It seems that the more the human condition worsens the more there emerges a glimmer of hope from this darkness. The Quran says:
إِذَا السَّمَاء انشَقَّتْ
(84:1) – WHEN THE SKY is split asunder. [Asad]
Human Domination of Nature
All energies and forces in space will then surge. This event will happen when the natural forces of the Universe become severely intense and fierce because of the extreme stress to the environment caused by humans by their short-sighted materialistic goals and misuse of scientific discoveries for world and space domination.
One can very well imagine how much energy is concentrated into an atom which has become manifest only recently – recently, that is, in terms of human history.
فَإِذَا انشَقَّتِ السَّمَاءُ فَكَانَتْ وَرْدَةً كَالدِّهَانِ
(55:37) – And when the sky is rent asunder and becomes red like [burning] oil. [Asad]
But this energy will manifest only by acquiring the knowledge of the laws of nature:
وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ
(84:2) – Obeying its Sustainer, as in truth it must. [Asad]
This happens according to the Law of Allah Who provides nourishment to the entire universe. It is under His Laws that the entire universe functions. He has made it such that every occurrence fits perfectly in His overall program.
The laws of nature are nothing but the laws of Allah who is the Sustainer of the entire Universe. These laws are the working forces behind everything, and every event that occurs in the Universe is the result of these laws. Every object fits perfectly within the operating system of the universe and plays its duly assigned divine role within the cosmos.
It was due to our lack of understanding that we could not gain knowledge of the laws behind the workings of these cosmic objects. At one time an atom was considered the smallest particle in the Universe. Democritus (460 BC – 370 BC) is remembered today for his formulation of an atomic theory of the universe including everything within it – even including human thoughts and the human self. But it was later found that it is not true; that the atom is not the smallest particle but that it contains within itself still further smaller particles.
Who could have thought until recently that in this tiny particle (atom) is hidden such a tremendous amount of energy? Today we know that the planet Earth and all life can be destroyed by atomic power.
Humans will expand throughout the earth
And then the Quran says that the world will become integrated:
وَإِذَا الْأَرْضُ مُدَّتْ
(84:3) – And when the earth is stretched forth. [Hilali & Khan]
Allah’s Laws of nature are not confined to the earth. They encompass the whole universe. That is why among His signs are the very creation of the earth and other celestial bodies, as well as other living creatures which He has spread over them. At present these habitations are separated from one another but when He so wishes, Allah The Almighty has the power to bring them together. It is possible that creatures living on different planets can establish contact and meet with each other (42:29)
The Quran says: وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَثَّ فِيهِمَا مِن دَابَّةٍ ۚ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ جَمْعِهِمْ إِذَا يَشَاءُ قَدِيرٌ
(42:29) – And among His signs is the [very] creation of the heavens and the earth, and of all the living creatures which He has caused to multiply throughout them: and [since He has created them,] He has [also] the power to gather them whenever He wills. [Asad]
When earth’s population will spread out to far-off places, i.e., the earth that was inhabited only sparsely into islands of villages and towns due to lack of communication and transportation will become globally interconnected and spread out – as it has today. And the Earth’s treasures will be extracted to such an extent that its belly will be emptied of all its minerals and resources:
وَأَلْقَتْ مَا فِيهَا وَتَخَلَّتْ
(84:4) – And casts forth whatever is in it, and becomes utterly void. [Asad]
Humans will extract Allah-provided earth’s resources and its treasures so much that it will become emptier as is the case today.
And they will move these treasures around the world by huge ships floating like mountains on the surface of the oceans as is the case today:
وَلَهُ الْجَوَارِ الْمُنشَآتُ فِي الْبَحْرِ كَالْأَعْلَامِ
(55:24) – And His are the lofty ships that sail like [floating] mountains through the seas. [Asad]
وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ
(84:5) – Obeying its Sustainer, as in truth it must. [Asad]
Two ways of finding the straight path (الصِّرَاطَ المُستَقِيمَ)
The Quran addresses all humankind:
يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَى رَبِّكَ كَدْحًا فَمُلَاقِيهِ
(84:6) – [then,] O man - thou [that] hast, verily, been toiling towards thy Sustainer in painful toil - then shalt thou meet Him! [Asad]
There is absolutely no doubt that by dint of its own experiments and observations, humankind will ultimately reach the divine order which has the responsibility for nourishing all humanity. However, this will happen only after a lot of heart-wrenching turmoil and an enormous waste of energy and effort. In contrast, under the guidance of the divine revelation – now contained in the Quran only, because all of Allah’s previous revelations do not exist today in their original form – that stage will be reached in a much shorter time and with minimum effort.
There are two ways to reach theحق (Haq or truth): one is through the divine revelation which helps humankind reach its destination quickly and with less effort, and the other is by trial and error which takes a long time and takes a lot of effort and energy – often involving wars and destruction of life and property, and which takes centuries to reach the same goal of universal dignity, equality, justice. The point to note here is that humankind is bound to reach the final goal ofحق (Haq or truth) anyway (9:33). The only question is how? One is by the difficult and time-consuming process of trial and error of human intellect alone involving conflicts, bloodshed, wars, destruction, and human misery. But the method of divine revelation is easy to understand and easy to implement and completely secure and protected. In the words of Allama Iqbal:
Intellect and revelation both guide and lead the human column;
Intellect does by trial and error; revelation by its self-momentum!
