Quranic Reflection No. 526. Ayat 2:214 – A Collective Help

مَتَى نَصْرُ اللَّهِ  أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ
Matā nasrullāhi alā inna nasrallāhi qarīb
‘When will Allah’s help come?’ Look! Allah’s help is indeed near!
(Surat al-Baqarah 2, Āyat 214)

For believers, the ultimate benchmark of success is the success in the Hereafter; through entry into the Paradise and closeness to Allah ‘azza wajall. However, Allah has made it clear in multiple verses of the Holy Quran that just because we profess belief, Paradise is not guaranteed. Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā wants us to prove our faith by putting us through a variety of tests, and challenges to prove ourselves and ensure that we are worthy of receiving this special gift of Allah.

Allah (swt) says in the verse mentioned above: Do you suppose that you shall enter paradise though there has not yet come to you the like of what befell who went before you? Distress and affliction befell them, and they were convulsed until the apostle and the faithful who were with him said, ‘When will Allah’s help [come]?’ Look! Allah’s help is indeed near! (Q: 2:214)

Allah has promised that we will undergo distress and affliction, personal hardships in our health, wealth, or spirituality. There will also be hardships as a nation and community; poverty, war, and oppression. It is only when we collectively turn towards Allah with a broken heart and demonstrate our intense need for Him, that the help of Almighty Allah will be delivered.

If we analyze what is currently happening in the world, we find that we are engulfed in difficulties. In our personal lives we are facing challenges spiritually, emotionally, and physically, through the pandemic and its various effects. As a nation we are continuously reminded of how destructive and brutal certain human beings can be. We see the continuous genocide against the Hazāra people, atrocities against the Palestinians and Yemenis, the blockades against the Kashmiris and so many more injustices.

We know that Allah is all-powerful and that there is no might that stands up against His Might. He reminds us in the Holy Quran of previous oppressors and tyrants like Qārūn, the Pharaoh, and Hāmān who succumbed to His power and were seized because of their sins. Allah gives the parable of the spider’s web when He says: The example of those who take allies other than Allah is like that of the spider who takes a home. And indeed, the weakest of homes is the home of the spider, if they only knew. (Q: 29:41)

There is no doubt about the might and power of Allah. But we question why His help does not come. Isn’t there enough oppression and difficulty, both in our personal and communal lives? The answer lies in the verse that we are discussing. It is only when we collectively feel that we can no longer handle the hardships and cruelty and are shaken to our core because of them, and we turn to Him sincerely for assistance, that the promise of assistance is given by Allah: When will Allah’s help come? Look! Allah’s help is indeed near! (Q 2:214)

The tafsīr of this verse indicates that this is not a complaint to Allah, rather it is a form of Du’ā – a collective supplication of those who realize that there truly is no savior and deliverer other than Allah. We must collectively be at this stage and call out to Allah for His Help to arrive.

Let us sincerely pray for all of those who are enduring any form of hardship. Their suffering is our suffering, and it is only His Help that can relieve us.

Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī, Al-Amthal fí Tafsīr Kitāb Allah al- Munzal, ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān.