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23. Submission

Allah, the Wise, has said:

وَ أُمِرْناَ لِنُسْلِمَ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَـمِينَ

“And we are commanded that we should submit to the Lord of the worlds.”1

Imam Baqir (as) said:

أَحَقُّ خَلْقِ اللٌّهِ أَنْ يُّسْلِمَ لِمَا قَضى اللٌّهُ.

“The most worthy of Allah’s servants is one who submits before divine decree.”2

Short Expalantion

The attribute of taslim3 holds a rank higher than those of ridha4 and tawakkul5. This is because a person who possesses this attribute abandons his own quest for seeking solutions to the problems that plague him and instead, dissociates himself from his inner attachments to such an extent that he hands himself over to Allah completely.

In the attribute of Riďa, the actions are generally consistent with human inclination and temperament, while in tawakkul, people take Allah as their agent, but such is not the case in the attribute of tasleem. The chosen ones of Allah are afflicted with various kinds of difficulties such as an ill-tempered spouse, poverty, disease, harassment by the people, and so on; but having submitted themselves totally, they neither voice any protest nor do they experience any sort of unhappiness over these afflictions.

1) The Imam’s Reply

It has been narrated that sometimes, Imam Sadiq (as) entertained his guests with sweetmeat and porridge, whereas at other times, he presented them with olives and plain bread.

A person once said to him: “If you manage your affairs with prudence (and foresight), you will always be consistent and will thus be able to entertain your guests in the same manner at all times.”

“The management of our affairs lies in Allah’s hands (and we are in total submission to His Will). Whenever He grants us (an increased livelihood), we cater for our guests and ourselves liberally but whenever He restrains our livelihood, we too adjust our lives accordingly,” replied the Imam (as).6

2) Mu’adh Ibn Jabal

Mu’adh embraced Islam at the age of eighteen and participated in the battles of Badr, Uhud, Khandaq and some others. The Noble Prophet (S) established the bond of brotherhood between him and ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud.

Mu’adh was compassionate by nature and possessed a pleasant personality. The Noble Prophet (S) sent him to Yemen as its governor and showered him with numerous advices, one of them being: “Do not be too strict with the people; behave with them in such a manner that they are attracted to your speech and religion.”

During the Caliphate of the second Caliph, a battle ensued between the Muslims and the Romans and Mu’adh participated in it too. In the year 18 ah, in ‘Amwas, Syria, an epidemic of plague began to spread. Abu ‘Ubaidah, the commander of the Muslim army, was afflicted with the disease and when he realized that his death was inevitable, he appointed Mu’adh as his successor. The soldiers requested Mu’adh to pray for an end to the calamity but he declined to do so.

“This is not a calamity. Instead, it is a prayer of your Prophet (S); death of the pious and righteous ones, and martyrdom, which Allah grants to only a few from amongst you,” he said.

He then supplicated: “O’ Lord! Grant the household of Mu’adh their complete share of this Mercy (plague).”

Shortly afterwards, members of his household were afflicted with the disease and succumbed to it. When he too sensed its effects in his finger, he placed the finger in his mouth and biting it, said, “O’ Lord! This is small and trivial; make it blessed (for me).”

He eventually died of this plague (in the year 18 ah) at the age of 38 and was buried near Jordan.7

3) Learn Submission from the Pigeons

During the time of one of the prophets, there lived a lady who had a son who was in his youth and whom she loved dearly. As divine decree would have it, the son died leaving the mother greatly aggrieved and immensely disturbed. She was in such a state that her relatives approached the prophet of the time and sought his help.

When he came to the mother, the prophet found her in a state of sorrow and agitation and was weeping. His eyes then fell upon a pigeon-nest nearby. He turned to the lady and asked: “O’ Lady! Is this a pigeon-nest?”

The lady replied that it was.

“Do the pigeons give birth to their young ones?” asked the prophet.

“Yes.”

