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Man in the Quran

 Amanulla Vadakkangara


;Avoid falling prey to false notions

WHY Allah made man the best of His creation is a loaded question and an inquiry into the details will meet with clear purpose and noble motto behind this aspect. We have already seen that Allah did not leave man without showing him both the ways of right and wrong. Though He gave him the freedom to select the way he likes. He has sent messengers from time to time to invite people to the obedience of Allah alone and to the disobedience of all other forces rejecting the call of Satan.

The cardinal principle of all prophets was "O people, you worship Allah, do not associate anything with Him, there is no God but Him. Allah is the most Merciful to His servants. Out of His mercy He sent messengers with some divine document of guidance to show the divine path of living."

Sayyid Abul A'la Maududi writes in his famous work Risale Diniyat: "First of all, one should have unshakable belief in the existence of God, for unless a man has a firm and unalloyed faith in God's existence, how can he render obedience to Him?

"Then, one must know the attributes of God. It is the knowledge of the attributes of God which enables man to cultivate in him the noblest of human qualities and to fashion his life in virtue and godliness. If a man does not know that there is One and only One God Who is the Creator, the Ruler, and the Sustainer of the universe and there is none else to share with Him even a shred of the Divine power and authority, he may fall a prey to false gods, and offer his homage to them to solicit their favour. But if he knows the divine attribute of tauhid (oneness of God), there is not the least possibility of his falling a prey to this illusion.

"Similarly, if a man knows that God is Omnipresent and Omniscient and He sees, hears, and knows everything that we do in public or in private - nay, even our unexpressed thoughts! - then how can he afford to be indulgent and disobedient to God? He will feel that he is under eternal vigil and will, therefore, behave in the most appropriate way. But he who is not aware of these attributes of God may be misled, because of his ignorance, into God's disobedience.

"So is the case with all other attributes of God. The fact is that the qualities and attributes which a man must possess, if he wants to pursue the way of Islam, can be cultivated and developed only out of profound knowledge of the attributes of God. It is the knowledge of God's attributes which purifies a man's mind and soul, his beliefs, morals, and actions. And a mere cursory acquaintance with or just an academic knowledge of these attributes is not sufficient for the task ahead - there must be an unflinching conviction firmly rooted in the mind and heart of man so that he may remain immune from insidious doubts and perversions.

"Moreover, one must know in detail the way of living by following which one can seek the pleasure of God. Unless a man knows the likes of God, how can he choose and adopt the one and reject the other? If a man has no knowledge of the Divine Law and the Revealed Code of Life is also extremely essential in this respect.

"But here, again, mere knowledge will not suffice. Man must have full confidence and conviction that it is the Divine Law and that his salvation lies in following this code alone. For knowledge without this conviction will fail to spur man to the Right Path and he may be lost in the blind alley of disobedience.

"Finally, one must also know the consequence of belief and obedience and those of disbelief and disobedience. He must know what blessings would be showered upon him if he chooses God's way and leads a life of purity, virtue, and obedience. And he must also know what evil and harrowing consequences would follow if he adopts the way of disobedience and revolt.

"Thus the knowledge of life after death is absolutely essential for this purpose. Man must have an unwavering belief in the fact that death does not mean the end of life: that there will be resurrection and he will be brought to the highest court of justice, to be presided over by God Himself; that on the Day of Judgment complete justice will prevail; and that good deeds will be rewarded and misdeeds punished. Everybody will get his due and there is no escape. This is bound to happen. This sense of responsibility and accountability is quite essential for the full­fledged obedience of the Law of God.

"A man who has no knowledge of the world to come may consider obedience and disobedience quite immaterial. He may think that the obedient and the disobedient will both meet a similar end: for, after death both will be reduced to mere dust. With this attitude of mind, how can he be expected to submit to all the inconveniences and troubles, that are inextricably associated with the life of active obedience, and shun those sins the commission of which does not apparently bring to him any moral or material loss in this world?

"With this mental attitude a man cannot acknowledge and submit to God's Law. Nor can a man, who lacks firm belief in the life hereafter and in the Divine Court of Judgment, remain firm and steadfast in the turbulent waters of life with its attraction or sin, crime, and evil; for doubt and hesitancy rob a man of his will to action. You can remain firm in your behaviour only if you are firm in your beliefs.

"If you carry a wavering mind you cannot remain firm and steadfast. You can whole­heartedly follow a course only if you are sure of the benefits that will accrue to you by following it and of the losses and grievances that will engulf you if you disobey it. Thus, a profound knowledge of the consequences of belief and disbelief and of the life after death is extremely necessary for canalising life into God's obedience. (Risale Diniyat - English Translation - Pp15 and 16).

The following Qur'anic verse of Sura Al Baqara has enough directions in this regard and it explains Allah's policy of sending messengers to teach right and wrong to the people with an encouraging tone to the good doers and discouraging to the wrong doers by glad tidings of paradise and strong warnings about Hell and its severe punishment.

Allah says: "Mankind was one single nation, and God sent Messengers, with them He sent the Book in truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differed; but the People of the Book, after the clear Signs came to them, did not differ among themselves, except through selfish contumacy. God by His Grace guided the Believers to the trust, concerning that wherein they differed. For God guides whom He will to a path that is straight." (Al-Qur'an 2:213).

 

Everything is created to serve man


A SERIOUS and sincere analysis of the Qur'an reveals that its central theme is man. It deals with concepts relating to God, the universe and man which have emanated from man's own limited knowledge run counter to reality. The same applies to concepts which have been either woven by man's intellectual fancies or which have evolved through man's obsession with animal desires.

The ways of life which rest on these false foundations are both contrary to reality and ruinous for man. The essence of true knowledge is that which God revealed to man when He appointed him His vicegerent. Hence, the way of life which is in accordance with reality and conducive to human good is that which we have characterised above as 'the right way'.

The real object of the Book is to call people to this 'right way' and to illuminate God's true guidance, which has often been lost either through man's negligence and heedlessness or distorted by his wicked perversity.

If we study the Qur'an with these facts in mind it is bound to strike us that the Qur'an does not deviate one iota from its main subject, its central theme and its basic objective. All the various themes occurring in the Qur'an are related to the central theme; just as beads of different sizes and colour may be strung together to form a necklace.

The Qur'an speaks of the structure of the heavens and the earth and of man, refers to the signs of reality in the various phenomena of the universe, relates anecdotes of bygone nations, criticises the beliefs, morals and deeds of different peoples, elucidates supernatural truths and discusses many other things besides.

All this the Qur'an does, not in order to provide instruction in physics, history, philosophy or any other particular branch of knowledge, but rather to remove the misconceptions people have about reality and to make that reality manifest to them.

