(Translated from Ghamidi's Mizan by Shehzad Saleem)
The basic premise of religion is that this world has a creator; He has created this world as a trial; thus He has sent man in this world for a specific period of time; at the conclusion of this period, this world will necessarily end and its earth and heavens shall be replaced by a new earth and new heavens; a new world will then come into being. All mankind shall be raised up there and shall be rewarded or punished on the basis of their beliefs and deeds.
Religion requires us to accept this reality. Obviously, it is essential that such a reality be very well known to man. Consequently, from the very first day of creation the Almighty has made arrangements that no one should be able to deny this reality on the basis of knowledge and intellect, and this reality should remain so evident before people that those who deny it would not be able to present any excuse before the Almighty on the Day of Judgement.
How was this reality communicated to people such that they were not left with any excuse to deny it? The Qur'an informs us that an acknowledgement of the providence of the Almighty is found innately in man's nature. It says that this matter manifested itself in the form of a pledge. The Qur'an refers to this event as a real-life incident and not something metaphorical. Since man has been sent here for trial, the whole incident has been erased from his memory; however, its essence is etched on his heart and ingrained in his soul and nothing can obliterate it. Consequently, if man is reminded of it in the absence of any hindrance in his surroundings, he leaps to it the way a child leaps to its mother even though it never saw itself emerge from her womb and is drawn towards her with such conviction as if it already knew her. A person feels that this pledge of his with the Almighty was the answer to a very natural need found within him. The Qur'an says that this testimony of man's inner-self is so undeniable that as far as the providence of God is considered, man will be held accountable before God merely on the basis of this testimony:
وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِن بَنِي آدَمَ مِن ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَى أَنفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتَ بِرَبِّكُمْ قَالُواْ بَلَى شَهِدْنَا أَن تَقُولُواْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَذَا غَافِلِينَ أَوْ تَقُولُواْ إِنَّمَا أَشْرَكَ آبَاؤُنَا مِن قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا ذُرِّيَّةً مِّن بَعْدِهِمْ أَفَتُهْلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ الْمُبْطِلُونَ وَكَذَلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الآيَاتِ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ (7: 172-174)
And remember when your Lord brought forth from the loins of the progeny of Adam their childrenand made them testify against themselves. He said: "Am I not your Lord?" They replied: "We bear witness that You are." This We did lest you should say on the Day of Judgement: "We had no knowledge of that," or present the excuse: "Our forefathers had already adopted idolatry and we later became their children so will You destroy us on account of what these false-doers did?" [We have fully explained things here] and thus do We explain Our revelations [so that people are left with no excuse to deny the truth] and so that they may return to the right path. (7:172-174)
Same is the case with good and evil. A person has innate knowledge of good and evil. The Qur'an says: وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَنْ زَكَّاهَا وَقَدْ خَابَ مَنْ دَسَّاهَا (91: 7-10)(And the soul bears witness and the perfection given to it. Then [God] inspired it with its evil and its good, 91: 7-10). In some other verses of the Qur'an, this aspect is referred to by the words:إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ (76: 3) (We inspired in him the way of good and evil, (76:3)) and (90: 10) وَهَدَيْنَاهُ النَّجْدَيْنِ(Have We not shown him both the paths? (90:10)). In the above quoted verses, the Qur'an has made it clear that just as the Almighty has blessed a person with eyes to see and ears to hear, similarly, he has blessed him with a moral faculty which distinguishes good and evil for him. This aspect of our soul as per which it can be called the reproaching soul which admonishes us like a preacher on an evil committed springs from this faculty. Thus we see that distinguishing good from evil and the awareness that good is good and evil is evil are universal realities which no one can deny. The Qur'an says that after this testimony of a person's inner-self, no one can deny reward and punishment. It says:
لَاأُقْسِمُ بِيَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِوَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالنَّفْسِ اللَّوَّامَةِأَيَحْسَبُ الْإِنسَانُ أَلَّنْ نَجْمَعَ عِظَامَهُبَلَى قَادِرِينَ عَلَى أَنْ نُسَوِّيَ بَنَانَهُبَلْ يُرِيدُ الْإِنسَانُ لِيَفْجُرَ أَمَامَهُيَسْأَلُ أَيَّانَ يَوْمُ الْقِيَامَة فَإِذَا بَرِقَ الْبَصَرُوَخَسَفَ الْقَمَرُ وَجُمِعَ الشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُيَقُولُ الْإِنسَانُ يَوْمَئِذٍ أَيْنَ الْمَفَرُّكَلَّا لَا وَزَرَإِلَى رَبِّكَ يَوْمَئِذٍ الْمُسْتَقَرُّيُنَبَّأُ الْإِنسَانُ يَوْمَئِذٍ بِمَا قَدَّمَ وَأَخَّرَبَلِ الْإِنْسَانُ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ بَصِيرَةٌوَلَوْ أَلْقَى مَعَاذِيرَهُ (75: 1-15)
[They think that the Day of Judgement will never be]; By no means! I present as evidence the Day of Judgement itself. And [they think that the Day of Judgement is a far-fetched reality]. By no means! I present as evidence this reproaching soul [within you]. Does man think that We will not be able to bring together his bones? Why not? We can put together his very finger tips. [No this is not so]; in fact [the truth is that] man wants to be mischievous before his [conscience]. He asks: "When will the Day of Judgement be?" But on the day when the sight is dazed and the moon eclipsed and the sun and the moon brought together, this very man will say: "Whither to flee?" – No! there is no refuge now! Towards your Lord that Day is the resting place. On that Day will man be informed what he sent forth and what he left behind. [No, he cannot deny it]; in fact, he himself is a witness upon his own self however much he may put up excuses. (75: 1-15)
Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while explaining this argument of the Qur'an, writes:
