Two Aspects of Human Life

Category: Audiences, Faith & Spirituality, Featured, Highlights Topics: Quran, Soul (Nafs) Values: Knowledge, Wisdom Views: 1853

Human life is not just the material life, there is one more thing inside human beings besides the material life which the Quran refers to as Nafs ‘نفس’. We can call it human “self” or human “personality”, or human “individuality” but none of these can fully capture the meaning of the Nafs ‘نفس’since this is a special gift from Allah to all human beings.  

Humans become part of humanity solely due to this Nafs ‘نفس’

With respect to only the physical body, humans belong to the animal kingdom. But there is something else in humans for whose development Allah’s attributes are essential. We can call these attributes Permanent Values. This something else, i.e., Nafs ‘نفس’ gets its development from these Permanent Values. From one principle of the Quran the human body develops from what it takes, from what it consumes. But from another principle of the Quran, one of the ways the human self develops is by what it gives for betterment of others, by improving the life of others. Now this internal self or Nafs ‘نفس’ cannot be seen and cannot be felt; neither can others feel or touch it. If one has the ‘eye’ – not just the physical eye but also the spiritual eye – then one can feel as to how much one’s self or Nafs ‘نفس’has developed. 

Human self and its development

The characteristics and the attributes the Quran has mentioned about the Momineen (مومنین), in reality, these are the manifestations of the self; its expressions; its testimonies. For example, I believe that the Momin (مومن) will try to survive with less and lead a life of hardship himself but will give priority to others above his own. This is not the decision that can be comprehended at the level of the material body (human intellect) but only at the level of what the Quran has called the Nafs ‘نفس’. I believe the Momin (مومن) is one who does this act of giving priority to others above himself; and does this with his own freewill. And he feels happy that he has been able to fulfill the needs of someone else who is more deserving than himself, even though his own life itself remains very difficult. What is the thing in human beings that will decide this action? The human body cannot do this. Human body’s development occurs based on intellect or instinct like animals. No animal can give preference to some other animal over his own body. Man will also do the same if he were to live at the material level, i.e., at the animal level. In fact, if he is living at this level then he will indulge in looting and exploiting others as well. In contrast, a bull when his stomach is full, never cares what happens to the leftover fodder, whether another bull eats or someone takes it away. He sits contented and continues to cud carefree. But it is this human animal that although his needs are only a couple of breads, but all his life his greed never gets fulfilled. Animals do not have this greed. In other words, when man falls then he really falls to the lowest pit. But humanity’s level is quite different and it is this level that the Quran talks about and whose standard of measure are the attributes which have been enumerated by the Quran for the Momineen (مومنین). For example, take human respect. This must be granted as a basic human right irrespective of color, race, language, age, religion, wealth, or status – a respect based solely on being human (17:70). This is the characteristic of human self, not of human body. As for the human body, a strong body will easily subdue a weak and poor one. One needs to know these things in order to understand the message of the Quran.  

Now, how to know if one’s self is growing and developing so that one can test oneself whether one’s self is developing and growing. Does the Quran say that those with strong body in this life will also be strong in the Hereafter? No, it does not. But it does say that a developed self is able to cross the threshold to enter the next stage of life-after-death and move forward. The Quran refers to this as the life of Heaven (جنّه). Contrary to this, a less developed self will get stuck and not be able to move forward into the next life. This is referred to as Hell (جحیم) by the Quran. جحیم (Jaheem) means a fire which does not allow one to move forward. 

Divine values and principles for the human world  

Allah’s divine program (with its values and principles) keeps moving ahead on its own, in the human world by transforming the human society. But its speed is extremely slow on the human scale – which could be one thousand years or even fifty thousand years in terms of a Day of Allah (32:5; 70:4). But if human effort supports it, then its result appears in days, weeks, months, or few years.   

How Allah’s program moves ahead slowly but surely through an evolutionary process crossing many stages in its evolutionary journey to produce visible results. We are lucky that we are in an age when science has greatly advanced which helps us to understand the realities described by the Quran. For people before this period, their knowledge was limited in understanding such verses of the Quran. So, we cannot blame them for incorrect explanation of these verses. Our problem is that our religionists proclaim that no change can be done in their explanations because it is part of our sharia. On the other hand, whatever earlier scientists came to conclusion, later scientists keep revising it and everyone appreciates them for advancing the scientific knowledge. But nothing can be changed in religion no matter how wrong new knowledge proves it to be.

The importance of universal permanent human values and the way the Universe produces their impact on society is bound to manifest one day

The Quran says:

 إِنَّ يَوْمَ الْفَصْلِ مِيقَاتُهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ ; يَوْمَ لَا يُغْنِي مَوْلًى عَن مَّوْلًى شَيْئًا وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ 

(44:40-41) – VERILY, the Day of Distinction [between the true and the false] is the term appointed for all of them: the Day when no friend shall be of the least avail to his friend, and when none shall be succoured. [Asad]

However, they should know that life is not mere play. There is a definite purpose for its creation. Every human action produces results, which will manifest at the appointed time. At that time no friend will be of any help, nor will any other kind of help reach them. 

Do they think that Allah created this gigantic Universe and all its accompanying machinery without any role for them to play in human affairs, which leaves humans to do whatever they want without any consequences; that the powerful think there is no one to question them for their misdeeds and to hold them accountable? No, that is not the case. The time of accountability will definitely come. Then everyone will be held accountable. No one will be able to influence the decision rendered at that time. This will be the Day of Reckoning (يَوْمَ الْفَصْلِ -Yaumul Fasl). The Law of Requital will render its judgment in the human world just as the Law of Nature renders its judgment in the physical world. 

The entire teaching of the Quran revolves around the established orbits of permanent values

Allah is both Al-Aziz and Al-Raheem (الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ) – He provides the sustenance and has all the power over His creation. It will never be the case that His laws do not produce results. The Universe is for the benefit of humans. The teaching of the Quran revolves around the fact that the entire Universe with its machinery is working so that no human action remains without producing result (45:22). The day the humanity believes in the reality of this truth, that day this earth will attain peace. When every human being starts thinking that not just my bad action (6:70; 16:111; 52:21) but also my bad thinking is bound to produce bad result (40:19; 17:36) and I will have to suffer the consequences, then the world will change that day into heaven. If not, then the world will remain hell, as it is the case now.  

The only common link on this Earth is our shared humanity

The Quran says:

  قُلْ هُوَ الَّذِي ذَرَأَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَإِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ 

(67:24) – Say: "It is He who has multiplied you on earth; and it is unto Him that you shall be gathered [on resurrection]." [Asad]

It is Allah who has dispersed humans all over the earth and provided them with abundant sources of nourishment. This dispersal however does not mean that they have gone out of the ambit of Divine Laws. No, not at all! They are being brought to His Law of Requital from everywhere and their every step takes them in that direction (23:79). 

 It is okay that you have spread out. Apparently, there seems to be no connection between a person in Asia and one in Africa. In spite of this, 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. Now consider this: the word حشر “Hashr” has been used in verse (67:24) and the word نشر “Nashr” in verse (67:23). Our traditional translations say that both words refer to things that will happen in the Hereafter – after death. But these verses are not related to things that will happen only after death. The Quran makes it clear to us that all the things mentioned above are, in fact, related to this life here, in this world. 

The Quran says:

 كَانَ النَّاسُ اُمَّةً وَّاحِدَةً ۣ فَبَعَثَ اللّٰهُ النَّبِيّٖنَ مُبَشِّرِيْنَ وَمُنْذِرِيْنَ ۠ وَاَنْزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتٰبَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِـيْمَا اخْتَلَفُوْا فِيْهِ ۭ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ فِيْهِ اِلَّا الَّذِيْنَ اُوْتُوْهُ مِنْۢ بَعْدِ مَا جَاۗءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنٰتُ بَغْيًۢـا بَيْنَهُمْ ۚفَهَدَى اللّٰهُ الَّذِيْنَ اٰمَنُوْا لِمَا اخْتَلَفُوْا فِيْهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِاِذْنِهٖ ۭ وَاللّٰهُ يَهْدِيْ مَنْ يَّشَاۗءُ اِلٰى صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَـقِيْمٍ 

(2:213) – ALL MANKIND were once one single community; [then they began to differ -] whereupon God raised up the prophets as heralds of glad tidings and as warners, and through them bestowed revelation from on high, setting forth the truth, so that it might decide between people with regard to all on which they had come to hold divergent views. Yet none other than the selfsame people who had been granted this [revelation] began, out of mutual jealousy, to disagree about its meaning after all evidence of the truth had come unto them. But God guided the believers unto the truth about which, by His leave, they had disagreed: for God guides onto a straight way him that wills [to be guided]. [Asad]

Not only the history of Bani-Isr’ael but that of humanity bears witness to what has been stated above. As mentioned in the story of Adam (2:30) originally humankind was a single community, free of dissension. Then human beings created mutual differences (10:19) and since these differences could not be resolved by means of human intellect alone, Allah sent a series of Messengers and Books for this purpose, who would give them glad tidings provided they lived together as one family and warn them about the consequences of a disintegrated society, and resolve their differences in accordance with the revealed book. After the departure of the Messengers who had accomplished their appointed tasks, their followers again created differences amongst themselves in their desire to outdo and out-strive each other. Those from amongst them who followed Allah’s Guidance were able again to resolve their mutual differences. This is how Allah, according to His Laws, shows the right path to those who seek it (2:136, 3:83, 3:183, 16:92, 57:25). 

One Humankind: – Therefore One Law

The Quran says that Allah spread human beings everywhere: وَإِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ (Wa Ilaihi Tuhsharoon) (67:24). There is one law that is applicable to all humans; that all humans are equal in front of that law; that everyone is advancing step-by-step towards that law; that no one can be beyond the grip of that law; that all are proceeding towards that law – that is, تُحْشَرُونَ ‘tuhsharoon’ is happening to all humans. Just as no one can escape the grip of the physical law – for example, when thirsty, everyone tends to proceed towards water – so, exactly in a similar way, everyone is moving towards this law of تُحْشَرُونَ ‘tuhsharoon’.  No one feels this movement (since this is not something physical), but, nevertheless, the movement is taking place. Also, it is not that this will happen sometime in the future but that this is happening right now in present. There is evidence to support this law.  

Now, how to know that the movement is happening right now and not that it will happen after death? The Quran says: (67:25) وَيَقُولُونَ مَتَى هَذَا الْوَعْدُ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ – Whenever the Law of Requital is mentioned before them, they ask: “If what you say is really true, then tell us when the doom which you warn us about will occur?” You say that oppressors will be destroyed but we see that they are highly successful. Why don’t you bring the destruction if you are truthful? We also face similar questions now-a-days as well. Allah says to the Prophet (PBUH): Tell them that it will happen according to the law of requital! Allah is the one who knows when it will happen. I cannot say when it will happen because my job is only to warn you that if you continue to move in the wrong direction then you will self-destruct yourself. My responsibility is only to warn you that you are treading on a destructive path. (67:26)  قُلْ إِنَّمَا الْعِلْمُ عِندَ اللَّهِ وَإِنَّمَا أَنَا نَذِيرٌ مُّبِينٌ – Tell them: "The knowledge about when the doom would come rests with Allah alone. But I can tell you for certain that the outcome of your erroneous way of life shall be very destructive; and this doom is bound to come."

