Mā min dābbatin illā huwa ākhidhun bināsiyatihā; inna rabbi ‘alā sirātin mustaqīm
There is no creature but that He holds it by its forelock. Indeed, my Lord is on a straight path.
(Sūrat Hūd, No.11, Āyat 56)
When Prophet Hūd (a) talks to his people and tells them he is not afraid of their threats, he says he trusts Allah completely. He then describes the power of Allah in the above verse, words that procure a strong image of an owner who controls and has a full authority over all creatures and will not let them overcome Him.
The following words in this verse must be understood;
• Dābbatan – any living creature. Other verses also talk about living creatures using the same word: And there is no creature on the earth or bird that flies with its wings except that they are communities like you (Q 6:8), and there is no creature on earth but that upon Allah is its provision and He knows its place of dwelling and place of storage (Q11:6).
• Nāsiyat – the front of the forehead, the forelock or the hair on the front. Grabbing that and holding on to it denotes a powerful grip that controls and restricts. It only allows for movement as much as the owner wishes. The verse shows that all living creatures submit to the Will of the Almighty and are free only to the extent that He permits them to be.
This verse is a reminder to those who have the illusion of power and think they are invincible. They only have as much power as God will allow. When He decrees something all their might will not be able to overcome it.
The verse also reminds that the Lord who controls all things is on the straight path. This means that His control is in according to wisdom and justice, in line with a decreed plan for the human being. Most owners of power are overcome with its intoxication and are prone to injustice and oppression. But Allah with His complete power and grasp over all things executes His might with the greatest justice.
Imam Ali (a) explains the straight path of the Lord in a Hadith: That means He rewards the good doer with good and the evil doer with evil. And He, Glorified and Exalted be He, pardons whom He wishes and forgives (Tafsīr Nūr al-Thaqalayn, v. 2, p. 374).
In this verses Nabī Hūd (a) conveys the message that he is unafraid of the people and their threats. He knows they can only hurt him as much as Allah allows them. If Allah permits, it is part of His great plan. This is the belief that brings strong conviction in believers as demonstrated in history.
Let his verse give you the courage to face all forms of opposition in life, be it personal or social. Trust in Allah’s power and know that every creature is under the control of the just Lord.
Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; ‘Abd Ali b. Jumu’ah al-‘Arusī al-Huwayzī, Tafsīr Nūr al-Thaqalayn; http://www.alketab.org/