It emphasises that the various ways men follow, which are not in conformity with reality, are essentially false, and full of harmful consequences for mankind. It calls on men to shun all such ways and to follow instead the way which both conforms to reality and yields best practical, results. This is why the Qur'an mentions everything only to the extent and in the manner necessary for the purposes it seeks to serve. The Qur'an confines itself to essentials thereby omitting any irrelevant details. Thus, all its contents consistently revolve around this call.

In Sura 'Al Teen' Allah says:

"We have indeed created man in the best of moulds, then do We abase him (to be) the lowest of the low, except such as believe and do righteous deeds: for they shall have a reward unfailing." (4­6)

These verses also indicate to the exalted position of man. To man, Allah gave the purest and best nature and man's duty is to preserve the pattern on which God has made him. But when he neglects this and goes in his own way, he will be abased to the lowest possible position.

Verily, Islam is the first religion to declare Man as the foremost of creation and the masterpiece of the Creator. Allah has cast man in the best of proportions, made him spotless and by nature upright. Every person is born on Islam: but his parents, environment and society turn him into a Jew, Christian or good or bad. Allah declares in Sura Yunus that He guided every one to the Straight path of unity of Allah, but they adopted different paths.

In the Holy Qur'an no other creation is described in such detail as man and the importance, respect and honour that is bestowed on him. "And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: (XLV : 13).

It is evident therefrom that everything in the Universe is created to serve man, cast in the best of moulds, and the vicegerent of Allah. Let us examine the purpose of his life. The responsibilities are in direct proportion to the prestigious position one holds.

It is remarkable here that the very first revealed verses discuss with the creation of man and related things. The first verses of Sura 'Al Alaq' can be translated as follows: "Proclaim (or Read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, who created - Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: Proclaim! And thy Lord is most Bountiful, - He who taught (The use of) the pen, taught man that which he knew not".

The important point to be noted is the first verse proclaimed acquisition of knowledge that is the essence of the identity and personality of man. At the same time it taught to seek it by agreeing the Creator Allah.

The declaration or proclamation was to be in the name of God the Creator. It was not for any personal benefit to the Prophet: to him there was to come bitter persecution, sorrow, and suffering. It was the call of God for the benefit of erring humanity. God is mentioned by His title of "thy Lord and Cherisher", to establish a direct nexus between the source of the Message and the one addressed.

The Message was not merely an abstract proposition of philosophy, but the direct concrete message of a personal God to the creatures whom He loves and cherishes. "Thy" addressed to the Prophet is appropriate in two ways:

(1) he was in direct contact with the divine Messenger (Gabriel) and Him Who sent the Messenger; (2) he represented the whole of humanity, in a fuller sense than that in which Christ Jesus is the "Son of Man".

Allah Ordains. I have only created Jinns and Men, that they may serve Me (LI:56)

This is the ultimate aim of religions. Submission and self abasement should not be to any other creature, nor vows and wants be beseeched of another creature; but the nucleus of succour should be Allah only and His Ultimate Being.

In religious parlance this is called Worship. Further, the aim and object of "Thee alone we worship and Thee alone we ask for help"; and the formula of virtue: "There is no one worthy or worship but Allah and Mohammad (salla Allah­u alaihe wa sallam) is His Messenger" also lead to the same desire that except Allah there is no other being worthy of Worship, and for soliciting of aid, and Mohammad (pbuh) the Messenger of Allah was sent to preach the above Message to the entire world.

Indigence and want are a part and parcel of man's nature. Whether supernatural or super human, man seeks their aid to remove his evils and thus debases himself before them. Because of ignorance and stupidity he considers these objects to be beneficial redressers of grief and disposers of difficulties. It is this false absurd belief which compels him to prostrate before creatures which are far inferior to him.

To remove these confusions of senses and mental delusions, the Messenger of Allah preached the Message of truth to the entire world to the effect that man being the most superior of the creatures and nature's masterpiece cannot under any circumstances debase himself before any other creature which is inferior to him.

He can bow in humility only before the Supreme, the Exalted and the All knowing Allah in Whose hands are the reins of the Universe and who is pure of all defects. It is He who is our Deity and worthy of worship and entitled to be beseeched.

Allah alone is our Creator, our Lord, our protector, Master and the Supreme Judge. We are His creatures, his slaves and subjects. He alone we worship and to Him alone we beg to remove our wants for He alone is free of wants and all of us are beggars unto Him. By being His dependants we become free of want the entire world.

The one prostration which man considers onerous, relieves him from thousand prostrations. Allah ordains: It is ye that have need of Allah: but Allah is the One free of all wants, worthy of all Praise (35:15). Man becomes a real human being, daring and fearless, only after he accepts this Truthful Message. Allah alone becomes his centre of hope and fear.

Allah, the Lord and the Supreme Judge of the Universe. It is now that his every action is subject to the Command of Allah; man's weakness is now converted into his strength; his indignity into his respect; his poverty into his wealth; and he is no more afraid of any living creature in the world.

The Message: "Be ynot afraid of them, but fear Me, if ye have faith" (3:175) makes man fearless of the entire world he is hopeful and fearful only of Allah and none else.

"Is not Allah enough for His servant" (39:36) makes him independent of the entire universe. Once the attachment with other creatures is disconnected, man's soul attains peace and is contented with Allah and free from the servitude of false gods. What is superior to Allah whose realisation man longs for? Now he has everything for himself. Allah ordains: "In order that ye may not despair over matters that pass you by, nor exult over favours bestowed upon you. For Allah loveth not any vainglorious boaster" (L VII:23). Again".... when you should be uppermost: for Allah is with you..." (XL VII:35).

The conception and understanding of the True Deity has exalted man to heights beyond description. Once man, like a contemptible and despicable animal was afraid and fearful of every one. He considered every one to be redresser of grievances and disposer of misfortunes and bowed his head in slavery before them and sought their help and succour. He spent his life in worshipping and imploring them. He himself was weak and his god­head was also weak. "Feeble are those who petition and those whom they petition" (22:78).

Having understood and accepted the Divine Mission, man then hold the sword of none, but Allah an advances, and in the words of the Holy Qur'an, he questions the ignorant and the polytheists: "Is it some one other than Allah that ye order me to worship, O ye ignorant ones".

When man removes the fetters of worship of false gods, he feels free and independent for the first time in life. The heavy burden of fear is removed from his chest. Now he bows before his Real and True master, and finds his Lord and Protector to be merciful, And the Revelation ".... And he is full of Mercy to Believers" (33:43), inspires in him contentment and peace.

