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Lesson 61

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Lesson - 61

Aal Imran (Family of Imran)

"When two parties from among you thought of showing cowardice, and Allah was the Guardian of them both. And in Allah should the believers trust." (Ch. 3:121)

The true meaning of trust in Allah

I have chosen this verse, because it explains in an excellent manner the subject of reliance (tawwakal) upon God. Unfortunately, ordinarily it is misunderstood as a lack of individual effort, erroneously believing that in doing so one is relying upon God to accomplish all of ones undertakings. This interpretation is clearly against the decisive verse of the Holy Quran which states:

"And that man can have nothing but what he strives for" (53:39).
Does this mean that man should rely solely upon his effort? The answer to this question is, "certainly not!", for the Holy Quran also states:

"And to Allah are all affairs returned" (3:108).
The correct position in this matter is elucidated by the verse I have chosen for our lesson today. In this verse we are told to make a full and concentrated effort, even to the extent that if the need arises, one should be prepared to lay down his life for the cause of truth, and to rely on Allah regarding the outcome of one's effort. The believers are specifically informed in this verse that Allah is the Guardian over them. Besides exerting oneself, it is therefore admissible to supplicate for Divine assistance.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has given a very fascinating explanation for this. He states that prayer is also a part of an individual's effort to accomplish a task. He has illustrated this with an interesting anecdote. A certain fellow asked his son to remove a heavy stone which was blocking the thoroughfare. The young man tried, but was unsuccessful. His father asked him to try again, which he did unsuccessfully. After he had been unsuccessful for the third time, his father addressed him thus: "My dear son, your effort is still incomplete, for in spite of trying over and over again, when you were unsuccessful, you should have asked for my help." Asking someone for help is therefore also a part of the effort. Man should first exert himself to the fullest extent and then also ask for Allah's help. Effort on part of the individual is, however, necessary before asking for Divine assistance. I have also explained this point in my commentary on the chapter Al-Fatihah (which is in fact the interpretation of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad) regarding the verse:

"Thee do we serve, and Thee do we beseech for help."
In this verse service with humility is the prerequisite to beseech for the assistance of Allah. First man should exert his utmost in the service of Allah, and then ask for His assistance, admitting one's shortcomings as a human being in this matter. One should implore Allah to rectify his deficiencies and impart him with the ability to serve with complete humility.

Example of the Holy Prophet and his companions in the Battle of Uhud

Now we are going to discuss the meaning of the verse, "When two parties from among you thought of showing cowardice, and Allah was the Guardian of them both. And in Allah should the believers trust." Maulana Muhammad Ali's (late Head of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement) commentary on this verse in his Bayan-ul-Quran is excellent, and I will reproduce it almost verbatim.

Before commenting on this verse, it is essential to understand its historical perspective. The disbelievers of Makkah, in the time of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), after being defeated in the battle of Badr, made a strong effort to destroy the Muslims, and thus make up for their embarrassing loss. The following year with an army of three thousand strong, they gathered at Uhud, a location four miles north of Medina. Their intent in not advancing beyond this point was to draw the Muslims into battle outside the confines of the city of Medina. Those familiar with defensive warfare know well that the Muslim position would have been easier to defend within the confines of the city. The Holy Prophet conferred with his followers on this matter before deciding whether to stay within the city and fight, or go outside and meet the enemy. Some of the companions were of the opinion that the Muslims should remain in Medina and defend themselves. The same advise was given by Abdullah ibn Ubayy, the leader of the hypocrites. The identity of the hypocrites within the ranks of the Muslims was unknown at that time. The majority of the Muslims were of the opinion that the disbelievers should be confronted in battle outside of Medina, so that they should not get the impression that the Muslims were intimidated by them. The Holy Prophet himself was of the opinion that the battle should be fought while remaining inside the city. He also saw three dreams, which he interpreted as indicating that the Muslims would suffer some loss in this battle, and one of them seemed to indicate that defense within the city would be better. Because the interpretation of dreams is a somewhat doubtful matter, and there was no clear cut Divine guidance in this regard, the Holy Prophet followed the consensus of the majority. This is true respect for the majority opinion which the Holy Quran enjoins in the verse:

"And whose affairs are (decided) by counsel among themselves" (42:38).
Such was the noble example of the Holy Prophet, who gave preference to the opinion of the majority against his own personal opinion. In fact contrary even to the interpretation of his prophetic dreams. Thus, accompanied by a thousand men, he left for Uhud where the enemy forces were encamped.

