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Lesson - 19
"Surely Allah disdains not to set forth any parable
a gnat or anything above that. Then as for those who believe, they
know that it is the truth from their Lord; and as for those who
disbelieve, they say: What is it that Allah means by this parable?
Many He leaves in error by it and many He leads aright by it. And
He leaves in error by it only the transgressors, Who break the covenant
of Allah after its confirmation and cut asunder what Allah has ordered
to be joined, and make mischief in the land. These it is that are
the losers. How can you deny Allah and you were without life and
He gave you life? Again, He will cause you to die and again bring
you to life, then you shall be brought back to Him.
He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth. And He
directed Himself to the heaven, so He made them complete seven
heavens; and He is Knower of all things." Ch. 2:26-29
Weakness of false deities
You may remember that in the beginning of this segment which was
discussed in the preceding lesson; a collective challenge was given
to those who question the authenticity of the Holy Quran as the
word of God. It was stated:
‘if their assertion that the Holy Quran was a fabrication
of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him
) was true, (we seek the refuge of Allah from saying so), then
it behooves them to produce the equivalent of its smallest chapter,
and to call on all their helpers in this matter, except Allah.’
No one accepted this challenge, but a new objection was put forward.
It was said that there was nothing extraordinary about the Holy
Quran, for it contained examples of very trivial things. The parables
which led to this objection are those speaking of the weakness of
the false deities; as seen in these verses:
"The parable of those who take guardians besides Allah is
the parable of the spider that makes for itself a house, and surely
the frailest of the houses is the spider’s house" (29:41)
"O people, a parable is set forth, so listen to it. Surely
those whom you call upon besides Allah cannot create a fly though
they should all gather for it; and should the fly carry aught
from them, they could not take it back from it: weak are the invoker
and the invoked" (22:73).
Instead of the spider and the fly, the verses under discussion
today mention the gnat to characterize this objection. This is because
the ba‘udah, or the gnat, is among the Arabs
a proverbially weak creature, so that to express the utmost degree
of weakness they say, ‘weaker than the gnat.’
In verse 29:41, the Holy Quran compares those who associate
with Allah to a spider that spins an intricate web for a dwelling.
The weak nature of that structure becomes evident, when it gets
blown away with a gust of wind. Those who associate with Allah also
weave a very intricate and complicated web of their beliefs, and
spend a great degree of effort in doing so. Like the spider’s web,
it is also very fragile and gets blown away with a single assault
of truth. The parable of the fly is used similarly in verse 22:73
to describe the weakness of these false deities. The critics when
they noted these examples, sarcastically remarked as to what kind
of a Divine word was this which gave the example of such lowly creatures
as the spider and the fly. To this the Holy Quran replies that those
who believe, recognize these examples to be the truth (that it is
the truth from their Lord, Rabb), and know that He has used
these parables to nurture mankind from a lower to a higher stage
of existence. The true word, no matter how trivial, is very useful
and essential, if it serves to elevate man from the lowly stage
of associating with God, to the higher spiritual realm of monotheistic
belief. Belief illuminates a man’s soul in a manner that
he can recognize the relevance of such examples. Those who disbelieve
(the Arabic word for disbelief, kufr, means covering over),
cover their intellectual faculties, and thus fail to use them appropriately.
As a consequence of this, they fail to understand such examples
and therefore raise objections. These are otherwise very simple
and easily understood parables, which illustrate in a very effective
manner the absurdity of associating with Allah.
Guidance of the Holy Quran
The words of the Holy Quran which follow, "Many He leaves
in error by it-- yu-dhilo bi-he kasirun," are also the
object of their criticism. They interpret the Arabic word yu-dhilo
as leading astray and thereby conclude (we seek the refuge
of Allah from saying so) that the Holy Quran leads astray a large
number of people. Such objections can only be raised by those who
become intellectually so blind, that while leveling such criticism
they totally disregard the whole text of the Quran. In fact, the
Holy Quran at the outset in reply to the prayer of Al-Fatihah
"This Book there is no doubt in it, is a guidance
for those who guard against evil" (2:1).
