One of the criticisms that the Quran receives from people who are unaware is that it at times appears to jump between two unrelated topics, but upon further analysis by God’s leave, we are able to understand the connection which was overlooked. An example of this is in the following passages. In the first set of verses it is discussing the the exile of Satan, while the second series of verses are discussing being stranded out at sea. So what could be the connection between these two seemingly unrelated topics?

[17:61] When we said to the angels, “Fall prostrate before Adam,” they fell prostrate, except Satan. He said, “Shall I prostrate to one You created from mud?” [17:62] He said, “Since You have honored him over me, if You respite me till the Day of Resurrection, I will possess all his descendants, except a few.” [17:63] He said, “Then go; you and those who follow you will end up in Hell as your requital; an equitable requital. [17:64] “You may entice them with your voice, and mobilize all your forces and all your men against them, and share in their money and children, and promise them. Anything the devil promises is no more than an illusion. [17:65] “As for My servants, you have no power over them.” Your Lord suffices as an advocate. 

[17:66] Your Lord is the One who causes the ships to float on the ocean, that you may seek His bounties. He is Most Merciful towards you. [17:67] If you are afflicted in the middle of the sea, you forget your idols and sincerely implore Him alone. But as soon as He saves you to the shore, you revert. Indeed, the human being is unappreciative. [17:68] Have you guaranteed that He will not cause the land, on shore, to swallow you? Or, that He will not send upon you a tempest, then you find no protector? [17:69] Have you guaranteed that He will not return you to the sea another time, then send upon you a storm that drowns you because of your disbelief? Once this happens, we will not give you another chance.

In 17:64, God allows Satan the following privileges for him to attempt to prove his point:

[17:64] “You may entice them with your voice, and mobilize all your forces and all your men against them

وَاسْتَفْزِزْ مَنِ اسْتَطَعْتَ مِنْهُمْ بِصَوْتِكَ وَأَجْلِبْ عَلَيْهِمْ بِخَيْلِكَ

From this we see the Arabic word that is translated as entice is “وَاسْتَفْزِزْ” this root only occurs three times in the entire Quran and every occurrence is in sura 17.

If we look at the other two occurrences of this word we get a better sense of the meaning of this word:

[17:76] They almost banished you (layastafizzūnaka) from the land to get rid of you, so they could revert as soon as you left.

وَإِنْ كَادُوا لَيَسْتَفِزُّونَكَ مِنَ الْأَرْضِ لِيُخْرِجُوكَ مِنْهَا وَإِذًا لَا يَلْبَثُونَ خِلَافَكَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

[17:103] When he pursued them, as he chased them out of the land, we drowned him, together with those who sided with him, all of them.

فَأَرَادَ أَنْ يَسْتَفِزَّهُمْ مِنَ الْأَرْضِ فَأَغْرَقْنَاهُ وَمَنْ مَعَهُ جَمِيعًا

From this we see that Satan is not allowed to only “entice”, but also to “scare or banish” with his voice and mobilize all his soldiers to push his point of view in this world as a bludgeon towards individuals. Additionally, we see in the following verses a similar tactic referenced in the story of David and the two brothers who were feuding regarding their sheep.

[38:22] When they entered his room, he (David) was startled. They said, “Have no fear. We are feuding with one another, and we are seeking your fair judgment. Do not wrong us, and guide us in the right path. [38:23] “This brother of mine owns ninety-nine sheep, while I own one sheep. He wants to mix my sheep with his, and continues to pressure me.

The Arabic that is translated as “and [he] continues to pressure me” is وَعَزَّنِي فِي الْخِطَابِ, and has the literal translation of “he overpowers me in speech or argument.” The word الْخِطَابِ is the same root as the word for sermon in Arabic khutbeh.

From this verse we see that the brother with a single sheep was feeling overpowered by his brother’s argument causing him undue pressure towards combining their properties.

So how does any of this relate with the verses discussing being stranded out at sea?

