Striving involves making an effort. Doing our best to please God, or to quote the bible, “fighting the good fight of faith”. A big part of striving – even the desire to strive – is that we remember God and eagerly wish to please Him. When we pray, we must do so eagerly. We must happily pay zakat, give to charity, regard the relatives, control our tempers, resist the urge to backbite, and honor our parents. We strive to fulfill the commandments and to please God. And as we eagerly strive with our lives and money to please God.
True Believers are Eager to Strive
[9:88] As for the messenger and those who believed with him, they eagerly strive with their money and their lives. These have deserved all the good things; they are the winners.
Living in this very physical world we are encouraged to believe and rely only what we can easily see and touch, so preparing for the eternal life can become a heavy task as we try and make every attempt to remember God and abide by His laws. Our time can seem so limited and often an entire day or maybe even a week goes by and you realize that you had barely ‘made time’ to think of – much less thank – the one who sustains you and provides you with everything in this life.
There are no more religious wars, so it’s not as if we can join a messenger and fight against the disbelievers for God. There are no more slaves in the sense that it appears in the Quran, that we can buy them their freedom. But in spite of all this we can still strive and seek the ways and means to God.Striving means going beyond the basics (4:95-96). Strivers eagerly dedicate their money and their lives to God (9:88). This means their lives are for God, not themselves or this world. You see them working for community benefit to feeding the hungry, or inviting people to God’s message. Striving in the cause of God is a distinguishing characteristic of moving to the next level of faith, going from Submitters to Believers. If we truly believe in something—we go the extra mile for that that faith and for God.
Higher Ranks for the Strivers
[4:95] Not equal are the sedentary among the believers who are not handicapped, and those who strive in the cause of GOD with their money and their lives. GOD exalts the strivers with their money and their lives above the sedentary. For both, GOD promises salvation, but GOD exalts the strivers over the sedentary with a great recompense.
[4:96] The higher ranks come from Him, as well as forgiveness and mercy. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
[49:15] Mu'mens (believers) are those who believe in GOD and His messenger, then attain the status of having no doubt whatsoever, and strive with their money and their lives in the cause of GOD. These are the truthful ones.
[94:5] With pain there is gain.
[94:6] Indeed, with pain there is gain.
[94:7] Whenever possible you shall strive.
[94:8] Seeking only your Lord.
Striving also means being steadfast and persevering in the cause God. When things are going well we must remember to thank God, and be appreciative and strive to remember that the provisions we are being blessed with come only from God and that they belong to God. If we are being blessed financially, God willing we make an increased effort to be charitable, and fight our natural tendency to be selfish and stingy. When things aren’t going well we must remember to thank God nonetheless for even then He has blessed us more than we know. And implore Him to have mercy on us and relieve our adversity, and as we can we must make the effort to be charitable, because even in these situation all provisions still belong to God.
There will also be times when our patience, our faith, and our courage is tested by what the people say and do to us, and how they oppose us and in those times it is vital that we remain steadfast and persevere. We strive in these situations by remembering God and that He loves the pardoners, the forgivers, the benevolent, the charitable and the good doers and work to “counter evil with good.”
[3:133-134] You should eagerly race towards forgiveness from your Lord and a Paradise whose width encompasses the heavens and the earth; it awaits the righteous, who give to charity during the good times, as well as the bad times. They are suppressors of anger, and pardoners of the people. GOD loves the charitable.
[47:31] We will certainly put you to the test, in order to distinguish those among you who strive, and steadfastly persevere. We must expose your true qualities.
[57:10] Why do you not spend in the cause of GOD, when GOD possesses all wealth in the heavens and the earth?
Distinguished from the rest are those among you who spend before the victory and strive. They attain a greater rank than those who spend after the victory and strive. For each, GOD promises salvation. GOD is Cognizant of everything you do.
[5:35] O you who believe, you shall reverence GOD and seek the ways and means to Him, and strive in His cause, that you may succeed.
[29:6] Those who strive, strive for their own good. GOD is in no need for anyone.