Almost all early chapters of the Qur’an that were revealed in Makkah when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had just been appointed as a messenger of Allah had short but profound verses. Despite their size, the verses had deep meanings.

One such chapter or Surah is Al-Muddaththir (74), which gives an interesting set of instructions to the overwhelmed Prophet who was lying wrapped up in his garments trembling with fear after meeting Archangel Gabriel for the first time.

For a caller to Islam, these compact, meaningful instructions carry a deep, important message as to what his or her priorities should be when conveying the message of Islam to the world.

“O you (Muhammad) enveloped in garments! Stand up and warn!”

Al-Bukhari and Muslim confirm that this short Surah was revealed when the Prophet returned to his family after seeing Angel Gabriel in his real form and size. He came home trembling and asked his family to wrap him up in garments.

Allah instructs His Prophet (peace be upon him) to stand up and warn those around him. The first lesson for the Da’ee who embarks on this noble mission is that he or she should stop fearing people. Take a stand and start warning others confidently. Low self-confidence, shyness, and fear are but obstacles in the way of Da’wah.

“And magnify your Lord!”

To proclaim the greatness of Allah is essential for the Da’ee since it reminds him or her of who he or she is doing this work for. Allah is the Greatest and He doesn’t need anyone’s worship or submission; He doesn’t even need anyone to convey His Deen to others. However, by magnifying our Creator, we acknowledge our position as utter slaves before Him and in return, we feel confident enough to deliver His message to others.

“And purify your garments!”

To convey Islam to others, one needs to appear before them at some point or the other – either by engaging in a discussion or by delivering a lecture. Also, a representative of Islam must wear garments that are thoroughly clean, as the essence of this faith lies in spiritual and physical cleanliness. Clean clothes are also a prerequisite for worship such as prayer. Sa’eed Bin Jubayr said concerning this verse, “This means to purify your heart and your intentions.’”

“And keep away from Al-Rujz (idols)!”

The meaning of the word Rujz, when prefixed by “Al”, points towards the impurity of polytheism or shirk. Ibn Abbas said, “Al-Rujz are idols, so keep away from them.” This view was supported by Mujahid, Ikrimah, Qatadah, Al-Zuhri and Ibn Zayd.

A Da’ee of Islam should be free from any kind of affinity, proximity, or sympathy – either spiritual or physical – for Shirk. Therefore, figures, faces, or idols of any form that are venerated or whose attributes are equated with those of Allah should be permanently and irreversibly abolished from the hearts and minds.

“And give not a thing in order to have more.”

The next instruction for the proactive caller towards Islam is to never seek some material benefit in return for the Da’wah. The Da’ee should do his work only for the sake of Allah and should never remind the people of his or her favors in order to amass wealth or beget other favors. The stories of the prophets in the Qur’an underscore sincerity. Even if the preaching of some Prophets won few – or no – followers, they never gave up the mission. Rather, they continued selflessly for the sake of Allah.

“And be patient for the sake of your Lord!”

Last but not least, the Da’ee must bear the inevitable opposition, antagonism, hatred, evil plotting, and downright harmful endeavors of his enemies with patience. Da’wah is a path that is thorny and difficult, dotted with tests of the caller’s sincerity towards Allah and his steadfastness in facing the obstacles that his opponents throw his way. Again, his patience must be solely for Allah’s sake, not for the sake of gaining people’s approval or pleasure.

The Qur’an is a guide and light for every being to come till the Day of Judgment. Its message and meanings are deep and worthy of reflection. Even though this Surah was revealed to our Prophet Muhammad centuries ago, the message lives on for us to ponder on and incorporate into our lives.

– By Sadaf Farooqi
Ref: Tafsir Ibn Kathir