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Interpretation of Sura Cow - Verses 155-157

155. "And We will surely test you (all) with something of fear and hunger and loss of property, lives and fruits; but give glad tidings to the (steadfast) patient."

156. "Who, when a calamity befalls them, (by showing perseverance) , say: ' Verily we belong to Allah, and certainly unto Him shall we return'."

157. " Those are they on whom are blessings and Mercy from their Lord, and they are the ones that are guided (aright) ."


Trial, an Indisputable Divine Rule

Imam Amir-ul-Mu'mineen Ali (a.s.) said: "Even though Allah, the Glorious, knows them more than they know themselves, yet He does so to let them perform actions with which they earn reward or punishment." (1)

Concerning the sense of rial, in a sermon, he (a.s.) also has remarked:

"...Certainly, Allah tries His servants in respect of evil actions by decreasing (1) Nahjul Balaqah, Saying No. 93 fruits, holding back blessings and closing treasures of good, so that he who wishes to repent may repent, he who wishes to recall (forgotten good) may recall, and he who wishes to abstain (from evil) may abstain. ..." 6

Allah (s.w.t.) tests all human beings, but with varieties. All the different sites of the world are the testing-places, and all the members of humanity, even the prophets, are under trial, and all the pleasant and unpleasant things are the means of trial. We ought to know that the Divine examinations are not done in order to clear out the ambiguity, but they are to evoke and train the capacities and abilities of humankind.

The means of this trial are all bitter and sweet happenings of Man, including: fear, hunger, loss of property, lives, agricultural products, fear from enemies, economic siege, and taking part in Holy War himself, or by sending children and dear ones to the battle of war. These trials were experienced in the first war of Islam (battle of Badr) , and will also come forth at the time of the reappearance of the Expected Mahdi, the twelfth Imam (May allah hasten his glad advent) , for which Muslims should be prepared.

The inflictions, which human beings encounter with, are usually concerned with wealth, life, children, or the fear of the loss of either of them. The secret of mentioning ' fear ', among the means of trials, first, may be that the purpose is the fear for the lack of either of those three things. It is always before the loss of the very things that one fears of losing them.

Then, next to fear, hunger is pointed out, which comes into being as a result of poverty. Yet, in this respect, fasting is counted one of the examples of hunger.

Loss of property has been situated in the third degree. The loss of wealth, of course, is very bitter, especially for a rich person when he becomes poor.

Then there comes the loss of life, which often occurs because of different ailments or after being wounded: in a battle-field and Holy War in the way of Allah, and so on. And, finally, the loss of fruits comes forth. Some of the commentators have rendered this loss into the death of one's child, which is the heaviest calamity.

"...but give glad tidings to the (steadfast) patient." It addresses the prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h.) that he gives glad tidings to those people who persevere with patience in their calamities and difficulties.

Some commentators have said that this ' glad tidings' points to the reward of Heaven and the merit of Divine forgiveness for them, as Imam Sadiq (a.s.) has said: "Allah, Mighty and Glorious, said: '...but give glad tidings to the (steadfast) patient', or, (that is) , with Paradise and forgiveness." 7

But in another tradition, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) has rendered the concept of ' glad tidings ' into the reappearance of Imam Al-Mahdi (a.s.) , where he says:

" Before the rise of Gha'im (Al-Mahdi) (May Allah hasten his auspicious reappearance) there will appear some signs by which Allah tries the Muslim believers. " Muhammad-ibn-Muslim, (who was one of the special followers of the Imam) , said that he required to know what those signs were; and he (a.s.) answered:" Those are the same that Allah, the Glorious, has expressed in the Qur'an, thus: ' And We will surely test you (all) with something of fear and hunger and loss of property, lives and fruits;'

So far as he (a.s.) recited: '...but give glad tidings to the (steadfast) patient', and continued to say: ' This means to give glad tidings to the believers who show patience and perseverance in these calamities for the advent of the Gha'im (a.s.) , (viz., Hadrat Mahdi, May Allah (s.w.t.) hasten his glad advent." 8

Yes, the world is anxiously awaiting the advent of this great reformer (a.s.) . When he comes, he will fill the world full of justice. Then, there will be no inequity, no cruelty, and no transgression. Allah will open the doors of blessings out of the earth and heaven because of his auspicious appearance. At that time, the believing people can continue to live peacefully and easily under his esteemed government, to prove their worship and servitude to Allah.