He is now convinced that after this declaration of Faith, Allah will treat him with Mercy and Beneficence. His heart is further strengthened by the fact that Allah is All knowing and Wise and considers every act of Allah as according to his Wisdom and Plan he considers Allah as his mentor in all his deeds. Having recited "For enough is Allah as a disposer of affairs" (33:48) he finds contentments and gets involved in his daily work.

Allah has made everything in the Universe for the benefits of man. But blinded with, pomp, pleasure, power, property, money, luxury and other worldly enjoyments man forgets to remember Allah and show gratitude to Him. Allah says in sura 'Al Alaq' "Nay, but man doth transgress and bounds, in that he looketh upon himself as self­sufficient. Verily, to thy Lord is the return (of all). (6­8) .

As it is crystal clear from these verses all our knowledge and capacities come as gifts from God. But man, in his vanity and insolence, mistakes God's gifts for his own achievements.

The gifts may be strength or beauty, wealth, position, or power, or the more subtle gifts of knowledge or talents in individuals, or science, or art, or government, or organisation for mankind in general.

These verses also remind us that man is not self­sufficient, either as an individual, or in his collective capacity. If he arrogates God's gifts to himself, he is reminded­backwards of his lowly physical origin (from a drop of animal matter), and forwards, of his responsibility and final return to God.

In Sura 'Al Adiyat', the Qur'an refers to the negative attitude of man towards his Creator:

"Truly man is to his Lord, ungrateful; and to that (fact) He bears witness (By his deeds); and violent is he in his love of wealth" (6­8). Here the Qur'an asks man what an evil choice he makes in committing treason against his own Benefactor by going after the petty baubles of this world's wealth of fleeting gains?

 

Soul is the king of human body


Imam Ghazali writes in the beginning of the third volume of his famous book Ihya Ulum­din - "It is by means of soul that man is the best of creations as it is by means of soul that man acquires the knowledge of God and His attributes and by no other organs of the body.

It is by means of soul that man can go to the nearness of God and make efforts to realise Him. So soul is the king of the body and its different organs are its servants to carry out its orders and commands. It is accepted by God when it remains free from things other than God. When it is attached to things other than God, it drifts away from God. It is the soul which will be asked and rebuked. It becomes fortunate if it is purified and cleansed, and it becomes unfortunate if it is kept impure. It is the knowledge of soul which is the root of the knowledge of God. When man does not know himself he does not know God.

Majority of men are ignorant of soul and its attributes as a screen is cast between soul and baser self. God says: God moves between a man and his soul and controls it and its attributes. It is between the two fingers of the Merciful. It sometimes reaches the last limit of the devil and sometimes rises so high as to the throne of the Almighty. He who does not enquire about his soul is included among those persons of whom God says in the following verse: "They forgot God and so He made their souls forgetful. They are the transgressors."

See the Qur'anic verses in Sura 'Al Shams' enlightening us on some of these aspects - "By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right; Truly he succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it!" ( 7 ­ 10).

It should be noted that various terms have been used to denote the human soul, such as 'Nafs, Ruh, Qalb and Aql'.

According to Imam Ghazali, Nafs has got two meanings - The first meaning is passion or baser and lower self. Passion is a comprehensive word consisting of greed, anger and other evil attributes. The Prophet (pbuh) said: Your greatest enemy is your passion lying by your two sides. The second meaning of Nafs is soul as described above. When Nafs assumes calmness and has removed passion, it is then termed Nafs Mutma Inna or satisfied soul as God says: O satisfied soul, return to your Lord satisfied and satisfying Him (89:27).

In the first meaning, Nafs is with the party of devil. When the calm nature of Nafs does not become perfect, it is called Nafs lawwamah or self­accusing soul, as much a soul rebukes one for neglect in divine duties. If soul gives up protests and surrenders itself to the devil, it is called Nafs Ammarah or passion addicted to evils.

This can be considered as three important stages of the development of human soul, as the Holy Qur'an coins it. The first one is Ammara. The Qur'an uses this word in Sura Al ­Yusuf "Nor do I absolve my own self (Of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord do bestow his Mercy: but surely My Lord is Oft­Forgiving, most Merciful" (Sura 'Yusuf' - 53).

The second one is Lawwama as referred to it in Sura Al­Qiyama when Allah says: "And I do call to witness the self­reproaching spirit: (Eschew Evil)." And the third one; the highest stage of all, when it achieves full rest and satisfaction. This is Mutma Inna as the Qur'an uses in Sura Al­Fajr - "(To the righteous soul will be said:) "O (thou) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back thou to thy Lord, well pleased (thyself), and well­pleasing unto Him! "Enter thou, then, among my Devotees! Yea, enter thou My Heaven!" (27­30).

Ruh: It has got also two meanings. It means first a material thing within the heart which vibrates the whole body like the current of electricity and which runs through the veins of the body. It is called 'life'. It has got the power of touch, hearing, sight, smell and the power of the other limbs of the body. The second meaning of Ruh is an immaterial subtle thing which is called soul and not life. God says: They ask you about Ruh. Say: It is a command from my Lord ­ 17:85.

 

Man's creation: the heart of the matter


Qalb - Qalb has also got two meanings. It means first a piece of flesh in the left breast called heart which is hollow in the interior, which is filled up with black blood and which is again a source of Ruh of life. Heart is the centre of mine for circulation of blood. The second meaning of Qalb is soul with which we are concerned here.

It is an immaterial thing or formless Latifa or basic subtle element which has got connection with the material heart. It is just like unseen electricity. It is the principal thing in a man. It catches knowledge of God and spiritual world. It is punished and rewarded. The connection of soul with heart is the connection of attributes with the bodily limbs, or a machine with the machine man, or a house with its inmates.

This connection is of two kinds. One kind of connection is with Ulume Mokashafa or spiritual knowledge. Its second connection requires the knowledge of the secrets of soul. The Prophet did not throw light on this subject and so we should refrain from it. We shall translate the word Qalb here as soul or an immaterial thing Latifa with its attributes.

Aql ­ It has got many meanings of which let us examine the important two. The first meaning of Aql is intellect with which true nature of things of this material world is known and its seat is in soul. The second meaning of Aql is power to understand the secrets of different learnings. It is subtle essence called knowledge which is an attribute. Attribute and the thing which contains it are two different things. Intellect is the name of both.

This is supported by the following hadith: The first thing which God created is intellect. The attribute of intellect is an immaterial thing but the attribute cannot stand without a material thing. So the place of intellect should be created first or along with it. Knowledge is the content of intellect and so it was created first. Whoever wins over these are truly successful and really victorious in this world and the hereafter.

