Jun 05, 2020 08:12 UTC

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 Last and Final Revelation to all humanity, the holy Qur’an.

We continue from where we left you last week and here are Ayahs 32, 33, 34 and 35 of Surah Shura:

“Among His signs are the ships [that run] on the sea [appearing] like landmarks.

“If He wishes He stills the wind, whereat they remain standstill on its surface; there are indeed signs in that for every patient and grateful [servant].

“Or He wrecks them because of what they have earned, and He excuses many [an offense].

“Let those who dispute Our signs know that there is no escape for them.”

If you remember, last Friday we explained to you that the many bitter events which persons face in life are the outcome of their own evil deeds, especially in the case of sinners, while for the pious who have done nothing wrong, afflictions are part of a Divine trial to test the degree of their faith, and exalt their status. We also said that the All-Merciful Lord pardons sins in case of repentance, thus preventing many of the bitter outcomes that might befall, which is proof of the fact that mankind is absolutely powerless before God, the Omnipotent and Omnipresent from Whose authority there is no way of escape.

Of the Ayahs that we recited to you now, number 32 and 33 mean to say that among the Divine signs are ships as huge as mountains, which man has been able to build through his God-given intellect and which sail in the seas, but if the wind does not blow, no one will be able to move such colossal ships on the surface of the water. In former times, before the discovery of sources of energy, such as fuel, electricity, and nuclear power, if the wind blew gently and the sea happened to be calm, ships could easily reach their destinations. Nonetheless, it is quite perilous for ships to sail in stormy seas in thunder and lightning. If there was no wind, ships would stay still in water, and even modern ships despite their powerful engines, depend upon wind, which means human beings owe everything to the forces of nature, which in turn are signs of mercy of God the Omnipotent.

Towards its end Ayah 32 says that those fully observant of these blessings of God are the “sabbar” or the patient and the “shakour” or the thankful. It is interesting to note that the word “sabbar” appears four times in the Holy Qur’an and in all instances is followed by the word “shakour”. This is testimony to the fact that these two words are complementary to each other. “Faith has two branches: patience and gratitude”, as mentioned in a famous hadith by Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).

Ayah 33 is again a reminder that human afflictions are often the consequences of one’s own deeds, however, it is Divine Mercy that salvages us, or God could cause many a big ship to wreck at sea and sink. In other words, the All-Forgiving Lord forgives most offences and allows even the disbelievers, the disobeyers, and the deniers, to avail of His favours because of the long respite He has given to the sinners, the atheists, and the polytheists, to repent, reform themselves, and return to the straight and unwavering path before death closes all the roads to salvation in afterlife.

Yet, despite these general blessings, as the next Ayah says, the intransigent disbelievers keep disputing and denying Divine signs, since they do not want to accept the manifest truth. Such persons ought to know that in spite of their worldly wealth and power, they have no way of escape from the Almighty Creator and the punishment that is reserved for them in the Hereafter.

From these Ayahs we learn that:

  1. Similar to the ships, aircraft, and other modes of transport that mankind has built through God-given intellect for travel through sea and air, the forces of nature are also among the Divine signs and function as per the Almighty Creator’s instructions, whether to allow safe passage or bring about destruction.
  2. Patience and gratitude are among the signs of faith, and believers should resign themselves to the Will of All-Wise God, whether in hardship or in comfort.
  3. Afflictions are either the result of one’s own misdeeds or a Divine test, and it is indeed Divine mercy that allows even disbelievers and sinners to enjoy the bounties of God, without being punished immediately, since He has given respite to see whether the atheists, the polytheists, and the sinners, repent or reform, or end up deserving punishment in afterlife because of their intransigence in denying the manifest truth.  
  4. The orderly world of creation shouldn’t be viewed solely in materialistic terms, but requires the spiritual perspective which enables mankind to acknowledge the Majesty of God and understand that there is no way of escape from the Omnipotent Creator, even after death.

Let us now listen to Ayah 36 of the same Surah:

“Whatever you have been given are the wares of the life of this world, but what is with Allah is better and more lasting for those who have faith and who put their trust in their Lord.”

This Ayah means to say that whatever God Almighty has granted to human beings in the transient life of the mortal world, such as possessions, property, wealth, art, knowledge, and various vocational skills, or even the lack of all such things, are for proper reflection on the realities and the correct way to benefit from them, in order to proceed on the path of betterment, since whatever is with God Almighty such as the indescribable bounties of the Hereafter, including the eternal bliss of paradise, are more worthy for those have true faith and trust in God.

In other words, the worldly bounties have been given to all regardless of being believers or disbelievers, but, the bounties of the Hereafter belong only to the faithful, since they had abstained from evil deeds and had faith in Resurrection and the Day of Judgment, for which they endured deprivations and hardships as well. This Ayah teaches us that:

  1. All people enjoy worldly bounties, but the true believers abstain from evil and their eyes are set upon the loftier and everlasting goals of the Hereafter.
  2. We should have complete trust in God and should be resigned to His Will, rather than being proud of one’s power, wealth, knowledge and skills, all of which are of transient in nature without being of any benefit in afterlife, where only faith matters.

Now let us listen to Ayah 37 of Surah Shura:

“Those who avoid major sins and indecencies, and forgive when angered;

This Ayah points to the practical strategies of the true believers, whose two prominent characteristics are that they abstain from evil deeds, and have such control over their self that they forgive the offenders without allowing their personal anger to interfere. These excellent traits remove malice, and contribute to leading a healthy life at home and building a sound society.

From this Ayah we learn that:

  1. Faith is not confined to the heart and becomes manifest in the words and deeds of the true believer.
  2. A true believer abstains from sins, controls anger and carnal desires, and forgives the faults of those who had offended out of ignorance.