Now the question is that if a person has a guardian within his conscience which chides him on every evil that emanates from him, then how can it be imagined that man will be not be held accountable for his deeds. Why would he go scot-free if he spends a life in whatever manner he wants to while negating the calls of his conscience? If a person will not be held accountable for his deeds, then where has this chiding conscience come into him from? If his Creator is unconcerned about the good and evil which emanates from him, then why and from where has He given him the feeling of being elated at a good deed and being pricked by his conscience at a bad one? Then from here another question arises: If God has set up a miniature court of justice in every person, then why will He not set up a greater court of justice which will hold the whole world accountable for good and evil which emanate from it and not reward and punish people accordingly? Any person who deliberates on these questions while disregarding his desires will reach the conclusion that the very being of a person bears witness that he has innate knowledge of good and evil; he will not be left unaccountable; there definitely shall come one day when he will be punished for any misdeeds he may have done and be rewarded for his good deeds. To remind a person of this very Day, the Almighty has placed a miniature court of justice within a person's soul so that man does not remain indifferent to it, and if ever he becomes indifferent he can catch a glimpse of it by merely reflecting on his inner-self. It is this very reality which sages have taught us by saying that man is a miniature world and within this miniature world there is a reflection of the greater world. If a person has a true comprehension of his own self, he is able to comprehend both God and the Hereafter.
Besides this innate guidance, man has also been equipped with the ability of deriving conclusions from what he hears, sees and feels – conclusions which are actually beyond these faculties. A simple example to illustrate this is the law of gravitation. An apple falls on the ground. When a stone is to be lifted from ground, strength must be exerted. It is difficult to ascend stairs than to descend them. The moon and the stars move in the skies. Man has been witnessing all these phenomena for centuries until it was Newton who discovered that they are a result of the law of gravitation. This law itself cannot be observed; however it is accepted as a scientific reality in the whole world. The reason for this is that all theories and known facts are in harmony with it. All observable realities are explained by this law and as yet no other law is able to explain various phenomenon as it has done.
This process obviously is the derivation of the tangible from the intangible. When a person makes use of this ability of his and studies the universe which stretches around him, then this study of his also vouches for this very reality found in his inner-self.
Thus he sees that everything of this world is a miraculous manifestation of creativity; everything has deep meaningfulness; it has been created with great diligence and thoroughness; there exists amazing wisdom, planning, usefulness and order; there are found superb mathematical and geometrical realities whose only justification is the fact that they have a Creator and this Creator is not an uncontrolled and unrestrained being. On the contrary, He has an unfathomable mind. This is because if power does not emanate from a wise and all-knowing being, then it should be mere tyranny; the truth of the matter is that this is not so: this expression of power and strength has aptness about it; it is also very harmonious and is very advantageous and produces great marvels which cannot be produced by an uncontrolled and unrestrained force.
This is an indisputable reality; however, there are some other realities also besides it.
Man observes that each object of this world has some purpose and every object seems to be tied to its purpose; however, collectively one is not able to see the purpose of this world. Viewed thus, it appears to be fairy-tale of God and much like a play land of Nero, the Roman emperor.
Man observes that every thing through its very existence proclaims that it has been created for him, but nothing in this world tells him his own purpose of creation.
Also one is not able to see any system which judges if human beings have or have not fulfilled the purpose, if ever there is one, for which they have been created.
Man is innately aware of the fact that he should be held accountable for each favour he has been blessed with; however, he has been left in this world without any such accountability. Thus when he dies, he calmly leaves this world without giving any account of these favours.
To make people adhere to truth and justice is the need of mankind but man is not able to see any real motive for this in himself or in the world around him. Then the circumstances of this world negate what his conscience desires. It is his natural instinct that justice and oppression and good and evil must be discriminated; however, in this world this natural instinct of his is flouted in the worst possible way. Thus, there are many people who have left this world without being rewarded for their good deeds and there are many who have left this world without being punished for their evil deeds.
Contrary to all other creations, man possesses an awareness of the future; however, this future always eludes him.
Hidden within him are great desires, but seldom are they fulfilled and more often than not his wishes are not materialized. So much so, the intense desire of observing God running the affairs of this universe once he professes faith in Him is never fulfilled in this world.
Man is not able to go to the extent his imagination can take him. He wants to pierce the skies, penetrate the earth and infiltrate into his own soul as far as he can. To satisfy his ambitions he has tried to explore the skies and split the atom; however, all this effort has only proven to him that he cannot realize all the potentials of his imagination.
He is always searching for a world in which he can liberate himself from the sorrows and hardships of this world and from its limitations and live a life of happiness and contentment. This desire is found in him since time immemorial. However, he is never able to obtain this sought after world of his; on the contrary, he takes to his grave these cherished desires.
