In the chapter Al-Baqarah (The Heifer), the Qur’an sets forth an important law of nature, which pertains to the most important factors in life’s struggle. The translation of the relevant verse is as follows: But those of them who believed that they would meet God replied, ‘Many a small group, by God’s command, has prevailed against a large group. For God is with those who are patient in adversity.’ (2:249)
According to this Qur’anic verse, in the quantification of virtues, there are two factors in life that are of prime importance—belief and patience. These two factors are more telling than any number of other virtues. So we have to pay more attention to inculcating these two qualities, belief, and patience, rather than simply trying to increase the number of other virtues that we possess. What is a majority or a large group? It is a composite of individuals. If the individual is strong, the group will be strong, and if the individual is weak, then the group will also be weak. The individual is like a brick. And it takes many bricks to put up a building. If every single brick is strong, the building will in consequence be strong, but if even a single brick is weak, the whole building will also prove to be weak and could come tumbling down.
It is a fact that strength lies in individuals and not in the group. A group itself is nothing. It is individuals or members of groups, who determine the strength of the group and not the group itself. The above Qur’anic verse makes special mention of two qualities in an individual—belief, and patience. The former underpins the ideological strength of an individual, while the latter reinforces his strength in practical matters. These two features are indispensable. It is a fact that strength lies in individuals and not in the group. It is individuals or members of groups, who determine the strength of the group and not the group itself.
Ideology is the mainspring of a man’s intellectual strength. Whatever ideology he subscribes to gives him conviction and courage and, moreover, vision; one who possesses these qualities is undoubtedly a complete person. He is able to think, he is able to make decisions, he is able to go into the deeper aspects of situations and make objective assessments. He is able to say in the face of adversity: “I will surmount it.”
Patience is a very important quality. Life is full of problems and untoward events, so you have to avoid being a victim of provocation and, going beyond immediate circumstances, refrain from any reactionary approach. Only a patient person is in a position to practice the necessary self-restraint. Only a patient person can go beyond his immediate circumstances and properly plan his life by taking into consideration every relevant factor on a long-term basis. Only a patient person is able to do future-oriented planning, and it is future-oriented planning that leads to great success.
In life’s struggle, there are frequent occasions when immediate decision-making becomes essential. This being so, every member of the group must be a program maker and not just a program receiver. Super achievement is destined only for groups whose members have this kind of superior quality. A large group consisting of weak individuals is vulnerable like a balloon, while a small group with strong members is rock-like in its strength.