There are in addition frequent statements in the Holy Quran calling
it the, ‘Guide for all mankind.’ It is also called, ‘Guidance and
Light,’ i.e., it possesses the complete guidance and light which
illuminates the spiritual path in such a manner that he who treads
on it cannot falter in his course and direction. Quite contrary
to this, the devil is said to be:
These verses make it quite clear that the Arabic word idh-lal
(and its various forms) when used in terms of leading astray is
applicable only to the devil, or those who follow him. The other
meaning of Idh-lal is to find someone erring or to
declare one in error. For example it is said, ‘ the Holy Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came upon a nation and
found it in idh-lal (astray). No one using his common
sense would translate this as the Prophet leading those people astray.
Another example of this is that if some one’s camel is lost, in
Arabic they would say, ‘Adh-lal tul ba-hir.’ No one
translates this as meaning, that person led his camel astray. In
fact it means the camel lost its way and could not be found. An
Arab poet in one of his poetic verses remarks, ‘I got drunk to the
point that my friend declared me to be the one gone astray (adh-al-lani
sidd-i-qi).’ Thus the meaning of the word idh-lal
as, ‘to be found astray,’ or ‘to declare as having gone astray,’
is the sense in which it has been used in the verse being discussed
in this lesson. Allah, by means of this Holy Quran declares many
to be in error and many are led in the right direction by it.
"surely he is an enemy, openly leading astray (mu-dhi-lun)"
"And certainly he led astray (adh-a-la)
numerous people from among you" (36:62)
"And those who disbelieve will say (on the Day of Judgment):
Our Lord show us those who led us astray (adh-a-la-na)
from among the jinn and the men that we may trample them under
our feet, so that they may be of the lowest" (41:29).
It is the distinctive quality of this Holy Book, that it informs
and warns those who have gone astray, and many of these find the
right way. It then identifies those who are astray, as being the
transgressors. A transgressor is the one who exceeds the limits
of the religious law or shariat. Every religion gave its
legal code, and in this matter the religious law of Islam is explicit
and complete. Those who dislike such limitations, and disregard
them, become the transgressors. For example the religious law instructs
us to earn an honest living. Those who use dishonest means, are
the transgressors. These are, according to the Holy Quran, therefore,
the ones who, after having been guided in the right direction, went
The Covenant of Allah
The other group of people who are labeled as transgressors are
those who broke the covenant of Allah after it was made firm. The
Holy Quran has identified this covenant in the following verses:
"And when thy Lord brought forth from the children
of Adam, from their loins, their descendants, and made them bear
witness about themselves: Am I not your Lord? They said: Yes ; we
bear witness. Lest you should say on the day of Resurrection: We
were unaware of this" (7:172).
This bond or covenant which is ingrained into the soul of every
human child, male or female before his birth, is called the natural
covenant. Human nature thus bears witness to this relationship with
the Creator. The reason given for creating this bond is to ascertain
that man, when he meets Allah on the Day of Judgment, is not able
to deny having knowledge of Him. In some of my earlier lessons I
have given examples of atheists, such as leaders of the communist
world, who spontaneously admitted to the existence of the Divine
Being in unguarded moments. The other component of this covenant
is the natural inclination of mankind towards worship of One God.
This is why during moments of spontaneity or urgency, man cries
out for God’s assistance, although under normal circumstances he
may associate others with Him. Man is, therefore reminded of the
testimony of his own nature on the Oneness of the Divine Being,
so that on the Day of Judgment he does not try to vindicate himself
by blaming his forefathers for innovating the associates with God.
As regards this covenant, we are further informed that the transgressors,
after bearing witness to it and its confirmation, become responsible
for breaking it. This confirmation is brought through Divine revelation
which comes to confirm both the existence of God and the Oneness
of His Being.
The worst example of those who transgress is given in the words:
"Who break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation
and cut asunder what Allah has ordered to be joined."