Every single word which a person speaks and every single deed that emanates from him are being safely recorded so that they can be recalled whenever required. All his good and evil thoughts are also permanently noted. The passage of time and change in circumstances do not affect these records. However, what is the purpose of this arrangement? Nothing in this world answers this question.
The personality of a human being has an existence of its own which is independent of his being. The innumerable cells from which his body is made keep dying and are replaced every now and then; however, his real personality always remains intact. His knowledge, memory, ambitions, habits and thoughts all remain the same, and are in no way altered by this cycle. Then where does this personality come from and where does it go? We are unable to answer this question too.
Millions of planets, much larger than the planet man inhabits, exist in the universe but there appears no trace of any life in them. Then why have they been created? Man does not know.
These are some of the questions which perturb a person to the utmost; however, as soon as one gets to know that the Hereafter exists all these questions get an answer and all voids are filled and all known phenomena are explained and everything becomes set in its place; the world now seems to be complete, which in the absence of the Hereafter it did not; the real grandeur of this universe is thus revealed; man can now die with the certainty that whatever he was not able to obtain before his death, he will definitely obtain it after his death; he too will be blessed with the certitude and the calm which is found in the universe; he will be given an eternal world in which he can realize his innumerable and unending desires and where, on the one hand, there will be the eternal Paradise of pleasure, finesse and meaningfulness, and, on the other, the Fire of Hell where the evil will endure their punishments.
As a result, the relationship between this world and the next is that of what each member of a pair has with the other. Consequently, if causes have been joined with effects, potentials with their devices, natures with their intentions and souls with bodies and as a result are presenting a meaningful whole, then the Hereafter too is one member of the pair of which the other member is the Herein and both complement one another and become meaningful:
وَمِن كُلِّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقْنَا زَوْجَيْنِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ (49:51)
And We have made pairs of everything so that you may take heed. (51:49)
It is at this instance when one's intellect is compelled to accept and acknowledge God and the Hereafter just as it acknowledges information obtained through deduction as scientific facts. After this, the heart of every sensitive person shudders at the concept of accountability and it is as if he sees the Day of Judgement before his very eyes. He sees that the earth and the heavens are burdened with it in the very manner a pregnant lady carries the burden of her child about which it cannot be said when it shall be delivered:
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ السَّاعَةِ أَيَّانَ مُرْسَاهَا قُلْ إِنَّمَا عِلْمُهَا عِندَ رَبِّي لاَ يُجَلِّيهَا لِوَقْتِهَا إِلاَّ هُوَ ثَقُلَتْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ لاَ تَأْتِيكُمْ إِلاَّ بَغْتَةً (187:7)
They ask you about the Hour of Doom: When will it come? Tell [them]: "Only my Lord has knowledge of it. None but He shall reveal it when its appointed time comes. Both the heavens and the earth are under its burden. It will suddenly overtake you." (7:187)
Consequently, a person proclaims to God: "You have not made this world without a purpose; it is against Your grand wisdom and knowledge to do something without a purpose; I know that this world is going to end on a Day of Judgement where people who thought that this world is a place of amusement for its creator will be punished. I seek refuge with You from such a fate":
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلاَفِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لآيَاتٍ لِّأُوْلِي الألْبَابِالَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىَ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذا بَاطِلاً سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ(3: 190-191)
In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are many signs for men of understanding; those who remember God while standing, sitting, and lying down, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth. [Their prayer is:] "Lord, You have not created this without a purpose. Glory be to You for you do not do anything in vain! Save us from the punishment of the Fire. (3:190-191)
Perpetuity of Knowledge
Although these testimonies were sufficient, however in order to leave people with no excuse in rejecting them the Almighty took a step further: He initiated mankind by a human being who directly heard from God, saw his angels and in this manner bore direct witness to the truth. The Almighty took this step so that after the death of Adam, the first human being, this information could be transmitted to the descendents of Adam generation after generation and so that the concept of God and the Hereafter should not become alien in any period of time, in any place on the earth and in any generation of mankind. The Qur'an says that after the creation of Adam and Eve certain superior creations were asked to prostrate before him. The objective was to tell them that it is not creation from fire or light which makes someone superior; on the contrary, real superiority lies in obedience to God. The Qur'an says that in compliance with this directive all the angels and the jinn prostrated before Adam; however Iblis (Satan) showed disobedience and refused to prostrate. After this, Adam and Eve were asked to live in an orchard where they had all the necessities of life but the fruit of one tree was prohibited to them. This tree was the tree of procreation whose fruit is the means of sustaining the existence of man in this world. The Almighty stopped them from tasting this fruit and warned that Iblis being their open foe would certainly try to make them disobey God in this matter. Consequently, this is precisely what happened and Iblis came over to them in the guise of a well-wisher and an anxious counselor and told them that the secret of eternal life and everlasting kingdom lies in this fruit from which they are being deprived. Adam and Eve were lured by these prompts of Iblis and ended up tasting the fruit while being overwhelmed with its craving – something which normally grips a person when he tastes such a fruit. It became evident from this incident that man will face the greatest trials from two of his instincts: ego and sex. They were thus directed to come out from the orchard and take their abode at some other place in the earth. At this, Adam felt ashamed and turned to God. Seeing this, the Almighty blessed them with the urge to repent and Himself revealed to him the most appropriate of words for this repentance and then forgave them. The Qur'an says:
