- First Question: The Physical, Moral, and Spiritual States of Man
- How did the occasion of the Great Conference of Religions arise?
- What were the objectives of the conference?
- What response did the Promised Messiah give to this invitation?
- What was the prophecy made by the Promised Messiah about the supremacy of his essay?
- What glad tiding did Allah give about the victory of Islam?
- Which faiths were represented in this conference?
- Who read the speech of the Promised Messiah?
- What were the comments of the secretary of the conference in the “Report of the Conference of Great Religions?”
- What was manifest sign of the supremacy of this speech?
- What did the newspapers write about the speech?
- What is the opinion of the western scholars about the philosophy of the teachings of Islam?
- What were the five assigned questions for all speakers?
- What three types of self have been discussed in the Holy Quran as the springs all actions?
- How does the first creation of the soul take place?
- How does the second creation of the soul take place?
- What is the impact of the soul and the body on each other?
- When does one achieve a spiritual condition?
- How can the physical, moral and spiritual conditions of man be reformed?
- How does the Holy Quran take the human being step by step to the highest spiritual level?
- The name of Islam reminds us of which high spiritual status?
- What are the three means of reforming humanity?
- What was the condition of Arabs at the time the Holy Prophet was raised?
- What was the real purpose of the three types of reforms the Holy Quran makes?
- What is the difference between khalq and khulq?
- Explain the highest moral character displayed by the Holy Prophet (pboh).
- Is the prohibition of khinzeer hinted in its name itself?
- What are the two types of morals?
- What is the first of the four morals that deal with the forsaking of evil?
- What teachings has the Holy Quran given for the promotion of chastity for men and women?
- What is the wise teaching that the Holy Quran gives for saving oneself from adultry?
- Why has the Holy Quran not taught celibacy?
- What are the five methods of promoting chastity according to the Holy Quran?
- What teaching has the Holy Quran given us to control our passions?
- What is the meaning of veil according to the Holy Quran?
- What is meant by ghadde basar?
- What is the meaning of honesty and integrity?
- What is the meaning of hudna or haun?
- What is the meaning of courtesy and good word?
- What are the four morals related to doing of good?
- What is the meaning of forbearance and forgiveness?
- What is the significance of equity, benevolence and graciousness as between kindred?
- How are equity, benevolence and graciousness related to each other in three stages?
- Why was the Holy Prophet raised in Arabia?
- Why is no other book needed after the Holy Quran?
- What favor has the Holy Quran done to humanity by way of teaching the highest moral?
- What methods has the Holy Quran given for the existence of God?
- How is the contented sould a spring of the spiritual conditions?
- What is the paradise on this earth and in the hereafter?
- How does Almighty Allah inscribe faith in our hearts and how does He help us with the holy spirit?
- What is the significance of seeking the straight path?
- Describe an excellent prayer of the Holy Quran?
- What is the meaning of paradise after death?
- What are the drinks of camphor and ginger which will be offered to the righteous people in paradise?
- What is the significance of chains and fire for the disbelievers?
- How is the action of God manifested as a consequence of the action of human beings?
- How can the perfect relationship with God be inculcated?
- What is Islam according to the Holy Quran?
- How does Islam annihilate the lower passions and how do we attain life with prayer?
- What is the secret of attaining nearness to God?
- Why does Allah give the example of a garden when describing faith?
- What example of kalima tayyiba has been given in the form of a tree and what are its signs?
- What example of kalima khabisa has been given?
- Second Question: What is the State of Man After Death
- What will be the state of man after death?
- What are the teachings of the Quran on heaven and hell?
- What does the Holy Quran say about life after death?
- What is meant by rivers of water, milk, and wine in heaven?
- What is meaning of seeking forgiveness in heaven?
- What are the three states of existence according to the Holy Quran?
- Third Question: The Object of Man’s Life and The Means of its Attainment
- Fourth Question: The Operation of the Practical Ordinances of the Law in This Life and the Next
- Fifth Question: Sources of Divine Knowledge
- What are the three types of knowledge?
- What are the means to achieving knowledge by reason?
- What are the means to achieving knowledge by sight?
- What proof has been given in the Quran for the existence of revelation?
- What is the meaning of revelation?
- What are the means of achieving knowledge of certainty through experience?
- What is the difference between knowledge by experience and knowledge obtained merely through academics?
- What was the reason for separating the life of Holy Prophet (pboh) into a time of trials and a time of great victory?
- What kind of example did the Holy Prophet (pboh) set during the first phase of his life?
- What kind of example did the Holy Prophet (pboh) set during the second phase of his life?
- How did the Holy Prophet (pboh) sacrificed his own life for the well-being of other human beings?
- In the above verse, what is meant by death?
- How did the Holy Prophet (pboh) display high moral standards in his life?
- What was the purpose of the wars in which Holy Prophet (pboh) took part?
- Why does the Holy Quran teach us to treat our enemies with kindness?
The Ahmadiyya Gazette
January – August 1996
The following questions and answers may help the members in the study of the Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam during this centennial year. The answers are in the words of the Promised Messiah (as) as translated. Our thanks to Maulvi Mohammad Siddique Nangli who prepared the guide in Urdu and to Fouzan Pal who helped in preparing the English version. (National Talim Department)
First Question: The Physical, Moral, and Spiritual States of Man
How did the occasion of the Great Conference of Religions arise?
A Hindu swami, Shugan Chander, who had been undertaking work of social service for a few years thought that people must be brought together on a common platform. He initiated the idea of the conferences of great religions. The first conference took place in Ajmer. The second conference was held in Lahore in 1896.
What were the objectives of the conference?
Swami Shugan Chander asked the leaders of Muslims, Christians, and Aryas, in the name of God, that the eminent scholars of each faith join the conference to put forth the beauties of their faith. He said that the objective of the conference to be held in Town Hall Lahore is that the love of true faith be inculcated. The listeners may also be given the opportunity to compare the merits of each faith with the others.
