Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
You who believe, enter wholeheartedly into submission to God and do not follow in Satan’s footsteps, for he is your sworn enemy. (Chapter 2: Verse 208)
The verse begins by addressing those who have believed in God. As if the Almighty is saying: ‘O you who have believed in Me, listen to what I have to say.’ God does not assign any obligation to those who do not believe in him; He only addresses those who love him. When you love someone, you look forward to things that bring you closer to him or her. Thus, religious obligations are a pleasure for the one who loves God.
God says: “You who believe, enter wholeheartedly into submission to God.” The preposition ‘into’ indicates that something is completely engulfed within something else. For example, you go into a building, or you get into serious trouble, both examples show immersion with little chance of escape. Here is another example from the Quran:
Pharaoh said, ‘How dare you believe in him before I have given you permission? This must be your master, the man who taught you witchcraft. I shall certainly cut off your alternate hands and feet, then crucify you into the trunks of palm trees. You will know for certain which of us has the fiercer and more lasting punishment.’ (20:71)
Crucifixion is always done on something. However, in this verse pharaoh is threatening the magicians to tie them so harshly to the tree trunks that their bodies would sink into the tree. Let’s clarify this picture. Get a match stick and place it on your finger, then tie very tightly with a thread, you will notice that the stick would appear to sink into your finger.
This brings us back to the verse. God says: ““You who believe, enter wholeheartedly into submission to God.” The phrase ‘‘submission to God’ is translated from the Arabic origin ‘Silm;’ The word ‘Silm’ carries different meanings, all of which are proper for this verse. ‘Silm’ means the religion of Islam, and it also means peace. Peace is the opposite of war and Islam came to put an end to the conflict between you and the universe around you. How is that, you may ask? We answer that God is your Creator and the Creator of the universe in which you live. The heavens, the earth, and everything in between follows God's will. You, on the other hand, are free to follow God’s path or go against it. If you choose to follow your Lord's teachings, you become aligned in tranquillity with the entire universe. This is truly the pinnacle of wisdom and sound judgment because when you submit to Allah, you entrust your affairs to the All Wise who knows you best, the Possessor of all strength who does not treat unjustly, and the Provider of provision and blessing. Moreover, when you adhere to God’s teachings, everything around you rejoices. How? We answer that the plants, animals and even inanimate objects that God created for your service follow God’s will and exalt Him. So, when you follow God’s will and exalt Him too, you become in harmony with everything around you. Even your own body, hands, legs and tongue that God has subjected to your will celebrate. Let’s clarify this point further. Your tongue, for example, will follow whatever order you give it. It can happily proclaim that “there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger.” It can also proclaim faith in other Gods if you choose, but it only utters these words while it curses you. Keep in mind that your control over your tongue –and over all your body parts- will end on the Day of Resurrection. These body parts will bear witness against you on that day: your legs, hands, eyes, ears will confess to God about what you did with them. Control on that day will only belong to the Supreme Creator. He says:
The day when they will emerge, nothing about them will be hidden from Allah. ‘To whom does the sovereignty belong today?’ ‘To Allah, the One, the All-paramount!’ (40:16)
And in another verse:
on the day when witness shall be given against them by their tongues, their hands, and their feet concerning what they used to do. (24:24)
Thus, Islam is an invitation for you to be in harmony with the universe around you, in harmony with your own self and body, all of which Exalt God and follow His will. This is the true path to peace.
God also calls you to enter into Islam completely, meaning not to take some of the religion and leave the rest. Take Islam as a whole and apply it entirely because Islam is one complete structure with known principles and clear laws. You cannot adhere to some rules and leave out the rest putting the whole system out of balance.
Sadly, we often see this in everyday life. For example, a husband and wife may have severe disagreements. The man may eventually divorce the woman. At that time, we find those who accuse Islam because it gave the man more control in the matter of divorce. We say to them: why do you blame Islam now? Did the couple enter into the marriage according to Islamic teachings? Did the man and woman live their life according to God’s recommendations? Had they done that, you would have known that Islam fully preserves the dignity of women and men.
Many people enter into marriage without consideration for Islamic teachings, but when they fall into crisis they blame Islam. Did the man choose a life partner properly? The prophet, peace be upon him, said: “A woman is wedded for four things: for her wealth, for her beauty, for her noble descent, and for her pious adherence to religion; so aim to get the pious woman if you want real prosperity.” Did the man prefer a pious woman over all else? Or was that the last thing on his mind? Similarly, when the man came to propose, did the woman and her family value his faith and good character? Or did they look at material things first? If you disregard Islamic teachings when you get married, then do not rush to blame Islam when you divorce.
Allah is inviting you to ‘enter wholeheartedly into submission to God’ and to live life by the high standards of faith. When you do so, you bring the entire universe to your side. You will have inner peace and love. Otherwise, the natural forces within yourself will be at war with one another and with the universe around you.
Your whims and desires drive you to chase after life, money, and the opposite sex causing friction, stress, and unhappiness. God says:
Had truth been subject to their whims the heavens and the earth and all those within them would have gone to ruin. In fact, We had sent them their reminder, but they turned away from good advice. (23:71)