- 1 Our intellect has been frozen for a thousand years
- 2 The source of knowledge is Allah
- 3 Hubris vs. forbearance and fortitude
- 4 How to deal with ridicule and malevolence
- 5 Everyone believes in God – even atheists
- 6 Not willing to accept divine laws
- 7 Quran's miraculous description of Earth 1400 years ago
- 8 The Universe is working hard to imbue a sense of humanity in us
Allah, the Almighty, Who deserves all appreciation and glory says:
وَالْكِتَابِ الْمُبِينِ ; إِنَّا جَعَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ
(43:2-3) – CONSIDER this divine writ, clear in itself and clearly showing the truth: behold, We have caused it to be a discourse in the Arabic tongue so that you might encompass it with your reason. [Asad]
The principles and laws of this lucid Divine Book, the Quran, stand witness to the fact that it is free from doubt and contradiction (2:2, 4:82) and it clearly shows the Truth (Al-Haq) so that humankind can understand it by using its intellect and reason (17:81).
The Quran is not just a book, but it is The Book (الْكِتَابِ). This makes it different and unique compared to other books – that it is الْمُبِينِ (Al-Mubeen) meaning completely open and crystal clear. The metaphor of the Sun's light could explain this. One doesn't look for Sun's light using a lamp. It is the Light (5:15) that illuminates everything. This is the meaning of الْمُبِينِ (Al-Mubeen). The word "Quran" means proclamation about some great revolution. And: قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا means both that it is a book in the Arabic language as well as that it is obvious, the literal meaning of the word "Arabic."
This powerful language was chosen by Allah, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, for His Final Eternal Book to humanity! But the words "لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ" are worth pondering over – again and again. The Quran has been made easier and clear and is based on the Truth (Al-Haq) so that our intellect could get spurred and catalyzed. The Quran's goal is to enrich and uplift human intellect; to solidify and deepen it; to broaden, nurture, and mature it. But when دین (Deen) turned into a religion, then intellect was castoff. We are told that whatever thinking and intellectual effort that is needed in understanding the Quran our ancestors have already done that; and the door of further thinking is closed; that further thinking and intellectual effort will be considered an innovation in Islam which will lead to hell: "kullu bid'atin dalala wa kullu dalalatin fin-naar," i.e., "every innovation is a misguidance and every misguidance leads to the hellfire."
On the other hand, the Quran declares:
تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ ۖ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبْتُمْ ۖ وَلَا تُسْأَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
(2:141) – "Now those people have passed away; unto them shall be accounted what they have earned, and unto you, what you have earned; and you will not be judged on the strength of what they did." [Asad]
Our intellect has been frozen for a thousand years
This attitude on the part of our religious scholars has frozen the Islamic thought for more than a thousand years and has shut the door of Ijtihad, which the Quran wants to keep open for all future generations. The Quran was supposed to stay exciting and uplifting our intellect forever. But whenever one explains some reality of the Quran using one's intellect, the first question that is asked is: has anyone said this before? Well, this is what happens when intellect and thought are kept frozen. And the Quran then remains for only earning rewards, not for exciting our intelligence and critical thinking. Now we can easily see why the Quran puts so much emphasis on advancing our intellect:
أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ
(4:82) – Will they not, then, try to understand this Qur'an? [Asad]
This command of Allah is not for any exclusive group. This is for everyone and every generation – until eternity.
The source of knowledge is Allah
The Quran says:
وَإِنَّهُ فِي أُمِّ الْكِتَابِ لَدَيْنَا لَعَلِيٌّ حَكِيمٌ
(43:4) – And, verily, [originating as it does] in the source, with Us, of all revelation, it is indeed sublime, full of wisdom. [Asad]
The Quran is not the result of human intellectual effort. This is the divine revelation that was revealed to the Prophet (PBUH). Human knowledge is the result of human effort. "أُمِّ" means the source, the essence. Whether it is the book of Nature or the book, The Quran – its source is Allah: One contains laws that govern Nature, and the other contains laws for optimal governance of human society. One is automatically enforced, but the other one is left to human choice. By saying it "لَدَيْنَا" – We have given it to humanity – the Quran removed any link to human thought (including that of the Prophet's) in matters of revelation. Since the knowledge of revelation ended with the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), so, no one can receive any knowledge of revelation after him. The prophet-hood thus ended with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The Quran became complete, and Allah Himself took the responsibility to protect it (6:115, 15:9).
