In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Only Optional !

According to both Arabic and English languages, a winner is a victor with a record of successes that grants or qualifies for certain promised awards. Winner, all derivatives and many other words that spell out the meaning of a winner have been extensively used in Quran by God almighty to promote His own contest. Such words are specifically used to encourage us to participate and race towards the title in order to claim the promised prizes. When the contest's authority is God, then, the promised rewards are irrevocable and guaranteed.

When we read the many verses that explains the guidelines and the requirements for earning the title of "Winner", an immediate impression might be taken of how manageable that is. Such verses are scattered all over Quran and almost repeat the same exact guidelines and requirements to win the race leaving an impression they might be limited and handy. By deep analysis, however, we realize that their repetition is only to be reminded over and over to reflect on these verses and pay close attention to the words and beyond the words to fully comprehend what it takes to fulfill each of these requirements and earn a winning title.

The repetitive words/guidelines that we are reminded with are about righteousness and the righteous, being reverent, believing and obeying God and His messenger, observing God's rites, striving in God's cause, upholding God's laws and ethics, uttering the correct words, being truthful and charitable, inviting to good, and forbidding evil, repenting for our sins, belonging to God's party and allies, being steadfast, and never waver or compromise. There are also many attracting signs for the contestants such as God's forgiveness, mercy, support, love and redemption, earning His pleasure and approval, the allegories of all the eternal rewards as winners, and how dignified and peaceful it is when we sense the true triumph by not tasting the second death, and when we are moved away from Hell on the Judgment Day. The necessary elements to achieve each of the above are deeply, and fully detailed in Quran. We might need few separate reminders to do them justice and cover each one of them. Please deeply reflect, these are only a few:

61:11-13, 3:139, 64:9, 3:104, 28:67, 28:83, 30:38, 85:11, 5:56, 33:70-71, 2:2-5, 31:3-5, 3:185, 6:16, 7:8, 4:13, 40:51, 57:12, 9:20-22, 9:88-89, 23:111, 5:119, 24:51-52, 58:21-22, 45:30, 11:49, 59:20, 48:5, 20:132, 7:128, 9:72, 9:111, 10:62-64, 39:61, 78:31-36

Reading all the above, it is crucial to understand that the strife to uphold God's laws and maintain righteousness is a major requirement for us to win the race and achieve the rewards. As emphasized in the following verses, we should be aware of the conditional or partial obedience of God's laws. This is indeed a negative force that only pulls us backward on the race track:

[35:32] We passed the scripture from generation to generation, and we allowed whomever we chose from among our servants to receive it. Subsequently, some of them wronged their souls, others upheld it only part of the time, while others were eager to work righteousness in accordance with GOD's will; this is the greatest triumph.

[2:85] ... Do you believe in part of the scripture and disbelieve in part? What should be the retribution for those among you who do this, except humiliation in this life, and a far worse retribution on the Day of Resurrection? GOD is never unaware of anything you do.

Throughout Quran, it is clear that upholding ALL the laws decreed for us is challenging. God tells us it requires a constant practice, effort, and jihad/struggle. A little trace of an ego is more than enough to take our belief for granted , lose our focus, block our ears and get distracted by countless idols only to regress. Then, what's next is taking God's issued will and promises for granted, thinking we are marching forward while in reality we are pedaling in the same exact spot; a wasting our chance of winning.

[70:22] Except for the worshipers.
[70:23] Who always observe their contact prayers (Salat).
[70:24] Part of their money is set aside.
[70:25] For the poor and the needy.
[70:26] They believe in the Day of Judgment.
[70:27] They reverence their Lord's requital.
[70:28] Their Lord's requital is not taken for granted.
[70:29] They keep their chastity.
[70:30] only with their spouses, or what is legally theirs -
[70:31] anyone who transgresses these limits is a sinner.

[7:98] Did the people of today's communities guarantee that our retribution will not come to them in the daytime while they play?
[7:99] Have they taken GOD's plans for granted? None takes GOD's plans for granted except the losers.
[7:100] Does it ever occur to those who inherit the earth after previous generations that, if we will, we can punish them for their sins, and seal their hearts, causing them to turn deaf?

[18:103] Say, "Shall I tell you who the worst losers are?
[18:104] "They are the ones whose works in this life are totally astray, but they think that they are doing good."

The following verses are to motivate us to focus on the race in a healthy and productive manner to head towards the right direction and use all guidelines and signs from God almighty. The generated certainty along the path that is exclusively promised for the striving worshipers plays a dynamic role. It progressively renders us as reverent believers and mutes all sorts of distractions:

[3:133] You should eagerly race towards forgiveness from your Lord and a Paradise whose width encompasses the heavens and the earth; it awaits the righteous,
[3:134] 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.
[3:135] If they fall in sin or wrong their souls, they remember GOD and ask forgiveness for their sins - and who forgives the sins except GOD - and they do not persist in sins, knowingly.
[3:136] Their recompense is forgiveness from their Lord, and gardens with flowing streams; they abide therein forever. What a blessed reward for the workers!

[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] .... You shall compete in righteousness. To GOD is your final destiny - all of you - then He will inform you of everything you had disputed.

[23:57] Surely, those who are reverently conscious of their Lord,
[23:58] And who believe in the revelations of their Lord,
[23:59] And who never set up any idols beside their Lord,
[23:60] As they give their charities, their hearts are fully reverent. For they recognize that they will be summoned before their Lord,
[23:61] They are eager to do righteous works; they compete in doing them.

[37:58] "(Do you still believe) that we die,
[37:59] "only the first death, and we never receive any requital?"
[37:60] Such is the greatest triumph.
[37:61] This is what every worker should work for.

[83:22] The righteous have deserved bliss.
[83:23] On luxurious furnishings they watch.
[83:24] You recognize in their faces the joy of bliss.
[83:25] Their drinks will be spiced with nectar.
[83:26] Its spice is like musk. This is what the competitors should compete for.

At the moment of leaving earth, it will be clearly announced if we safely made it and won the title or not (16:32)). We will sense it, hear it and know it as a fact, if we successfully redeemed our souls and cleaned our records or not. Until then, the track is wide opened and the opportunity of winning is absolutely equal for each and every soul. Until then, we are only competitors with the option of being winners.We should never take our faith for granted.

[40:7] ..."Our Lord, Your mercy and Your knowledge encompass all things. Forgive those who repent and follow Your path, and spare them the retribution of Hell.
[40:8] "Our Lord, and admit them into the gardens of Eden that You promised for them and for the righteous among their parents, spouses, and children. You are the Almighty, Most Wise.
[40:9] "And protect them from falling in sin. Whomever You protect from falling in sin, on that day, has attained mercy from You. This is the greatest triumph."

Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.