The Moral Values of The Qur'an
(05 - 08)
In the Qur’an, it is stated that the unbeliever is one who neither recognizes nor appreciates the signs of Allah. The distinguishing mark of a believer is his ability to see those signs and proofs. He knows that these are not created in vain, and can realize the power and great art of Allah everywhere and find ways to revere Him. He is one of those men of sense, who "celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (and say):
'Our Lord! not for naught have You created (all) this! Glory be to You! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire.' ” (Surat Aal-e-Imran, 3:191)
At various points in the Qur’an, expressions like, “will you not take heed?”, “...there is a sign for thinking men,” lay stress on the importance of pondering upon the signs of Allah. Allah has created an endless list of subjects for reflection. Everything wesee and sense in the heavens and on the earth and in between is indeed a manifestation of Allah’s creativity and, as such should be food for thought. One of the verses gives the example of these divine blessing of Allah:
“With it He produces for you corn, olives, date palms, grapes and every kind of fruit: verily, in this is a sign for those who give thought.” (Surat an-Nahl, 16:11)
Let us think for a moment of one of the above mentioned items: the date palm. The tree, as is well known, grows up from a seed out of the earth. From this tiny seed (a seed is not even 1 cubic centimetre in size), arises an enormous wooden mass of 4-5 metres long and hundreds of kilograms in weight. The only thing that the seed can use while constituting this great mass is the earth in which it is buried.
How can a seed know how to form a tree? How can it "reason" to decompose the necessary substances in the soil to create wood? How can it predict the required shape and structure? This last question is especially important, because it is not an ordinary wooden piece that emerges from the seed. It is a complex living organism with roots for assimilating substances from the earth, with veins and with branches that are perfectly organized. A human being has difficulty in drawing even a picture of a tree, while on the contrary a simple seed can produce such an extremely complex object by merely using the substances in the soil.
This observation concludes that a seed is extremelyintelligent and wise, even more so than we are. Or to be more precise, there is an amazing intelligence in what a seed does. But what is the source of that intelligence? How can it be possible for a seed to have such intelligence and memory?
No doubt, this question has a single answer: the seed is created by being endowed with the ability to form a tree, that is, it is programmed so in advance. Every seed on earth is encompassed by Allah and grows within His knowledge. In one of the verses it is stated:
“With Him are the keys of the unseen, the treasures that none knows but He. He knows whatever there is on the earth and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but with His knowledge: there is not a grain in the darkness (or depths) of the earth, nor anything fresh or dry (green or withered), but is (inscribed) in a record clear.” (Surat al-An'am, 6:59)
It is Allah who creates the seed and causes it to spring forth as a new plant. In another verse it is said:
“It is Allah Who causes the seed-grain and the date-stone to split and sprout. He causes the living to issue from the dead, and He is the one to cause the dead to issue from the living. That is Allah: then how are you deluded away from the truth?” (Surat al-An‘am, 6:95)
The seed is merely one of the numerous signs that Allah has created in the universe. If men begin to think not only with their minds but also with their hearts, and ask of themselves, the questions “why” and “how”, they will be able to understand that all of the universe is the proof of the existence and power of Allah.
6. Being Careful
As we stated at the beginning, Allah created the universe to show the signs of His Creation. However, the unbelievers cannot understand this fact since they do not have the ability to “see” this divine purpose. As the Qur’an expresses it: “They have eyes with which they do not see.” (Surat al-Araf, 7:179). With their materialistic vision, they do not have the wisdom and comprehension to grasp this important reality.
Believers are quite different from this “blind” category, because they realise and accept that the whole universe is created by Allah with a certain aim and wisdom. This belief is the first step of faith. As faith and wisdom increase in parallel with each other, they will begin to be able to identify every detail of Allah’s Creation.
In the Islamic tradition, progress in faith is in three steps: ilm-el yakin (being informed), ayn-el yakin(seeing), and Hakk-el yakin (experiencing).
An example of rain is given to explain these steps. There are three stages in acknowledging that it rains. In the first stage (ilm-el yakin), while someone sits in his home, with his windows shut, somebody coming from outside tells him that it rains, and he believes him. The second stage, ayn-el yakin is the stage of eye-witnessing. The person goes to the window, opens the curtain and sees that it rains. In the stage of Hakk-el yakin, he opens the door, goes out of the house, and there he is; "in" the rain.
Being careful is a prayer in action to proceed from the stage of ilm-el yakin to the stage of ayn-el yakin and even more.
Seeing the signs of Allah and not being “blind” like the unbelievers, require a high degree of concentration. In the Qur'an, the believers are called to observe and notice the signs of Allah around them and this is only possible by being careful:
“See you the seed that you sow in the ground?Is it you that cause it to grow, or are We the Cause?” (Surat al-Waqia, 56:63-64)
“See you the water which you drink? Do ye bring it down (in rain) from the cloud or do We?” (Surat al-Waqia, 56:68-69)
And Allah states in another verse that the blind could not be held equal to the seeing and asks "Will you then consider not?" (Surat al An'am, 6:50)
One should train oneself to recognize the signs of Allah and should always keep them in mind. Otherwise, the mind will start to wander, jumping from one topic to another, wasting time in thinking about useless things. This is a kind of unconsciousness; you cannot control your mind when you lose your concentration in Allah. You cannot focus on a subject. Indeed, you cannot conceive the truth behind events, nor can you ever have the competence to affect the course they take. On the contrary, your mind is directed by stray happenings. You are “bewildered” all the time, which is not the attribute of the believer, but of the unbeliever.
