Allah’s Gift to Humanity: Human Abilities and Sustenance
- 1 The real question is proper use of God-given abilities
- 2 Everything in the Universe has been made subservient to humans
- 3 Difference in the thinking of مومن (Momin) and کافر (Kafir)
- 4 Spreading sustenance according to Allah’s law
- 5 Wrong distribution system is the source of misery and destruction
- 6 Fear and anxiety everywhere
The Quran says that all human abilities including thinking and knowledge are given by Allah to humans as a gift:
Humans use their five senses to acquire information from outside and decide what to do in a particular situation. But what is it inside a human that makes the decision. Let us say someone heard the sound of a gunshot and then he heard the sound of a human cry. He realizes that the sound of cry seems familiar. What is it in him that decides whether or not to go out and look?
The Quran uses the word قلب “Qalb” in some places (7:179) and فواد “Fuad” at other places (17:36) for the human faculty that makes decision. This is an inside faculty that acts on outside information to reach a decision. Allah says that when He created humans he also created sources of sustenance and gave humans all these abilities. The question then is: After acquiring the sustenance from all these sources how it is being used; but more importantly how it should be used?
The real question is proper use of God-given abilities
The question is fundamental, i.e., the abilities which humans have for acquiring knowledge – how do they use it; in what context they use it; and for what purpose do they use it? The Quran says: “There are very few who use it properly and are thankful” (36:33-35; 67:23). We find that there is no proper distribution of Allah-given resources anywhere in the world. We find that there is no proper use of Allah-given ability to acquire knowledge anywhere. This is a great tragedy for the entire humanity!
The only common link on this Earth is our shared humanity
The Quran says:
In spite of differences in various regions, there is one common value that links all human beings on this planet Earth. It does not matter if humans are spread out in distant places and multiple continents. By being humans they are all linked with one common value. Laws of Nature apply equally to all. Air and water are equally necessary for survival for every human being no matter where they live. What is the thing that binds all humans together? Just as there are physical laws for regulating the animal part of human beings, there are also laws for regulating the human part of human beings. For example, “oppressors cannot be successful” is a law just as “life cannot exist without water” is a law. And this higher law (pertaining to the human part of human beings) applies equally to all humans who are involved in oppression: it is not that an oppressor from the East is subject to this law and an oppressor from the West is not; or the Pharaohs of the past were punished but the Pharaohs of the future will go scot-free. Oppression won’t succeed: This is a law that is equally applicable to all humans for all times. This is universal Allah’s Law of Requital (37:39; 52:16).
The Quran says that not just the planets and stars but whatever is in the Universe has been made subservient to humans. It says:
The Almighty Allah has created the means of sustenance and made them subservient to human beings. Humans should thus seek ways to acquire these means and bring forth the sustenance for the benefit of all. In the very opening verse, the Quran says: رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (1:1) – Allah is Sustainer of all the worlds.
Everything in the Universe has been made subservient to humans
Leave aside the Heaven, let us just consider the Earth. We live on this planet. We travel in all its regions, and partake of the sustenance that it provides. We use different methods to acquire its resources. It does not refuse to deliver its sustenance. It does not stand up and oppose us. Although it is such a large planet its status is nothing compared to an individual human being. Human beings are able to exploit it in any way they like and it does not refuse to deliver.
In Quran there is رحمت ‘Rahmat’ and there is ربوبیّت ‘Rububiyah’. رحمت ‘Rahmat’ means providing nourishment the way a child gets its nourishment in mother’s womb. In this process there is no effort exercised by the child. His nourishment comes from outside of him. But it does not mean that this nourishment comes from the external world. This comes from the mother’s body but he gets it automatically. The child is in no position to exercise any effort to get his nourishment for himself at this stage. But the method of getting this nourishment changes as soon as the child is born. Now at his stage in his life, he gets his nourishment from the milk of his mother’s breast. Also, now, he has to make effort to suck this milk, and the mother has to breastfeed him. We see that in the external world it is a world of cause-and-effect. When the child grows beyond this stage, the nourishment comes from food. In this whole process all the basic needs of sustenance have already been provided by Allah: If He has created human beings then He has also provided the sources of sustenance for them. Before birth the sustenance was inside the mother’s womb and after that it is in the sources of sustenance available outside, but for which the human beings have to make effort. These sources of sustenance are from Allah but humans have to make effort to get it. In other words, we can say that since Allah has created these sources of sustenance so it belongs to Him, and since humans have to make effort to get this sustenance, they should have their share in the output based on their effort expended.