All Islamic obligations and forms of worships are meant for the purification of the soul and moulding a better individual with dignified character and conduct. That is why Islam asks us to make all aspects of our life a worship of Allah. Islamic worship or Ibadat has a very wider perspective since it includes all the words, deeds, and feelings which Allah likes and is satisfied.

So if you free your speech from filth, falsehood, malice and abuse and speak only truth and talk goodly things and do all these only because God as so ordained to do, they are considered Ibadat. If you obey the rules of Allah in its true spirit in your agricultural, domestic, commercial, or financial affairs and abide by it in your dealings with your colleagues parents, relatives, friends and all those who come in touch with you, surely these are considered as Ibadat and Allah will reward it.

When you feel sympathy to the poor, destitutes and the orphan and try to solve their problems either by giving something by your own or guiding them to somebody who may help them is an accepted Ibadat. To put in a nutshell we can say all our actions and thoughts are Ibadat when we do it with a sincere heart and with good intention of receiving reward of Allah alone.

Superiority of man is hailed here. Because he does not accept anything from anybody for his deeds except from his creator, Allah the Almighty. The Qur'an describe the nature of true believers, when they do something good to others, they will say we don't want either reward or words of thanks from you, what we do is for Allah's sake and He will reward us. We fear a day where we will stand before him.

The Qur'an gives a good description of this nature of true believers in Sura Al Insan - "As to the Righteous, they shall drink of a cup (of wine) mixed with Kafur, a fountain where the Devotees of God do drink, making it flow in unstinted abundance. They perform (their) vows, and they fear a Day whose evil flies far and wide. And they feed, for the love of God, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive, (saying), "We feed you for the sake of God alone: no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks. We only fear a Day of distressful Wrath from the side of our Lord". But God will deliver them from the evil of that Day, and will shed over them a Light of Beauty and a (blissful) Joy. And because they were patient and constant, He will reward them with a garden and (garments of) silk."

We must not forget here that Islam has taken all precautions to keep the souls of Muslim society in high esteem with reputed values and traditions. Throughout the Qur'an and Hadith we can see valuable directions regarding purification of the soul.

We can see that Islam has prohibited all bad habits and foul talks which will harm the harmonious and healthy relationship between the members of the Islamic Society. Islamic concept of brotherhood is not safeguarded unless and until the so­called evils of social security is well taken care of. This is very clear in the verses of the Qur'an and teachings of the Prophet (pbuh) we may observe that Islam has closed all doors of deviation from the brotherhood and unity.

That is why Islam has prohibited backbiting, jealousy, lies and all related things and Islam urges maximum co­operation of all members of the society in all good ventures. Allah says: "You co­operate in good deeds and in piety and not in evils and enmity".

Islam also tell us that the religion is good will to Allah, His messenger and all Muslims. We must long for well being and welfare to all our fellow Muslims and strive for that with united effort. The Prophet's words about the unity of Muslim is quite relevant in this context. The Prophet (pbuh) has taught: The example of Muslim, in their love, mercy and affection is like a single body. If anything happens to some part of the body the whole body will suffer. Like wise, Allah wants us to strengthen our Nafs, Qalb, Ruh and Aql in such a way that treats ourselves as an inevitable part and parcel of Muslim brotherhood.

Everybody knows that man can't live alone. He is a social animal. When men lives in the society he requires to be well mannered and cultured. The Qur'anic teachings are all concerned with moral lessons to lighten the social bondage of man. The famous words the Caliph Umar are surely directive principles of human life in the society. He said: There is no Islam without a social setup of a group and organisation, no such group or organisation with leadership and no leadership without obedience.

That means a social set up with proper leadership is a must for Islamic living of the people. Allah's messenger (pbuh) has also underlined the significance of an organised social setup in Islam by saying whoever goes away a little from this organisation he goes that much from Islam. Muslims should mould their minds in the way for a healthy social culture and Islamic manner to reach the coveted goal before Allah.

See the Qur'anic verses in the Sura Al Asr where Allah pledges by the witness of the time through the ages that man is futile except those who rise up to the expectation of high Islamic Character of strong faith accompanied by good deeds and mutual good will and advice of patience and Truth. Allah says: "By (the Token of) time (through the Ages), verily Man is in loss, except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy".

If life be considered under the metaphor of a business bargain, man, by merely attending to his material gains, will lose. When he makes up his day's account in the afternoon, it will show a loss. It will only show profit if he has Faith, leads a good life, and contributes to social welfare by directing and encouraging other people on the Path of Truth and Constancy.

Faith is his armour, which wards off the wounds of the material world; and his righteous life is his positive contribution to spiritual ascent.

If he lived only for himself, he would not fulfil his whole duty. Whatever good he has, especially in moral and spiritual life, he must spread amohis brethren, so that they may see the Truth and stand by it in patient hope and unshaken constancy amidst all the storm and stress of outer life. For he and they will then have attained Peace within.

The organisational setup of the Islamic society and the relationship among the members of Islamic society are clearly underlined in the above mentioned sura and the Muslims are warned against any deviation from this setup. There are several verses of the Holy Qur'an and words of the prophets cementing the unity of the Ummat. It is also noticeable that a man by declaring his belief he is bound to do good deeds based on his faith, otherwise there is no meaning in mere declaration of faith.

The Prophet (pbuh) has said, Iman has more than 70 branches, the most top among them is testifying that there is no God, but Allah, and the lowest among that is removing the disturbance from the way, shyness is a part of faith. Each and every word of this hadith requires explanation. As we have discussed earlier the fundamental principle of faith is testifying the oneness of Allah.

The personality of a Muslim is based on this theory and that makes him high in all levels. Secondly the hadith refers to the lowest branch of faith, which is removing disturbance from the way. This sheds enough light on the aspects of faith and the role of a believer in the society. A believer is useful to the better existence of the society and he is always beneficial to the people. So a believer can never be selfish and away from the society, rather he will be much involved in the welfare of the whole society.

The Qur'anic advice of co­operation in good things and piety is truly reflected in this hadith also. We may recollect here what the disbelievers of Makkah said to Abu Bakr Siddique, when he was migrating from the country, they said: people like you should not go out of the country. That is true believers will be appreciated even by the disbelievers and their influence will be remarkable.

Thirdly, the hadith refers to the quality of timidity. A man blessed with Iman would not dare to cheap things or behave in such a way since the quality of shyness, is an inevitable part of his Imanic personality will prevent him from such things. The Holy Qur'an present this in a very impressive way in Sura Al­i­Imran: Allah says: "You are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah."

This reveals that the logical conclusion to the evolution of religious history is a non sectarian non­racial, non­doctrinal, universal religion - Islam. This implies that a Muslim is the one having firm faith, followed by right actions of public utility and benefits at the same time striving for creating good things and annihilating wrong things.

