Path towards Enlightenment (877)
Welcome to our weekly programme "Path towards Enlightenment" in which we present you a fluent and easy-to-understand explanation of the ayahs of God’s Revealed Word to all humanity, the holy Qur’an.
We continue from where we left you last week, and here is Ayah 8 of Surah Fussilat:
“As for those who have faith and do righteous deeds, there will be an everlasting reward for them.”
If you might recall the last Ayah that we explained in Last Friday’s episode was about disbelievers, such as the polytheists and the atheists, who do not pay zakaat or the alms reserved for the welfare of the poor sections of the society since they have no faith in the Hereafter. Even if such persons do good deeds during life they will not have any reward for them because of their lack of faith in the One and Only Creator of the universe and the Day of Resurrection.
The Ayah that we now recited to you refers to the believers, who have faith in God and the Hereafter, and mold their life accordingly, with the result that on the Day of Resurrection they will be handsomely rewarded for their righteous deeds. This means faith and righteous good deeds are inseparable. Those who do good deeds in life and not for the sake of any recompense in return, will also be showered with bounties and rewards in Afterlife, since God Almighty grants His Rewards non- gratia. As a matter of fact, it would be unbefitting to expect remuneration for our insignificant acts of righteousness, but God is so Merciful that He will grant the believers the permanent bliss of paradise along with endless rewards.
This ayah teaches us that:
- Faith and righteous deeds are not separate from each other, and neither one will be useful without the other on the Day of Judgment.
- The rewards reserved in Afterlife for the faithful will be forever and permanent unlike the bounties of the transient life of the mortal world which are limited and bound to perish.
Now let us listen to ayahs 9 and 10 of the same Surah:
“Say (O Prophet to the disbelievers), ‘Do you really disbelieve in Him who created the earth in two days (stages), and ascribe partners to Him? That is the Lord of all the worlds!’
“He set in it firm mountains [rising] above it, and blessed it and ordained therein its [various] means of sustenance in four days (stages), alike for all the seekers [of the means of sustenance].”
These Ayahs command Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) to tell the pagan Arabs that how is it they do not believe in the One and Only Creator, Who has no associates and partners. In fact, the Earth on which you live and avail of its various products from agriculture to livestock and industry was created by God without the help of anyone. He is the Lord of the entire universe and He administers every minute affair. Thus, He is the Only One Who deserves to be worshipped. As the Ayah says, the Earth was created in stages or phases, and was adorned with various bounties such as seas, rivers, oceans, mountains, plains, valleys, plants, animals, birds, etc. for the benefit of the best of creation, that is the human race.
It should be noted that the phrase “created in two days”, actually means stages or phases, and should not be verbally taken as days, since prior to the creation of the Earth, the solar system, and the subsequent emergence of night, day, month, and year, there existed no day to mean that two days were required by God Almighty to create the earth. He is Omnipotent and Omniscient, and though God Almighty may create the Heavens and the Earth and whatever exists between them at one time in the twinkling of an eye, He created the Heavens and the Earth in stages that bear testimony to the fact that exercising power requires consideration and expediency.
The next Ayah, that is 10, refers to the raising of firm and mighty mountains, on which and in their valleys, various kinds of Divine Blessings exist, including provision of sustenance; growth of plants bearing fruits, flowers, vegetables and medicinal properties; refinement of polluted water into pure water; sowing seeds and harvesting abundantly; excavation of mines; preservation of snow; provision of rocks for building purposes; checking earthquakes, storms, and winds; and serving as beacons for travelers. It is worthy of note that mountains serve as the anchor of the Earth since some of their roots lie in water so that waves may not devastate the dry lands. Here also the word “four days” means four stages.
From these ayahs we learn that:
- The entire universe has been created by the One and Only God without the help or assistance of associates and their involvement in the administration of affairs of the world of nature.
- The creation occurred gradually in several stages rather than promptly, as per the wisdom of the Lord Most High.
- God has created the various bounties in accordance with the needs of the creatures, yet the greed of mankind, coupled with ingratitude for Divine blessings, has led to discrimination, oppression, hoarding, deprivation, and wanton exploitation of nature, resulting in many people living in poverty.
Now let us listen to Ayahs 11 and 12 as the concluding Ayahs of this week’s episode:
“Then He turned to the heaven, and it was smoke, and He said to it and to the earth, ‘Come, willingly or unwillingly!’ They said, ‘We come heartily.’
“Then He set them up as seven heavens in two days (stages), and revealed in each heaven its ordinance. We have adorned the lowest heaven with lamps, and guarded them. That is the ordaining of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing.”
Having mentioned the creation of the earth and the placing of every type of bounty on it for the benefits of its inhabitants, especially the human race, these Ayahs refer to the creation of Heavens. They mean to say that when God decided to create the heavens, they were first in the form of smoke which was shaped and beautified. The Divine orders were obeyed by the world of matter, and similar to the creation of the Earth, the heavens were also created in two stages or phases. This Ayah explicitly indicates that the Heavens, the Earth, and all creatures have various degrees of intelligence, and it is a consequence of their intelligent nature that they are addressed or commanded by God, and they obey the Divine orders.
Of course, God has created seven heavens; but what we see above our heads is the first one, which human technology finds difficult to penetrate. Furthermore, the celestial bodies that float underneath the sky appear as stars at night and forms of decorations of the Heaven. The stars, or more properly planets, some of which are far larger than the earth in size, have their own apportioned places where they float in an orderly manner, without colliding with each other, or exceeding their bounds to veer off their fixed orbits.
The stars or the planets have many mysteries. Whatever lies within our knowledge concerning celestial bodies and whatever will be discovered later, are adornments of the sky that we observe with our eyes, and that is the reason the Ayah has referred to them as “lamps”. In other words, they are likened to lights owing to their brilliance and giving off light onto the Earth, day and night.
These Ayahs teach us the following points:
- The Heaven was shaped from a smoke-like matter.
- The entire creation is obedient to God; so, we the human beings ought to comply with Divine orders, instead of veering off the track as many do because of their failure to properly use the gift of the intellect.
- The system of creation is very vast and beyond our understanding, since whatever we see as stars dotting the sky, have also a purpose for their creation, while we human beings have no knowledge about other heavens and innumerable creatures of God.
- The universe is the manifestation of God’s Infinite Knowledge and Power.