‘We Hear and Obey’ — The benefits of True Submission

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Published July 5, 2023

By Laura El Alam

The word “Islam” means “submission.” Submitting means yielding to a superior authority, and Muslims know that the Creator of the universe is the ultimate authority with no equal. Life demonstrates over and over again how powerless and weak we humans really are. Since Allah has all the might, perfection, and magnificent attributes, submitting to Him is the only logical option. He alone has complete control, and He is our only hope for success in this worldly life and the hereafter.

Despite this, many of us struggle with true submission. Following Allah’s rules diligently and trusting Him wholeheartedly can be difficult when our lower nafs – our ego – asserts itself. Allah promises eternal Paradise to those who worship and obey Him, but the egotistic or self-centered nafs is shortsighted. It craves the pleasures of this world, no matter how fleeting and imperfect they are. While we know that we should obey His commands fully, we often fall short. Our desires are often at odds with what Allah has ordained for us, and we sometimes give into temptation instead of obeying the One who knows what is best for us.

What would happen if we managed to truly, completely submit to the will of Allah? What if we stopped trying to make Islam fit our own sensibilities and preferences, quit trying to justify our disobedience, and stopped questioning His will? There are a variety of benefits to true submission.

Emotional Benefits of True Submission

Trusting Him completely relieves stress — This worldly life will be full of struggles; Allah has promised us this: “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits but give good tidings to the patient” (Qur’an 2:155). Some tests feel unbearably difficult, and we might not be able to perceive any possible good or wisdom in them in the midst of suffering and grieving. But in our lowest moments, if we can only remember that Allah’s mercy is incomparably vast, and His wisdom is totally comprehensive, we will find great comfort in submitting to His will. We humans cannot see the big picture, but He can. Allah tells us in the Quran: “It could be that you dislike something when it is good for you; and it could be that you like something when it is bad for you. Allah knows, and you do not know” (2:216).

Scholar Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya explains: “Had Allah lifted the veil for his slave and shown him how He handles his affairs for him, and how Allah is more keen for the benefit of the slave than his [the slave’s] own self, his heart would have melted out of the love for Allah and would have been torn to pieces out of thankfulness to Allah. Therefore, if the pains of this world tire you, do not grieve. For it may be that Allah wishes to hear your voice by way of du’a. So, pour out your desires in prostration and forget about it and know that verily Allah does not forget it.”

Remembering and trusting Allah during tribulations helps to regulate our emotions — When we try our best to accept Allah’s decree with patience and we thank and praise Him by du’a even as our heart is breaking, we will find relief. Allah tells us, “…those who believe and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of Allah. Surely in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find comfort (13:28).

Experiencing fulfilling relationships brings emotional stability — Islam recognizes that meaningful connection with other humans is so important for emotional stability. Allah and His Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) emphasize the enormous value of relationships, including kinship, marriage, and ties of brotherhood/sisterhood in faith. For instance, in Islam, spouses are supposed to care for each other and fulfill each other’s needs. Allah describes husband and wife as garments for each other, enjoying a uniquely intimate and protective relationship: “They are garments for you, and you are garments for them” (2:187).

Sincere believers are supposed to be so sympathetic and caring to their brothers and sisters in faith that they feel each other’s pain. The Prophet (s) said, “You see the believers as regards their being merciful among themselves and showing love among themselves and being kind, resembling one body, so that, if any part of the body is not well then the whole body shares the sleeplessness and fever with it” (Bukhari).

Similarly, children and parents should have a close and loving relationship. The Prophet (s) encouraged his Companions to be affectionate and patient with youngsters, and his own interactions with children were gentle and playful. Sons and daughters, for their part, are told to treat their parents with respect and mercy.

The Messenger of Allah (s) said, “Every righteous child who casts a look of mercy and affection upon his parents shall be granted, for every look of his, rewards equivalent to that of an accepted hajj.” Those around the Prophet questioned: “O Prophet of Allah! Even if he were to look at them a hundred times a day?” The Messenger of Allah (s) replied: “Indeed! Allah is the Greatest and Most Kind.”

