Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verses 137 & 138
Verses 137 & 138
So if they believe in the same as you believe in, then they have been guided; But if they turn their backs, then they will be entrenched in opposition. God will protect you from them: He is the All Hearing, the All Knowing. (Chapter 2:Verse 137)
In the previous verse, God explained the essence of all heavenly messages: It is faith in the One God, and all that comes from Him. We declare our faith with the following statement: ‘I bear witness that there is no deity but God and that Muhammad is His Messenger.’ Whoever says and believes in these two statements becomes a believer like all those who have preceded him or her in faith. God says: ‘So if they believe in the same as you believe in, then they have been guided’ then continues: ‘But if they turn their backs, then they will be entrenched in opposition.’ Here, the word ‘opposition’ refers to the disbelievers who are in disagreement with the believers, and also in disagreement among themselves. Each person has an opinion of why he or she is opposing the believers. So while a group may be united in their opposition, each member of the group is doing so for a different reason, and may have his or her own set of beliefs. Some may oppose faith because it is good for business; some may do it for political gain and so on.
The verse continues: ‘God will protect you from them: He is the All Hearing, the All Knowing.’ Allah is giving you comfort not to preoccupy yourself with what this group says, or that group plans to do. God is sufficient for you. He says:
Isn’t God sufficient for His servant? Yet they seek to frighten you with those apart from God. Whoever God leads astray, there is no guide for him. (39:36)
Allah, the all-Knowing, all-Hearing and all-Seeing is sufficient for any believer regardless of the forces conspiring against him or her. Take the example of when the disbelievers of Mecca and the Jewish elites of Medina tried to kill the Prophet on several occasions. Some even resorted to black magic to cast spells against him. But no matter how openly or secretly they planned, their schemes always failed. This is because Allah ‘is the All Hearing, the All Knowing.’ God knows what is in our hearts before we speak of it or share it with anyone. So every action and conspiracy is in God’s knowledge before it takes place. Take a moment to ask yourself: If God is with you then why do you fear? Who can harm you if you are with the creator of the universe from whom nothing is concealed?
Let’s move to the next verse in ‘The Cow’. God says:
The indelible marking of Allah. And who marks better than Allah! And for Him we are worshipers. (Chapter 2: Verse 138)
The ‘indelible marking’ is translated from the Arabic origin ‘sibghah.’ It refers to the process of adding colour and dye to cloth. A colour dye penetrates into natural fabrics –such as cotton or wool- and gets absorbed into every single strand. If you place one end of a cotton wick in oil, for example, and then light the other end, you would see oil flowing into the tubules and strands of the cotton wick, and it will stay lit up. Similarly, a colour dye penetrates into each strand of a natural fabric. However, paint or a layer of coating is different from dye because paint does not penetrate. It remains on the surface and creates a layer and a barrier which can be removed.
Allah used this word ‘indelible marking’ because He wants you to understand that faith in Him, in the religion of Abraham, and all that He revealed to His Messengers is the divine religion that infiltrates into each fiber of the human body. Faith is not introduced and applied from the outside where you can put it on one day and take it off the next. Faith is what Allah has instilled in your heart from the time of creation. It is the natural instinct and longing each human has to seek out the creator. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Every child is born on the natural disposition of monotheism, then the child’s parents make him a Jew, Christian or Magian.”
Faith that becomes part of you and infiltrates every fiber of your being is the ‘indelible marking of God.’ Allah explains:
God has sent down the most beautiful of all teachings: a Scripture that is consistent and draws comparisons; that causes the skins of those in awe of their Lord to shiver. Then their skins and their hearts soften at the mention of God: such is God’s guidance. He guides with it whoever He will; no one can guide those God leaves to stray. (39:23)
This is the effect true faith has on the heart. Contrast that to someone who puts on a show of faith one day and takes off the next, or applies God’s teaching one day of the week, and then does whatever he or she pleases for the rest of the time.
The verse continues: ‘And who marks better than Allah!’ A question that has only one answer: no one marks better than Allah. Thus, the believer continues with: ‘And for Him we are worshipers.’ We obey our Lord’s commands, and avoid what He has forbidden. Following commandments always causes some difficulty and hardship. Similarly, avoiding prohibitions -which usually involve avoiding something beloved to you- is difficult. It is from our nature to look for immediate gratification and quick pleasures. But Allah wants real everlasting benefit for you. Temporary pleasure often gets in the way of worship. Take the example of morning prayers: when you are lying in bed, warm and comfortable, and you hear the call for prayer, you often feel lazy and sluggish. If you decide to close your eyes and go back to sleep, you have chosen temporary and superficial pleasure over the everlasting bliss of paradise. Similarly, when you skip the afternoon prayers because you are playing video games, or spending time with friends, you have put your immediate enjoyment ahead of the true benefit of meeting with your Lord. God says about prayers:
and indeed, it is difficult except for the humble who think that they will meet their Lord, and that to Him will they return. (from 02:45,46)
‘And for Him we are worshipers.’ because we believe in the issuer of these commands and prohibitions as our Lord who is alone worthy of worship. It is from Allah’s great blessings that He instils in the hearts of the faithful that which puts ease into acts of worship, and even turns them into acts of comfort and tranquillity. This is the indelible mark of faith that Allah blesses the believer’s heart with. He says:
and always bear in mind that it is God’s Messenger who is among you: in many matters you would certainly suffer if he were to follow your wishes. God has endeared faith to you and made it beautiful to your hearts; He has made disbelief, mischief, and disobedience hateful to you. It is people like this who are rightly guided (49:07)