“Truly, God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Quran 13:11)
I've been watching an interview with Yusuf Islam (former Cat Stevens). I love Yusuf/Cat. Always have since I was a teenager. For me he represents a very positive image of the Male Gender, in particular his spiritual evolution throughout the years and the sincerity that oozes from him - even before he converted to Islam and that transpired through his musical compositions and through his personality/character. These are traits that I admire so, so, much in him. Hence my love for him. And I do recall that I mentioned in one of my posts here, that many years ago, I sent him a birthday card, urging him to take up music again, since he had given up on it. In this anonymous card I wrote that Allah was not against his music since he was His instrument with a message to the world. Hence I was so thrilled to learn that, many years later, Yusuf is back on the scene.
Anyways in this interview on Riz Khan, Yusuf quoted this ayat from the Holy Koran (and by the way I don't fully agree with his political views but that's not the main topic of this post). And it is no coincidence that I am writing this, because for a whole week, I've been thinking and meditating on that exact same ayat.
“ Truly, God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is IN themselves.” (Quran 13:11)
This ayat can be understood on so many levels :
It may mean God does not change the condition of a people, a group, a nation, a tribe, a country, a class, unless they change what is in themselves - meaning, change from silence, change from injustice, change from apathy, change from indifference, change from hypocrisy, change from deception, change from superstitions, change from irresponsibility, change from immorality, change from greed...change implied here is always for the better and in Arabic it can also mean that change is effected with your own hands, i.e taking responsibility for change. This is one level of understanding, and it applies to a "people". To the collectivity, so to speak. to societies, hence this ayat can be understood sociologically. By correlation, it is implied that their present condition is due to these things that they have not changed so far, yet...
Another level of understanding for this ayat, is God does not change a people, meaning a person, until this person changes what is IN himself/herself. This is so clear. It means your condition will not change, whatever your condition is, unless you are willing to change what is IN yourself. And in order to change what is IN yourself, you need to know what is IN yourself.
Which means you need to ask yourself questions about you. It means self awareness, it means self consciousness. It means no more denial about those aspects of the self that are leaving you in a rut. This requires self honesty. And the ayat then affirms that your condition will change once you do that.
I don't believe one can change oneself alone. That is why Allah comes into the picture, by confirming/assuring the believer that He will change his/her condition - condition can mean physical, material, mental, emotional, spiritual - provided that the believer takes that first step of looking inside himself/herself. In other words, God will change you, if you are willing to be changed.
Am sure there are more levels of understanding to this ayat, but I will suffice with the above.