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Lesson 49

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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 development

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" (49:14).
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 Divine words:

"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 states:

"Whoever obeys the Messenger, he indeed obeys Allah" (4:80).
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" (2:253).
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.

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