38: 41 And remember Our servant Job, when he cried out to his Lord, “Satan has afflicted me with distress and suffering.”
This verse seems to be like a previous verse from 21:83 “And remember Job when he cried out to his Sustainer, affliction has befallen me, but You are the Most Merciful of the Merciful.” However, in the previous verse, there is no complaining about any affliction and Satan. Why did the language change?
Comment: An alternative view (Satanic whisperings) may come that you are not being taken care of by Your Lord.
Let’s study verse 21:83 again. Here, the person believes in His Creator’s Mercy: “I believe that you gave this affliction to me out of Your Mercy, and I trust You”. S/he was not complaining about the affliction, and s/he was able to bear it, because s/he did not say remove it or provide cure for it, I need your help.
However, as the pain/affliction became severe to the point of taking in the Satanic whisperings that started saying that God may not be Merciful, then s/he started complaining about the stress and suffering that Satan has afflicted him/her with. At the end, Prophet Job is a human being and when it became unbearable, he started doubting God’s Mercy, because the affliction became for me Satanic. Please note that the affliction is not Satanic but complaining and doubting about God’s Mercy is a Satanic whispering. In other words, when we complain, even if a small thorn stings you, we say “O Lord, please remove it, because it hurts, and I know that you are Merciful.” Here, there is no complaint, so it is not Satanic, rather it is a human reaction because we are needy beings. What a beautiful contrast between the two verses under study here!
If I start complaining about anything harmful happening to me, “God are you not Merciful, why do you hurt me?!”, then I am expressing negativity. Most people will say, if God was a good God, why would He create storms, calamities and wars. This implies that God is a bad God, and this attitude is Satanic. When Job realizes that he became under the influence of Satanic whisperings, i.e., as soon as he described the affliction as Satanic, which means “this is not from You O God, he said, “O God, protect me now and give me a way to cure myself, I need it and only You can provide the health”.
- The Satanic view of the description of the distress is from Satan and any wrong understanding or attitude is described in the Qur’an as Satan’s whispering!
Asking for cure is advised in the Quran, because the Speech of God keeps saying, “please return to Me, you are the created and I am Your Creator, whatever you need, you must return to Me, and ask help from Me”.
- Waeeyaka nastaeen (You alone we seek help from). Ihdina’-as siratal mustaqeem (Please guide us to the straight path, and we ask help from You alone.) That is what God advises us, to ask help from God is human and advised by God.
- What we must be careful about is not to criticize God’s Mercy because of any affliction that happens to us, otherwise that would be misinterpreting the reality of God’s Mercy, therefore, Satanic.
This verse under discussion is saying that Satan has afflicted me with stress and suffering. It means that I cannot bear it, therefore, I am in a doubtful situation now. This is Satanic, I know, and I admit that it should not be the reality.
- Now, because of this recognition, God says that My needy creature is asking Me to heal his diseases and relieve his problems just to prevent himself from the influence of Satan.
Comment: Since harm is a consequence of your own doing, then what we notice is that patience becomes the only option.
God is not asking us to keep it to ourselves when He gives us an affliction. NEVER! Just don’t complain but ask Me to take away the affliction from you, this is called “patience” (or sabr). We misunderstand “patience”, it does not mean that you accept that God gave it to you. That is not patience, rather that is being arrogant where you disdain asking God to: “Please I need help, help me.” Patience is not to complain only but asking God to cure your disease or heal you. That is the correct understanding of “patience”.
- Although you realize that you are under the affliction, and you are not complaining, you are not praying to have it removed either, which is wrong!!!
