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Lesson 42

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Lesson - 42


"Allah — there is no god but He, the Ever-Living, the Self-subsisting by Whom all subsist. Slumber over-takes Him not, nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him but by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them. And they encompass nothing of His knowledge except what He pleases. His knowledge extends over the heavens and the earth, and the preservation of them both tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Great."

Ch. 2:255

The verse quoted above is the famous verse also known as Aayat-ul-Kursi (verse of Knowledge). Its excellence has been described in the Hadith of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and emphasis has been laid upon its recitation after the obligatory prayers. In the previous lesson I had mentioned that the Holy Quran tells us that the object of man's creation is not to earn wealth (as we so clearly observe around us in the world today), but to find Allah and strive for closeness with Him. There is no greater treasure than this. Love of amassing wealth and avarice can so influence man's heart and mind that his entire life is consumed by it, and he departs from this world empty handed. The perpetual search and love of wealth makes a man heedless of his spiritual development. In fact, it breeds immorality which results in criminal behavior, robbery and even murder.

Why Islam does not encourage monasticism as a way of life

For this reason, other religions, besides Islam, have condemned wealth, and consider worldly involvement as being extremely dangerous for man's spiritual development. They feel that the way to salvation is through becoming a monk, a nun or an ascetic. There are few individuals, however, who give up the worldly ways and the rejection of such monastic behavior by the majority of the human race indicates that it is contrary to human nature. If all human beings had become monks and nuns, human development would have been impossible, and the human race would have become extinct, as a result of the celibacy practiced by these orders. In addition, even spiritual and moral development is not possible in monasticism, as I will show later on.

Islam, is the natural religion of mankind. It does not prohibit any natural desire of man, but only urges their control as a necessary means to his moral and spiritual development. Let us, for example, consider the matter of wealth. Those who reject affluence and become hermits in a monastery or a temple, not only by their action declare worldly progress as unlawful, but also deprive themselves of many higher moral values. For example telling the truth in face of adversity, when it could be much easier to tell a lie, is an excellent moral and spiritual quality. A person secluded in a monastery, or a cave does not have the opportunity to face such a choice, and is therefore unable to develop such an excellent moral quality. Similarly honesty is an excellent moral and spiritual quality which can only be acquired if one gets involved in worldly affairs, earns wealth, and has the opportunity to be dishonest, or earn wealth by unfair means. If one rejects dishonesty and deceit even when money is desperately needed, virtue of honesty evolves in him in its true color, and excellent form. Similarly moral qualities, like purity and chastity cannot be developed by locking oneself in a convent, or a monastery. These higher moral values can only be developed when men and women while living together in the world and meeting, prefer chastity and purity in the face of all sorts of attractions.

There are great opportunities for men and women to attain higher moral values in the role of a husband and wife, or that of parents. For example, a husband who earns sustenance for his wife and off springs, and sacrifices his just needs to fulfill their needs is reflecting the Divine attribute of nurturing unto perfection. Similarly, a mother who deals with her children mercifully despite their shortcomings and weaknesses, and who sacrifices and faces hardship to provide them with all kinds of comfort, creates the color of beneficence and mercy of Allah in herself.

Wealth as a means of spiritual development of mankind

I can give hundreds of such examples, but I would like to revert to the subject of wealth mentioned in the preceding verse, which we discussed in the last lesson. Other religions have considered the acquisition of wealth as a barrier to communion with Allah. Islam, however, is distinctive in showing wealth to be a means of achieving closeness with God. Allah provides mankind with wealth through His attributes of being the Lord of the worlds (Rabb-il-aalameen), the Beneficent (Ar-Rahman), and the Merciful (Ar-Raheem). Even the most destitute of human beings is provided with considerable wealth if all the free blessings like water and air that Allah provides are counted. Allah has permitted man to earn as much wealth as he can with three preconditions. Firstly, the acquisition of wealth must be by honest means and all unlawful means must be strictly shunned, even if it means starvation. Secondly, wealth must be shared unhesitatingly with the indigent, the orphans and those in need, in line with Allah's attribute of beneficence, whereby Allah gives to all of mankind, without their having done anything to deserve it. In particular, wealth is to be spent generously for the need of religion, which includes importantly the defense and propagation of Islam. Failure to do so is culpable before Allah, as repeatedly stated in the Holy Quran. Thirdly, while earning wealth, man should not forget that this is not the real purpose of his creation, which in reality is communion with God. The way to accomplish this is to inculcate the Divine attributes within oneself by spending one's wealth in accordance with Divine injunctions. For example, by spending on one's wife, children, poor relatives, neighbors, widows, orphans, the indebted, and others in need, one inculcates the Divine attributes of nurturing, beneficence and mercy.

Thus, wealth becomes the means of developing the Divine within man. Despite this, acquisition of wealth is not the purpose of man's life, but the lofty objective for which man, the best of creation was created, is communion with Allah. This is the greatest treasure of all. Only those who establish such a relationship with God can fully comprehend what a treasure and blessing it is to know God. This is why the prophets, saints, and the righteous servants of Allah ,after receiving this greatest and most excellent treasure, regard worldly wealth and riches as of no consequence.

The purpose of man's creation in the words of a righteous servant of Allah

The Reformer (Mujaddid) of the fourteenth century Hijra, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed of Qadian was one such saintly person who had communion with Allah. I would like for you to read what he has written in a state of ecstasy on achieving such closeness with Allah. He states:

"How unfortunate is that person who still does not know that he has a God Who is One, and Who has power over all things. Our paradise is our Lord. Our greatest pleasures lie with Him, because we saw Him, and found every excellence within Him. This treasure is worth taking even if one has to lay down one's life for it. This precious jewel is worth buying, even if one has to relinquish one's self for it. O Deprived ones! quicken your pace towards this fountain, for it will quench your thirst. It is the fountain of life which will save you. What can I do to focus your attention towards this good news? With what kind of drum beat should I proclaim in the streets that 'This is our God,' so that people would listen? What medicine should I prescribe for their ears so that they hear this message? If you give yourself up to God, then be certain that He will be yours. While you slumber, He lies awake for you. When you are unaware of your enemy, God will watch him, and destroy his plans. You do not know yet, the Omnipotence of your God. If you knew about it, you would never grieve for this world. Does he, who owns a treasure ever scream, or cry, or become despondent on the loss of a penny? If you knew that God will help you in time of need, then why would you, knowing about this treasure, be besides yourself in pursuit of worldly gain? God is a beloved and precious treasure. Be cognizant of His blessings; He is your Helper in every step you take. You are nothing without Him, nor are your means and schemes of any consequence.

Do not follow the example of other nations who totally rely on their means. Like the serpent eats dust, they have consumed the dirt of their earthly resources; like dogs and vultures, they have partaken of the carrion. They have receded far away from the Lord. They worship human beings, eat of the swine and consume wine like water. By totally depending on their means and not asking for God's help, they have died a spiritual death, and the heavenly spirit has left them like a dove that has flown away from its nest. Their spirits are infected with the leprosy of materialism which has cut off their inner faculties. You should fear this disease. I do not prohibit you from relying on your means with moderation. What I forbid you is to become total slaves to your means like other nations and forget God, Who is the Provider of these means. If you possess real insight, you would perceive that God is the only truth, all the rest is of no consequence." (Kishti-e-Nuh, pages 19-20).

You will find a further glimpse of this enlightened concept of the Divine Being presented above by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmed in the verse of the Holy Quran known as the aayat-ul-Kursi, which will be the subject of my next lesson.
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