Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Rabi-Ul Awwal/Rabi-Ul Akhir 1423 H
June 2002
Volume 15-06 No:186

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Quran Speaks to You


Lessons from the history of prophets


Lessons from the history of prophets

In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent
Muhammad is only a messenger, other messengers have passed away before him. If then he dies or is slain, will you turn about on your heels? He that turns about on his heels will not harm Allah in anyway. Allah will reward those who are grateful (to Him).

No human being can die except by Allah’s leave, at a term appointed. If one desires the reward of this world, We shall give him of it and if one desires the reward of the life to come, We shall give him of it and We will reward those who are grateful (to Us).

Many a Prophet fought with many devout men alongside him. They never lost heart on account of what they had to suffer in Allah’s cause and neither did they weaken nor succumb. Allah loves those who are patient in adversity. All that they said was this: “Our Lord, Forgive us our sins and our excesses in our affairs. Make firm our steps and give us victory over the disbelievers. Allah has granted them the reward of this life and the best reward of the life to come. Allah loves those who do their duty well.

(The House of Imran, "Al Imran"; 3: 144-145)
Commentary by Sayyid Qutb.
Translation: M A Salahi & A A Shamsi


Quran Speaks to You

In the last issue, we commented on the first two verses of this passage. We have mentioned that it relates to an incident in the battle of Uhud, when the Muslim army fell in disarray and a rumour was spread that Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was killed. Shocked and bewildered, many Muslims started to turn away from the battle. These two verses explain the position of the Prophet, and that he may die or be killed at any time. That should not have any effect on the course the Muslim community follows. This is followed by a decisive statement on the question of the life of a human being and that it ends only at the moment Allah has appointed for it. Nothing can change that time. Therefore, a believer should not be bothered whether he lives or dies as a result of the fulfillment of his duties. His participation in the battle of jihad does not bring his death nearer nor his staying away can postpone his time of death by a moment.

Allah then gives the Muslims an example drawn from the history of their fellow believers who lived before them. It dates back to the history to the very beginning of time. There were people who were true to their word, firm believers who fought alongside the prophets sent to them and they never weakened in times of adversity. As they stared death in the face, they demonstrated their awareness of their true position when they were fighting in Allah’s cause and demonstrated their good manners which they had acquired through living in accordance with the teachings of their faith.They said no more than a prayer to Allah to forgive them. They enlarged their slips so as to describe them as excesses. They also prayed to Allah to make their steps firm and to grant them victory. That earned them the reward of this life and that of the life to come because they combined the right attitude in battle and the right attitude in their prayers.

Thus, they have provided an example which Allah cites for the Muslims. The defeat in the battle of Uhud was the first major defeat to shake the Muslims. They were granted victory in Badr when their forces were far inferior to those of the enemy. They might have felt that victory in every encounter was part of the law of nature. The shock of Uhud was a hard trail that took them by surprise. This may be the reason for the long Quranic comments on this particular battle. The Muslims are encouraged at one point and their notions are corrected at another, at times, certain principles are clearly stated and at others, examples are cited for them to give them the right education and to correct any mistakes in their concepts. They had to be well prepared for their long struggle which would inevitably involve hard times and difficult tasks. That is the only way to discharge the duties that are imposed on them as advocates of Allah’s message.

Allah gives the Muslims an example drawn from the history of their fellow believers who lived before them. It dates back to the history to the very beginning of time. There were people who were true to their word, firm believers who fought alongside the prophets sent to them and they never weakened in times of adversity


The example which the surah gives here is a general one, which neither mentions any prophet by name nor specifies a particular nation or people. The outcome of this is that they feel themselves to belong to the advocates of faith throughout history. They learn the proper manners which believers should adopt. Trials are shown to them as something to be naturally expected by the advocates of any message and any faith. Ties are established between them and the followers of earlier prophets so that they appreciate that believers in any generation are closely related to their predecessors in faith. They learn that the cause of faith is one throughout history and they are only one battalion in a great army of the faithful: “ Many a prophet has fought with many devout men alongside him. They never lost heart on account of what they had to suffer in Allah’s cause and neither did they weaken nor succumb.” There were many prophets who had to mobilise large groups of fighters who have withstood all the hardship.

They never yielded or gave up their fight. Such determination is a characteristic of believers who know that they have to fight for their faith. “ Allah loves those who are patient in adversity.” They persevere and show no weakness. Their determination remains strong. When these are being described as being loved by Allah, the expression has its effect on the present generation of believers. It helps heal their wounds and it is accepted as an ample and generous compensation for e very hardship. Their description so far shows what is apparent of the attitude of those believers in situations of difficulty and trial. The surah goes on to describe their inner feelings. It shows them in an attitude which observes all requirements and propriety when they address Allah. The testing times and difficulties which concentrate all attention on the present danger do not overwhelm the believers to the extent that they become oblivious of their need to turn to Allah. As they do, their first request is not victory as would have been expected, but forgiveness and admission of errors and excesses. Prayer for increased strength and victory over the enemy come as a second priority. All that they said was this: “ Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and our excesses in our affairs. Make firm our steps and give us victory over the disbelievers.”

They do not pray for any great bounty or reward. They have not implored Allah to give them the reward of either this life or the life to come. Their humility when they turn to Allah and address Him is too great to allow them to do that, despite the fact that they are fighting for His cause. They pray to Him to grant them forgiveness of their sins, make firm their steps and to grant them victory over the disbelievers. It is very important to realise here that they do not pray for victory for themselves, but they want it as a defeat to make the disbelievers realise their folly.

This is the sort of good manners which befit believers when they address Allah, the Almighty. To these very people, who have asked nothing for themselves, Allah has given everything out of His grace. He has given them all that is desired and coveted to those who seek the riches of this world, but has also given them everything that those who prefer the reward of the life to come, yearn for. “ Allah has granted them the reward of this life and the best reward of the life to come”. He further acknowledges that they have done well. Their good manners are combined with a very good way of fulfilling their duty of jihad. He therefore declares that He loves them. His love is greater than all reward and superior to bounty: “ Allah loves those who do their duty well.” This paragraph in the comments given in the surah on the battle of Uhud establishes a number of principles which are central to the Islamic concept. It plays an important role in educating the Muslim community and provides a good example which must be understood by every generation of the Muslim community.

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