Patience lies in understanding that you do not want the affliction. The sense of disliking anything harmful is given to us so we use the sense to turn to God and ask Him to remove it from us: “Please God, create a means for me so I get cure and acknowledge you as my Care-Taker”. Example: Lisa is sick and goes to the doctor. She takes the medicine and knows that it is God’s Mercy. In other words, God is responding back to you through the medicine. One may argue that she went to the doctor to take the medicine, rather than God. While we are going to the doctor, it is the Prophetic way as instructed by the order-er of the universe (sunnah of the Prophet) to do so. Back during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the Prophet asked people to receive treatment from whatever was available to treat a disease, referred to as “tibbu-nabuwi”, however it is mis-interpreted now. Example: Black seed is a common remedy that people use to treat illnesses. The point in doing or taking anything is that while we are taking the black seeds, necessary medicine, or having a surgery (if needed), keep in mind the Real Source of healing (as the Prophet said, take this and Allah will give you healing), la shifa illa mink, there is no source of healing, but only from You. It means that when I take the medicine, I am aware that the pharmaceutical companies produce it according to the order of the universe, and the order of the universe is established by God in such a way that we human beings can make medicine.
Example: Fruits are created by God through trees, sunlight, water, and material elements of the tree. It is the permission of Allah, God. In the Ayat-ul-kursi, Ila bimashaa, means God willed, i.e., you cannot get any part of the knowledge of God, except what He gives permission. It means that the medicine you are using is given permission by God, “take it from My order.” People work for solutions/ways, and Allah gives the permission. “It is within the order of the universe, that time will come, and people will knock at My door/the order/study, and I will respond by revealing My knowledge piece by piece and they will learn gradually how to make something, a solution, a medicine or perform a surgery”. When you are having an operation, all the facilities are created by God. The human ability is also given by God to perform the event. It is all under God’s will and control. It does not mean that we cannot know God’s knowledge, which is manifested and engrained in the order of the universe, in the way that He creates the universe.
Is it true to be patient with what God creates? Should we suffice ourselves by acknowledging God is the Merciful One?
No. Something unwanted must be used as a means for prayer and turning to God without any complaining, just like in verse 21:83 above. Now, Job acknowledges that not turning to God and not seeking refuge with God is a Satanic attitude, nothing to do with patience. As soon as he acknowledged it, Allah responded back.
- The main point here is that the affliction is not important, but our attitude towards the affliction is important.
Comment: Is expressing my pain to my Lord Satanic?
Turning to God is Angelic. “My Lord is Merciful; I am not complaining about the affliction” is not prayer. Prayer means turning to God, and as a Sunnah, raise your arms up and open your hands and as a beggar (we are created beings as beggars always in need because apart from our Creator, there is no one to turn to and ask from). Example: “this friend/sibling of mine sometimes hurts my feelings. It is small and I can bear it.” Rather, we need to turn to God first and pray: “O Lord, create a loving relationship with my friend, make my friend not hurt my feelings.” This prayer will help us not to be angry with my friend so that we can now go to the friend in a needy feeling without being argumentative, and ask him/her in a kind language that her/his behavior is hurting me. Please help me by stopping whatever s/he is doing.
When I say that God is Merciful, that is not enough, for there is no material connection that I need to establish with God. It is a matter of belief established on conviction, saying that I believe that God is the One who creates this universe. What is the connection? The connection is through prayers, asking Him, performing, and putting into practice His guiding suggestions in your life. Example: God asks us to pray and fast, you say that we hear you and we obey you, that is the connection. “I believe in God” is not a connection. It is not denying that the universe is created by God, it is not unbelief either (or kufr). We are asked to turn to God, have a connection with God by performing our God’s prescribed duties and praying (i.e., “religious” duties).
Example: you are waiting at the bus station, and you are in a hurry, but the bus is not there. We don’t pray to ask God to send us a bus right away from the sky, that is not within the order of the universe. God does not change His system/the order of the universe. However, I must take care of my responsibility which is to establish a relationship with my Creator, especially when I need help because I know that no one can help me unless God wills it (I must acknowledge that). “O God, I am using the feelings that you gave me and according to the feelings, I have to keep my appointment in time.” That is the need now. I must present my need to my Lord, rather than checking my phone for time to check how long I have been waiting. You know that the bus will come according to the order of God, not from the sky. But our prayer will be responded to in another way that we do not know. How? As a response to our prayer we are given serenity, calmness because we believe that everything is ultimately under the control of God. By not becoming impatient, we act in a way that we follow God’s order properly so the result is Created by God within the order of the universe. God favors us without changing the order and without letting us know what dangers we are saved from or mistakes we would make if we were panicking.
