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Lesson - 46
"To Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and
whatever is in the earth. And whether you manifest what is in your
minds or hide it, Allah will call you to account according to it.
So He forgives whom He pleases and chastises whom He pleases. And
Allah is Possessor of power over all things." Ch. 2:284
This is the first verse of the last section of chapter Al-Baqarah.
I will inshaallah (if Allah pleases) give a somewhat detailed
commentary on this section. The reason for this is the saying of
the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that:
"I have been given two blessings that no other prophet
has received, one is the Al-Fatihah, and the other is the
last section of Al-Baqarah."
According to another tradition this section was revealed to the
Holy Prophet, during the Mi`raj (Ascension). In any case,
this section contains a sea of wisdom, spiritual insight, and guidance
for mankind. I hope I can do justice in explaining this section.
May Allah help me in doing so, ameen (be it so).
Questions about the creation of the Universe
The following questions arise in the mind of a person who contemplates.
Who created the heavens and the earth? Who created all that is within
them, and what is the purpose of this creation? Who created man,
and for what purpose was he created? How did man get pre-eminence
over the rest of creation? Is there a Being above mankind? What
is death and what comes after it? Some of the answers to these questions
are in the verse that I have related today, and some follow later.
The first truth revealed in this verse, unknown to mankind fourteen
hundred years ago, is that the heaven we see with our eyes is not
one, but many. This is the reason why the Arabic word samawaat
(many heavens) in the plural tense is used, instead of sama'
(heaven), which is in the singular. The extent of this universe
is beyond human comprehension. Scientists have attempted to measure
the distances in the universe by the speed of light which travels
at the speed of a hundred and eighty six thousand miles per second.
To gauge the enormity of these distances it helps to contemplate
on the following simple mathematical calculation. If the distance
traveled by light in one second is multiplied by sixty twice, this
gives the distance traveled by light in one hour. By multiplying
this further with the numbers twenty four, and then by three hundred
and sixty five, the distance traveled by light in one year is obtained.
This unit is called one light year in astronomical terms. Current
estimates of the diameter of the universe is seventy billion light
years. The estimate is likely to be revised upward as more accurate
methods are developed.
Fourteen hundred years ago, an unlettered person from Arabia could
not have had knowledge of the oneness of creation. In fact, even
the scientific minds of the day did not know that this amazing universe
was made up of the same matter, and was governed by the same universal
laws. This discovery has forced the atheistic scientific minds of
our age not only to accept the existence of God, but also that He
is One. The Holy Quran revealed this amazing truth fourteen hundred
years ago, that whatever is in the heavens and on earth, belongs
to Allah, Who created them. No human being can even think of claiming
mastery over the heavens. Even in his earthly existence, a human
child arrives empty handed from the mother's womb, and at the time
of his death, is laid to rest in his grave devoid of all possessions.
Whatever mankind is given in this terrestrial existence, and which
he apparently considers as his own property, belongs to him only
temporarily. This includes his life, health, body, honor, happiness,
wealth and power. All that we receive in this life is given to us
by Allah. Several verses of the Holy Quran relate this, one of which
I will quote:
"Who so desires this transitory life (aajilat),
We hasten to him therein what We please for whomsoever We desire"
The Arabic word aajilat stands for things to be received
soon, in this transitory life.
As I have mentioned in one of my earlier lessons, Allah has appointed
mankind as His vicegerent on earth, and has delegated limited authority
to him. We observe that this remarkable system of the universe,
including the rising and setting of the sun and the moon works with
absolute perfection. It is not possible for the sun, or the moon
to be a second earlier or late. Man, however, frequently mismanages
his affairs and spoils the earth which was created as a paradise
for him. This is stated in the verse:
"And We said: O Adam, dwell thou and thy wife in the
I explained in my commentary on this verse that by garden (janaat)
is meant the garden of paradise on this earth. Man frequently creates
discord and difficulties by his actions. Without dwelling into history,
we observe in this age of ours, that mankind has made great progress
in science and technology, and has advanced the frontiers of knowledge.
