بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Allah (swt) reminds us time and time again in both the Quran and in the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) that the key to our success relies in our dependence and reliance on Him and Him alone. He (swt) even goes one step further and gives us a visual to better understand the concept in Surah Al-Ankabut, a surah that is about the tests that believers go through:
مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ كَمَثَلِ الْعَنكَبُوتِ اتَّخَذَتْ بَيْتًا ۖ وَإِنَّ أَوْهَنَ الْبُيُوتِ لَبَيْتُ الْعَنكَبُوتِ ۖ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ
“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.” [29:41]
Allah (swt) likens the reliance on anything other than Himself to a spider who is certain that its home will withstand anything. Imam AlRazi explains that a house has to at least have a wall that acts like a barrier from cold and a ceiling that provides shade from heat and if it is missing this, then it is a pointless “house”. A spider’s web is an example of this, it does not provide any protection from cold, shade from heat, or any shelter period. It is the weakest home that could be built.
The ayah uses the word “awliya’a” which is often translated into ally or friend but even that is not a sufficient explanation. Imam AlQurtubi explains a “wali” (singular of awliya’a) as a caretaker and maintainer. It is someone that you can depend on, someone that you rely on for safety and comfort. It is a security net or blanket.
Oftentimes we make the mistake of believing that what we have in this life is what provides us security. We think that this job will always provide for us, we believe that our home is the source of safety, we at times even think the reason we have what we have is because of our status. We forget that “everyone upon this earth will perish, and all that remains is the Face of your Lord” [55:26-27].
We take away from this ayah, two valuable lessons:
Perhaps the most valuable lesson we can truly learn is to self-assess and evaluate our own dependencies and reliances. Do we have “awliya’a” besides Allah (swt)? If we lost that job we depended on - will we feel lost? Or will we remember that sustenance is from Allah (swt) regardless of whether or not we are employed? If we have car issues - do we ask Allah (swt) for help immediately? When we get a headache, are we asking Allah (swt) to heal us before reaching for a painkiller?
We NEED to ask ourselves these questions. Omar bin AlKhattab (RA) once said:
“حاسبوا انفسكم قبل ان تحاسبوا, وزنوا انفسكم قبل أن توزنوا, فانه اهون عليمك في الحساب غدأ أن تحاسبوا انفسكم اليوم وتزينوا للعرض الأكبر, يومئذ تعرضون لا تخفى منكم خافية."
كتاب محاسبة النفس لابن ابي الدنيا
“Take yourselves into account before you are taken to account and to weigh yourselves [your deeds] before you are weighed [by Allah (swt)]. As our judgement in the hereafter will be easier if we hold ourselves accountable in this life. And beautify yourselves for the great parade where on that day you shall be exposed - no secret shall remain hidden.”
To ask ourselves these questions, is to prepare for our meeting with Allah (swt). Are we ready ready for that meeting or do we have some hidden spider webs we need to take care of first?
- Dua Aldasouqi (content presented in a retreat by Dr. Haifaa Younis on the Parables of the Quran in St. Louis, MO 2016)