- It is our duty to use every opportunity when we are in a need to communicate with God.
Most commonly, what is understood is that we need to pray to God to ask for a cure or solution right away, as if asking for something miraculous. Even the Prophets cannot ask like this, for it is not a prayer, but a command or ordering God: “Please send me a bus or cure me now”. Yes, we hope that our disease will be cured, and our affliction shall be removed from us, we need it, but while we are connecting with God, we should use the affliction as an excuse, means and opportunity to communicate with God. That is prayer.
Comment: How can I apply this when I pray to get rid of certain negative situations in my life?
“Apart from You, no one can help me. I acknowledge that all help comes from You, please help me.” That is prayer. We should not say “show me”, or, “give me the best way right away by changing the order of creation and I should see it clearly so that God responds to my prayer.” What we dream of is how we wish for something to happen or for some other reasons, which is very misleading. We can never act according to dreams. Islam is a realistic religion with the conscience of our freewill, we must choose, decide, and practice.
Comment: What is the state of heart I should be in when I am asking God for something?
We are talking about our current situation right now when we want to be saved from Satanic doubts and whisperings. We need to have certainty about God’s Wisdom and Mercy that whatever is created, even death, must be for our education to know the relationship between me and my Creator. “O God please save me from doubts about Your Mercy or disease that I cannot bear, only You can save me.” la shifa illa mink, there is no way to get healing but from You. When the bus does not arrive at the time we want it to arrive, and we see that my problem has not been removed, we say that God has not accepted my prayer. Look again, God has accepted that you are praying to Him, that is the purpose of life, connecting ourselves to God and communicating with Him. That is the purpose of the affliction, even abundant wealth (rizq) should be used as a means of connection with God.
- When we receive what we want from God, it is a means to turn to God, present our gratitude to God and be thankful.
- When we lose something, or if we cannot get anything, then it is another means again for the same purpose, turn to God, present your need, and express that “no one can do this except You, please create a means for it for me”.
We are not expecting any magical or miraculous thing to happen. Example: Lisa goes to the hospital and prays to get discharged within one day. As a result, if Lisa prays to God and expects that she should get discharged in one day rather than the doctors saying one week, most probably it will not happen as she prayed for, never expect this! The Prophets are given miracles for special purposes. Rather, use the occasion as an opportunity to turn to God.
- Do not interpret an event under the influence of Satan, such as God is not that Merciful.
When Job realizes that he was under the Satanic influence or interpreted the events as bad, then he turns to his Lord. Again, the affliction/disease/catastrophe is not bad, but we must know how to utilize them. Everything is good and we must learn how to utilize them. Everything is an opportunity to worship God, educating, and training ourselves with getting to know and connecting to God.
38: 42 ‘Strike [the ground] with your foot! Here is cool water for you to wash with and to drink.’
Can God not cure it with His power for He is Absolute? Why should I turn to God if health is coming from my washing myself with it? Our relationship with God does not work like this, for example, we don’t use medicine but rely on God only or we use medicine without acknowledging God. The quality of healing through water is given by God and He is revealing His knowledge to you. When you are looking for the right medicine, then using it, all this should be done, knowing that this is God’s Mercy revealed to you through the medicine by giving the ability to human beings to make this medicine, out of the material things created by God in the world, and the ability to discover it is also created by God.
Medicine is curing me and Alhamdulillah (all praise be to God) for the medicine to cure my disease. Be careful! Is the medicine not created by God through the pharmaceutical companies, as the fruit is created through the tree, or milk is created through the cow? This arrangement is the order or the will of the Creator. Human beings are given permission to receive this from God. Most crucial point is while I am using medicine (yes, I thank the doctor and the company), but I must be conscious that this is God’s grace to us enabling us to find out within the order we can make medicines by following the order. The only problem is my relationship with God. Whatever is created is not a problem, they are all means of praying and communicating, we must learn how to utilize these verses. In this verse, the choice of the will has changed, as soon as he changed the direction of his will and became aware that he should have prayed to God to heal his illness, God directed Job to apply a means (water to wash and drink) which is created by God again.
