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Lesson 26

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Lesson - 26

Al-Baqara

"In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, and the ships that run in the sea with that which profits men, and the water that Allah sends down from the sky, then gives life therewith to the earth after its death and spreads in it all (kinds of) animals, and the changing of the winds and the clouds made subservient between heaven and earth, there are surely signs for a people who understand." Ch. 2:164

The true meaning of worship of One God

This is verse 164 of Al-Baqarah. Verse 136, preceding this states:

"And your God (Ilaha) is One God ; there is no God but He! He is the Beneficent, the Merciful."
The Arabic word, Ilaha, which stands for God in this verse, has a very comprehensive meaning which is thus explained.
  1. He is the One Who deserves to be worshipped with complete submission.

  2. This submission should be born out of love. Allah does not benefit from such love and obedience from mankind, but it is man himself who reaps the benefit in the form of Spiritual advancement brought about by the nurturing unto perfection of the Lord (rabubiyat). Man can thus become a recipient of the blessings that Allah has prepared for him. A person should, therefore submit to his greatest Benefactor out of love, not only because of His countless blessings, but also for the simple reason that he who shows obedience out of love, stands to benefit most from his Patron. For example, the child who considers his parents as his benefactors and obeys them with love, benefits most from their nurturing and guidance. The one who obeys with reluctance, and only on compulsion, fails to benefit fully from such direction.

  3. The third meaning of the word Ilaha is the One Who is the goal of oneís life, and is therefore sought after as such. The purpose of manís creation is to search and find the Divine Being, and to establish a relationship with Him. He who submits to Allah, gets close to Allah by developing the color of His attributes which evolve from such submission and thus establishes a relationship with Him.

In the verse:

"And your God (Ilaha) is One God; there is no God but He! He is the Beneficent, the Merciful,"
the main stress is laid on the Unity of the Divine Being, and this is the basic distinctive feature of the religion of Islam. In this verse, it is also stated He is Beneficent, and in another place it is stated:

"The Beneficent taught the Quran"(55:1-2).

Just as His Beneficence has provided for all our physical needs without our asking, it has also provided for our spiritual need by revealing the Holy Quran, whose object is to inform man about the purpose of his creation, and to guide Him towards the Creator. As a result, the incorrectness and falsity of polytheism which had taken hold of the world was dispelled by the Holy Quran, and monotheism was re-established once more, on this earth to stay till the Day of Judgment. Allah is also Merciful. Those who follow the Quranic injunctions will be blessed with everlasting spiritual life, happiness, joy and contentment in this world, and the Hereafter. This verse also contains forceful arguments in support of the principle of Unity of God. Man cannot serve two masters at the same time, and there is no one more Beneficent and Merciful, or more deserving of our love than Allah, on account of His Benevolence. Man, therefore cannot make it the purpose of his life to attain closeness to more than one God. For example, the one who wanders around in search of two different locations at the same time, will fail to find his destination particularly if his real destination is neither of those two locations.

Signs of the existence and Unity of the Divine Being in the Universe

Sign of Creation of the Heaven and the Earth:

Continuing the same subject of Unity of God, our lesson today identifies the many convincing signs of the existence, and the Unity of the Divine Being which are present in the universe around us. The creation of the earth and the heavens is discussed first with the words:

"In the creation of the heavens and the earth."
Although our earth is full of great wonders, its position in relation to the rest of the universe is that of a grain of sand in a vast ocean. Modern scientific discovery in this matter has been truly amazing. We have found out that the distances in the universe are so large that our ordinary measures fail to gauge them. Scientists have, therefore attempted to measure these distances with the speed of light, for light is the only entity that is common between us and the rest of the universe. Light, we know travels at the speed of hundred and eighty six thousand miles per second. If we multiply this by thirty six hundred, we get the distance light travels in one hour, multiply this with twenty four, and then with three hundred and sixty five to calculate the distance covered by light in one year. This is called a light year. The estimated length of the universe is seven billion light years, and this extends in all directions. Scientists have also discovered that the universe is a single entity governed by the same laws which is a cogent argument in support of the existence of the Divine Being.

