Helpless ones in dire need and the gates of mercy opened wide

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Endeavor for Renewal

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Helpless ones in dire need and the gates of mercy opened wide

“He Who answers the helpless one in distress when he prays to Him, and removes the affliction from him, and (Who) has made you (O humankind) vicegerents of the earth (to improve it and rule over it according to God’s commandments)? Is there another deity besides God? How little you reflect!” (an-Naml 27:62)

Question: Could you explain the 62nd verse of chapter an-Naml with respect to how it relates to believers’ individual and social lives?

Answer: In the earlier verses of this chapter, God Almighty firstly asks: “Is God better or all that they associate as partners (with Him)?” (an-Naml 27:59) and then He places emphasis on the Divine acts in the universe and how they point to the omnipotent Creator: “Or He Who has created the heavens and the earth, and sends down for you water from the sky?—We cause to grow with it gardens full of loveliness and delight: It is not in your power to cause their trees to grow. Is there another deity besides God? No, but they are a people who veer away (from truth)” (an-Naml 27:60). Later in verse 62, God Almighty mentions it as another indication of Divine unity that it is nobody other than Him who answers helpless souls who implore to Him in distress. At first look, praying this way and finding a positive response can be seen as a rare case. However, those who examine their lives through the eyes of wisdom can find so many meaningful examples—particularly at times when they were completely helpless, deeply felt that God was the only true power, and wholeheartedly sought refuge in Him. In such situations, the light of belief in His absolute dominion, and the illusoriness of causality, lets them witness manifestations of His particular graces.

We implore Him so often in desperate situations, and He in return holds our hand, removes our trouble and grants us relief. Since we are not good at evaluating our experiences through serious reflection, we usually ignore such favors of Divine providence.

Causality at a dead end and divine providence like a bolt from the blue

Whenever somebody turns sincerely to God, they can feel in their conscience that they received a positive response to their call. However, Divine aid for those in dire need comes in a more manifest fashion. For example, the brothers of Prophet Joseph, peace be upon him, left him to die in the bottom of a well. With respect to the apparent circumstances, there seemed no chance to be saved. However, God Almighty sent a passing caravan as a special blessing, and He took Joseph out of the well through the hands of those in the caravan. Afterwards, they sold him to somebody from the palace and Joseph was treated well in that new home. Later on, he faced a different kind of trouble: The lady of the house tried to seduce him. He gave his willpower its due, and preferred the prison over the palace as a hero of chastity. Thanks to his wholehearted devotion to God, Prophet Joseph received extraordinary Divine favors in the prison as well; he came out of the prison, reunited with his parents, and set a throne upon the hearts of Egypt.

God’s help to Moses, peace be upon him, who was trying to safeguard his people form the army of the Pharaoh, is no different. The Qur’an describes their situation: “When the two hosts came in view of each other, the companions of Moses said: ‘We are certainly overtaken!’ He replied: ‘Certainly not. My Lord is surely with me; He will guide me (to deliverance)’” (ash-Shuara 26:61–62). They seemed completely helpless. There was the Red Sea before them and the Pharaoh with his army behind them. In the words of Tariq ibn Ziyad, the sea before them was like an enemy (blocking their way), and the enemy behind them was (plentiful) like the sea. Right at such a moment, Prophet Moses turned to God in wholehearted devotion and said: “…My Lord is surely with me; He will guide me (to deliverance)” (ash-Shuara 26:62). God Almighty commanded him to strike the sea with his staff. When he did so, the sea split in two, making way for him and his people to pass; they were delivered safe and sound by an extraordinary favor from God.

At a point where no possible way out remains, the heart completely detaches from everything and turns to God, and very often, God Almighty unexpectedly opens a new door. When you understand through the light of faith that He is the Real One Who makes everything happen, then you are blessed with the manifestation of a particular Divine favor in accordance with the particular trouble you face; Bediüzzaman calls this a manifestation of Divine Grace.

Inheritors of the earth

In another verse, God states, “… He Who has made you (O humankind) vicegerents of the earth (to improve it and rule over it according to God’s commandments)…” (an-Naml 27:62). Considering other examples, Prophet David, peace be upon him, succeeded to kill Goliath in the war against the people of Amalica. The Old Testament relates that in those days, David was a young boy who shepherded goats and that he killed the gigantic Goliath by hitting him with a stone he hurled with his sling.[1] Without relating details, the Qur’an states: “... David killed Goliath, and God granted him kingdom and Wisdom, and taught him of that which He willed... ” (al-Baqarah 2:251). At that moment when David turned wholeheartedly to God, a particular favor of God was manifested through the light of belief in Divine unity. Later, God Almighty granted him rule and wisdom. In the same way, while the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, was resting at his home before he left for Medina, the polytheists surrounded the house and no sign of hope remained. Then, as it is stated in Ya-Sin 36:9, “And We have set a barrier before them and a barrier behind them, and (thus) We have covered them (from all sides), so that they cannot see,” he virtually walked away through a different dimension they could not see. When the polytheists of Mecca finally entered the house, they found Ali ibn Abi Talib instead. God’s Messenger, who was the paramount representative of faith in Divine unity and the illusoriness of causality, was in a state of dire need through which he turned to God in the purest faith; with extraordinary Divine graces and favors, the roads to Medina were cleared. When the Sultan of the Worlds arrived in Medina, roses bloomed all over. The Sultan of Roses initiated a new era of roses, and in a short time, Islam became a prominent balancing factor on the world scale.

You can consider the emergence of the Ottomans within the same perspective. As a consequence of the Crusades, the Seljuks had gradually been pushed to the verge of collapse. As a response to those with faithful hearts suffering in dire need, the Divine Providence paved the way for them to grow into the small princedom of the Ottomans, like a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly. Nobody in the region expected a flourishing of that proportion. As a consequence of people’s turning to God in dire need, the Sublime State (the Ottomans) arrived on the stage, and it served for centuries as a prominent factor in the balance power.

Suffering: The form of prayer most likely to be accepted

Be it on the individual or societal level, a state of dire need is a time when one feels suffering, which is the form of praying most likely to be accepted. Sometimes, there are such periods of suffering that individuals feel they are surrounded on all sides. Their insides are in agony. In such a state, if they do not complain but only petition God Almighty and implore Him, this will be best form of prayer. In these days, when the social situation is obscure, and when the cries of the oppresses sing out from all over the world, if God Almighty is to save believers from this misery and pave the way for becoming the inheritors of the earth, it will only be after they turn wholeheartedly to him in a state of suffering and dire need. Those who do not turn to him with pure faith might breach the trust to be granted them. That trust can only be placed on the shoulders of people who passed through different trials and who experienced suffering in a state of dire need. It is so very difficult to attain blessings obtained in a life of comfort. Folk wisdom voices this truth as “Easy come, easy go.” For example, people usually squander inherited wealth, since they do not appreciate its worth. The believers of our time who wish to be trustworthy and serve humanity for the sake of God must be set on righteousness, as pointed out by the Divine command, “... My righteous servants will inherit the earth” (al-Anbiya 21:105). Conscious of human impotence and poverty, and absolutely dependent on Him, they must implore God Almighty wholeheartedly with a spirit of dire need and sincere faith.

[1] The Old Testament, Samuel, 1/17 (49)