Path towards Enlightenment (907)
Salaam and welcome to another episode of our weekly series titled “Path towards Enlightenment” 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 start from where we left you last week, and here are Ayahs 54, 55, and 56 of Surah Zukhruf:
فَاسْتَخَفَّ قَوْمَهُ فَأَطَاعُوهُ ۚ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَوْمًا فَاسِقِينَ
فَلَمَّا آسَفُونَا انتَقَمْنَا مِنْهُمْ فَأَغْرَقْنَاهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
فَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ سَلَفًا وَمَثَلًا لِّلْآخِرِينَ
“So he (the Pharaoh) misled his people and they obeyed him; indeed they were a transgressing lot.”
“So when they roused Our wrath, We took vengeance on them and drowned them all.
“Thus We made them the vanguard (for those in hell) and an example for posterity.”
If you remember, last Friday in our explanation of the preceding Ayahs of this Surah we said tyrants and arrogant persons do not use their God-given intellect but indulge in illogical behaviour by bragging about their power and wealth, while trying to belittle the virtuous persons and find defects in them, as the Egyptian Pharaoh, puffed up with pride did by scoffing at the lack of worldly riches of Prophet Moses, in order to deceive the ordinary people and prevent them from believing in the Divine message of monotheism.
Of the Ayahs that we recited to you now, Ayah 54 points out that the Pharaoh deceived the Egyptian people through his baseless words and they made the big blunder of obeying him instead of using reason to differentiate between truth and falsehood, and thus became transgressors themselves against the mission of Prophet Moses.
The next Ayah means to say that when Pharaoh and his people transgressed all bonds despite the long period of respite given to them by the All-Merciful Lord, they became deserving of Divine punishment, and when vengeance struck them they were all drowned.
Ayah 56 means to say that God Almighty set them as an evil example and a vanguard of disbelievers entering hell, in order to serve as a warning for later generations of the dire consequences awaiting those who exceed all bonds in their disobedience of Divine commandments.
These Ayahs teach us the following points:
- At times, many of the common people fail to make any distinction between true spiritual honour and the mundane and perishing things of the mortal world, and as a result they are exploited and misled by the enemies of God and humanity, to become intransigent disbelievers and sinners.
- When Divine Wrath strikes and destroys a nation, it is because that particular community despite the long respite given to it, including innumerable bounties, had disobeyed God and submitted to the misrule and vicious ways of the oppressors.
- Often, the relics of the destroyed nation are preserved so as to serve as a lesson for the coming generations and a warning against sins and disobedience of God Almighty.
Now let us listen to ayahs 57 and 58 of the same Surah:
وَلَمَّا ضُرِبَ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ مَثَلًا إِذَا قَوْمُكَ مِنْهُ يَصِدُّونَ
وَقَالُوا أَآلِهَتُنَا خَيْرٌ أَمْ هُوَ ۚ مَا ضَرَبُوهُ لَكَ إِلَّا جَدَلًا ۚ بَلْ هُمْ قَوْمٌ خَصِمُونَ
“When the Son of Mary was cited as an example, behold, your people raised a derisive outcry.
“They (the idolaters) said, ‘Are our gods better or he?’ They (the pagan Arabs) only cite him (that is, Jesus) to you for the sake of contention; rather they are a contentious lot.”
The pagan Arabs of Mecca in an attempt to justify their evil ways, used to liken their idolatry to the Christians’ worship of Prophet Jesus, and in a derisive manner would tell Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny): if you say we will end up in hell together with our deities, then Jesus also has to enter hell because he is the object of worship.
As Ayah 58 means to say, the polytheist Arabs resorted to a rhetorical question claiming that their idols are better than Jesus, since the Son of Mary is just a human being compared to their gods.
In continuation, the Ayah in reply, means to say that the deities worshiped by the Arabs are pieces of lifeless objects such as wood, stone or metal, while Jesus possessed understanding, perception, distinction, and as a human being stands above animals, plants, and inanimate objects in the hierarchy of existence. Moreover, Prophet Jesus did not command anyone to worship him as godson, but as a humble servant of God Almighty he taught them monotheism in its purest form, which means it were the deviant elements who later distorted his teachings to portray him as divine. Therefore these pagan Arabs are merely citing Jesus in an attempt to justify their intransigence since they are a contentious lot.