What response did the Promised Messiah give to this invitation?
The Promised Messiah said:
Swami Shugan Chander has written in his announcement that he asks in the name of God that all leaders of faith come to describe the beauties of their faith. So we inform him that to honor the name in which he has called us that we are ready to respond to the invitation. Insha’ Allah my essay will be read in the conference. Islam is the faith that teaches us that when asked in the name of Allah we must respond.
What was the prophecy made by the Promised Messiah about the supremacy of his essay?
Before the conference the Promised Messiah made the following announcement in accordance with the glad tiding given to him by Allah:
God, the All-Knowing, has revealed to me that my paper will be declared supreme over all other papers. It is full of the light of truth, wisdom and understanding which will put to shame all other parties, provided they attend the Conference and listen to it from beginning to end. They will not be able to match these qualities from their scriptures.
What glad tiding did Allah give about the victory of Islam?
I have been informed that after this essay is distributed widely the falsehood of the false doctrines would be exposed and the truthfulness of the Holy Qur’an would be manifested until the time that it becomes all-comprehensive. (Announcement dated December 21, 1896)
Which faiths were represented in this conference?
Religion of Harmony
But there was only one speech which gave a truly complete and comprehensive response to all the questions. That was the speech of the Promised Messiah.
Who read the speech of the Promised Messiah?
Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim (May Allah be pleased with him) read it in a very melodious voice.
What were the comments of the secretary of the conference in the “Report of the Conference of Great Religions?”
Although only two hours had been designated for the speech, the audience were so engrossed in the speech that the moderators decided that the proceedings should continue until the speech is completed. Their decision was fully in accordance with the wishes of the audience who welcomed the decision …. The speech took about four hours and was listed with complete attention from beginning to end.
What was manifest sign of the supremacy of this speech?
The conference had been scheduled for December 26, 27, 28. The conference was continued for another day, 29, only in order to complete the essay. What greater evidence of the supremacy can there be!
What did the newspapers write about the speech?
Punjab Observer wrote an extensive article in praise of the speech. Moreover, Paisa, Chaudhween Sadi, Sadiqul Akhbar, Munbir of Dakken, General was Gauhar Asifi of Calcutta unanimously praised the speech. For example The Civil and Military Gazette wrote that special attention was paid to the lecture of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani and people traveled long distances to listen to it.
Chaudhween Sadi wrote:
The best lecture was that of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian. We have not heard another lecture like it in our life time. Everybody listened to it with utmost attention and interest. It was a very precious.
General wa Gauhar Asifi wrote under a double caption “Conference of Great Faiths” and “Victory of Islam”:
The record of the proceedings of the conference makes it obvious that Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, the noble man from Qadian, alone did full justice to serve as the champion of Islam. If he had not been present, Muslims would have suffered the blame of not defending Islam. But the mighty hand of Allah safeguared Islam. Rather, it granted Islam a manifest victory through this speech. Not only the friends, but all the foes also admitted: This is the victories speech”.
What is the opinion of the western scholars about the philosophy of the teachings of Islam?
The following are some of the works in which the speech had been praised:
Bristol Times and Mirror, Spiritual Journal Boston, Theosophical Book Notes, Indian Review, and Muslim Review.
What were the five assigned questions for all speakers?
- The Physical Moral and Spiritual State of Man
- What is the State of Man after Death
- The Object of Man’s Life and the Means of its Attainment
- Operations of the Practical Ordinances of the Law in the Life and the Next
- Sources of Divine Knowledge
What three types of self have been discussed in the Holy Quran as the springs all actions?
First Source: The Self That Incites to Evil
The first spring which is the source of all natural states is designated by the Holy Quran the Nafse Ammarah, which means the self that incites to evil, as it says:
The mind of man is ever ready to incite to evil (12:54).
This means that it is characteristic of the human self that it incites man to evil and is opposed to his attainment of perfection and to his moral state, and urges him towards undesirable and evil ways. Thus the propensity towards the evil and intemperance is a human state which predominates over the mind of a person before he enters upon the moral state. This is man’s natural state, so long as he is not guided by reason and understanding but follows his natural bent in eating, drinking, sleeping, waking, anger and provocation, like the animals. When a person is guided by reason and understanding and brings his natural state under control and regulates it in a proper manner, that state ceases to be his natural state and is called his moral state.
Second Source: The Reproving Self
The source of the moral state of man is designated by the Holy Quran Nafse Lawwama, as is said:
I call to witness the reproving self (75:3); that is to say, I call to witness the self that reproves itself for every vice and intemperance. This reproving self is the second source of human state from which the moral state is generated. At this stage man ceases to resemble the animals. Calling it to witness is for the purpose of doing it honour, as if by advancing from the state of the self that is prone to evil and and arriving at the state of the reproving self, it has become worthy of honour in divine estimation. It is so called as it reproves man on vice and is not reconciled to man’s submitting to his natural desires and leading an unbridled existence like the animals. It desires that man should be in a good state and should practise good morals, and no kind of intemperance should be manifested in any aspect of human life, and natural emotions and desires should be regulated by reason. As it reproves every vicious movement, it is called the reproving self. Though it reproves itself in respect of vices, yet it is not fully effective in practising virtue and occasionally it is dominated by natural emotions, when it stumbles and falls. It is like a weak child who does not wish to stumble and fall but does so out of weakness, and is then remorseful over his infirmity. In short, this is the moral state of human self when it seeks to comprehend within itself high moral qualities and is disgusted with disobedience, but cannot achieve complete success.
The Third Source: The Soul at Rest
The third source which should be described as the beginning of the spiritual state of man is called by the Holy Quran Nafse Mutmainnah, that is to say, the soul at rest, as is said:
O soul at rest that has found comfort in God return to thy Lord, thou well pleased with Him and He well pleased with thee. Now join My chosen servants and enter into My garden (89:28-31).
