THE WORD OF GOD
From The Scriptures
The Quran is the book of God. It has been preserved in its entirety since its revelation to the Prophet of Islam between 610 and 632 AD. It is a book that brings glad tidings to humankind, along with divine admonition, and stresses the importance of man’s discovery of the Truth on a spiritual and intellectual level.
Translated from Arabic and commentary by
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Before you also, the Messengers We sent were but [mortal] men to whom We vouchsafed revelation. Ask the People of the Book, if you do not know. [We sent them] with clear signs and scriptures. We have sent down the Reminder to you, to enable you to make clear to mankind what has been sent down to them, so that they may reflect upon it. (16: 43-44)
The People of the Book’ (ahl az-zikr), refers to those who have a knowledge of historical facts relating to past peoples and past prophets. What had to be ascertained from them was not about truth or untruth: they were to be asked about whether the prophets appearing in past ages were human beings or not. The fact that the Prophet Muhammad was a human being was treated by the people of Makkah as evidence of his not being the Prophet of God. They were told to ascertain from the communities among whom prophets had been appearing (just as in the case of the Jews) whether the prophets who appeared among them were human beings or angels.
A prophet appears for the purpose of ‘reminding’. This reminding is, in fact, done with the help of arguments. However, it is also necessary for the preacher to prove himself to be absolutely serious in this regard. If a man makes people aware of Heaven and Hell, but at the same time engages in such activities as prove him to be flippant about Heaven and Hell, his dawah efforts will become ridiculous in the eyes of the people.
However, even if the call of the preacher is of a high standard and is presented in a perfect manner, it will benefit only those who pay attention to it. Those who do not pay attention can never be benefited by the call of truth.
Do those who devise evil plans feel secure that God will not make them sink into the land, or that a punishment will not come upon them from where they least expect? Or that He will not seize them suddenly in their daily activities and they will not be able to frustrate Him? Or that He will not punish them by giving them a fright? Indeed, your Lord is kind and merciful. (16: 45-47)
This verse pertains to the last stage of the Makkan period when the opponents of the Prophet Muhammad were conspiring to kill him. The Prophet is God’s representative on God’s earth. Therefore, hatching such a conspiracy against a prophet must necessarily be the handiwork of such persons as are absolutely fearless of God’s retribution. The fact is that God is the Possessor of such control over man that He can cause him to be buried deep in the earth if He so desires, or He may wreak vengeance on him at the very place which he considers safe; or God may seize him in the course of his activities and he will not be able to save himself. God may even seize upon him when he is conscious of the risk and fully aware of the situation.
In short, God may seize upon man at any time and in any situation. If He sees people doing mischief, yet lets them go unpunished, they should not become fearless, because His restraint is due to His consideration of ‘test’ conditions and not to His being powerless.
Have they not observed the things God has created, casting their shadows right and left, prostrating themselves before God in all humility? Everything in the heavens and all the creatures on the earth prostrate themselves before God, as do the angels, and they do not behave proudly: they fear their Lord above them, and do what they are commanded. (16: 48-50)
Man indulges in arrogance in a world where all the things surrounding him are teaching him lessons in obedience. For example, the shadows of material things. The shadow of a thing standing erect falls on the ground. In this way, it symbolizes kneeling down (sajdah). It shows symbolically how a man should bow down before his Creator.
Though angels are not visible to man, the running of this immense universe in the most regulated manner proves that the agents appointed by God to run it are extremely powerful. These angels, in spite of being extraordinarily powerful, are totally obedient to God. If they were not so, the system of the universe would not function continuously with so much precision and uniformity.
In view of this, to be entirely correct in his behaviour, man can do no other than surrender himself to God, do obeisance to Him and become His most obedient subject.
God says, ‘Do not take two gods. He is only One God. So fear Me alone.’ To Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and on the earth, and obedience is due to Him alone. Will you then fear anyone other than God? (16: 51-52)
God has warned man through His prophets that he should not hold to any god except the one and only God. The God of this universe is only one. Man should fear only Him; he should be obedient to Him alone. If a man fully realizes that it is God who is the sole Creator and Lord of all, and that his life completely depends upon Him, the feeling that develops in him as a result of this realization is fear of God (taqwa).
Eternal obedience is the due of God alone in this heaven and earth. Everything here is completely bound by divine law. In such a world, to pray to or to worship or to repose hope in anybody else is absolutely irrational. The present universe is such that it completely rejects ascribing partners to God (shirk).