Learning Lesson from Quranic Stories of Past Nations

The Karnak Temple Complex, commonly known as Karnak (which was originally derived from Arabic: خورنق Khurnaq "fortified village"), comprises a vast mix of decayed temples, pylons, chapels, and other buildings near Luxor, Egypt. Construction at the complex began during the reign of Senusret I (reigned 1971–1926 BCE) in the Middle Kingdom (around 2000–1700 BCE) and continued into the Ptolemaic Kingdom (305–30 BCE) (photo: iStock by Getty Images).

The purpose of mentioning the past events by the Quran

The Quran mentions the past stories of Messengers not for delineating the events chronologically as it is mentioned in history books. But the real reason for mentioning their stories is to learn lessons from them. The Quran mentions that their stories provide universal evidence of the rise and fall of nations; that their stories provide evidence of battle between THE TRUTH (Al-Haq - الحق) and FALSEHOOD (Baatil - باطل).

The struggle between THE TRUTH (Al-Haq - الحق) and FALSEHOOD (Baatil - باطل) has been going on throughout human history and will continue until eternity. Allama Iqbal expresses this Quranic reality thus:

The eternal struggle of Haq and Baatil has always existed 

Between the Mustafa’s (PBUH) light and Abi Lahab’s fire 

He further says:

Baatil changes its appearance and comes again in the world

Although the humankind is old but Laat and Manaat are young

Our History, Hadith, and Fiqh books are based on oral narrations

These books were written more than two hundred years after the Prophet (PBUH) without any written record. The chain of narrators who supposedly narrated their stories were finally attributed to the Prophet (PBUH) by the compilers of these books without any solid established evidence. So, all these history, hadith, and fiqh compilations must be tested on the touchstone of the Quran if one wants to rejuvenate Islam. And then the entire Muslims must follow the Quranic principles and laws in all aspects of life. Any subsidiary laws or procedures instituted to implement in order to follow any Quranic command in practical life must not violate the principles laid out by the Quran’s laws.

How ironic that we believe we are practicing Islam by performing mechanical rituals under the guise of sharia law developed by our religionists in cahoots with the ruling and business elites. The evil trio – the new Pharaohs, the new Hamans, the new Qaroons – has divided the Ummah into different religious sects, into rich and poor, into different ethnicities, etc. which are clearly against the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). In fact, the Prophet (PBUH) demolished these differences which were deeply entrenched at his time and transformed them into one holistic Ummah based on the Quranic command:

وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ

(17:70) – NOW, INDEED, We have conferred dignity on the children of Adam. [Asad]

Allah has granted equal dignity to all humankind. But later Muslims destroyed this and got themselves divided into different nationalities.

So says Allah, the All-powerful, All listening, All knowing that:

تِلْكَ اٰيٰتُ الْكِتٰبِ الْمُبِيْنِ

(28:2) – These are messages of a divine writ clear in itself and clearly showing the truth. [Asad]

These laws are from that code of life which is itself clear and illuminating.

A French scientist’s analysis of the Quran 

Dr. Maurice Bucaille wrote the book entitled, “The Bible, The Quran, and Science”. He scientifically showed that every statement the Quran has mentioned about the Universe and life (including human life) and its support system is 100% true as proven by modern science.

The Quran is the first book which has described the stories of past nations as philosophy of history. This means that the Quran has described the result of past nations as cause-and-effects analysis. It says that whatever happened to those nations, it wasn’t based on chance. Whatever the result happened, it was due to actions they carried out; and the result happened according to Allah’s Law of Requital. The life and death of nations happen according to whether or not they were following the right path as given in the Quran.

The Quran says that Pharaoh had adopted an extremely rebellious attitude in his kingdom. In order to strengthen his position, he had divided his people into various factions. He was continuously weakening one of the factions (the Bani Israel). In this regard, his policy was to render ineffective all men of merit and fortitude by humiliating and subjugating them; and to honor and advance those who were devoid of these qualities. In this way he was creating unevenness among the nation’s people and breaking their unity and strength. He was using the policy, which is called “divide and conquer” strategy as used commonly these days by Machiavellians ruling the world.