This is the stage when the soul of a person being delivered from all weaknesses is filled with spiritual powers and establishes a relationship with God Almighty without Whose support it cannot exist. As water flowing down from a height, on account of its volume and the absence of any obstruction, rushes with great force, in the same way the soul at rest flows towards God. That is indicated by the divine direction to the soul that has found comfort in God to return to its Lord. It undergoes a great transformation in this very life and is bestowed a paradise while still in this world. As this verse indicates in its direction to such a soul to return to its Lord, it is nourished by its Lord and its love of God becomes its nurture, and it drinks at this fountain of life and is thus delivered from death. This is indicated at another place in the Holy Quran where it is said:
He who purifies his soul of earthly passions shall be saved and shall not suffer ruin, but he who is overcome by his earthly passions should despair of life (91:10-11).
How does the first creation of the soul take place?
It is absolutely true that the soul is a fine light which is developed inside the body and is nurtured in the womb. To begin with it is hidden and imperceptible and later it is made manifest. From the very beginning its essence is present in the sperm. It is related to the sperm in a mysterious manner by the design and command and will of God. It is a bright and illuminated quality of the sperm. It cannot be said that it is a part of the sperm as matter is part of matter, nor can it be said that it comes from outside or falls upon the earth and gets mixed with the matter of the sperm. It is latent in the sperm as fire is latent in the flint. The Word of God does not mean that the soul descend from heaven as a separate entity or falls upon the earth from the atmosphere and then by chance gets mixed with the sperm and enters the womb with it. There is no basis for such a notion. The law of nature rejects it. We observe daily that thousands of insects infect impure and stale foods and are generated in unwashed wounds. Dirty linen secretes hundreds of lice and all sorts of worms are generated inside a person’s stomach. It cannot be said that all these come from outside or can be observed as descending from heaven. The truth is that the soul is developed in the body and this also proves that it is created and is not self-existent.
How does the second creation of the soul take place?
The design of the Almighty Who has created the soul from the body with His perfect power appears to be that the second birth of the soul should also take place through the body. The movements of the soul follow the movements of the body. If the body is drawn in a particular direction the soul automatically follows it. It is, therefore, a function of the Book of God to direct itself to the natural state of man: that is why the Holy Quran pays so much attention to the reform of the natural state of man and gives directions with regard to everyone of his actions, his language, weeping, speaking, keeping silent, marrying, remaining single, walking, stopping, physical cleanliness, bathing, submitting to a discipline in health and in illness etc. It affirms that man’s physical condition affects his spiritual condition deeply. I cannot undertake a detailed exposition of all those directions as time is not available for such an undertaking.
What is the impact of the soul and the body on each other?
As the soul is affected by physical conduct, in the same way sometimes the soul affects the body. For instance, when a person experiences sorrow his eyes become wet, and a person who feels happy, smiles. All our natural actions like eating, drinking, sleeping, waking, moving about, resting, bathing etc., affect our spiritual condition. Our physical structure is related intimately to our total humanity. If a certain part of the brain is injured memory is immediately lost. An injury to another part of the brain causes loss of consciousness. Poisonous air affects the body and through it the mind, and the whole inner system, to which the moral impulses are related, is impaired and the unfortunate victim passes out quickly like a madman. Thus physical injuries disclose that there is a mysterious relationship between the soul and the body which is beyond the ken of man. Reflection shows that the body is the mother of the soul. The soul does not descend from outside into the womb of a pregnant woman. It is a light that is inherent in the sperm which begins to shine forth with the development of the embryo. The Word of God Almighty conveys to us that the soul becomes manifest from the framework that is prepared in the womb from the sperm, as is said in the Holy Quran: Then We develop it into a new creation. So blessed is Allah, the Best of Creators (23:15).
In old age a person arrives at a stage in which, after having acquired much knowledge he loses it all. (22:6) All this observation of ours is proof enough that the soul without the body amounts to nothing. This is reinforced by the thought that if the soul without the body had amounted to anything, it would have been without purpose for God Almighty to set up a relationship between it and a mortal body. Further it is worthy of note that God Almighty has created mall for limitless progress. Then if the soul is not able to achieve the progress possible in this brief life without the companionship of the body. How can we expect that it would be able, by itself, without the companionship of the body, achieve limitless progress in the hereafter.
All this shows that according to Islamic principles, for the soul to act perfectly it is necessary for it to enjoy the companionship of a body at all times.
When does one achieve a spiritual condition?
Spirituality can be achieved only through the use of every moral quality in its proper place and on its proper occasion, and through treading faithfully upon the ways of God and through being wholly devoted to Him.
How can the physical, moral and spiritual conditions of man be reformed?
According to the Holy Quran the natural state of man has a very strong relationship with his moral and spiritual states, so much so that even a person’s manner of eating and drinking affects his moral and spiritual states. If the natural state of a person is subjected to the control of the directions of divine law it becomes his moral state and deeply affects his spirituality, as is said that whatever falls into a salt mine is converted into salt. That is why the Holy Quran has laid stress on physical cleanliness and postures, and their regulation in relation to all worship and inner purity and spiritual humility.
As indicated in the Holy Word of God Almighty, the natural state of man, the fountain head of which is the self that incites to evil, is not something divorced from his moral state.
The Holy Word of God has classified man’s natural faculties and desires and urges, as natural conditions. These, when they are consciously regulated and controlled and are brought into action on their proper occasions and places, become moral qualities.
In the same way, moral conditions are not entirely distinct from spiritual conditions. When moral conditions develop absolute devotion to God and complete purification of self and, cutting asunder from the world, turn wholly to God and to perfect love and complete devotion and full serenity and satisfaction and complete accord with the divine will, they become spiritual conditions.
How does the Holy Quran take the human being step by step to the highest spiritual level?
