قَالَ رَجُلَانِ مِنَ الَّذِينَ يَخَافُونَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمَا ادْخُلُوا عَلَيْهِمُ الْبَابَ فَإِذَا دَخَلْتُمُوهُ فَإِنَّكُمْ غَالِبُونَ ۚ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَتَوَكَّلُوا إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ
Two men of those who feared, upon both of whom Allah had bestowed a favor, said: Enter upon them by the gate, for when you have entered it you shall surely be victorious, and on Allah should you rely on if you are believers.
(Sūrat al-Mā’idah No.5, Āyat 23)
When Prophet Mūsā ‘alayhis-salām told his people to enter the sacred land, they refused to do so. They were afraid of the people there and did not have the confidence to face them. They also wanted things the easy way, without having to struggle for it. These people had the audacity to disobey their Prophet’s command. According to Tafsīr-e Namūneh, the colonization of the people by Fir‘awn had left such an impact on their spirit that they lacked the courage and strength needed to face a seemingly stronger group. They wanted to avoid conflict even at the cost of disobeying Allah’s Messenger.
But among these people there were some who were different. They feared Allah ‘azza wajall and hesitated to disobey the Prophet. Two men from that group were outstanding in the level of their faith and courage. These two spoke up to defend the Prophet’s command and urged their people to follow what he said. Not only were they obedient to the Prophet, but they also encouraged the others to do the same. They were blessed by the Almighty with courage and determination. They also had foresight and were concerned for the social and spiritual implications of the actions of the group. They told them that they would be victorious and encouraged them to trust in Allah. Fear and lack of confidence are conquered when there is full trust in Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā.
It is believed that these two men were Yusha’ bin Nūn and Kalib bin Yufna, from the twelve chiefs of Banū Israel. These were noble men with a staunch belief that did not waver. These two men feared God and because of that, did not fear anyone else. This itself was a great blessing from the Almighty. The ability to be strong and determined is only by the grace of God, bestowed upon those who rely only on Him. According to Allāmah Tabātabā’ī in Tafsīr al-Mīzān, the word blessing when it comes by itself in the Quran, refers to wilāyah. The two men were awliyā’ of Allah and thus had no fear of anyone other than Allah (swt).
The words of these two men teach us many lessons:
1) It is possible to stand up to a group of people whom you are part of but who have strayed from the path.
2) Love and obedience to Allah entails love and obedience for His representatives.
3) Belief in the promise of the Prophet is important for confidence and strength.
4) It is important to obey Divine commands collectively.
5) Trust in Allah helps overcome fear.
The words of these men are important to remember as we struggle at many fronts today. The conflicts we face can be countered with confidence and strength if we fear only Allah and rely only on Him. This verse can help us to avoid fleeing the battlefield or withdrawing from it and instead enter the field with courage.
Sources: Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed), Tafsīr-e Namūneh.