Sign of Alternation of Day and Night:

It is then stated:

"and the alternation of night and day,"
i.e., in the alternating cycle of the day and night also exist signs of the Unity of the Divine Being. Let us closely observe our own solar system within this vast creation. The immense power of the sun which generates the energy equivalent of the detonation of a hundred million hydrogen bombs every second, has been harnessed into the service of mankind in such an efficient manner that not even a slight variation can occur, otherwise it could lead to chaos in the whole solar system. All forms of life on this earth including plant, and animal life, and the existence of minerals is dependent upon the energy, and light that comes from the sun. A slight decrease in the distance of the sun from the earth could burn all that exists on the earth. Only a slight increase of this distance on the other hand would plummet temperatures to where every thing would freeze and life would become impossible. In a similar manner the moon not only provides light at night, but also affects many phases of life on earth. The rotation of the sun, moon and the earth is so well organized, that not even a variation of an inch or a second occurs in their motion. This has made it possible for the scientists to precisely calculate time and distance, thereby enabling them to land man on the moon. Although the effect of the alternation of the day and night is an extensive subject in itself, even an illiterate person can appreciate, that this phenomenon enables one to perform various activities during daylight, and to rest at night. This powerful system of heavenly bodies despite its opposing elements, and differences has been harnessed with the sole purpose of serving mankind. Is this not a sign of the existence of a Divine Being Who is the possessor of magnificent power and will?

Sign of the Ships and the Sea:

Another very intriguing argument is then given:

"and the ships that run in the sea with that which profits men."
To the casual observer it seems that the oceans have caused the division of the earth into different parts leading to various racial differences, thus forming the basis of human conflict. The ships, by establishing a connection between these separated land masses have led to the elimination of some of these differences. From these very oceans which appear to be the cause of such conflict, Allah has provided mankind with unlimited benefits. Besides being the source of fresh water which is the basis of all life, they also have a seemingly limitless supply of food. The only way to reach this food source is also by means of these ships, and ocean freighters. International trade and commerce depends on them, and they are the least expensive means of transportation of goods, and materials from one country to another. For the transfer of heavy equipment which cannot be sent by air we have to rely on sea transportation. Who evolved the natural laws of physics which enable these ships to navigate the oceans, and for whose benefit were they created?

Sign of the Life-giving Rainwater:

It is then stated:

"and the water that Allah sends down from the sky, then gives life therewith to the earth after its death."
This verse also describes a natural phenomenon which manifests strong evidence of the existence of the Divine Being. Who has created this potent connection of life and death between the earth and the heavens which do not appear to be visibly linked? When the earth becomes lifeless due to lack of moisture, who generates vapor from the brackish sea water, cools it down in the higher strata of the atmosphere, propels it by means of pressure changes and winds, and brings it down as fresh rain water? Not only does this enliven the dead earth, but also makes the water fit for the consumption of man and beast. Who created this unity of purpose between the opposing elements of the earth and the sky, the salt water of the ocean and the fresh rain water, in fact life and death itself?

Sign of Creation of animal Life:

The Holy Quran then says:

"and spreads in it all (kinds of) animals."
In this verse, attention is then drawn to the fact that the earth contains hundreds and thousands, in fact millions and billions of living organisms. Who has created this vast variety of animal life for the sole purpose of serving mankind? Does this not prove the existence, and Unity of an ingenious Creator?

Sign of the Changing Winds

This verse closes with the statement:

"and the changing of the winds, and the clouds made subservient between heaven and the earth, there are surely signs for a people who understand."
Who moves the wind currents all over the earth in such a manner that if a pressure change occurs over South America, the winds may shift from the West to the East, and cause rainfall in Asia. Similarly a weather occurrence on the South pole may affect conditions over the North pole etc.

In this profound Quranic verse, besides the cogent arguments for the unity, and the existence of the Divine Being, our attention is also drawn to the fact that all the elements mentioned in these verses, despite their impressive strength, are subservient to One God. The law that works on the earth is the same that works in the whole universe. This has been proven by modern scientific studies, and development of space programs based on the same principles of physics which apply here on earth. It is not hard to contemplate the power and majesty of the Being Who is the Creator of, and controls the universe with such powerful elements as the sun, oceans and winds. Why should man not be subservient to such a God? The Holy Quran puts it very well, that this is not difficult to understand for the one who uses his intellect.

There also lies another matter of wisdom in this Quranic statement. It tells us that all the powerful elements of nature mentioned in these verses, lack the intellectual capability with which man is blessed. With the use of this intelligence, and development of scientific knowledge, man has been able to make these powerful forces subservient to his will. The One who blessed man with such intelligence, and created all scientific knowledge, is Himself the possessor of such magnificent intellect that manís mental capabilities are insignificant in comparison. It behooves mankind, therefore to serve such a Creator without any reservations. Besides man the rest of the creation lacks such common sense, and it is therefore, subordinated to man by the Will of the Divine Being. The intelligent choice for man, which is to his own benefit, is to serve the One Who created all these forces, and harnessed them for manís benefit. This is well illustrated by the historical example of nations who made worldly progress, but lost it and were themselves destroyed, because their intelligence did not progress beyond the material and external element, and remained devoid of the spiritual insight.

History is replete with examples of the rise and fall of nations who concentrated solely on worldly progress and materialism, to the exclusion of moral and spiritual values. These nations lost their worldly glory, and their intellectual prowess which they considered to be the basis of their civilization, was destroyed.


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