Shafaqna – Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:45-46)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie
Dealing with Life’s Challanges
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
وَاسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ وَإِنَّهَا لَكَبِيرَةٌ إِلَّا عَلَى الْخَاشِعِينَ ﴿٤٥﴾ الَّذِينَ يَظُنُّونَ أَنَّهُم مُّلَاقُو رَبِّهِمْ وَأَنَّهُمْ إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ ﴿٤٦﴾
Translation: And seek help in sabr and salat, and it (salat) is indeed hard except for the humble-minded; those who are certain that they will encounter their Lord and that they will return to Him.
Commentary: The preceding verses highlight the importance of 1) establishing salat 2) paying zakat and 3) practicing what one preaches. The subsequent verses (2:45-46) advise humankind on how to deal with the challenges of life.
Dealing with Life’s Challenges: The worldly life is full of challenges, which can overwhelm many. The verse 2:45 directs people to seek help and assistance in “sabr” and “salat” in times of calamity, difficulty and hardship.
Sabr: The term “sabr” [Arabic: (صبر)] is translated to either “patience” or “steadfastness”. The virtue of “patience” is the quality of dealing with difficulties without becoming aggravated and annoyed. The noble trait of patience is found in all the messengers of Allah (SWT). They all dealt with difficulties and hardships without uttering a single complaint or having thoughts that might displease Allah (SWT). The latter is known as a “praiseworthy patience” [Arabic: (صبر جمیل)].
The patience of Prophet Yaqub (Jacob) (AS) in the parting of Yusuf (AS), the patience of Prophet Ayyub (AS) in the time of suffering from severe disease and facing numerous misfortunes, and the patience of Prophet Mohammad (SAW) against the mockery and harassment of idol worshippers of Makkah are all excellent examples of possessing a praiseworthy patience.
Prophet Ayyub faced the plight of disease and the loss of his family and possessions; similarly, Prophet Yaqub (Jacob) grieved and lamented in the parting of Yusuf so much to the extent that he lost his eyesight. Prophet Ayyub and Prophet Yaqub both expressed their sorrow and grief only to Allah (SWT) and sought His mercy. However, they never uttered a single word that could displease Allah (SWT) or showed at any time that they had lost trust in God.
It is natural for human beings to grieve in times of calamity and lament for the loss of a loved one. This is a sign of compassion in the heart, but it is important not to lose control of oneself by uttering words, having negative thoughts and acting in a way that may displease Allah (SWT).
The Prophet (SAW) wept at the time of the death of his son, Ibrahim and said:
تَدْمَعُ الْعَيْنُ وَ يَحْزَنُ الْقَلْبُ وَ لَا نَقُولُ مَا يُسْخِطُ الرَّبَ وَ إِنَّا بِكَ يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ لَمَحْزُونُونَ
“Our eyes shed tears and our hearts are filled with grief, but we do not say anything except that by which Allah is pleased. O, Ibrahim we are sorrowful due to your separation.”
Imam Ali (AS) said, “The Messenger of Allah (s) said: sabr is of three kinds: sabr in time of affliction, sabr in regard to obedience, and sabr in regard to disobedience (of Allah). The term “sabr” in times of affliction denotes “patience”, and in the latter two implies “steadfastness”.
Allah (SWT) commands the Prophet to be resolute in his mission and the believers to be committed to their faith. Perhaps, the best meaning of “sabr” is “steadfastness”.
Salat: The term “salat” [Arabic 🙁 صلاةِ)] literally means invoking Allah’s blessing and is translated to prayer. In some verses of the Quran, it implies its literal meaning; that is, to invoke Allah’s blessing. In other verses, it refers to the ritual prayers that are to be observed five times a day. The latter is called “namaz” in Farsi, Urdu and the Turkish language. Quran commentators state that “salat” in this verse implies “namaz”, since verse 45 reads: “it (salat) is indeed hard except for the humble ones”. Possessing humility in namaz is a key characteristic of a believer.
Imam Sadeq (AS) said: “Whenever Imam Ali (AS) faced a difficulty, he used to stand up for the prayer (namaz) and then recite this verse: and seek assistance through patience and prayer.”
Heaviness of Salat: Verse 2:45 directs people to seek help and assistance in “sabr” and “salat” in times of calamity, difficulty, and hardship. Then, it says, “Salat is hard except for the humble ones”. Why is that?
Salat for a believer is analogous to the ascension of the Prophet (SAW) to the Heavens, also known as the journey of Mi’raj [Arabic: (المعراج)]. In a perfect salat, a humble soul is detached completely from Earth, its earthly values, and joins the angels in heaven in their praising and glorifying of Allah (SWT). This salat has a sweetness that makes a believer leave the comfort of their bed to offer prayer in the middle of the night.