The following instruction of the Prophet (pbuh) supports this view. "Whoever from you see a wrong thing should prevent it by his hand (Power) if he could not do that with his tongue (by telling to avoid it and giving proper advice) if he is not able to do that also he should prevent it by his heart (by hating it) that is the weakest of faith.

In short, we can summarise that Allah has a very special motto behind the creation of man and the Qur'an gives enough directions to the spiritual purification which is the most important aspect of Islamic personality.

See the Prophet's words: Surely there is a lump of flesh in the body, if it is purified the whole body is purified and if it is polluted the whole body is polluted, remember that is Qalb.

 

The importance of patience, endurance


The pleasures which had entangled us in passions and made us victims of lust and sensuality and surrounded us in darkness, take us far away from the light. Satan was then our partner. "If any one withdraws himself from remembrance of (Allah) Most Gracious, We appoint for him an evil one, to be an intimate companion to him".

The substance of one Hadith is that when Allah has affection for His servant, He involves him in some misfortune to test him. If he is patient and endures it with constancy, Allah makes him a chosen one. If he is satisfied, then Allah selects him as exalted.

Imam Ahmed (RA) points out that the Holy Qur'an mentions patience at 90 places of which some are:

"And Allah loves those who are firm and steadfast" (III:146). And one with whom Allah is pleased what could make him sad, or afraid for he is blessed with the company of Allah. "For Allah is with those who patiently persevere" (II:153).

It is because of patience and endurance that one is entitled to leadership. "And We appointed from among them, leaders, giving guidance under Our Command, so long as they persevered with patience and continued to have Faith in Our Signs" (XXXII:24).

And those who are patient their constancy acts like a shield against the cunning and afraid of the enemies. "But if ye are constant and do right, not the least harm will their cunning do to you" (III: 120).

Eventually your triumph over them is certain and liberation from the enemies. "The fair promise of thy Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, because they had patience and constancy" (VIII: 137).

We know the reward for every good deed: but the reward for patience and endurance has no bounds. It is therefore not possible for us to fathom the amount of reward for patience. Allah has collectively reserved His Mercy, Guidance and Benevolence for those who exercise patience and constancy.

Consequently, this collective reward of Allah is for those who endure and not for others. "But give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere, who say, when afflicted with calamity, To Allah we belong and to Him is our return: They are those on whom (descend) blessings from Allah and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive Guidance" (II:154­ 157).

The etiquette of endurance is that one should withhold his tongue from complaint and protestation. Our misfortunes should not be complained of before any one except Allah. "I only complain of my distraction and anguish to Allah..." (XII:86).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has said: "The treasure of good deeds is the non­revealing of misfortunes and distress. Whoever reveals his misfortunes has not exercised patience and endurance."

Expressing gratitude for His Bounties is another mode of beseeching Allah's help. In man's life there is happiness and sorrow, comfort and hardship. Allah tests His servants by giving them comfort and inflicting hardship. "And We test you by evil and by good by way of trial" (XXI 35). Favours and miseries are both agencies of testing man. This reality is expressed in the Holy Qur'an thus.

"We broke them up into sections on this earth. There are among them some that are the righteous, and some that are the opposite. We have tried them with both prosperity and adversity; in order that they might turn (to us)" (VII:168).

It is human nature to seek liberation from misfortunes and desire increase in Benevolence. The prudence of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) has pointed out the proper course to be adopted in both conditions. Endurance in misfortunes and gratitude for Bounties cause a tremendous change in the heart of man. On the one hand by exercising patience man is relieved of lamentation, complaints, mourning and beating of chest. In the case of bounties, gratitude keeps us safe from pride, immodesty and self esteem.

The experiences and accidents in life are ordeals and they develop our character. These are of two kinds viz., mild and harsh. Man's nature also consists of two states of feeling viz., sense of security or distress; harsh or painful accidents take place to make us forgo our sinful life. They keep us away from passionate desires and reform our character.

We are also tested by comfort and plenitude. If in such conditions we are not forgetful of the remembrance of Allah and turn towards Him and utilise His Bounties according to His desire, then it is certain that the Bounties will increase. Expression of heartfelt gratitude by words and deeds do not only safeguard the Bounties of Allah but they get increased. "If ye are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you" (XIV:7).

Fulfilment of supplications, providing of sustenance and contentment; repentance and forgiveness are dependent on this Will of Allah. To bestow if He desires and not to grant if He likes; but in return for gratitude acknowledged, the increase in His Bounties is certain.

Hasan Basri (RA) termed gratitude as the guard of Allah's Bounties, which further attract latent ones.

It would be advisable to relate the Bounties of Allah which we do not usually observe.

These are of two kinds viz.,

1) Positive or Apparent Benevolences.

2) Passive or Hidden Benevolences.

In positive Benevolences man should always keep in his sight his health, soundness of his body and stature and should ponder over them. He should think of the pleasures he derives by eating, drinking and yearning for sex which are available to him.

In passive Benevolences he should count that he is free from deformity and disease, safe from the mischief of enemies and adversaries. Man of Faith looks at Benevolence, from another angle. He is recipient of Divine Guidance and Chasity. Benevolence of Divine Guidance is that he has Faith in the Unity of Allah, Truth and Rectitude. Benevolence of Chasity means that man is kept safe from Polytheism, Hypocrisy and Innovations in religion and sins.

 

Follow the path of virtue for a better tomorrow


While analysing the positive and negative doings of men, we should realise that even though God's punishment is delayed, it is not to be supposed that He does not see all things. He is like a Guardian on a watch­tower defending His Law, and protecting the weak and innocent with His mighty arm. God's providence is ever vigilant: His punishment of evil­doers is a form of justice to the weak and the righteous whom they oppress. It is part of the signification of His title as Rabb.

Contrast with God's justice and watchful care, man's selfishness and pettiness. God tries us both by prosperity and adversity: in the one we should show humility and kindness; and in the other patience and faith. On the contrary we get puffed up in prosperity and depressed in adversity, putting false values on this world's goods. Even though God provides for all, we see people complain if the provision is measured and restricted to their needs, circumstances, and antecedents, and does not come up to their desires or expectations, or is different from that given to people in quite different circumstances. The Qur'an says: "But when He trieth him, restricting his subsistence for him, then saith he (in despair), 'My Lord hath humiliated me!?'

