Communication in the Qur’an (11/11)
The Prophets’ and Messengers’ Strong Faith in Allah
There are many indications as to whether the believers’ faith is strong or not. Perhaps the most important one is their attitude in times of prosperity and difficulty. Those who have strong faith know that Allah is in control of everything and so trust Him completely, no matter what happens. When confronted with difficulty or prosperity, they will do nothing that violates the Qur’an’s moral teachings. Due to the strong attachment they have forged with Allah, they will know that He is with them at all times, that He knows everything they do, and supports them. The Qur’an is full of such accounts.
Now we will see the warm bond that exists between Allah, the prophets and the messengers, and the believers who follow in their path.
Trust in Allah in times of difficulty
(Believers are) those to whom people said: “The people have gathered against you, so fear them.” But that merely increased their faith, and they replied: “Allah is enough for us and is the Best of Guardians.” (Surah Al ‘Imran: 173)
Among believers, those with the strongest attachment to Allah are the prophets and the messengers. This is shown in the trust they display in times of difficulty. For example, Prophet Musa’s (as) reaction when Pharaoh and his army were caught in the middle of the sea was: And when the two hosts came into sight of one another, Musa’s companions exclaimed: “We will surely be overtaken!” (Surat ash-Shu‘ara’: 61). When those with him feared that they were going to be overtaken, Musa (as) reassured them: “Never! My Lord is with me and will guide me” (Surat ash-Shu‘ara’: 62). So, as a reward for his trust in Allah, Musa (as) and those with him were rescued from the sea by a miracle. Another good example is the exemplary life of our Prophet (saas):
If you do not help him, Allah helped him when those who did not believe drove him out and there were two of them in the cave. He said to his companion [Abu Bakr]: “Do not be despondent, Allah is with us.” Then Allah sent down His serenity upon him and reinforced him with troops you could not see. He made the word of those who did not believe undermost. It is the word of Allah that is uppermost. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. (Surat at-Tawba: 40)
When the Prophet (saas) showed his trust in Allah, he experienced a sense of contentment and security and was assisted by invisible armies. The prophets and messengers said that they trusted only in Allah, sought refuge only in Him, and that He shows them the true path. Allah reveals in the Qur’an: “So put your trust in Allah. You are clearly on a path of truth” (Surat an-Naml: 79) and invites the prophets and messengers to trust in Him. Elsewhere, He tells our Prophet (saas) to say: “Nothing can happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is Our Master. It is in Allah that the believers should put their trust” (Surat at-Tawba: 51). Such a degree of trust comes only from a sincere faith in Allah.
We see another example in Surah Yusuf 23, when the governor’s wife, tried to seduce Yusuf (as). He took refuge in Allah and, despite the threat of being humiliated and thrown into prison, did not succumb to her demand. His response to her demonstrates his close attachment to Allah:
He said: “O my Lord, prison is preferable to me than what they call upon me to do. Unless You turn their guile away from me, it may well be that I will fall for them and so become a man of ignorance.” (Surah Yusuf: 33)
An important characteristic of prophets and messengers is the example they leave to those around them. When necessary, they are determined, unmovable and uncompromising; however, they are also full of love and compassion. Moreover, people living around them are influenced by their attitudes and behavior. For example, Musa (as) was strong and decisive when dealing with Pharaoh, but gentle with the magicians. Thus, after they embraced Islam and Pharaoh threatened them with torture and death, they could say to him: “We do not care! We are returning to our Lord” (Surat ash-Shu‘ara’: 50).
And Ayyub (as), when afflicted by a terrible illness, prayed sincerely and, in return, Allah showed him how to heal himself:
Remember Our servant Ayyub when he called out his Lord: “Satan has afflicted me with exhaustion and suffering.” (His Lord replied:) “Stamp your foot! Here is a cool bath and water to drink.” (Surah Sad: 41-42)
Every time the unbelievers called them liars or threatened them with death and exile, the prophets and messengers asked Allah for help. Of course, this close bond is not restricted only to times of hardship. They are a good example to believers, because they have a close relationship to Allah every moment of their lives. For example, while stroking the dark horses given to him, Prophet Sulayman (as) said: “Truly do I love the love of good, with a view to the glory of my Lord ...” (Surah Sad: 32). For unbelievers, enjoying the life of this world increases their greed; but possessions only deepened Sulayman’s (as) attachment to Allah. His prayer is an example of sincerity to all believers:
“O my Lord, keep me thankful for the blessing You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents. Keep me acting rightly, pleasing You, and admit me, by Your mercy, among Your servants who are righteous.” (Surat an-Naml: 19)
These and similar examples from the Qur’an show that the prophets and the messengers maintained their close relationship with Allah at all times. This relationship was open and affected everyone around them.
