Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verses 156 & 157
Verses 156 & 157
those who say, when afflicted with a calamity, "Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return."
In the previous verse we discussed the tests and trials a believer may go through on God’s path. These tests inevitably cause hardship, stress and pain. You should always confront life’s calamities knowing that your reward will be proportional to the hardship you face and the patience you exercise. Those who oppose faith and wish ill for the believers may express joy when a believer is tested, but the believer always has the Lord on his or her side. God says:
If good comes your way they are vexed, but if calamity befalls you, they say: "We had taken precautions in advance;" and they turn away in joy. Tell them: "Nothing can befall us except what God decrees for us. He is our protector, and in God should the faithful place their trust." (9:50, 51)
Take note that Allah did not say: “Nothing can befall us except what God decrees against us.” Rather, he said: “Nothing can befall us except what God decrees for us.” Indicating that whatever befalls the believer is for his or her own good, and it is always followed by reward and forgiveness. The prophet (peace be upon him) said: “How wonderful are the affairs of the believer for all are good for him. If he is blessed with a bounty, he gives thanks to the Lord; and in that is good for him from his Lord. And if he is afflicted with hardship, he bears patience over it, and in that is good for him from his Lord”
Keep in mind that when you are faced with hardship it could either be from yourself or from your Lord. Let’s say, for example, that you got into a car accident. If the accident was the result of you speeding, running a red light, or looking at your phone, then you have yourself to blame. If, on the other hand, you were driving lawfully with full attention, and a reckless driver crashes into you, then the accident is what the Lord had decreed for you at that time. God will compensate you for your faith and patience over these matters by rewarding you and forgiving your sins. Moreover, God promises you justice over those who intentionally harmed or caused you hardship. Either way, you will come out a winner. Thus, always confront life’s troubles with an open heart and thoughtful mind.
We are God’s creation, and what befalls us is what the Lord has decreed for us. Can anyone stop all life’s tragedies? Of course not. So as long as you cannot prevent life’s troubles, you should accept them as a believer who has full trust in the Lord. Allah teaches you to say: "Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return." Because when you attribute yourself and your life to God, He honours you and elevates your status. Our Lord, after all, is the most merciful, the most compassionate.
Moreover, "Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return." Gives you comfort at two levels. First, "Indeed we belong to Allah” comforts you because Allah takes the utmost care of His creation. Have you seen anyone destroy his or her own work and property? To the contrary, we strive to take care of and improve our property and those under our care. Similarly, Allah wants what is best for you. Even if events seem harmful at the time, rest assured that God has your success in this life and the next at heart.
Second, “and indeed to Him we will return" comforts you because it guarantees that justice will prevail on the Day of Judgment. So if you happen to suffer under the tyranny of another person, who may have more power and influence than you, then rest assured that there will be a day when both of you will stand before the Lord and you will be fully compensated for the injustice that you suffered. Hence, Allah is our protector in this world, and our ally in the next. Allah is the owner and the guardian of both the beginning and the end.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us to say the following when we face hardship: “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return. Dear Lord, reward me for my hardship, and exchange it for that which is much better for me."
When Um Salama’s husband died, she was grief stricken. She felt that all life’s doors had closed before her. Her friends consoled her and advised her to recite the supplication of the Prophet. She asked: what was it that he taught us to say in these situations? They said: “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return. Dear Lord, reward me for my hardship, and exchange it for that which is much better for me." Um Salama prayed. To her surprise, and after the mourning period had passed, Muhammad (peace be upon him) came and proposed to her. She was asked: did you get someone better than Abu Salama or not? She replied: I never expected to receive such a blessing.
Thus, if you are going through hardship, take a moment and pray “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return. Dear Lord, reward me for my hardship, and exchange it for that which is much better for me." What will be happen once you sincerely recite this supplication? Allah gives you the answer in the next verse of ‘The Cow’. He says:
Upon those are the prayers from their Lord, and mercy; and those are the rightly guided. (Chapter 2: Verse 157)
Let’s focus on the ultimate goal. The goal God wants you to prepare and work for. You may think that your goal is to uphold the values of faith and protect Islam and the society from corruption; but this is an objective, not a true goal. The true goal of every deed is to seek God, His mercy, and ultimately, His company. The late Sayed Qutb said: “Beware of anything that may divert you from God’s mercy and blessings, even it is defending faith itself.” It is as though faith itself is a vehicle to gain God’s blessings and mercy, and anything that does not take you a step closer to that goal is a waste. Thus, your ultimate goal should be to be from amongst the believers included in this verse:
Upon those are the prayers from their Lord, and mercy; and those are the rightly guided. (2:157)
What is the meaning of “prayers from their Lord” you may ask? We answer that, in general, prayers mean supplication. But there are many types of prayers: There are the prayers of people, the prayers of the angles and the prayers of God. He says:
He is the One who bestows His prayers upon you, with His angels, that He may lead you out of darkness into light. He is All-Compassionate toward the believers. (33:43)
All of us live by the mercy of our Lord, even the disbeliever. Allah put at our disposal the essentials and luxuries of life. We are blessed with crops and livestock that serve us, mineral deposits that we can use to build and so much more; all blessings and favours from the mercy of our Lord to all humanity. Not only can the believer attain worldly gains by work and effort, but he or she is also blessed with spiritual prosperity and tranquillity. The tranquillity comes from knowing that a better life awaits in the hereafter.
The prayers of our Lord are the grants of mercy, spiritual prosperity and tranquillity.
The prayers of the angels are their supplication to God for forgiveness for the believers.
The prayers of people are their supplications to God for whatever they ask of Him.
But there is one type of people prayer that holds special status with God. It is the prayers we send to our beloved prophet Muhammad. When you ask Allah to send His blessings, mercy and bounty to our beloved prophet, it is as if you are asking Allah to bless and protect you. Why? Because every blessing the Prophet attains benefits his nation and entire humanity. Who will intercede before God on the day of resurrection so that He Almighty judges between His creations quickly? It is Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Who will intercede before God on the day of resurrection so that He Almighty would increase His mercy and blessing upon the believers? It is Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Thus, any good the Prophet (peace be upon him) receives is good for all mankind, and specially for his nation. We ask God to bestow His blessings and mercy upon our beloved prophet and his family. God says:
Indeed, God and His angels bless the Prophet with prayers- so, you who believe, bless him with prayers too and give him greetings of peace. (33:56)