Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:214)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie
Trials and Tribulations in Life
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِن قَبْلِكُم ۖ مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاءُ وَالضَّرَّاءُ وَزُلْزِلُوا حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ اللَّـهِ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّـهِ قَرِيبٌ ﴿٢١٤﴾
2:213 Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said, “When is the help of Allah coming?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah (SWT) is near.
Commentary: Allah (SWT) tests our faith with times of ease and prosperity as well as with adversity and hardships [(وَنَبْلُوكُم بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً), Al-Anbiya 21:35].
كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۗ وَنَبْلُوكُم بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً ۖ وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ ﴿٣٥﴾
21:35 Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as trial; and to Us you will be returned.
For instance, Fir’awn [Arabic: (فِرْعَوْنَ)], Haman [Arabic: (هَامَانَ)] and Qarun [Arabic: (قَارُونَ)] were tested with power and wealth while Prophet Ayyub (Job) was tested through illness and the loss of his family. In his trial, Prophet Ayyub (AS) chose to submit to the will of his Lord with patience and perseverance (Al-Anbiya 21:83-84). In Prophet Musa’s instance, Fir’awn, Haman and Qarun defied Allah’s command and accused him of sorcery (Gafer 40:24).
Likewise, in battle of the trench [Arabic:(غزوة الخندق)] the city of Medina was sieged by the allied forces of the Quraish. Eventually, the food and supplies began running out in Medina. Therefore, some Muslims decided to flee in fear of their lives. They came to the Prophet and asked to be excused from the fighting, under the pretext that their homes and families were unprotected.
… وَيَسْتَأْذِنُ فَرِيقٌ مِّنْهُمُ النَّبِيَّ يَقُولُونَ إِنَّ بُيُوتَنَا عَوْرَةٌ وَمَا هِيَ بِعَوْرَةٍ ۖ إِن يُرِيدُونَ إِلَّا فِرَارًا ﴿١٣﴾
33:13 …And a party of them asked permission of the Prophet, saying, “Indeed, our houses are unprotected,” while they were not exposed. They did not intend except to flee.
The true believers realized that fighting the allied forces was a test that Allah (SWT) and God’s messengers has warned them in advance. Hence, they said:
… قَالُوا هَـٰذَا مَا وَعَدَنَا اللَّـهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَصَدَقَ اللَّـهُ وَرَسُولُهُ … ﴿٢٢﴾
33:22 This (facing the allied forces) is what Allah (SWT) and His Messenger promised us, and Allah (SWT) and God’s Messenger spoke the truth.
Consequently, enemy aggression did not cause them fear or apprehension, “Rather, it increased their faith in God and their zeal in obedience.” (33:22)
… وَمَا زَادَهُمْ إِلَّا إِيمَانًا وَتَسْلِيمًا ﴿٢٢﴾
32: 22 And it (the allied forces) did not increase them (in any fear or apprehension) but in Faith and obedience.
With this introduction, the meaning of the verse is as follows:
The preceding nations (الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِن قَبْلِكُم) were afflicted by a bitter adversity and hardship (مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاءُ وَالضَّرَّاءُ). The severity of hardship was so much that it shocked them (وَزُلْزِلُوا), until their messenger and those who believed with him prayed and said (حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ) “When will the help of Allah come?” (مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ اللَّـهِ). Allah (SWT) gave them the good news that His help unquestionably is near (أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّـهِ قَرِيبٌ).
… الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِن قَبْلِكُم ۖ مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاءُ وَالضَّرَّاءُ وَزُلْزِلُوا حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ اللَّـهِ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّـهِ قَرِيبٌ ﴿٢١٤﴾
2:213 …Those who passed on before you were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said, “When is the help of Allah?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.
The verse asks believers, “Do you think that you will enter Paradise without being tested like those who passed on before you?”
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِن قَبْلِكُم …﴿٢١٤﴾
Purpose of the Divine Trial: Allah (SWT): Allah (SWT) tests mankind to show them their sincerity and truthfulness to their faith. Otherwise, everyone will proclaim on the Day of Judgment that he was the best servants of Allah (SWT), see Al-Ankabut 29:2
الم ﴿١﴾ أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ ﴿٢﴾ وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۖ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِينَ ﴿٣﴾
21:1-3 Alif, Lam, Meem. Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried? But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah (SWT) will surely make evident those who are truthful, and God will surely make evident the liars.
Also, He would test believers to show them who amongst them was the best, see Al-Mulk 67:2
الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ ﴿٢﴾
67:3 [God] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and God is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving –
2:214 [أَمْ] or [حَسِبْتُمْ] do you think [أَن] that [تَدْخُلُوا] you will enter [الْجَنَّةَ] Paradise [وَلَمَّا] while not [يَأْتِكُم] has come to you [مَّثَلُ] like (come to) [الَّذِينَ] those who [خَلَوْا] passed away [مِن] from [قَبْلِكُم] before you? [مَّسَّتْهُمُ] Touched them [الْبَأْسَاءُ] the adversity [وَالضَّرَّاءُ] and hardship [وَزُلْزِلُوا] and they were shaken [حَتَّىٰ] until [يَقُولَ] said [الرَّسُولُ] the messenger [وَالَّذِينَ] and those who [آمَنُوا] believed [مَعَهُ] with him [مَتَىٰ] “when [نَصْرُ] will the help [اللَّـهِ] of Allah come.” [أَلَا] Unquestionably [إِنَّ] indeed [نَصْرَ] help [اللَّـهِ] of Allah [قَرِيبٌ] is near.
Appendix: Ba’sa [Arabic: (الْبَأْسَاءُ) is the hardships that a man endures outside of himself, such as loss of properties, family members, etc. Darr [Arabic:(الضَّرَّاءُ)] is difficulties that occur to one’s self, such as illness, murder, wounds, etc.
[Tafseer-e-Namoona, Vol. 2, P. 100].