The final goal of humanity is provided by divine revelation

As mentioned several times above, Allah’s Revelation (Deen) defines the final destination of humanity’s goal and it provides the straight and balanced path (الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ) that will take the humanity to the proper destination (1:6). But humans adopted different ways based on their own short term selfish interests. Of course, therefore, they cannot reach the proper destination. But humanity recognizes the correct destination and never says that it is wrong; it never says that honesty and integrity is wrong; it never says that establishing a system in which all humans have equal dignity is wrong. They recognize and accept that these are universal values; and these are good for humanity. 

The United Nation (UN)’s Charter

The UN’s charter is proof that the world accepts these universal values to be true today. No one said that it is wrong to implement a system in which all human beings (as of right) are entitled to equal dignity and respect. We can say the universal permanent values are the Imam of life which are far ahead in the future life of humanity. These values define the final destination that the human caravan needs to travel towards in its life.

The Revelation reduces the burden for humanity

If humans could create a group with the attributes that the Prophet (PBUH) and Companions (R) had developed, the Quran’s promised revolution will appear in perceptible form in few weeks and months instead of hundreds or thousands of years if the cosmic forces alone were to do it without the support of humans. Allah says that His one day could be one thousand years or fifty thousand years of humans. History is witness that the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions (R) imbibed the attributes of Allah in their character and then they created revolution to establish the Deen based on universal values which started happening in days. So, if human effort works in harmony with Allah’s Deen and His commandments to establish Quranic values in human society, then the supreme results that Allah has promised start happening in days, i.e., thousand years get compressed in days. 

Muslims Fail, Not Islam

Since Muslims are not working on these divine goals by imbibing the attributes of Allah in their character, the results will happen in terms of Allah’s days which could be thousand years long or even fifty thousand years long in terms of human scale. So, it is the Muslims who have failed, not the Islam. Islam is working but it is working on a cosmic scale which is completely imperceptible to humans. That is why humans have failed to recognize it. That is, they are involved in self-deception. This has gone into their subconscious mind. This requires deep pondering in terms of psychoanalysis because they are not ready to accept their mistakes. Instead, they indulge in the blame game. So, they are slandering Islam in the world.

عبادت (ʻibādat)- Worship or Obeying Allah's Order?

In my view, the evil-trio (Kings, Religionists, and Parasite Capitalists) deliberately twisted the meaning of عبادت (ʻibādat) to worship – instead of its real meaning which is to obey Allah’s order, which is to adopt the obedience of Allah by establishing His Deen practically – because this treacherous trick helped them get entrenched in society as the custodians of Islam in the eyes of the people; although they are the ones who have driven people away from Islam in the name of Islam; they are the ones who have driven people away from the Prophet (PBUH) in the name of the Prophet. The people are under self-deception that, by worshiping Allah and performing the religious rituals, they will go to heaven. On the other hand, the Quran says that all the Messenger of Allah were His true obedient servants (including Musa (PBUH) and Harun (PBUH)): اِنَّهُمَا مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ (37:122). 

We have to believe in all divine messengers 

We are asked to believe in all Messengers of Allah whether mentioned by name or not in the Quran.

وَاِنَّ اِلْيَاسَ لَمِنَ الْمُرْسَلِيْنَ 

(37:123) – And, verily, Elias (Ilyaas) was also one of Our Messengers. 

Many of the Messengers are mentioned in Surah 6 (Al-An’am) including name of Ilyaas:

 وَوَهَبْنَا لَهٗٓ اِسْحٰقَ وَيَعْقُوْبَ ۭ كُلًّا هَدَيْنَا ۚ وَنُوْحًا هَدَيْنَا مِنْ قَبْلُ وَمِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِهٖ دَاوٗدَ وَسُلَيْمٰنَ وَاَيُّوْبَ وَيُوْسُفَ وَمُوْسٰي وَهٰرُوْنَ ۭوَكَذٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِيْنَ  ; وَزَكَرِيَّا وَيَحْيٰى وَعِيْسٰي وَاِلْيَاسَ ۭكُلٌّ مِّنَ الصّٰلِحِيْنَ 