The Quran describes the story of Musa (PBUH):

اِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ عَلَا فِي الْاَرْضِ وَجَعَلَ اَهْلَهَا شِيَعًا يَّسْتَضْعِفُ طَاۗىِٕفَةً مِّنْهُمْ يُذَ بِّحُ اَبْنَاۗءَهُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيٖ نِسَاۗءَهُمْ ۭ اِنَّهٗ كَانَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِيْنَ

(28:4) – Behold, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and divided its people into castes. One group of them he deemed utterly low; he would slaughter their sons and spare (only) their women: for, behold, he was one of those who spread corruption [on earth]. [Asad]

And this was not the strategy of Pharaoh alone. It was adopted by all dictators and kings (27:34). Pharaoh was one of them.

قَالَتْ إِنَّ الْمُلُوكَ إِذَا دَخَلُوا قَرْيَةً أَفْسَدُوهَا وَجَعَلُوا أَعِزَّةَ أَهْلِهَا أَذِلَّةً ۖ وَكَذَٰلِكَ يَفْعَلُونَ

(27:34) – Verily, whenever kings enter a country they corrupt it, and turn the noblest of its people into the most abject. And this is the way they [always] behave?

Musa (PBUH) broke the spell of Samri

Thus, in view of his rebellion and disturbance, Our Law of Requital decided that the people whom Pharaoh had degraded and subjugated, should be favored with Our bounties. That is, to make them the leaders of a country and to make them inheritors of a piece of earth where they would establish their own state and thereby show Pharaoh and Haman, the leader of his priests, as well as all their hordes, the very things they were so afraid to see; and against which they sought to protect themselves from their own destruction.

The Quran says:

وَنُرِيْدُ اَنْ نَّمُنَّ عَلَي الَّذِيْنَ اسْتُضْعِفُوْا فِي الْاَرْضِ وَنَجْعَلَهُمْ اَىِٕمَّةً وَّنَجْعَلَهُمُ الْوٰرِثِيْنَ

(28:5) -- But it was Our will to bestow Our favour upon those [very people] who were deemed [so] utterly low in the land, and to make them forerunners in faith. and to make them heirs [to Pharaoh’s glory], [Asad]

The Quran further explains:

وَنُمَكِّنَ لَهُمْ فِي الْاَرْضِ وَنُرِيَ فِرْعَوْنَ وَهَامٰنَ وَجُنُوْدَهُمَا مِنْهُمْ مَّا كَانُوْا يَحْذَرُوْنَ

(28:6) – and to establish them securely on earth, and to let Pharaoh and Haman and their hosts experience through those [children of Israel] the very thing against which they sought to protect themselves. [Asad]

The proclamation of Deen succinctly 

The fundamental principle of Deen is that no human being – even though Allah may have given him a Code of Laws or the power to enforce it or even Prophethood – has the right to say to the others: “You should obey me rather than Allah.” What he should say is: “You should be amongst those who belong to Allah by following His Book which you study and teach to others.” He should also not tell others to worship Malaaikah or their Messenger. A Momin will never do so. After he himself believed he would not bid others to resort to Kufr (unbelief).

The Quran says:

مَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ اَنْ يُّؤْتِيَهُ اللّٰهُ الْكِتٰبَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ ثُمَّ يَقُوْلَ لِلنَّاسِ كُوْنُوْا عِبَادًا لِّيْ مِنْ دُوْنِ اللّٰهِ وَلٰكِنْ كُوْنُوْا رَبّٰـنِيّٖنَ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تُعَلِّمُوْنَ الْكِتٰبَ وَبِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَدْرُسُوْنَ

(3:79) – It is not conceivable that a human being unto whom God had granted revelation, and sound judgment, and prophethood, should thereafter have said unto people, "Worship me beside God"; but rather [did he exhort them], "Become men of God by spreading the knowledge of the divine writ, and by your own deep study [thereof]." [Asad]

Allama Iqbal wrote a complete chapter about it in his book “Javed Nameh” when describing the eternal divine message of the Quran. Here are few verses here from this chapter.

