Path towards Enlightenment (934)
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 continue from where we left you last week, and here is Ayah 18 of Surah Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny):
“Do they await anything except that the Hour should overtake them suddenly? Certainly its portents have come. Of what avail will be their admonition to them when it overtakes them?”
If you might recall, in our explanation of the preceding Ayahs of this Surah last Friday, we presented to you glimpses of the rewards reserved for the believers in paradise and the miserable fate of the disbelievers in hell. We also said, those receptive to the Words of God, acquire sincerity of heart, peace of mind, and positive behaviour at home and in society, while the heedless ones, including those who do not contemplate when listening to the recitation of the Holy Qur’an, do not gain anything. Thus, the Heavenly Scriptures with emphasis on monotheism, morally upright way of life, and the certainty of the Day of Resurrection for the Final Judgment are the true guides for humanity, rather than any manmade schools of thought.
The Ayah that we recited to you now refers to the disbelievers and the heedless ones who because of their lack of belief in the Day of Resurrection and Judgement, waste their time, and thus lose opportunities for repentance and reform, oblivious of the fact that the end could suddenly come before they could realize.
The Arabic word “Sa’a” in this Ayah means the ‘Hour’, and is usually used in the sense of Resurrection, but it may also indicate Divine Wrath and annihilation of the disbelievers in this world as a prelude to the torments of Resurrection for the deniers of truth.
The next part of this Ayah speaks of “portents” or signs of the coming of the fateful Hour, when many could be caught unprepared. Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny), is reported to have said: “Should I inform you of the portents of Resurrection? They are negligence in establishing the daily (ritual) prayers, following vain desires, cherishing the wealthy and exchanging religion for worldly possessions.”
As for those who say they won’t believe in the Day of Judgment until they see it coming, these doubters could be likened to a patient who illogically questions the diagnosis of a physician and refuses to take the prescribed medicines, by saying, ‘I cannot believe my condition could lead to death, until I see the approach of death.’ Such an irrational person ought to realize that when death strikes, no medicine will be of any use.
From this Ayah we learn that:
- Disbelievers and deniers of the Day of Judgement waste the opportunities of respite that God has granted for repentance and self-reform, because of their self-deception and intransigence.
- There are ample proofs and signs all around us in the world of nature of the certainty of the Day of Resurrection, but only the seekers of truth realize these facts, without any negligence or wasting of opportunities.
Now let us listen to Ayah 19 of this Surah:
“Know that there is no god except Allah, and plead (to Allah) for forgiveness of your sin and for the faithful men and faithful women. And Allah knows how you move about and your abode.”
This Ayah commands steadfastness on the right path, since there is no god except Allah the One and Only Creator, Whose protection we ought to seek and to whom we turn in earnest for forgiveness, without the least fear of the enemies. It stresses that whenever the believing men and believing women err or commit a fault, they should seek forgiveness from the All-Merciful. Even the prophets, who by nature are infallible and thus sinless, used to seek the forgiveness from the Lord Most High, as a sign of their humbleness. It was the habit of the Prophet of Islam to beseech Allah for mercy and the forgiveness of the faults, sins, and shortcomings of the believers. According to a statement from the Prophet, among the best forms of devotion are recitation of the phrases “Astaghfer-Allah” which means “I beseech Allah for forgiveness”, and “la ilaha il-Allah”, which means “there is no god but Allah”.
Towards its end, the Ayah means to say that nothing is hidden from the Almighty Creator, Who is fully aware of all our movements and what we do in our abodes.
This Ayah teaches us the following points:
- The basis of all over words and deeds is monotheism or the Oneness of the Almighty Creator, rather than relying on the fluctuating powers of fellow human or fearing them.
- The faithful men and women are included in the Prophet’s supplications to the Lord Most High for forgiveness, as well as their health and purity of spirit.
- The Prophets and the Imams, though infallible by nature, are in need of Divine favours.
Now let is listen to Ayah 20 of Surah Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny):
“Those who believe say, ‘If only a Surah were sent down (for jihad)!’ But when a definitive Surah is sent down and fighting is mentioned in it, you see those in whose hearts is a sickness looking upon you with the look of someone fainting at death; so woe to them!”
This Ayah refers to the tough conditions the Muslims faced during the first few years of the advent of Islam, and means to say that, because of persecution by the pagan Arabs, they would ask the Prophet whether a Divine commandment for jihad had been revealed. But, when a Surah categorically and decisively commanded armed encounter to repel the aggressions of the disbelievers, some of these people, at the prospect of a battle, would become horrified and almost collapse out of fear. The true believers, however, would stand steadfast on the battlefield and fearlessly long for martyrdom, while the hypocrites, who paid only lip service to Islam, would be scared to death and run away. Thus, felicity lies in obedience to Almighty Allah, Whose commandments ought to be carried out without the least fear.
This Ayah teaches us that:
- There are many who make loud claims, but retreat at the time of action.
- As the religion of mercy, Islam commands tough measures against the oppressors, including the armed fighting to repel their attacks.
- Fear of defence against the enemies or fleeing the battlefield are signs of hypocrisy and lack of firm faith.