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ أَبَى وَاسْتَكْبَرَ وَكَانَمِنْ الْكَافِرِينَ وَقُلْنَا يَاآدَمُ اسْكُنْ أَنْتَ وَزَوْجُكَ الْجَنَّةَ وَكُلَا مِنْهَا رَغَدًا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمَا وَلَا تَقْرَبَا هَذِهِ الشَّجَرَةَ فَتَكُونَا مِنْ الظَّالِمِينَفَأَزَلَّهُمَا الشَّيْطَانُ عَنْهَا فَأَخْرَجَهُمَا مِمَّا كَانَا فِيهِ وَقُلْنَا اهْبِطُوا بَعْضُكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ وَلَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مُسْتَقَرٌّ وَمَتَاعٌ إِلَى حِينٍ فَتَلَقَّى آدَمُ مِنْ رَبِّهِ كَلِمَاتٍ فَتَابَ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ (2: 34-37)
And[in order to communicate the nature of trial through which man will be put through in this world, also narrate to them the incident] when We asked the angels to bow down to Adam and they bowed down except Iblis: he refused and showed arrogance and in this manner became among the rejecters. And We said: "O Adam! dwell you and your wife in this orchard and eat freely in it from where ever you want to; but both of you! Do not go near this tree or you will become transgressors." Then did Satanmake them slip from the orchard, and had them turned out from the state they were in. And We said: "Move [out], all [you people] with enmity between yourselves and on earth will be your dwelling-place and a provision for a specified time." Then Adam learnt from his Lord some words of [repentance and then repented before his Lord through these words] and his Lord accepted his repentance. (2:34-37)
Not only this, once Adam and Eve were sent to live in this world, the Almighty, for a considerable period of time, made a means for them to know and judge if their faith and deeds were acceptable to God or not. This was like making every person of that time directly experience and observe the truth so that he too could become among the witnesses along with his progenitors. It is evident from the Qur'an (3:183) that the means adopted for this purpose was that people would offer sacrifice before God; then, as a sign of divine acceptance, fire would descend from the heavens to consume this sacrifice. The murder of Adam's son, Abel took place as result of such an incident. According to the Bible (Genesis, 4:1-12), Abel was a shepherd and Cain was a farmer. One day Cain brought forth some fruit of his land to present before God and Abel bought some first-borns of his cattle and some animal-fat. When these were presented before God, the offering of Abel was accepted and that of Cain was not. This angered the latter so much that he killed his brother Abel. The Qur'an has described this incident in the following words:
وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ ابْنَيْ آدَمَ بِالْحَقِّ إِذْ قَرَّبَا قُرْبَانًا فَتُقُبِّلَ مِن أَحَدِهِمَا وَلَمْ يُتَقَبَّلْ مِنَ الآخَرِ قَالَ لَأَقْتُلَنَّكَ قَالَ إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ لَئِن بَسَطتَ إِلَيَّ يَدَكَ لِتَقْتُلَنِي مَا أَنَاْ بِبَاسِطٍ يَدِيَ إِلَيْكَ لَأَقْتُلَكَ إِنِّي أَخَافُ اللّهَ رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ إِنِّي أُرِيدُ أَن تَبُوءَ بِإِثْمِي وَإِثْمِكَ فَتَكُونَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ النَّارِ وَذَلِكَ جَزَاء الظَّالِمِينَ فَطَوَّعَتْ لَهُ نَفْسُهُ قَتْلَ أَخِيهِ فَقَتَلَهُ فَأَصْبَحَ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ (5: 27-30)
And recount to them in all truth the story of Adam's two sons when each made an offering, and the offering of one was accepted while that of the other was not. He said: "I will kill you." The other replied: "God accepts offerings only from the righteous. If you raise your hand to slay me, I shall not raise mine to slay you; for I fear God, Lord of the Universe. I want that you should incur my sin and yours and thus become an inmate of the Fire and such is the punishment of the unjust." At last, his soul prompted him to slay his brother; he slew him and thus became among the losers. (5:27-30)
Testifying of the Prophets
In spite of this arrangement, when people started to deviate from the truth, the Almighty appointed certain noble souls from mankind as prophets so that they could bear witness to the truth before the people on the basis of divine revelation. These prophets of God by becoming an embodiment of the truth both in the message they preached and in their deeds warned the disbelievers of their fate and gave glad tidings of God's eternal kingdom of heaven to the believers. Divine books were also revealed to these prophets so that people may be able to resolve their differences through them and are able to adhere to justice regarding the truth:
كَانَالنَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللَّهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمْ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ (2: 213)
[They present differences among people as a pretext for their hypocrisy. They should know that initially] mankind was one community. [Then differences surfaced between them]. So God sent forth prophets as bearers of glad tidings and as warners,and with these He sent down His Book as the decisive truth so that it may settle these differences between men. (2:213)
Some of these prophets were elevated to the status of messengers. The Almighty blessed them with extra-ordinary miracles, helped them through Gabriel and before the actual Day of Judgement set up through these messengers miniature Days of Judgement on this earth. The objective was to prove the existence of God and the Hereafter before the people in the very manner scientific facts are proven through empirical evidence in a laboratory. After this, obviously no one is left with an excuse before the Almighty to not accept the truth.
