The Quran says that it is up to humans to accept or to reject Allah’s message (18:29); that Allah has granted humans the ability to think and ponder (4:82). So, it is up to humans to accept the Quran’s guidance for leading their life according to it.
If they choose the right path to lead their life, then they will reach the correct destination. If they don’t, then they will suffer the consequences of choosing the wrong path and will remain misguided, and this will be the result of their own choice. Allah’s Law of Requital will produce the result of their choice. The entire teaching of the Quran revolves around Allah’s Law of Requital.
إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ لِلنَّاسِ بِالْحَقِّ ۖ فَمَنِ اهْتَدَىٰ فَلِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَن ضَلَّ فَإِنَّمَا يَضِلُّ عَلَيْهَا ۖ وَمَا أَنتَ عَلَيْهِم بِوَكِيلٍ
(39:41) – Verily We have revealed the Book to thee in Truth, for (instructing) mankind. He, then, that receives guidance benefits his own soul: but he that strays injures his own soul. Nor art thou set over them to dispose of their affairs. [Yusuf Ali]
Quran’s true teaching and difference between creation of humans and animals
The Quran provides details of human and animal creation as they progress from conception through birth. All stages of going through the development and growth are exactly similar for both except the last stage which is different for humans (23:14). Allah says that he provides the gift of freewill and freedom of choice, and intellectual ability to think and ponder to humans at the very last stage which makes humans different from animals. So, if humans do not think and ponder in the Quran then they turn into animals; in fact, they turn into worse than animals because animals have not been given freewill and the ability to think and ponder (7:179).
Attributes of human “self”
The essence that gives human beings freewill is called “self”. It is the “self” that provides the freedom of choice to human beings. The Quran calls it “Nafs” and it is a special gift of divine energy to humans which the Quran says (32:9): وَنَفَخَ فِيهِ مِن رُّوحِهِ . This means that human beings are the only ones with freewill in the entire Universe, and above them is Allah with divine freewill.
Psychoanalysts research on human consciousness
So, human “self” is the source of freewill and makes the decision; and it is the human consciousness that uses all the tools (e.g., hands, feet, and other human organs) available at its disposal to execute that decision. The philosophers, and now psychologists and psychoanalysts, are doing extensive research about it. Fourteen hundred years ago this was being told to those who were the most backward people in the world. The Scientists doing research on this topic are saying that no human in the world could have said this at that time. Unbiased scientists from the West are acknowledging this fact that only a higher power could have said this at that time:
اَللّٰهُ يَتَوَفَّى الْاَنْفُسَ حِيْنَ مَوْتِهَا وَالَّتِيْ لَمْ تَمُتْ فِيْ مَنَامِهَا ۚ فَيُمْسِكُ الَّتِيْ قَضٰى عَلَيْهَا الْمَوْتَ وَيُرْسِلُ الْاُخْرٰٓى اِلٰٓى اَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى ۭ اِنَّ فِيْ ذٰلِكَ لَاٰيٰتٍ لِّــقَوْمٍ يَّتَفَكَّرُوْنَ
(39:42) – It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed verily in this are Signs for those who reflect. [Yusuf Ali]
One can exercise his choice and discretion only when he is conscious. When his consciousness is suspended or becomes dormant, he simply cannot make decisions. This is observed in everyday life. For example, in the state of sleep the conscious mind stops functioning; but when one wakes up, it starts functioning again. As such the conscious state was temporarily suspended. However, in case of death, the consciousness does not return to the physical body.
The situation is similar to one's moral life. When one is overpowered by his emotions or follows something blindly, his mind becomes practically ineffective. Under such circumstances if he is neither stubborn nor prejudiced, then there is still a possibility that his conscience could take him to the right course. On the other hand, if he remains stubborn and stiffens further, then his mind becomes redundant and there is no possibility of re-awakening. These are the people about whom it is said that their minds or centers of consciousness are sealed (2:7). In these facts there are clear signs for those who want to reach the truth by thinking and utilizing their intellect.
So, the “self” does not die with death. The human consciousness is turned off during sleep and comes back when one wakes up. But when the physical body dies then the consciousness does not come back. The consciousness is withheld in the hereafter and it operates there. So, the idea of reincarnation is wrong. Self-consciousness cannot come back again to the world after the physical body has died. Only after sleep does it come back to the human being when he wakes up.