Reflection on the Holy Word of God discloses that it lays down rules for the reform of the natural condition of man and then lifts him gradually upwards and desires to raise him to the highest spiritual state. First, God desires to teach man the rules of social behaviour like sitting, standing, eating, drinking, talking etc., and thus to deliver him from a state of barbarism and distinguish him from the animals and thus bestow upon him an elementary moral state which might be described as social culture. He then desires to regulate his elementary moral habits so that they should acquire the character of high moral qualities. Both of these methods are part of the same process as they are related to the reform of man’s natural condition. There is between them a difference only of degree. The All-Wise One has so arranged the moral system that man should be able to rise from a low to a high moral condition.
The name of Islam reminds us of which high spiritual status?
The third grade of progress is that a person should become wholly devoted to the love of his True Creator and to a winning of His pleasure. The whole of his being should be committed to God. To remind Muslims constantly of this grade their religion has been named Islam, which means to devote oneself wholly to God and to keep nothing back. As God, the Glorious, has said:
Salvation means that a person should commit himself wholly to God, and should offer himself as a sacrifice in the cause of God, and should prove his sincerity not only through his motive but also through righteous conduct. He who so comports himself will have his recompense from God. Such people shall have no fear nor shall they grieve (2:113).
Tell them: My prayer and my sacrifices, my living and my dying are all for the sake of God, Whose providence comprehends everything and Who has no associate. So have I been commanded and I am the foremost of those who fulfil this concept of Islam and offer themselves as a sacrifice in the cause of Allah (6:163-164).
This is My straight path then follow it and do not follow any other path which will lead you away from His path (6:154).
Tell them: If you love God then follow me and walk along my path so that God may love you and forgive you your sins. He is Most Forgiving Ever Merciful (3:32).
What are the three means of reforming humanity?
The first is that senseless savages should be taught the elementary social values pertaining to eating, drinking, marriage etc. They should not go about naked nor eat carrion, like dogs, nor practise any other type of wildness. This is an elementary stage of the reform of natural conditions of the type that would have to be adopted, for instance, if it is desired to teach a savage from Port Blair, the elementary ways of human behaviour.
The second method of reform is that when a person has adopted elementary human ways, he may be taught the higher moral qualities and should be instructed to employ his faculties in their proper places and on their proper occasions.
The third method of reform is that those who have acquired high moral qualities should be given a taste of the draught of the love of and union with God.
What was the condition of Arabs at the time the Holy Prophet was raised?
Our lord and master, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was raised at a time when the world had been thoroughly corrupted. As God Almighty has said:
Corruption has spread over land and sea (30:42). This means that the people of the book, as well as those who had no experience of revelation, had all been corrupted. The purpose of the Holy Quran was to revive the dead, as is said:
Know that Allah is about to revive the earth after its death (57:18). At that time the people of Arabia were steeped in barbarism. No social pattern prevailed and they took pride in every type of sin and misconduct. A man married an unlimited number of wives, and they were all addicted to the use of everything unlawful. They considered it lawful to marry their mothers, and that is why God Almighty had to prescribe:
Your mothers are made unlawful for you (4:24). They ate carrion and some of them wore even cannibals. There is not a sin that they were not guilty of. Most of them did not believe in the after life. Many of them denied the existence of God. They killed their female infants with their own hands. They killed orphans and devoured their substance. They had the appearance of human beings but were bereft ot reason. They possessed no modesty, no shame, and no self respect. They drank liquor like water. The one among them who indulged indiscriminately in fornication was acknowledged as the chief of his tribe. They were so utterly ignorant that their neighbouring people called them the unlettered ones. At such time and for the reform of such people, our lord and master, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, appeared in Mecca. This was the time that called for the three types of reform that we have just mentioned. That is why the Holy Quran claims to be more complete and more perfect than all other books of guidance, inasmuch as the other books had not the opportunity of carrying out the three types of reforms which the Holy Quran was designed to carry out. The purpose of the Holy Quran was to elevate savages into men, and then to equip them with moral qualities, and finally raise them to the level of godly persons. The Holy Quran thus comprehends all those three projects.
What was the real purpose of the three types of reforms the Holy Quran makes?
The whole purpose of the Quran is the three reforms, and all its teachings are directed towards that end. All other directions are the means for the achievement of those reforms.
First, God desires to teach man the rules of social behaviour like sitting, standing, eating, drinking, talking etc., and thus to deliver him from a state of barbarism and distinguish him from the animals and thus bestow upon him an elementary moral state which might be described as social culture. He then desires to regulate his elementary moral habits so that they should acquire the character of high moral qualities. Both of these methods are part of the same process as they are related to the reform of man’s natural condition. There is between them a difference only of degree. The All-Wise One has so arranged the moral system that man should be able to rise from a low to a high moral condition.
The Holy Quran claims to be more complete and more perfect than all other books of guidance, inasmuch as the other books had not the opportunity of carrying out the three types of reforms which the Holy Quran was designed to carry out. The purpose of the Holy Quran was to elevate savages into men, and then to equip them with moral qualities, and finally raise them to the level of godly persons. The Holy Quran thus comprehends all those three projects.
What is the difference between khalq and khulq?
Khalq connotes physical birth and Khulq connotes inner birth. As inner birth is perfected through moral development and not merely through the exercise of natural impulses, Khulq connotes moral qualities and not natural impulses.
Explain the highest moral character displayed by the Holy Prophet (pboh).
God, the Glorious, has addressed the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in the words:
Thou dost most surely possess high moral excellences (68:5). This means that all high moral qualities such as benevolence, courage, justice, mercy, bountifulness, sincerity, high mindedness etc. were combined in the person of the Holy Prophet. In short all the natural qualities of man as courtesy, modesty, integrity, benevolence, jealousy, steadfastness, chastity, piety, equity, sympathy, bravery, generosity, forbearance, endurance, bountifulness, sincerity, loyalty etc., when they are manifested on their proper occasions under the guidance of reason and reflection would all be accounted moral qualities. In reality they are the natural states and impulses of man and are designated moral qualities when they are exercised deliberately on their proper occasions. A natural characteristic of man is that he desires to make progress and, therefore, through following a true religion and keeping good company and conforming to good teachings he converts his natural impulses into moral qualities. No other animal is invested with this characteristic.
