Path towards Enlightenment (878)
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 are Ayahs 13 and 14 of Surah Fussilat:
“But if they turn away, say (O Prophet to the disbelievers), ‘I warn you of a thunderbolt, like the thunderbolt of Aad and Thamoud.’
“When the prophets came to them, before them and in their own time, saying, ‘Worship no one except Allah!’ They said, ‘Had our Lord wished, He would certainly have sent down angels [to us]. We indeed disbelieve in what you have been sent with.’”
If you might recall, last Friday in our explanation of the previous Ayahs of this Surah, we had said 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 for comprehending the ultimate truth evident in the teachings of the prophets.
Here, in the Ayahs that we recited to you now, God Almighty commands Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) to tell the obstinate pagan Arabs of his days (as well as all unbelievers of the future generations) that despite seeing the manifest proofs and signs of God in the world of nature, if they deny Divine commandments, they risk being afflicted by severe punishment similar to the terrible fate that befell the mighty nations of the past like the Aad and the Thamoud. Prophets are guides sent by God to give both glad tidings to the seekers of truth and to warn disbelievers of the consequences of their deviation, sins and all other evil deeds. Prophets and saints actually help people find solutions to the problems of the societies and to deliver them from error and darkness.
The next Ayah means to say that the peoples of the nations of Aad and Thamoud committed unpardonable sins when they scoffed at the teachings of the divinely appointed prophets saying that had God willed to send messengers, He would have made angels descend from the heaven, but you are humans like us, and we will never believe in your mission. These arrogant people who prided on their might in carving cities out of mountains and building a thriving civilization, failed to understand that angels are different from mankind by nature and they can neither associate with human beings nor guide them unless they take the form of human beings and develop human traits themselves. And in such a case they would no longer be angels but regarded as human beings.
From these Ayahs we learn the following points:
- Among the duties of the prophets is to warn people against consequences of their deviation and evil deeds.
- Some of the evil deeds bring punishment in the transient life of this mortal world itself, so we should be heedful of God’s Words, and not become losers in both this world and the Hereafter.
- God has sealed the argumentation with human beings through His prophets so that people do not have any excuse to deny Him, indulge in sins, take to the worship of idols, or become atheists.
- The All-Merciful never punishes a people except after making clear His signs and revealing the truth through the prophets as was the case of the past nations.
Now let us listen to ayahs 17 and 18 of Surah Fussilat as the concluding ayahs of this week’s episode:
“As for [the people of] Thamoud, We guided them, but they preferred blindness to guidance. So the bolt of a humiliating punishment seized them because of what they used to earn.
“And We delivered those (from Aad and Thamoud) who had faith and were Godwary.”
After the people of Aad, these ayahs mention the account of the nation of Thamoud that lived in the northern part of the Arabian Peninsula. They possessed great strength and agricultural means and plenty of opportunities that helped them build a thriving civilization. Among the prophets sent to them was Saleh, whose teachings they scoffed at, and refused to listen to his warnings of divine wrath for their sinful ways. Their perdition was caused by lightning and earthquake as reflected in several Ayahs of the holy Qur’an, though both afflictions might have led to their destruction. Ayah 17 of this Surah says God Almighty provided them with means of guidance, but they rejected it.
It is worthy of note that Divine Guidance was available to all disbelievers and polytheists and it was not restricted to the people of Thamoud. The Ayahs here apparently allude to the Saleh’s she-camel that God created miraculously out of rock with her calf. She provided them with sufficient milk and it was a miracle to guide them; however they preferred blindness over guidance and cut the sinews of her feet and killed her calf which led to the warning against their perdition.
The Ayah makes a reference to the destructive cry expressed as lightning or thunderbolt. The destructive cry was so harsh that it deafened their ears and they were all destroyed instantly as a consequence of what they used to do.
Ayah 18 says God Almighty delivered from divine destruction the few believers living amongst the sinful nations of Aad and Thamoud.
Many Qur’anic Ayahs as well as Hadith of the Prophet and the Infallible Imams indicate that so long as believers and the God-fearing people live among disbelievers and the corrupt, Divine punishment will not be sent, which means the disbelievers should heed the words of the religious scholars, the pious, and the God-fearing.
From these ayahs we learn that:
- Unbelief is the sign of blindness, while insistence on unbelief and sins will entail a very terrible end.
- Whether it is Divine favour or wrath, it is always based on logic and rationality, since faith and God-wariness are the factors of salvation; while unbelief and sins are the causes of destruction.