Monday, 20 December 2010

The Story of Talut (continued)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

As their new leader Talut prepared the soldiers of Banu Isra'il to face their enemies, the Philistines.  When Talut originally set out with the armies of Banu Isra'il their numbers were huge.  They marched forth until they reached a river, thought by scholars to be the River Jordan.  Here, tired, hungry and thirsty, the soldiers faced a test from Allah which only the best of them would pass.  Allah says in the Quran:

 "When Talut set out with his forces, he said to them, ‘God will test you with a river. Anyone who drinks from it will not belong with me, but anyone who refrains from tasting it will belong with me; if he scoops up just one handful [he will be excused].’  But they all drank [deep] from it, except for a few. When he crossed it with those who had kept faith, they said, ‘We have no strength today against Goliath and his warriors.’ But those who knew that they were going to meet their Lord said, ‘How often a small force has defeated a large army with God’s permission! God is with those who are steadfast.’ " (Surah Al Baqarah: 249)

When the soldiers arrived at the river their gut instinct was to drink freely from it to quench their thirst.  The test from Allah to refrain from drinking (except for a handful of water) was designed to root out those soldiers in the armies who would be a liability when facing the enemy due to their weakness.

Yet the number of those who could not control themselves and drank from the river consisted of a large majority of the armies.  From the original armies who had set off with Talut, only a few hundred men were able to pass the test of the river; they numbered little more than 300 in total- the same number as the amount of companions who particpated in the Battle of Badr with Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). 

Rather than being disheartened by the severe reduction in their numbers, Talut and the steadfast soldiers who remained with him were aware that victory lies not in numbers but in the help of Allah.  Trusting in Allah's promise to help the believers they advanced to face the larger forces of the Philistines, under the leadership of Goliath who was renowned for his fearsome bravery and skill in battle.

When they saw how greatly they were outnumbered by the Philistines, Banu Isra'il conquered the natural fear they felt by turning to Allah and making dua for victory over their enemy.  The Quran tells us of their trust in and dependence on Allah in that difficult moment:

 "And when they met Goliath and his warriors, they said, ‘Our Lord, pour patience on us, make us stand firm, and help us against the disbelievers,’ " (Surah Al Baqarah: 250)

Allah's promise to the believers is true and so, despite being so heavily outnumbered, Banu Isra'il won the day by defeating the Philistines in battle.  Not only did they win, but Goliath was also killed during the battle.  The soldier responsible for bringing down the fearsome leader of the Philistines was a young boy armed only with a slingshot.  Despite his young age and simple weapon this boy, Dawood, was able to defeat the giant of a man he faced because of his trust in victory coming from Allah.  As a result Allah honoured him with not only becoming the next leader of Banu Isra'il, but also their prophet.  Allah says in the Quran:

 "and so with God’s permission they defeated them. David killed Goliath, and God gave him sovereignty and wisdom and taught him what He pleased. If God did not drive some back by means of others the earth would be completely corrupt, but God is bountiful to all." (Surah Al Baqarah: 251)

The next post will take up the story of Dawood, inshaAllah.

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