Path towards Enlightenment (873)
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 69 to 72 of Surah Ghaffer (or Mo’men):
“Have you not regarded those who dispute the signs of Allah, where they are being led away [from Allah’s way]?
“Those who deny the Book and what we have sent with Our Messengers; soon they will know;
“When, [with] iron collars around their necks and chains, they are dragged;
“Into scalding waters and then set aflame in the Fire.”
If you remember, last Friday we explained to you how beautifully God Almighty has described for us His wonderful signs throughout the universe and urged us to reflect upon the phases of creation so that we realize Divine Power as well as the dignity of the human beings, rather than selling our souls freely.
The Ayahs that we recited to you now mean to say that we should observe the behaviour of those who denied the manifest signs of Allah, and this is possible through familiarity with the history of ancient obdurate peoples that ought to serve as a lesson for all subsequent generations. Denial of the heavenly scriptures, especially the holy Qur’an, and refusal to heed the messages of the Prophets, means going astray, and this has terrible consequences.
The fate of such people who reject the mission of the Prophets and the contents of the heavenly scriptures, is vividly depicted. Since monotheism and issues pertaining to Resurrection are among the basic teachings of the Divine Books, those who follow vain desires, deny these facts, and ultimately suffer the punishment reserved for unbelievers in afterlife. Various kinds of torments will be inflicted on them in Hell, including the fastening of iron collars around their necks as an example of their debasement and denigration. They will further suffer the humiliation of being dragged in chains into boiling water where they will be burned in the Fire. This is the fate of the unbelievers while alive had refused to believe in the One and Only Creator of the universe and His commandments despite the manifest signs and the guidelines of the Prophets in clear words.
These ayahs teach us the following points:
- The holy Qur’an urges us to study history and ponder on the fate of the past nations which were destroyed because of their rejection of the Prophets and the heavenly scriptures.
- The terrible punishment described here is intended as a warning to mankind to learn lessons, rectify the wrongs, repent, and reform themselves, in order to avail of God’s Infinite Mercy.
Now let us listen to Ayahs 73 and 74:
Then they will be told, ‘Where are those you used to take as partners;
“Besides Allah?’ They will say, ‘They have forsaken us. Rather, we did not invoke anything before.’ That is how Allah leaves astray the faithless.”
These Ayahs refer to some of the questions that will be posed to the denizens of Hell, since the Day of Resurrection is the day of manifestation of truth. Besides suffering physical punishments they shall suffer psychological torments, when the polytheists and idol-worshippers will be asked: Where are the partners that you ascribed to God so that they may intercede on your behalf and save you from such painful torments and the blazing Hellfire?
Bowing their heads in shame, they will reply: They seem to have deserted us or are in the Hell themselves; if only we had not invoked them. Such confessions will not be helpful on the Day of Judgment, and as is clear in the next Ayah, because of their obduracy, ignorance and refusal to take heed of the manifest signs of truth, they had been left to go astray by the All-Merciful Lord, Who had shown them Infinite Mercy and given ample respite to repent, throughout their mortal lives.
From these two ayahs we learn that:
- The Day of Judgment is the time of manifestation of realities and on that they disbelievers will realize how they had gone astray.
- Confession of the cardinal sin of disbelief by the atheists and the polytheists will be useless on the Day of Judgment because of what these unbelievers had done during mortal life, despite the respite given and the mercy shown to them by the All-Merciful Lord.
- Guidance and misguidance are the result of our own ways of differentiating between truth and falsehood, while those who continue their sinful path are left to go astray.
Now let us listen to ayahs 75 and 76 of surah Ghafer as the concluding ayahs of this episode:
“That is because you used to exult unduly on the earth and because you used to walk exultantly.’
“Enter the gates of hell, to remain in it [forever].’ Evil is the [final] abode of the arrogant.”
These Ayahs point to the punishment and misery of the disbelievers, and mean to say that while alive they used to indulge in excessive rejoicing at their assumed cleverness in denying God and the Day of Resurrection. They used to enjoy oppressing others and plunged themselves in sins and transgressing God’s commands. In other words, they used to rejoice in their rejection of the Prophets, their killing of believers, and their suppressing of the deprived and the weak. They were falsely proud of committing sins and breaking divine laws. Now they have to meet the consequences of such improper exultation, arrogance, and negligence, by being placed in shackles and fetters amid blazing flames of Hellfire.
The next Ayah addresses the unbelievers condemned to torment who are being asked to enter the gates of Hell to abide therein. It emphasizes the fact that their fate is because of their own vanity, arrogance, and persistence in error.
This Ayah also implies that there are different gates and levels in Hell, in the manner of terrible prisons with labyrinthine corridors with many cells, and a number of those who were obdurately in error have to descend all these levels and find their everlasting abode on the lowest level at the depth of Hell!
A narration from the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), says: “It [Hell] has seven gates, for each of those gates is a [specific] group [of sinners] assigned.”
We can learn from these Ayahs that:
- Islam is not opposed to pleasure and entertainment; but it strictly forbids sinful pleasures as they lead one to drift away from the path of God, or make him heedless of the needy.
- Rejoicing of the disbelievers in this world will result in their humiliation and painful punishment in the Hereafter.
- Pleasures and entertainments are evaluated by truth and falsehood. For instance, rejoicing at the cost of violating others’ rights and mocking at the weak and inferiors is not accepted in Islam at all. These are all sins and transgression of God’s commands.