Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verse 208..........Part 3
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)
Allah is advising the believers to practice their faith in its entirety. In other words, apply God’s teachings as a whole; do not pick and choose what you like and what is convenient. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, explained that Islam has foundations known as the five pillars. You cannot apply three pillars and leave two out because the architecture of faith is based on all five.
An engineer once said to me: "we can build a sturdy structure on two, three or four foundation pillars.” I told him: “But when you build the structure on four pillars, and the load is distributed properly, is it possible for you to remove a pillar or two and keep the structure intact?” He said: “No, it will collapse.” I replied: “This means that a structure is set from the very beginning on the basis of your plan. Its load and integrity are distributed equally on the number of foundation pillars you decided in your plan -whether three, four or five pillars-. After the structure is built, you cannot make changes to the foundation pillars. Likewise, Allah –the All-Wise- laid the foundations of Islam on five pillars, and based on that foundation Islam is structured. Thus, when you build your personal faith, beware of leaving a pillar out. Take Islam as a whole.”
Most of the maladies of the Islamic world today are the result of selectively applying Islamic rules, and picking and choosing what is convenient. Islam is meant to be adopted completely. God says: ‘You who believe, enter wholeheartedly into submission to God.’
Sadly, nowadays, most rulers of Muslim countries and many of those in charge of the affairs of Muslims apply Islam selectively when it is expedient for their political purposes. For example, many rulers cite this verse as proof that they should be obeyed. God says:
You who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in command among you. If you have a dispute about something, refer it back to Allah and the Messenger, if you truly have faith in Allah and the Last Day. That is better and more favourable in outcome. (4:59)
We say to these rules: When it comes to obedience, why do you focus on the part of the verse that says: ‘and those in command among you’ and leave the first –and most important- part of the verse out? God did not prescribe blind obedience to those in authority; rather He –the All wise- said: “You who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in command among you” to show that obedience of the person in authority stems from his or her obedience to God and the Prophet. In other words, the leader has to correctly implement the teachings of God and our beloved prophet first, before he or she can command obedience from the people. This is the only way to guarantee a just and peaceful society.
God invites people to Islam to protect them from the corruption caused by their whims and desires. Most of the ills of nations stem from the changing whims and desires of those in charge. Governing systems such as capitalism, socialism, and communism try to spread their influence and exploit fractions within societies. Left, right, progressive and conservative political movements tout their ideology and spread hatred among people. This type of competition for rule leads to wars and destruction. Allah invites humanity to rise above these made up differences and follow the heavenly teachings that treat everyone justly and equally.
Allah gave us room to compete and advance via scientific exploration. We are free to ponder God’s creations and rise by working our minds towards scientific progress. And when a person or a nation discovers a secret from the secrets of the universe, all humanity benefits and enjoys the fruits of discovery. Scientists explore the mysteries of our world through experimental science which all people can agree upon and benefit from. What humans differ in and fight over are things emanating from their own desires; each one of us wants to follow his or her own desires often at the expense of others. Allah wants to protect us from these desires, so he said: “You who believe, enter wholeheartedly into submission to God.” In other words, follow the teachings of your Lord to avoid the contradiction of desires in society.
You can personally apply this concept. Be true to yourself so your tongue does not contradict with what is in your heart; do not be a believer by words, yet corrupt by heart and deed. Spare yourself the addictions of whims and desires. This also happens to be the best way for you to be in harmony with the universe, with the heavens, earth, animals, and plants. All those creatures are creations of God; they flawlessly perform their tasks and follow God’s command. So do not single yourself out as the only creature going against God’s teachings.
If you are a sinner, you are in disharmony with your surroundings of time and place. In other words, both the time and the place in which you disobey God will curse you. Allah –the All-Generous- gave you the ability to be blessed and loved by time and place when you do good deeds. The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to spread peace and blessings in time and place. He, for example, would fast most of the days of the month of Sha’ban. When the companions asked him about this, he told them that Sha'baan is neglected by people because it is between the months of Rajab -which is one of the four holy months- and Ramadan. Thus, he wanted to pay attention to a month which was overlooked by most people. It is as if the Messenger of God wanted to give importance and peace to a particular time by fasting in it. Places also can gain peace and pleasure from your deeds. Ali ibn Abi Talib -the prophet's cousin- (may God be pleased with him) said: "When a believer dies two places weep over him: one on earth and another in the heavens. The place on earth where he used to pray weeps for him, and so does the place where his good deeds used to ascend to in Heaven."