Western scientists have been doing extensive research on dreams (e.g., Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Erich Fromm, and others) and they have come up with new avenues of knowledge. But, here, the Quran mentions a deep reality about consciousness that there is a common theme between death and sleep. Allah says that after sleep He returns the consciousness to the humans but after death He withholds consciousness and it remains active in the hereafter. Allama Iqbal explains this in his own style:
Consider sleep as shortened death
And consider death as longest sleep
Hereafter life and Western thinkers
Quran says that with the present consciousness humans cannot understand the reality and essence of the life of the hereafter. Therefore, Quran has explained it through examples and metaphors. But there is life of the hereafter after death and Western psychoanalysts are coming to the conclusion that life survives death and remains immortal. The Quran says that humans would have in the hereafter all of their worldly memories, feelings, thoughts, and emotions. This is what consciousness means and it will be preserved in the hereafter.
The Quran says that these are signs in order to reach the reality that every action and thought in the world will go through accountability in the hereafter.
There are great signs for those who think and ponder on these signs to appreciate the reality of accountability:
اِنَّ فِيْ ذٰلِكَ لَاٰيٰتٍ لِّــقَوْمٍ يَّتَفَكَّرُوْنَ
(39:42) – In these facts there are clear signs for those who want to reach the truth by thinking and utilizing their intellect.
No one could have said this 1400 years ago about which the Western scientists are now doing extensive research and are providing the proof of The Truth of what the Quran has said. This is an objective proof that the Quran is the word of Allah unlike the generally held belief by Christians and Jews that the Prophet (PBUH) took things from Bible and Torah and compiled the Quran. The real issue that the Quran wants to emphasize by giving the analogy of sleep with death, is that consciousness remains dormant in sleep and returns back to humans after they wake up. But with death, the consciousness does not disappear but remains active and carries with it everything that humans did and thought and felt; and what deception they did to gain material benefit and power. And therefore they will be held accountable after death for everything they did in the world. So, the materialistic concept of life they believed in the world, will be proven to be totally wrong. The Quran, by giving these symptomatic signs wants to reinforce that if you follow Allah’s guidance then it will be for your benefit, whereas if you don’t, then you will suffer the consequences thereof:
فَمَنِ اهْتَدَىٰ فَلِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَن ضَلَّ فَإِنَّمَا يَضِلُّ عَلَيْهَا
(39:41) – So, whosoever lives by the divine code will benefit from it, while the one who adopts an erroneous way of life by ignoring it, will only harm himself. Now it is up to humans to choose their course of life.
There is no concept of intercession in Islam
The Quran says that there is no intercession in Islam. But these people who are misguided say that their handcrafted deity will do intercession on their behalf:
اَمِ اتَّخَذُوْا مِنْ دُوْنِ اللّٰهِ شُفَعَاۗءَ ۭ قُلْ اَوَلَوْ كَانُوْا لَا يَمْلِكُوْنَ شَـيْـــــًٔا وَّلَا يَعْقِلُوْنَ
(39:43) – What! Do they take for intercessors others besides Allah? Say: "Even if they have no power whatever and no intelligence?" [Yusuf Ali]
In the light of the above explanations, just imagine the state of people who are so ignorant and superstitious that in adverse times, they leave Allah and seek the help of idols carved with their own hands and their own imagined deities. They do so despite it being obvious that they have neither any power whatsoever, nor any intellect or mental capability. How can they be regarded as people who possess vision and consciousness?
The Authority of being useful to people in difficult times belongs exclusively to Allah's Law. It is the Law of Allah Who has absolute control over the entire universe. No human being is outside the ambit of His Law of Requital. Every step brings one nearer to Allah and eventually everybody shall revert to Him.
Allah’s Law of Requital rules the human world
In the entire Universe control and sovereignty belongs to only Allah’s laws. And every human being is subject to His Law of Requital. Everyone’s step is moving towards it. No one is outside the realm of its sovereignty. Humans may run wherever they want but they will never run away from Allah’s Law of Requital. They may run away by committing crime from human jurisdiction, but they cannot run away from the Law of Requital’s jurisdiction. Their every step and every breath drives them nearer to death. If they think that with death everything that they did in the world will be finished, then that is a wrong mindset that they have. In fact, things will speed up and humans will be held accountable for everything that they did in the world. They can never run away from the Law of Requital. That is why Iman in Allah’s Law of Requital is essential and humans have to have conviction on it in the world and lead life accordingly.