Sin and disobedience, on the other hand, stains the heart and creates barriers between man and the Lord. Everyone can attest that salat loses its sweetness for an individual who has a stained heart. Consequently, he stands up lazily for prayer.
A Characteristic of Humble One: Verse 45 declares that humble people [Arabic: ( الْخَاشِعِينَ)] are certain that they will encounter their Lord on the Day of Judgment.
The verb “Yazunnun” [Arabic: (يَظُنُّونَ)] in this verse could have two meanings: the first one is a firm belief, since believers have a firm belief in the Day of Judgment.
The verb “Yazunnun” [Arabic: (يَظُنُّونَ)] literally means “conjecture”. In this case, the verse implies that even having an elementary idea of the Hereafter is sufficient to make man humble before his Lord. From this point of view, the verse looks almost similar to the verse al-Kahf 18:110:
فَمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاءَ رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا ﴿١١٠﴾
… therefore, whoever hopes to meet (the attributes) of his Lord, he should do good deeds, and not join anyone in the worship of his Lord (18:110).
Appendix: Arabic Text of hadith
وسائل الشيعة / ج3 / 280 / 87 – باب جواز البكاء على الميت و المصيبة و استحبابه عند زيادة الحزن ….. ص : 279
3651- 3- وَ عَنْ عِدَّةٍ مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا عَنْ سَهْلِ بْنِ زِيَادٍ عَنْ جَعْفَرِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ عَنِ ابْنِ الْقَدَّاحِ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع فِي حَدِيثٍ قَالَ: لَمَّا مَاتَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ بْنُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ص هَمَلَتْ عَيْنُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ص بِالدُّمُوعِ ثُمَّ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص تَدْمَعُ الْعَيْنُ وَ يَحْزَنُ الْقَلْبُ وَ لَا نَقُولُ مَا يُسْخِطُ الرَّبَ وَ إِنَّا بِكَ يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ لَمَحْزُونُونَ الْحَدِيثَ.
الكافي (ط – الإسلامية) / ج2 / 91 / باب الصبر ….. ص : 87
15- مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يَحْيَى عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عِيسَى قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي يَحْيَى بْنُ سُلَيْمٍ الطَّائِفِيُّ قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي عَمْرُو بْنُ شِمْرٍ الْيَمَانِيُّ يَرْفَعُ الْحَدِيثَ إِلَى عَلِيٍّ ع قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص الصَّبْرُ ثَلَاثَةٌ صَبْرٌ عِنْدَ الْمُصِيبَةِ وَ صَبْرٌ عَلَى الطَّاعَةِ وَ صَبْرٌ عَنِ الْمَعْصِيَةِ فَمَنْ صَبَرَ عَلَى الْمُصِيبَةِ حَتَّى يَرُدَّهَا بِحُسْنِ عَزَائِهَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَهُ ثَلَاثَمِائَةِ دَرَجَةٍ مَا بَيْنَ الدَّرَجَةِ إِلَى الدَّرَجَةِ كَمَا بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ وَ مَنْ صَبَرَ عَلَى الطَّاعَةِ كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَهُ سِتَّمِائَةِ دَرَجَةٍ مَا بَيْنَ الدَّرَجَةِ إِلَى الدَّرَجَةِ كَمَا بَيْنَ تُخُومِ الْأَرْضِ إِلَى الْعَرْشِ وَ مَنْ صَبَرَ عَنِ الْمَعْصِيَةِ كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَهُ تِسْعَمِائَةِ دَرَجَةٍ مَا بَيْنَ الدَّرَجَةِ إِلَى الدَّرَجَةِ كَمَا بَيْنَ تُخُومِ الْأَرْضِ إِلَى مُنْتَهَى الْعَرْشِ.
الكافي (ط – الإسلامية) ؛ ج3 ؛ ص480
بَابُ صَلَاةِ مَنْ خَافَ مَكْرُوهاً
1- مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ إِسْمَاعِيلَ عَنِ الْفَضْلِ بْنِ شَاذَانَ عَنْ حَمَّادِ بْنِ عِيسَى عَنْ شُعَيْبٍ الْعَقَرْقُوفِيِّ عَنْ أَبِي بَصِيرٍ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع قَالَ: كَانَ عَلِيٌّ ع إِذَا هَالَهُ شَيْءٌ فَزِعَ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ ثُمَّ تَلَا هَذِهِ الْآيَةَ- وَ اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَ الصَّلاةِ.