Path towards Enlightenment (887)
Welcome to another episode of this series which is an endeavour to make you and us familiar with an easy and fluent explanation of God’s Final Scripture to all mankind, the holy Qur’an, which was revealed to the Last and Greatest of all Messengers, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
We continue from where we left you last week, and here is Ayah 49 of Surah Fussilat:
“Human being is never wearied of supplicating for good, and should any ill befall him, he becomes hopeless, despondent.”
Last Friday, we had said that on the Day of Resurrection and Judgement the disbelievers and the polytheists, who while alive had denied God, His Oneness, and His fully manifest power that is evident in the world of creation, will admit the absurdity of their beliefs and the failure of the deities they had worshipped.
The Ayah that we recited to you now means to say that by nature human beings are inclined to seek material gains and happiness, and they never get tired of beseeching God Almighty to grant them favours, but when touched with some affliction, they, especially the impatient and the weak of faith, lose hope and become despaired.
In other words, such people are never satisfied with whatever wealth and power they have, since they crave for more, but when disasters befall they feel frustrated as if the world has come to its end.
This Ayah teaches us the following points:
- By nature, ordinary human beings are excessively avaricious and want every good for themselves, so it is the duty of the Prophets, the Imams, the Saints, and the God-fearing Ulema to help harness their wild desires and train them to become selfless and altruistic.
- The feeling of despair and reaching dead-end are signs of weak faith, since a true believer never loses hope in God, and is never despondent.
Here is Ayah 50 to further enlighten us on the same topic:
“And if We let him have a taste of Our mercy after distress has befallen him, he will surely say, ‘This is my due! I do not think the Hour will ever set in, and in case I am returned to my Lord, I will indeed have the best [reward] with Him.’ But We will surely inform the faithless about what they have done, and will surely make them taste a harsh punishment.”
This Ayah, in continuation of the previous one, means to say that such persons are immersed in self-conceit, which prevents them from seeing the handiwork of God in the world around them. Whenever God delivers them from distress, instead of expressing gratitude to Him they think that their success is due to their own talents, cleverness, and intelligence, without the role of Divine blessings. Such a self-conceited person drifts away from faith and begins to deny the Day of Resurrection and Judgement, to the extent that he impetuously says: In case, there is such a day, God will grant me the best rewards. The fact is that such faithless persons will have a rude awakening on the Day of Resurrection, and after becoming aware of their misdeeds will taste the bitter outcome of the evil life they led.
In other words, Ayah 50 refers to the undesirable states of persons lacking faith and proper knowledge, and becoming embroiled in arrogance, ignorance, and intransigence, to the extent they forget that had it not been for Divine favour, they would not have been delivered from affliction and adversity. It was in this same vein that in the time of Prophet Moses, the excessively wealthy and arrogant Korah who had been granted riches as a Divine trial, veered off the straight path and refrained from doing good, saying his material possessions are because of his knowledge and acumen, rather than God’s favours.
From this Ayah we learn that:
- Self-conceited and impatient persons rejoice and revel as soon as they are in wealth and comfort, becoming negligent of Judgement Day, and impetuously remarking that if there is such a day, they will have more rewards from God.
- Success in life indicates God’s mercy and favour, rather than one’s ingenuity (which itself is a gift of God), and the faithless will suffer in afterlife the consequences of their ingratitude.
Let us listen to Ayahs 51 and 52 on the same subject:
“When We bless man, he is disregardful and turns aside; but when an ill befalls him, he makes protracted supplications.”
“Say, ‘Tell me, if it is from Allah and you disbelieve in it, who will be more astray than someone who is in extreme defiance?’
These Ayahs refer to people of feeble faith and little patience, and mean to say: They forget God once they enjoy wealth and comfort by ignoring the Divine role in their life, but, as soon as they face hardships and calamities, they beseech God and pray to Him for long hours.
In other words, welfare and hardship are the best means of assaying a person’s character and spiritual blights. Ayah 51 refers to the states of such people at the time of fortune and misfortune in this mundane world. It mentions their negligence of God while enjoying bounties, and impatience at the time of afflictions. When provided with bounties, they turn away arrogantly from God, but when touched by the slightest adversity, they invoke God Almighty many a time to remove it.
