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Articles Section > The Meaning of Rabitu [To Guard] by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed

The Meaning of Rabitu [To Guard]:
by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed

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Ya ayyahal-ladhina amanus-biru wa sabiru wa rabitu wattaqul-Laha la ‘allakum tuflihun (O you who believe, be steadfast and try to excel in steadfastness and guard (the frontiers). And keep your duty to Allah that you may be successful (3:199).

Wa a’iddu lahum mastata’tum min quwwatinw-wa mir ribatil khaili turhibuna bihi ‘aduwwal-Lahi wa ‘aduwwakum (And make ready for them whatever force you can and horses tied at the frontier, to frighten thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy (8:60).

According to Lane’s Lexicon, rabata, from which ribat is derived, means: he tied or bound a beast with a rope that he might not run away; his heart became strong and firm and resolute so that he did not flee on account of fear; he strengthened or fortified his heart; he stuck patiently to a particular affair; and the imperative rabitu carries the meanings: tie horses at the frontier and remain at one’s post; be patient in endurance of what one’s religion requires; vie in patience with one’s enemy; be mindful of the times of prayers; or apply self constantly, perseveringly or assiduously to prayer; wait (expectantly) for prayer, for it ties one from acts of disobedience and restrains from forbidden deeds; and rabitul khaili signifies two (hostile) parties each tying their horses at their frontier, and each in preparation for the other.

Imam Raghib, in his Mufradat, explains the various meanings of the word rabata as: to keep watch in order to guard the frontiers of Islam; to protect the inner self from unworthy desires and not to fall short, for the reward for striving to protect one’s soul from evil desires is the same as jihad for the sake of Allah; and he quotes 8:11 and 28:10 of the Holy Quran to show that it also means strengthening and fortifying the heart.

In the following hadith, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) gives an insight into the identity of the "frontier" and furnishes us with guidance on how to protect it from satanic assaults:

"God’s Messenger said: ‘Shall I not guide you to something for which God blots out sins and raises men’s ranks?’ When his hearers expressed their desire that he should tell them, he said: ‘Performing complete ablution although circumstances make it difficult, travelling far to mosques, and looking expectantly to the next time of prayer after prayers have been said. That is the defence of the frontier.’" (Mishkat al-Masabih, vol. 1, p. 64).

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Mujaddid of the 14th Century Hijrah, has also given his explanation of the word ribat. He says:

"Look at the noble Companions (rta) of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and ask yourself whether it was their love of the luxurious life that gave them victory over their enemies. No, certainly not so. Even in the former scriptures it was prophesied that these people would worship their Lord during the night and fast during the day. They spent their nights remembering their God and reflecting deeply on Him. And if we inquire as to how they spent their lives, then the following verses of the Holy Quran provide full details of their existence:
Wa min ribatil khaili turhibyana bihi ‘aduwwal-Lahi wa ‘aduwwakum’ (And keep your horses tied at the frontier to frighten thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy.) (8:60)

Ya ayyahal-Ladhina amanusbiru wa sabiru wa rabitu (O you who believe, be steadfast and try to excel in steadfastness, and guard (the frontiers).) (3:199)

The word ribat is used for those horses which are stationed on the frontiers in order to repel an assault from the enemy. Allah, Most High, commands the believers to keep themselves in readiness in order to defend themselves from the attack of the enemy and this word ribat is used by Him to warn them they have to be perfectly alert.

There were two duties that had been assigned to them – to confront the visible enemy and to fight for spiritual advancement. The lexicons tell us that ribat means one’s self as well as the human heart. There is a subtle point here in that the horses can only perform that task if they are well-trained and well-taught. Nowadays, these horses are trained in the same way as children are nurtured, that is, with great care and attention. If they are not properly trained, not only will they prove to be completely useless, but more than that, they will become harmful and dangerous.

It also points to the fact that the ribat (inner selves) of human beings should be so educated and that their powers and capacities should be such as would be totally subservient to the laws of Allah, Most High. For, if they are not like this, they would not prove useful on the battlefield – that battlefield where man has to come up against Satan, his mortal foe, and this is an ever continuous battle.

Just as in a fight or on the battlefield, besides bodily strength, bodily training is also a necessary prerequisite, in the same way, for the sake of this internal war and jihad, training for man’s inner self and pertinent knowledge are indispensable requirements, and if these are lacking, then Satan will gain the ascendancy over man and his will be an evil end of ignominy and abasement.