Is the prohibition of khinzeer hinted in its name itself?
One matter to be kept in mind in this context is that in the very name of this animal God has indicated the reason for the prohibition of its flesh. The Arabic word for swine is Khinzeer which is a compound of Khanz and Ara, which means: I see it very foul. Thus the very name that God Almighty gave to this animal at the beginning points to its uncleanness. It is a curious coincidence that in Hindi this animal is called Suar, which is a compound of Su and Ara. This also means: I see it very foul. It should not be a matter of surprise that the Arabic word Su should have found its way into Hindi.
What are the two types of morals?
Moral qualities fall under two heads. First, those moral qualities that enable a person to discard evil; and, secondly, those moral qualities that enable him to do good. Discarding evil comprehends those qualities through which a person tries that he should do no harm to the property, honour or life of a fellow being by his tongue or his hand or his eyes or by any other organ, nor should he design to do him such harm. The doing of good comprehends all those moral qualities whereby a person tries to benefit a fellow being in respect of his property or honour by his tongue or his hand or his knowledge, or by any other means, or determines to make manifest his glory or honour, or overlooks a wrong that had been done to himself and thus benefits the perpetrator of the wrong by sparing him physical pain or financial imposition, or inflicts such chastisement upon him in respect of the wrong which is in reality a mercy for the wrongdoer.
What is the first of the four morals that deal with the forsaking of evil?
he moral qualities that the true Creator has appointed for the discarding of evil are known by four names in Arabic which has a specific name for all human concepts, behaviours and morals.
The first of these moral qualities is called Ihthan, that is to say, chastity. This expression connotes the virtue that is related to the faculty of procreation of men and women. Those men and women would be called chaste who refrain altogether from illicit sex and all approaches to it, the consequence of which is disgrace and humiliation for both parties in this world, and chastisement in the hereafter, and dishonour and grave harm for those related to them.
What teachings has the Holy Quran given for the promotion of chastity for men and women?
As this vice and its preliminaries can be practised by both men and women, the Holy Book of God sets forth directions for both men and women in this context. It says:
Direct the believing men to restrain their eyes from looking at women outside the prohibited degrees so openly as to be sexually excited by them, and to cultivate the habit of guarding their looks. They should safeguard all their senses. For instance, they should not listen to the singing or beguiling voices of women outside the prohibited degrees nor should they listen to descriptions of their beauty. This is a good way of preserving the purity of their looks and hearts. In the same way direct believing women that they should restrain their eyes from looking at men outside the prohibited degrees and should safeguard their ears against listening to the passionate voices of such men. They should cover up their beauty and should not disclose it to anyone outside the prohibited degrees. They should draw their head-coverings across their bosoms and should thus cover up their heads and ears and temples. They should not strike their feet on the ground like dancers. These are directions which can safeguard against moral stumbling (24:31-32).
The second method is to turn to God Almighty and to supplicate Him to be safeguarded against stumbling and slipping. Another direction is: Approach not adultery (17:33).
What is the wise teaching that the Holy Quran gives for saving oneself from adultry?
One should avoid all occasions that might incite one’s mind in that direction, and should eschew all the paths that might lead to this vice. He who indulges in this vice carries his viciousness to the extreme. The way of adultery is an evil way as it obstructs one’s progress towards the goal and is extremely harmful to the achievement of the purpose of life. Those who find no means of marriage should keep themselves chaste through the adoption of other means (24:34); for instance, through fasting or dieting or exercise.
Why has the Holy Quran not taught celibacy?
People sometimes adopt celibacy or submit to castration and take up monasticism. God has not prescribed monasticism and that is why those who adopt it prove unable to conform to its discipline (57:28). This is an indication that if celibacy and monasticism had been imposed by the Divine, everyone would have had to adopt this discipline, in which case the human race would have come to an end long ago. Also, if chastity had to be preserved through castration or any other such device, it would amount to criticism of the Divine Who has bestowed this capacity upon man. Besides merit depends upon restraining the exercise of a capacity on an improper occasion, through fear of God, and thus acquiring double benefit through its proper exercise. By destroying the capacity a person would deprive himself of both benefits. Merit depends upon the possession of the capacity and its proper regulation. What merit would a person acquire who has lost that capacity and has become like a child? Does a child deserve merit because of his chastity?
What are the five methods of promoting chastity according to the Holy Quran?
In these verses God Almighty has not only set forth excellent teaching for acquiring the quality of chastity but has furnished man with five remedies against unchastity. These are: to restrain one’s eyes from gazing on those who are outside the prohibited degrees; to restrain one’s ears from listening to their voices and to descriptions of their good looks; to avoid occasions which might furnish incitement towards this vice; and to control oneself during the period of celibacy through fasting, dieting etc.
We can confidently claim that this excellent teaching with all its devices that is set forth in the Holy Quran is peculiar to Islam.
What teaching has the Holy Quran given us to control our passions?
It should be kept in mind that as the natural condition of man, which is the source of his passions, is such that he cannot depart from it without a complete change in himself, his passions are bound to be roused, or in other words put in peril, when they are confronted with the occasion and opportunity for indulging in this vice. Therefore, God Almighty has not instructed us that we might freely gaze at women outside the prohibited degrees and might contemplate their beauty and observe all their movements in dancing etc. But that we should do so with pure looks. Nor have we been instructed to listen to the singing of these women and to lend ear to tales of their beauty, but that we should do so with a pure intent. We have been positively commanded not to look at their beauty, whether with pure intent or otherwise, nor to listen to their musical voices or to descriptions of their good looks, whether with pure intent or otherwise. We have been directed to eschew all this as we eschew carrion, so that we should not stumble. It is almost certain that our free glances would cause us to stumble sometime or the other. As God Almighty desires that our eyes and our hearts and all our limbs and organs should continue in a state of purity, He has furnished us with this excellent teaching. There can be no doubt that unrestrained looks become a source of danger. If we place soft bread before a hungry dog, it would be vain to hope that the dog should pay no attention to it. Thus God Almighty desired that human faculties should not be provided with any occasion for secret functioning and should not be confronted with anything that might incite dangerous tendencies.
