Seek Help in Patience and Prayer

(Explanation of 2:153-154)

Imam Ibn Kathir

From "Tafsir Ibn Kathir", Part 2
Abridged by Shaikh Muhammad Nasib Ar-Rifa`I
© 1998 al-Firdous Ltd., London

“O you who believe! Seek help in patience and prayer. Truly! Allah is with the patient. And say not of those who are killed in the Cause of Allah, ‘They are dead.’ Nay, they are living, but you perceive not.” [Soorah al-Baqarah (2):153-154]

Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta`ala proceeds by explaining patience, guidance and seeking help in patience and prayer. The servant is either grateful for a blessing that is bestowed on him or patient for a trial which has been inflicted upon him. Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta`ala has explained that the best means that can be sought in enduring disasters are patience and prayer.

It is mentioned in the Hadith that “Whenever something happened to the Prophet (SAW), he would pray” (Sahih). There are two types of patience: The first is restraint from committing sins and the second type is showing obedience to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta`ala and making sacrifices. The latter is the most rewarding because it is the purpose. There is a third type of patience, it is the endurance of disasters and crises and includes seeking Allah's subhanahu wa ta`ala forgiveness from mistakes. Ali ibn Al Husain Zin Al `Abidin said: “When Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta`ala gathers people from the first generations and people from the later generations, an announcer will announce: ‘Where are the patient people, so that they will enter Paradise before trial?’” This is supported by Allah’s Subhanahu Wa Ta`ala statement “Only those who are patient will receive their rewards in full without reckoning.” (39:10)

Sa`id ibn Jubair said “Patience is the servant’s appreciation of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala for a disaster that has happened to him, considering it as a sacrifice in anticipation of Allah’s subhanahu wa ta`ala reward in the Hereafter, and a man may be suffering a great deal but does not show his feelings. Instead, all you can see from him is endurance.

In the verse, “And say not of those who are killed in the Cause of Allah, ‘They are dead.’ Nay they are living.” (2:154) Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala informs us that those who are killed in the Cause of Allah Subhanahu Wa ta`ala are in their Barzakh (period between death and resurrection), finding their sustenance in the presence of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta`ala. In Sahih Muslim, it is mentioned that: “The souls of the martyrs live in the bodies of green birds who have their nests in chandeliers hung from the `Arsh (Throne) of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta`ala. At one time their Lord took a glance at them and said: ‘Do you want anything?’ They said: ‘What more can we desire after You have given us that which you have not given to any of Your Servants?’ Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta`ala asked them the same question again. When they realised that they would continue to be asked, they said: ‘We wish that You (Allah) may return us to the Earthly life so that we would be slain in Your Way another time’(10x) – they wanted to do that because of the reward involved in martyrdom – Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala would say: ‘I have prescribed that to it (Earthly life) they shall not return.’” (Sahih Muslim)

On the authority of Ka`b ibn Malik, Imam Ahmad narrated: “The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said: ‘Ar-Ruh (the soul) of the believer is a bird sitting in the trees of the Paradise waiting until Allah returns it to his body on the day He resurrects him.’” (Sahih) This also implies that all the believers, though the martyrs were specifically mentioned and honoured in the Qur’an as a recognition of their greatness.

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