The spiritual state of Allah’s sincere servants
The prophets and messengers, as well as their followers, always have an eager, excited, and joyful spirit because they turn to Allah and submit to Him sincerely. This profound spiritual state knows human helplessness, directs itself to the Hereafter, and causes its possessor to know that Allah controls everything.
(Ibrahim said:) “They are all my enemies–except for the Lord of all the worlds. He Who created me and guides me, Who gives me food and drink, and Who heals me when I am ill, Who will cause my death and then give me life; and Who I sincerely hope will forgive my mistakes on the Day of Reckoning.” (Surat ash-Shu‘ara’: 77-82)
Musa (as) knew his own helplessness in relation to Allah: “My Lord, I am truly in need of any good You have in store for me” (Surat al-Qasas: 24).
And when Yusuf (as) met his parents, who were sincere believers, he embraced them and set them on his throne. The strong love he felt for believers, especially for the family that had brought him up, is a manifestation of his closeness to Allah.
Since believers turn to Allah in everything and try their best to be sincere servants, “...they are those who remember Allah, standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and Earth...” (Surah Al ‘Imran: 191).
To understand their sincerity better, we can contrast them to their opposites. The believers are just as sincere as the hypocrites are insincere. For example, to avoid confrontation the hypocrites offer such false excuses as: “Our houses are exposed,” “Do not go out to fight in the heat,” and “Had we been able to, we would have gone out with you,” while the believers are eager to confront the unbelievers.
Nor is anything held against those who, when they came to you for you to provide them with mounts and you said: “I cannot find anything on which to mount you,” turned away with their eyes overflowing with tears, overcome by grief at having nothing to give. (Surat at-Tawba: 92)
Their sincerity and strong faith in Allah causes these believers, when they recite or hear the Qur’an, to “fall on their faces in prostration” (Surat al-Isra’: 107). Allah calls them people of knowledge and, in another verse, says:
Weeping, they fall to the ground in prostration, and it increases them in humility. (Surat al-Isra’: 109)
When they listen to what has been sent down to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of what they recognize of the truth. They say: “Our Lord, we believe, so write us down among the witnesses.” (Surat al-Ma’ida: 83)
The sincere prayers of the prophets and the messengers
Faithful Muslims, those who follow their ancestral religion, associaters, and many others pray to Allah for all sorts of reasons. Unbelievers generally pray in difficult or anxious times for more money or possessions to get them through this life. Allah gives an example of such people:
When harm touches him, he calls on Us, lying on his side, sitting down, or standing up. Then when We remove the harm from him, he carries on as if he had never called on Us when the harm first touched him. In that way, We make what they have done appear good to the profligate. (Surah Yunus: 12)
And about those who pray only about this life, Allah says:
If anyone desires to cultivate the Hereafter, We will increase him in his cultivation. If anyone desires to cultivate this world, We will give him some of it but he will have no share in the Hereafter. (Surat ash-Shura: 20)
...There are some people who say: “Our Lord, give us good in this world.” They will have no share in the Hereafter. (Surat al-Baqara: 200)
However, the prayers of the prophets, messengers, and believers are always directed toward the Hereafter. Sincere and aware of their helplessness, they give no consideration to themselves. Believers pray that Allah will not disgrace them on the Day of Judgment, inspire them to do only those things that will be to their credit on that Day, and to do good works that will save them from the pangs of Hell. They desire only the forgiveness of their sins and errors, the acceptance of their repentance, forbearance, and mercy.
