What Does Islam Invite Towards?
During the mubaarak era of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), people began embracing Islam. As the message of Islam reached different regions, Aksam bin Saifi (rahimahullah), the leader of the Tameem clan, became interested in finding out about Islam. Hence, he deputed two people from his tribe to travel to Madinah Munawwarah in order to investigate about Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and his religion.
When these two people met Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), they explained to him that they had been sent by their leader. They then asked Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), “Who are you and what is your message?”
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied, “I am Muhammed, the son of Abdullah, and I invite towards Islam.” Thereafter, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) recited the following verse of the Qur’aan Majeed: “Indeed Allah Ta‘ala commands with justice, kindness and spending on relatives, and He prohibits from shamelessness, evil deeds and oppression. He advises you so that you may pay heed.” (Surah Nahl v. 90)
When the messengers heard this verse, they were impressed by its deep and comprehensive message, and thus requested Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to repeat it to them so that they may memorize it. Thereafter, they returned to their leader and gave a detailed report of their meeting. They said, “When we enquired regarding his lineage, he merely sufficed on mentioning his name and his father’s name, and did not attach any significance to his noble lineage as is usually done by worldly leaders. However, when we enquired regarding his lineage from the people, we learnt that he hails from a very high, pure and noble lineage.” They then recited the verse of the Qur’aan before him.
When Hazrat Aksam (rahimahullah) heard the verse, he was convinced about the truth of Islam and remarked, “Indeed this prophet commands with noble character and good actions, and prohibits from despicable character and evil actions! Let us thus be among the first people to embrace his religion, and not delay until we are from among the last to do so!” Thereafter, he and his tribe embraced Islam. (Isaabah 1/188, Tafseer Ibnu Katheer 2/583)
In reality, the deep message contained in this verse encapsulates the entire message and spirit of Islam. It emphasizes the importance of fulfilling the rights of Allah Ta‘ala and the creation, as well as leading a life of complete love, purity, dignity and respect. Hence, Hazrat Abdullah bin Mas’ood (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) has mentioned that this verse is the most comprehensive verse of the Qur’aan Majeed. (Tafseer Ibnu Katheer 2/582)
The crux of this verse is that Allah Ta‘ala commands the believers to uphold three things in their lives and to refrain from three things. In doing so, they will acquire the true spirit of Islam.
The three things we are commanded to uphold are (1) Adl – dealing with justice by fulfilling the rights we owe to Allah Ta‘ala and the creation (2) Ihsaan – to go beyond the demand of justice and show kindness to the creation (3) To show extra kindness to our relatives, as Allah Ta‘ala has afforded them a greater right over us.
The three things we are commanded to refrain from are (1) shameless conduct and immoral behavior (2) general sins and evils (3) oppression in any form.