Oftentimes, when standing up for the truth it requires to go against the crowd. When a person communicates their viewpoint they achieve this by pushing waves of sound by means of their voice through the medium of air. As it is Satan’s privilege to attempt to crush dissenting voices he can choose to mobilize his army of hypnotized followers to drown out such opposing opinions. This can lead advocators of truth to feel lonely and scared. It is during these moments where a person will implore God for support, to provide them the right words, counterpoint, or courage to remain steadfast in the face of the opposition. When a person does this, God can choose to support them but the question is: will they be appreciative for such saving grace or revert after the help from God.

[17:66] Your Lord is the One who causes the ships to float on the ocean, that you may seek His bounties. He is Most Merciful towards you. [17:67] If you are afflicted in the middle of the sea, you forget your idols and sincerely implore Him alone. But as soon as He saves you to the shore, you revert. Indeed, the human being is unappreciative. [17:68] Have you guaranteed that He will not cause the land, on shore, to swallow you? Or, that He will not send upon you a tempest, then you find no protector? [17:69] Have you guaranteed that He will not return you to the sea another time, then send upon you a storm that drowns you because of your disbelief? Once this happens, we will not give you another chance.

In the Quran, we read the insecurity Moses initially felt when he was commanded to face Pharaoh. That Pharaoh resorted to mocking and intimidation to strengthen his argument in an attempt to tear down Moses.

[43:51] Pharaoh announced to his people, “O my people, do I not possess the kingship over Egypt, and these flowing rivers belong to me? Do you not see? [43:52] “Which one is better; me or that one who is lowly and can hardly speak? [43:53] “How come he does not possess a treasure of gold; how come the angels do not accompany him?”

Again we read the fear Moses harbored when he had to face off against the magicians.

[20:65] They said, “O Moses, either you throw, or we will be the first to throw.” [20:66] He said, “You throw.” Whereupon, their ropes and sticks appeared to him, because of their magic, as if they were moving. [20:67] Moses harbored some fear. [20:68] We said, “Have no fear. You will prevail. [20:69] “Throw what you hold in your right hand, and it will swallow what they fabricated. What they fabricated is no more than the scheming of a magician. The magician’s work will not succeed.”

Another example of a believer going against the mob is seen when Lot was debating with his people and the powerlessness he felt being in the minority.

[11:77] When our messengers went to Lot, they were mistreated, and he was embarrassed by their presence. He said, “This is a difficult day.” [11:78] His people came rushing; they had grown accustomed to their sinful acts. He said, “O my people, it would be purer for you, if you take my daughters instead. You shall reverence GOD; do not embarrass me with my guests. Have you not one reasonable man among you?” [11:79] They said, “You know well that we have no need for your daughters; you know exactly what we want.” [11:80] He said, “I wish I were strong enough, or had a powerful ally!”

In our lives we are guaranteed to be tested to see if we will support God and stand up for the truth despite the opposition.

[29:2] Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe,” without being put to the test? [29:3] We have tested those before them, for GOD must distinguish those who are truthful, and He must expose the liars.

It is at these moments that the devil will do his utmost to squelch such dissenting opinions through his voice and his army of devoted soldiers in an attempt to instill fear into us so that we revert from God’s path.

[3:175] It is the devil’s system to instill fear into his subjects. Do not fear them and fear Me instead, if you are believers.

إِنَّمَا ذَٰلِكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ يُخَوِّفُ أَوْلِيَاءَهُ فَلَا تَخَافُوهُمْ وَخَافُونِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ

But if we are steadfast and trust in God, then God will support us and grant us victory against such evil people.

[3:160] If GOD supports you, none can defeat you. And if He abandons you, who else can support you? In GOD the believers shall trust.

 إِنْ يَنْصُرْكُمُ اللَّهُ فَلَا غَالِبَ لَكُمْ وَإِنْ يَخْذُلْكُمْ فَمَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَنْصُرُكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ

Alternatively if we fail, then we are much like the person stranded in the middle of the sea who reverts after obtaining God’s support.

[29:10] Among the people there are those who say, “We believe in GOD,” but as soon as they suffer any hardship because of GOD, they equate the people’s persecution with GOD’s retribution. But if blessings from your Lord come your way, they say, “We were with you.” Is GOD not fully aware of the people’s innermost thoughts? [29:11] GOD will most certainly distinguish those who believe, and He will most certainly expose the hypocrites.

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