In contrast to such persons, the true believers are so tolerant and firm that neither bounties nor afflictions make them lose their heart. The most profitable transactions and the greatest of remunerations do not keep them away from the constant remembrance of God. They are well acquainted with the vicissitudes of life, and are aware that unfavourable circumstances serve as reawakening, while favourable states of affairs are Divine trials. The most significant signs of belief in God Almighty include magnanimity, i.e. greatness of spirit, tolerance, forgiveness, broadmindedness, and preparedness to confront hardships. The Prophet’s First Infallible Successor, the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), while teaching his disciples certain invocations has said:
“We invoke God Almighty to help us be so tolerant that no bounty may make us arrogant and vain and no aim may impede us from obeying Divine Commands, and may not regret nor grieve upon the hour of death.”
Ayah 52 questions the wisdom of those who turn away from the holy Qur’an, by telling them that if it is the Revelation of God and you have disbelieved in it, including what is mentioned about heaven and hell, then what will be your fate in the Hereafter? So, contemplate a bit on facts, and stop following the false beliefs of your ancestors. In other words, such deviant persons have gone to extremes in their opposition and enmity towards God Almighty.
From these Ayahs we learn that:
- Ingratitude towards Divine favours is a sin, and turn bounties into misery.
- True belief means gratitude to God in all states whether success or failure.
- Any person fearing the consequences of false beliefs will firm up his faith and stop denying and defying facts, realities, and the manifest truth.
Now let us listen to Ayahs 53 and 54, the last two Ayahs of Surah Fussilat:
“Soon We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in their own souls until it becomes clear to them that it (the Qur’an) is the Truth; is it not sufficient that your Lord is witness to all things?
“Look! They are indeed in doubt about the encounter with their Lord! Look! He indeed comprehends all things!”
These two Ayahs that close Surah Fussilat mention two important points; the first being monotheism and the holy Qur’an and the second being Resurrection. The manifestations of God’s Omnipotence and Omniscience are innumerable and everywhere in the universe, including the body and soul of human beings, who ought to pay attention to these Divine signs. Anyone in doubt about the holy Qur’an ought to ponder on the wonders of creation.
Signs in the horizon include the sun, the moon, and the stars with the order governing them, as well as all kinds of animals, plants, mountains, and seas with their innumerable wonders and mysterious creatures. Signs of the soul include the different organs of human body, the order governing the wondrous mechanisms of the brain and the systematic movements of the heart, blood vessels, textures, and bones, as well as the growth of embryo in the womb leading to birth, and above all, the mysteries of the human soul; each aspect of which reveals the Majesty of the One and Only Creator.
Since the Ayah is in the present-tense, it shows continued unraveling of Divine signs, to the extent that every step that a scientist or a researcher takes in any branch of knowledge, to his amazement a new chapter is opened beyond his perception. Thus, these signs in the horizon and the soul demonstrate that the holy Qur’an is Divine Revelation to whose Truth God Almighty bears witness.
The last Ayah, that is, 54 of this Surah, refers to inabilities of the disbelievers, the atheists, the polytheists, the corrupt, and the tyrannous group of people, who are in doubt about the Source of creation, the end of the world, and the Day of Resurrection, because their hearts are wrapped up in veils of neglect, ignorance, arrogance, and intransigence. They commit all crimes and disgraceful deeds since they do not believe in Divine Reckoning and Recompense. Their denial of the Day of Resurrection has denigrated them from the zenith of humanity to the nadir of humility, despite all their pretentions to science and knowledge. They should, however, know that God is All-Aware of their intentions, words, and deeds; all of which are being recorded for that great Tribunal to be held in the Divine Court of Justice.
These Ayahs teach us the following points:
- The entire universe, including our own selves, manifests the Signs and Power of God.
- The holy Qur’an is the Ultimate Truth.
- Belief in the Source of Creation is not separate from belief in the Day of Resurrection, and it is an undeniable fact that everything is in God’s Authority.