Path towards Enlightenment (918)
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).
Last week we completed explanation of Surah Dukhan, and today we begin the next Surah, that is, Surah Jathiyah, the 45th in serial order. It was revealed in Mecca and has 37 Ayahs. It takes its name from the word “Jathiyah”, which means “kneeling” as mentioned in Ayah 28. In fact, it refers to the kneeling of every community around the brink of Hellfire on the Day of Resurrection, while awaiting the Divine judgement. Almighty Allah is described in the opening and closing Ayahs of this Surah as “al-Aziz” or the All-Majestic and “al-Hakeem” or the All-Wise. The Surah addresses some of the arguments of those sceptical of the truthfulness of the holy Qur’an with emphasis on the signs of God’s existence that are discernible in nature, as well as the painful punishment awaiting the doubters on the Day of Judgement. It also points to some accounts of the ancient peoples, especially the misguided arrogance of the disbelievers, and encourages the seeking of forgiveness from the All-Merciful Lord.
According to a hadith from the Prophet, “God Almighty conceals the defects of those who recite Surah Jathiyah, and turns fear into serenity.”
Like the previous Surah, Jathiyah also begins with the Arabic alphabets “Haa” “Meem”. For the information of our listeners, it is the sixth of seven consecutive Qur’anic Surahs known in plural form as “Hawameem” since they begin with these two letters (that is, “Haa” and “Meem”). The other Surahs of this series are the five previous ones, that is, “Ghaffer”, “Fussilat”, “Shura”, “Zukhruf” and “Dukhan”. Surah Jathiyah is followed in serial order by Surah 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 Qur’an and its fragrant flowers.
Let us now listen to Ayahs 1, 2, and 3 of Surah Jathiyah:
In the Name of God the All Compassionate the All-Merciful
“The [gradual] sending down of the Book is from Allah, the All-Mighty, All-Wise.
“Indeed in the heavens and the earth there are signs for the faithful.
If you might recall, as we said at the beginning of “Surah Dukhan” some weeks back, a total of 29 Surahs of the holy Qur’an such as “Baqarah”, “Aal-e Imran”, “A’raaf”, “Younus”, “Houd, “Ibrahim”, “Shua’ra”, “Ankabout”, “Yaseen”, etc, start with the “Horoof Muqatta’at” or seemingly unarranged alphabets whose meaning is known only to God and His Prophet and through him to the Infallible Imams of his Blessed Household, although some exegetes have tried to interpret them. Surah Jathiyah, as we mentioned earlier in this episode, is thus one such Surah beginning with the letters “Haa” and “Meem” in the first Ayah.
The next Ayah speaks of the gradual revelation of the holy Qur’an to the Prophet by the All-Merciful Creator, Who is the All-Mighty and All-Wise. It means this Book is full of wisdom and a powerful pointer towards the manifest truth, since the heavenly scripture and its contents are among the greatest of Divine bounties.
Ayah 3 means to say that the existence of the world serves as the indubitable argument for the Existence and the Attributes of God Almighty; hence these are clear signs for the believers who ponder upon the wonders of the world of creation and its orderly functioning, in order to strengthen their belief. It is commonsense to know that any building requires a builder, any created thing requires a creator, and any object that is moved requires a mover. These are undeniable and sufficient signs for attainment of faith and belief in the One and Only Creator of the universe, whose Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Wisdom could be realized through meditation on the heavens and the earth. Thus, for the believers the eyes of their hearts are open, while the love and lust for the pleasures of the transient world have darkened the hearts and clouded the minds of the unbelievers, thereby depriving them of perceiving the rays of light emanating from the All-Encompassing Divine power as is evident in the movement of the heavenly bodies and the immeasurable resources of the Earth to be the cradle of life for not just the human beings but also for plants, animals, birds, insects, and the like.
From these Ayahs we learn that:
- The holy Qur’an is the Book revealed by God Almighty for the salvation of mankind on the basis of knowledge and wisdom.
- The heavenly scripture as well as the world of creation are signs of Allah’s Majesty for the believers, who should maintain their dignity by refraining from sins and any humility under any circumstances.
Now let us listen to Ayah 4 of the same Surah:
“And in your creation [too], and whatever animals that He scatters abroad, there are signs for a people who have certitude.”
If the wonders of the heavens and the earth were referred to in the preceding Ayah, this Ayah regards the creation of mankind and all living creatures of the world as signs for believers who strive to attain certitude, which itself has three broadly defined levels. The first is “Ilm al-Yaqeen” or knowledge of certitude, which in the next stage ought to develop into “Ayn al-Yaqeen” or perception of the essence of certitude, which in turn should serve as a step towards the pinnacle of belief, that is, “Haqq al-Yaqeen” or full and unquestionable realization of certitude. Here we mention a narration from the Prophet’s 1st Infallible Heir, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), who says: The human being is the microcosm embracing the macrocosm; with qualities that constitute an admixture of the qualities shared by all living creatures….
In other words, the structure of a human cell is as enigmatic as that of an industrial metropolitan city and the creation of one single hair whose various characteristics have been discovered by science may serve as a great Divine Sign. Thousands of veins and vessels some of which are extraordinarily delicate and thousands of commissural fibers of the nervous system and the manner of their interrelation with the highly complicated, enigmatic, and powerful brain system and the functions of each and every internal bodily organ and their strange harmony at the time of emergencies, coupled with the strong immune system against external bodies, demonstrate the greatness of Divine Signs. Besides mankind, hundreds of thousands of living creatures from microscopic beings to huge animals with totally diverse characteristics and structures, one of which may be the subject of lifelong research for many a scientist, bear testimony to Divine Signs. All this means that in In of the fact that thousands of books have been authored on the mysteries surrounding their creation, human knowledge is still quite limited. Each of these creatures serves as a sign of the Creator’s Infinite Knowledge, Wisdom, and Omnipotence. So, what is the reason lying behind the fact that many individuals witness such signs for decades but they are totally unaware of them?
The holy Qur’an provides an answer to the question. These signs are for seekers of faith and certitude and those who think. They are for those who have opened their hearts and are thirsty for certitude and knowledge. Such people do not fail to notice the slightest movement and the tiniest being. They ponder upon them for long hours and spend their time in supplications, as indication of their devotion to God.
From this Ayah we learn that:
- A believer observes the world of creation and the intricate system of his own physical body as well as the mysteries of the soul to attain certitude.
- Those failing to understand these manifest signs are responsible for their loss.
Let us now listen to Ayah 5 of Surah Jathiyah:
“And in the alternation of night and day and what Allah sends down from the sky of [His] provision with which He revives the earth after its death, and in the changing of the winds there are signs for a people who apply reason.
This Ayah refers to the wonders of existence that are evident in diverse signs, the understanding of which requires intellection. The reference here is an enumeration of three Bounties for all creatures, namely light, water, and air, each of which play a significant role in the life of mankind and all other living beings. The cycle of of the order of ‘light and darkness’ and the alternation of night and day, each of which substitutes the other with a precise pattern, are indeed well calculated and astonishing. If day time were permanent or too long, the temperature would increase to the extent that all living beings would burn. If the night were everlasting or too long, all living beings would freeze to death! The difference in the length of nights and days in different seasons of the year are to the benefit of mankind and the various products the earth yields through agriculture. Interestingly scientists say that despite the differences in the length of night and day in different altitudes and longitudes, a calculation of the days of the year demonstrates that the sun shines equally on each and every point!
Secondly, mention is made of rain, the heavenly life bestowing element that is a reviving force for nature. It is a sign of life, freshness, and beauty. The fact is that water constitutes the main constituent element of man, many animals, and plants.
Thirdly, mention is made of winds turning around and moving the air which is full of oxygen, making it available to all living beings. Winds move the dioxide polluted air to be purified on plains, forests, and deserts. After being purified, the wind moves the fresh air to cities and habitats. It is a source of wonder that animals and plants precisely function in opposition to each other, i.e., the former takes oxygen and emits carbon dioxide and the latter functions vice versa so that equilibrium may be maintained in vital system and the air supply of the earth may not come to an end through the passage of time. Furthermore, winds pollinate plants and scatter seeds in different lands, help pastures and forests grow, make waves in oceans, waves that invigorate the seas and purify water from putrefaction and decay, and make ships sail in oceans.
From this Ayah we learn that:
- Day and night, as well as rain and winds, along with the different seasons are among the Divine signs for guidance of mankind.
- It is a pity that despite these manifest signs the unbelievers destroy themselves by disobeying God and persisting in their wrong ways.
Here is Ayah 6 of Surah Jathiyah:
“These are the signs of Allah that We recite for you in truth. So what discourse will they believe after Allah and His signs?
This Ayah means to say that those who after seeing Divine signs all around them, still refuse to heed guidance have to suffer the consequences. Here, God Almighty addresses the Prophet, saying that when disbelievers do not believe in these evident Ayahs revealed to you in truth in conformity with logical principles, commonsense and human nature, they will neither believe in the heavenly scriptures nor the sayings of ancient sages. In other words, the Qur’anic Ayahs are consistent with man’s innate nature and make evident the path of guidance in such a way that there is no room for denial or objection for anyone, which means that those denying such evident proofs have distanced themselves from their own innate nature.
From these Ayahs we can learn the following points:
1. God has provided means of guidance all around us to help us find the truth.
2. Those refusing to believe in these manifest signs suffer the consequences.