Difference in the thinking of مومن (Momin) and کافر (Kafir)
Up to this stage believer (مومن Momin) and unbeliever (کافر Kafir) are alike. Whoever wants to get sustenance from the Earth, they can get it. Whosoever makes effort will get it; and one who makes more effort can get more. In this process so far, the question of belief (ایمان Iman) and unbelief (Kufr کفر) does not arise. But after sustenance has been acquired, then how should it be distributed? The real question comes here. This is the place where the question of belief (ایمان Iman) and unbelief (Kufr کفر) arises. If the sustenance thus acquired is distributed according to an economic system based on one’s own wishes; based one’s own goals; based on one’s own individual or national ulterior motives; or based any other subjective interests, then the result is misery. Today more than half the population of the Earth sleeps hungry because of this. But even those who get some portion of this sustenance through the implements of this economic system, the condition is such that in many places what is available to the dogs of the rich even that is not available to the poor people’s children. The sources of sustenance are all created by Allah and only from them all sustenance is derived. But after that, this difference has occurred. This is the difference between belief (ایمان Iman) and unbelief (Kufr کفر). How to distribute the acquired resources? – This is where the difference starts.
Spreading sustenance according to Allah’s law
The Quran now points out a major point of departure from this point onwards. The words: نشور “Nushur” orنشر “Nashr” means to spread, to expand, to publish. ناشر “Naashir” means publisher, as for example, we have publisher for books. منشھور “Manshoor” means to publish and to announce to everyone like the way new leaves and branches announce their arrival in the spring after the fall season. This, in Arabic, is called نشور “Nushur”. The question earlier was: How to spread the sustenance thus acquired (67:15). The Quran says: وَإِلَيْهِ النُّشُور “Wa Ilaihin Nushoor” (67:15) – That is, this sustenance will be distributed according to the values and the laws of the Quran. The Earth has been created by Allah and not by humans. It is He who made the Earth subservient to humans. The Earth can never disobey humans. This is a great power which humans have over the Earth. Humans can tap into and extract any amount of its resources. The Earth is for everyone whether believer (مومن Momin) or unbeliever (کافر Kafir). Its resources are equally available to everyone. By putting appropriate effort anyone can acquire its resources. Now the next step is to distribute and spread the resources. It is to turn dry fall trees into endearing spring trees.
After the word رِّزْقِهِ ‘Rizqihi’ (i.e., sustenance) is the word الیه ‘Ilaihi’. It means that (after you have acquired the sustenance then) get the guidance by turning yourselves to Allah (i.e., turning to His Book, the Quran) and spread the sustenance in accordance with His guidance. If this happens all your sustenance becomes good and halal. This will be the Islamic way. On the other hand, if the sustenance is distributed according to human wishes and selfish interests then this will be bad and tantamount to unbelief (Kufr کفر). This was the function of وَإِلَيْهِ النُّشُور “Wa Ilaihin Nushoor” (67:15) – to spread the sustenance. But, instead of doing this, the Quran says that humans make their own system and they ignore the principles and the laws of Allah.
The Quran says:
In our culture we turn our eyes towards the sky when we think of God. We think he is observing us from up there. But, in the Quran, Allah says:
وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُمْ
And He is with you wherever you may be (57:4) [Asad].
So, it does not make sense to say that He is up there in the heaven. Actually, it is mentioned in the Quran that He is God of the Heaven as well as God of the Earth:
Saying that He is in the Heaven or He is in the Earth is meaningless. It is meaningless to make any spatial reference to Allah! The question of “where?” arises only for material things which can be at only one place at one time.