What is the meaning of veil according to the Holy Quran?
This is the philosophy that underlies the Islamic regulations relating to the observance of the veil. The Book of God does not aim at keeping women in seclusion like prisoners. This is the concept of those who are not acquainted with the correct pattern of Islamic ways. The purpose of these regulations is to restrain men and women from letting their eyes to rove freely and from displaying their good looks and beauties, for therein lies the good both of men and of women.
What is meant by ghadde basar?
It should be remembered that to restrain one’s looks and to direct them only towards observing that which is permissible is described in Arabic by the expression ghadde basar, which is the expression employed in the Holy Quran in this context. It does not behove a pious person who desires to keep his heart pure that he should lift his eyes freely in every direction like an animal. It is necessary that such a one should cultivate the habit of ghadde basar in his social life. This is a blessed habit through which his natural impulses would be converted into a high moral quality without interfering with his social needs. This is the quality which is called chastity in Islam.
What is the meaning of honesty and integrity?
The second quality in the context of the discarding of evil is the one known as honesty or integrity, that is to say, intolerance of the causing of harm to a fellow being by taking possession of his property dishonestly or unlawfully. Integrity is one of the natural conditions of man. That is why an infant, who follows his natural bent and who has not yet acquired any bad habit, so much dislikes anything belonging to another that it can only be persuaded with difficulty to be suckled by a wet nurse. If a wet nurse is not appointed for it while it is quite small and has not yet developed a keen consciousness. It becomes very difficult for a wet nurse to suckle it. It is naturally disinclined to be suckled by a woman other than its mother. This disinclination sometimes imposes great suffering upon it, and in extreme cases pushes it to the brink of death. What is the secret of this disinclination? It is that it naturally dislikes to leave its mother and to turn to something that belongs to another. When we reflect deeply upon this habit of an infant it becomes clear that this habit is at the root of all honesty and integrity. No one can be credited with the quality of integrity unless his heart becomes charged with dislike and hatred of the property of another as is the case with an infant.
What is the meaning of hudna or haun?
The third moral quality in the context of discarding evil is designated in Arabic as hudnah or haun, which means refraining from inflicting physical pain on anyone and behaving peacefully. Without a doubt peacefulness is a high moral quality and is essential for humanity. The natural impulse corresponding to this moral quality, the regulation of which converts it into a moral quality, which is possessed by an infant, is attachment. It is obvious that in his natural condition man is unable to conceive of peacefulness or combativeness. In that condition the impulse of attachment that he exhibits is the root of peacefulness, but as it is not exercised under the control of reason or reflection and with deliberation, it is not accounted a moral quality. It becomes a moral quality when a person deliberately makes himself harmless and exercises the quality of peacefulness on its proper occasion, and refrains from using it out of place. In this context the Divine teaching is:
Try to promote accord between yourselves (8:2); Peace is best (4:129); when they incline towards peace, do you incline towards it also (8:62). The true servants of the Gracious One walk upon the earth in humility (25:64); and when they Come upon something vain, which might develop into strife, they pass on with dignity (25:73). That is to say, they do not start quarrelling over trifles and do not make small matters which do not cause much harm an occasion for discord. The expression vain that is employed in this verse means mischievous utterance of words or doing something which causes little damage and does little harm. Peacefulness means that one should overlook conduct of that type and should act with dignity; but if a person’s conduct does real harm to life or property or honour, the moral quality that should come into play in apposition to it is not peacefulness but forbearance, to which we shall revert later. Should anyone behave mischievously towards you, you should try to repel it with peacefulness, whereby he who is your enemy will become your warm friend (41:35). In short, peacefulness means overlooking trivial matters of annoyance which occasion no great harm, and are more-or less confined to uttering nonsense.
What is the meaning of courtesy and good word?
The fourth moral quality in the context of discarding evil is courtesy or a good word. The natural impulse which is at the root of this moral quality is cheerfulness. Before an infant is able to express itself in words it displays cheerfulness as a substitute for courtesy and good talk. That shows that the root of courtesy is cheerfulness which is a natural faculty and is converted into the moral quality of courtesy by being used on its proper occasion. The Divine teaching in this context is:
Say to people that which is good (2:84). Let not one people deride another people, haply they may be better than themselves; nor let one group of women deride another, haply the last may be better than the first. Defame not your people nor call them names (49:12). Eschew too much suspicion; Also spy not, nor backbite one another (49:13). Do not charge anyone with anything of which you have no proof, and remember that the ear and the eye and the heart will all be called to account (17:37).
The second type of moral qualities are those that are related to doing good. The first of these is forbearance or forgiveness.
The second moral quality in this category is equity, and the third is benevolence and the fourth is graciousness as between kindred.
What is the meaning of forbearance and forgiveness?
The first of these is forbearance or forgiveness. He who commits an offence against another causes him pain or harm and deserves to be punished either through the process of the law, with imprisonment or fine, or directly by the person offended. To forgive him, if forgiveness should be appropriate, would be to do him good. In this context the teaching of the Holy Quran is:
Those who control their tempers when they are roused and who overlook people’s faults when that is appropriate (3:135). The recompense of an injury is a penalty in proportion thereto; but whose forgives and effects thereby a reform in the offender, and no harm is apprehended, that is to say, exercises forgiveness on its appropriate occasion, will have his reward with Allah (42:41).
