Path towards Enlightenment (920)
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 is Ayah 15 of Surah Jathiyah:
“Whoever acts righteously, it is for his own soul, and whoever does evil, it is to its own detriment; then you will be brought back to your Lord.”
If you remember, last Friday in our explanation of the previous Ayahs of this Surah we said God has made the entire universe subservient to mankind, so that we use it in a proper manner and express gratitude to Him through contemplation on these great bounties, instead of being thankless or misusing these favours to bring destruction upon others and eventually upon our own selves. Thus, Divine punishment or reward is in accordance with one’s own deeds.
The Ayah that we recited to you now means to say that the fruits of any deed, whether sweet or bitter, will determine the eventual fate of the doer on the Day of Judgement. In other words, Divine reward or punishment is just and in accordance with a person’s good or evil deeds. At time, those who fail to understand Divine wisdom ask whether God Almighty gains or loses anything as a result of the obedience or disobedience of any person. The answer is obvious. A teacher always tells students to listen attentively to lessons and study well in order to pass and that too with distinction marks. But if some of the students were to fail because of their scant regard to the lessons taught by the teacher and refusal to do homework, their failure will not harm the sympathetic teacher at all. Thus, if we strive towards perfection through our good deeds by avoiding the pitfalls, we will certainly be rewarded by the All-Merciful Lord. As for those who indulge in sins and unbelief to end up in everlasting damnation, the fault is their own and they have deprived themselves of Divine Mercy.
This Ayah teaches us that:
- The All Merciful Lord is just and rewards the virtuous for their good deeds and is ready to forgive those who sincerely repent and turn to Him for forgiveness in the transient life of the mortal world, while those who didn’t and died in the state of unbelief and sins, will be punished in accordance with the degree of their evil deeds.
- The Almighty Creator is too Glorious to either benefit or be harmed by our good or evil deeds.
Now let us listen to Ayahs 16 and 17 of the same Surah:
“Certainly We gave the Children of Israel the Book, judgement and prophethood and We provided them with all the good things, and We gave them an advantage over all the nations;
“And We gave them manifest precepts. But they did not differ except after knowledge had come to them, out of envy among themselves. Indeed your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that about which they used to differ.”
These Ayahs refers to the ancient Israelites who were descended from the twelve sons of Prophet Jacob, who was also called ‘Israel’. Prophets were raised amongst them and heavenly scriptures revealed for their guidance as part of the mercy shown to them by God Almighty in spite of their disobedience, since they were at least monotheists, compared to nations immersed in idol-worship, yet they failed to benefit from the Divine favours. As a result of their wrongdoing, ingratitude, and indulgence in sins, their exalted station turned into humility and damnation. It is reported that over a thousand prophets were appointed for their guidance between the missions of the Prophets Moses and Jesus (peace upon them), but instead of heeding the words of God, they conspired against the prophets, persecuted them, and killed many of them.
The worst form of unbelief is to differ in matters of truth, when God Almighty had granted knowledge and manifest precepts, as Ayah 17 points out. Among other things, these evident proofs refer to the coming of the Last and Greatest Prophets amongst the Ishmaelite Arabs with the universal message of Islam, as mentioned clearly in the Torah and other scriptures. This is a clear reference to the mission of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). Yet the Israelites despite enjoying such favours, became envious, disobeyed God, and deliberately ignored the message of the Prophet of Islam by resorting to illogical and irrational arguments, for which God will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection and mete out the punishment they deserve.
These Ayahs also serve as a warning to the Muslims against indulging in the same thankless attitude towards Divine favours as the Israelites did, and refusal out of jealousy to recognize the means of guidance that the Prophet had left behind in the form of the holy Qur’an and the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt.
From these Ayahs we learn that:
- The source of all blessings, whether material or spiritual, is God, and we should use them in the proper manner for our own salvation.
- Religious teachings and state rule do not contradict each other, and as a matter of fact, politics ought to be based on religious principles unlike the western-Zionist propaganda of separation between religion and state.
- God has sealed His argument through clear proofs that enable us to recognize and understand the manifest truth, of which we will be questioned on the Day of Judgement.
- Awareness and recognition are not enough for salvation, since there are many who recognize the truth but stir up sedition and discord in the society out of envy and disobedience of God, as the Israelites did.
Here are Ayahs 18, 19, and 20 of Surah Jathiyah:
“Then We set you upon a clear course of the Law; so follow it, and do not follow the desires of those who do not know.
“Indeed they will not avail you in any way against Allah. Indeed the wrongdoers are allies of one another, but Allah is the guardian of the Godwary.
“These are eye-openers for mankind, and guidance and mercy for a people who have certitude.”
Here the address is to Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). God placed him on the clear path of Divine Law. It is the path of piety, which means that whoever is responsible for guiding the people, ought to be fully aware of the Prophet’s “shari’ah” and diligently adhere to it. The word “shari’ah” is applied to a waterway leading to a river, but in common usage it denotes the path of the prophets, which culminates in the Islamic “shari’ah”, since the holy Qur’an is the final heavenly scripture revealed to the Last and Greatest Prophet. Thus, the Prophet of Islam upon Divine commandment does not take into consideration the desires of the ignorant, since he is vested with the ultimate Truth that will remain till the end of the world.
To be more precise, God has designated the straight and unwavering path of Islam, to which the Prophet firmly adheres and invites mankind to it by rejecting the idea of compromise on the principles of religion with any of the disbelievers, whether it is the Arab polytheists or the Israelites who might attempt to distort faith.
As the next Ayah says, these deviant elements who are accomplices of each other in the vain bid to prevent the spread of Islam will never succeed, since God the Omnipotent is the guardian of the pious. Thus, these disbelievers can neither stop the disasters and afflictions in this world nor can save themselves and their followers from Divine wrath on the Day of Judgement.
Ayah 20 means to say that piety serves as the basis of insight, while the proper understanding of the holy Qur’an acts as the eye-opener providing insight in all intellectual, ethical, political, social, economic, and family matters. Firstly, the holy Qur’an is vision. In the same manner as the eyes of our head makes the seeing of objects and colours possible, the Holy Qur’an is the eye of the heart through which knowledge finds its way to the heart, illuminating it and showing the path of deliverance from the shadows of ignorance to the light of knowledge and wisdom. Secondly, the holy Qur’an is guidance toward the path of felicity in the world and salvation in afterlife. Thirdly, the holy Qur’an is Divine mercy bestowed upon the true believers who diligently follow its injunctions and instructions with certitude.
From these Ayahs we learn the following points:
- Islam is culmination of the messages preached by the prophets of the past, reaching perfection through the universal mission revealed to Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
- It is piety that makes a person deserving of Divine protection and one of the characteristics of the pious is their abstaining from the goals and desires of the ignorant and deviated elements.
- Faith is based on insight and awareness in order to guide others with certitude.
- The holy Qur’an is the source of insight and knowledge in all ideological, ethical, social, political and family matters.