the sixteenth call: obeying disbelievers is a loss in the two worlds
allah almighty says (what can be translated as): “o you who have believed, if you obey those who disbelieve, they will turn you back on your heels, and you will [then] become losers. but allah is your protector, and he is the best of helpers. we will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve for what they have associated with allah of which he had not sent down [any] authority. and their refuge will be the fire, and wretched is the residence of the wrongdoers.” [al-'imran: 151]
allah almighty warns his believing servants against obeying the disbelievers and hypocrites who tried to cast doubts on the hearts of weak believers by saying: if muhammad was really a prophet, he would have gained victory. he would not win one time and lose another. those who said so were abu sufyan and abdullah ibn ubay ibn salul. obedience of the disbelievers and hypocrites leads to loss in the present life represented in submission to their authority and humiliation among them. as for the punishment in the hereafter, they will be tortured eternally in hellfire which is the worst abode.
allah almighty commands the believers to obey, rely and entrust only him because he is the best helper granting victory to his devout servants. as for the heads of disbelief, delusion and hypocrisy they cannot help believers or grant them victory, they cannot even achieve victory for themselves.
allah (swt) gives tidings to the believers that he will cast terrors into the hearts of their enemies because they disbelieved and associated others to worship along with allah. this is the decree of allah. he has made the spirits of polytheists troubled and their hearts filled with terror and panic from the believers when they meet them face to face in the battlefield. along with this worldly torment, allah has prepared for them the torture of the hellfire which is the worst destination and end for the oppressing disbelievers.
the disbelievers and hypocrites in the madina took the chance of the defeat and affliction that happened to believers to discourage and make them fear of the consequence of marching with muhammad (peace be upon him). they pictured to them the fears of fighting and outcomes of clashing with the polytheists of quraish and their allies. the atmosphere of defeat is the most suitable chance to shake the hearts, disperse the lines and spread lack of confidence in the leadership. it is the best atmosphere to make believers doubt the benefit of persistence to fight disbelievers, encourage them to withdraw from the battle and seek peace with the triumphant. they do that by aggravating personal pains and turning them to a mean to destroy the entity of the society and accordingly destroy the entity of the belief that would end with submission to the strong triumphant enemies!
this is why almighty allah warns believers against obeying those who disbelieved. obedience of the disbelievers ends with total loss for sure, there is absolutely no benefit or gain. on the contrary, it means turning back on the heels to disbelief. whether the believer goes in his way to fight disbelief and disbelievers and strive against corruption and corrupts or he turns back on his heel to be a disbeliever, god forbid. the believer would never stand neutral or negative between keeping his stance and keeping his religion. he might think so. he might think that after defeat and under the pressure of loss and affliction, he can withdraw from the battle with the strong triumphant and he can obey them and seek peace while keeping his belief, religion and entity. yet, this is a huge delusion. the one, who does not move forward in this regard, will move backward, the one who does not fight disbelief, evil, delusion and tyranny, will weaken, fall, retreat and turn back on his heels to disbelief, evil, delusion, corruption and tyranny! the one whose belief and faith do not protect him from obeying disbelievers, listening to them and trusting them is actually giving up his faith and belief from the very first moment he surrenders. this is the spiritual defeat, it is when the faithful submits to the enemies of his faith, listens to theirinsinuations and obeys their directions. it is defeat, no question about it. there will be no protector for him from defeat at the end and turning back to disbelief if he does not realize in his first steps that he is heading to this destiny if he starts obeying them. the believer finds his belief and leadership sufficient so he does not need the consultation of the enemies of his religion and leaderships.
if he listens to them even for one time, then he is turning back on his heels towards disbelief. this is an innate realistic definite fact that almighty allah directs believers to and warns them against. he calls them in the name of belief:
“o you who have believed, if you obey those who disbelieve, they will turn you back on your heels, and you will [then] become losers.”
there is no bigger loss than the loss of turning back on the heels from belief to disbelief. what gain could happen after the loss of belief?
if the reason for obeying the disbelievers is the hope of gaining protection and victory then it is a mere delusion that the context of the verses clarifies by reminding the believers of the fact of victory and protection:
“but allah is your protector, and he is the best of helpers.”
