How many times do we ponder about the details. Why do make tawaf seven times? Why is it recommended that we repeat each action during ablution three times? Why does Asr prayer have four rakaat? Why are certain zikr to be repeated 33 times, while others, ten times, 34 times or 100 times?
Some things appear baffling to us. And we waste an extraordinary amount of time trying to theorize and rationalize.
The answer to these questions is very simple – if we truly believe in Allah, we will implement whatever He says without question or argument. Some things just are. There is no point asking why there are seven days in a week or why the earth rotates around the sun - Allah made it that way, so we have to accept it as it is.
All the commandments of Allah benefit us. For some of these, the benefits are immediately obvious to us. Others are only made clear after research or advances in technology. And for some others, especially for the finer detail, we implement them to demonstrate our submission and obedience to Allah, even if we do not understand the underlying wisdom yet.
Imagine all the unreasonable things that our bosses, teachers or lecturers ask us to do. And for them we obey without question, even though their instructions may be daft and totally lacking wisdom.
What about Allah? We know that Allah neither oppresses His slaves, nor makes them perform ridiculous or harmful things. We should trust that when Allah asks us to do something, it is of benefit to us. Hence, it is not the magic number 3, 5, 7, 19, 33, or whatever – the “magic” is actually in our willingness to obey and implement. Who knows, maybe in the future, some fantastic research on quantum physics will prove the benefit of these repetitions and numbers. Meantime, we continue obeying and accepting. We do not simply rinse our faces five times because we think three is not clean enough, or make four rounds of tawaf because seven seems too long. Allah knows best why certain things are to be performed in a certain manner and we obey His rules to please Him.
Simple example: when we want to impress someone we love, we try to give him what he likes. I may like chocolate cake, but the person I love prefers apple pie. If I wanted to make him happy, do I impose upon him what I like, or do I give him what he likes? Of course, I should give him the apple pie, without trying to rationalize with him or others on his preference.
It is the same with Allah. He has given us certain instructions and protocols, and we carry them out, to please Him. One scholar mentioned that everything has a key, and the format of the key is totally aligned with the lock that it is intended to open. The key to Allah's mercy is obedience. No second guessing, no debates, and no arguments. We show our love to Him by pleasing Him with what He likes, not by simply doing things our way. The numbers don’t matter, but the obedience, acceptance and trust do. This is Islam, This is submission.