Path Towards Enlightenment (812)
Welcome to our weekly program "Path towards Enlightenment" in which we present you a fluent and easy-to-understand explanation of the ayahs of the holy Quran. First we listen to and read ayahs 80 to 82 of Surah Saaffaat:
“Thus indeed do We reward the virtuous”
“He is indeed one of Our faithful servants.”
“Then We drowned the others.”
In our last episode of Path towards Enlightenment a fortnight ago we explained how God Almighty rescued Prophet Noah and the believers from the great deluge that inundated most of the world and swept away to their doom the multitudes of disbelievers who despite the centuries of respite given to them, never gave up their evil and sinful ways, mocking at the divine message and worshipping idols. As a result of his devotion, patience, compassion for humanity and delivering the true believers as well as animal and bird species from destruction, God Almighty has immortalized Prophet Noah’s name and Himself said: Peace unto him.
The ayahs that we recited to you now mean to say the reward for the righteous ones is Allah’s way of granting His bounties as recompense for the doers of good, with Prophet Noah being a prominent example of a faithful servant of the Almighty Creator. Subsequently, all righteous believers are deserving of such divine reward for their service to the salvation of humanity. As for the unrepentant and sinful disbelievers who were drowned, the great deluge was a kind of divine punishment in the world, while in afterlife their fate will be more terrible.
From these ayahs we learn that:
- The Prophets, Imams and saints, although no longer physically present in our midst, continue to receive the greetings that we send upon them by the Grace of God, Who has ensured that their souls hear and respond to the peace made perpetual for them by divine providence.
- God saves the true believers when the All-Merciful after giving ample respite to the unrepentant disbelievers decides to punish them.
Now we listen to and read ayahs 83 to 87 of Surah Saaffaat:
“Indeed Abraham was among his followers,”
“When he came to his Lord with a sound heart,”
“When he said to his sire (that is, uncle Azar), ‘What is it that you are worshiping?”
“Is it a lie, gods other than Allah that you desire?”
“Then what is your idea about the Lord of all the worlds?”
Although several long centuries separated Noah from the next great prophet, that is, Abraham, since his mission was continuation of the monotheist message of his illustrious ancestor, God Almighty says Abraham was a follower of Noah.
The most important characteristic mentioned in these ayahs for Prophet Abraham is a sound and healthy heart. Soundness of heart here means purity from any polytheist tendencies and sincere submission to God. These qualities made Abraham strongly object to the sordid practice of polytheism, idol-worship and association of partners to the One and Only God. Abraham even reprimanded his greedy idol-maker uncle, who deviating from the monotheist ways of his own father and ancestors, was pandering to the polytheist society for worldly profit by worshipping idols and selling them.
Thus Abraham confronted his uncle by saying: Is it not a pity that man, with his natural honour and his good intellect, stands in front of some worthless pieces of stone and wood and bows? Where is your wisdom? How can you worship anything other than the One and Only Creator of the entire universe, Who has brought you into being and Who provides you sustenance? Yet, after committing such a cardinal and unpardonable sin as idol-worship, you expect God the Glorious to have mercy on you and save you from the terrible punishment which you are bringing upon yourself through such acts!
Is this your misconstrued idea about the Lord of the entire universe, Who created you and everything and Who decisively forbade polytheism?
From these ayahs we learn that:
- The path of all Prophets is the same and there is no difference among the monotheist message they preached about the indivisible Oneness of God, Divine Justice, Prophethood, Piety and the Day of Resurrection.
- The logic of Divine prophets is negation of idolatry, and it is very clear, natural, and rational.
- As believers it is our duty to enlighten others, beginning with our own kin, of the path of piety and virtue which is free of any polytheist tendencies and leads to the proximity of God.
- The true believers always strive to change the environment through their campaign against corruption and sins.
Now we listen to and read ayahs 88 to 92 of Surah Saaffaat:
“Then he made an observation of the stars”
“And said, ‘Indeed I am sick!”
“So they went away leaving him behind.”
“Then he stole away to their gods and said, ‘Will you not eat?”
“Why do you not speak?”
These ayahs refer to another way of Prophet Abraham to jolt the conscience of the polytheists in order to save them from manifest error.
History indicates that every year the idolaters of Babylon had some special festivals on which they used to cook and prepare some food, in idol temple, and put them there imagining that the foods would become blessed. Then they went out from the city and returned back in the evening when they went into their temple to worship and to eat food.
The night before, they invited Abraham to attend the ceremony with them. But the Prophet was waiting for an opportunity to smash the idols. Since the Babylonians believed that the stars are effective in their destiny, Abraham, in order to persuade them not to leave the city, apparently looked at the stars based on their beliefs and then said: accept my excuse, for; according to the circumstances of the stars I anticipate that I would be ill if I leave town, so I'd better stay in the city.
Undoubtedly, Prophet Abraham did not believe in the role of the stars, but in order to convince them, he used their own method. With this excuse he did not leave the city along with the people in order to accomplish the work he had planned. In the absence of people, he went to the big and small idols, and said to them: Why do not you eat what the pagans have given you as a vow? Why do not you answer me and do not talk to me? But do not these polytheists believe that you are influenced by their destiny, then why do not you do anything for them?
From these ayahs we learn that:
- In propagating the right path, we must speak to each and every group in their own language, which means that knowing the thoughts and customs of people is necessary to find the right way to guide them towards the right.
- To fight deviant thoughts and methods in the community, one should take the initiative and benefit from opportunities through vigilance and sharpness.
- The logic of the Prophets for negating polytheism and inviting people to monotheism is clear and in accordance with human intellect and nature.