Oh, you who believe: Obey Allah, obey the Messenger, and obey those in authority among you. (Holy Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 59)
The ship is symbolic of the testing one must go through in life to achieve perfection of self. The disciplining of ego is the ultimate sacrifice and is the essence of the Islamic message of submission. It is achieved through the means of obeying those above us in authority; one’s sincerity and level of devotion is revealed through one’s level of obedience. This verse expresses the qualities of having trust and faith in a higher power that supports us like water, that holds up a ship in an ocean, in our ultimate journey of reaching perfection. The three stations towards perfection are expressed in this verse: “Obey God” is symbolic of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) who represents the level of Ihsan (sincerity); “Obey the Messenger” represents Lady Hajara (Hagar) and her expression of Iman (faith); and obey those in authority represents Prophet Ismail (Ishmael) and his level of Islam (submission).