Path towards Enlightenment (914)
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 we listen to Ayahs 17 and 18 of Surah Dukhan:
وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا قَبْلَهُمْ قَوْمَ فِرْعَوْنَ وَجَاءَهُمْ رَسُولٌ كَرِيمٌ
أَنْ أَدُّوا إِلَيَّ عِبَادَ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنِّي لَكُمْ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌ
“Certainly, We tried the people of Pharaoh before them, when a noble Prophet came to them,”
“[saying,] ‘Give over to me the servants of Allah (i.e. the Israelites); indeed I am a trustworthy Prophet [sent] to you.”
If you might recall, last Friday in our explanation of the previous Ayahs of this Surah we said the All-Merciful God overlooks many of our sins and does not punish us in this world, yet the intransigent disbelievers and unrepentant sinners, do not sincerely adhere to the right path and persist in their evil ways even when they are granted reprieve from affliction on their own expression of remorse which they soon forget. As a result, Divine justice takes its course against them, since after being given long years of respite and opportunities to repent, they had continued their evil ways in mocking the Prophets of God and the sincere believers, and will thus taste the deserving punishment, as a consequence of their own misdeeds.
The Ayahs we recited to you now refer to the account of Prophet Moses and the tyrannical Pharaoh. The Egyptian people in those days enjoyed a powerful state, abundant possessions, and rich resources, yet such strength led to their vanity and they were engrossed in all kinds of sins and wrongdoings, including idolatry. The Almighty Creator sent for their guidance an esteemed messenger, that is, Prophet Moses, who was magnanimous and of noble descent. Moses thus returned to Egypt from exile, and announced his mission to the arrogant Pharaoh and his courtiers, asking them in a polite manner to release the Israelites from bondage. He said he was a trustworthy guide for all of them.
These Ayahs teach us the following points:
- The mission of the Prophets includes emancipation of the enslaved people from the yoke of the oppressors.
- Prophets are the most trustworthy and reliable persons; therefore it is in the interests of people, including rulers, to heed their words of guidance, instead of disobeying the commandments of the One and Only God.
Let us listen to Ayahs 19, 20, and 21 of Surah Dukhan:
وَأَن لَّا تَعْلُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنِّي آتِيكُم بِسُلْطَانٍ مُّبِينٍ
وَإِنِّي عُذْتُ بِرَبِّي وَرَبِّكُمْ أَن تَرْجُمُونِ
وَإِن لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا لِي فَاعْتَزِلُونِ
“Do not defy Allah; indeed I bring you a manifest authority.”
“I seek the protection of my Lord and your Lord, lest you should stone me.”
“And if you do not believe me, keep out of my way.”
In continuation of the preceding instructions of God, these Ayahs warn Pharaoh and his people against defying Divine commandments, saying Prophet Moses has come with manifest authority, that is, clear miracles and logical arguments to guide them to the path of truth. Moses then says in reply to threats against his life that their murderous designs, including the intention to stone him, will not deter him from his Divine mission of guidance, since his Refuge and Protector is God Almighty, “our Creator and your Creator”, Who is the One and the Same, and to whom is the ultimate return of all human beings. Therefore, only God should be obeyed and worshipped, instead of the Pharaoh, who despite his apparent grandeur is a weak and unworthy creature. In conclusion, Moses tells the arrogant Egyptians: If you do not believe in me and do not wish to obey God, then keep out of my way.
From these Ayahs we learn that:
- Arrogance and self-conceit are negative characteristics, and if such behaviour is adopted vis-à-vis God Almighty, it is blasphemy.
- The invitation of the Prophets is based on logic and clear proofs, which means denial by the disbelievers is the result of their own intransigence, rather than failure to understand the Divine call.
- Pressures, threats, and torture should not deter us from treading the right path and inviting others to it.
- To achieve the objectives, at times the taunts of the arrogant should be ignored, or else this will be a hindrance in carrying out the entrusted task.
Now let us listen to ayahs 22, 23, and 24:
فَدَعَا رَبَّهُ أَنَّ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ قَوْمٌ مُّجْرِمُونَ
فَأَسْرِ بِعِبَادِي لَيْلًا إِنَّكُم مُّتَّبَعُونَ
وَاتْرُكِ الْبَحْرَ رَهْوًا ۖ إِنَّهُمْ جُندٌ مُّغْرَقُونَ
“Then he (Moses) invoked his Lord, [saying] ‘These are indeed a guilty lot.’”
“[Allah told him,] ‘Set out with My servants by night; for you will indeed be pursued.”
“And leave the sea calmly; they will indeed be a drowned army.”
When Prophet Moses lost hope in guiding the Pharaoh and the Egyptians to the right path, he complained to the Lord Most High: O my Lord! These are disobedient and sinners, so immersed in sin and disobedience and their hearts have been darkened and there is no hope for them to come to the true path of monotheism and virtue.
The next two Ayahs indicate that the prayer of Moses was answered, and God instructed him to leave Egypt at night with his followers from among the Israelites. He was also told that the Pharaoh would pursue him with an army. He was thus commanded to strike the sea with his staff so that the waters would part and create a dry way for him to cross over safely to the other side without any worries, since it has been ordained that the seawaters would soon resume their normal course to drown the Pharaoh and his troops.
These Ayahs teach us the following points:
- Among factors preventing people from accepting the call of guidance of the Prophets of God is their immersion in sins and pleasures of the flesh that ultimately bring about their downfall.
- If faith cannot be protected in a land of disbelief and among disbelievers, then the faithful are advised to migrate with complete trust in God’s mercy which will indeed open plentiful opportunities for them.
- It is firm faith in God that makes even the seawaters part and give way to a true believer, while a powerful enemy and his army is drowned.
Now let us listen to Ayahs 25, 26, and 27 as the concluding ayahs of the episode:
كَمْ تَرَكُوا مِن جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ
وَزُرُوعٍ وَمَقَامٍ كَرِيمٍ
وَنَعْمَةٍ كَانُوا فِيهَا فَاكِهِينَ
“How many gardens and springs did they leave behind!”
“Fields and splendid places;”
“And the bounties wherein they rejoiced!”
Wealth and worldly power cannot protect disbelievers from Divine wrath, as is evident by the fate suffered by the nations of the past, whose possessions were inherited by others. In these Ayahs, we are informed of the terrible fate that befell the Pharaoh and how, because of his disobedience of God Almighty, he lost the fields, gardens, and beautiful places that he had constructed. These became the possession of the believers. In other words, those who were considered inferior became superior and took possession of the properties of the Pharaoh, his courtiers, and his soldiers.
These Ayahs teach us that:
- Divine Will prevails over all and everything else, while the wealthy and the powerful become helpless.
- Material facilities can neither bring security in life nor salvation in afterlife.
- The joys and achievements of this world are temporary and perishable, which means we should not take much pride in the possessions of transient life.