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Lesson - 49
"The Messenger believes in what has been revealed
to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. They all believe
in Allah and His angels and His Books and His messengers. We make
no difference between any of His messengers. And they say: We hear
and obey; our Lord, Thy forgiveness (do we crave), and to Thee is
the eventual course." Ch. 2:285
Progress of the human soul
Two statements were made in the verse preceding this. Firstly,
that whatever is given to man in this life is a debt from Allah
for which he will be accountable after death. Secondly, the Divine
spirit placed in man evolves through his life experiences into a
distinct personality, which the Holy Quran calls nafs or soul. The
soul is a trust from Allah which is taken back at the time of death.
The soul is held accountable for whatever deeds a man performs,
the words he speaks out and the thoughts he harbors in his mind.
The image of each one of these is cast upon his soul, and embellishes,
or deforms it accordingly.
These statements raise two questions. If every thing an individual
receives in this life is a debt, what are its terms that need to
be fulfilled? The second question is, how can man carry out his
obligation to the precious trust of the Divine spirit placed within
him, for which he is to be held accountable? The answer to both
these questions is given in the verse to be discussed in this lesson.
Belief with practice essential for human spiritual
Human soul is not a material entity whose growth and condition
can be evaluated by physical examination, or by instruments. Nor
can it be fixed by means of medication, or an operation. Only one
element can illuminate the inner darkness of man, and that is the
light (noor) of belief. When the lamp of this inner light
is placed in a man's heart it illuminates his inner self. It should
be remembered that when one declares his belief, it is only a verbal
expression. Until belief gets firmly entrenched in a person's heart,
he cannot be called a true believer. This is confirmed by the Holy
Quran in the verse:
"The dwellers of the desert say: We believe. Say: You
believe not, but say, We submit: and faith has not yet entered
into your hearts And if you obey Allah and His Messenger He will
not diminish aught of your deeds. Surely Allah is Knowing, Aware"
The dwellers of the outlying villages, and the bedouins, who only
occasionally came to Medina, unlike the companions of the Holy Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), had not yet become true
believers. The way in which true belief is established is given
in the following words of the Holy Quran:
"And if you obey Allah and His Messenger He will not
diminish aught of your deeds."
Belief begins with a verbal acceptance of the unity of Allah as
God and the apostleship of Prophet Muhammad, but it only truly enters
the heart when man follows the guidance given by Allah, and exemplified
by His Messenger. That is why our lesson today starts with these
"The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to
him from his Lord."
The Holy Prophet was the best exemplar of the Holy Quran revealed
to him. This is also the reason why in another place the Holy Quran
"Whoever obeys the Messenger, he indeed obeys Allah"
Similarly, after the death of the Holy Prophet when some young people
came to visit his widow, Hazrat Ayesha, to inquire about his morals,
she advised them to study the Holy Quran. She said:
"His character was the Quran."
All the virtues taught in it were there in the Holy Prophet Muhammad
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
It is then stated in the verse under discussion, "and (so do) the
believers," i.e., they also believe and act upon the teachings of
the Holy Quran. This refers to the companions of the Holy Prophet
Muhammad, who are stated in the Holy Quran as having earned the
'the pleasure of Allah,' in this world. The Holy Prophet gave them
a similar endorsement when he said:
"My companions are like the stars, whichever amongst
them you follow, you will be guided towards the right path."
The Arabs used to find their way in the desert by means of the stars,
as there were no roads. The Holy Prophet also said:
"My companions are your guides towards the right direction
in the darkness of your inner self."
Belief through Divine Revelation
It is worth noting that the verse:
"The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to
him from his Lord,"
clearly shows that it is the Divine revelation which engenders faith.
This is the reason why Imam Bukhari introduces the first chapter,
entitled 'The Book of Belief,' in his famous collection of Hadith
with the section on, "How the Revelation Began." The Holy Quran
is the result of the highest and most complete form of revelation,
lesser forms of divine communion are granted to reformers (mujaddids)
who come from time to time, usually at the beginning of each century.
