لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ ۖ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ ۚ فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ لَا انفِصَامَ لَهَا ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” (Al-Baqarah 2:256)
Surah Al Baqarah 256; upon first reading it, was lost upon me. Needless to say Allah had blinded me to its message. I don’t quite remember the moment the words began to have meaning but what I do remember was feeling lost and desperate then a sense of calm and understanding overtaking me as I read and re-read the ayat.
As a revert to Islam the idea of having free will in choosing to serve Allah was something I had struggled with. In Christianity the idea was never clear. There was always talk about the heart, and that one should worship Allah but whether or not it was a choice was muddled in contradiction.
Yet here it was, clear as day in the Quran, “There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion.” Allah knows the condition of all hearts. He knows who will submit to Him in worship and who will not. And He has given us all the choice to freely worship him, or not. This for me was extremely powerful and it answered many questions as to the nature of humans and why some people just don’t seem to care about worshipping Allah and why others live a life of submission. It’s our choice, made freely by the heart.
The ayat continues: “The right course has become clear from the wrong.”
This has indeed been my experience. I spent a great deal of my life searching for the right path and once I came to know Islam it immediately became clear to me that it was the right course. In the six years since I took my Shahada I have not once doubted that Islam is the straight path. And as I learned more about the deen, the wrong path I once wandered was easily distinguished from the right path. Before Islam I was so confused about what the straight path was. And I would pray and pray for guidance which came when Allah guided me to Islam. The cloud was lifted and the right path did indeed become clear from the wrong path.
“So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it.”
These beautiful words move me every time. I once prayed through Jesus Christ ending each prayer with “through your son Jesus Christ, Amen”. I never believed in the Trinity; the Christian idea Allah manifests Himself in the form of the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit. Yet I didn’t realize that I was in eveyr prayer associating partners with Allah. Once I became acquainted with this ayat I felt freed. Free to worship Allah alone and no other but Him. I also felt deeply comforted knowing that as long as I keep on worshiping Allah as He has taught us to, I, little old me, has “grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it.”
What more could I ask for? Just take a moment to think about how incredibly powerful this is. The Creator of everything is telling me that by trusting Him, submitting to Him, worshiping Him, He in return has extended “the most trustworthy handhold that will not break.”
In this dunya, where everything will eventually pass away, the only thing that is eternal is Allah. He is the only One we can rely on for everything. I find that mind blowing and humbling.
There are many times I stumble and fall into sin and what remains in my mind is that, “And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” And I pray for increased Taqwa. It’s so easy to get caught up in life and all its tangles that can lead you astray. And I do my best to remember that Allah sees and hears all. Eventually, thus far it is this knowledge that helps me turn away from sin and towards repentance. And it has also helped me to choose not to sin.
I revisit this ayat at different times and each time I find a new lesson applicable to my circumstances at that moment. These always seems to be a new lesson to learn.
This ayat is more than just a favourite. Its words are healing and a reminder that Allah chose to guide me. May He guide me, and you, all the days of our lives and grant us a good death. Ameen.
The depth of my gratitude to Allah for the gift of Islam cannot be expressed by words. It fills my heart with a joy that runs so deep it feels like it could fill the oceans and they would overflow. Alhamdhu’lillah Alhamdhu’lillah Alhamdhu’lillah Allahu Akbar.
Nour M. Fox, Writer