The lesson here is man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward. Nobody can leave without facing any difficulties or passing through problematic situations of various levels. But he is supposed to overcome such situations with patience. In Sura Al Balad the Qur'an draws a vivid picture of this aspect. Allah says: "Verily We have created man into toil and struggle, thinketh he, that none hath power over him? He may say (boastfully): wealth have I squandered in abundance! Thinketh he that none beholdeth him? Have We not made for him a pair of eyes? and a tongue, and a pair of lips? and shown him the two highways? But he hath made no haste on the path that is steep. And what will explain to thee the path that is steep?·(It is) free?ng the bondman; or the giving of food in a day of privation to the orphan with claims of relationship, or to the indigent (down) in the dust, then will he be of those who believe, and enjoin patience, (constancy, and self­restraint), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion. Such are the companions of the Right Hand. But those who reject our signs, they are the (unhappy) Companions of the Left Hand. On them will be Fire Vaulted over (all round)."

Allah recollects some of the blessings he gave to men and explains the two highways of life, where he may enter. The easy path referred here is, as we noted earlier, the life of a materialist who would prefer to enjoy the worldly glories without thinking about a day, where he will stand before Allah for judgement of his words and deeds.

The difficult path of virtue is defined as the path of charity or unselfish love, and three specific instances are given for our understanding: (1) freeing the bondman, (2) feeding the orphan, and (3) feeding the indigent down in the dust. As regards the bondman, we are to understand not only a reference to legal slavery, which happily is extinct in all civilized lands, but many other kinds of slavery which flourish especially in advanced societies. There is political slavery, industrial slavery, and social slavery. There is the slavery of conventions, of ignorance, and or superstition. There is slavery to wealth or passions or power. The good man tries to liberate men and women from all kinds of slavery, often at great danger to himself. But he begins by first liberating himself.

Allah's statement to man in Sura Al Inshiqaq is also supporting this fact, the Qur'an says: "Thou man! verily thou art ever toiling on towards thy Lord painfully toiling, - but thou shalt meet Him."

This life is ever full of toil and misery, if looked at as empty of the Eternal Hope which Revelation gives us. Hence the literature of pessimism in poetry and philosophy, which thinking minds have poured forth in all ages, when that Hope was obscured to them. "Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought." "To each his suffering; all are men condemned alike to groan!" It is the noblest men that have to "Scorn delights and live laborious days" in this life. The good suffer on account of their very goodness: the evil on account of their Evil. But the balance will be set right in the end. Those that wept shall be made to rejoice, and those that went about thoughtlessly rejoicing, shall be made to weep for their folly. They will all go to their account with God and meet Him before His Throne of Judgment.

There is no doubt that the path of virtue is not an easy one. But Allah encourages believers by giving hope of a better tomorrow. See the translation of some of the verses of the Holy Qur'an in this connection.

1. If the people of the towns had but believed and feared Allah, We should indeed have opened out to them (all kinds of) blessings from heaven and earth" (3:96).

2. A pious man is free of sorrow, fear and danger. "Those who are righteous and mend (their lives) on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve" (7:35).

3. He is safe from the enemies, "But if ye are constant and do right, not the least harm their cunning will do to you? (3:120).

4. He will have Allah's company and help. "For Allah is with those who restrain themselves, and those who do good" (16:128).

5. A pious person is promised permitted sustenance and liberation from hardship "And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out" (LXV:2) "And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine" (LXV:3) "And for those who fear Allah, He will make their path easy" (LXV:4).

6. The lives of the pious people are successful in the Hereafter as they are chosen servants of Allah. "For Allah doth love the righteous" (9:7).

7. The deeds of pious persons only are acceptable to Allah. "Allah doth accept the sacrifices of those who are righteous" (5:30).

8. The pious will be honoured in the presence of Allah. "The most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you" (XLIX:13).

9. Not only the deeds of the Pious are acceptable but their sins are also forgiven. 'O Ye who believe! Fear Allah, and (always) say a word directed to the Right" (33:70) "That He may make your conduct whole and sound forgive your sins: (33:71).

10. The Pious will receive deliverance from the fire of Hell. "But Allah will deliver the righteous to their place of salvation: no evil shall touch them, nor shall they grieve? (39:61).

11. The Pious will eventually enter paradise and will live in real pleasure. "As to the Righteous, they will be in Gardens and in Happiness" (LII:17).

12. There are glad tidings for the Pious in both the worlds. In this world, the glad tidings are comfort and blessings of Allah, freedom from fear and sorrow, safety from enemies and Allah's company and help. In the Hereafter the glad tidings are peace in the grave, and on the Day of Judgement; and the accounting of their deeds will be made easy. "Behold; verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear, not shall they grieve" (11:62).

"Those who believe and (constantly) guard against evil" (11:63). For them are Glad Tidings, in the life of the present and in the Hereafter; no change can there be in the Words of Allah. This is indeed the supreme Felicity" (10:64).

Allah is the greatest wellwisher of us. He counsels us to live piously as this is the only aim in life. "Verily, We have directed the people of the Book before you and you (O Muslims) to fear Allah" (4:131).

Piety is in the nature of the Faithful and is the common factor for the success in this world and in the Hereafter.

 

God loves those who are penitent


The most important thing to be noted in the Qur'anic approach is that it considers man as man with all possibilities of mistakes and sins. The widely approved notion of to err is human is approved and enough chances and sufficient guidance is given to get rid of such mistakes on sins. The doors of repentance is opened before the servants. But this should not be considered as a justification to commit sins or encouragement for deviating from the reality.

These are only reflections of the wisdom of the All­Knowing and All­Seeing Allah the Almighty in His creations. Though man is the best and the most dignified he can't be free from all mistakes since the declared enemy of man, Satan, tries to divert his attention by all possible ways and means. That is why we understand that among people only the prophets were protected from all sins and mistakes.

This was a special arrangement from Allah to His selected servant whom He has entrusted a special mission of prophethood. Except prophets there is no one in the world without any minor or major mistakes. Realising the human nature to make mistakes Allah has urged His Servants to take refuge in Him from all possible influences of Satan and if it at all they commit anything wrong repent and ask His forgiveness. Allah likes to forgive and He has attributed Himself as the most forgiving. In the Sura Al Noor Allah says: O ye believers, turn ye all together towards God that you may attain Bliss. ( verse 31).

In the Sura Al Baqara we see God loves those who are penitent and pure. (verse 220). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has said: "A penitent man is dear to God. He who returns from sin is like one who has got no sins."

The Prophet (pbuh) has exhorted his followers: You fear your God wherever you are, follow a wrong deed with a good deed that may nullify it. Behave with people in a better way. Allah has made it clear that He will not reject the sincere appeal of repentance till his last breath.

