we declare Your Perfection above and beyond all: we have no knowledge whatsoever except what You have taught us. No doubt it is You, and You alone that is all Knowledgeable and all Wise. (al-Baqarah, 32)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Playing our part - A lesson from the story of Maryam r.a.

The surah that I particularly enjoy reading in the Quran lately is surah Maryam, in which the story of the most pure woman who had walked the face of the earth is told. That woman is none other than Maryam (Mary), mother of Isa (Jesus) - peace be upon them both -. There are so much valuable lessons to be had in this short yet beautiful surah and I only wish to share one of them today which comes from the following ayaat:

23 And [when] the throes of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree, she exclaimed: "Oh, would that I had died ere this, and had become a thing forgotten, utterly forgotten!"24 Thereupon [a voice] called out to her from beneath that [palm-tree]: "Grieve not! Thy Sustainer has provided a rivulet [running] beneath thee; 25 and shake the trunk of the palm-tree towards thee: it will drop fresh, ripe dates upon thee. 26 Eat, then, and drink, and let shine eye be gladdened! And if thou shouldst see any human being, convey this unto him: 'Behold, abstinence from speech have I vowed unto the Most Gracious; hence, I may not speak today to any mortal.'"
(Translation of surah Maryam by Muhammad Asad, 19: 23.26)

You will find this story that Maryam r.a. heard a voice telling her to shake the trunk of a palm-tree so that dates will drop from it. On the surface, there seems to be nothing unusual about that command. However, think more deeply about it and you'll find something unusual.

The command was to shake the trunk of a palm tree. If you think about it, it's hard enough to do so by a person who is in the fittest of health, let alone a woman who is undergoing labour. So if you think carefully, this isn't something that Maryam r.a. was able to do at that time. So why ask a person to do something that she isn't capable of doing? I mean, If Allah had wanted, He could have just made the dates fall of the tree for her just like that.

What we learn from this is that Allah will help us but only after we have made an effort, even as little as an effort that may seem to be.

We can also see this point made from the stories of Musa (Moses), - peace be upon him - when he was inspired to strike his staff in the water and the sea parted. The sea was parted by the will of Allah, not because of the staff. Musa a.s learnt this when he got to the other side and he struck the water once again, this time hoping to close the sea, but it didn't. Allah could have parted the sea without having Musa a.s to do anything, but by Him inspiring Musa a.s. to do so, He is telling us that as long as we put some effort, He will, inshaAllah, take care of the rest.


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