Continuing from the REFLECTIONS ON THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART ONE we commence the second part with our reflections on the teachings of the Holy Book on the Presence of evil in this world; this life and the next; messengers and prophets; eternal salvation; forgiveness of God and the straight way.
- THE PRESENCE OF EVIL
Why does God allow men and women to be hurt? There are some people who use the presence of suffering and evil in this world as grounds to lose hope and perhaps even to reject God. However, according to the Final Book, the limited free will and reason of human beings destroys that argument. We are responsible for what we do, and must bear the consequences – that is the liability or price of freedom. The evil that we do and suffer from is chosen by us and not by God, “…God wills no wrong to His creation.” Holy Qur’an, 3:108.
However, God also guarantees us that aside from our own evil actions and their effects, God Himself will put us through some trials and tribulations here on earth – but the key is they will never be more than we can handle, and they may even be good for us,
“If misfortune touches you [know that] similar misfortune has touched [other] people as well; for it is by turns that We apportion unto men such days [of fortune and misfortune]: and [this] to the end that God might mark out those who have attained to faith, and choose from among you such as [with their lives] bear witness to the truth – since God does not love evildoers – and that God might render pure of all dross those who have attained to faith, and bring to nought those who deny the truth. Do you think that you could enter Paradise unless God takes cognizance of your having striven hard [in His cause], and takes cognizance of your being patient in adversity?” Holy Qur’an, 3:140-142.
“God does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear: in his favour shall be whatever good he does, and against him whatever evil he does…” Holy Qur’an, 2:286.
An integral part of our being aware of God is hope and patience in times of hardship. In fact, the loss of hope is actually one of the symptoms of rejection of God,
“[Prophet Abraham] exclaimed, `And who – other than those who have utterly lost their way – could ever abandon the hope of his Sustainer’s grace?’. Holy Qur’an, 15:56.
The greatest source of hope is that God shall allow those people who accept Him to enter Paradise and, more importantly, to be close to Him. The Final Book contains many references on Paradise, and also on Hell, the destination of those people who knowingly reject God. Paradise is quite literally a place of indescribable joy, whereas Hell is its indescribable opposite (both places are given only partial descriptions in the Book). While the inhabitants of Paradise are permanent dwellers, the inmates of Hell are not necessarily imprisoned there forever; there are some who shall ultimately be freed,
“[But] verily, as for those who attain to faith and do righteous deeds – the gardens of Paradise will be there to welcome them; therein will they abide, [and] never will they desire any change therefrom.” Holy Qur’an, 18:107-108.
“And whoever rebels against God and His Apostle and transgresses His bounds, him will He commit unto fire, therein to abide; and shameful suffering awaits him.” Holy Qur’an, 4:14.
“There shall come out of Hell-fire he who has said `There is no deity except God’ and who has in his heart goodness weighing a barley-corn; then there shall come out of Hell-fire he who has said `There is no deity except God’ and who has in his heart goodness weighing a grain of wheat; then there shall come out of Hell-fire he who has said `There is no deity except God’ and who has in his heart goodness weighing an atom.” –a Prophetic Hadith.
- THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT
What is the end to men’s lives? There are two parts to men’s lives: the part here on earth, and the part in the Hereafter. The dividing line between the two is known as death, followed by the Day of Judgement or Resurrection. As far as death is concerned, everyone must go through it, but on Judgement Day people will be sorted out from each other into different categories,
“Every human being is bound to taste death: but only on the Day of Resurrection will you be requited in full [for what you have done]…” Holy Qur’an, 3:185.
Resurrection Day will actually be a huge period of time (not a regular 24-hour day) in which every single human will be resurrected and judged by God on his or her beliefs and deeds. No human being – not even any Prophet or Messenger of God – knows when this Day will come, for this is knowledge known only to God. The Final Book does describe it in several passages as a giant disaster on many scales (physical and ecological among others), and the Last Messenger was told of some of its foreshadowing signs which he communicated to us.
- MESSENGERS AND PROPHETS
Who delivered God’s Message to mankind? God has sent us many `reminders’ of Him and of our obligations to Him over the centuries, culminating in the Final Book about 1402 years ago. Every one of those `reminders’ was delivered to us via a selected human being, one who was strong enough to deliver God’s message to his people. These human beings are called the Prophets. They were not supernatural or immortal or different in any way from other human beings except that they were entrusted by God to speak in His Name,
“For [even] before thy time, [O Prophet], we never sent [as Our messengers] any but [mortal] men, whom We inspired – hence [tell the deniers of the truth] `If you do not know this, ask the followers of earlier revelation’ – and neither did We endow them with bodies that ate no food, nor were they immortal.” [21:7-8]
Some of the Prophets were allowed to perform supernatural miracles but only with God’s permission (i.e. if He willed it). However, the Final Book stresses that every Prophet is no more than a servant of God – they do not have a share in His Divinity.