Concerning this meaning, in a tradition, the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) has said:" Al-Mahdi is mine. His luminous forehead is high and wide, while over whose nose there is a little projection. He will fill the earth with justice, just as it is filled up with aggression and cruelty." 9

"Who, when a calamity befalls them, (by showing perseverance) , say: ' Verily we belong to Allah, and certainly unto Him shall we return'." After recounting different calamities, and giving glad tidings to the patient, it introduces this group of patient who, with this competency, rightfully deserve to be given glad tidings. It is clear that every ordinary person is not fit to be rewarded with all these excellences and dignities. Hence, that reward, i.e. the glad tidings, is specialized to the ones whose patience originates from a firm foundation. This particular glad tidings is qualified by a special blessing and Mercy from the side of Allah. These kind of people are those ones whose hearts turn to their Lord at the moment of meeting with a calamity when, they say:

"... Verily we belong to Allah, and certainly unto Him shall we return'." They treat such because they have realized, through knowledge of certainty or by visual certainty, that whatever exists belongs to Allah and is under His Will. So, whatsoever He has given to human-kind in this world, such as: soul, property, children, and all other similar respects, are ficticious.

They also know that whatever Allah has bestowed upon them has been based upon His Wisdom, and when He takes it from them, it is not taken because of miserliness, but it is for His good that He takes a blessing from a person to mercifully impart a better one. They have found out that their return, their destination, as well as the return of every thing, is undoubtedly unto Him.

However, he who, based on these foundations, knows and remembers that his soul, wealth, and whatever he possesses belongs to Allah and is under His Authority, surrenders to His divine decrees. The one, with this awareness, will be patient and thankful properly and reasonably. Such a person, of course, is one of those eligible believers for whom Allah says: " Those are they on whom are blessings and Mercy from their Lord,...", and they are prosperous.

Some of the commentators have said that / salawat/ (blessings and peace) , which comes from Allah (s.w.t.) , is the same as ' fogiveness', while some others believe that it is 'praise'. The term /salawat/ (blessings) is said in the plural form because it refers to the abundant mercy of Allah. It may mean that there are many frequent blessings for these steadfast patient from Allah which do not cease.

It is narrated from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) who said:" The person who receives a calamity and thereafter, whenever the one remembers it, utters the phrase ' Verily we belong to Allah, and certainly unto Him shall we return ', Allah gives the believer once again the reward of the day when the one received that calamity". (Even though there has passed a long time after that calamity) . 10

He (p.b.u.h.) has also said in another tradition that, for such a person, Allah will amend that calamity with a better quality than before and his destiny will conclude well. 11

"...and they are the ones that are guided (aright) ."

This group of the patient, as was mentioned in the above, when they entangle with a calamity, are patiently steadfast, since they have known that they themselves and what they have are all Allah's, and in His possession. They also know that their return is unto Him, and they express this fact, too, by their tongue and with uttering the above holy phrase. Such people have attained the rank and position of nearness to Allah. Their march is gain after gain, i.e. an ever progressive gain. They are, in fact, guided aright.


6. Nahjul-Balaq­ah, Sermon 143

7. Al-Burhan fi Tafsir-il-Qur'an, vol. 1, p. 169

8. Al-Burhan fi Tafsir-il-Qur'an, vol. 1, p.197

9. Tara'if, by sayyid-ibn-Tawus, p. 177; & Sunan Abi-Dawud, vol. 4, p. 152

10. Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 82, p. 142

11. Makhzan-ul-'Irfan, vol. 2, p. 143

Adapted from the book: "The Light of The Quran - Interpretation of Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow)" by: "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani and A Group of Muslim Scholars"

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