The Prophet (pbuh) said: "Think that a man went to a vast field with a camel loaded with food and fuel. He slept thereafter leaning his head. When he awoke, he did not find his camel there. Then he began to search for it running to and fro and said after getting tired of hunger and sun: I will go to my former place to sleep, such a sleep that it may cause my death. Then he placed his head upon his hands and slept there to meet with death. When he awoke, he found his camel standing before him with food and water. His joy then knew no bounds. God becomes more pleased with the repentance of a believer than his joy.

The Prophet (pbuh) said: He was besides himself with joy and said in an ecstasy of joy I am your Lord and You are my servant.

Hazrat Hasan Basri said; When God accepted the penitence of Adam, the angels blessed him and Gabriel and Michael came to him and said: O Adam, God accepted your repentance and cooled your eyes. Adam said: O Gabriel, what will be my rank if after acceptance of this repentance some questions are asked? God then revealed to him: O Adam there will come sorrows and difficulties over your followers and repentance will be open to them. Whoever among them will repent, I will accept his repentance as I have accepted yours. Whoever seeks My forgiveness, I will not be miser in accepting his forgiveness as I am near and accept invocations. O Adam, when I shall resurrect the repentant men, they will smile and enjoy and their repentance will be accepted.

The Qur'anic concept of balance is highly relevant in this context. Measuring of merits and demerits and accepting if merits are more or rejecting if demerits are more is mere human common sense. Allah says: All actions are recorded with Allah and whoever finds his right side of the balance (good deeds) more weighing will be successful and would be sent to the Paradise which is prepared for the most pious people. Whosoever finds his left side (the wrong doings) more high will have to go to the Hell, which is the symbol of all terrible, horrible miseries and difficulties.

The Qur'an gives men the freedom to choose either of these ways enlightening him about the consequences of the both: "Then, he whose balance (of good deeds) will be (found) heavy, will be in a Life of good pleasure and satisfaction. But he whose balance (of good deeds), will be (found) light, will have his home in a (bottomless) Pit. And what will explain to thee what this is? (It is) a Fire blazing fiercely!" (Al Qariah: 6 - 11).

This shows that the Balance used here is of course figurative. The Good Deeds will be weighed and appraised. This appraisement will be of the nicest and justest kind: for it will take into account motives, temptations, provocations, surrounding conditions, antecedents, subsequent amends, and all possible connected circumstances. Against them, presumably, will be deeds of the opposite kind, appraised in the same way. If the good predominates, the judgment will be in the man's favour, and he will be ushered into a life of good pleasure and satisfaction. This will of course be on another plane.

In Sura Al Zilzal Allah says: "On that Day will men proceed in companies sorted out, to be shown the Deeds that they (had done). Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it."

There are several verses denoting the same. This shows that Allah is the symbol of justice and mercy. He will never do injustice and will always be shown sympathy and mercy to his servants. That is why Prophet (pbuh) has taught us that when a person does a good thing Allah records it multiplied as He likes. If he continues with good doings He will mark it more and more good deeds, but when he commits a sin He will record it as a single sin and when he repents for it He will wash him of it and make him free from sins.

The Prophet (pbuh) has taught several ways to get our sins forgiven. The most important among them is increase invocations to him and pray sincerely and hopefully. Especially after compulsory prayers and in the night. Allah's Messenger (pbuh) has said "Our Rabb descends to the lowest heaven every night during the last third of the night and says:' Is there anyone in need to be given what he needs? Is there anyone who asks for forgiveness so that I may forgive him.'"

We should understand that though we can raise our hands and pray to Allah on any occasion this is a very special occasion where our dua is guaranteed to be answered. Likewise the period of time proceeding from Fajr can also be well exploited for requesting forgiveness of Allah. Apart from this it is reported that there is a certain time on Friday, where our invocations are answered. We can say any dua to Allah. The words or languages are not important. But it is highly recommended to pray duas reported from the Prophet (pbuh). Some of the prayers are given below.

'I seek forgiveness of Allah', 'My Sustainer! Forgive me and have mercy upon me, for You are the best of those who show mercy', My Sustainer! Forgive me, 'I seek forgiveness from Allah. There is no good but He, the Living, the One, Who sustains and Protects all that exists, and I turn to Him repentant'.

The Prophet said, "The most superior way of asking for forgiveness from Allah is: O Allah! You are my Lord. None has the right to be worshipped but you. You created me and I am your slave, and I am faithful to my covenant and my promise as much as I can. I seek refuge with You from all the evil I have done. I acknowledge before You all the blessings You have bestowed upon me, and I confess to You all my sins. So I entreat You to forgive my sins, for nobody can forgive sins except You.

The Prophet added, "If somebody recites it during the day with firm faith in it, and dies on the same day before evening, he will be from the people of Paradise; and if somebody recites it at night with firm faith in it, and dies before the morning, he will be from the people of Paradise."

'O Allah! we seek help from You, we seek Your forgiveness, we seek Your guidance.

We turn in repentance to You. We placeour trust in You. We laud Your name. We give thanks to you for the prosperity You have bestowed. We do not turn from you in disbelief. We renounce and turn away from whomever disobeys you and rebels against Your commandments.'

'O Allah! We worship You. To You we pray and to you we Prostrate. To you we hasten, to work for you and to serve you. We beg for Your mercy and fear Your punishment. On whom your punishment falls is surely an unbeliever. Your punishment will overtake and strike the unbeliever.'

'O Allah! Lead me to the true faith with those You have guided. Pardon me with those You have pardoned. Protect me with those You have protected. Bless me with what You have given. Keep me safe from the evil You have ordained, for You decree and none decrees upon You. No­one who is in Your care is brought down and no­one is rewarded to whom You show enmity.'

'O Rabb! You are most praised, most sublime.'

Believers are instructed to seek all permitted ways to ask Allah's help and assistance. Allah conveys the good news in the Revelation: "And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out" (LXV:2). "And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his Trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him" (LXV:3).

The promise of sustenance is definite; only we have to serve Him. It is then impossible that He having created us, by His will and intention would deprive us of His favours; granted us life and would not help us; demand His right to be worshipped and served and would not provide us with our right to sustenance. He is Most Gracious, who can be at loss after serving HIM?

Another mode of beseeching aid of Allah is to exercise patience during misfortunes and adversities. Whether one is a dervish or a king, pauper or an affluent, all are involved in some misfortune or the other, "Verily We have created man into toil and struggle" (XC:4). Since Allah tests us in misfortune, He involves in calamity. He makes us cry and laugh. "That it is He who granteth Laughter and Tears". (LIII: 43).

"That it is He who granteth Death and Life": (LIII:44).

"That it is He who giveth wealth a satisfaction" (LIII:48). That is why Allah has shown us the way to safeguard ourselves from misfortunes and that way is Patience.