The methodology adopted for presenting this empirical evidence was that these messengers communicated the truth to their people and then declared that they will set up a court of justice for their people on behalf of the Almighty. The reward and punishment on the basis of one's faith and deeds which they have been informed of will take place for their people in this very world. Just as physical laws are unalterable and manifest come what may, in the same manner this moral law of God shall manifest itself before them once they are left with no excuse to deny the truth. Thus those among the people of these messengers who accept their calls shall attain salvation both in this world and in the next and shall be dominant on their adversaries. And those who reject these calls shall be humiliated and will receive divine punishment. Whenever this prediction was made and about whichever people it was made, it was made in the most impossible and unbelievable of circumstances; however, it is an amazing historical reality that it came true whenever it was made and came true in such a manner that people in fact witnessed God administering justice and the heavens and the earth were filled with His majesty and grandeur. The Qur'anic words used are: (4:165) لِأَلَّا يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى اللَّهِ حُجَّةٌ بَعْدَ الرُّسُلِ (so that mankind after the coming of these messengers is left with no excuse against the Almighty, (4:165)). Then, as a general principle, it was stated:
وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولٌ فَإِذَا جَاء رَسُولُهُمْ قُضِيَ بَيْنَهُم بِالْقِسْطِ وَهُمْ لاَ يُظْلَمُونَ (47:10)
And for each community there is a messenger. When their messenger comes, their fate it decided with justice and they are not wronged. (10:47)
It is evident from the Qur'an that the first instance of this worldly judgement took place with the people of Noah (sws). Noah (sws) had warned them that if they do not give up polytheism and worship God only, they will soon be confronted with a punishment which would wipe them out from the face of the earth. His people responded by saying that it is because of this very stance of his that they think that he has gone far astray. They said that Noah (sws) had insulted their forefathers and now he even has the audacity to warn them of divine punishment. They expressed that only the lower cadres of the society were blindly following him. Noah's rejoinder was that it was their misfortune if they were considering him to have gone astray; he continued that he had come to them as a messenger of God and whatever he was informing them of he was informing them on the authority of God without any slightest of alteration; it is the message of God that he is delivering to them and he is doing so as a great well-wisher of them. If he is proclaiming to them this message in spite of their stubbornness, indifference, derision and animosity then it is only because he is fearful and sad that the Almighty might seize them for their misconduct.
The Qur'an says that Noah (sws) continued to urge and exhort them to the truth for almost nine hundred and fifty years; however, after in spite of this prolonged effort when his people rejected him and were not ready to reform themselves, the Almighty directed him to make a boat. This was in fact an ultimatum to the people that as soon as the boat is built the respite they have been given would end. Consequently, when the boat had been made and all the believers embarked on it, a tumultuous storm ensued. The earth was directed to expel all its water on the surface and the sky was directed to rain down all its water. The water rose and stopped at the appointed mark and all of his people were drowned in it. Even Noah's son, Canaan, drowned because of his arrogance. The whole sight was serving a great warning to onlookers. Winds were blowing all around. Rain was thumping down. Waves as tall as the mountains were rising up. Noah's boat was battling with these gigantic waves when suddenly Noah (sws) saw his son standing overwhelmed with awe and wonder. Paternal love stirred at this sight and he called out to him that there is still a chance to board the boat and leave the rejecters. However, even this dreadful scenario was not enough for him to give up his stubbornness. He replied that he would seek refuge in some mountain. Noah (sws) warned that this is not mere water that he is facing: it is the wrath of God and no one except God can save him from it. While this conversation was going on, a huge wave came and swept his son away. All other rejecters of Noah (sws) also reached the same fate. This was the equitable judgement of the court of God. Only the believers were shielded from its punishment.
This was the first miniature day of judgement that took place to leave people with no excuse to deny the Almighty and the Hereafter. After this, every nation of the world encountered these miniature days of judgement. The accounts of 'A%d, the Thamud, the people of Shu'ayb (sws), the people of Jonah (sws) besides some other nations which have been mentioned in the Qur'an depict this very judgement. The Qur'an says:
أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ نَبَأُ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ قَوْمِ نُوحٍ وَعَادٍ وَثَمُودَ وَالَّذِينَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ لاَ يَعْلَمُهُمْ إِلاَّ اللّهُ جَاءتْهُمْ رُسُلُهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ فَرَدُّواْ أَيْدِيَهُمْ فِي أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَقَالُواْ إِنَّا كَفَرْنَا بِمَا أُرْسِلْتُم بِهِ وَإِنَّا لَفِي شَكٍّ مِّمَّا تَدْعُونَنَا إِلَيْهِ مُرِيبٍ قَالَتْ رُسُلُهُمْ أَفِي اللّهِ شَكٌّ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ يَدْعُوكُمْ لِيَغْفِرَ لَكُم مِّن ذُنُوبِكُمْ وَيُؤَخِّرَكُمْ إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُّسَـمًّى قَالُواْ إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلاَّ بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُنَا تُرِيدُونَ أَن تَصُدُّونَا عَمَّا كَانَ يَعْبُدُ آبَآؤُنَا فَأْتُونَا بِسُلْطَانٍ مُّبِينٍ قَالَتْ لَهُمْ رُسُلُهُمْ إِن نَّحْنُ إِلاَّ بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ وَلَـكِنَّ اللّهَ يَمُنُّ عَلَى مَن يَشَاء مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَمَا كَانَ لَنَا أَن نَّأْتِيَكُم بِسُلْطَانٍ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِ اللّهِ…وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ لِرُسُلِهِمْ لَنُخْرِجَنَّـكُم مِّنْ أَرْضِنَآ أَوْ لَتَعُودُنَّ فِي مِلَّتِنَا فَأَوْحَى إِلَيْهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ لَنُهْلِكَنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ وَلَنُسْكِنَنَّـكُمُ الأَرْضَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ خَافَ مَقَامِي وَخَافَ وَعِيدِ (14: 9-14)