(6:84-85) – And We bestowed upon him Isaac and Jacob; and We guided each of them as We had guided Noah aforetime. And out of his offspring, [We bestowed prophethood upon] David, and Solomon, and Job, and Joseph, and Moses, and Aaron: for thus do We reward the doers of good; and [upon] Zachariah, and John, and Jesus, and Elijah: every one of them was of the righteous. [Asad]


 قُوْلُوْٓا اٰمَنَّا بِاللّٰهِ وَمَآ اُنْزِلَ اِلَيْنَا وَمَآ اُنْزِلَ اِلٰٓى اِبْرٰھٖمَ وَاِسْمٰعِيْلَ وَاِسْحٰقَ وَيَعْقُوْبَ وَالْاَسْبَاطِ وَمَآ اُوْتِيَ مُوْسٰى وَعِيْسٰى وَمَآ اُوْتِيَ النَّبِيُّوْنَ مِنْ رَّبِّهِمْ ۚ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ اَحَدٍ مِّنْھُمْ ڮ وَنَحْنُ لَهٗ مُسْلِمُوْنَ 

(2:136) – Say: "We believe in God, and in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, and that which has been bestowed upon Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and, their descendants, and that which has been vouchsafed to Moses and Jesus; and that which has been vouchsafed to all the [other] prophets by their Sustainer: we make no distinction between any of them. And it is unto Him that we surrender ourselves." [Asad]  

The Quran goes further and says that Allah had sent Messengers to all the people of the worlds. Messengers were sent to every town and village throughout the world. 

The Quran is the only protected and unchangeable Book in the world 

All the divine books that the Messengers gave to their people no longer exist today except the final Book of Allah, the Quran. Allah says that the Quran encompasses the message of all the previous divine books. So if any group that believes in their previous book, happens to follow a message that is in conformity with the Quran then we can say that it is correct. However, if it is against the Quran then we will say that the original message has been changed. And since, their original books are no longer extant, it is not possible to check it. It means that its followers changed the original message because the Quran contradicts it. The only Book that exists today without any change is the Quran because Allah took the guarantee to protect it (15:9). So, Muslims can easily check their current beliefs and practices as to whether or not these are in conformity with the Quran. 

The message of the Quran is for all humankind

Allah says in the Quran about the Quran that it is the Guidance for all humankind: اِنْ هُوَ اِلَّا ذِكْرٌ لِّلْعٰلَمِيْنَ (38:87) – This message is a guidance for the whole of humanity. Whoever adopts this code will attain the pleasantries of life. But if Muslims do not pay any heed to this, it will bring no harm to this code of Laws, as it is not for you people alone. 

And since Allah says in the Quran that He has sent Messengers to every community in the world, so Muslims should respect the founders of other religions because they might have been Messengers of Allah but their people may have twisted their divine message and inserted their own thoughts. So, the people may be practicing the wrong thing but Muslims should give the benefit of doubt that their founders may have been divine messengers and therefore they should not blame the founders of their religion. In fact, Muslims should tell them that if they really want to follow a divine message then they should come to the Quran and study themselves, and if they are convinced, then they should follow its message. 

Balance between the material and the human world is called Islam

The Quran emphasized that conquering the forces of nature is just one part of the Deen of Islam. The second part of the Deen deals with humankind and its guidance: the part that is not related to the human body but with human affairs and society – its problems and its solution. This is the part that needs the guidance of Allah’s revelation. By combining the two parts we get the complete Deen: i.e., 1) Live harmoniously with  nature and 2) Spending the benefits thus obtained according to Allah’s revelation (وحی) for the welfare of entire humankind – this then becomes Islam, which includes both these parts. The result is: To make this world where human beings work to lead their lives under universal welfare, justice, and peace.

  Category: Audiences, Faith & Spirituality, Featured, Highlights
  Topics: Quran, Soul (Nafs)  Values: Knowledge, Wisdom
Views: 1853

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