For example, if a person possesses guns, muskets, rifles and other weapons of war, etc., but he is unskilled in the use of them, then he can never gain victory in a battle against his enemies. Another person may also possess arrows and muskets and other provisions of war and he may know how to use them efficiently, but his arm may be weak. He, too, will suffer defeat. It is evident from this that mere knowledge of the manner and method of using weapons cannot bring victory and success unless the arm is strengthened by rigorous practice and exercise. For, if a person knows how to use a sword, but is deficient in the matter of exercise and practice, then he will enter the battlefield, wield his sword a few times and cut off a head or two, but then his weak arm will become worthless, for his arm will tire quickly and become totally useless, and he himself will end up as the prey of the enemy" (Malfuzat, vol. 1, pp. 54-56).

He continues:

"If you desire to be of service to Islam, then you must first choose the path of self-purification and taqwa (righteousness). I shall now revert to my original topic, that is, sabiru wa rabitu (have patience and guard the borders).

Just as in opposing the enemy it is important to station horses at the frontier, so that the enemy may not be allowed to cross the border, so, too, should you always be in a state of preparedness. You should not allow the enemy to cross the frontier and launch an attack on Islam.

I have already mentioned above that if you wish to serve and support Islam, you should first adopt the path of self-purification and righteousness through which you yourself may enter the sanctuary of Allah’s impregnable fortress, and that you may acquire dignity and merit for such a service. You can see for yourself that because of the external weakness of Muslims, other nations look upon them with scorn and contempt. Now, if your inner spiritual power should also become weak and abject, then you can consider yourself as good as dead. You should cleanse your heart so that the holy power of Allah may penetrate it and that it may become strong and powerful. Allah’s grace has always attended the pious and righteous ones. Do not assume such morals and conduct as would put a blot on the escutcheon of Islam. Those Muslims who commit evil deeds and do not act upon the teachings of the religion bring disgrace to Islam. A person who consumes alcoholic beverages becomes intoxicated and vomits all over the place. His turban hangs inelegantly on his neck, he falls into drains and dirty canals, and he even suffers the kicks of the police. Hindus and Christians laugh at him. Such a flagrant violation of Islamic law not only makes him a laughing-stock, but its influence insidiously penetrates the heart of Islam itself. When I hear these things or I read the Prison Reports, it makes me very dejected. When I see how Muslims are being punished for evil deeds, my heart becomes perturbed that these people who are blessed with the straight path, because of their lack of discipline, not only cause harm to themselves but bring ridicule to Islam itself. It was for this reason that Ibatshan Sahib, on the occasion of a previous census, wrote so much on this matter in his report.

My point is this – that Muslim people call themselves Muslims and yet indulge in those things that are prohibited in Islam, thereby bringing into doubt not only themselves but the religion of Islam also. Therefore, shape your conduct and manners in such a fashion that the unbelievers will be left with no opportunity to find fault with you, for this, in reality, applies to Islam" (Malfuzat, vol. 1, pp. 77-78).

Finally, he advises us:

"True insight and profound knowledge cannot be attained without turning to Allah, Most High, in deep humility and submission. For this reason, people have been advised to fear the insight of a believer, because he sees through the light of Allah. As I have just said, genuine perspicacity and insight and true knowledge cannot be obtained unless a person possesses taqwa (righteousness).

If you wish to be successful, then use your intellect, meditate, and ponder. The Holy Quran repeatedly laid emphasis on the practice of deliberation and reflection in our affairs. Meditate on the precious Book and let your nature become pure. When your heart is purified and your intellect is sound and you tread the path of taqwa, then the marriage of these two (intellect and piety) produces the condition where the following words are uttered from the depths of your heart:

Our Lord! Thou hast not created this in vain! Glory be to Thee! Save us from the chastisement of the fire! (3:190)

Then in your intellect will be born the realisation that this creation is not in vain but rather it provides proof and evidence and signs of the truth of the real Creator, so that all kinds of knowledge and science that support the truth of religion will become manifest" (Malfuzat, vol. 1, p. 66).

May Allah help us to heed the invaluable advice and teaching given to us above, so that our hearts may be fortified and be filled with love for Him. May this help us to face up to and triumph over whatever may befall us in life and yet be of use to mankind, thereby fulfilling the mission for which Allah, Most High, has created us. And may we never become like those unfortunate ones who reject religion and go so far as to oppose it and of whom it is mentioned in the Holy Quran:

And think not Allah to be heedless of what the unjust do. He only respites them to a day when the eyes will stare (in terror), hastening forward, their heads upraised, their gaze not returning to them, and their hearts vacant (14:42-43).

Articles Section > The Meaning of Rabitu [To Guard] by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed


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