Have you not heard what befell those that have gone before you? The people of Noah, 'A%d, and Thamud, and those who came after them whom only God knows? Their messengers came to them with clear signs, but they placed their hands on their mouths [-- the mouths of messengers--] and said: "We will not accept the message with which you have been sent and have baffling doubts about that which you call us to." Their messengers said: "Do you have doubts about God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth? He calls you to Him that He may forgive you your sins and give you respite till an appointed time." They said: "You are but a human being like ourselves. You wish to stop us from worshipping the deities our fathers worshipped then bring us a clear miracle." Their messengers replied: "We are indeed but mortals like yourselves. Yet God bestows His grace on such of His servants as He chooses and we do not have any authority of our own to present a miracle except by God's permission …" At last these rejecters told their messengers: "Return to our ways or we will banish you from our land." Then their Lord revealed to them, saying: "We shall destroy these wrongdoers and then give you this land to dwell after them. [These are glad tidings for] those who are fearful of standing before me [one day] and those who fear My threats." (14:9-14)
The account of Moses (sws) related in the Qur'an is also a depiction of this worldly judgement. When he presented the message of God before the Pharaoh and his supporters and they rejected this message, he demanded from them to let him and his people migrate from the land. The Pharaoh, however, did not accept this demand just as he did not accept his message. At this, the Almighty sent portent signs one after the other to admonish him after which he, with great hesitation, allowed them to go for a few days. However, when Moses (sws) set off with his people, he changed his opinion and embarked upon their pursuit with his armies. He thought that he would be able to compel them to return. However, the time had come for the decree of God to arrive. Hence the judgement was delivered and was delivered with such majesty that it seemed as if the Almighty took them in His custody and made them cross the river while this potent ruler of his times and his armies were drowned in it. Then within this great sign of God appeared another great sign: the corpse of the Pharaoh was not accepted by the river and was thrown out so that this could become a means of admonition and a lesson for tyrannical rulers of all times:
وَجَاوَزْنَا بِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْبَحْرَ فَأَتْبَعَهُمْ فِرْعَوْنُ وَجُنُودُهُ بَغْيًا وَعَدْوًا حَتَّى إِذَا أَدْرَكَهُ الْغَرَقُ قَالَ آمَنتُ أَنَّهُ لا إِلِـهَ إِلاَّ الَّذِي آمَنَتْ بِهِ بَنُو إِسْرَائِيلَ وَأَنَاْ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ آلآنَ وَقَدْ عَصَيْتَ قَبْلُ وَكُنتَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ فَالْيَوْمَ نُنَجِّيكَ بِبَدَنِكَ لِتَكُونَ لِمَنْ خَلْفَكَ آيَةً وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ النَّاسِ عَنْ آيَاتِنَا لَغَافِلُونَ (10: 90-92)
And We led the Israelites across the sea, and the Pharaoh and his legions pursued them with wickedness and spite. Until when the Pharaoh started to drown, he cried: "I profess faith in the God in whom the Israelites have professed faith and I also am among His obedient people." "It is now that you have professed belief and before this you were a rebel and a mischief doer. We shall now save your body only so that you may become an exemplary sign for all posterity and in reality many remain indifferent to Our signs." (10:90-92)
A further step was taken in this regard by the Almighty that after Abraham (sws), He made his progeny a symbol of this worldly judgement. It was thus declared that if the progeny of Abraham (sws) stand by the truth and present with full clarity the truth the way it is before other people of the world, then they will be made dominant over these people in case they do not accept the truth, and if the progeny of Abraham (sws) deviates from the truth they shall suffer the humiliation of subservience through these very people of the world. The mountain of Olive and the village of Phig located on it and the mount Tur at Sina and the city of Makkah are places where this worldly judgement took place for various nations and peoples. It is the mountain of Olive on which the punishment of the rejecters of Jesus (sws) was declared after his departure. The Almighty (Qur'an, 3:55) declared that those who have professed faith in Jesus (sws) will always remain dominant on the Israelites, and at various periods of history there will be people who will dominate them and give them humiliating punishments (Qur'an, 7:167). Fig is a village situated on this mountain. In the Bible, it is referred to as Beth Phage. Here the word "Phage" is actually the word "Fig". It is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke (19:29) that when Jesus (sws) came to Jerusalem, he stayed at this place before entering the city. It is known that it was on the mount of Sinai that the Israelites were constituted as an ummah. Makkah was the place where the Ishmaelites began their life as a collectivity and it was here that they were given the custodianship of the Baytullah, the first centre of worshipping God made on this earth. The Qur'an has presented them as witnesses to this Judgement with the declaration that what is it that can negate the Day of Judgement after witnessing this wordly Judgement:
وَالتِّينِ وَالزَّيْتُونِ وَطُورِ سِينِينَ وَهَذَا الْبَلَدِ الْأَمِينِ لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَاهُ أَسْفَلَ سَافِلِينَ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَلَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ فَمَا يُكَذِّبُكَ بَعْدُ بِالدِّينِ أَلَيْسَ اللَّهُ بِأَحْكَمِ الْحَاكِمِينَ (95 :1 - 8)
The fig and olive bear witness and [so does] the mount of Sinai and this secure city of [yours] that We have created man [at these places] in the best of moulds. Then We reverted him to the lowest [position] when he himself wanted to become low. Save those who accepted faith and did righteous deeds. For them shall be a reward unending. Now [O Prophet!] what is it that denies you about the Day of Judgement? [Ask them] is not Allah the best of Judges? (95:1-7)
The last time this miniature Day of Judgement took place was in seventh century AD. This amazing event of human history occupies extra-ordinary significance because it took place in the light of known history. Thus the minutest of the details about it are preserved and all its phases are before us and anyone can witness them by turning the pages of history.