Our assembly is deprived of Tauheed, our charge without leader

But the Quran is still there, its message is still there in its pages

It just needs its true message to be brought out loud and clear

Sky has many devotees to get its message out loud and clear

The Quran’s message is eternal and not dependent on nations

Its message is not dependent on any particular place or time

Whether one cares or not, the Quran is eternally protected by Allah

It is not dependent on any country whether it be Rome or Syria

If Allah has taken away the Quran from us since we abandoned it

Then He will give it to some other nation who will not be like us

Muslims are engaged in only blind following or mere speculation

When I see them doing this, then my soul and body start trembling 

I am afraid of the day when the Quran will be taken away from us

And another nation will benefit from its light leaving us in darkness  

Allama Iqbal demanded Pakistan exactly for this reason

Why was Pakistan created? What was its genesis and what ideology was driving the Pakistan movement? Why did a vast majority of Muslims support the idea of Pakistan and why did a majority of the Islamic scholars (Ulema) oppose it? These are the questions which have been debated ever since Pakistan came into existence. In recent years, many have even started to question the wisdom and the vision of the country’s founding leaders. (Traditionally, there have always been opponents of Pakistan trying to wreck the very house that provides them shelter and sustenance). In answering these questions, we will first explain the positions of those who opposed the idea of Pakistan, and then present the arguments which Allama Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam put forth in its favor.

Unlike the British and the Hindus who were each united in their opposition to the idea of Pakistan, Muslims were not united in favor of Pakistan (as always—history bears ample testimony to this disunity amongst Muslims) even on this fundamental issue of extreme historical importance. Although a vast majority of Muslims supported the idea of Pakistan, many prominent Muslims, especially the Islamic scholars were against it and vehemently opposed its creation. Why did they oppose this idea while a vast majority of Muslims supported it? In order to understand this apparent paradox, we have to go to the very root of the question.

It was Allama Iqbal who for the first time gave the idea of Pakistan. He had a deep understanding of the Quran and devoted almost all his life propagating its pure message in his God-given unique style. He said:

“If you wish to live the life of a Muslim, then it is not possible except to live by the Quran.” This couplet of Iqbal is a poetic rendering of verses (7:3) and (33:2) of the Quran.

Iqbal suggested this because of his deep understanding of Islam, its political process and its history. Iqbal suggests that Muslims have to guide their lives collectively and create a social order based on the Quran because:

“Allah who has created all the objects in the universe, has also undertaken to make them aware of their goal and guide them towards it” (20:50).

Allama Iqbal said:

“If the Mullah has freedom of prayer in India, then his ignorance leads him to believe that Islam is free as well.”

“What a nation is and what the leadership of a nation is; how these poor Imams of two Raka’a can know?”

In an Eid message to the nation in 1945, Quaid-e-Azam said:

“Every Muslim knows that the injunctions of the Quran are not confined to religious and moral duties. Everyone except those who are ignorant, knows that the Quran is the general code of the Muslims. A religious, social, civil, commercial, military, judicial, criminal and penal code; it regulates everything from the ceremonies of religion to those of daily life; from the salvation of the soul to the health of the body; from the rights of all, to those of each individual; from morality to crime; from punishment here to that in the life to come, and our Prophet (S) has enjoined on us that every Muslim should possess a copy of the Holy Quran and be his own priest. Therefore, Islam is not confined to the spiritual tenets and doctrines and rituals and ceremonies. It is a complete code regulating the whole Muslim society in every department of life, collectively and individually.”

The Islamic Society Must Reflect the Universal Attributes of Allah

This now, in the light of the Quran, is firmly established that a system will only be called Islamic if it reflects Allah’s universal attributes. It is not that Allah who has described His attributes is praising Himself that I am so and so or how great I am! It is not that at all. His attributes are given to us for the express purpose to see: to what extent these attributes are impacting our practical life collectively; and what kind of system should be established under which we should be leading our lives that reflects the color of Allah’s universal attributes. The color of Allah means that whatever our color of character was before, should not remain anymore. The only color that should remain in our character must be Allah’s color.  This is called Tauhid (توحید). What is this color? Where will it come from? It should come from what Allah has said about Himself. He has said: that all authority and sovereignty belongs to Him; that His authority is firmly established; and that the purpose of His authority is that He continues to provide the provisions for nourishment and development to all humankind. So, now, this principle has been established. We have found now the color for Islamic system, for Islamic laws, for Islamic constitution; and, therefore, that system must be firmly established; it must be sound, strong, and stable; and that its goal must be to provide nourishment and provisions for development to all humankind. The very first verse (1:1) is a principle of the Quran; which means that only that system is worthy of praise and appreciation which bears and fulfills the responsibility of universal development of all humankind and all living beings.

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

(1:1) – All praise is due to God alone, the Sustainer of all the worlds. [Asad]

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