This verse shows that the Quran does not teach non-resistance to evil on all occasions, or that mischief makers and wrongdoers should never be punished. Its teaching is that one must consider whether the occasion calls for forgiveness or punishment, and to adopt the course which would be best in the interests both of the offender and the public. Sometimes an offender turns away from wrongdoing in consequence of being forgiven, and sometimes forgiveness incites him to further wrongdoing. Therefore, God Almighty directs that we should not develop the habit of forgiving blindly on all occasions, but should consider carefully whether forgiveness or punishment would be most appropriate, and, therefore, a virtue, in each particular case, and should adopt that course. Some people are so vindictive that they keep in mind the wrongs done to their fathers through generations, and there are others who carry forbearance and forgiveness to the extreme, sometimes even to the limit of shamelessness. They exercise such weakness, forgiveness and forbearance as are utterly inconsistent with dignity, honour, jealousy and chastity. Their conduct is a stain on good character and the result of their forgiveness and forbearance is that people are disgusted with them. That is why the Holy Quran attaches the condition of appropriate time and place for the exercise of every moral quality, and does not approve the exercise of a moral quality out of its place.
What is the significance of equity, benevolence and graciousness as between kindred?
The second moral quality in this category is equity, and the third is benevolence and the fourth is graciousness as between kindred. God, the Glorious, has commanded us:
Return good for good, and to exercise benevolence when it is called for, and to do good with natural eagerness as between kindred, when that should be appropriate (16:91). God Almighty forbids transgression or that you should exercise benevolence out of place or should refrain from exercising it when it is called for; or that you should fall short of exercising graciousness as between kindred on its proper occasion, or should extend it beyond its appropriate limit. This verse sets forth three graduations of doing good.
This verse sets forth three graduations of doing good.
The first is the doing of good in return for good. This is the lowest gradation and even an average person can easily acquire this gradation that he should do good to those who do good to him.
The second gradation is a little more difficult than the first, and that is to take the initiative in doing good out of pure benevolence. This is the middle grade. Most people act benevolently towards the poor. But there is a hidden deficiency in benevolence, that the person exercising benevolence is conscious of it and desires gratitude or prayer in return for his benevolence.
The third grade of doing is graciousness as between kindred. God Almighty directs that in this grade there should be no idea of benevolence or any desire for gratitude, but good should be done out of such eager sympathy as, for instance, a mother does good to her child. This is the highest grade of doing good which cannot be exceeded.
It should be remembered that equity or benevolence or graciousness between kindred is not in itself a moral quality. They are man’s natural Conditions and faculties that are exhibited even by children before they develop their reason. Reason is a condition of the exercise of a moral quality and there is also a condition that every moral quality should be exercised in its proper place and on its proper occasion.
Why was the Holy Prophet raised in Arabia?
That the last Divine guidance should shine forth from Arabia was determined by Divine wisdom. The Arabs are descended from Ishmael who was cut asunder from Israel and had, under Divine wisdom, been cast into the wilderness of Paran (Faran), which means two fugitives. The descendants of Ishmael had been cut asunder from Bani Israel by Abraham himself and they had no part in the law of the Torah, as was written that they would not inherit from Isaac.
Thus they were abandoned by those to whom they belonged and had no relationship with anyone else. In all other countries there were some traces of worship and commandments which indicated that they had at one time received instruction from prophets. Arabia alone was a country that was utterly unacquainted with such teachings and was the most backward of all. Its turn came last of all and it received the benefit of a universal prophethood, so that all countries might share again in the blessings of prophethood, and the errors that had become current in the meantime among them might be weeded out.
Why is no other book needed after the Holy Quran?
The Holy Quran is the Perfect Book which undertook the entire project of human reform and is not addressed only to one people. It seeks the reform of all and has set forth all grades of human development. It teaches savages the manners and ways of humanity and thereafter instructs them in high moral qualities. Thus there is no need of any other book beside the Holy Quran.
What favor has the Holy Quran done to humanity by way of teaching the highest moral?
It is a bounty of the Holy Quran upon mankind that it has set forth the distinction between man’s natural State and moral qualities. And that it does not stop merely at leading man from his natural conditions to the elevated palace of high moral qualities? But also opens the doors of the holy understanding that leads man to the spiritual heights. In this way it sets forth in an excellent manner the three types of teaching that we have already mentioned. As it comprehends all the teachings which are necessary for religious training, it claims it has discharged this function to perfection. It says:
This day have I perfected your religion for your benefit, and have completed My favour unto you and have been pleased to appoint Islam as your religion (5:4). This means the climax of religion has been reached in Islam. Which is that a person should be committed wholly to God and should seek his salvation through the Sacrifice of his self in the cause of God, and not through any other means, and should demonstrate this motive and determination in his conduct. This is the stage at which all excellences arrive at their perfection. Thus, The Holy Quran has presented the God Who was not identified by the philosophers.
What methods has the Holy Quran given for the existence of God?
The Quran has adopted two methods for the understanding of God. First, the method whereby human reason is strengthened and illumined for the purpose of setting forth reasons in support of the existence of God, and thus saves a person from falling into error. Secondly, the spiritual method which we shall set forth in answer to the third question.
Proof of the Existence of God
We now proceed to draw attention to the excellent and matchless proofs of the existence of God that the Holy Quran has set forth. At one place it has said:
Our Lord is He Who has bestowed upon everything its appropriate faculties, and has then guided it to the achievement of its appropriate purposes (20:51). If we keep in mind the purport of this verse and then reflect upon the shape and form of man and all the animals on land and in the sea, and the birds, we are impressed with the power of God Who has bestowed its appropriate form on everything. This is a vast subject and we would urge our listeners to reflect deeply upon it.