The prophet who was selected for this was Muhammad (sws). As regards character and morality, he is unrivalled in the annals of mankind and was among the best of all men. He was designated as a prophet at the age of forty. Prior to this, his life was so morally outstanding that he was called sadiq (the truthful) and amin (the trustworthy) by his people. Each and every person of his nation was ready to bear witness that he was unflinching in his truthfulness and trustworthiness and nothing could contest them in any way and that he could never lie. Even after being designated as a prophet his people at all instances always bore witness to these aspects of his character even though they had become his dreadful enemies.
When for the first time he received divine revelation and he expressed his worry to his wife on this experience, she while comforting him said: "By God! Allah will never humiliate you because you are always kind to your kin and are always truthful and you bear the burdens of others; you earn for the poor and are generous to the guests and help those in distress."
He never sought revenge from anyone for his ownself. So much so, even after subduing his greatest foes, he told them: "You are free, and I will not seize you."
His life was an unrivalled example of selflessness. The Quraysh offered him wealth, leadership and even their headship but he totally declined them and said: "If people place the sun on one hand of mine and the moon on the other, I will not give up my stance."
As the head of the Islamic state in Madinah, he led the simplest of lives. In spite of this great change in his circumstances, he did not change his standard of living by the slightest.
In short, he was an outstanding person in every sphere and period of his life. Not a single example can be quoted in human history, in which a person in his practical life so perfectly adhered to the ideologies and objectives he set for himself. Wahid al-Din Khan, a celebrated scholar of contemporary times, says: "So lofty was he as a human being that if he had not been born, historians would have written that a person who has such a personality as described above can only exist in fantasy and not in reality."
The book which was revealed to him is a miracle in itself. It is the only book which has challenged its addressees who think that it is not divine and that it has been fabricated by Muhammad to bring forth a discourse which in its grandeur resembles any of its surahs. If according to their contention Muhammad (sws), who is an individual among them, without having any academic and literary background can produce such a discourse, then it should not be difficult for them to produce something similar.
This challenge of the Qur'an is indeed an amazing one. It meant that the Qur'an is the sort of discourse which human intellect can in no way produce. It says that the Qur'an is unique and unsurpassable as far as its lucidity, articulacy and style is concerned. It was a challenge in which its addressees were required to produce a discourse in which one could see God speaking in the manner He is in the Qur'an, who should explain to mankind the realities whose explanation is a very strong need for them and which have never been explained by any human discourse, who should guide them in spheres about which there is no other means for obtaining guidance. They should bring forward a discourse about whose veracity one's intuition bears witness and about whose truthfulness established facts derived from knowledge and reason bear confirmation – a discourse which enlivens dead hearts the way rain enlivens barren lands and which has the same effect as every word of the Qur'an has on a person who knows its language.
History tells us that no one ever has dared to meet this challenge of the Qur'an:
وَإِنْ كُنتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَى عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُوا بِسُورَةٍ مِنْ مِثْلِهِ وَادْعُوا شُهَدَاءَكُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ إِنْ كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ فَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلُوا وَلَنْ تَفْعَلُوا فَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ وَبَشِّرْ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا (2: 23-24)
And if you are in doubt about what We have revealed to Our servant, then [go and] produce a single surah like it. And [for this purpose] also call your leaders besides Allah, if you are truthful [in your claim]. But if you cannot – and surely you cannot – then fear the Fire whose fuel is these men [who do not believe] and these stones also [whom they worship]. It has been prepared for these rejecters. (2:23-24)
Not only this, various parts of the Qur'an were presented before people at various instances in about twenty three years; Not a single contradiction in the views presented in it can be found in all its corpus. Is it possible that for years a person should give speeches on a variety of topics in different situations and circumstances and when these speeches are compiled from the beginning to the end they form such a harmonious and congruous discourse that it has no contradiction of views and does not reflect any the effects of mood change of the speaker and also does not depict and revision or change of views? Only the Qur'an has this characteristic:
أَفَلاَ يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ غَيْرِ اللّهِ لَوَجَدُواْ فِيهِ اخْتِلاَفًا كَثِيرًا (82:4)
Do they not ponder on the Qur'an? And [in reality] if it had come from someone other than God, they would have found in it many contradictions. (4:82)
Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… So sound and well-knitted is every idea of the Qur'an, both in its principle and in the corollaries of these principles that even the formulae of Arithmetic and Geometry are not as sound and well-knitted. So connected and linked are the beliefs it teaches that if any one of these beliefs is removed the whole chain and sequence falls apart. The rituals of worship and other directives it gives spring from beliefs just as branches spring from a stem. The deeds and morals it instructs its followers to follow emanate from their principles in a manner natural and obvious consequences emanate from something. The system of life which comes into existence as a result of its overall teaching is like that of a lead-cemented wall in which each and every brick is attached to each other in a manner that it cannot be separated from the other except if a gap is created in the whole structure.