What is that which Allah has ordered to be joined? It is the same
relation or bond between man and God. All Prophets were sent to
invite man towards God and to re-establish this shattered bond.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has
been mentioned in this regard several times. For purposes of brevity,
I will mention only a few instances as shown in these verses:
"And as an inviter to Allah by His permission" (33:46)
"Say: This is my way: I call to Allah" (12:108).
Regarding Prophet Moses, the Persian saint Maulana Rum has appropriately
mentioned in one of his couplets, "The purpose of your coming
was to bond people with God." Who are the ones responsible
for breaking this bond instead of strengthening it? These are the
people who are spreading atheism on an international level, as is
being done through communism and other similar movements in the
world. Prior to this are mentioned, those who broke their own natural
covenant they had made with Allah. That is deplorable, but it is
even worse to invite others to atheism, which is what is mentioned
Consequences of transgression
Having a relationship with God strengthens one’s belief in Him.
As a consequence of this, the fear of God is generated in one’s
heart and he is saved from usurping the rights of others. When this
bond is broken, unbridled animal desires lead to uncontrolled freedom
of action; as a result of these evil acts, violation of human rights
and cruelty is committed, leading to mischief in the land. This
is the ultimate and worst category of transgressors which is alluded
to in this verse as, "and make mischief in the land."
In our western society today, we can see in living colors the
violation of various forms of such covenants, and the mischief in
the land as a result of such behavior. Initially the religious law
was discarded after being labeled a curse, and the society drifted
towards atheism. This was followed by communism, and other strong
western movements to convert others to atheism. Communism is openly
an atheistic movement which encouraged billions of people to deny
God. Besides communism, however, voices were raised from Europe
and America, and relayed in print all over the world, that there
was no God, and if there was one, He no longer exists (we seek the
refuge of Allah from saying so). Such unbridled freedom has resulted
in a general increase in evil actions, sexual decadence, violation
of human rights, disregard for the rights of the weak and cruelty
Quranic debate with the atheists
To correct this worldwide trend towards atheism, the Holy Quran
has given cogent arguments for the existence of the Divine Being.
"How can you deny Allah and you were without life
and He gave you life?"
Man’s very existence is witness to the fact that he was totally
insignificant, and was blessed with the gift of life by the Divine
Being. Why does he not ponder on the fact that a year prior to his
birth date he did not even exist? Is it not a supreme accomplishment!
that nothingness was created into life? Who evolved him from a state
of nonexistence to a life form? He obviously could not have done
it himself. Parents are merely the means, they on their own cannot
fashion, or give form to the baby, nor can they breathe life into
him. Then it is stated:
"Again, He will cause you to die."
Who wants to die? Man is however totally helpless in this matter.
There is a Being higher than him, who causes him to die, despite
all his efforts and those of others who want to save him. The Quranic
verse, however, abounds in Divine mercy, as it immediately says:
"and again bring you to life, then you shall be
brought back to Him."
It assures man not to give up hope, that he will again be given
life, to return to Allah where from he came. Man's attention is
then drawn to the fact that Allah:
"He it is Who created for you all that is in the
Man has created none of it. The farmer is the one who sows the seed,
but the seed itself is created by Allah. The earth with all its
wonders is created by Him. Take for example, the miracle of water,
who is its Creator? There is only one answer to this, it is Allah
Who does all this. It is then stated:
"And He directed Himself to the heaven, so He made
them complete seven heavens,"
thus giving the good news of progressive and everlasting spiritual
development. Man in this age of development is presumptuous of the
advances he has made in his knowledge, therefore the last statement
made in these verses is:
"and He is Knower of all things."
It becomes quite evident, that the One Who has created the earth
and all that is in it, possesses the best and most intricate knowledge
of His creation. As far as knowledge of the life Hereafter, and
its seven heavens are concerned, it is known only to Him. Allah
is the Creator of all knowledge on this earth and makes it known
to man through inspiration or Divine communication (ilham),
as we shall discuss in the next section. Knowledge about spiritual
development, the life Hereafter and the heavenly stages of its development
could certainly not have been discovered by man on his own. This
is also given to him by Allah through Divine revelation. This will
also be discussed in the next section.