Hubris vs. forbearance and fortitude
The Quran says:
وَكَمْ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن نَّبِيٍّ فِي الْأَوَّلِينَ ﴿﴾ وَمَا يَأْتِيهِم مِّن نَّبِيٍّ إِلَّا كَانُوا بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ
(43:6-7) – And how many a prophet did We send to people of olden times! But never yet came a prophet to them without their deriding him. [Asad]
So, this is nothing new. This has been going on since the beginning. Every messenger was against vested interest groups – against capitalists, against rulers, against the religious priesthood. That is why there was opposition against all messengers. It was quite natural for the vested interests to oppose the messengers. And these kinds of oppositions don't happen based on logic or evidence because they don't have any reasoning or proof. So, they oppose it by using their power, using dirty tricks, using ridicules; or using abusive and derogatory language. The messengers used to tell them:
هَاتُوا بُرْهَانَكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
(2:111) – Produce evidence for what you are claiming if what you say is true! [Asad]
Since they didn't have any proof, they descended to the mean level and ridiculed the messengers. This becomes very difficult to deal with. The messengers could not fall to their level and reply in kind. But these insults and innuendos are emotionally very draining and extremely hurtful. It requires self-control and great patience to tolerate them.
How to deal with ridicule and malevolence
These are the situations where Allah told the Prophet:
وَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَاهْجُرْهُمْ هَجْرًا جَمِيلًا
(73:10) – and endure with patience whatever people may say [against thee], and avoid them with a comely avoidance. [Asad]
Do not be depressed by what your opponents say about you. Ignore them and remain firm and steadfast in your program. Do not get involved with them. Save yourself by gracefully withdrawing from these people who are not prepared to even listen to you. Allah (i.e., Allah's Law of Requital) will deal with them just as it dealt with the earlier transgressors and malefactors:
فَأَهْلَكْنَا أَشَدَّ مِنْهُم بَطْشًا وَمَضَىٰ مَثَلُ الْأَوَّلِينَ
(43:8) – and so, [in the end,] We destroyed them [even though they were] of greater might than these: and the [very] image of those people of old became a thing of the past. [Asad]
So Allah's Law of Requital destroyed those nations, even though the grip of those people was far more potent than that of the Prophet's (PBUH) opponents. So whatever happened to them will also happen to these people. You, O Prophet (PBUH), want to save them from destruction. But if they don't listen to you and, instead, ridicule you – then don't feel bad. Just keep explaining to them Our Message. They claim to believe in God. But what is its meaning?
Everyone believes in God – even atheists
The question: What is the meaning of "believing in God?" What difference does it make if one says, "I believe in God," and someone else says, "I don't believe in God?" The Quraysh believed in God. They used the word "Allah" in their names. "Allah" is a word from their language. The name of the father of our Prophet (PBUH) was Abdullah. Top scientists of the West believe in God even today. But what does it mean? The Quran says:
وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُم مَّنْ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ لَيَقُولُنَّ خَلَقَهُنَّ الْعَزِيزُ الْعَلِيمُ
(43:9) – Yet thus it is [with most people]: if thou ask them, "Who is it that has created the heavens and the earth?" - they will surely answer, "The Almighty, the All-Knowing has created them." [Asad]
They admit to the authority of the Almighty, Who has created the Universe. Even Atheists believe that some supernatural power created the Universe as well as its laws – which they call laws of Nature rather than divine laws – that run this Universe.
Not willing to accept divine laws
So, which God do the Western scientists believe in? Like the Arabs of the time, they believe only in God as the Creator of the heavens and earth and the laws governing them, but not in God who also gave laws to run human affairs. The Quran says:
الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْأَرْضَ مَهْدًا وَجَعَلَ لَكُمْ فِيهَا سُبُلًا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
(43:10) – He it is who has made the earth a cradle for you, and has provided for you ways [of livelihood] thereon, so that you might follow the right path. [Asad]
Although Allah has provided livelihood for all human beings, most of them are deprived because humans have instituted their own socioeconomic and political laws governing human affairs. They reject the divine laws to guide them in human affairs. This system, where belief in God is limited to the external natural world and man-made laws to govern human affairs, is called secularism. This system was challenged when the Quraysh were practicing it. Even now, the same system of secularism is still being practiced in one form or the other.
