In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
In this ayah Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala discloses the secret tool for success. It is not one’s might or superiority, but the permission of Allah and patience.
“And when Saul went forth with the soldiers, he said, ‘Indeed, Allah will be testing you with a river. So whoever drinks from it is not of me, and whoever does not taste it is indeed of me, excepting one who takes (from it) in the hollow of his hand.’ But they drank from it, except a (very) few of them. Then when he had crossed it along with those who believed with him, they said, ‘There is no power for us today against Goliath and his soldiers.’ But those who were certain that they would meet Allah said, ‘How many a small company has overcome a large company by permission of Allah. And Allah is with the patient.’” [al-Baqarah 2: 249]
Talut (Saul), the king of the Children of Israel, marched forth with his soldiers and the Israelites who obeyed him. His army was of eighty thousand then, according to As-Suddi, but Allah knows best. Talut said, “Indeed, Allah will be testing you,” when Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala decides a matter for the people, they are first tried.
The Children of Israel were tried by a river that flowed between Jordan and Palestine. They were commanded to sip only a few drops and not to drink to their fill, “But they drank from it, except a (very) few of them.”
Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu commented, “Whoever took some of it (the river’s water) in the hollow of his hand, quenched his thirst; as for those who drank freely from it, their thirst was not quenched.”
Ibn Jarir reported that Al-Bara’ ibn ‘Azib said, “We used to say that the Companions of Muhammad who accompanied him on the battle of Badr were more than three hundred and ten, just as many as the soldiers who crossed the river with Talut. Only those who believed crossed the river with him.” Al-Bukhari also reported this.
River here is symbolic. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has offered has many blessings and attractions. We are permitted to use and enjoy within permissible means but refrain from “indulging” in them. The one who gets deluded by the charms of this world and exhausts himself in their chase will not be working on his Hereafter.
Victory is with the patient ones meaning those who can see the delusions of this world but do not lose their path. They keep themselves in check from straying away.
The Israelites who remained with Saul thought that they were few in the face of their enemy who were many then. So, their knowledgeable scholars strengthened their resolve by stating that Allah’s promise is true and that triumph comes from Allah Alone, not from the large numbers or the adequacy of the supplies. They said to them, “How many a small company has overcome a large company by permission of Allah. And Allah is with the patient.”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tests everyone. The wisdom behind these tests is to make us come out of mediocrity and recognize our special talents. You don’t find blocks of gold or diamond in a mine. These precious stones are mixed with other material and must go through a rigorous process to be refined. Likewise, a human being goes through trials to become a refined person. But there are not many who would stay firm in their hour of trial. The weakness shown by these people becomes contagious making others panic as well.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala willed that such people be pruned out. This purpose is accomplished by tests. Whenever you face a blockade in your life, instead of complaining remind yourself that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has a different plan for you. A life that is free of challenges is a boring life.
Be patient when you are tested and connect yourself to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Ask Him to show you your special talents and take the task that He wants to take from you. He who has the help of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala can never lose.
Some people when they are angry they explode on others. And then there are those who distract their mind by picking up productive tasks. Make yourself productive. And remember this is not Jannah. Things won’t be as we desire them to be.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala teaches us a du’a to ask for patience.
Ayah 250 – Asking Allah for Help
“And when they went forth to (face) Goliath and his soldiers, they said, ‘Our Lord, pour upon us patience and plant firmly our feet and give us victory over the disbelieving people.’” [al-Baqarah 2: 250]
When the faithful party who were few in number, faced an enemy much greater in number, they asked Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for patience against their enemy and to save them from running away and from weakness. Such is a person with strong emaan! He doesn’t look at his limited power or means but the unlimited Power and Strength of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
An impatient person wants instant results and when things don’t go his way, he gives up easily whereas a patient person asks directly from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for victory and firmness.
And so because of their relying on Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, their enemy was defeated and overwhelmed by Allah’s aid and support. Whoever asks Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for patience and help, he will be granted.
Ayah 251 – Allah removes some People through Others
“So they defeated them by permission of Allah, and David killed Goliath, and Allah gave him the kingship and Prophethood and taught him from that which He willed. And if it were not for Allah checking (some) people by means of others, the earth would have been corrupted, but Allah is full of bounty to the worlds.” [al-Baqarah 2: 251]
Israelite accounts claimed that Prophet David killed Goliath with a slingshot that he had, which he launched at Goliath causing his death. Talut promised that whoever killed Jalut, would marry his daughter and would share his kingship and authority. He kept his promise. Later, the kingship was transferred to Prophet Daw’oud ‘alayhi salaam in addition to being granted Prophethood by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and all the knowledge that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala willed for him.
“And if it were not for Allah checking (some) people by means of others, the earth would have been corrupted.” This ayah indicates that if it were not for the fact that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala checks one set of people with another, such as when Talut and the bravery of Daw’oud helped the Children of Israel against Goliath, then people would have perished. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is full of bounty by His mercy and favor He fixes some of them by some others. Surely, Allah has the wisdom, the supreme authority and the clear proof against His creation in all of His actions and statements.
It teaches us that injustice does not last forever. If a person holds on to the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then he will certainly be helped. But to receive justice, first be patient. You cannot fight your oppressor unless first you work on yourself. We want the world to change but do not change ourselves. One’s condition does not change unless first they change themselves.
The ayah that follows says,
“These are the ayaat of Allah which We recite to you, [O Muhammad], in truth. And indeed, you are from among the messengers.” [al-Baqarah 2: 252]
This ayah affirms the Prophethood of Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He was neither present at the time of Talut and Prophet Daw’oud ‘alayhi salaam nor did he learn it from somewhere. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala narrated these historic incidents to him through revelation [wahi]. This miracle in itself proofs that Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is the prophet of Allah. We should have no doubts about his Prophethood.
We have reached the end of Juz 2, alhumdulillah. All good is from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and all shortcomings are our own. Remember us in your du’as.
DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 249-252