Path towards Enlightenment (928)
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 19 of Surah Ahqaaf:
“For each [person] there will be degrees (of merits) pertaining to what he has done, that He (God Almighty) may recompense them fully for their works, and they will not be wronged.”
If you remember, last Friday in our explanation of the previous Ayahs of this Surah, we said being dutiful to parents and doing good to them is a sign of expression of gratitude towards Allah for His bounties, and results in the acceptance of good deeds in the Divine Court of the All-Merciful Who forgives the faults one has committed. We also said that disrespect for parents brings the wrath of God, while serving parents, especially the mother, paves the way towards paradise, in view of God’s promise in the holy Qur’an and the famous hadith of the Prophet: “Paradise lies at the feet of the mother.”
The Ayah that we recited to you now means to say that on the Day of Judgement, Almighty Allah, after having shown much mercy to all His creatures, will raise the degrees of merit of the virtuous believers, while punishing the disbelievers and unrepentant sinners for their evil deeds. In other words, divine degrees and stations are consistent with a person’s deeds, and no one will be the least wronged.
This Ayah is continuation of the preceding two Ayahs that we explained to you last week regarding obedient and disobedient children. It means that those who embrace the true faith, repenting their wrong deeds and beseech God to shower mercy on them and their parents will indeed have exalted stations, while those who showed disrespect to their parents, spurned their pleas against indulging in sins, and denied the veracity of the Resurrection Day, will be severely punished.
The Ayah teaches us that:
- The fate of every person is in his/her own hands and whatever one receives on the Day of Resurrection, whether reward or punishment, is the result of his/her words and deeds during the transient life of the mortal world.
- The passage of time does not obliterate our words, deeds, and their consequences, which are all meticulously registered in detail in a document, and on the Day of Judgement will be displayed to form as basis for reward or punishment.
Now let us listen to Ayah 20 of this Surah:
“The day when those who disbelieve are exposed to the Fire, [they will be told], ‘You exhausted your good things in the life of the world and enjoyed them. So today you will be requited with a humiliating punishment for your acting arrogantly in the earth unduly, and because you used to transgress.”
Physical and mental torments are in store for disbelievers and unrepentant sinners on the Day of Resurrection, beginning with reproach, humiliation, and deep regret. Concerning the manner of dying, Imam Ali (AS) says in Nahj al-Balagha: “In the last moments, a person thinks about what he has done during lifetime.”
This Ayah refers to the manner of torments on the Resurrection Day, when disbelievers are exposed to Hellfire. It will be said to them that the bounties that had been granted in mundane life, like health, property, wealth, comfort, and delicious food, as well as the mind, the intellect, the power of speech, and other capabilities such as courage, generosity, etc., were spent inappropriately, rather than employing them for the attainment of faith, felicity, virtue, perfection, and refrainment from sins.
In other words, you spent them on pursuit of vain desires and pleasures of the flesh in violation of Divine commandments, and today you face humiliating torment as a result of your misdeeds, since recompense is consistent with one’s own actions. From this Ayah we learn that:
- God the All-Merciful has blessed the entire creation, whether believers or disbelievers, with His bounties in the transient life of the mortal world, in order to enable mankind to arouse the sense of gratitude and discern between faith and disbelief.
- Sins, and all negative characteristics, including greed, arrogance, oppression and the like, makes a person exit from the path of truth.
- Those who were arrogant during life, will be subjected to severe humiliation on the Day of Resurrection.
Now let us listen to Ayahs 21, 22, and 23 of Surah Ahqaaf:
“And mention (Houd) the brother of Aad, when he warned his people at Ahqaaf - and warners have passed away before him - saying, ‘Do not worship anyone but Allah. Indeed I fear for you the punishment of a terrible day.”
“They said: Have you come to turn us away from our gods? Then bring us what you threaten us with, should you be truthful.”
“He said, ‘The knowledge is with Allah alone. I communicate to you what I have been sent with. But I see that you are an ignorant lot.”
These Ayahs refer to the mission of Prophet Houd who was sent to guide his kinsmen the nation of Aad that lived in the southwestern part of Arabia. Like all Divine Messengers, he warned the people of the dire consequences of idol-worship and indulgence in sins, but most of them, especially the elite, instead of heeding his words and pondering upon them, scornfully told him that if he is really truthful, he should show some example of Divine wrath. In reply, he told them that what they ask him to do is not in his power and solely with the All-Merciful God, Who has entrusted him with the mission to guide them towards monotheism, good deeds, and the bliss of paradise, but it seems obstinacy and ignorance is preventing them from accepting the manifest truth.
At times, polytheism and disbelief prevent people from discerning the truth of monotheism and belief, which are considered deviation by those worshipping idols and the imaginations of their warped minds. They mock the prophets, imams, saints, and scholars, and instead of contemplating on their words of guidance, demand that they bring torment upon them. The misfortune of such disbelievers has its roots in their ignorance and arrogance, which along with obduracy and false pride prevents them from heeding the voice of truth. It is said that because of their disobedience, the All-Merciful God decreed famine and for three years not a single drop of rain fell, in order to teach them a lesson.
These Ayahs teach us the following points:
- The duty of Divine messengers is to invite people towards the path of God by giving them tidings of the reward of paradise for the virtuous, and at the same time warning them of the dire consequences of polytheism, atheism, and other forms of disbelief, so that they may wake up from their sinful life.
- It is belief in the Hereafter that makes the conscientious persons reform their behaviour.
- Blind imitation of the illogical and harmful customs of the past, on the assumption of preserving one’s culture, is among the signs of ignorant people.