In all these ways, Islam promotes wholesome relationships that honor humans’ emotional need for companionship, love, support, intimacy, and friendship. Thus, true surrender to Allah SWT brings fulfilling relationships and emotional stability.

Physical Benefits of True Submission

Less stress-related illness results from submitting to Allah — If we experience emotional stability and comfort due to our trust in Allah, then our bodies will benefit. Stress can cause many health problems including headaches, upset stomach, tense muscles, sleep problems, and a weakened immune system. When we submit to Allah, trust His plan, and spend our days in remembrance and worship, we will naturally experience fewer stress-induced health problems.

Islam teaches moderation and balance so a healthier lifestyle results — In addition, our submission to Allah keeps us from engaging in potentially harmful behaviors that could sabotage our physical health. Muslims are, for instance, prohibited from partaking in substances like alcohol and drugs that can negatively affect our health. In a world where sexually transmitted diseases are commonplace, a practicing Muslim who is intimate only within the confines of a marriage will be safe from such diseases. We are supposed to eat in moderation, too. The Messenger of Allah (s) said, “A human being fills no worse vessel than his stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls to keep his spine straight. But if he must [fill the stomach], then one third for food, one third for drink and one third for air” (Sunan Ibn Majah).

If we live a life of moderation and balance, as Islam requires, our physical health will benefit greatly.

Spiritual Benefits of True Submission

Our souls will truly feel at peace only when we are obeying our Lord. A Muslim’s spiritual success is in fact dependent upon submission. Allah tells us in the Qur’an, “You who believe, enter wholeheartedly into submission to God and do not follow in Satan’s footsteps, for he is for you an open enemy” (2:208).

We fulfill our soul’s true purpose and that puts the soul at ease — Submission gives us spiritual clarity and ease. There are many times in life when we might be confused about whether we are making the right decision, or whether one course of action is better than another. But when we are worshiping Allah according to His commands, we are never in doubt. Have you ever regretted making sujood? Or fasting for the sake of Allah? Or praying tahajjud? Of course not! All acts of submission bring us peace and a sense of certainty because they are fulfilling our soul’s true purpose.

“We hear and we obey” brings safety, justice, and eternal peace — What does submitting wholeheartedly look like? When a certain requirement is difficult for us, our submission is most apparent and meaningful. For instance, for people who find it very difficult to complete the five daily prayers on time, submission reveals itself in making prayers a top priority, regardless of inconvenience to their schedule. For those who crave material things, submission will mean avoiding riba, interest, to purchase a larger house or new car they desire. For those who struggle with adhering to the Islamic dress code, submission means covering their body for the sake of Allah and lowering their gaze, even when this entails a daily battle with their nafs. Every one of us probably has certain aspects of Islam that are more difficult for us to submit to, but our compliance is a recognition of Allah’s authority over us and a measure of our sincerity.

If we are truly submitting to Him, we will not be enslaved by anything else. Our goal as believers should be the unwavering, unhesitant submission of the faithful, as described in the Qur’an, who say, “We hear and obey.”

“The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, as do the faithful. They all believe in God, His angels, His scriptures, and His messengers. ‘We make no distinction between any of His messengers.’ And they say, ‘We hear and obey. [Grant] us Your forgiveness, our Lord. To You we all return!’” (2:285).

The beauty of submission in Islam is that when we bow down to Him both literally and figuratively, we can trust Allah completely. He alone, the perfect One who is free from any defect, does not abuse His power. He alone is worthy of our complete devotion. If we submit to another human being, we will likely be exploited or oppressed. If we make an intangible goal like fame or status our primary desire, we will be disappointed when they do not deliver true satisfaction. But when we surrender ourselves to Allah, the Most Loving, the Most Just, we can rest assured that He will care for us, reward us, and treat us fairly. No one else but Allah can promise us safety, justice, and eternal bliss in return for our submission. Let us all strive to be among those who can truly say, “We hear and obey.”

Avatar photo Laura El AlamAuthor Laura El Alam is a freelance writer and editor and a first-generation American Muslim. She is the author of over 100 published articles and has written a children’s book, Made from the Same Dough, due to be released in 2023. You can visit her online at

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