Salam Dear Samy,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
The question of war is not a new one.
In fact, it is typical of humans to have differing views about almost anything in the world and to engage in conflicts which sometimes lead to battles or even large scale wars.
Allah’s Creation of Mankind
The Holy Quran narrates the occasion when Allah Almighty decided to create man:
Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent on earth.” They said: “Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?” He said: “I know what ye know not.” (Quran 2:30)
The Arabic word khalifah is rendered ‘vicegerent’ in the above verse, and it means an ambassador or representative.
From the angels’ response above, it is clear that the new creation (man) as Allah’s khalifah on earth is a being endowed with freewill.
The angels understood that man would make mischief on the earth and shed blood. On the other hand, angels have no freedom of choice, so they can only obey God.
It was as the angels feared: humans made mischief on earth and shed blood.
And throughout human history, there have been hundreds of wars fought in different parts of the world, including two world wars that inflicted incalculable suffering on the world.
Death is not the End
From the point of view of an individual human being, death and suffering in various forms are the worst that can happen to him or her.
Whether death or suffering comes in an accident or a world war shouldn’t bother us much, as far as our individual suffering in this world is concerned.
But there is a psychological condition which causes us suffering as members of a family, a clan or community, or even as members of the human society: this obsessive fear of world war.
As individuals, we can do something by way of mental preparation for a calamity we know we are about to face.
But as members of a society or a large community, we can do little to avert a large disaster like a world war. The only thing we can do is, as you suggested, preparing to face it.
Trust in Allah’s Plan
Muslims—that is to say, persons who have imbibed the teachings of Islam as given in the Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, (peace and blessings be upon him)—cannot be obsessively concerned about the possibility of any calamity that is likely to overtake them.
Because the very essence of Islam is ‘submission to the will of Allah’. The Quran teaches us:
Say: “Never can anything befall us save what God has decreed! He is our Lord Supreme; and in God let the believers place their trust!”(Quran 9:51)
Prophet Muhammad encouraged us that nothing can possibly happen to us that wasn’t pre-destined for us with the wisdom of God:
Keep Allah in mind and you will find Him in front of you. Get acquainted with Allah in times of ease and He will know you in days of distress. Know that what missed you could not have hit you, and what hit you could not have missed you. Know that victory comes with patience, relief follows distress, ease follows hardship.
It is with this spirit of submission to the will of Allah or the wholehearted acceptance of whatever He has decreed for us that we should look on everything that happens to us.
This does not mean that we should not do anything to escape from a calamity; on the contrary we can and must do everything that is possible to avoid it, or if it has already happened, to lessen its deleterious effect on us.
Submission is a question of attitude and approach. It is the mental readiness or preparedness that we train ourselves to have from the very beginning, in order to confront the misfortunes and overcome them with patient perseverance.
These Are Tests of Our Faith
Allah Almighty has clearly stated in His Noble Quran what means:
And most certainly shall We try you by means of danger, and hunger, and loss of worldly goods, of lives and of [labor’s] fruits. But give glad tidings unto those who are patient in adversity…(Quran 2: 155)
Loss of property, hunger, fear, and death are the lot of worldly life. This life is not meant as a bed of roses.
This is a place of sojourn, a temporary abode in the journey of our life. It’s a journey which continues even after our death, in another world, at another level.
No one should imagine that he or she is destined to live here comfortably forever.
Once we understand the meaning of the above verse with the intensity and insight it deserves, then we are mentally prepared to face any loss. It means that we have Allah, from Whom we came and to Whom we return.
So the key to security and tranquility in view of a third world war or any calamity for that matter is here: Trust in Allah and Patient Perseverance (have Tawakkul and Sabr).
There are two steps to attain Sabr: The first one is to hold the firm belief that nothing belongs to us; that everything is Allah’s.
The second step is to have the conviction that this life is only a very short stay here, and we are on our way to meet our Lord and Guardian, Allah Almighty.
For He alone is the never-failing Source of Peace and Strength in all circumstances.
That is to say, we need to train ourselves with patient perseverance and prayer; that is the best mental preparation to face even a third world war:
O you who believe! seek help with patient perseverance and prayer; for Allah is with those who patiently persevere. (Quran 2:153)
And Allah knows best. I hope this helps address your concerns.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(This is from AboutIslam’s archive and was originally published in September 2016.)
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