Despite this material progress, the world today is more degenerate,
and lacking in moral values than ever before.
Mankind's reformation possible only through
reformation of the heart
Unless there is moral reformation of man, who runs the activities
of this worldly life, the world cannot be a better place. This is
not possible, until the heart of man is reformed. The reason for
this is that human intelligence which is centered in his brain gives
uniform guidance to all of mankind. Man, however, is motivated by
the desires and emotions. Human intelligence is like the driver
of a vehicle, or the rider of a horse. Despite intellectual inhibitions,
man tends to do what his heart desires when his emotions and desires,
which are the motive forces, run out of control.
It is, therefore, stated in the verse under discussion today that:
"And whether you manifest what is in your minds (ma
fee un fosi-kum) or hide it, Allah will call you to account
according to it."
The Arabic words ma fee unfosi-kum have been translated as,
'what is in your hearts', or minds. I will now comment based on
this meaning. No other religion, or revealed scripture has mentioned
accountability of what is in the mind, or given it importance similar
to what the Holy Quran has done. The legal systems of this world
only hold men accountable for their actions, and not for what is
within their hearts. This is, however, a shortcoming, for the actions
of men are manifested much later, they are contemplated first. For
example before a thief commits a robbery, he plans it for a long
time in his mind. He spies on the occupants of the house which he
is going to burglarize. He makes various inquiries, and then ultimately
goes through with the decision that brings about the apparent act.
A black marketer, or a licentious person cooks the whole scheme
in his mind, and in the end commits the action. In short, all the
moral and spiritual illnesses of mankind first take root in the
mind, and manifest much later on as actions. Until the roots are
extracted, one cannot get rid of these illnesses.
For example, if a doctor cleans the purulent secretions from an
abscess, but does not treat it, the sore will not heal. He has to
go to the source, or root of this illness, and get rid of it. Religions
which have not called into accountability the inner thoughts of
man, have been unable to accomplish his reformation. Human laws
can only address his actions for they are unaware of his inner thoughts.
These are only known to the person whose mind is contemplating them,
or to Allah Who is the Creator of that mind, and all the systems
within it. That is why the Holy Quran calls Allah the Most High
"The Knower of what is in the hearts (50:16),"
for He knows very well what is within our minds.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has
described this wisdom very well, he states:
"Pay attention to this that within the body of man is
a piece, which if it is in a righteous state, the whole body becomes
well, and if it becomes corrupted it leads to the corruption of
man. Beware that it is the heart of man."
Within the hearts of men are all sorts of evil emotions like malice,
envy, hatred, enmity and pride, which are spiritual illnesses. When
these become the motive forces for his actions, but are camouflaged
under the false impression of good intent, other people are misled.
Nevertheless, this results in a lot of wickedness and corruption.
Hence, it is that unless man is held accountable for his inner thoughts,
he cannot be reformed , nor can the sorrows of humanity be remedied.
How correctly has the Holy Prophet stated this:
"The goodness, or evil of an action is based on the
intent with which it is done."
For example, the action of a murderer and a doctor, whose operation
fails, can both lead to the death of a person. The doctor is paid
for his action while the murderer goes to jail. The only difference
is that of intent which is motivated by different emotions and desires
in the two cases.
The Holy Quran is an amazing book of wisdom. The wisdom underlying
the words, "whether you manifest what is in your mind, or hide it,"
is that a person's mind is expressed first by his tongue. A child
for example, does not know how to hide his inner feelings. As he grows
older, the fear of antagonizing people, or of punishment, arises and
he begins to hide what is in his mind. With maturity he becomes an
expert at hiding his intentions, and inner secrets from fear of people,
or the law. The Being Who has created the human mind, and all its
inner systems is aware of these hidden secrets, and as a form of chastisement
creates the fire of discontent in the heart of such a man. Quite frequently,
He manifests the hidden detriment, and evil of such a person in this
world leading to his dishonor and disgrace. Such a person then receives
chastisement for it in this world, which is a proof for the accountability,
and punishment of the Hereafter.