Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Chapter 2, Verse 19
Or like rain pouring from the sky which hides within it darkness, thunder and lightning. They thrust their fingers into their ears for safety against noise and death. But God surrounds those who do not believe from all sides. (Chapter 2:Verse 19)
Rain is one of God's greatest bounties to humanity. Water, after all, is the source of life. In fact, NASA has recently adopted a new strategy called "follow the water" in the quest to find life on other planets. Allah says:
Are the disbelievers not aware that the heavens and the earth used to be joined together and that We ripped them apart, that We made every living thing from water? Will they not believe? (21:30)
We undoubtedly know that rain is the domain of God alone. The process of forming clouds and producing rain involves precise calculations that were taken into account since the time of creation. Take for example the scientific wisdom behind covering ¾ of the surface of the earth with water. Have you wondered why is it so? God has spread the oceans so the process of evaporation can be easy and sufficient. The wider the water surface, the more readily it evaporates allowing clouds to form. If you leave a glass of water in a room and then come back to check the next day, you will find that the volume of water has decreased by a small fraction. However, if you pour the same glass of water on the floor you will find that the water will disappear in a few hours. This is because when water is spread over a large area, the process of evaporation is accelerated. Similarly, Allah widened the surface area covered by water to allow for adequate evaporation under direct sunlight. He created this with great precision so rain does not drown the earth, nor droughts starve it. He subjected the wind to carry the clouds to wherever He wills, and the peaks of cold mountains to collide with the clouds so that rain and streams reach all the valleys below. In fact, since the dawn of time, man realized the great benefit of rain and celebrated at the first sight of heavy dark clouds.
However, when we look at the example of the hypocrites in this verse, we find a group that does not pay attention to the great good coming their way. A group that neglects the immense long term benefits of rain, and focuses the short term negatives. They only paid attention to the darkness of the clouds, feared the thunder-claps and lightning flashes, ignoring that all these signal the coming of rain and life. Similarly, when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) came with the message of Islam, they could not see the great benefits of God's gift; rather they become fixated on the possibility of losing their short lived status and ill gotten wealth.
God continues: 'They thrust their fingers into their ears for safety against noise and death' When most of us want to protect our ears from a loud noise, we gently put the tips of our fingers in the ear. Compare that to the description of the hypocrites thrusting the entire finger into their ears indicating a state of unrealistic fear and paranoia.
When you are terrified, you cannot think straight or see the reality of things. You can only see the world through the prism of fear. This group cannot see the actual blessing of rain that guarantees life and brings crops and fruits. They are only fixated on the thunder-claps and lightening. Similarly, the hypocrites are fixated on the short term work and hardship of embracing faith, and have completely lost sight of the great benefits it will bring them in this world and the next. Just as the loud noise of thunder, and blinding flash of lightning are short lived and followed by the benefits of rain; the hard work of adhering to God's path is short lived and followed by eternal bliss in the hereafter. Hypocrites intend to take benefits from Islam without performing the duties imposed by the religion.
When you lose faith, you are only left with a purely materialistic view of this world. You become obsessed with what is temporary and apparent, and negligent about what is beneficial and everlasting. We live in a world that is obsessed with instant gratification, and pursuing the desires of the moment. However, there is great good that can be reaped if you adhere to the truth and the mandates of faith. Rain brings life, and so does faith.
God says at the end of the verse: 'But God surrounds those who do not believe from all sides.' Here, God wants to draw your attention to the fact those who choose to abandon God's path, and live for the gratification of the moment do not escape God's control and judgment. The word surround means to have complete power and control over something to the extent that there remains no room for escape. God encompasses the believers and the disbelievers alike. So if you choose to act in way that is not according to God's teachings, keep in mind, that you cannot choose to escape God's judgment and the consequences of your actions.