When Adam (as) realized his error, he prayed: “O our Lord, we have wronged ourselves. If you do not forgive us and have mercy on us, we will be among the lost” (Surat al-A‘raf: 23). Nuh (as) asked forgiveness for his unbelieving son and immediately prayed when Allah showed his error:
“O my Lord, I seek refuge with You from asking You for anything about which I have no knowledge. If You do not forgive me and have mercy on me, I will be among the lost.” (Surah Hud: 47)
There is another good example from those who have a deep understanding of religion:
All they said was: “O our Lord, forgive us our wrong actions and any excesses we went to in what we did, make our feet firm, and help us against these unbelieving people.” (Surah Al ‘Imran: 147)
The sincerity and close friendship with Allah of the prophets and the messengers can be felt in their prayers. For example, they pray not to be disgraced on the Day of Judgment, to be spared the pangs of Hell, to inherit the blessings of Paradise, and that Allah will forgive all believers on the Day of Judgment. Of course, they also pray for a good life in this world, that the unbelievers will know the pangs of Hell, and to have nothing to do with the unbelievers. Ibrahim (as) asked for a good life in this world:
And when Ibrahim said: “O my Lord, make this a place of safety and provide its inhabitants with fruits–all of them who believe in Allah and the Last Day,” He replied: “I will let anyone who becomes an unbeliever enjoy himself a little, but then I will drive him to the punishment of the Fire. What an evil destination!” (Surat al-Baqara: 126)
As we said earlier, unbelievers also pray to Allah and, if He so desires, He grants their prayers. But their prayers are directed only toward this world; thus, He grants them so that they will experience misery here and increase their unbelief until they die. However, the believers’ prayers for this world are actually directed to the Hereafter. In the verse above, we see that Ibrahim (as) prayed for a safe place for believers in the city so they could settle down and continue to preach Islam. Due to their belief in Allah and the Hereafter, they were able to receive His blessings.
While preaching to his people, Nuh (as) told them of what they will gain by asking Allah for forgiveness:
(Nuh said: “O my Lord.) I said: ‘Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Truly, He is Endlessly Forgiving.’” He will send heaven down on you in abundant rain and reinforce you with more wealth and sons, and grant you gardens and waterways. (Surah Nuh: 10-12)
There is no doubt that Nuh (as) recited this list of blessings to encourage his people to action and increase their closeness to Allah.
Praising Allah’s glory
And say: “Praise be to Allah, Who has had no son and no partner in His Kingdom, and Who needs no one to protect Him from abasement.” And proclaim His Greatness repeatedly! (Surat al-Isra’: 111)
As a natural result of their strong bond with Allah, believers remember and praise Him. Aware that Allah’s power encompasses all things, they honor, fear, and respect that power due to their wonder in the face of His splendor and majesty. Believers are aware of their helplessness in comparison to Allah’s power, and so declare the glory of the Lord at every opportunity.
Thinking always of Allah and remembering Him separates the believers from the unbelievers. This is the result of their strong bond with Him. One of the things they say while thinking about Him is:
(People with intelligence are) those who remember Allah, standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and Earth: “O our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire.” (Surah Al ‘Imran: 191)
Clearly, the only people who can truly use their minds are believers, for the way they think enables them to sense Allah’s power and greatness. Thus, they praise His glory and worship Him.
(Ibrahim said:) “O our Lord, do not make us a target for the unbelievers and forgive us. O our Lord, You are the Almighty, the All-Wise.” (Surat al-Mumtahana: 5)
In the same way, when Musa (as) saw Allah’s glory, he said “... Glory be to You!” (Surat al-A‘raf: 143). And when Ibrahim (as) was preaching, he said: “... My Lord encompasses all things in His knowledge...” (Surat al-An‘am: 80). Their first and natural inclination was to exalt Allah’s glory. This is also true of Shu‘ayb (as):
We would be inventing lies against Allah if we returned to your religion after Allah has saved us from it. We could never return to it, unless Allah our Lord so willed. Our Lord encompasses everything in His knowledge. We have put our trust in Allah. Our Lord, judge between us and our people with truth. You are the best of judges. (Surat al-A‘raf: 89)
Allah declared that prophets and believers have a strong bond with Him because they remember Him and praise His glory. In addition to the examples given above, many other verses proclaim this same truth:
“… Glory be to You, it is not for me to say what I have no right to say! If I had said it, then You would have known it. You know what is in my self, but I do not know what is in Your Self. You are the Knower of all unseen things.” (Surat al-Ma’ida: 116)
He (Nuh) said: “My Lord, I seek refuge with You from asking You for anything about which I have no knowledge. If You do not forgive me and have mercy on me, I will be among the lost.” (Surah Hud: 47)
(Yusuf said:) “My Lord, You have granted power to me in the land and taught me the true meaning of events. Originator of the heavens and Earth, You are my Friend in this world and the next. So take me as a Muslim at my death and join me to the people who are righteous.” (Surah Yusuf: 101)
He (Sulayman) said: “My Lord, forgive me and give me a kingdom the like of which will never be granted to anyone after me. Truly, You are the Ever-Giving.” (Surah Sad: 35)
Due to this sincerity, Allah is pleased with believers and they will be pleased with Him. As a reward for their good works and patience, they will be saved from disgrace on the Day of Judgment and will receive their inheritance in Paradise. They will not be afflicted by anxiety or heaviness, will receive their heart’s desire, and will live forever amid unfading beauty. This is the happy ending and eternal salvation awaiting all believers.