Victory through the Weak: An Unforgettable Arrow and an Unfailing Promise

Praise be to Allah and may peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah.

Seeking victory (Nusrah) means asking Allah for victory and support. The means by which victory can be achieved are of two kinds:

First kind: Tangible material means. This is the kind referred to in the Saying of Allah, The Exalted (which means): {And prepare against them whatever you are able of power} [Quran 8:60] Allah, The Exalted, commands Muslims to prepare against their enemies whatever they can of mental and physical power as well as the various types of weapons and equipment that assist in fighting them.

It is observed that this kind of means is the one that most people basically focus on and pin their hopes exclusively on it in achieving victory and earning provision. This, however, reflects extreme deficiency of insight, weakness of faith and lack of trust in the promise of Allah and His sufficiency for them. In fact, victory is not attained by great numbers of people or amount of equipment; rather, it is in the Hand of Allah, The One, The Compeller, Who withdraws His help from those whom He wills to leave unaided no matter how great in number or strength they are. This is a clear warning for us not to rely upon worldly means regardless of their extent, for such means are nothing more than a source of reassurance for the hearts and a reason for keeping them firm on goodness and truth. But, victory that is true and invincible is that which comes from Allah, The Exalted. In confirmation, He says (what means): {And victory is not except from Allah, the Exalted in Might, the Wise.} [Quran 3:126]

When some of the Companions of the Prophet  were elated by their great number in the battle of Hunayn and said: “We will never be defeated on account of a small number,” Allah, The Exalted, taught them a lesson for that – despite them being the best of the people – and He left them alone to seek victory on account of their number. So, they initially lost the battle and most of them fled from the battlefield. The crises further worsened to the point that the earth, vast and expansive as it is, felt narrow to them, then they turned back, defeated, except the Messenger of Allah  who remained firm, never fled or weakened. Instead, he supplicated his Lord in submission and devotion, saying: “Allaahumma anta ‘adhudi wa anta naseeri. Bika ahoolu, wa bika asoolu, wa bika uqaatil (O Allah, You are my support and You are my helper. With Your help I get strength, and with Your help I pounce upon the enemy, and with Your help I fight).”

When the Companions ceased to admire their great number and acknowledged their weakness, Allah sent down tranquility upon them and soldiers of His in order to help them stay firm and give them glad tidings until victory was achieved.

The second kind is the moral means; i.e., strong reliance upon Allah, perfect trust in him and firm resorting to Him for all needs. Such matters are a tremendous source of reinforcement to those weak helpless people who are driven by necessity to know for sure that their protection, provision and help come from Allah, and that they are extremely lacking in power. Thus, their hearts soften and resort to Allah, trusting Him, aspiring for His favor and beneficence, and hoping for what is in His Generous Hands. Therefore, Allah, The Exalted, showers them with His support and provision that far surpass what those who are capable can attain. Rather, He makes easy for the capable – for the sake of those weak people – such means of help and provision that are beyond their perception and imagination. The secret behind that is that to Allah, The Exalted, belong the soldiers of the heavens and earth; they are all under his dominion, management and power. They are so many that none can know their nature, number or power but Allah, The Exalted. He alone can reveal their reality if He so wills, according to the limits He decides thereof, and in the time, manner and form He wills. Such knowledge is thus part of the Unseen, as Allah, The Exalted, Says (what means): {And none knows the soldiers of your Lord except Him. And mention of the Fire is not but a reminder to humanity.} [Quran 74:31]

Man may be amazed to know that these soldiers include the weak, the sick, and those with special needs. This would have been subject to controversy and argument were it not for the authentic texts reported in relation to it. Out of these authentic texts, I will present the following two:

First: It is narrated on the authority of Mus‘ab ibn Sa‘d that he said: “Sa‘d ibn Abu Waqqaas, may Allah be pleased with him, felt superior to his subordinates (in the army). So, the Prophet  said: ‘Are you granted help or given provision except for the sake of the weak among you?'” [Al-Bukhari, Book of Jihad and military expeditions, Chapter: Seeking the help of the weak and the righteous in war]

The Prophet  meant to urge Sa‘d to adopt humbleness and refrain from being boastful and looking down upon Muslims in any case.

The question that might occur to one’s mind is: what is that superior rank by which Sa‘d wanted to be distinct from his fellow Muslims? We can find an adequate answer that makes the matter perfectly clear when we combine all the narrations reported on this incident. According to the narration of ‘Abdur-Razzaaq  Sa‘d said to the Prophet : “O Messenger of Allah, if there is a man who is the most protective of his people and who ardently defends his companions, should his share (of spoils) be like that of others?” This shows that the superiority here refers to wishing to receive a larger share of the spoils of war, as stated by Al-Haafith Ibn Hajar. The Prophet  told him that the share a warrior receives is the same for all, and were a strong warrior to outdo others due to his courage, then, indeed, a weak one would also outdo others by virtue of his supplication and sincerity. The interrogative form of the Prophet’s reply to Sa‘d implies affirmation; i.e., the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘akayhi wa sallam, affirms that attaining victory and abundant provision relies upon nothing other than the blessing of the weak. He  put it in the form of a question to indicate further affirmation and reprimand.

Second: Abu Ad-Dardaa’, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah  say: ‘Seek my pleasure through the weak amongst you, for verily, you are granted provision and victory through them.'” By this, he meant to inform the Companions that they should seek to attain his pleasure and approval by getting closer to the weak Muslims, asking after them, preserving their rights, showing kindness to them in words and deeds, and asking Allah for victory through them, as he  said that they were the most deserving of sitting with him and being close to him.

The meaning of ‘verily, you are granted provision and victory through them’, is that the Muslims are enabled to benefit from what Allah has brought forth for them and are supported against their enemy and saved from affliction and harm only for the presence of those weak Muslims amongst them, or because of their care for them and the blessings of the supplication of the weak in their favor. This is because those weak Muslims are more sincere in supplication and more submissive in worship since their hearts are not tarnished by attachment to the false adornment of the worldly life. Some scholars took this Hadeeth as evidence on the favorability of making the elderly and children attend the Istisqaa’ (rain-seeking) prayer. When the weak person feels his inability and lack of power, he sincerely disavows his own power or strength, and his heart softens and submissively implores his Lord. So, Allah, The Exalted, responds to his supplication and gives him what he hopes for. How many a small company has overcome a large company by permission of Allah. This is not the case with the strong person who believes that he can overcome other men by his own power, so Allah, The Exalted, leaves him to his own self in proportion to his pride, which eventually becomes the reason for his failure.

The weak referred to in the Hadeeth are those who are physically weak due to an illness or morally weak due to psychological trouble or those whose weakness is caused by poverty and need. The reported texts include all three categories. Someone may say that the weak are those who are regarded as such by the people due to their poverty and shabbiness, since they are especially capable of engaging in supplication and prayer, as indicated by the statement of the Prophet : “Indeed, Allah supports this Ummah through their weak members: by their supplication, prayer and sincerity.” [An-Nasaa’i] The answer is that supplication, prayer and sincerity could be fulfilled in the other two categories as well, not necessarily by the ill person himself but by those who look after him. Many are the ill whose family devoutly implores Allah with their hearts fully submissive to Him more than the ill person himself does.