This Book of God is still with us. Fourteen centuries have passed ever since it was revealed. During this period, our world has undergone tremendous changes. Many ideologies and thoughts were presented by man only to be rejected later by him. Theories regarding man's being and those regarding the universe around him were put forth every now and then. Each underwent a process of acceptance or rejection at various periods of time. His intellectual journey took him through various paths and destinations; however, this Book of God is the only book which is as unassailable and sound today regarding the various facts it presents and which have remained under academic discussion in the last two centuries as they were fourteen centuries ago. Knowledge and intellect helplessly acknowledged its superiority at that time the way they do today. Every statement it has given has stood the test of time. The world, in spite of its astounding scientific and academic discoveries, has failed to present a better alternative to the views it presents:
وَبِالْحَقِّ أَنزَلْنَاهُ وَبِالْحَقِّ نَزَلَ وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلاَّ مُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا (105:17)
And We have revealed it with the truth and it is revealed with the truth, and [O Prophet!] We have only sent you so that you can give glad tidings [to those who believe] and warn [those who reject]. (17:105)
Through this Book, Muhammad (sws) called upon his people to profess true faith in God and in the Hereafter; however, they refused to accept it. He warned them that he is not merely a prophet (nabi), he is a messenger (rasul) also and has been sent by God to set up a miniature Day of Judgement in this world for his people if they deny him even after being convinced of his veracity. This miniature judgement will be in line with and of the same sort which was delivered to the people of Noah (sws), Lot (sws), Shu'ayb (sws), Salih (sws) and Hud (sws) by their respective messengers.
This was an extra-ordinary declaration. It meant that those who would reject him would be punished by God and those who professed faith in him would necessarily prevail in the land of Arabia. When this declaration was sounded, except for a few close companions, he had no other supporters. Later also, he faced perilous times during the course of his struggle. His companions had to migrate to Abyssinia to seek refuge from the hostility of their enemies; they had to vacate Makkah forever and when they reached Madinah, the whole of Arab united to eliminate him and his message. Means such as power, money, propaganda and internal conspiracies were adopted to sabotage his mission. Every instant it seemed that enemies would be able to overpower and seize the Prophet (sws). In these circumstances, it was very improbable that he would be able to prevail over his enemies; however, the Qur'an in every situation assured him that he is the messenger of God and, in spite of all this antagonism, God will have him prevail over his enemies:
بُرِيدُونَ لِيُطْفِؤُوا نُورَ اللَّهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَاللَّهُ مُتِمُّ نُورِهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَى وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ (61: 8-9)
They seek to extinguish the light of God with their mouths and God has decided that He will perfect His light, much as the unbelievers may dislike it. It is He who has sent forth His messenger with guidance which is the religion of truth so that he may have it prevail over all religions [of Arabia], much as the idolaters may dislike it. (61:8-9)
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحَادُّونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ فِي الأَذَلِّينَ كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَأَغْلِبَنَّ أَنَا وَرُسُلِي إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ (58: 20-21)
Indeed those who are opposing Allah and His Messengerare bound to be humiliated. The Almighty has ordained: "I and My Messengersshall always prevail." Indeed Allah is Mighty and Powerful. (58:20-21)
The Baytullah was a sign of leadership for the people to whom the Prophet (sws) was sent. They were its custodians. No one could even imagine that one day he would remove them from its custodianship and the leadership of the Quraysh would one day be humbled before him. This was because of the extent of influence they commanded in Makkah and in its whereabouts. However, right at the instance they were planning to turn him out of Makkah, the Qur'an declared:
إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ (108: 1-3)
Upon you [O Prophet!] have We bestowed this abundance of good [this House of Ours]. So pray only for your Almighty and offer sacrifice only for Him. Indeed, it is this enemy of yours who is rootless: none of his followers will remain. (108:1-3)
Then these compact words were explained and after naming Abu Lahab as the biggest foe of his call, the Qur'an asserted:
تَبَّتْ يَدَا أَبِي لَهَبٍ وَتَبَّمَا أَغْنَى عَنْهُ مَالُهُ وَمَا كَسَبَسَيَصْلَى نَارًا ذَاتَ لَهَبٍوَامْرَأَتُهُ حَمَّالَةَ الْحَطَبِفِي جِيدِهَا حَبْلٌ مِنْ مَسَدٍ (111: 1-5)
The hands of Abu Lahab have been broken and he himself has perished. Neither did his wealth benefit him nor the [good] he earned. Soon shall this man [of glowing countenance] be put in a glowing Fire and [with him] his wife also such that [in Hell] she will be carrying firewood on her back [for her own self]; [like a slave woman], there will be a twisted rope round her neck. (111:1-5)