Path towards Enlightenment (875)
Welcome dear listeners 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 79, 80 and 81 of Ghaffer (or Mo’men):
“It is Allah Who created the livestock for you that you may ride some of them and some of them you eat;
“And there are [numerous] uses in them for you, and that over them (riding them or using them as beasts of burden) you may satisfy any need that is in your breasts, and you are carried on them and on ships.
“He shows you His signs. So which of the signs of Allah do you deny?”
If you remember, last week we said the holy Qur’an emphasizes on studying the history of the past nations and the prophets sent to them, as well as the bounties that God has bestowed upon mankind, so that we differentiate between good and evil and contemplate upon their fate, in order not to disobey the commandments of God and to stand firmly on the path of truth against oppressors and sinners.
The Ayahs that we recited to you now points to the various blessings of God, such as livestock, that is, cattle, sheep, camel, and horses, and the benefits that human beings derive from them. God has created some animals for their meat and other purposes. The camel which is the ship of parched deserts, is used for travel and as a beast of burden. Its milk, wool, meat, and hide, is used, as well as its feces which is used as fertilizer for growing crops. In short, there is nothing useless in these animals. Today, despite the availability of vehicles for travel on the land and in the air, at times we have to make use of hardy animals for crossing sandy deserts and narrow mountainous passageways. God Almighty has also made the seas subservient and bestowed man the wisdom to build ships which despite their heaviness, stay afloat on the waters, and are means of travel as well as transportation of goods in bulk quantity.
Thus, these Ayahs refer to God’s all-embracing bounties, pondering upon which makes us better cognizant of our Loving Creator, thereby arousing the sense of gratitude. Ayah 81 says clearly that God always shows us His signs which are visible everywhere, yet there are persons who try to deny these manifest truths.
From these ayahs we learn that:
- The Earth and all that it contains including creatures, have been created for the best of creation, that is, the human race, and therefore should be used properly, with a sense of gratitude to the All-Merciful Lord for His infinite favours, and without misuse or destruction of the environment.
- Although many of these livestock are stronger than human beings, God has made them tame for the benefit of human beings.
- Unfortunately, many people despite availing these Divine bounties, are not just thankless to God, but they disobey His commandments and even deny the Almighty Creator.
Here is Ayah 82 of Surah Ghaffer:
“Have they not travelled over the land so that they may observe the fate of those who were before them? They were more numerous than them and were greater [than them] in power and with respect to the effects [they left] in the land. But what they used to earn did not avail them.”
The history of mankind can be studied from two aspects. Firstly, through books recording the events of the past on the authority of reliable narrators. Secondly, through travels to observe the historical monuments and the ruins of the ancient civilizations in order to contemplate upon the fate of the predecessors who perished despite their power, and the reasons for their downfall.
Here God tells the arrogant that if you think you are powerful today, travel around the earth to observe the relics of the past and contemplate on the fate of those who lived before you. They were greater in number and more powerful than you, as is evident by the huge palaces that they built with the wealth they had accumulated, but which lie in ruins today with no signs of even their graves. Thus, neither power nor wealth brought them any lasting benefits. It is obvious that the reason for their destruction and the fall of civilizations, was their disobedience of Divine Commandments. This Ayah warns disbelievers and reminds them that those who deny God and His Signs, should at least travel around and see the fate that befell the nations of the past. In other words, could the Pharaoh, who built huge edifices, save himself and his troops from being drowned in the sea?
This ayah teaches us the following points:
- Studying history or travelling around to observe historical monuments and the ruins of ancient civilizations has been stressed in the Qur’an in order to make us conscientious of the fate of mankind.
- Pride in one’s power, wealth and technology, is a pitfall from which no arrogant oppressor disobeying the commandments of God, can escape.
- Neither numerical strength nor mighty castles can prevent Divine wrath.
Now let us listen to Ayahs 83 and 84 of this Surah:
“When their prophets brought them manifest proofs, they exulted in the knowledge they possessed, and they were besieged by what they used to deride.”
“Then, when they sighted Our punishment, they said, ‘We believe in Allah alone, and disavow what we used to take as His partners.’
In continuation of the previous Ayah, these Ayahs mean to say that it is the habit of the arrogant oppressors to spurn the message of the prophets of God and the manifest proofs of truth and realities presented to them, by thinking themselves to be clever and sophisticated, but this does not save them from the Divine punishment which they used to mock at.
It should be noted that sciences that human beings develop on the basis of their God-given intellect and the experiments they make to improve technology, can never be the substitute for Divine teachings and can never make societies and nations needless of the messages of the Prophets. History is full of examples of people who owing to their scientific progress and the development of civilizations that brought them wealth and power, thought that they no longer needed to heed what the Prophets of God preached. As a result they were destroyed.
The modern world presents vivid examples of such deviated persons who feel proud of their military power, technology, wealth, and weapons of mass destruction that the Godless scientists have manufactured by misusing science and mocking at ethical and religious values. The arrogant U.S. has brought nothing but misery and wars to the world, oblivious of the fact that it will suffer a terrible fate.
As Ayah 84 means to say, on the Day of Resurrection when these disbelievers and polytheists sight Divine punishment they will disavow all they used to worship as deities or partners of God, by saying: “We believe in Allah alone”, but this will not avail them anything, since while alive they had wasted all the mercy shown to them and the long respite given to them by the All-Merciful Creator, to repent, rectify their wrongs, reform themselves, and become monotheists in the true sense.
These Ayahs teaches us that:
- God has sent the prophets to guide people towards truth, peace, the realities of life, and the rewards of afterlife, all of which the arrogants deride, without realizing that their rejection results in their own terrible punishment.
- Arrogance and oppression are the causes of self-destruction and fall of societies.
- The knowledge acquired through the intellect and via experiments, cannot be a substitute for Divine teachings.
- Civilizations that disobeyed the commandments of God were destroyed.
Here is the 85 or the last Ayah of Surah Ghaffer.
“But their faith was of no benefit to them when they sighted Our punishment —Allah’s precedent which has passed among His servants, and it is thence that the faithless will be losers.”
This Ayah means to say that the expression of faith in God alone by the disbelievers on their sighting of Divine punishment, will not be of any benefit for them, since this supposed faith is not out of sincere conviction, but a ruse in the wrong belief of escaping the fire of hell. For instance, it is narrated that the tyrannical Egyptian Pharaoh, when he was about to sink in the sea waters, said he believes in the One and Only God, Whose commandments he had disobeyed throughout his life. Since his expression of such belief was solely out of fear of death, he could not be saved and perished. When Imam Reza (AS) was asked: Why did God Almighty drown the Pharaoh when he believed in Him? The Imam said: “He expressed belief only on tasting Divine torment, and such belief is not accepted.”
From this Ayah we learn that:
- Arrogant and intransigent persons never believe in truth unless they observe the Divine wrath and punishment; but this will be of no avail to them.
- Faith is valuable only when it is expressed with free will and not under fear.
- Real loss is death in the state of disbelief, whether polytheism or atheism.
- Expression of repentance on tasting Divine torment is not accepted.