Verse 260 of the second chapter of The Holy Qur’an contains, what could be called, the most powerful dialogue to have ever spanned a single line. Short it may be, but it has a world of a lesson in it that alone has the potential to guide the intellectual and spiritual lives of men.
This dialogue between God and Prophet Abraham, goes thus:
And when Abraham said (unto his Lord): My Lord! Show me how Thou givest life to the dead, He said: Dost thou not believe? Abraham said: Yes, indeed, but (I ask) in order that my heart may be at ease.
The Qur’an is the same book every time you sit down to read it, and yet, it hardly ever says the same thing twice. This is not to say that the words therein keep changing – they are what they have been for centuries over a millennium. But what those words mean to you, and which of them would strike a chord with you, depends on what state of mind you sat down to read them.
I have been through this verse very often. And though the latter part always struck me because it contains one of the instances that my grandfather used to relate to us when we were kids, the former never did.
The brain does not comply with what the heart does not accept.
The character of Prophet Abraham serves as a model for all Muslims, including Prophet Muhammad. This is not just my idea, it is a lesson from the Qur’an. God uses words such as “forbearing”, “tender-hearted”, “oft-returning”, and most importantly, “devoutly obedient” or Hanifa, to refer to the Prophet. For Him to make Abraham the object of this dialogue, then, is indeed a meaningful choice. It is meant to convey the idea that God does not mind questions from his people, and no matter how highly you are placed on the scale of faithfulness, seeking answers does not make you an infidel.
Prophet Abraham was chosen to be who and where he was, because he was best suited to be one of God’s favourites. Neither those before him had the potential to deliver in the capacity that he did, nor those since. It was just him. If he, even with all the faith he had in God, can seek answers from Him, then why is that contemporary clerics forbid us from doing the same? His faith was already ripe. He should not have needed answers to back convictions. But he did. Because, even with all the faith he had in God, he was still human. And humans function on certain principles. Foremost among them the principle that the brain does not comply with what the heart does not accept.
And so Abraham asked God about something he didn’t quite understand. God responded with a question, and a stern one at that. “Do you not believe?” inquired the Master of one of his most faithful servants. “Indeed, I do” replied the Servant.
Most of us get it right till this point. When a layman asks a cleric to explain any of God’s statements so he can understand it, the cleric is most likely to respond with the same question – do you not believe? But when the layman says “indeed, I do”, the cleric does not proceed with the explanation. Instead, he closes the conversation – then you should not ask such questions, he says. Period.
But that is not what the Qur’an teaches us.
God does not forbid his people from seeking answers. And neither does Islam.
The verse proceeds. Abraham says, “I ask in order that my heart may be at ease”. And when the Servant affirms that his object is but to strengthen his faith, not to humble his Master, the Master moves ahead with the explanation.
God does not forbid his people from seeking answers. And neither does Islam. On the contrary, questions are welcomed, and contemplation, encouraged. If you are having difficulty understanding something – be it a statement from the Qur’an, a natural phenomenon, or a life event – and that difficulty is faltering your faith, then stand assured that The All-Hearing, The Responsive, is ever ready to cater to your queries. He has all the answers, plus the ability to put your heart at ease. All you have to do, is ask.
Verse 260 of the second chapter of The Holy Qur’an guarantees us the freedom to ask. It is God’s way of ensuring us our right to all the answers.