Path towards Enlightenment (888)
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).
Last Friday we ended the explanation of Surah Fussilat and today we begin the next Surah, that is, Surah Shura, the 42nd in serial order. The Surah, which has 53 Ayahs, was revealed in Mecca to Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). Its title derives from “Shura or “Consultation” as referred to in Ayah 38, as a means for believers to conduct their affairs through mutual discussions. The Surah deals with the basic tenets of Islam, such as the Oneness of Allah Almighty, Divine Justice, Prophethood, continuation of Divine Guidance after the Prophet of Islam through his Infallible Ahl al-Bayt, and Resurrection. It also highlights ethical and social issues, including the habit of some persons to create division and disharmony in matters of religion, as well as God Almighty’s all-prevailing power, wisdom, and final decision.
A hadith from the Prophet says: “One who recites Surah Shura is among those on whom angels send down Divine Mercy and for whom they ask forgiveness.”
Surah Shura also begins with the Arabic alphabets “Haa” “Meem”. For the information of our listeners, it is the third of seven consecutive Qur’anic Surahs known in plural form as “Hawameem” for beginning with these two letters (“Haa” and “Meem”). The other Surahs of this series are the two previous ones, that is, “Ghaffer” and “Fussilat” – whose explanation we finished last week – and will be followed in serial order by “Zukhruf”, “Dukhaan”, “Jathiya”, and “Ahqaaf”.
According to a hadith from the Prophet “Hawameem” constitute the gist of the Holy Qur’an, and this series is known as the Crown of the Holy Qur’an and its fragrant flowers.
Stay tuned please for explanation of Ayah 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Surah Shura.
In the Name of God the All Compassionate the All-Merciful
“‘Ayn, Seen, Qaaf.
“Thus does All-Mighty, the All-Wise reveal to you and to those who were before you;
“To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth, and He is the All-Exalted, the All-Supreme.”
If you might recall, as we said at the beginning of “Surah Baqarah”, as well as the Surahs “Aal-e Imran”, “A’raaf”, “Younus”, “Houd, “Ibrahim”, “Shua’ra”, “Ankabout”, “Yaseen”, etc, 29 Surahs of the Holy Qur’an start with the “Horoof Muqatta’at” or seemingly unarranged alphabets whose meaning is known only to God and His Prophet, although some exegetes have tried to interpret them.
Surah Shura is thus one such Surah, and here the use of the letters “Haa” and “Meem” in the first Ayah followed by the letters “Ayn, “Seen”, and “Qaaf” by God is among the marvels of the unmatched eloquence of the Holy Qur’an, which bewildered the infidels of the age of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). Today also the miraculous Qur’an continues to confound the disbelievers of our times, who despite the advancement in science and technology, have failed to meet the Divine challenge to bring about at least some phrases equal to those of the Holy Qur’an.
Then in Ayah 3 God tells His Last and Greatest Prophet: I, the Almighty and the All-Wise, reveals to you the final heavenly scripture just as I had revealed heavenly scriptures for guidance of mankind to several of the prophets that preceded you. This means the Source of Revelation is the One and Same, with emphasis on monotheism, life of virtue, refrainment from sins, oppression, atheism and polytheism, and belief in Resurrection and the Day of Judgement. In other words, all prophets are related to the springhead of Divine Omnipotence with emphasis on the same unchanging fundamentals of faith, as a consequence of which whoever opposes them and their messages will tread the path to perdition.
Ayah 4 points to the fact that whatever exists in the Heavens and the earth belong to God the Creator of the universe, Who Alone is worthy of worship and to Whose Omnipotence everything is subject, including the sun, moon, planets, and the laws of nature.
These Ayahs teach us the following points:
- It is God Alone Who sent a long line of prophets for the guidance of mankind beginning with the Father of the human race, Adam.
- The message of all prophets is the one and the same, without the least contradiction.
- The Qur’an as the final heavenly scripture supersedes all previously revealed scriptures to other prophets.
- God is All-Wise and is the Creator of the entire universe.
Now let us listen to Ayahs 5 and 6 of the same Surah:
“The heavens are about to be rent apart from above them, while the angels celebrate the praise of their Lord and plead for forgiveness for those on the earth. Look! Allah is indeed the All-Forgiving, the All-Merciful!
“As for those who have taken guardians besides Him, Allah is watchful over them, and it is not your duty to watch over them.”
Ayah 5 means to say that it is Divine Glory and Greatness that keeps the heavens from being rent asunder. Incidentally, in Ayah 21 of Surah Hashr, God says that if Divine Revelation had been sent down on the mountains, they would have trembled and rent asunder in awe of His Majesty despite their firmness, in contrast to these disbelievers who lack perception and are treading the path of perdition.
The Ayah then says that angels ceaselessly glorify God and since He is All-Merciful, they beseech Him to forgive the faults and shortcomings of the believers, as was reflected in Surah Ghafer that the invocations of angels regarding Divine Mercy is solely for believers. The angels know that God forgives and pardons those of the sinners who sincerely repent, including disbelievers who renounce their false faith and turn to Him in profound belief.
Ayah 6 means to say that some people, instead of acknowledging God and His Prophet as their guardians and masters and obeying them, seek the protection of the wild imagination of their warped minds such as the idols and spirits, or of fallible persons like themselves by accepting their rule on the assumption that they are powerful. This Ayah is actually a consolation to the Prophet of Islam for his concern that despite his earnest efforts to enlighten them with truth, the polytheists are blindly plunging to their doom by refusing to acknowledge the Oneness of God and associating partners with the Almighty. God tells the Prophet that his sole responsibility is to impart the Divine Message in the best possible manner for the guidance of mankind, whether the people believe in his message, or some veer off the Straight Path out of obduracy and fall into the abyss of error.
God, Who has given mankind the gift of the intellect along with freedom of will to discern between right and wrong, is ever watching them, and the wrongdoers and disbelievers will certainly face the consequences of their choice and deeds.
From these ayahs we learn that:
1. Persons, who fail to use their God-given intellect to arouse their perception of the dynamic contents of the holy Qur’an, are more stone-hearted than inanimate objects, since Divine Ayahs have the power to tear apart even the heavens.
2. When we supplicate to God we should pray for the good of all mankind and seek guidance and forgiveness for them, just as celestial angels do.
3. Faith in God is not compatible with acceptance of the rule and authority of fallible persons, however wealthy or physically and politically powerful.
4. Prophets were sent to convey God’s message in the best possible manner for the guidance of mankind in order that people use their intellect for accepting the truth, rather than force people to accept the truth.