- Worship (or uboodiya) is connection with God. As Imam Ali says: “Don’t turn your prayer into a bargain or transaction?!”
- Bottom line is that as portrayed by Prophet Job (pbuh), we don’t want to be under the Satanic influences, we asked to get out of it by presenting our needs to God.
- We must follow the order appropriately, i.e., use it as a means of prayers, not as a means of bargaining or guaranteeing that the thing itself will cure us.
If we can make sense of Job’s case here as applicable to our lives now, then we know how to worship God and stand against “unbearable situations”. As a result, we will also know how to utilize all the beautiful things that God has blessed us with. All the events must be used as a means of worshiping God. We must always be mindful of performing prayers and connecting to God, because belief in God is just an intellectual activity, which is necessary, but not sufficient. That is, if you don’t believe in God, then you cannot pray to Him. Again, believe in God is an intellectual activity, satisfaction of the mind and (may follow satisfaction of heart depending on how hard we work for it). However, that is not enough, belief needs to be put into practice. That is why the Quran always keeps reminding us, obey God and follow the messenger (ateeullaha wa ateeu’r-rasool), obey the messenger and follow the exemplary way of life of the messenger because obeying is different from following.
In following his example of practicing belief two actions are taking place at the same time. That is, you are obeying God and His messenger, by following the practice of the Prophet (as revealed/instructed clearly so many times by God in His Speech). If someone does not obey, he does not follow. “I obey and I do it.” In other words, I practice it as the Prophet did it. That is why the Quran instructs what should be done in a very general sense, the Prophet puts it into practice, and we are expected to follow the practice of the Prophet (called Sunnah). While we are obeying and following the order of the universe (going to the doctor, taking the medicine and consulting the experts, whatever it is), if we follow the order, we must keep in mind that I am following the order of the universe, which is God’s will. This must be in my mind so that our ordinary actions will turn into obedience of God!
Example: I am in a hurry to get somewhere fast, but I do not have a car. I have some money, and I ask a taxi to take me. What am I doing now? I am following the order of the universe and I get to my destination with the taxi and money, so I am happy. That is not enough. By following the order of the universe, I need to be conscious of God who created this position, gave the opportunity of a taxi system and money to me.
What is the difference between unbelieving and believing people? Someone is driving his car and not thanking God and not thinking that this is created by God through the manufacturing. Just as milk is created by God through the cow. This is the way to know that these (anything you encounter) are the means created by God. I am obeying God’s command when I follow the order. Similarly, when we follow the Prophet’s sunnah, we must keep in mind that this is God’s command, I am not following the man. In other words, I am following the representative of the practice of this matter as employed and taught by God. One must always keep the connection with God alive, do not stop at the Prophet (pbuh), rather through the Prophet, I get to know God. Always remember that through the fruit and milk, I must connect to God. (Materialist mind connects the fruit and milk to trees and cows or “natural” events, whatever it means.) That is what worship/uboodiyah is, otherwise following a sunnah without having this God consciousness is just following a man. Example: I ate a great meal, Alhamdulillah. That is not enough, as it must be turned into a worshipful connection. While you are eating, you must say, “O God, how graciously You are feeding me. I can see that everything is prepared by You; You created it for me”. We may say Alhamdolillah at the start/end of the meal, but while we are having the meal, we may gossip about the vegetables/fruits such as where it is manufactured from? Rather, we must utilize the food opportunity to talk about how God is generous by creating this delicious taste in this wonderfully made fruit and how God is entertaining us. God is so generous mashAllah!
Tags: Al-Sa'd, Death, Meaning of Existence, Message, Prophetic Message, Reality, Sa'd Series, Saad, Truth