“Do all the young ones grow up to be able to fly?”

“No, we kill some of them for their flesh,” said the lady.

The prophet continued, “And despite this, these pigeons do not abandon their nest?”

“No, they do not move away to another place,” replied the lady.

The prophet then advised, “O’ Lady! Be apprehensive lest you be worse off than these pigeons in the eyes of your Lord. These pigeons, despite the fact that you kill and eat their young ones in front of their eyes, do not turn away from you. Whereas you, as a result of losing just one son, have directed your anger towards Allah, turned away from Him, exhibited all this agitation, and uttered things that are inappropriate.”

Hearing these words, her tears ceased and she never displayed impatience and discontent thenceforth.8

4) Sa’sah

Ahnaf Ibn Qais narrates: “Once, I complained to my paternal uncle Sa’sah, of stomach ache. Instead of sympathising with me, he rebuked me severely by saying: “O’ Nephew! Whenever you experience any discomfort and you complain about it to another being similar to yourself, there can exist only two possibilities on the issue: the person to whom you have narrated your problem is either your friend, in which case, quite obviously, he too would be concerned for you; or he is your enemy, in which case he would be delighted over your disturbed state.

Do not manifest your problem to someone who is like you and does not possess the power to free you from it; instead seek shelter in, and present the problem to Him, Who has afflicted you with it, for it is He, Who can rid you of it.

O’ Nephew! It has been forty years since one of my eyes lost its vision but I have not revealed this to anyone - not even my wife knows that I am blind in one eye!”9

5) Submission before a Ruling

The date-plantation of Zubair Ibn ‘Awwam (a cousin of the Noble Prophet (S)) lay adjacent to that of one of the Ansar (the Helpers). Once, there arose a dispute between them in respect of the irrigation of their lands.

In order to resolve the dispute they approached the Noble Prophet (S) and presented the problem to him. Taking into account the fact that the plantation of Zubair lay near the upper part of the land where the water came from, while that of the other person was near the lower section (and it was the customary practice that the upper part would be watered before the lower one), the Noble Prophet (S) ruled that it should be Zubair, who should water his plantation first, followed by the person from the Ansar.

Despite the totally just nature of the ruling, the Ansar was displeased and protested to the Noble Prophet (S) saying: “You have ruled in Zubair’s favour as he happens to be your cousin.”

The Noble Prophet (S) was so greatly upset at this antagonistic staement that the colour of his face changed. At this juncture, the following verse was revealed: “But no! By your Lord! They do not believe (in reality) until they make you a judge of that which has become a matter of disagreement among them, and then do not find any straitness in their hearts as to what you have decided and submit with entire submission.”10

This verse indicates that nobody can express dissatisfaction with the ruling of the leader of an Islamic government of the Noble Prophet (S) and seek to follow his own inclinations. One should submit totally to the verdict given.11

  • 1. Noble Qur’an, Suratul An’am (6), Verse 71
  • 2. Jame’ al-Sa’adat, Volume 3, Page 204
  • 3. Submission to the will of Allah. (Tr.)
  • 4. Satisfaction and pleasure over divine decree. (Tr.)
  • 5. Complete reliance upon Allah. (Tr.)
  • 6. Shanidani-ha-e-Tarikh, Page 32; Mahajjatul Baiďa, Volume 3, Page 43
  • 7. Paighambar Wa Yaran, Pages 264–259; Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d, Volume 3, Pages 122-124
  • 8. Namunah-e-Ma’arif, Volume 2, Page 761
  • 9. Pand-e-Tarikh, Volume 5, Page 188; Al-Kuna Wa al-Alqab, Volume 2, Page 13
  • 10. Noble Qur’an, Suratul Nisa (4), Verse 65 (و يُسَلِّمُوا تَسلِيمًا)
  • 11. Dastan-ha Wa Pand-ha, Volume 9, Page 102; Majma’ul Bayan, Volume 3, Page 69

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