makes a choice of only those things which prepare him for higher ends in life and do not result in mere wastage of time. For him time is not something to be killed but used profitably and productively.

Besides this, the believer is a person who possesses a right thinking mind, pure nature and fine taste. He has no inclination to indecent things and can talk useful and healthy things but cannot indulge in idle talk. On the authority of Abu Huraira (r.a.a.), the Prophet (s.a.w.) said: "Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day either speak good or keep silent" [Bukhari and Muslim].

The believer has a fine taste of humour, but is not given to jesting, joking and ridicule, nor can he endure dirty jokes.

For him a society in which the ears are never immune from abusive language, back-biting, slander lying, dirty songs, fortune tellers and indecent talk is a source of torture and agony.

 A characteristic of the promised Paradise is: "No Laghw (dirty, false, evil vain talk) will they hear therein, nor any sinful speech (like backbiting, etc.)" [56:25].

"And those who pay their Zakat". the word Zakat literally means purification and development without obstruction. As an Islamic term, it implies both the portion of wealth taken out for the purpose of purifying the rest of wealth and the act of purification itself. The words of the original Text mean that the believer constantly practices purification. Thus the meaning is not confined to paying off of Zakat dues only, but it is extended to self- purification which include purification of morals as well as wealth, property and life in general. This purification is thus, not limited to one's own self, but includes the purification of the lives of other people as well. So the verse means: "The believers are the people who purify themselves as well as others". This fact has been stated at other places in the Qur'an, for instance, "Successful is he who practiced purification and remembered his Lord and prayed" [87:14-15]. But this verse is more comprehensive in meaning because it stresses the purification of both society and one's own person. This was also confirmed by the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he said: " To smile in the company of your brother is a charity. To command to do good deeds and to prevent others from doing evil is charity. To guide a person in a place were he can go astray is a charity. To remove troublesome things like thorns and bones from the road is a charity. To pour water from your jug of your brother is a charity. To guide a person with defective vision is charity for you" [Bukhari].

By Br. Khalid El-Gharib

(courtesy of Nidaul Islam magazine)