The 45th Call: The Obligation of Obeying Allah and His Messenger
Almighty Allah says (what can be translated as): “O you who have believed, obey Allah and His Messenger and do not turn from him while you hear [his order]. And do not be like those who say, "We have heard," while they do not hear. Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allah are the deaf and dumb who do not use reason. Had Allah known any good in them, He would have made them hear. And if He had made them hear, they would [still] have turned away, while they were refusing.” (Al-Anfal: 20-23)
Almighty Allah commands the believers to obey Him and His Messenger and to respond to the Messenger Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him) if he calls them to Jihad in the path of Allah. Almighty Allah forbids them from disobeying the Messenger (PBUH) and refusing to respond to him if he calls them to Jihad because they hear and understand the words of Allah when He commands them to obey, support and assist the Messenger (PBUH).
Almighty Allah forbids them from acting like hypocrites and polytheists who said: We heard what you said Muhammad but in reality, they did not hear and they did not respond so they were just like those who did not hear at all “While they do not hear”.
Those who say we hear but they do not hear are the worst and most evil creatures living on earth because they are deaf who refuse to hear with their ears and mute when it comes to admitting and understanding the truth so they don’t reason it. All the creatures obey her Lord as for those ones, Allah has created them to worship Him but they disbelieved so they are the worst living creatures.
The Arabic term used in the Qur’anic text to refer to those disobeying creatures is “Dawab” which means every living creature that moves or walks on earth, i.e. animals, that includes humans yet it is rarely used to refer to humans in the Qur’an. Using this term here to refer to the polytheists is to despise them. These creatures do not use reason and they do not have any wish to do any good and profitable deed. Had Allah known any potential in them to have faith and seek the light of Prophetic guidance, He would have made him hear and understand the call but they have no good in them and this is why He did not make them hear. Almighty Allah knows that even if He had made them hear, they would have turned away refusing intentionally and stubbornly to hear and obey Him and the Messenger (Peace Be upon Him).
The believers are asked to obey Allah and His Messenger (Peace Be upon Him) and not to turn away when they listen to His revelations. This address follows a number of inspiring introductions and an account of the events of the battle in which Allah’s hand was clearly seen at work as He determined the course of events and provided help and support. All this reassured the believers that Allah was with them and He was certain to foil the schemes of the unbelievers. Thereafter the only proper course of action was for them to listen and obey. To turn away from the Messenger of Allah and pay no heed to his orders after all that had happened would clearly be seen as totally unbecoming of anyone who has a mind to think and reflect.
The mention of animals “Dawab” occurs at its appropriate place. The Arabic term used here to refer to animals includes human beings because this is derived from the act of walking. Human beings also walk on earth. However, the term used here is most commonly used for quadruped animals. Hence, its usage gives clear connotations so as to make those who are ‘deaf, dumb and devoid of reason’ appear like animals. Indeed, they are the worst type of animals. Animals do have ears, but they only hear unintelligible words, and they have tongues but they can only make unintelligible noises. Yet by their nature, animals are guided to what is needed for their lives. Those humans, on the other hand, do not make use of their faculty of understanding.
As such, they are fittingly described in the Qur’anic verse: “Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allah are the deaf and dumb who do not use reason.” (Verse 22) “Had Allah known any good in them, He would have made them hear.” (Verse 23) This means that He would have made their minds receive well what they hear with their ears. But He — limitless is He in His Glory — does not know of any goodness in them or any desire to follow proper guidance. They have perverted their natural receptive faculty. Therefore, Allah does not open their hearts which they have shut down or repair their nature which they have perverted. Even if Allah made them understand the truth of what is being presented to them, they would not open their hearts to it and they would not respond to what they understood. “And if He had made them hear, they would [still] have turned away, while they were refusing.” (Verse 23) A person may understand something with his mind, but he may still keep his heart closed, unresponsive. Even if God were to make these people understand, they would turn away and refuse to respond. A positive response is the outcome of proper listening. Many are those who may understand or choose to keep their hearts closed, unresponsive.