by Dr. Muslimah ‘Ali Najee-ullah
Juz’ 10, which contains part of Surah al-Anfal and Surah al-Tauba (8:41–9:93), is largely devoted to addressing the problems of war between the Believers (Prophet Muhammad [SAWS] and his followers) and the deniers of truth (The Quraysh) and chronicling the Battle of Badr. Upon first glance, we may conclude that this is simply a historical account, we aren’t physically at war, so the themes do not resonate with us.
As students of the Qur’an, we should see ourselves in the Qur’an, and glean the lessons that are applicable to our development as Muslims and better people, even if on the surface, it may not register as such. Upon a deeper reading, what really spoke to me was that while Badr is an actual battle, the battle, our struggle is between belief where we submit to what Allah commands and succumbing to our own desires, fears and shortcomings.
The following ayahs early in the juz’, set the tone:
…And if you had known that a battle was to take place, you would have indeed refused to accept the challenge: but (the battle was brought about nonetheless,) so that G-d might accomplish a thing (which He willed) to be done, (and) that he who would perish might perish in clear evidence of the truth, and that he who would remain alive might live in clear evidence of the truth. And behold, G-d is indeed all hearing, all-knowing.—8:42
How many of us are ever excited to tackle challenges and run headlong into tests? We do not know when the challenges, tests and conflicts are coming; if we did, we would do our best to avoid it. Allah tells us that we will be tested with fear, hunger, loss of wealth and lives and fruits (2:155). Allah gives us tests and challenges so that we can learn something, so that we can see how strong our faith is, or where we need to improve. How many times have we said, “I’m going to eat better and exercise, starting tomorrow,” then tomorrow comes and we haven’t prepared? Or how many times the minute that we are tested by temptation, we forget about our goal and return to our old habits?
We have failed the test. That’s a small test compared with some of the very real moral and soul-searching tests that we face. We will continue to get the same or a similar challenge until we do something different! You cannot spell challenge without c-h-a-n-g-e. Overcoming the challenge is where growth occurs and effective change takes place. If we constantly give in to our desires, fears, and shortcomings that are not in line with what Allah has established, there will be no growth for our souls or positive changes in our lives.
And so, when you met in battle, He made them appear as few in your eyes—just as He made you appear as of little account in their eyes—so that G-d might accomplish a thing (which He willed) to be done: for all things go back to God (as their source)
(Hence,) O you who have attained to faith, when you meet a host in a battle, be firm, and remember G-d often, so that you might attain to a happy state!—8:42–45
When you decide to meet the challenge or test head on, with faith and conviction, Allah helps you! In these ayahs, the mighty Quraysh army was seen as small number when, in reality, they outnumbered the Believers by hundreds, if not thousands. The Believers had firm faith and conviction; therefore, they were successful. They saw themselves on the same level as their enemy. When you take away the power of the enemy and level the playing field, it becomes easier to defeat them. That is how we should approach our challenges and tests, calling on Allah for guidance and assistance, believing that we will be successful!
Allah also tells us that enduring that difficulty, with obedience to him, ease is established. The ease is that you are closer to being done with the hardship, and even closer to the ease of whatever exists on the other side of that hardship or challenge.
Later in the juz’ Allah says,
This, because G-d would never change the blessing with which He has graced a people unless they change their inner-selves; and know that G-d is all-hearing, all–seeing.—8:53
We are much more familiar with this similar ayah: “Verily, never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls)” (13:11). However, the sentiment is different in this particular ayah within Juz’ 10. Here, Allah states that He gives us blessings first, and then our own behaviors take us out of that state. Just like Adam and his mate in the garden, when they were disobedient, they listened to the whispers of the Shaytan causing them both to be cast out. Allah gives us blessings, and He wants us to have the blessings. We lose blessings, by lack of faith, and lack of actions that are in line with that faith. By listening to the whispers of the Shaytan, we get out of that blissful state.
We have to identify our personal Battle of Badr. What enormous struggle do we continue to face? If we are constantly knocking our head against a wall, feeling like we are at a standstill, just living a hard life, then we need a faith check-up. We need to realign ourselves, our thoughts, words and actions, with what Allah has ordained for us. Focus on our prayers and establish regular charity. In addition to making personal decisions that are in obedience to Allah, we should give of our goods (money) and our persons, our physical selves, our expertise, toward all that is good. Then, like the Believers against the Quraysh, we will be successful.
Muslimah, The Fitness Doc, is owner of Fit and Healthy You with Dr. ‘Ali (FNHY). She earned a PhD from Howard University in Anatomy and Neuroscience, and uses her expertise as an advocate for health and fitness by promoting a balanced, active lifestyle. She provides health and nutrition education for underserved, at-risk populations, and those inflicted with chronic illness. Muslimah is a run coach, fitness guru, and exercise instructor. A self-proclaimed health foodie, marathoner, and triathlete, Dr. ‘Ali resides in the Baltimore area with her husband, Tariq, and their three children.