They receive the gift of Divine communion in the form of revelation
(wahy), and words heard by a person spoken to as from behind
a veil (ilhaam), which rejuvenates their belief, enables
them to engender a new faith in those who follow them. It is with
reference to such individuals that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings
of Allah be upon him) stated:
"Like the Children of Israel, amongst my followers,
there will also be such individuals with whom Allah communicates
without their being prophets." (Bukhari, Kitab: Fazail
Ashaab-Al nabi, Bab: Munaqib Umar bin Al Khataab).
Belief essential for serenity
The remaining portion of this blessed verse states, "They all
believe in Allah. The Arabic word Aa-mana, is ordinarily
understood to mean, "He believed," but its dictionary meaning is,
"He entered into peace." Peace signifies serenity of the heart.
Just like a child is not satisfied till he holds on to his parents,
the spirit which comes from Allah is not at peace till it holds
on to Allah. The inherent connection of man's nature with the Divine,
which I have previously explained as the, "covenant of nature,"
does not allow man to be at peace till he forms a spiritual bond
with Allah, the Most High. In the world today, particularly in Europe
and America, there is no dearth of material comforts, but there
is no contentment of mind, because of a break in the relationship
with God. Members of this materialistic society try to acquire this
contentment through the use of alcohol, drugs, and music, but this
is at best a temporary fix and their real condition keeps on getting
from bad to worse. Serenity of the mind, in practice, can only be
acquired through acts of goodness. For example, a person who accepts
a bribe loses his serenity. On the contrary an honest person can
go to bed hungry, but has does have peace of mind. This holds true
for all acts of righteousness.
The evolution and progression of belief
Allah the Most High is the Source of all excellent virtue. The
concept of righteousness evolved in the human mind through the awareness
of Divine attributes, otherwise the human mind is like that of other
animals. This concept of righteousness developed in the human mind
through Divine revelation which mankind has received off and on
from the beginning of its creation, starting with Prophet Adam.
The revealed word of God gave man the knowledge of Divine attributes
and exhorted him to create those same attributes in himself. I have
discussed this topic in my previous lessons with reference to the
Holy Quran and Hadith in my previous lessons, and will therefore
avoid repetition here.
After belief in Allah, the second element of belief is stated in
the Divine words:
"And His angels."
I have also discussed this in one of the previous lessons, to summarize
Allah has created spiritual agencies called angels which help and
guide mankind, by inviting it to acts of goodness. Belief in angels
means conviction that the urge to do good within man is motivated
by angels, under the command of Allah, the Most High. Man should,
act upon this urge with exigency lest the opportunity to do good
be lost. For example, if is an opportunity to do good, and a person
does not act immediately on the prompting of the angel, the opportunity
may pass by and leave him guilty of falling a prey to the instigation
of the devil, who caused the complacency.
In contrast to Allah, and His angels who cannot be seen, the Beneficence
of Allah has provided spiritual guidance in the form of revealed
scriptures, which can be seen and read. The most complete from of
such revelation has been preserved in writing, and given to man
in the form of the Holy Quran. That is why immediately after belief
in Allah and the angels, the Holy Quran mentions belief in the revealed
books of Allah. Belief in the prophets is mentioned next. The prophets
show by their example that it is practical and feasible to follow
the teachings of the Books in every detail. In addition, the life
of a prophet is a living example, which is always more effective
than just words. How excellent is the teaching of the Holy Quran!
Followers of other religions have strayed away from true guidance
because they accept only their own prophets and scriptures, and
reject those of other nations. Not only do they find faults with
the prophets of other nations, but in reality by rejecting their
revealed scriptures, they accuse them of falsehood and deceit. That
is why this amazing Book, the Holy Quran states:
"We make no difference between any of His messengers,"
meaning that we consider all of them to be truthful and from Allah.
Some people find it difficult to reconcile this statement with the
one in another verse which states:
"We have made some of these messengers to excel others"
In this verse it is clearly the excellence of some prophets over
others that is mentioned. As prophets they are all the same, just
as we, as human beings are the same. Amongst us there are some who
excel over others. However, this does not mean that as human beings
we are different.