Path towards Enlightenment (869)
Welcome to our weekly programme “Path towards Enlightenment” in which we present you a fluent and easy-to-understand explanation of God’s Revealed Word, the holy Qur’an.
We continue from where we left you last week, and here are Ayahs 53 and 54 of Surah Ghaffer (or Mo’men):
“Certainly We gave Moses the guidance and We made the Children of Israel heirs to the Book;
“As a guidance and an admonition for those who possess intellect.”
If you might recall, last Friday we said it is Divine practice to render support to the prophets and the true believers, and to make truth victorious over falsehood. Also on the Day of Judgment, the prophets and the righteous servants will have the privilege of intercession with God for their true followers, while in contrast their opponents and enemies will be humiliated, which is the worst ever state.
The Ayahs that we recited to you now indicate that guidance is a Divine Favour and all people, even the Prophets, are in need of it. In view of this fact, the Divine Guidance bestowed upon Moses (PuH) embraces a broad semantic range which includes the Prophethood, the Revelation, the Heavenly Scripture (that is, the Torah), and the Miracles to prove his mission as the Invitee towards the One and Only Creator of the universe.
The expression that the Children of Israel, that is, the descendants of Prophet Jacob (PuH), are heirs to the Divine Book, means to say that the twelve Israelite tribes could avail of the Torah and its guidelines, generation after generation like the property inherited without toil, though they misused this inheritance by disobeying God Almighty and tampering with its contents after Moses and the other prophets.
The next ayah adds that the Torah was Divine Guidance and a Reminder for those who possessed the intellect to discern truth from falsehood. In the wording of the holy Qur’an, the difference between ‘Guidance’ or ‘Hidaya’ and ‘Reminder’ or ‘Zikra’, is that the former indicates the inception of something whereas the latter designates reminding what one has already heard and believed in it, but has consigned it into oblivion. In other words, the Heavenly Scripture is the means of progression of guidance for the rational people who benefit through use of the intellect and fear of God as the prerequisites for proper understanding of Divine teachings, in contrast to the arrogant, the biased, the obdurate, and the ignorant, who violate its contents and thus perish.
These Ayahs teach us the following points:
- All human beings, including the Prophets, are in need of Divine guidance; if the Prophets receive direct Divine guidance through the angels from the Lord Most High, the people receive Divine guidance indirectly through the messengers of God.
- The Prophets of God do not leave as inheritance wealth, gardens and palaces; but their legacy is the Divine Book as guidance for the people.
- Human beings are always in need of Remembrance of God at every moment, since people are liable to forget Divine guidance if there is no remembrance of the Omnipresent Creator.
- It is the intellect which guides those with proper understanding towards the Divine Revelation and the path to salvation and eternal bliss.
Now let us listen to ayah 55 of the same Surah:
“So be patient! Allah’s promise is indeed true. And plead for [Allah’s] forgiveness for your sin, and celebrate the praise of your Lord evening and morning.”
Although this Ayah seems to address Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny), it is a general command for all people. There are certain points in this Ayah to be pondered upon. First is the injunction to be patient in view of God’s promise which is indeed true. It means the Prophet is tolerant towards not just the obduracy and enmity of the opponents, but also the ignorance, weakness, negligence, and the faults of his companions. He is patient against unchecked passions and anger since the key to victory is patience against vicissitudes at all times. God’s Promise to make the Prophet of Islam and his followers victorious is true. All the victories of the Prophet and early Muslims were the fruits of patience and perseverance. Even today, one cannot vanquish so many enemies and solve so many problems without patience and perseverance.
The next injunction of this Ayah is to seek forgiveness for sin, for which the holy Qur’an has used the word ‘Zanb’ here. Of course, the Prophet, owing to his infallibility, does not commit sins, and neither do his Blessed Household the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt, whose pristine purity has been mentioned by God in ayah 33 of Surah al-Ahzaab, which means this select group do not even think of sin, let alone committing it. The Prophet, however, is so concerned about the fate of the Ummah that he is asked to seek forgiveness from the All-Merciful God for the sins committed by his followers. This was the habit of the Infallible Imams as well. Thus, we Muslims should repent of our faults and shortcomings, and for the sake of the Prophet, beseech God for forgiveness of sins, since the doors of Divine Mercy are always open.
The third injunction in this Ayah is glorifying God Almighty every time, whether in the evening or morning. The Arabic words used here are ‘Ashi’ which means late afternoon before sunset, while ‘Abkaar’ stands for early morning. This may indicate the two times of the day when a person is prepared to praise and glorify God Almighty, since he has not preoccupied himself with daily affairs or he has finished them.
Thus, it is incumbent upon us to patiently endure the vicissitudes of life, purify the heart from sins, and embellish it with the remembrance of the Lord and His glorification, as gratitude for Divine guidance and favours.
This Ayah teaches us the following points:
- A believer in the Divine promises ought to be patient and steadfast in fulfilling his/her duties.
- All human beings, including the Prophets and the Saints, are duty-bound to seek forgiveness because we are all the creatures of God and whatever we do of good deeds is indeed a Divine favour. The divine messengers, because of their high degree of cognizance of God, always feel indebted to Him; hence, they humbly seek forgiveness, even though they are sinless.
- Glorification and praise of God should be constant for attaining spiritually elevation and strengthening of faith.
- We are indeed grateful to God for His infinite bounties and His boundless mercy.
Let us listen to Ayah 56 of Surah Ghafer:
“Indeed those who dispute the signs of Allah without any authority that may have come to them —there is only vanity in their breasts, which they will never satisfy. So seek the protection of Allah; indeed He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.”
This Ayah refers to the root cause of negation of religion, since disputation with the truth springs from vanity rather than sensibility, even though the vain and obdurate may not achieve their goal. The word the holy Qur’an has used here is ‘Mujadala’ which means “disputation and illogical discussions,” though the same is also used in the semantically broader sense of truth and falsehood. In other words, those who indulge in illogical and unreasonable arguments, are haughty and boastful people, who try to deny the Divine teachings and prevent others from following them, when they lack any authority in such matters, even if they consider themselves to be in power and superior to the believers. These persons will never achieve what they desire, and so the believers are advised to seek the protection of God Almighty.
From this ayah we learn that:
- The root cause of lack of faith and denial of religion by many people is vanity and self-conceit.
- Arrogant and haughty persons are merely in pursuit of dominating and controlling others, but they will be exposed in the end and will be abandoned by the society.
- In all circumstances we should take refuge in God especially in the face of various conspiracies.