“... if anyone assigns partners to Allah, it is as if he had fallen from heaven and been snatched up by birds, or the wind had swooped and thrown him into afar-distant place.” (Surat al-Hajj, 22: 31)
Believers, on the other hand, are the ones who direct their minds better to perceive Allah, and who try in better ways to serve His religion. They free their minds from any vain thoughts, and whenever they become aware of the appeal of Satan, they rescue themselves, just as is described in the Qur’an;
“Verily, those who are the pious, when an evil thought comes to them from Satan, they remember Allah, and (indeed) they then see (aright)”.(Surat al-A’raf, 7:201)
Therefore, the believers should be careful to keep their minds free of useless thoughts, and never lose the thread of what is happening around them, they should always be on their guard.
7. Goodness in All
All things are created with wisdom and with an ulterior purpose. In consort with this ulterior purpose, there are benefits for the believers in all happenings. Because Allah is on the believers’ side and does not let them down.
Encounters in life may at first seem unfavourable for the believers. However, one should understand that even seemingly dire events, for example, a plot of hatched against them by the unbelievers, will ultimately turn out well for them. Allah will sooner or later let them savour His beneficence so, believers should be completely sure that there is goodness in all.
There are many examples of this kind of situation in the Qur’an; the life of Yusuf (Joseph) is one of the most remarkable. In his childhood, Yusuf had been thrown down to the bottom of a well by his brothers. He was later rescued and then accused and imprisoned, even though he was innocent. For a person withoutfaith, these incidents may be thought of as the greatest misfortunes. Nevertheless, Yusuf always kept in mind that these could only happen under Allah’s direction and that all would certainly turn out for the better. And this proved to be true. Allah turned the “disasters” to good account; Yusuf was released from prison and in time became one of the governors of that land.
The situation with Yunus (Jonah) was no different. He fled to a laden ship, where, to retain his place, he drew lots. When the draw proved unfavourable, he was thrown into the sea where he was swallowed by a gigantic fish. The Qur’an informs us that he was rescued and was sent to a “nation a hundred thousand men or more,” only because he had glorified Allah.
“Had he not been of them who glorify Allâh, He would have indeed remained inside its belly (the fish) till the Day of Resurrection. But We cast him forth on the naked shore while he was sick, And We caused a plant of gourd to grow over him. And We sent him to a hundred thousand (people) or even more. And they believed; so We gave them enjoyment for a while.” (Surat as-Saaffat, 37:143-148)
All these examples given in the Qur’an teach us that the events which seems to be a “misfortune” are not really so for the believer. If he puts his trust in Allah, seeks refuge in Him and asks help only from Him, then nothing will be a matter of regret for him. Allah does create certain difficulties, but they are only to put man to the test and to strengthen believers’ loyalty and faith.
The opposite holds true for the unbelievers. Nothing in this life can be good for them. Things that strike them as delightful or pleasant are indeed “misfortunes”, and these will increase their torment in the Hereafter. Anything that they achieve unjustly is entered in their record, and for this they will ultimately be responsible. On this score the Qur’an records Allah’s commandments:
“And let not those who covetously withhold of that which Allah has bestowed on them of His Bounty think that it is good for them. Nay, it will be worse for them; the things which they covetously withheld shall be tied to their necks like a collar on the Day of Resurrection. And to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is WellAcquainted with all that you do.” (Surat Aal-e-Imran, 3:180)
8. Death is near
The members of the profane society are basically ignorant, negligent and shallow. Their lives are not based on common sense or logic. On the contrary, they live with vain and false beliefs, and follow conjectures that end with fallacies. One of these is their belief about death. They believe that death is something even not to be thought about.
What they really expect is to escape from it by ignoring it. By not thinking about it, they believe that they can elude it. But this is just like the ostrich who puts her head in the sand in order to escape from the danger. Ignoring danger does not make it disappear. On the contrary, the person at risk will certainly encounter danger, but without having made any preparations for it, will, in consequence receive a much bigger shock— unlike the believers who ponder on and prepare themselves for this important reality, the truth of which has been experienced by all thepeople who have ever lived. Allah, therefore, admonishes the unbelievers in the following verse:
‘The death from which you flee will surely meet you, then you will be sent back to (Allah), the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen, and He will tell you the things that you did.” (Surat al-Jumua, 62:8)
Death is not a “disaster” which should be forgotten, but an important lesson that teaches people the real meaning of life. It should therefore be the subject of profound thought. The believers ponder deeply on that great reality with sincerity and wisdom. Why do all people live for a period of time and then die? All created beings are mortal, and this shows that they are powerless and unable servants of Allah. Allah is the only owner of life; all creatures have come to life by Allah’s Decree and will ultimately die by Allah’s Decree. On this the Qur’an declares:
“All that is on earth will perish: But will abide (Forever) the Face of your Lord,- full of Majesty, Bounty and Honour.” (Surat ar-Rahman, 55:26, 27)
Everyone will die, but none can predict where and when that will be. Nobody has any guarantee that he will be alive the next minute. Therefore believers should behave as if they are to die at any moment. Thinking about death will help believers increase their sincerity and fear of Allah and they will always remain conscious of what awaits them.
In the Qur’an, the significance of keeping death in mind is expressed in the following verse:
“We granted not to any human being immortality before you, then if you die, would they live forever? Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial. To Us you will be returned.” (Surat al-Anbiya, 21:34-35)