Perseverance of the Prophets
Faith in God and the world of the hereafter is infused into the depths of the souls of the prophets and has reached to the level of certainty and spiritual realization. They had contacts with the unseen world and they had not the slightest doubt about their office.
They had trust in the unlimited power of God and did not fear any other force. They were determined in fulfilling their celestial responsibilities and did not fear the shortage of strength. Multitude of difficulties and obstruction of the enemies did not in any way disrupt their strong determination and they made efforts to solve the problems of the society with steadfastness and resolve.
The same decisiveness and determination can be considered as the most important factor of their success. Study of the life of the prophets and their struggle is extremely remarkable and edifying. Below we shall mention some of them in brief:
This great divine prophet rose up all alone against polytheism and idol worship and single-handed confronted Nimrod’s regime, which supported idols and idol worship and he was not cowed down by Nimrod’s power; he said with full determination:
وَتَاللَّهِ لَأَكِيدَنَّ أَصْنَمَكُم بَعْدَ أَن تُوَلُّواْ مُدْبِرِينَ
“And, by Allah! I will certainly do something against your idols after you go away, turning back.” (21:57)
He staged an uprising all alone in order to destroy the idols. One day when the idol worshippers were out of town, Ibrahim (a.s.) entered a huge temple and broke down all the idols. When the tyrannical court condemned him to be thrown into the inferno for his crime of destroying the idols, he did not display slightest weakness and regret and remained firm in defense of his beliefs. So much so that when he was tossed by the catapult into the middle of the inferno, he showed no weakness from his side and did not ask for the help of anyone other than Almighty Allah till by the will of Allah the fire became cool and safe for him.
Steadfastness of Ibrahim (a.s.) in confrontation with idol worship and establishment of monotheism was to such an extent that the Holy Quran has mentioned him to be a single nation:
إِنَّ إِبْرَهِيمَ كَانَ أُمَّةً قَانِتاً لِّلَّهِ حَنِيفاً وَلَمْ يَكُ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
“Surely Ibrahim was an exemplar, obedient to Allah, upright, and he was not of the polytheists.” (16:120)
His Eminence, Musa (a.s.) was also sent with messengership and was appointed by Almighty Allah to approach the court of the tyrant Firon to convey His message and to save the oppressed community of Bani Israel from him.
He finally went to the huge palace of Firon dressed only in simple clothes, carrying a staff and accompanied by none but his brother, Harun. He was in no way cowed down by the magnificence of the grand palace or the power of the tyrannical Firon; and with perfect confidence said:
وَ قَالَ مُوسَى يَفِرْعَوْنُ إِنِّى رَسُولٌ مِّن رَّبِّ الْعَلَمِينَ / حَقِيقٌ عَلَى أَن لَّا أَقُولَ عَلَى اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْحَقَّ قَدْ جِئْتُكُم بِبَيِّنَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ فَأَرْسِلْ مَعِىَ بَنِى إِسْرَ ءِيلَ
“And Musa said: O Firon! surely I am an apostle from the Lord of the worlds: (I am) worthy of not saying anything about Allah except the truth: I have come to you indeed with clear proof from your Lord, therefore send with me the children of Israel.” (7:104-105)
Prophet Musa (a.s.) confronted the tyrant Firon for years in order to call people to monotheism and to save Bani Israel and displayed patience and steadfastness in front of all kinds of oppressions of the people of Firon. And even though surrounded by hardships, he encouraged Bani Israel to observe patience and perseverance and he said:
قَالَ مُوسَى لِقَوْمِهِ اسْتَعِينُواْ بِاللَّهِ وَاصْبِرُواْ إِنَّ الْأَرْضَ لِلَّهِ يُورِثُهَا مَن يَشَآءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَالْعَقِبَةُ لِلْمُتِّقِينَ
“Musa said to his people: Ask help from Allah and be patient; surely the land is Allah’s; He causes such of His servants to inherit it as He pleases, and the end is for those who guard (against evil).” (7:128)
The people of Musa (a.s.), whose patience was depleted, said:
قَالُواْ أُوذِينَا مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَأْتِيَنَا وَمِن بَعْدِ مَا جِئْتَنَا
“They said: We have been persecuted before you came to us and since you have come to us.” (7:129)
In order to encourage and motivate them, Prophet Musa (a.s.) said:
قَالَ عَسَى رَبُّكُمْ أَن يُهْلِكَ عَدُوَّكُمْ وَ يَسْتَخْلِفَكُمْ فِى الْأَرْضِ فَيَنظُرَ كَيْفَ تَعْمَلُونَ
“He said: It may be that your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you rulers in the land; then He will see how you act.” (7:129)
In the final days of his important and risky office, Prophet Musa (a.s.) displayed such perseverance that in the end he was successful and destroyed Firon and his accursed tyranny and saved Bani Israel from the disgrace of slavery, oppression, torture and killings at the hands of the Egyptians.