There is also a small group of Prophets who were also Messengers. Every Prophet has called his people to the Truth, but Messengers were additionally given a rejuvenated Message from God to convey. Every Messenger is a Prophet, but not every Prophet is a Messenger. There have been many Prophets and Messengers, of which here are the names of a few mentioned in the Book: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Elijah, Elias, David, Solomon, Jonah, Job, Zacharias, John, Jesus, and, of course, the Last Messenger.
- ETERNAL SALVATION
Are certain people arbitrarily guaranteed the Favor of God, while others are excluded? The Mercy of God is not restricted arbitrarily to any one peoples. Everyone and anyone is free to accept the path to God using their own free will and reason, “And they claim, `None shall ever enter Paradise unless he be a Jew’ – or `a Christian’. Such are their wishful beliefs! Say [to them, O Prophet]: `Produce an evidence for what you are claiming, if what you say is true!’ Yea, indeed: everyone who surrenders his whole being unto God, and is a doer of good, shall have his reward with his Sustainer, and all such need have no fear, and neither shall they grieve.” Holy Qur’an, 2:111-112.
The consequence of this is responsibility – everyone will be held accountable on the Day of Judgement. Some of us may be uncomfortable with this, but it is simply the price of freedom,
“It may not accord with your wishful thinking – nor with the wishful thinking of the followers of earlier revelation – [that] he who does evil shall be requited for it, and shall find none to protect him from God, and none to bring him succor, whereas anyone – be it man or woman – who does good deeds and is a believer, shall enter paradise, and shall not be wronged by as much as [would fill] the groove of a date-stone.” Holy Qur’an, 4:123-124.
- FORGIVENESS OF GOD
If we sin, what should we expect from God? If we subsequently feel guilty and repent after doing something evil, God wants us to expect Him to be forgiving, forgiving, and more forgiving. However, there is one sin which God will not forgive: worshiping anything besides Him (unless the person realizes his or her error and returns to worshiping the One God),
“Verily God does not forgive the ascribing of divinity to anything beside Him, although He forgives any lesser sin to whomever He wills: for he who ascribes divinity to anything besides God has indeed contrived an awesome sin.” Holy Qur’an, 4:48]
“Say, `O you servants of Mine who have transgressed against your own selves! Despair not of God’s Mercy: behold, God forgives all sins – for verily, He alone is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.'” [39:53]
Again, the most common phrase in the Final Book is “In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the One who Acts Mercifully.”
The Last Messenger commented on God’s forgiveness on many occasions as in the following case,
“God has said, `O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it [i.e. the earth]'”. – the Last Messenger
- THE STRAIGHT WAY
What is the name for the way of life described in the Final Book? It is Islam, and it means “self-surrender [to God]”. Any man or woman who accepts Islam is a Muslim. The Final Book is called the Qur’an (meaning “the Recitation”), and it is addressed to all of mankind in spite of being revealed in Arabic, the language of its Messenger and his people: Muhammad bin Abd-Allah. The life of the Prophet serves as the other base of Islam (the first being the Qur’an), and it is known as the Sunnah. Muhammad is the Last Prophet and Messenger of God as the Qur’an says,
“[And know, O believers, that] Muhammad is not the father of any one of your men, but is God’s Apostle and the Seal of all the Prophets…” [33:40]
And God has revealed to us His proper name, and it is ALLAH.
The Qur’an contains a great deal of guidance and information for anyone looking for final answers. The information given in this piece is only the tip of the tip of the iceberg. There is no substitute for reading the Qur’an itself in its entirety – it is the closest we can come to having God speak to us directly and personally here on Earth. The Qur’an answers many questions which are commonly asked by today’s men and women. Its scope is wide: from fundamental issues such as the nature of the Creator and mankind’s limited free will and reason, to the more mundane such as marriage laws and whom to give charity to. Islam as described in the Qur’an is vastly than, and almost completely different from the Islam as understood by most non-Muslims and even a few Muslims. The negative image of Islam today is an incredibly misleading deception. It is based on the moral weakness of some people who claim to be Muslims, and also on the unawareness of non-Muslims. Behind this image is the presence of a Truth which answers the fundamental questions we have, and which can reunite us with God. It is there for us to listen to, or to ignore.
“And [know that] We have not created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in mere idle play…” Holy Qur’an, 21:16.
“Will they not, then, try to understand this Qur’an? Had it issued from any but God, they would surely have found in it many an inner contradiction!” Holy Qur;an, 4:82.
“We did not bestow the Qur’an on thee from on high to make thee unhappy.” Holy Qur’an, 20:2.