this is the direction which the believers turn to seeking help, protection and victory. whoever has allah as his guardian, then why would he need the guardianship of anyone of his creations? whoever has allah as his helper, then why would he need the help of anyone of his servants?
then the context continues to strengthen the hearts of muslim and promise them of casting terrors in the hearts of their enemies because of their disbelief and for what they have associated with allah (gods, idols and people) of which he had not sent down any authority, strength or dominance. this is also in addition to the torture of the hereafter prepared for the disbelievers:
“we will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve for what they have associated with allah of which he had not sent down [any] authority. and their refuge will be the fire, and wretched is the residence of the wrongdoers.”
this is the promise from almighty allah the sublime, the omnipotent and the superb vanquisher to cast terror at the hearts of the disbelievers. this is enough to end the battle and guarantee defeat for the enemies and victory for his servants.
this is an eternal promise in every battle when belief meets disbelief. whenever those who disbelieved meet the believers they would feel fearful and intimidated by the terror that allah cast in their hearts. yet, what is necessary is the existence of belief in the hearts of the believers. the fact of feeling the guardianship of allah only, absolute trust in this guardianship and the elimination of any doubt that the soldiers of allah are indeed the triumphant. allah is has full power and control over his affairs, but disbelievers do not know. they will never be able to frustrate (his design) on earth, nor have they protectors besides allah! we have to believe in the promise of allah even when the apparent circumstance conflict with this promise, no matter what, the promise of allah is more truthful than what the eyes see and the minds evaluate!
what is casted in their hearts is terror because these hearts are void of any legitimate support. they do not lean on the omnipotent, the one with the finite power. they associated gods along with allah in worship; they have no power over them because allah did not give them that power.
the expression “which he had not sent down [any] authority” has a deep meaning and it is repeated in the qur’an. one time it describes the false gods and another it describes the false beliefs. it indicates a deep rooted basic fact:
any thought, belief, character or organization exists, works and impacts in a degree equal to the innate power and dominating authority it has. this power depends on its “righteousness,” which means the harmony between the foundation on which allah has established the universe and the traditions of allah affecting the universe. at this point, allah gives it (the power) the true effective dominance and authority in the universe, otherwise it is false and weak no matter how much it looks controlling and dominant.
polytheists associate different forms of gods with allah in worship. the polytheism starts with giving an entity other than allah (swt) a feature or specification of worship and lordship. the first of these features is the right to legislate for the servants how to run the affairs of their lives. the second is the right of setting principals to which servants return to for judging behaviors and societies. the third is the right of dominance on servants and obligating them with obedience of the legislations and respect of the principals.
then come the acts (rituals) of worship which is another feature in addition to the mentioned above that should be dedicated to allah exalted and sublime be he!
what do these gods have from the righteousness on which allah established the universe? allah is the only creator of this universe linked and dependant on him. he has created the creations to submit by worshipping him without associates and to receive legislations and principals from him without competitors. he has created them to worship him alone in the right way without matches. anything that contradicts with the comprehensive meaning of the oneness rule (belief in the oneness of allah) is fake, invalid and contradictory to the righteousness embedded in the framework of the universe. this is why it is weak and fragile without no power or dominance, it does not have any impact on life, and more precisely it does not possess the elements of life or the right of life!
as long as those polytheists associate powerless others with allah in worship such as gods, dogmas and conventions then they are leaning on weakness and emptiness. they are infirm and feeble. they feel terrorized whenever they meet the believers who depend on the truth.
we find the credibility of this promise whenever righteousness and falsehood meet. how many times did the fully armed falsehood meet the disarmed righteousness, yet falsehood was shaking from terror and intimated from every move or sound even though he is standing in the middle of his fully equipped army. when righteousness moves forward and attacks, falsehood falls into terror, panic, chaos and disorder even if righteousness was a minority. this doubtless victory of righteousness over falsehood is the confirmation of the sincere promise of allah: “we will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve for what they have associated with allah of which he had not sent down [any] authority.” this is the punishment of the present life, as for the punishment of the hereafter it will be the saddening miserable end worthy of the disbelievers: “and their refuge will be the fire, and wretched is the residence of the wrongdoers.”