The Qur’an tells many glorious true stories. And the miracle that the Qur’an is, every time I need a lesson or a sign or guidance in life, God brings into my heart via the pages of the Qur’an the message He wants to convey to me. Provided, of course, I reach out to the Qur’an. For God comes to us at speed when we go toward Him walking, but it is we who must take that first step, out of our own free will.
Out of the numerous true stories in the Glorious Qur’an, two have clung to my heart inseparably. One is that of Moosa (as) or Moses, particularly how he evolves as a person in Surah Taha. From prince of Egypt to fleeing assassin to shepherd to the Prophet who leads his people out of bondage and confronts Fir’aun (Pharoah), finally to reach his destination of talking to his Creator. I relate to it in ways I cannot describe.
The Qur’an, you see, like all things beautiful, must be understood through a delicate balance of the heart and mind. And because Wahi (divine revelation) came on the Prophet’s (saw) heart, I do not see any way the Qur’an can be understood but through loving devotion and thoughtful deliberation, with every fibre of your being committed to understand it with positivity. Only when you allow your heart to be an empty vessel in God’s hands can the essence of the Qur’an begin to flow in.
I, obviously, know nothing. All I know is that reading the Qur’an, to me, is an act of worship fueled by His love.
The second story from the Qur’an that never stops knocking on the door of my heart is in Surah at-Taubah.
It is the story of the 3 who stayed back!
Ka’ab Ibn Malik, Murarah bin al-Rabee’ and Hilaal bin Umayyah: The 3 blessed, sincere, devoted companions of the Prophet (saw) who had time and again proven their sincerity to Allah, His Messenger (saw) and Islam. But when the Prophet (saw) summoned every Muslim who had the ability to fight in the name of Allah for the tough battle of Tabuk, these 3 stayed behind!
The others who stayed behind were either the disable or the hypocrites. The hypocrites were of course lured by the pull of money, for it was date harvest season. Also, the journey was to be one of inconvenience. The sweltering Arabian desert heat kept them back.
But these 3 simply procrastinated. Like we all do, many a time, they intended well but delayed a good deed.
Regret set in when it was too late to join the troops.
On his return the Prophet (saw) said nothing to the hypocrites. But these 3 were worth salvaging. And so they were taught a lesson.
The story is best told in an account in the words of Ka’ab ibn Maalik (ra). And reading this story in detail if you have not already is a must. (http://myummah.co.za/site/2008/09/10/the-story-of-kab-ibn-malik-ra/)
When the Prophet (saw) asked him his reason for staying back, Ka’ab told the truth like very few can in such a circumstance would. He said: “…..by Allâh, if I was in the presence of any other man from amongst the inhabitants of this World, I would avoid his wrath by presenting an excuse for I have been granted the ability to speak in an eloquently persuasive manner. However, I am aware that if I utter a lie today in order to seek your pleasure, certainly Allâh will cause you to become enraged with me in the future. Alternatively, if I inform you of the truth, thereby causing you to become angry, I may nevertheless hope for Allâh’s Pardon. No, By Allâh I have no excuse to present. I had never before been stronger nor wealthier than during the time I neglected to accompany you.”
The Messenger of Allâh (saw)replied: “In relation to this man – he has spoken the truth. Therefore, stand until Allâh pronounces judgment in this matter.”
When something is worth saving, it is saved by Allah in ways He alone Knows the wisdom of. Those ways are often painful. And teach us lessons we understand the importance of years later. Or may be never in this lifetime.
And so, these 3 who were worth saving, were taught the lesson of their life!
A boycott of 50 days by the community. Ordained by Allah. The pain of not having even the Prophet (saw) talk to them. Even their families showing a disgruntled attitude to convey what it meant to them to say “Labbaik” (I am here) to the call of Allah, and what saying no to that call could result in.
Every time I read Ka’ab’s account, my eyes are filled with tears. For so true was this man’s faith that even while being so severely reprimanded, he never questioned the Prophet’s (saw) decision. Rather, he connected himself more and more with Allah in those days of isolation.
He said: “On the morning of the fiftieth night, I performed the Fajr prayer upon the roof of one of our houses. I was experiencing a condition which Allâh had mentioned in the Book: ‘My soul had become contracted, and the earth had contracted upon me despite its vastness.'”
Eventually, glad tidings came through the verses of the Qur’an. “He also forgave the three who remained behind…” [Qur’ân 9:118]. It is legend how the same community which had boycotted them welcomed them back and healed that pain.
The 3 had been taught a lesson the hard way. Just like sometimes Allah teaches us a lesson the hard way.
We wonder why we didn’t get admission in a certain college. Why we didn’t get married to a certain person. Why we were fired from a certain job. Why did this and that happens.
And then, faith steps in and reminds us that Allah wanted you to learn something no book could teach, but only time could. Only hardship could. Only loss could.
Particularly, THIS is the verse that has stuck to my heart as the ultimate reality:
And [He also forgave] the three who were left behind [and regretted their error] to the point that the earth closed in on them in spite of its vastness and their souls confined them and they were certain that there is no refuge from Allah except in Him. Then He turned to them so they could repent. Indeed, Allah is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful. (Qur’an 9:118)
There is no refuge from Allah except in Him…..there is no refuge from Allah except in Him.
This makes me think of a little child….the mother reprimands him, he cries and still hides his face in his mother’s lap. What other place could be a better sanctuary?
And Allah, Ar-Rahman, loves us more than 70 mothers’ love put together, as a hadith tells us.
So when we are in trials…..trials that are ordained by Him, and also the trials we bring upon ourselves through our callousness and neglect, whom do we turn to to save us from Allah’s displeasure but to Allah Himself? Where do we run to where He is not with us? For we are like animals in a safari….we live on this earth, deluded by our limited freedom, that we are free. But where do we run to from Allah’s jurisdiction? From His domain?
And do we actually want to run away from Him? In a world so fleeting where change is the only constant, the one relationship never changing is between God and His creations – us.
We suffer change and grief and loss. Parents die. Siblings move away. Friends change. Kids grow up. Love becomes stale. Break-ups happen. Marriages whither.
And through it all, whom are we naturally drawn to when we feel weak, alone, isolated, vulnerable? Allah and Allah alone.
People come and go as do jobs and joys and sorrows.
But Allah is the only constant.
The sooner we realize this the better. For He is the One who decides to bring a certain trial on us to teach us a lesson, but He is also the only one who has the power to replace sorrow with laughter and anxiety with peace.