Iman on one Allah and practical manifestation of His obedience
Iman in Allah does not mean that one says with the tongue that he believes in one Allah; and if someone else says that I don’t believe in one Allah – then what practical difference does it make in their lives. Tauheed means that obedience is to be done only of Allah’s laws, and not of someone else’s laws. At the physical level humans follow the natural laws. In order to survive they need fresh air to breathe; they need pure water to drink; and they need nutritious food to eat. When humans get sick they go to hospital and the doctor follows the natural laws of physiology to cure them and give them medicines that are prepared according to natural laws. One has the choice not to live and commit suicide according to the natural laws. So, everyone follows natural laws all the time at the physical level. But what happens to humans when they are asked to follow divine laws related to their humanity’s life.
In the physical world they have no choice but to follow the natural laws. But Allah has given humans choice regarding His divine laws so it is up to them to follow or not to follow (18:29). But the result of whichever way they follow is not in their hands. If they follow the divine laws, then they will get beneficial results. But if they don’t then they will suffer the consequences thereof.
The life based on Iman
The life of Iman is to conquer the forces of nature and to spend the benefits obtained thereof solely according to universal Quranic laws and values. Those who conquer the forces of nature and create their own laws to use the benefits are Kafirs according to the Quran. This is what the West is doing. The third category is those who do not conquer the forces of nature – so there is no question of deriving benefits from them. Unfortunately, in today’s world, we belong to this category. As a consequence, we are suffering ignominy in this world and we will suffer more severe punishment in the hereafter (2:85).
ذٰلِكُمْ بِاَنَّهٗٓ اِذَا دُعِيَ اللّٰهُ وَحْدَهٗ كَفَرْتُمْ ۚ وَاِنْ يُّشْرَكْ بِهٖ تُؤْمِنُوْا ۭ فَالْحُكْمُ لِلّٰهِ الْعَلِيِّ الْكَبِيْرِ
(40:12) – [And they will be told:] “This [has befallen you] because, whenever the One God was invoked, you denied this truth; whereas, when divinity was ascribed to aught beside Him, you believed [in it]! But all judgment rests with God, the Exalted, the Great!” [Asad]
No one else has any share in Allah’s Laws. He is most exalted and the greatest. No one can share His Dominion.
But we have made man-made sharia law permanent developed under kings thousand years ago. Whereas, it is Allah who says in the Quran that His laws are unchangeable and permanent:
وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقًا وَّعَدْلًا ۭلَا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمٰتِهٖ ۚ وَهُوَ السَّمِيْعُ الْعَلِيْمُ
(6:115) – or, truly and justly has thy Sustainer's promise been fulfilled. There is no power that could alter [the fulfilment of] His promises: and He alone is all-hearing, all-knowing. [Asad]
Allah’s promise means Allah’s Laws because Allah never violates His promise (3:9, 13:31). Allah’s laws based on truth and justice have been set forth in His Book, the Quran, in a complete form. None has the authority to make any change in these laws (18:27).
The Quranic government was established by the Prophet (PBUH)
The Quran says:
قُلِ اللّٰهُمَّ فَاطِرَ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالْاَرْضِ عٰلِمَ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ اَنْتَ تَحْكُمُ بَيْنَ عِبَادِكَ فِيْ مَا كَانُوْا فِيْهِ يَخْتَلِفُوْنَ
(39:46) – Say: "O Allah! Creator of the heavens and the earth! Knower of all that is hidden and open! it is Thou that wilt judge between Thy Servants in those matters about which they have differed." [Yusuf Ali]
This is not just a theoretical or imaginary statement by Allah. Allah’s Book is to be practically made the constitution of the Quranic state. And the Prophet (PBUH) and Companions (R) clearly demonstrated it by establishing the Quranic state in Medina with great fortitude and divine energy unleashed by self-realization. Everyone followed the same law as one Ummah in real practice.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا
(33:56) – Verily, God and His angels bless the Prophet: [hence,] O you who have attained to faith, bless him and give yourselves up [to his guidance] in utter self-surrender! [Asad]
FURTHER READING: The Human “Self” Does Not Die (Part 1)
Topics: Day Of Judgement, Humanity, Iman (Faith And Belief), Life And Death, Life Hereafter (Akhirah), Psychology, Soul (Nafs), Taqwa (God Consciousness), Tazkiyah (Inner-Self Purification), Universe Values: Guidance, Harmony, Justice, Knowledge