BY WAEL HAMZA
“Convince me, I will do it” is a very common statement people say when an order from Allah comes to them. We even say that to our own selves when we do not feel like we want to conform to some of the teachings of Islam. We tend to escape some of our obligations under the excuse of this statement. What makes this argument a strong argument is the critical mind Islam builds in us: “Do they not understand?” “Do they not reflect?” We, as Muslims, and as American Muslims particularly, grew up learning that we can’t just believe. We have to know, understand, and comprehend what we believe, and we have to be completely convinced of what we believe in.
So, what is the problem? Isn’t that the right “Islamic” attitude? I share a few thoughts of mine about this concept below.
Yes! This is the right attitude
I say yes. This is the right attitude. However, after being guided to Allah, His messenger, and His message, one should believe and submit to anything that follows even if not convinced. A Muslim who believes and bears witness that there is no god but Allah (swt) and Muhammad (pbuh) is His messenger have no choice but to submit, totally, to the guidance of His message in the Qur’an and in the tradition of His Messenger. What if I am not convinced of some of the details? Well, even if I am not convinced of some of the details.
Why would I pray 5 times a day? Why not 3 why not 10?
Why does Hajj have to be in the same place, the very same place in the very same time every year?
Why should the widow have to wait 4 months and 10 days before she can remarry? And can’t she be like the divorced woman who can wait for 3 periods only?
Why can’t I drink Alcoholic beverages? Well, a little bit of it does not intoxicate me?
Why can’t I eat pork? Why can’t I gamble and make money? What is wrong with interest based transactions?
Why does men and women have to cover in a certain way? And differently?
Why is inheritance structured in a particular way?
And many other questions.
Are you telling me to follow all this without being convinced? Without looking for the wisdom behind them?
Well, let me share with you the few stories below and then give you the bottom line.
A few stories
- STORY 1: “Show me how to give life to the dead …”
- This is a story where Ibrahim (pbuh) asked Allah to show him “how” He brings life to the dead. Allah showed him in a very apparent way by bringing life to 4 dead birds after being killed, cut, and distributed over different mountains around. One could say, “Hey, he asked! He did not believe until he was convinced and saw the process happening himself.” 🙂 The fact of the matter is that Ibrahim already believed that Allah can bring life to death. Ibrahim already believed that the one who created him from scratch is capable of bringing life to the dead. Ibrahim knows about Allah’s power much more than this simple request he is making. Ibrahim was the one who spent quite some time in the middle of a huge fire that he was thrown in by his people while feeling coolness and peace by the order of Allah: “We said O Fire, be coolness and peace on Ibrahim.” He was even clear in his request, “show me how” and NOT “show me whether or not.” Allah also knew that Ibrahim believed and that he just wanted to see “how.” HOWEVER, to teach us a lesson and those who will use the story to argue otherwise, in the very same verse, Allah asked Ibrahim, “Do you not believe?” Ibrahim answered, “Yes, just to bring comfort to my heart,” stating that the reason for his request has nothing to do with his belief or his submission to Allah.
- STORY 2: “They prostrated except Iblis …”
- When Allah created Adam, he ordered the angels to prostrate for him. Allah said, “And we told the angels to prostrate to Adam; they prostrated except Iblis: refused, showed arrogance, and was one of the disbelievers.” Of course the angels are all created to obey Allah but Iblis, although was elevated to the degree of the angels and was part of their ranks, was, actually, a Jinn not an angel. When Allah asked Iblis, “What prevented you from prostrating that I ordered you?” Iblis answered, ” I am better than him: you created me from fire and created him from mud.” As a matter of fact, Iblis is making a perfect sense: Why would he prostrate to something whose substance is lower than his? He is not convinced. See? Allah could have told him, “Yes, your substance is better than his but I blew in him from my soul and elevated his degree above many of my creation. I taught him what I did not teach you and made of him a much better creation than you.” BUT ALLAH DID NOT! He just told him, “… that I ORDERED you?” giving us the clear understanding that if I know that this is an order from Allah and I understand clearly what needs to be done, it is enough for me to obey. Making an argument that makes sense to me cannot be an excuse for me not to.
- STORY 3: “Are you going to make in it who spread mischief and shed blood …”
- This story appears to counter the argument in the previous story. When Allah told the angels that he will make humans as trustees on earth, they answered saying “Are you going to make in it who spread mischief and shed blood? …” Isn’t that against the nature of the angel? I will let you think a little more about it and share your thoughts in the comments section 🙂
- STORY 4: “We listen and Obey, [we call upon] Your forgiveness O Allah …”
- “To Allah belongs what is the heavens and the earth; And if you show what is in yourselves or hide it, Allah will hold you accountable for it; He forgives whomever He wills and tortures whomever He wills …” was a verse that was very heavy on the believers and it was a little bit unconvincing. The companions of the prophet showed discomfort about it: “We are going to be held accountable for something we keep to ourselves? something we did not even commit?” The prophet could have explained the verse to them. Allah could have revealed the verse after (which explains) in conjunction with this very verse. But this did not happen. The prophet asked them and reminded them of their full submission to Allah. They responded saying, “We listen and we obey.” Allah then revealed the next verse that admires them for saying “we listen and we obey,” and explains that every soul will be accountable for what actions it possesses. The prophet will further explain that if you intend a bad action but then abstain from it, it will even count as a good deed.
The bottom line
Every single element in Islam has wisdom behind it. Most if not all the questions above have very reasonable answers explained by Allah, the Messenger, or the scholars of Islam. One should utilize the mind to its maximum to be guided to Allah and know the truth of Islam. One should utilize the mind to the maximum to find out about the guidance sent by Allah understand how to follow it and apply it in one’s life. One should utilize the mind to its maximum to understand the wisdom behind every single element of Islam and its teachings especially these teachings that apply differently in different contexts and circumstances. One should utilize the mind to its maximum to understand how to explain and clear doubts surrounding some of the teachings of Islam so that they do not become obstacles in the ways of people to be guided to Islam. One should utilize the mind to its maximum to understand the wisdom of every single teachings of Islam to be more committed and to have a comfortable heart. Understanding only brings good. “Allah was never worshiped by anything better than deep understanding of the religion” HOWEVER, When a Muslim knows that an order comes from Allah and understands clearly what needs to be done, the only choice is to say, “we listen,” and whether we are convinced or not, know the wisdom or not, or understand the reason or not, “we obey.” That is what Islam (submission) is all about.