"For him are angels ranged before him and behind him, who guard him by Allah's command. Lo! Allah changeth not the condition of a folk until they (first) change that which is in their hearts; and if Allah willeth misfortune for a folk there is none that can repel it, nor have they a defender beside Him."
Al Rad, 13 : 11
When I come across this ayat 11 in Surah Al Rad I cannot help but think that this translation by Pickthal probably best depict the spirit of the ayat for which it was meant. ...Wallahualam
Yes, by this translation the meaning elevates several planes higher than the usual 'economic' or 'physical' sense that people, usually politicians and shakers and movers of society usually quote it for. Translated the way Pickthal did, the spiritual element become very obvious indeed. I did not get this feeling from Hamka or Abdullah Yusuf Ali.[ I reread Abdullah Yusuf Ali today....he was almost there in his translation and interpretion ,but not quite on the dot..I have no opportunity to read what Sayyid Qutb think of 13 : 11., Ibn Katsir was silent on this..]
Allah seem to cajole, enjoin and encourage us to 'cleanse and renew' ourselves spiritually. Allah definitively ask us to " change that which is in our hearts ", the accumulated rust and dirt over years and decades of 'forgetfullness' ie change our 'qiblats' from materialism, secularism, hedonism, various forms and faces of idolatory, obvious , hidden or subtle,...... to total submission to Him.
Then one will be successful, as there is no 'defender more worthy and more powerful than Him'.
Examples are many ,peppered throughout history.To quote just a few: Muhammad's success in bringing truth to a people mired in ignorance and intellectual poverty;the early Muslims' success in bringing light and modernity to almost two third of the known world.
Personalities that were transformed from mere 'creeping' and wallowing creatures on this earth to 'giants' of their times, leaving indelible footprints are numerous and to name a few here are people like Saidina Umar Alkhattab, a drunkard and a 'hitman' during his jahiliah days being elevated to one of the best caliph ar rashidin history had ever known.Bilal, the lowly slave, whose indomitable spirit and tenacity of faith against massive adversity, reserved and deserved him an automatic place in heaven as told and confirmed by the Prophet himself. Prophet Muhammad heard Bilal's footsteps in heaven during his 'Mikraj'.
Umar Abdul Aziz, whose simplicity and sincerity as a reluctant Abbasid caliph [ his caliphate was given to him by his ailing caliph cousin brother who had sons but deemed not wise enough to take the post.Umar did not ask or 'fight' for it, as 'they normally do to get to 'power ' now, and even shortly after Prophet's death... ], though only 3 years at the helm, will be remembered as the most exemplary, substantive caliph after the Kalifah ar Rashidin.
Tariq Ziad, the Moroccan general who burnt his long boats after having crossed The Strait of Jabal Tariq: He conquered half of Europe and brought modernity and science to a continent that was initially living in the dark age plagued by disease and pestilence and human degradation..The germ of the European renaisance started in Serville and Cordoba, then spread to Florence! Al Ghazali the theologist-philosopher cum-sufi, all in one.Abdul Rahman bin Auf, the Quraish 'billionaire' of Prophet's time who lost all his property due to 'hijrah', rebuild his business empire from scratch, to donate almost all back for Islam...... Iqbal, Mawdudi , Sayyid Qutb and many others.
When later day Muslims forget their Quran and their Sunnah, the reverse happened.Forefront in this 'forgetfullness' we had Kamal Attaturk, whose massive mausoleum in Ankara is symbolic of the decay that started way back before his time.The subsequent submission of Muslim nations post 1st World War following the collapse and fragmentation of the Ottoman Empire when European super powers stood over the Muslim nations like vultures zooming in for a late brunch was a fashion of that time.Up till today we can see modern Turkey as a beggar for the past 50 years or so, begging for crumbs and nuts that might fall from the 'Knights of Templer's table. Turkey it seemed has all but forgotten it's rightfull place and 'adab' in the realm of history.It's people has somehow long decided The Quran and Sunnah are just fit to be 'kept in high places' in the house to collect dust...Elsewhere in the world, the Noble Quran and Sunnah were well codified, digitised, but never 'visited' nor 'reffered to'.
We began to see spirituality, justice and fairness being replaced by crass materialism,secularism.Human Rights and political correctness, with changing goalposts replacing God's right and God Himself. This current total subjugation of Muslims aspiration and progress, both economic , political and military, by a well planned ,well laid out, strategically organised and politically correct, Security Council of a conglomerate of 'united nations',lead and controlled by former enemies of Islam put an almost permanent and suffocating 'lid' over future movement towards universal Islam.
Current last example,the shooting' episode that happened just yesterday in International water, The Mavi-Marmara 'shootout' in the Mediterranean Sea by a Zionist regime that feel and act as though they can just do about anything should be a wake up call for Muslims the world over to get 'educated' and know who their enemies are, who are sitting in the gallery clapping their hands and who they should consider as real friends!
Which reminds me of one hadith which I would quote here with a slight 'modernist' twist [ some purists, if they are already dead, would twitch in their graves! Those still alive may have epileptic fits! ]:
"Sir, What happened!?... Are they just few in numbers, the Muslims I mean?"
"No, stupid. They are in excess of 1.5 billions. But they have lost their hearts and souls!"
That, my friends, is our predicament today.
'Rabbana atina fiddunya hasanah. Wafil akhirati hasanatan wakina azabannar' [2 : 201]
Our Lord, give us in this world good,and good in the hereafter, and guard us against the torment of the fire!
Dr Nik Howk