These Ayahs teach us the following points:
- Jesus never claimed that he was divine, neither did he ask anyone to worship him as godson, nor can his blessed personality be tainted as an example of polytheism by those who have deviated from the path of monotheism.
- On the basis of logic and reasoning, the false beliefs of the deviant and their mockery of truth, should be decisively rejected.
- The holy Qur’an recommends debate and argumentation, but not the raising of disputes, which is the practice of the disbelievers for justification of their wrong deeds.
Now let us listen to ayahs 59 and 60 of Surah Zukhruf:
إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا عَبْدٌ أَنْعَمْنَا عَلَيْهِ وَجَعَلْنَاهُ مَثَلًا لِّبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ
وَلَوْ نَشَاءُ لَجَعَلْنَا مِنكُم مَّلَائِكَةً فِي الْأَرْضِ يَخْلُفُونَ
“He (Jesus) was just a servant whom We had blessed and made an exemplar for the Children of Israel.
“Had We wished We would have set in your stead angels to be [your] successors on the earth.”
These Ayahs point out that Prophet Jesus always considered himself to be a humble servant of God Almighty Who is far too glorious to have the human traits of fathering children. God had granted him innumerable bounties including the mission to guide the ever-rebellious Israelites to the right path. Jesus was a perfect model of monotheist beliefs, and each of his miracles was an obvious sign of the Greatness of God, the One and Only.
Ayah 60 means to say that God Almighty, Whose glory is not the least diminished if His creatures stop worshipping Him, has the power to replace mankind on the earth by angels – angels who only obey the Divine decree without the least distraction.
From these Ayahs we learn that:
- Complete obedience of God Almighty and sincerity in His worship leads to perfection and sublimity, and that is the reason the Prophets and the Imams reached the highest degrees of servitude.
- Although Prophet Jesus was from the Israelites the majority of Jews who had long deviated from the teachings of Moses and the other prophets, obstinately opposed him.
- God has granted human beings free will to differentiate between good and evil in order to obey Him, and the failure to determine truth over falsehood by misusing free will and indulging in sins and disbelief, is self-destructive.
- Had God wished He would have replaced mankind on earth with angels to worship Him forever, since they do not have free will, and neither emotions nor any other human needs.
Now let us listen to Ayahs 61 and 62 of Surah Zukhruf:
وَإِنَّهُ لَعِلْمٌ لِّلسَّاعَةِ فَلَا تَمْتَرُنَّ بِهَا وَاتَّبِعُونِ ۚ هَـٰذَا صِرَاطٌ مُّسْتَقِيمٌ
وَلَا يَصُدَّنَّكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ
“Indeed he (Jesus) is a portent of the (coming of the) Hour (of Resurrection); so do not doubt it and follow Me. This is the straight path.
“Do not let Satan bar you [from the way of Allah]; indeed he is your manifest enemy.”
Prophet Jesus is among the portents or signs of certainty of the Day of Resurrection when all the dead will be raised to life. He was born of a virgin mother and by God’s commandment revived to life some of the dead which bears testimony to Divine Omnipotence to raise the dead on the Day of Resurrection. According to Islamic texts, Prophet Jesus will reappear in the end times, following the advent of Imam Mahdi (AS), the Twelfth and Last Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). Jesus will serve as lieutenant to the Imam in the global government of peace, prosperity, and justice. Thus, there is no doubt in the occurrence of Resurrection, and belief in it is indication of the straight and unwavering path towards God and the bliss of paradise. The next Ayah is a warning against the insinuations of the Satan for deviation from the straight path, and God warns us to beware of temptations of Iblis the Outcast who is the manifest enemy of all mankind.
From these Ayahs we learn the following points:
- The Prophets and the Imams are the perfect examples of emulation for all mankind and their words and deeds remind us of the Day of Resurrection.
- We ought to be on guard against the insinuations and temptations of the Satan, who is the sworn enemy of all mankind.