One of the special responsibilities a man owes to God once he has accepted the faith of Islam is that he remains firm and steadfast in his faith at all times and in all circumstances. He is expected to uphold the faith with all his courage and strength, however, adverse the conditions may be. He must not prove disloyal to Islam in any event. He must not give it up. This is what is meant by ‘constancy of faith.’ Such men have been spoken of very highly in the Quran and a bountiful reward has been promised to them in the Hereafter. It says:
In the case of those who say, “Our Lord is God, and further, stand straight and steadfast, the angles descend on them (from time to time): “Fear ye not” (they suggest), “Nor grieve! But receive the tidings of the Garden (of Bliss), which ye were promised! We are your protectors in this life and in the Hereafter! Therein shall ye have all that ye ask for! A hospitable gift from One, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful!” (XLI: 30-32)
What wonderful tiding does the above verse contain for those who are constant in faith and who patiently preserve and remain steadfast in times of misfortune and peril. If one could attain this position even at the cost of one’s life, property and everything it would not be a bad bargain indeed.
It is related that once a Companion asked the Prophet to tell him something that could suffice for him always and after which he would not have the need to turn for advice to anyone. The Prophet said, “Say, ‘God (alone) is my Lord’, and stick to it (i.e., conduct your life in accordance with it unswervingly).”
For our benefit and guidance a number of extremely inspiring parables have been narrated in the Quran of devout and faithful servants of God who remained true to faith in circumstances of utmost distress and suffering. Neither fear nor greed could make them deviate form the path they had chosen. One such parable is of the prestidigitators of Egypt who were summoned to challenge Prophet Moses and great rewards and honors had been promised to them. Yet after the truth of Divine inspiration and the Apostolic message of Moses had dawned up to them they cared neither for the riches and honors the Pharaoh promised nor for the savage punishment they were sure to receive at his hands for disobeying his commands Rising above the considerations of gain or loss, they boldly declared before the vast assembly of men, “We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses.” Later, when they were threatened by that enemy of God, the Pharaoh, that he would have their arms and legs severed and then they would be hanged on the gallows they replied dauntlessly, displaying magnificent courage of conviction that:
“So decree whatever thou desirest to decree: for thou canst decree (touching) only the life of this world, For us, we have believed in our Lord: may He forgive us our sins.” (XX: 72-73)
Still more inspiring it the story of Pharaoh’s wife. You know that Pharaoh was the all-powerful monarch of Egypt whose wife was the sole mistress of his heart. From this you can imagine how enviable would have been her lot. All the world’s glories and luxuries were at her feet. Yet when the innermost depths of her soul were stirred by the Divine call of Moses she did not give a thought to what her husband would do to her or how her life of cloudless bliss would change into one of colossal distress and misery. Regardless of the consequences she proclaimed her faith and once she had done so she flinched not from the path of duty towards God and religion although the torture she was subjected to be truly barbarous, the very idea of which is enough to make our flesh creep even today. In return for it, such a unique honor was conferred on her by God that her name has been mentioned reverentially in the Quran and the patient perseverance displayed by her and her sacrifice have been held forth as an example to all Muslims.
And God sets forth, as an example to those who believe, the wife of Pharaoh: behold, she said! “Build for me in nearness to Thee, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those that do wrong.” (LXVI: 11)
Glory be! What rare honor, what matchless distinction, really, that God (Allah) has chosen the constancy of faith of that blessed lady to serve as an example to the entire Ummat. From Hazrat Abu Bakar down to the last generation of Muslims before the Last Day.
It is related that when the atrocities perpetrated by the Polytheists of Mecca on Muslims exceeded all limits and the Companion approached the Holy Prophet (pbuh) to pray to God (Allah) for mercy and protection, the Prophet (pbuh) remarked, “You have become disheartened so soon! Men of God (Allah) before you were subjected to such brutal torture that combs of red hot iron were driven into their heads and the skulls of some of them were sawed off into two and yet they remained steadfast and did not abandon their faith.”