Path towards Enlightenment (957)
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 that was revealed to the Last and Greatest of all Messengers, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
As you know, last week we completed explanation of “Surah Qaaf”, and from this Friday onwards we embark on explanation of the next Surah, that is, “Surah Zaariyaat”, which is 51st in the serial order of compilation of the holy Qur’an. It was revealed in Mecca and has 60 Ayahs. It opens with the Divine Oath on the scattering winds that blow far and wide with the rain-bearing clouds, followed by other signs of God’s Mercy that are evident in the orderly world of nature. The Surah derives its name from “Zaariyaat” which means the “Scatterers”, and mentions several signs of nature as proof of the Resurrection after death for the final judgement. The disbelievers are reminded of the fate that befell rebellious generations of the past, and the Prophet is urged to carry on reminding. The Surah also refers to Prophet Abraham’s hospitality towards the angels who conveyed to him God’s Message of a child to be born to him in this old age. It also relates the destruction of the nation to which Lot was sent as Prophet, and mentions several other Prophets, such as Moses and Noah, as well as the erring nations of Aad and Thamoud.
According to a narration from the Prophet of Islam’s 6th Infallible Heir, Imam Ja’far as-Sadeq (AS), the one who recites Surah Zaariyaat in the day or at night, God Almighty will improve his life, provide him with abundant sustenance, and illuminate his grave with a light shining till the Day of Resurrection [provided that he acts upon Qur’anic injunctions].
Now we present you the first four Ayahs of this Surah:
“In the Name of God, the All-Compassionate, the All-Merciful – By the scattering [winds] that scatter [the clouds];
“By the [rain] bearing [clouds] laden [with water];
“By [the ships] which move gently [on the sea];
“By [the angels] who dispense [livelihood] by [His] command.”
This Surah begins with references to the natural phenomena, as well as ships that sail on the seas as a result of the intellect that God has granted to mankind, and to the angels which are invisible instruments of Divine Power entrusted with the task to ensure the orderly functioning of the world and the whole universe. No doubt, the life of human beings, animals and plants depends on rain and in this regard winds play a prominent role in moving clouds for the showers over different areas. All this means, the world and the universe have not been created without any purpose, as the disbelievers and the atheists think.
Once the Prophet’s First Infallible Heir, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), while delivering a sermon from the pulpit was asked by a person: What is “Zaariyaat”, and he said: “The winds.” When asked the meaning of the next Divine oath in this Surah on the word “Hamelaat”, he said: “The clouds carrying rain.” The questioner then asked the meaning of “Jariyaat that flow with ease” as mentioned in the 3rd Ayah, and he said “the ships”, which mankind has manufactured, thanks to God-given intellect. On the next Divine Oath that mentions “Muqassimaat?”, he said: “The angels”.
Thus, these Ayahs refer to the scattering of matter, carrying of energy and and flowing of bodies in the world of nature, which are controlled and administered by various agencies appointed by the Almighty Creator. Even the microscopic corpuscles in the blood of living beings, which distribute sustenance, are controlled and regulated by such agencies. So man's attention is drawn to the reality of the universal plan, not haphazard but governed by precise laws, and a purpose pointed out in the next two Ayahs of this Surah.
These Ayahs teach us that:
- Emphasis on natural phenomena like rain, wind, and cloud make us discover the forces of nature that govern the world in an orderly way, thereby increasing our cognition of the Almighty Creator.
- Without rain the lands will become desolate, and without the gift of intellect mankind would not have been able to invent ships, vehicles, aircraft, and so many other things that have ensured the steady progress of human societies since the dawn of creation.
Now listen to Ayahs 5 and 6 of the same Surah:
“Indeed what you are promised is true,
“And indeed the retribution will surely come to pass!”
God Almighty fulfills the Promises given to mankind during the mortal life of the transient world as well as in the Hereafter. His Manifestation of Omnipotence are visible in the world of nature He Alone fulfills His Promises, including the rewards, punishments, Paradise, and Hell which are all true. Likewise, the resurrection and assembling of all mankind and jinn on the Promised Day of Judgement is indeed an occurrence without the least doubt.
These Ayahs teach us that:
- Whatever God has promised and conveyed through the Prophets is true without the least doubt.
- We should thus believe in the Divine Words and await the rewards of our deeds in the world, rather than being misled by the empty promises of fellow humans, most of whom are devoid of any fairness.
Now let us listen to Ayahs 7, 8, and 9 of Surah Zaariyaat:
“By the sky full of adornment [with stars];
“Indeed you (mankind) are of different opinions!
“He is turned away from it (that is, the Qur’an) who has been turned away [from the truth].”
The Divine Oath here refers to the immense masses of galaxies appearing as shining stars, which modern day scientists are just beginning to discover by means of telescopes that they have invented by the gift of intellect provided by God Almighty. Here, the holy Qur’an mentions the vast sky and the countless galaxies still unperceived by science and technology.
The next Ayah means to say that the insensible persons may utter different words at different times, but there is only one Straight Path that leads to Paradise, in spite of the differing opinions of the disbelievers regarding Resurrection.
Ayah 9 refers to the causes of deviation from the true path, and means to say: Those who refuse to acknowledge sound arguments or submit to reason, they have deviated from belief in God, the message of the Prophets, the teachings of the Infallible Imams, and the reality of the Day of Resurrection.
From these Ayahs we learn that:
- The vast universe with its fascinating appearance such as the stars that adorn the sky and are actually faraway planets, are beyond the perception of mankind, however, scientifically advanced.
- The words of the deniers of the Hereafter are not based on logic, and are full of contrast.
- The right path is one but the paths of deviation are countless.
- Any deviation and sin will set the ground for other deviations and sins, thereby making the way for returning to the truth more difficult.