Both the West and all Muslim countries practice secularism. The belief in God is limited only to worship and practicing rituals. There is no Muslim government today where Allah's Book is the governing authority. The Quran is also against theocracy, which is the worst form of dictatorship and oppression where rulers implement man-made sharia laws in the name of God:
فَوَيْلٌ لِّلَّذِينَ يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَابَ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ هَـٰذَا مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ لِيَشْتَرُوا بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا ۖ فَوَيْلٌ لَّهُم مِّمَّا كَتَبَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَوَيْلٌ لَّهُم مِّمَّا يَكْسِبُونَ
(2:79) – Woe, then, unto those who write down, with their own hands, [something which they claim to be] divine writ, and then say. "This is from God," in order to acquire a trifling gain thereby; woe, then, unto them for what their hands have written, and woe unto them for all that they may have gained! [Asad]
Allah has openly and clearly proclaimed:
وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ
(5:44) – they who do not judge following what God has bestowed from on high are, indeed, deniers of the truth! [Asad]
That is, those who do not decide their affairs according to what Allah has revealed – they are the ones who are the (كَافِرُونَ) Kafirun – i.e., these are the ones who, in reality, deny Our message. There is no Muslim state where Allah's Book is the governing constitution of the state, notwithstanding their belief in God who is pushed to the heavens only:
وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُم مَّنْ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَسَخَّرَ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّـهُ ۖ فَأَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ
(29:61) – And thus it is [with most people]: if thou ask them, "Who is it that has created the heavens and the earth, and made the sun and the moon subservient [to His laws]?"— They will surely answer, "God." How perverted, then, are their minds! [Asad]
Quran's miraculous description of Earth 1400 years ago
The Quran says:
الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْأَرْضَ مَهْدًا
(43:10) – He it is who has made the Earth a cradle for you, and has provided for you ways [of livelihood] thereon, so that you might follow the right path. [Asad]
The word مَهْدً (Mahd) means cradle that is in motion. Regarding Earth's motion, the Quran says:
خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ بِغَيْرِ عَمَدٍ تَرَوْنَهَا ۖ وَأَلْقَىٰ فِي الْأَرْضِ رَوَاسِيَ أَن تَمِيدَ بِكُمْ وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ ۚ وَأَنزَلْنَا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَنبَتْنَا فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ زَوْجٍ كَرِيمٍ
(31:10) – He [it is who] has created the skies without any supports that you could see, and has placed firm mountains upon the Earth, lest it sways with you, and has caused all manner of living creatures to multiply thereon. And We send down water from the skies, and thus We cause every noble kind [of life] to grow on Earth. [Asad]
If we want to estimate Allah's powers and wisdom behind all His flawless planning, we just have to look at the Universe and observe how wonderfully Allah has placed huge celestial bodies in the outer space without any visible columns (kept in balance by the invisible force of gravity). Furthermore, He has set huge mountains on Earth, and it continues to move at high speed, and humans abide therein with comfort and wellbeing.
The Universe is working hard to imbue a sense of humanity in us
Another verse says:
وَأَلْقَىٰ فِي الْأَرْضِ رَوَاسِيَ أَن تَمِيدَ بِكُمْ وَأَنْهَارًا وَسُبُلًا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
(16:15) –And he has placed firm mountains on Earth, lest it sway with you, and rivers and paths, so that you might find your way. [Asad]
Allah has formed the Earth for humans to remain firm on it (and don't fly away) while it revolves at high speed. The Quran said this about the Earth 1,400 years ago. The greatest astronomers of the day believed in Ptolemy's model of the Universe in which Earth was considered stationary at the center and the Sun, moon, stars, and all planets were supposed to encircle the Earth. But the miracle of the Quran is in saying that Allah made the Earth revolving around carrying humans while they stay on it entirely peacefully! The Quran also mentions the entire solar system is moving towards its appointed destination, (36:38) which modern science has confirmed only recently – that the entire solar system is moving (at more than a million miles per hour) towards what the scientists have named it "the great attractor."
The Quran mentions here the external Universe and its operating system. But the Quran is not a book of science or geography, so it immediately draws our attention to the human world by saying:
وَالَّذِي نَزَّلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً بِقَدَرٍ فَأَنشَرْنَا بِهِ بَلْدَةً مَّيْتًا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ تُخْرَجُونَ
(43:11) – And He it is who sends down, again and again, waters from the sky in due measure: and [as] We raise therewith dead land to life, even thus will you be brought forth [from the dead]. [Asad]
Just as the Earth becomes alive with the advent of rain by Allah's natural laws, similarly, broken nations start flourishing with balance and harmony (just as it exists in the external Universe) if they follow Allah's laws of human guidance. This process continues beyond life after death. Our Prophet (PBUH) demonstrated this by practically implementing Allah's laws pertaining to human guidance in the world, and which has been forever shining as a supreme example and a sublime role model for the entire humankind.