THE QUR’ANIC CONCEPT OF UNITY OF MANKIND

This week, we reflect on the 13th verse of Chapter 49th of the Holy Qur’an, which addresses one of the most complex issues in human history – Unity of Mankind.

“O Mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other [Not that ye may despise (each other)]. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” Holy Qur’an, 49:13.

From the foregoing verse, we see that Allah from the onset addresses mankind as a whole by saying ‘O people’ without specifying anybody by birth, place or by profession.

The Holy Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) further explained this aspect by saying “All of you are from Adam and Adam from Earth. There is no significance to the Arab over non-Arab or white over black except on the basis of piety. The most honoured among you before Allah are the most pious of you.”

The Qur’an therefore, elucidates the equality of the members of mankind. Naturally all are equal and there is no peculiarity to anyone. But when the guidance comes some accept it and some reject it. Then the approach will change and special address will be based on belief. This is also very much clear in the Qur’an. After sending Prophets topreach the prophetic mission to mankind, people are divided on the basis of their Iman and the Qur’an then calls them believers or disbelievers, etc.

But the general theme is that all men are equal and are from the same origin with the same duty to perform. But most of the people ignore their duties and indulge in the worldly pleasures. The Qur’an seriously points out to this matter in Surat Al-Imran. “Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: Women and sons; heaped-up hordes of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world’s life; but in nearness to Allah is the best of the goals (to return to). Holy Qur’an, 3:14.

Despite repeated warnings and teachings the majority of people are cheated by the deadly enemy of Man, Satan. The Qur’an explains this in the forms of an expected dialogue between Allah and the man on the day of judgement: In Surat Yaseen Allah says:

“Did I not enjoin on you, O ye children of Adam, that ye should not worship Satan; for that he was to you an enemy avowed? – And that ye should worship Me, (for that) this was the Straight Way? But he did lead astray a great multitude of you. Did ye not, then, understand? This is the Hell of which ye were (repeatedly) warned! Embrace ye the (Fire) this day, for that ye (persistently) rejected (Truth).” Holy Qur’an, 36:60-64.

The usage ‘Children of Adam’ in the verse is purposeful and provides that the disbelievers have disgraced their ancestry for Adam after his fall, repented and was forgiven. The high Destiny of mankind has been the prize open to all his descendants and that God Most Merciful has throughout the ages continued to warn mankind against the snares laid by Satan, the avowed enemy of man, and that God’s Grace was ever on the watch to help all to freedom from those snares.

It is also to be underlined that apart from a negative warning to abstain from the paths of Satan, a positive Way was shown to them – the Straight Way, the way of those who receive God’s Grace and attain to Bliss, the Rope which would save them from shipwreck, the Shield which would save them from assault, the key to the door of proximity to God.

It was also pointed out that they were given the power of understanding so that by their own faculties they could have judged their own best interests, and yet they betrayed or misused those faculties, and deliberately threw away their chances! And not only a few, but so many! They went gregariously to ruin in spite of the individual care which their Lord and Cherisher bestowed on them! Those who deliberately and persistently reject all teachings, guidance and warnings will have to experience the fire of punishment as a consequence of their own acts.

The same idea is expressed in Suratal Fatir as follows: “O men! call to mind the grace of God unto you! Is there a Creator, other than God, to give you sustenance from heaven or earth? There is no god but He: how then are ye deluded away from the Truth? And if they reject thee, so were apostles rejected before thee: to God go back for decision on all affairs. O men! Certainly the promise of God is true. Let not then this present life deceive you, nor let the Chief Deceiver Deceive you about God. Verily Satan is an enemy to you: so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his adherents that they may become companions of the Blazing Fire. Holy Qur’an, 35: 3-6.

Here Allah reminds man of the necessity of being grateful to Him for His bounties and be obedient to Him, without giving ears to the cheating appeal of Satan, as the primal Cause of all things is made to man to turn to God instead of running after false fancies. God is not only the source, but the centre of all life and activity, and all affairs return to Him. The world is sustained, and human life is sustained, by God’s grace and develop every aspect of life, physical and spiritual. It would be the height of folly, then, for man to ignore God’s gracious Message, as explained in His Revelation.

And yet there will be human perversity which will reject the Truth and accept Falsehood. The man of God is not discouraged by this, as everything ultimately returns to God, and we must trust to His Wisdom in His Universal Plan.

In the first quoted verse, the appeal was on the basis of the Past and the Present: now the appeal is on the basis of the Future. Our origin is from God: we live, move, and have our being now in God: but remember also that there is a future, in which we have to render an account of ourselves to God. God’s grace has promised us the Garden of Bliss; His justice has promised us the Fire of Suffering. Both promises are certain to be fulfilled. On which side shall we range ourselves?

The question of Allah to such people in Suratal fitar is meaningful and heart touching. Allah asks “O man! What has seduced thee from thy Lord Most Beneficent? HeWho created thee. Fashioned thee in due proportion, and gave thee a just bias; in whatever Form He wills, does He put thee together.” Holy Qur’an, 82: 6-8.

Throughout the above verses Allah convinces man of his duty and encourages him to turn to Allah without being compelled by anyone. If Allah wishes everybody on earth will be believers.But He doesn’t want such type of obedience. He wants to know by practical test who will obey His commands in his absence. The Qur’an has made it very clear that there is no compulsion in religion. The very purpose of Allah’s creation of man is to test him in a strict way. But often, man’s attitude is not justifiable. Allah points it out in Sura al Fajr:

“Now, as for man, when his Lord trieth him, giving him honour and gifts, then saith he, (puffed up), “My Lord hath honoured me.” Holy Qur’an, 89:15.

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