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The following verses were revealed when Prophet Muhammad (sa) was on the journey to the seven heavens – Al Isra wal-Mairaj:
“The Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. (They say): ‘We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers’ – and they say: ‘We hear, and we obey. (We seek) Your Forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all).’” (Al-Baqarah 2:285)
In this verse, the believers are commanded to declare their obedience upon hearing Divine orders without any delay, hesitation, or questions. Islam rejects procrastination and prefers instant actions.
It was reported from Uqbah Ibn Amir Al-Juhani (rtam) that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Recite the last two verses from Surat Al-Baqarah, for they were given to me from a treasure trove beneath the Throne.” (Ahmad)
How did the Sahabah respond to the phrase “Samayna Wa Atayna”? A successful illustration of this is their reaction to the order regarding wine. Allah (swt) revealed this Ayah:
“They ask you (O Muhammad (sa)) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: ‘In them is a great sin and (some) benefit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit.’ And they ask you what they ought to spend. Say: ‘That which is beyond your needs.’” (Al-Baqarah 2:219)
The Arabs were passionately fond of alcohol. Upon the revelation of this Ayah, the Sahabah wasted no time – they destroyed wine in immense quantities. This scenario was unbelievable to the eyes, as if there was a flood of wine in the streets of Madinah.
Once, the Prophet (sa) was praying in shoes while leading the congregation. In the middle of Salah, he removed his shoes. The followers behind him did the same. After concluding the Salah, nobody asked the Prophet (sa) about this sudden act. Instead, the Prophet (sa) asked them why they all removed their shoes. The believers answered that they did so simply to emulate him.
Back then, obeying the Prophet (sa) was not always as easy as perceived by us. When the Prophet (sa) dreamt of performing Umrah, he set forth with the Sahabah with the intention to perform Umrah at Makkah. In spite of painstaking negotiations, the treat of Hudaibiyah did not permit them to offer Umrah. Instead, it demanded the Muslims to return. This was one of the greatest faith testers in the history of Islam when stalwarts such as Umar (rtam) also could not understand the wisdom of the order. But eventually, when the Prophet (sa) shaved his head and sacrificed his animal (Hadiy) to remove his Ihram, the Sahabah, after a state of disappointment, followed suit. Later, the learned the benefits of the Manifest Victory (Fath-e-Mubeen)
Coming back to today and why it is so difficult to follow a seemingly easy command, “we hear and we obey”, a few areas need to be discussed:
- Cultural Impact
Some habits, rituals, and cultural practices have been made obligatory by former generations. Thus, the present generation faces a dilemma – whom to follow? An ideal example is the extravagant decorations and numerous events conducted in the guise of wedding ceremonies. They vehemently contradict the Islamic injunctions of a simple Nikah and Valima ceremonies.
- Blind Following
The Taqleed approach to religion (following a scholar blindly without question, thought, or doubt) is also antithesis to the command in the above Ayah.
- Personal Desires
A believer travels upon the roller coaster of passion, finally reaching an exhaustive state, where he denies Islamic laws and lets his desires rule his actions.
A true Muslim must respond to the Divine command without any delay or hesitation. During the process, he may have to wrestle with certain societal issues that will test his faith. No one is flawless, but the ultimate goal of a Mumin should be to strive to a point of perfection. This submission of “we hear and we obey” is the ultimate manifestation of faith. Faith is rooted in our hearts, and only with action can it be given credibility.