Action of the hypocrites and its consequences

At a certain point where the movement of the Muslim forces could be observed by the disbelievers, Abdullah ibn Ubayy along with his three hundred hypocrite followers turned back. His excuse for doing so was that his advise in this matter had not been accepted. The object behind his mischief was twofold. Firstly, he wanted to show the disbelievers that he and his followers were with them. Secondly, he calculated that in this way, by seeing the desertion of a third of their fighting force, the Muslims will get demoralized. Such a detrimental influence on the morale of the Muslims did occur to some degree as indicated by the verse under discussion:

"When two parties from among you thought of showing cowardice, and Allah was the Guardian of them both. And in Allah should the believers trust."
The Holy Quran has not revealed the identity of these two groups and Allah, by His mercy, has thus covered over their shortcoming, for both these groups did not eventually desert the Muslim force and fought alongside with them. The companions of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) were so honest and their love for Allah was so exemplary, that both these groups voluntarily disclosed their identity. The reason they gave was that they were happy that this verse was revealed, for in it Allah has said that He was their Guardian. In addition it also states, "And in Allah should the believers trust", thereby confirming them from being amongst the believers.

Actions of the Holy Prophet and his companions

The Arabic word for trust (tawwakal) is from the root wakal, which means giving up ones affair to someone, and laying one's trust upon him. If one presumes, as is the common misconception that it means inaction on part of man and giving up of one's affairs for Allah to carry out, then the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his companions would not have gone forth to battle, nor gathered intelligence on the movements of the enemy forces, or sent out Muslim forces over far flung regions to check the enemy advance. They would not have made sacrifices, collected money, or gathered equipment for this purpose, and remained armed and ready around the clock to confront the enemy. All of this they did in spite of trying circumstances and adverse climatic conditions, and laid down their lives to accomplish this goal.

Action and patience, essential components of trust in Allah

What then is the meaning of the injunction to the believers to trust (tawwakal) in Allah on this occasion? Two groups thought of turning back from confronting the enemy. Allah who was their Guardian, because of their belief, gave them strength not to manifest such weakness and informed them that believers trust in Allah. This indicates that despite the difficult circumstances, fighting for the truth was manifesting trust in Allah and not doing so would have been contrary to this spirit. The Holy Quran has, therefore, clearly indicated that trust in Allah is the utilization of means and not their rejection. In fact one who does not utilize the means God has created cannot be called a believer. The true spirit of trust in God is to fully utilize even one's weak and limited resources and then leave the result of one's endeavor in God's hands. It is man's duty to strive, while God is the one Who puts together the results of such action. Trust in Allah thus strengthens a mans resolve under adverse circumstances and saves him from despair. That is why the Holy Quran enjoins patience along with trust in Allah. It states in verse:

"Those who are steadfast and on their Lord they rely" (16:42).
Also in verse:

"Excellent the reward of the workers. Who are patient and on their Lord they rely" (29:58-59).
These verses clearly indicate that it is man's task to act fully, to remain patient, and to trust in Allah even under the most adverse circumstances.

The Hadith also indicates that leaving the outcome in the hands of Allah after fully utilizing the means at one's disposal is the true meaning of trust in Allah. A certain person asked the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) whether as a result of his trust in Allah, he should let his camel roam freely? To this, the Holy Prophet replied that he should tie its feet first with a rope and then trust in Allah. Similarly to those people who would depart for the pilgrimage without making adequate provision, and said they were relying on Allah for their sustenance, the Holy Quran enjoins:

"And make provision for yourselves" (2:197).
Not utilizing the means at one's disposal is not the meaning of trust in Allah. Conclusions drawn contrary to this from certain Hadith are not correct. For example this Hadith which states:

"If you trust in Allah as it ought to be, He will provide sustenance for you as He provides sustenance for the bird which goes forth early in the morning with hunger in its belly but returns in the evening with its stomach full."
To draw the conclusion from this that it is not essential to search and strive for the provision of sustenance is absolutely against the meaning of this Hadith. If the Hadith had stated that God provides sustenance for the bird without it leaving its nest, someone could have drawn such a conclusion. The Hadith, however, clearly states that the bird searches for its sustenance from dusk till dawn, and God satisfies its hunger. This clearly means that if you struggle and make an effort like the bird, God will provide for your sustenance.

Trust in Allah saves one from idolizing the means. Allah has created all the resources for man to utilize them in a manner similar to Allah. Allah thus carries out all His works through the creation of means although we may not perceive them at all times. Idolizing or relying totally on our resources is associating with Allah (shirk). For example, Allah has created a cure for every illness, therefore seeking such a cure is in accordance with the Divine scheme. It is, however, wrong to believe that only the medicine or the doctor is responsible for nurturing us back to health. The Holy Quran has stated this with reference to Prophet Abraham in verse (26:80):

"And when I am sick, He heals me,"
indicating that real healing is the work of Allah. Reliance (tawwakal) in Allah means full utilization of the resources at one's disposal, and leaving the outcome upon Allah. Prayer is also a part of the means at one's disposal. It is therefore imperative to make a full and concerted effort, supplicate before Allah, and accept the outcome as it may be.

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