Muhammad (S) rose up all alone against polytheism and idol worship and with deep-rooted determination and decisive will, struggled to achieve his lofty aim and was determined in front of different kinds of difficulties.
Throughout the period of 23 years of his prophethood, when he was faced with extremely troublesome hardships, he did not display even the least weakness and doubt. He was bestowed the office of prophethood by Almighty Allah so that he may be absolutely steadfastness in achieving his final aim. In the Holy Quran, Almighty Allah says:
فَاسْتَقِمْ كَمَآ أُمِرْتَ وَمَن تَابَ مَعَكَ وَلَا تَطْغَوْاْ إِنَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ
“Continue then in the right way as you are commanded, as also he who has turned (to Allah) with you, and be not inordinate (O men!), surely He sees what you do.” (11:112)
The Prophet of Islam, throughout the period of his messengership and even at the beginning of his call, explained his message clearly and decisively and did have any fear of the multitude of the enemies. At the time, the following verse was revealed:
وَأَنذِرْ عَشِيرَتَكَ الْأَقْرَبِينَ
“And warn your nearest relations,” (26:214)
…he was given the charge to make his call open, he ordered Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.): Prepare some food and invite the relatives, so that I may call them to Islam. Ali (a.s.), according to the order of the Holy Prophet (S), prepared food and invited approximately forty of their relatives for dinner. After the dinner, the Prophet wanted to address the guests, but Abu Lahab interrupted and prevented him from it till the time all the guests dispersed. Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) said: I repeated the procedure under the orders of the Messenger of Allah (S) and again he was prevented from addressing the audience. I again organized a dinner on the third day and after that the Holy Prophet (S) addressed his relatives:
“O sons of Abdul Muttalib, by Allah, I don’t know of any young man who was appointed to his people better than me. I have brought the well-being of the world and the hereafter for you. Allah has commanded me to call you to Him.
Thus, who will help me in this matter, so that he may be my successor and legatee?” Ali (a.s.) has described their reaction thus: All of them turned away and did not accept.
Thus, I, who was the youngest of all, and the sharpest and most sensitive of them, said: I will be your helper and vicegerent, O Messenger of Allah (S). The Holy Prophet (S) tapped my back and said: He is my brother, my successor and my vicegerent among you. Listen to him and obey him. After that people arose laughing and said to Abu Talib, “He is commanding you to listen to your son and to obey him.”1
Polytheist employed every means to obstruct the mission of the Prophet, but he also observed steadfastness and perseverance. One day Quraish leaders came to Abu Talib, uncle of Prophet and said:
“O Abu Talib, you are senior in age and nobility and before this we had asked you to restrain your nephew, but you have not done that. By Allah, we cannot remain patient on the fact that someone should talk ill of our gods and ancestors and that he should consider our dream to be foolishness; but that you prevent him from us or we would confront him and you till one of us is killed.” As mentioned before, they said this and went away from there.
Abu Talib was troubled by the aloofness of the people and their enmity. Their non-acceptance of Islam and leaving the Prophet was also unbearable for him. So he sent a messenger to the Prophet to apprise him of the situation and tell him: Ensure yours as well as my well-being. And do not impose upon that which I cannot bear. The Holy Prophet (S) thought something has befallen his uncle and that he was leaving him to his own devices. Therefore the Messenger of Allah (S) said:
O uncle, if they place the sun in my right hand and the moon in the left, I will never give up this matter, except that I make it evident or I die.2
The Prophet of Islam (S) faced a world full of polytheism and infidelity and in the stages of his propagation, he had to bear hundreds of problems; the people troubled him time and again and subjected his few followers to different types of troubles and tortures. He and his followers were confined in the defile of Abu Talib and subjected to economic embargo.
His life was always in danger and many a times they planned to eliminate him and gave him other troubles. But he continued to perform the duties of his office with absolute determination and resolve till finally he came out successful over his enemies and hoisted the flag of monotheism over the world. Through this medium, he taught the Muslims, worshippers of God and reformers, a lesson in patience and steadfastness.