And again he says it beautifully:
In one giant step, the revelation reached the final goal of humanity;
How I held life’s trials and ordeals as a never-ending quest of humanity!
Divine revelation, laws of nature, and human-order
It is this divine revelation that will be able to solve humanity’s problems in one giant step. How the revelation solves these problems? It provides laws required to solve them. But the laws are of two kinds: 1) the laws related to nature and 2) the laws related to human life provided by the divine revelation. The task before human beings is to discover the laws of nature through their own intellect and to run their life and human society according to the laws received from divine revelation. Then both these laws will become holistically integrated and harmonized. This is what Allah’s all Messengers taught their people.
If we observe carefully how humankind has achieved progress, then we will come to the conclusion that it depends to what extent its life has been governed by laws. But humankind has not been able to find all the laws that are necessary for properly regulating and efficiently running the affairs of humanity. That is why the human world has turned into turmoil and disarray right now. It is absolutely necessary for humans to make the divine revelation their guide to make the world a better place for all humankind.
All the technological advancement in telecommunications and transportation has been made possible only through the divine laws operating in the Universe. These are normally referred to as the laws of nature which every object in the Universe dutifully obeys. When the Quran addresses humans as الْإِنسَانُ (Al-Insaan or humankind) then this means those who want to solve human problems and reach the goal only by using their own intellect and strategy without the light of divine revelation. The Quran says that, yes, you can reach your Sustainer but this process will take an extremely long time and will involve great difficulties and untold miseries along the way. In contrast to this if you choose the way provided by the divine laws to solve human problems, then humanity will reach that destination quickly and without going through miseries and hardships; and without the heart-wrenching failures of the trial and error process. And humanity will remain protected from inner and outer fears because everything will happen according to divine laws and principles:
فَسَوْفَ يُحَاسَبُ حِسَابًا يَسِيرًا ; فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ
(84:7-8) – And as for him whose record shall be placed in his right hand, he will in time be called to account with an easy accounting. [Asad]
The deeds of one who follows Revelation carry bounties and joys; and all his affairs are conveniently settled. One who uses the light of the revelation, his forward movement becomes very easy; his problems become easy to solve; his accountability becomes very clear as a result:
وَيَنقَلِبُ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا
(84:9) – and will [be able to] turn joyfully to those of his own kind. [Asad]
He happily returns to his people. He has no difficulty in adjusting with like-minded people and a happy universal brotherhood comes into being.
Heaven on Earth
By solving human problems using revelation as the guide, believers find that the solution becomes very easy. Once that happens, everyone in the community of believers will be running happily to everyone else in a euphoric mood. This then leads to a condition of heaven on Earth.
On the contrary:
وَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ وَرَاء ظَهْرِهِ
(84:10) – But as for him whose record shall be given to him behind his back. [Asad]
The significance of this verse is obvious. People take immense pride in their ancestral tales of past greatness. They often talk about how their forefathers had built great civilizations. This is nothing but ancestral worship where the past looks very bright to them but their future remains dark. Here we see how the Quran has painted a great picture of nations in this category, and, how this especially applies to us at the present time. The Quran pronounces the outcome that befalls such people who always live in the past:
فَسَوْفَ يَدْعُو ثُبُورًا (84:11) – He will invoke (his) destruction. [Hillali & Khan]
Those who follow the path of ancestral worship see their past as having been bright, but their future becomes dark. They invite destruction and thus experience chastisement.
It is not that the destruction is seeking them but that they call for and seek the destruction by their ancestral worship. And thus they fall into the pit of destruction:
(84:12) – And shall enter a blazing Fire, and made to taste its burning. [Hillali & Khan]
That way everything will turn into a heap of ash. Before being tried by the divine Law of Requital they were very happy. It was not in their wildest imagination that they will suffer a catastrophic change in their condition because of the period of respite built into the Law of Requital. They were thinking that they will continue to do what they want and nothing will happen to their power and status. But they were wrong:
إِنَّهُ ظَنَّ أَن لَّن يَحُورَ ; إِنَّهُ كَانَ فِي أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا
(84:13-14) – Verily, he was among his people in joy! Verily, he thought that he would never come back (to Us)! [Asad]
They joyously lived among their like-minded people and never imagined that such a change would come in their life. They were under the false impression that they could continue practicing the status quo; and that their power and authority would never suffer a setback.
بَلَى إِنَّ رَبَّهُ كَانَ بِهِ بَصِيرًا
(84:15) – Yea indeed! His Sustainer did see all that was in him! [Asad]
But they did not know that Allah’s Law of Requital watches over all their actions and that their future would be determined according to their deeds. People following an erroneous way of life get some immediate gain, but their future remains bleak. All their secret planning and machinations may be hidden from others but they are not hidden from the ever-watchful eyes of Allah.