The distribution of sustenance must be done on the basis of nourishment for all
In relation to sources of sustenance the very first words of the Quran are: الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ “Alhamdu Lillahi Rabbil ‘Aalemeen”; which means that Allah-given sustenance is open to all. Therefore, if the distribution of this sustenance is based on any class or status it will no longer be in accordance with the Quran. In other words, this sustenance will no longer be of Allah but it will be of humans; and this system will be unbelief (Kufr کفر) and will not be Islam. Allah says: You acquired the sources of sustenance from the Earth We created. After you have acquired it you do not distribute it according Our measure; you do not spread it according to Our instructions; but you distribute it according to your own laws and systems and, as a consequence, you bring death and destruction. So, is it the case that you have become so insulated and so fearless that you think – OK! He created these resources and sources of sustenance. So what?! We will use it the way we want. This essentially means you do not care what Allah says. You think that after creating these things He has no longer control over these resources. Suppose, if Allah were to make the entire Earth barren and fallow then which other god would you turn to, to correct this situation? Allah created this Earth and made it able to produce crop and sustenance, and if He were to usurp this ability from the Earth then who can give this ability back to the Earth? Although it is up to humans to acquire the knowledge to extract benefit from it and to improve it; but the fundamental ability that Allah has put into it to produce sustenance, no human can create it. This thing cannot happen mechanically. So, Allah says: if this is the situation; that if the Earth is made barren; or if it is made dustbowl; or if it is made desolate; then tell Us what would be your fate? If even some part of the Earth becomes like this; becomes desolate and without any type of sustenance; then a great catastrophe occurs in that region. But we can imagine if it occurs to the entire Earth then what kind of miserable and catastrophic situation humans will face?!
The Quran clarifies issues by putting them into proper context and gives examples of perceptible things in lucid manner. It says:
How secure and protected we are on this Earth? How many huge planets are out there in space and, here we are, peacefully living on the Earth? If these planets were to break up into pieces and start falling on Earth, then where will we go to seek protection? If the Earth becomes barren we will die but, nevertheless, at least we will be alive for few days. On the other hand, if huge rocks start raining down on us then we will be exterminated in seconds. That is why Allah says that We gave you both: sustenance and security. Don’t you realize that there is an authority in control of all of this? And this authority is such that its relationship to humans is that of رحمت ‘Rahmat’ and ربوبیّت ‘Rububiyah’ i.e., Allah is Provider of Grace, Magnificence, Sustenance, Nourishment and Development for all of humanity. He created these things so that we could remain in security, and get sustenance; but, here we are, doing our own bidding!?
Wrong distribution system is the source of misery and destruction
Humans are being told that since all these resources are available to you from the Universe for free then you should create a system of distribution for spreading these resources according to the laws and values given by Allah, the Creator and the real Owner of this Universe and all its resources. Only then we will remain in peace and security. If we will not do that then, alright, this Earth will not become barren, and rocks will not rain on us? But there is this system—our wrong system of distribution—this will bring upon us such a destruction that it will be even more terrifying and dangerous (67:17). From this we will soon find out about the warning that was given to us but we used to dismiss it. We will soon see the destruction of our wrong system which we did not believe it will ever come. Slowly but surely, this destruction will come which will be the result of our wrong system of distribution of Allah-provided resources. Actually, even now the whole world is engulfed in this hell but, we Muslims do not to come out of our sectarian “minarets” to see it.
Fear and anxiety everywhere
All over this Earth, there is no security to humans at the hands of humans. Let us think what the Quran said: Do you think you will get peace and security with your wrong system in place? Are you able to achieve security by your policies of self-interest and self-control? How is it possible that with your wrong system and wrong policies you would be able to achieve peace and security?! In fact, the situation has deteriorated to such an extent that even for individuals there is no peace and no security. Contrary to this, we are told in the Quran that the characteristic of Allah’s system is that there will be no fear and there will be no anxiety:
فَمَن تَبِعَ هُدَايَ فَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
(2:38) – and those who follow My guidance need have no fear, and neither shall they grieve. [Asad]
There will be no heart-aches and no anxiety in this system. There will be peace and security at every level. If we spread the Allah-created resources, if there is وَإِلَيْهِ النُّشُور “Wa Ilaihin Nushoor” (67:15) – then this will be the ultimate result when this sustenance is distributed according to the values and the laws of the Quran and is open to all.
وَأَشْرَقَتِ الْأَرْضُ بِنُورِ رَبِّهَا
And then the earth will shine bright with her Sustainer’s light. [39:69, Asad]
The entire Universe will start shining by harmonizing the forces of nature with the divine energy. This is the final goal, which will happen through the human effort in the light of the Quran.
May Allah give us the fortitude, perseverance, and unwavering commitment to follow the shining footsteps of the Prophet (PBUH). Then Allah guarantees that His cosmic forces will join us in our effort to achieve this goal: