وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
Walladhīna jāhadū fīnā lanahdiyyanahum subulanā, wainnallāha lama‘al-muhsinīn
As for those who strive in Us, We shall surely guide them in Our ways, and Allah is indeed with the virtuous.
(Sūrat ‘Ankabūt, No.29, Āyat 69)
Sūra ‘Ankabūt ends with an important statement that encapsulates the contents of the sūra. Although the journey towards Allah ‘azza wa-jall has a challenging path there is a force that holds your hand along the way. Help from Allah subhānahu wata‘āla strengthens your spirit, stabilizes you on the path, and steers you forward. This is a promise from Almighty Allah, one that gives hope and meaning to the struggling traveler.
A few words in the verse can be expounded;
• ‘Jāhadū’ – striving. The word signifies using strength and ability to struggle. What are the challenges of the path that need striving against? It is the struggle to have conviction of belief and countering doubts, to recognize the truth, to face opposition from others, to work against the nafs and ego, to fight the whisperings of shaytān. All these and more are constant obstacles to progressing on the path. According to ‘Allāmah Tabātabā’ī in Tafsīr al-Mīzān, the three main forms of jihad are against (i) the apparent enemy, (ii) the shaytān and (iii) the self (nafs).
• Fīnā – in Us. Struggle in Allah (swt) includes struggling to please the Almighty God, to fulfill His expectations, and to uphold His mission. This word also shows that struggle alone is not enough. It has to be sincerely for the sake of Allah (swt). Thus nothing or no-one can deter the striver from the path towards God.
• Subulanā – Our ways. These are the different ways in which the human being struggles towards Allah, the different forms of the jihad. Each of these struggles aim closeness to Allah and in each of them he is buoyed by support and guidance from Allah. Since the struggle itself is a guidance, the second guidance received as a result of the struggle is an additional supplementary guidance. Thus Allah says: As for those who are [rightly] guided, He enhances their guidance (Q 47:17)
This verse actually reveals a twofold truth;
1. If you put effort and are worthy of it God will help you along the way. This truth is also manifested in other verses of the Quran, for example: O you who have faith! If you help Allah, He will help you and make your feet steady (Q 47:7).
2. If you struggle in God’s path you are guided to the right outcome which is both beneficial and appropriate in the eyes of Allah (swt). At times people struggle in achieving objectives that are not appropriate or even forbidden (harām). For example if a person pursues a career of becoming a singer or selling haram items – these also require efforts and bring about results that one has hoped for. However, these results cannot be considered as divinely guided. They are not success in the paths towards Allah, rather they deviate away from Him. The Holy Prophet (s) has said:the most intense in struggle is he who abandons sins (i.e. disobedience to God) (Scale of Wisdom, H. 1226).
Have faith in the promise of Allah ‘azza wa-jall. We are weak and vulnerable creatures. But when Allah guides and supports us we become very strong. True success and fulfillment of human potential comes from that guidance. It is a perspective that makes the journey much easier.
Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān.