Path towards Enlightenment (921)
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 21 of Surah Jathiyah:
“Do those who have perpetrated misdeeds suppose that We shall treat them as those who have faith and do righteous deeds, their life and death being equal? Evil is the judgement they make!”
If you remember, in our last episode of this series a fortnight ago while explaining the previous Ayahs of this Surah we said Islam, which is culmination of the messages preached by the prophets of the past, reached perfection through the universal mission revealed to Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). We also said faith is based on insight and awareness in order to guide others with certitude, while piety makes a person deserving of Divine protection, since one of the characteristics of the pious is their abstaining from the meaningless goals and desires of the ignorant and deviated elements.
The holy Qur’an is the source of insight and knowledge in all ideological, ethical, social, political and family matters, which means that those who adhere to the letter and spirit of its teachings are believers, while those who do not believe in it are disbelievers. Thus, the Ayah that we recited to you now draws a comparison between a believer and a disbeliever, saying the two cannot be equal in the Sight of God the Just and the All-Merciful, Who has given ample time and opportunities for the sinners and the faithless to repent and reform themselves. In other words, those who continue in the state of disbelief and misdeeds are neither equal to the believers and the virtuous while alive, nor after death. Indeed evil and unjustified are the expectations of the disbelievers and the judgement they make by thinking they are equal with those who are patient and resigned to the Will of God, irrespective of being healthy or sick, poor or rich, and experiencing the ups or downs of life. On the contrary, disbelievers are always in distress and anxiety even if they enjoy all bounties and live in luxury and wealth. At the time of death, these two groups will have quite different fates. The believers will be given tidings of paradise and the disbelievers the news of the fires of hell awaiting them.
From this Ayah we learn:
- God is Just and All-Merciful, and certainly the believers and disbelievers are not equal in His Sight.
- The criterion for reward or punishment is our own deeds rather than undue wishes.
- Those who are undeserving because of their misdeeds, and moreover are not inclined to repent, reform, and rectify their faults, should not further deceive themselves through wild expectations or make irrational judgements.
Now we listen to Ayah 22 of the same Surah:
“Allah created the heavens and the earth with reason, so that every soul may be requited for what it has earned, and they will not be wronged.”
This Ayah substantiates the preceding one that dismissed the notion of disbelievers and believers being equal to each other, as nothing but wishful thinking. Here the Almighty Creator means to say that He the All-Wise has created the heavens and the earth with reason and with a purpose to make truth prevail over falsehood. It refers to the fact that the All-Merciful God Who has created the universe in perfect order for the benefit of mankind, the best of creation, will not wrong anyone the least, which means those who believe and lead a virtuous life will indeed reap the rewards, while those persisted in disbelief, sins, and misdeeds, despite the long respite given to them to correct their behaviour, has wronged themselves and hence suffer the consequences of their own evil ways.
From this Ayah we learn:
- The entire creation is based on justice and with a purpose behind, which means every person will be judged in a fair and merciful manner on the basis of the deeds he/she did while alive.
- The Day of Judgment will see the final triumph of truth and justice over falsehood and oppression.
- The All-Loving Creator never wrongs anyone, and it is only we who wrong ourselves by refusing to believe in truth and righteousness, while persisting in disobedience of God and indulgence in sins and oppression of others.
Now we listen to Ayah 23 of Surah Jathiyah:
“Have you seen him who has taken his desire to be his god and whom Allah has left astray knowingly, and set a seal upon his hearing and his heart, and put a blindfold on his sight? So who will guide him after Allah? Will you not then take admonition?”
When those who follow vain desires and regard pursuit of carnal pleasures as their goals in life or objects of worship, these sins will block their capability to the hearing of good, harden and darken their hearts towards perception of facts, and blur their vision to the aesthetic beauty of the world of creation. As a result, the words of truth may not affect them, to the extent that the All-Merciful God Who had provided them ample opportunities to discern between good and evil, leaves them astray to their own fate, since they have spurned all means of guidance. In other words, God has made available to mankind the means of deliverance from error, but when a person persists in disbelief, unbridled misdeeds, unabated sins and habitual oppression of others; such persons deprive themselves of Divine guidance. In other words, it is not Divine Will to leave such persons astray, but it is their own drifting away from guidance and immersion in sins and wanton pleasures that make them deserving of Divine Wrath. In this way, the Lord Most High exhorts us to take admonition.
From this Ayah we learn the following points:
- Deities have differed in form throughout history, ranging from the worship of wooden or stone objects by the deviated ones to prostrations to the sun and the moon, as well as blind pursuit of carnal desires to the extent of adoring them.
- Indulgence in evil ways and immersion in sins, deprive persons of seeing or hearing facts and realities, with the mind losing its power of rationality, and the heart becoming devoid of faith, compassion and humanitarian values.
Let us now listen to Ayahs 24 and 25 of the same Surah:
“They say, ‘There is nothing but the life of this world: we live and we die, and nothing but time destroys us.’ But they do not have any knowledge of that, and they only make conjectures.”
“And when Our manifest signs are recited to them, their only argument is to say: ‘Bring our fathers back [to life], should you be truthful.”
The Arabic word “dahr” in Ayah 24 denotes the passage of time. Materialists devoid of faith in God and belief in the Day of Resurrection and Divine judgement claim that the passage of life time leads to human perdition. Since they follow vain desires and are oblivious of spiritual values their minds fail to understand the signs around them of the Majesty of God and their hearts lose perception of realities, thereby making them deny Resurrection and judgement. As a result they regard existence restricted to life and death, with nothing afterwards. They thus follow the dictum: make most of life without regard for good or evil, right or wrong, virtue or vice, and that everything is destroyed by the passage of time. It is obvious their words are not substantiated by proper knowledge since their intellect has lost the power to discern certitude from conjecture.
As the next Ayah means to say, when the Ayahs of the holy Qur’an are recited as manifest signs of God Almighty, instead of pondering upon facts, the disbelievers retort that if the prophets are truthful then raise our forefathers back to life, so that we ask them what had transpired after death. In other words, they fail to grasp the finer points of Divine Wisdom in providing plenty of signs in the world of nature and in the human being itself, of the long respite given to understand the eventuality of Resurrection.
From these Ayahs we learn that:
- Blind pursuit of materialistic life with immersion in sins deprives a person of faith in God and thereby denial of the Hereafter.
- There is no logical argument for the disbelievers’ denial of Resurrection.
- It is the height of absurdity to demand that their dead are immediately brought back to life.