Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Zil-Hijjah / Muharram 1423 H
March 2003
Volume 16-03 No : 195
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Qu'ran Speaks to You


Have Straightforward Faith in Allah

Have Straightforward Faith in Allah

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful



As for those of you who turned away on the day when the two hosts met in battle, Satan caused them to slip only in consequence of something that they had themselves had done. But now Allah, has pardoned them, indeed Allah is much forgiving, forbearing. Believers, be not like those who disbelieve and say of their brethren, 'when they travel on earth or go forth to war, had they stayed with us, they would not have died, nor would they have been killed', so that Allah places a source of despair in their hearts. It is Allah alone who grants life and causes death, Allah sees all that you do. If you should be slain or die in Allah's cause, surely forgiveness by Allah and His grace are better than all the riches they amass. If you should die or be slain, it is to Allah that you shall be gathered.

(The House of Imran, " Al-Imran: 3:155-158)
Commentary by Sayyid Qutb, Translated by A.A.Salahi and A.A. Shamis

Quran : "Speaks to You"

We start with our commentary on the long passage in this surah which speaks about the events of the battle of Uhud, in which the Muslims suffered a heavy defeat after victory was within their grasp. Allah was certainly aware of what was in the hearts of those who turned away in defeat during the battle of Uhud. They weakened and turned back in consequence of a sin they had committed. That caused them to be shaken. Satan was able to maneuver them into making a slip: “As for those of you who turned away on the day when the two hosts met in battle, Satan caused them to slip only in consequence of something that they themselves had done”. This may be a reference to the archers who could not resist the temptation of the loot being left by the retreating disbelievers. They also entertained the thought that Allah’s messenger might not give them a share of the spoils of war. That was the sin they committed and in consequence of which Satan was able to cause them to slip.

This verse, however describes man after having committed a sin. His confidence weakens and his tie with Allah loosens. He loses balance and allows himself to be prey to all sorts of thoughts. Thus Satan becomes able to whisper in his ear and lead him from one slip to another after having taken himself away from his safe refuge of contented and reassured faith. The surah has mentioned earlier the case of those believers who fought with prophets in earlier times. The first thing they did before fighting was to pray for forgiveness of their sins, because that prayer brings them back to Allah and they take action. Once action is taken, after full consideration, and according to one’s best knowledge and within the framework of what Allah sanctions, he accepts any results with satisfaction and reassurance.

It must have taken place according to Allah’s will. There was no way it could have been avoided, although it was he himself who provided its causes. There is a perfect equilibrium between and acceptance of results, positiveness and reliance on Allah. A person who does not have this type of straightforward faith in Allah will always remain worried and will always say: “ If only....” “Had it not been for...” “ I wish that...” and “ How sorrowful it is that...”

As Allah cultivates the Muslim community and points to the lessons they must learn from the Battle of Uhud and what Muslims suffered in it, He warns the believers against doing the same thing as the disbelievers. Their sorrow borders on despair every time a relative of theirs dies in his work away from home or fighting in a campaign of jihad: “ Believers, be not like those who disbelieve and say of their brethren, when they travel on earth or go forth to war, ‘had they stayed with us, they would not have died, nor would they have been killed.’

They say this because they have a false concept of what takes place in the universe and of the power behind it. They only see the superficial circumstances and reasons because they have removed themselves away from Allah.

“ So that Allah places a source of despair in their hearts.” They see their brethren travelling abroad in order to earn their living and their prayer brings them back to Allah and strengthens their ties with Him and removes any thoughts, leaving no opening for Satan to influence them. Satan always finds his way through man’s moving away from Allah’s care and protection. Allah tells them that He bestows His grace on them and pardons them and does not allow Satan to take them far away. He reminds them of His attributes and that He is much forgiving, forbearing. He does not ex-communicate sinners, nor does He visit them with swift punishment if He knows that deep at heart they look up to Him and want to maintain their bonds with Him.

The surah follows this with a statement of Allah’s determination of life and death. It exposes the falsehood of the disbelievers’ and warns the disbelievers against entertaining the same thoughts. It then speaks of values which encourage the believers to be ready and willing to give any sacrifices required of them. The fact that these verses are included at this point in the surah’s accounts of the events of the battle makes it clear that the hypocrites who withdrew from the Muslim army before the battle and the polytheists living in Madinah and still maintaining ties and relations with Muslims were the ones who expressed a feeling of sorrow at the loss of Muslim martyrs in Uhud. Furthermore, they tried to make use of their deaths in order to whip up a feeling of despair among their families. The exaggerated sense of loss which they maintained was a direct result of their going forth to fight. There is no doubt that speaking in these terms, when the sense of loss among Muslims was still acute, it was bound to increase confusion among Muslims. Hence the Qur’an dispels all confusion and provides the right criteria and the correct concepts and values.

The disbelievers said of those who were killed in the Battle of Uhud: “ Had they stayed with us, they would not have died, nor would they have been killed.” Their statement, however shows the great gulf between the concepts of those who have faith and those deprived of it and the laws governing a human’s life and its events, whether pleasant or unpleasant. A believer is aware of these laws and Allah’s will and he accepts it with reassurance because he knows hat he will only get what Allah has determined for him and that what happens to him was bound to happen and what he may have missed, he could have never got. Therefore he neither panics in a calamity nor is overwhelmed with joy when his fortunes are good. He does not regret not having done so and so in order to avoid something or to ensure another, after the whole matter is over. Any alternative should be considered before despair in their hearts.” They see their brethren travelling abroad in order to earn their living and they die and they see them going forth to war and they are killed. They feel that in both cases, it was their setting out on such missions that caused them to die or be killed. They feel profound sorrow that they did not prevent them from setting forth. Had they appreciated the real reason, namely that the life span of those who die was over, their death-beds beckon them and that everyone dies by Allah’s will had they realized this they would not have felt immense sorrow. They would have accepted what Allah has determined.

“ It is Allah alone who grants life and causes death.” He grants life and takes it back at the time He has appointed, whether people are their homes, with their families, or working to earn their living or fighting for their faith. He rewards people according to what He knows of them: Allah sees all that you do.”

Death, whether natural or in battle, does not represent the end. Life on earth is not the best thing Allah bestows on people. There are other values and nobler considerations:

“ If you should be slain or die in Allah’s cause, surely forgiveness by Allah and His grace are better than all the riches they amass. If you shall die or be slain, it is to Allah that you shall be gathered.”

Viewed in this light, natural death or to be killed fighting for Allah’s cause is better than life and superior to all the riches people work for, such as wealth, position or authority. It is superior because it ensures Allah’s forgiveness and grace. They are to seek what Allah has in store for them and to work for ensuring that Allah bestows His grace on them.

They will be gathered to Allah, whether they die in their beds at home, or fending for themselves abroad, or fighting in the battlefield. That is the destiny of all people. They however differ in their intentions, actions and directions. Their death comes at the appointed time and they are gathered to Allah on the day of resurrection. They either receive Allah’s grace or suffer His punishment. The most stupid of all is the one who deliberately chooses the miserable destiny when he knows that he will inevitably die at the appointed time.

Thus the true concept of life and death and Allah’s predestination becomes clear. People are reassured whatever may befall them, it is all a trial which determines results and rewards.

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