Path towards Enlightenment (924)
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).
A fortnight ago we completed explanation of Surah Jathiyah, and this Friday we begin the next Surah, that is, Ahqaaf, the 46th in serial order. It was revealed in Mecca and has 35 Ayahs. It mentions the terrible fate of the ancient people of Aad who dwelt in the valley of dunes in Arabia, and were invited by Prophet Houd to monotheism or the worship of the One and Only Creator of the universe, instead of worshipping idols, but to no avail. The Surah takes its name from Ahqaaf or sand dunes curved by winds, as mentioned in Ayah 21. It highlights the inescapable punishment that awaits those who deny the truth and the Day of Resurrection. Emphasis is placed on the fact that communities more established and far stronger than the Arabs of Mecca have been destroyed for their sins, disbelief, and refusal to heed the revelation of God. Finally, the Prophet of Islam is encouraged to be steadfast and await Divine judgement for the disbelievers.
A narration from Imam Ja’far as-Sadeq, the Prophet’s 6th Infallible Successor, says: “The one who recites Surah Ahqaaf every night or every week is vouchsafed against the fears of this world and the Hereafter.”
Like the previous Surah, Ahqaaf also begins with the Arabic alphabets “Haa” “Meem”. For the information of our listeners, it is the seventh or last 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 six previous ones, that is, “Ghaffer”, “Fussilat”, “Shura”, “Zukhruf”, “Dukhan” and “Jathiyah”. 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 Ahqaaf:
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
تَنزِيلُ الْكِتَابِ مِنَ اللَّـهِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَكِيمِ
مَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَأَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى ۚ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا عَمَّا أُنذِرُوا مُعْرِضُونَ
In the Name of God the All Compassionate the All-Merciful
“The [gradual] sending down of the Book is from Allah, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.”
“We did not create the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them except with reason and for a specified term; yet the faithless are disregardful of what they are warned.”
If you might recall, as we said at the beginning of “Surah Jathiyah” 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 Ahqaaf, as we mentioned earlier in this episode, is thus one such Surah beginning with the letters “Haa” and “Meem”, which is indeed a living miracle, unmatched by any book that mankind is able to produce.
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.
The third Ayah deals with Creation. It mentions the glory and truth of the heavens and the earth, which have not been created in vain but have a purpose behind. In other words there is no single untrue word in this final Heavenly Scripture for the guidance of all mankind, nor is there any unharmonious and untrue thing in the System of Creation, where everything is well calculated and stands in perfect harmony with the ultimate truth. It means the world of creation has an end as it has a beginning. It is transient, and since it has a purpose behind, there should naturally be another domain, where deeds are evaluated and recompensed. Therefore, the orderly nature of the mortal world bears testimony to the fact of resurrection after death, or else creation would be meaningless.
As is evident by the closing words of Ayah 3, the intransigent disbelievers, despite being warned by the holy Qur’an of Great Tribunal awaiting mankind on the Day of Resurrection, turn away from the manifest truth, lest it may affect their passions and lusts.
From these Ayahs we learn that:
- The Qur’an is the Word of God revealed on the heart of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
- Both the system of creation and the laws of religion are based on Divine wisdom and truth since their Source is the Almighty Creator.
- There is no disorder or the absence of harmony in the world of nature, since the heavens, the earth and the entire universe follow a specific course, where nothing is haphazard or accidental.
- It is only the disbelievers and intransigent sinners who have chosen the wrong path of atheism, polytheism, and deviation from Divine laws, despite the manifest signs all around.
Now let us listen to Ayah 4 of this Surah:
قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُم مَّا تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ أَرُونِي مَاذَا خَلَقُوا مِنَ الْأَرْضِ أَمْ لَهُمْ شِرْكٌ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ ۖ ائْتُونِي بِكِتَابٍ مِّن قَبْلِ هَـٰذَا أَوْ أَثَارَةٍ مِّنْ عِلْمٍ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
“Say (O’ Prophet to the disbelievers): Tell me about what you invoke besides Allah; show me what [part] of the earth have they created. Do they have any share in the heavens? Bring me a scripture [revealed] before this, or some vestige of [Divine] knowledge, should you be truthful.”
Here, God Almighty commands the Prophet to ask the polytheist Arabs of the logic behind their worshipping of idols – conceived by their warped minds and crafted by their own hands – as well as the role of these lifeless objects, if any, in the creation of the heavens and the earth. The polytheists are told: You yourselves admit that God has created the entire universe, so, why do you worship idols and invoke them in your hour of need when these inanimate objects cannot do anything? Neither any scripture was revealed to you for the worship of idols, nor can you provide scientific and logical reasons for worshipping them.
The Ayah exposes the falsity and self-deception of idol-worship or any other form of disbelief regarding the Almighty Creator of the universe. As a matter of fact, it bears testimony to the fact that whatever exists in the heavens or the earth and all things between them have their origin in the Source of all truth, that is, the One and Only God.
This Ayah teaches us the following points:
- Choosing any other path, other than what the Almighty has prescribed through a long line of Prophets, is deviation from truth.
- It is often necessary to pose calculated questions to make the opponents ponder on facts in order to make them realize that their ideas are baseless and absurd.
- How can lifeless objects fulfill the needs when even powerful and knowledgeable human beings are incapable of doing so; thus we should always invoke God Almighty!
- Faith should be based on logical reasoning and its practices corroborated by the words of the Prophet and his Infallible Successors.
Now we present you Ayah 5 of Surah Ahqaaf:
وَمَنْ أَضَلُّ مِمَّن يَدْعُو مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ مَن لَّا يَسْتَجِيبُ لَهُ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ وَهُمْ عَن دُعَائِهِمْ غَافِلُونَ
“Who is more astray than him who invokes besides Allah such as would not respond to him until the Day of Resurrection, and who are oblivious of their invocation?”
This Ayah further exposes the irrationality and falsity of worshipping and invoking objects or persons who neither respond nor are able to resolve problems. In other words, the worst error is deviation from God, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, the All-Hearing, and the All-Seeing, as well as from whatever He has commanded.
From this Ayah we learn that:
- It is a manifest error to invoke persons or objects that are unable to respond and resolve problems.
- Only God Almighty should be invoked and He is the One Who answers the needs of every person.