Look around without any filters. Suffering surrounds us.
We see our brothers and sisters in humanity, and often in faith, helpless. And we feel helpless too. Their pain, so long as we don’t ignore it, causes our own hearts agony. Their tears and cries become our own, even if only for a moment.
In this uncertain world, true perspective can only be gained through a certainty. That certainty is indeed provided by one’s certainty in Islam.
Too Small to Change the World
We are too small – too weak to change the world, to end all the struggle and pain.
And perhaps that is the point.
These events being placed within our realm of knowledge has the ability to induce us to realize our utter incapacity. Doesn’t this cause us to wonder who can remove suffering and injustice and provide peace? Doesn’t this remind us of Malik ul-Mulk – the Eternal Owner of Sovereignty?
Many explanations and lessons regarding our current state of affairs can be found in the second chapter of the Quran, entitled, Al-Baqarah. But, those lessons and instructions cannot be functional if we don’t have certainty in the truth of the Quran.
Have you thought hard about whether or not you are certain Islam is the truth?
Children of Israel in the Quran
One of the very relevant stories we find in the Quran is that God has described the awful state of oppression of the Children of Israel:
And [recall] when We saved your forefathers from the people of Pharaoh, who afflicted you with the worst torment, slaughtering your [newborn] sons and keeping your females alive. And in that was a great trial from your Lord. (2:49)
Imagine you’re seeing images of the children of Israel – Babies torn from their mother’s hands to be slaughtered; parents, clutching each other in despair. They are treated like dogs, servile and miserable, with no human rights. Degraded, humiliated and impoverished, at the mercy of the tyrannical ruler, Pharaoh.
Would you try to increase awareness about their inhumane treatment and persecution? Would you change your FB profile pic to say, “Free the Children of Israel!”? Are our actions in accordance with what Allah told us? Who was the tremendous trial from? Allah. Who saved them from their affliction? Again: Allah.
We can’t possibly increase the awareness of the All-Knowing.
We find also:
Have you not considered the one who argued with Abraham about his Lord [merely] because Allah had given him kingship? (2:258)
Who gave this tyrant kingship? Allah.
And how about where Allah tells us that He warned the Children of Israel that they would become corruptors in the Earth twice, reaching great arrogance? He says that after the first time, He Himself would reinforce them with wealth, offspring, and increase their numbers.
So, knowing that they would again become corruptors, He still gave them the means to do so. They didn’t take it themselves. But He did warn them clearly, stating:
If you do good, you do good for yourselves; and if you do evil, [you do it] to yourselves. (17:7)
All Power is From Allah
Allah gives power and takes it away. No ruler or authority on Earth has power against the Will of Allah, but rather, Allah has given that power to today’s rulers and governments and individuals, and only He can remove it. God alone who gives life and causes death and only He has the power to deliver any of us from persecution or suffering.
We learn, also from Surah Al-Baqarah, that we are foolish to think we will not be tried with tests that those before us endured:
Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said, “When is the help of Allah?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near. (2:214)
Notice that even the Messengers, the people with the greatest certainty and faith, were shaken to the point where they were in dire need of the help of Allah, but Allah assures us that indeed, His help is always near.
When Angels Objected
If we think way back, to before even the creation of Adam, a conversation occurred. It is also recorded in Surah Al-Baqarah:
And when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority (referring to humanity).” They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know. (2:30)
Before humanity was even placed on Earth, the angels realized that our legacy would be that of bloodshed and corruption. They didn’t understand why Allah would allow such a thing; after all, the angels don’t commit such horrendous crimes. They are in constant worship of their Lord and in perfect obedience to Him.
But Allah reminded them that their knowledge is imperfect and incomplete. It is implied that there is indeed a purpose and reason to allow such depravity to unfold.
Having the will to understand all of this through the lens of Islam, and to gain knowledge of the right course of action to take as individuals, requires certainty.
And if we are uncertain, Allah has challenged us, saying:
And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant [Muhammad], then produce a surah the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than Allah, if you should be truthful. (2:23)
So, now is the time for us to question ourselves, are we in doubt?
If so, then we must undertake the challenges the Quran presents for us. And if we are certain, perhaps the time has come to act on our certainty by sincerely reading and understanding the message of our Lord.
Have you ever thought about the fact that some people, who are oppressing Muslims in the Earth, have the will and fortitude to learn Arabic, while too many Muslims cannot find it within themselves to learn the language of the Quran?
When Abraham asked to witness how Allah gives life and causes death, he was required to put in effort by training birds.
Likewise, we must put in effort! We must acquire certainty, by filtering out our evils, purging ourselves of other objects of worship such as our own desires, and then put in necessary effort to understand.
The messengers who asked “when will the help of Allah come” didn’t lose their footing, they remained steadfast. They didn’t ask whether or not the help of Allah would come, only when it would come. Likewise, we have to have that certainty that Allah can change everything in a moment if He so willed.
Throughout Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah addresses the children of Israel directly saying “you”. Is He also speaking to us?
Have we indeed followed in their footsteps?
And [recall] when We took your covenant and raised over you the mount, [saying], “Take what We have given you with determination and listen.” They said [instead], “We hear and disobey. (2:93)
The perfect closure of Al-Baqarah, provides us the right course of action:
The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers, [saying], “We make no distinction between any of His messengers.” And they say, “We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination. (2:285)
(From Discovering Islam’s archive)