Lessons from Geese
Cont’d from page 2
yourselves, lest you fail and scatter your strength. You shall steadfastly persevere. GOD is with those who steadfastly persevere (8:46). Also see 8:47 for contrast. God be glorified.
Contrary to popular opinion, the lead bird of the “V” formation is not always an adult male. Geese shift their relative positions frequently during the flight. When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose readily flies point! This reminds us of God’s teachings:...O you who believe, you shall help and support him, and regard him as he should be regarded (33:56). Many a prophet had godly people struggle along with him, without ever wavering under pressure in the cause of GOD, nor did they hesitate or become discouraged. GOD loves the steadfast... (3:146). Hence, it pays to take turns doing hard jobs—with people or with geese flying south. God be glorified.
And indeed when the going gets tough, the geese honk from behind to encourage, exhort and remind those upfront to keep their speed. Indeed, keeping to the right speed is very important, for their timely scheduled stop-over will guarantee their flock the “very best spot”. Meanwhile, the tough gets going! You shall struggle for the cause of God....and exhort the believers to do the same (4:84). So like honking, reminders are very important in a believer’s life as it is a form of encouragement which will benefit the community in so many ways. Therefore, you shall remind; perhaps the reminder will benefit (87:9). And know that time is always of the essence. The present is always the right time (Sura Al-’Asr). God be glorified.
Finally, all submitters must get this; if a goose gets sick or is wounded (even by gunshot), two geese readily fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him! They will stay
with him until he is either able to fly again or until he is dead (see Quran 3:169 to 170 & 33:21 to 24). Indeed, if we have as much sense as the geese community, we will stand by each other like that. A righteous utterance for this difficult moment should be, “Do not worry; GOD is with us” (9:40). Then, the supporting geese will launch out and strive on their own or join with another formation to catch up with their own flock, if possible. Therefore, no matter how far, they can get there fast, with team-mates giving them an uplift.
Let there be a community of you who invite to what is good, advocate righteousness, and forbid evil. These are the winners. Do not be like those who became divided and disputed, despite the clear proofs that were given to them. For these have incurred a terrible retribution (3:104 to 105).
Praise be to GOD, Lord of the universe!
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The Quran is filled with references to the steadfast. Who are they? Many seem to have different ideas. We need to have a better understanding of the word, steadfast, as it is referred to in the Quran. Since there are so many references, only a few verses are singled out and discussed here.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines steadfast as “firmly loyal or constant.” This is a good general definition, but the Quran adds some specifics for the believers. It indicates that the steadfast are those who: When affliction befalls them, they say, “we belong to God and to Him we are returning.” (2:156)
Hence the Quran defines the steadfast as those who realize that God hands them their destiny. Regular prayer is also connected with steadfastness. “You shall seek help through steadfastness and the Contact Prayers (Salat), this is difficult indeed, but not so for the reverent.” (2:45,153)
Therefore, both the Contact Prayers and steadfastness are some aspects of righteousness. This is made clear in the definition of righteousness in the Quran:
Righteousness is not turning your faces towards the east or the west. Righteous are those who believe in GOD, the Last Day, the angels, the scripture, and the prophets; and they give the money, cheerfully, to the relatives, the orphans, the needy, the traveling alien, the beggars, and to free the slaves; and they observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat); and they keep their word whenever they make a promise; and they steadfastly persevere in the face of persecution, hardship, and war. These are the truthful; these are the righteous. (2:177)
As we see it in the above verse, another connection made throughout the Quran is the association between steadfastness and perseverance:
“Peace be upon you because you steadfastly persevered. What a joyous destiny. (13:24)
“We will surely reward those who steadfastly persevere; we will recompense them for their righteous works.” (16:96)
One can then assume that perseverance gives some longevity to the steadfastness required by God in the Quran. The Quran requires Submitters to steadfastly persevere through life’s many trials and tribulations.
“You will certainly be tested, through your money and your lives, and you will hear from those who received the scripture, and from the idol worshipers, a lot of insult. If you steadfastly persevere and lead a righteous life, this will prove the strength of your faith.” (3:186).
In conclusion, the steadfast are those who recognize God’s involvement in their destiny, pray regularly and persevere.