Rebellion vs submission
This is a very important topic which pops us throughout the Quran over and over again. There is a constant fight between rebellion and submission and tension between those who submit and those who rebel.
If you search for the word submission you find it repeatedly. And the word for rebellion occurs in different forms, like أعرضوا a’radu, meaning ‘those who turn away from Allah’; these are contrasted by أسلموا aslamu ‘those who submit to Allah’.
Verses commanding submission
For instance, Allah Almighty says in Surat al Anam:
وأُمِرنا لنُسلِم لرب العالمين
and we were commanded to submit to the Lord of the Universe. (6:71)
﴿٣٤﴾ وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ جَعَلْنَا مَنْسَكًا لِيَذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَىٰ مَا رَزَقَهُمْ مِنْ بَهِيمَةِ الْأَنْعَامِ ۗ فَإِلَٰهُكُمْ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ فَلَهُ أَسْلِمُوا ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُخْبِتِينَ
For every community, We have appointed a rite, so that they may pronounce Allah’s Name over the livestock He has provided them. Your God is One God, so to Him submit, and give good news to the humble. (22:34)
﴿١٢٥﴾ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ دِينًا مِمَّنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ وَاتَّبَعَ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا ۗ وَاتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ خَلِيلًا
And who is better in religion than he who submits himself wholly to Allah, and is a doer of good, and follows the faith of Abraham the Monotheist? Allah has chosen Abraham for a friend. (4:125)
﴿١١٢﴾ بَلَىٰ مَنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ فَلَهُ أَجْرُهُ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
In fact, whoever submits himself to Allah, and is a doer of good, will have his reward with his Lord—they have nothing to fear, nor shall they grieve. (2:112)
﴿١٣١﴾ إِذْ قَالَ لَهُ رَبُّهُ أَسْلِمْ ۖ قَالَ أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
When his Lord said to him, “Submit,” he said, “I have submitted to the Lord of the Worlds.” (2:131)
Whoever submits himself to God is among the good-doers. This is why a Muslim is the one who submits himself to the will of Allah.
Those who refuse to submit
Those who rebel, do not want to submit for many reasons, which are mentioned in the Quran. If they are invited to believe in Allah Almighty, they argue that they are satisfied with their existing culture and practices and they are not bothered.
﴿١٧٠﴾ وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ اتَّبِعُوا مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ قَالُوا بَلْ نَتَّبِعُ مَا أَلْفَيْنَا عَلَيْهِ آبَاءَنَا ۗ أَوَلَوْ كَانَ آبَاؤُهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَهْتَدُونَ
And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “We only follow what we found our ancestors practicing.” Even if their ancestors understood nothing, and were not guided? (2:170)
They are simply not interested. Therefore Allah Almighty mentions the consequences for those who turn away, out of their own choice, as no one is forced to accept Islam.
﴿٥٧﴾ وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنْ ذُكِّرَ بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِ فَأَعْرَضَ عَنْهَا وَنَسِيَ مَا قَدَّمَتْ يَدَاهُ ۚ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَنْ يَفْقَهُوهُ وَفِي آذَانِهِمْ وَقْرًا ۖ وَإِنْ تَدْعُهُمْ إِلَى الْهُدَىٰ فَلَنْ يَهْتَدُوا إِذًا أَبَدًا
And who does more wrong than he, who, when reminded of his Lord’s revelations, turns away from them, and forgets what his hands have forwarded? We have placed coverings over their hearts—leaving them unable to understand it—and deafness in their ears. And if you invite them to guidance, they will not be guided, ever. (18:57)
Make your own choices but make informed choices
You choose your own path. And He warns us what the outcomes are. Those who shut their eyes to the revelation will be raised blind on the day of judgement. They want to rebel rather than submit, but can they bear the consequences of this?
﴿١٢٤﴾ وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَنْ ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنْكًا وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَىٰ
But whoever turns away from My remembrance, for him is a confined life, and We will raise him on the Day of Resurrection blind.” (20:124)
The sequence of submission
Once you submit, you have to follow, the word for follow is اتبع ittaba’a or اتبعوا ittabi’u. This is why Allah Almighty says:
ٱتَّبِعُواْ مَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡكُم مِّن رَّبِّكُمۡ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُواْ مِن دُونِهِۦۤ أَوۡلِيَآءَۗ قَلِيلاً۬ مَّا تَذَكَّرُونَ (٣)
(O humankind,) follow what has been sent down to you from your Lord, and do not follow any masters other than Him. Little you heed to advice! (7:3)
In another verse, Allah Almighty says don’t follow your whims, desire or culture, but follow the revelation wholeheartedly:
﴿٢٠٨﴾ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ
O you who believe! Enter into submission, wholeheartedly, and do not follow Satan’s footsteps. He is your sworn enemy. (2:208)
Submission leads to success in dunya and akhirah
Submission and following the Prophet (peace be on him) are the way to achieve success. The consequences of not doing so are clear.
﴿٣١﴾ قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
Say, “If you love Allah, then follow me, and Allah will love you, and will forgive you your sins.” Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (3:31)
Whoever follows will never go astray
﴿١٢٣﴾ فَإِمَّا يَأْتِيَنَّكُمْ مِنِّي هُدًى فَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ هُدَايَ فَلَا يَضِلُّ وَلَا يَشْقَىٰ
But whenever guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows My guidance, will neither go astray nor suffer. (20:123)
It is your choice
We have the choice. Every week we recite in Surat al Kahf,
And say, “The truth is from your Lord, so whoever wills – let him believe; and whoever wills – let him disbelieve.” (18:29).
Whoever makes their choice should be aware what the consequences are.
Allah Almighty is reminding us to submit, and it bears fruit. Follow the footsteps of the Prophet (peace be on him) and reap the fruits of guidance.
قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ نُورٌ وَكِتَابٌ مُبِينٌ
There has come to you, from Allah, a light and a clear Book. (5:15)
﴿١٦﴾ يَهْدِي بِهِ اللَّهُ مَنِ اتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَهُ سُبُلَ السَّلَامِ وَيُخْرِجُهُمْ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَيَهْدِيهِمْ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ
Allah guides with it whoever follows His approval to the ways of peace, and He brings them out of darkness into light, by His will, and He guides them in a straight path. (5:16)
Allah is compassionate towards us. He is showing us the best way.
Success lies in submission.
﴿١٥٥﴾ وَهَٰذَا كِتَابٌ أَنْزَلْنَاهُ مُبَارَكٌ فَاتَّبِعُوهُ وَاتَّقُوا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ
This too is a blessed Scripture that We revealed. So follow it, and be righteous, so you may receive mercy. (6:155)
﴿١٥٣﴾ وَأَنَّ هَٰذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيمًا فَاتَّبِعُوهُ ۖ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَنْ سَبِيلِهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
This is My path, straight, so follow it. And do not follow the other paths, lest they divert you from His path. All this He has enjoined upon you, so that you may refrain from wrongdoing. (6:153)
We ask Allah to enable us to be of those who submit to Allah and follow His guidance and stay away from the footsteps of shaytan, the temptations of dunya.
We ask Allah to keep us and our families on the straight path.
Thought for the week by Shaykh Haytham Tamim on 2nd October 2020.
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- Dhul Hijjah and Hajj: An introduction
- How to deal with people. Shaking hands in Islam. Ghazali’s rule no. 15 continued
- How to deal with people: hurry to help others and initiate the salam. Ghazali’s rules 14-15
- What do we learn from defeat?
July 20, 2021
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