October 2009: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Shawwal 1430

Volume 25 No 10

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Submitters Perspective

Monthly Bulletin of the International Community of Submitters Published by Masjid Tucson

Competing in Righteousness

In the Quran, God has recommended for the believers to compete in righteousness:

[2:148]  Each of you chooses the direction to follow; you shall race towards righteousness. Wherever you may be, GOD will summon you all. GOD is Omnipotent.

[5:48]  Then we revealed to you this scripture, truthfully, confirming previous scriptures, and superseding them. You shall rule among them in accordance with GOD’s revelations, and do not follow their wishes if they differ from the truth that came to you. For each of you, we have decreed laws and different rites. Had GOD willed, He could have made you one congregation. But He thus puts you to the test through the revelations He has given each of you. You shall compete in righteousness. To GOD is your final destiny - all of you - then He will inform you of everything you had disputed.

[23:61]  They are eager to do righteous works; they compete in doing them.


What is the Quranic intent of such a recommendation? What is God truly advocating by asking us to compete in righteousness? The Arabic word that God has consistently used in this regard is “sabiqu.” In Arabic, this verb means spending extra effort to hasten in achieving a specific goal before others – competing.

Does this mean that God would want the believers to actually compete against each other—such as in competitive sports—for God’s pleasure and approval? In the light of the Quran, it seems that the element of striving and spending an extraordinary effort to do the righteous works rather than competing for winning and doing better than others is all that God is emphasizing by using the word— sabiqu or compete.

Let’s take a close look. If we look at the statements in the above verses about competing in righteousness as an actual competition among fellow believers, this might sound like and lead to ego-related wars. Please analyze the following statements and see

for yourself if you are able to detect some ego-based motives:

- This believer is doing more righteous works than I! I can and I must do better than him.

- This believer sounds very knowledgeable with the Quran and he memorizes a lot of its contexts and verses! I’m supposed to compete with him to be more knowledgeable and much more righteous than him!

- If she gives $5 to this needy person, then I must give $10 to feed the homeless person across the street in order to be more righteous and earn more credit than her!

Another example would be those who participate in competitions for the sake of winning to prove that they are the best while ignoring the spirit of the practice itself and how important to simply work hard, strive, and be honest and sincere in doing what we are doing irrespective of the results.

Cont’d on page 2

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