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Lesson - 50
"And they say: We hear and obey; our Lord, Thy forgiveness
(do we crave), and to Thee is the eventual course. Allah imposes
not on any soul a duty beyond its scope. For it is that which it
earns (of good) and against it that which it works (of evil). Our
Lord, punish us not if we forget or make a mistake. Our Lord, do
not lay on us a burden as Thou didst lay on those before us. Our
Lord, impose not on us (afflictions) which we have not the strength
to bear. And pardon us! And grant us protection! And have mercy
on us ! Thou art our Patron, so grant us victory over the disbelieving
people." Ch. 2:285,286
How to achieve the objective of belief
The Holy Quran is a unique and comprehensive Book, that does not
omit the discussion of any essential matter. Belief is an elementary
component of man's spiritual life, as I explained in the previous
lesson. I also discussed the necessary constituents of belief. Belief
is not something that can be perceived visually, or gauged with
a measuring device in order to determine its presence, or strength.
I also pointed out that without belief man cannot obtain peace of
mind, reform his deeds, or understand the purpose of his life. However,
just being aware of this purpose is not enough unless one is able
to fulfill it. Belief leads us to recognize this purpose, but what
is the means of attaining it?
The answer to this is given at the beginning of this lesson's verse,
in the words:
"And they say (qaalu): We hear and obey"
i.e., the believers say, they heard the word of Allah, and His Prophet,
and submitted to the Divine commandments fully. In one of my earlier
lessons I had explained that the word qaala (plural form
is qaalu) in the Arabic language does not only mean verbal
expression of a matter, but also making it a part of one's action.
"And they say: We hear and obey,"
means that the believers hear the word of Allah, and His Prophet,
with rapt attention, and then act upon it immediately.
The example of the Holy Prophet and his Companions
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is
the best example of what is meant by complete submission to Allah.
He said about himself:
"I am the first of those who submit."
The life of the Holy Prophet was a practical expression of all the
Quranic injunctions. The Holy Quran bears testimony to this by not
only calling him the first of those who submit, but also by stating
"Whoever obeys the Messenger, he indeed obeys Allah"
The lives of the companions of the Holy Prophet are also an excellent
demonstration of the Quranic statement:
"We hear and obey."
Before the prohibition of alcohol, Muslims consumed alcohol like
the rest of the Arabs. Those who have observed people addicted to
alcohol know that it is a very strong addiction, and very hard to
get rid of, particularly for those with a lifelong habit. In a civilized
and educated society like America, attempts to prohibit the consumption
of alcohol by legislation failed, despite the full use of law enforcement,
and the law had to be abrogated. In Medina, however, all the Muslims
gave up drinking without any hesitation as soon as the commandment
for prohibition was revealed, despite the fact that they were frequent
users of alcohol like the other Arabs of the time. They demolished
their wine kegs, and it is said that wine flowed like rain water
through the streets of Medina.
There are other similar incidents which exemplify how the early
Muslims complied with the Quranic injunction, "We hear and obey."
I will describe only one more such incident. The Holy Prophet was
giving a sermon in the mosque, and noticed that some people were
standing in the back row. He, therefore, asked them to sit down.
It so happened that a companion of the Holy Prophet was walking
in the street outside the mosque at that very moment. No sooner
that he heard the command of the Holy Prophet to sit down, he sat
down immediately right where he was. Somebody pointed out to him
that he was not the one being addressed by the Holy Prophet. To
which he replied that he was well aware of that, but he did not
want to delay in submitting to the command of the Holy Prophet,
for who knows, he might die before entering the mosque, and be a
sinner for not obeying the Prophet.
Instantaneous submission on hearing the command of Allah and His
Prophet is sufficient testimony to the righteous state of a person's
belief. Any procrastination in the matter of obeying Allah and His
Prophet after accepting them as one's benefactors, totally negates
belief. The individual who, "Hears and obeys," is also the one who
achieves the purpose of his creation. However, despite this complete
and excellent degree of belief attained through the injunction of
hearing and obeying Allah and His Prophet, the words that follow
"Our Lord, Thy forgiveness (do we crave)."
This prayer is a realization on the part of a true believer that
the devil, and his own animal self (nafs al-ammara ) are
constantly instigating him to falter from the right path and his
heart cries out for the protection and forgiveness of Allah. The
words that follow:
"and to Thee is the eventual course,"
are even more remarkable because they bring home the essential point
that if man remains focused on his ultimate meeting with the Creator,
he is not likely to vacillate, or become careless.