مَتىَ نَصْرُ اللَّهِ أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ
Matā nasrullahi alā inna nasrallāhi qarīb
‘When will Allah’s help come?’ Behold! Allah’s help is indeed near!
(Surat al-Baqarah 2, Āyat 214)
As we find ourselves living in a time of fear, anxiety, uncertainty and possibly loneliness, this verse is a reminder of optimism and relief. It was revealed when the Muslims were surrounded by the enemies and filled with fear during the battle of Khandaq. At a time when numerous tribes combined to attack the Muslims, a trench was dug around the vulnerable points of Madīna to prevent anyone from entering. The Muslims as described in this verse were so distraught and shaken that the Prophet sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam and those that were with him turned to Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā and uttered the prayer in this verse: When will the Help of Allah come?…(Q 2:214).
When we look at our current set of challenges, this verse teaches us some valuable lessons:
Firstly, there should be a sense of comfort in knowing that previous generations were also tested in similar ways. Many of their trials are known to us and some were far more intense than what we may experience. We did not send a Prophet to any town without visiting its people with stress and distress so that they might entreat or Allah’s forgiveness (Q 7:94). Knowing that we are not alone in experiencing these difficulties is a form of relief. We too can expect to be tried and shaken. That is the norm of human life on earth.
Secondly, it is important to understand that the trials that we face are meant for us to develop ourselves and come out of them stronger and closer to Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā. Our creator is best aware of what we are capable of and Allah does not task any soul beyond its capacity. . . (Q 2:286). When we face trials with the intention of growth it allows us to be in the correct mind space to face them with positivity. We must never forget that how one responds to these trials will be the distinguishing factor between those who will grow towards perfection and those who will not.
Thirdly, it teaches us that when the challenges we face cause us to feel overwhelmed and provoke a sense of distress, the only refuge we have is to turn to Allah (swt) with full hope for help. He will answer our call with Look! Allah’s help is indeed near (Q 2:214). This teaches us to place full trust in Him and know that He will do what is best for us. This type of trust and hope are powerful weapons to fight the despair that can be brought about by difficult circumstances.
As we enter the month of Sha‘bān and celebrate the birth of Imam al-Husayn (a), Hadrat ‘Abbās (a) and Imam Zaynul ‘Ābidīn (a) we are reminded of the great trials they faced and how they remained steadfast. Their steadfastness was based on the principle that no matter how difficult the trails around them became, they knew the help of Allah ‘azza wajall was always near. This belief created within them a sense of tranquility and calmness – O soul at peace! Return to your Lord, pleased, pleasing! Then enter among My servants! And enter My paradise! (Q 89:27-30).
Let us use their examples in our lives, and find comfort and tranquility knowing that no matter what we go through in life, the help of Allah (swt) is indeed near. Imam Ali (a) has said: For every distress there is a relief (Ghurar al-Hikam, H. 7740).
Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī, Al-Amthal fī Tafsīr Kitāb Allāh al- Munzal, ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān.