Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Prescribed for you is fighting, though it is disliked by you. It may well be that you dislike something but it is good for you, and it may well be that you like something but it is bad for you. God knows, and you do not know. (Chapter 2: Verse 216)
Most people hate fighting. It is a natural and innate feeling. Here, Allah the creator of humanity acknowledges our dislike and addresses our feelings directly. In other words, God did not say: ‘what is the big deal about fighting?’ Rather He begins by saying: ‘I know fighting is detested, and I want you to know that I take your feelings seriously.’ If the issue of the fear of fighting had been ignored, people might have been turned off by God’s message, and they may have felt that God makes light of something very grave.
Allah is warning the believers that they are coming upon hardships, troubles, and threats to their wealth and comfortable lifestyles. Historically, you often find that senior skilled politicians who excel in leadership do not like for their people to fight unless there was a dire need. If they saw a need for war, they would communicate to their people and soldiers that by enduring war, they are averting something worse than fighting. They mobilize the human spirit to face the situation with all its will and powers.
God says: “Prescribed for you is fighting, though it is disliked by you.” Allah explains to us: I know that you detest fighting, but I want you to know that you should not judge significant matters according to your knowledge and feelings because your understanding is incomplete; rather look at issues through my knowledge. I am the one who legislates what you do not like; and I am the one who knows when the consequences are good. You may love something that leads you to ruin; you may hate something that is good for you, but I am your Creator, and I know the true essence of each matter.
Take the example of a father who loves his 3-year-old daughter and would do anything for her. When the daughter gets sick, the father would force her to take a bitter medicine that she hates. To the child, who does not have full knowledge, the act of forcing her to take the bitter medicine may seem cruel and only adds to the misery of her sickness. To the father, who has full knowledge, it is an act of love and mercy towards his daughter. More importantly, when the child has trust and love for her father, she would accept the bitter medicine that she hates because she knows that her dad loves her and would only do what is best for her.
Here, I would like to relate a story of a local Chinese leader who owned a vast land and had many horses. There was one horse that was most beloved to him. One day his favourite horse went out of the pasture and did not return. The leader became sad. So the town’s people came to console him for his loss; he smiled and said: ‘Why are you here to comfort me? Who knows, maybe this is not a bad or evil thing.’ A few days later, the man was surprised by the return of his horse leading a flock of wild horses to his land. When the people saw that, they rushed to congratulate him. The man smiled and said: ‘How do you know that this is good for me?’ Later, his son decided to go on a ride to tame one of the horses; he fell over and broke his leg. The people came again to console the man. He said: ‘Why are you here to comfort me? Who knows if this is a good or a bad thing?’ After some time, the government declared war and ordered all young men to join the army; but the young son was excused for his leg was broken. Friends came again to congratulate the father. He said: ‘what are congratulating me for? Are you absolutely sure this is a good thing for me?’ Thus, we must not make judgments by looking at superficial matters, whether good or evil. In fact, we must consider all life issues through the light of the following verse: God teaches us:
No misfortune can happen, either in the earth or in yourselves, that was not set down in writing before We brought it into being- that is easy for God-. So you need not grieve for what you miss or gloat over what you gain. Allah does not love any vain or boastful person (57:22, 23)