Allah ordains "O ye who believe persevere in patience and constancy, vie in such perseverance, strengthen each other; and fear Allah, that ye may prosper". (III:200). Patience only and patience by the command of Allah. "Therefore be patient with constancy to the command of thy Lord" (LXXVI:24). "An do thou be patient, for thy patience is but from Allah" (XVI:127) By being patient afflictions can be endured easily. Clouds of grief get scattered and burden of grief gets lightened.

If one has love of Allah and considers misfortunes to be by His Command, such misfortunes become bearable easily.

If one is certain that Allah is Forgiving and Loving. If one has the conviction that he is the Beneficent and the Merciful and of infinite Bounty then one will consider his misfortunes and calamities as hidden compassions.

After being saturated in Faith and love of Allah, illness, distress and starvation would be borne cheerfully and graciously the Prophet (pbuh) has said: Paradise is surrounded by things which are unpleasant to passions and Hell is surrounded by passions and pleasures. (Muslim)

Passions get subdued due to misfortunes and afflictions. Man gets tamed and turns towards Allah and forms afflictions with Him and dissociates himself from others. There is no other agency than grief which could mould the character of man. It is grief which subdues passions and purifies the soul. If the disease of heart and should could be cured by grief and we develop endurance and constancy, thousands of pleasures could be sacrificed on such grief.

 

Undertaking a great Trust


The Qur'an denotes to the wisdom of Allah in giving continuous guidance and sending messengers to man and at the same time highlights the serious mission and responsibility he has undertaken to discharge.

In the following verses of Sura Al Ahzab Allah says: "O ye who believe! fear God, and (always) say a word directed to the Right: that He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins: he that obeys God and His Apostle, has already attained the highest achievement. We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it; he was indeed unjust and foolish; (with the result) that God has to punish the hypocrites, men and women, and the unbelievers, men and women and God turns in Mercy to the Believers, man and women; for God is Oft­Forgiving, Most Merciful." (70­73).

Abdullah Yusuf Ali, the well known Qur'an commentator, writes explaining some of the terms used in the above mentioned verses, as follows: "The Trust is something given to a person, over which he has a power of disposition: he is expected to use it as directed or expected, but he has the power to use it otherwise. There is no trust if the trustee has no power, and the trust implies that the giver of the trust believes and expects that the trustee would use it according to the wish of the creator of the trust, and not otherwise.

"What is the meaning of the offer of the Trust to the Heavens, the Earth, and the Mountains? where the hypothetical sending down of the Qur'an to the Mountains is mentioned, and it is mentioned that such parables are put forth in order to aid men to reflection. We may therefore take the Mountains, the Earth, and the Heavens as symbolical.

"The mountains stand for firmness and stability: they have been created for this quality, and they are always true to that quality. An earthquake or a volcano has to do with movements within the earth's crust: it has nothing to do with the Mountains' will. In fact it has no free­will of any kind: there is no question of any Trust here. If we take the Earth as a whole, as a part of the solar system or a compendium of the terrestrial Nature we see around us, it obeys the fixed laws of God, and there is no will or Trust. If we take the Heavens either as celestial space, or as symbolical of the Angels, they absolutely obey God's Will and law: they have no will of their own.

"The Heavens, the Earth, and the Mountains, ie, other creatures of God, besides man, refused to undertake a Trust or a responsibility, and may be imagined as happy without a choice of good or evil being given through their will. In saying that they refused, we imply a will, but we limit it by the statement that they did not undertake to be given a choice between good and evil.

"They preferred to submit their will entirely to God's Will, which is All­Wise and Perfect, and which would give them far more happiness than a faculty of choice, with their imperfect knowledge. Man was too audacious and ignorant to realise this, and the result has been that man as a race has been disrupted: the evil ones have betrayed the Trust and brought Punishment on themselves, though the good have been able to rise far above other Creation, to be the muquarrabin, the nearest ones to God: What can be higher than this for any creature?

"It follows incidentally from this that the Heavens and the Earth were created before man was created, and this is in accordance with what we know of the physical world in science: man came on the scene at a comparatively late stage.

"Hamala: to undertake, bear, carry (the Trust or responsibility), to be equal to it. This is the ordinary meaning, and the majority of Commentators construe so. But some understand it to mean to carry away, run away with, to embezzle (the thing entrusted); hence to be false to the Trust, to betray the Trust," In that case the sense of verses 72­73 would be: "God offered the Trust to other creatures, but they refused, lest they should betray it, being afraid from that point of view: but man was less fair to himself: in his ignorance he accepted and betrayed the Trust, with the result that some of his race became Hypocrites and Unbelievers and were punished, though others were faithful to the Trust and received God's Mercy." The resulting conclusion is the same under both interpretations."

God intended a very high destiny for man, and placed him in his uncorrupted state even above the angels, but in his corruption he made himself even lower than the beasts. What was it that made man so high and noble? The differentiating quality which God gave man was that God breathed something of His own spirit into man. This meant that man was given a limited choice of good and evil, and that he was made capable of Forbearance, Love, and Mercy." And in himself man summed up God's great world: man is in himself a microcosm.

That man should undertake the God­like attributes (in however small a degree) of Will, Forbearance, Love, and Mercy, brought him nearer to God than was possible for any other creature of God. This was part of God's will and Plan, but little did man realise then what a tremendous task he was undertaking or question himself whether he would be equal to it. Zalum (translated "unjust) and Jahul (ignorant) are both in the Arabic intensive form; as much as to say, 'man signally failed to measure his own powers or his own knowledge! But God's Grace came to his assistance. Where man did his best, he won through by God's Grace, even though man's Best was but a poor Good.

How did man generically undertake this great Responsibility, which made him Vicegerent of God? Here comes in the mystic doctrine of a Covenant, express or implied, between God and Humanity. A Covenant (Mithaq) necessarily implies Trust, and its breach necessarily implies Punishment.

Man's generic Covenant, which flowed from his exercising the option given him, choosing will, Forbearance, Love, and Mercy, made it necessary that breach of it should carry its own punishment. Breach of it is here classed under two heads: those who betray their Trust act either as Hypocrites or as Unbelievers. Hypocrites are those who profess Faith but bring not forth the fruits of Faith. Unbelievers are those who openly defy Faith, and from whom therefore no fruits of Faith are to be expected.

Those who remain firm to their Faith and their Covenant will receive the aid of God's Grace; their faults and weaknesses will be cured; and they will be made worthy of their exalted destiny. For God is Oft­Returning and Most Merciful."

From these analysis we come to the conclusion that man has a heavy responsibility to perform and his destiny depends up on how far he is able to execute this duty.

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