Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Search for Truth | Al Risala, October 1988
When a man submits himself to God, his submission should be spontaneous and headlong, like stones tumbling down a mountainside. His unhesitating capitulation before the truth should be like a landslide in its velocity and its irreversibility. God does not want man to be stubborn and arrogant when confronted with truth; He wants His servants to fall before Him in total submission and acceptance.
Only clear minds can recognize the truth when confronted with it, just as it is only minds which are free of all pride and prejudice which can accept it. When the truth is detrimental to self-interest, it is only a mind free of worldly attachment which will assign to it its correct value.
To see clear proofs of God and not to recognize them means that one’s mind is not on God – it is focussed on other things.
The greatest test of man in this world is to believe in a God who Himself remains invisible, but who reveals Himself in nature and in the divine revelations of the Quran. So categorical and clear are those divine proofs that the truly earnest seeker of the truth cannot fail to recognize them. He will bow before them as if they were God Himself; he will be as certain of their veracity as he would be if God – in all His glory and perfection – were made manifest. He will forget all pride and egoism; he will come crashing down from the heights of man-made opinion and will submit himself humbly to his Creator.
The way in which the Prophet’s trusted lieutenant, Umar Ibn Khattab responded to the recitation of a certain verse of the Quran, is an illustration of how the truth should be accepted. The occasion was a terrible one. News had come that the Prophet had died, and the Companions were grief-stricken. At first Umar refused to believe this news, and even stood up in the Prophet’s mosque and held forth to reassure the congregation that the news was false. “There are certain hypocrites,” he said, “Who think that the prophet has died. It is not so: he has gone to visit his Lord, as the Prophet Moses visited the Lord on Mount Sinai. When he stayed away from his people for forty days, some said that he had died. By God, the Prophet will return to us, as Moses returned to his people, and he will punish those who thought he had died.” But then Abu Bakr came on the scene and gave the sad news that the Prophet was indeed dead. Then, he recited this verse of the Quran: “Muhammad is only a messenger. Messengers have passed away before him. If he should die, or be killed, will you turn back on your heels? Those who turn on their heels do not harm the Lord in the least. God will reward the grateful.” (3:144)
Umar later recalled his reaction to hearing this verse: “I was just stunned when I heard Abu Bakr recite this verse. My legs could not carry me, and I fell to the ground. I realized that the Prophet had indeed died.” (Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra by Ibn Sa’d, Vol. 2, p. 205)