The second proof of the existence of God that the Holy Quran has set forth is that God is the ultimate cause of all causes, as it is said:
Thy Lord is the final cause of all causes (53:43). If we observe carefully we find that the entire universe is bound together in a system of cause and effect. This system is at the root of all knowledge. No part of creation is outside this system. Some things are the roots of others and some are branches. A cause may be primary or may be the effect of another cause, and that in its turn may be the effect of still another cause, and so on. Now, it is not possible that in this finite world this pattern of cause and effect should have no limit and should be infinite. We are compelled to acknowledge that it must terminate with some ultimate cause. The ultimate cause is God. This verse sets forth this argument very concisely and affirms that the system of cause and effect terminates in God.
Another proof of Divine existence set forth in the Quran is:
This means that the sun cannot catch up with the moon, and the night, which is a manifestation of the moon, cannot prevail over the day, which is a manifestation of the sun. Neither of them can move outside its orbit (36:41). Were there not a Regulator of the whole of this system behind the scenes, the system would fall into chaos. This proof is very striking in the estimation of astronomers. There are so many grand heavenly bodies that are gliding through space that the slightest disorder in their movements would bring about the ruin of the whole world. What a manifestation of Divine power is it that these bodies neither collide nor change their speed, nor alter their courses in the slightest degree, nor have they been worn out by their circulation during such a long period, nor has their machinery suffered any disorder. If they are not under the supervision of a Guardian, how is it that such a grand organisation continues to carry on through numberless years entirely on its own ? At another place in the Quran God Almighty draws attention to this in the words:
Can there be a doubt in the existence of God Who has originated the heavens and the earth (14:11)?
He has set forth another proof of His existence in the words:
All that is on the earth will perish and only the countenance of thy Lord, Master of Glory and Honour, will survive (55:27-28). If we assume that the earth might be reduced into particles and the heavenly bodies might be broken down and everything might be overtaken by a blast that would wipe out every sign of these bodies, yet reason acknowledges and right conscience deems it necessary that after all this destruction there should survive One, Who is not subject to destruction, and can undergo no change and Who should continue in His pristine state. That One is God, Who has created everything mortal and is Himself immune from mortality.
Another proof of His existence that God has set forth in the Holy Quran is: God enquired from the souls:
Am I not your Lord ? and they answered: Indeed (7:173). In this verse God Almighty sets forth, in the form of question and answer, the characteristic with which He has invested the souls, and that is that by its very nature no soul can deny the existence of God. Those who deny God do so because they can find no proof of His existence according to their own fancy. Yet they acknowledge that for everything that is created there must be a creator. There is no one in the world so stupid that if he falls ill he would insist that there is no cause for his illness. If the system of the universe had not been made up of cause and effect, it would not have been possible to predict the time of a tornado, or of the eclipse of the sun or the moon, or that a patient would die at a certain time, or that a disease would be reinforced by another disease at a certain stage. Thus, a research scholar who does not acknowledge the existence of God, in effect does so indirectly, for he too, like us, searches for the causes of effects. This is an acknowledgment of a sort, though it is not perfect. Besides, if, through some device, a person who denies the existence of God could be made unconscious in such manner that he should pass under the complete control of God, discarding all fancies, emotions, and impulses of his earthly life, he would in such a state acknowledge the existence of God and would not deny it. This is testified to by eminent experts. The verse that we have cited also indicates that a denial of the existence of God is only a manifestation of this earthly existence, for the true nature of man fully confesses His existence.
How is the contented sould a spring of the spiritual conditions?
How is the soul which is at content – a spring of the spiritual conditions?
The third question is: What are spiritual conditions? We have already stated that according to the Holy Quran the fountainhead of spiritual conditions is the soul at rest, which carries a person from the grade of a moral being to the grade of a godly being, as Allah, the Glorious has said:
O soul that has found its rest in God, return to thy Lord, thou well pleased with Him and He well pleased with thee. So enter among My chosen servants and enter My Garden (89:28-31).
What is the paradise on this earth and in the hereafter?
It should be remembered that the highest spiritual condition of a person he this life is that he should find comfort in God and all his Satisfaction, and ecstasy and delight should be centered in God. This is the Condition which is called the heavenly life. In this condition a person is bestowed the heavenly life he this very world in return for his perfect sincerity, purity and faithfulness. Other people look forward to paradise in the hereafter, but he enters it in this very life. Arriving at this stage a person realises that the worship that was prescribed for him is he truth the food that nurtures his soul, and on which his spiritual life largely depends, and that its consummation is not postponed to the after life. All the reproof that the reproving self administers to him on his unclean life and yet fails to rouse fully his longing for virtue and to generate real disgust against his evil desires, and to bestow full power of adherence to virtue, is transformed by this urge which is the beginning of the development of the soul at rest. On arriving at this stage a person becomes capable of achieving complete prosperity. All the passions of self begin to wither and a strengthening breeze begins to blow upon the soul so that the person Conceded looks upon his previous weaknesses with remorse. At that time nature and habits experience a complete transformation and the person is drawn far away from his previous condition. He is washed and cleansed and God inscribes love of virtue upon his heart and casts out from it the impurity of Vice with His own hand. The forces of truth all enter the citadel of his heart and righteousness occupies all the battlements of his nature and truth becomes victorious and falsehood lays down its arms and is put to flight. The hand of God is placed over his heart and he takes every step under the shade of God. God Almighty has indicated all this in the following Verses:
These are they he whose hearts Allah has inscribed faith with His Own hand and whom He has helped with the Holy Spirit (58:23). Allah has endeared faith to you and has made it to scorn fair to your hearts! And He has made you averse to disbelief, wickedness and disobedience and impressed upon your hearts the viciousness of evil ways. All this has come about through the grace and favour of Allah. Allah is All-Knowing Wise (49:8-9). Truth has arrived and falsehood has vanished, falsehood is bound to disappear (17:82).
All this pertains to the spiritual condition which a person attains at the third stage. No One can acquire true height unless he arrives at this Condition.
How does Almighty Allah inscribe faith in our hearts and how does He help us with the holy spirit?
God’s inscribing faith on their hearts with His Own hand and helping them with the Holy Spirit means that no one can achieve true purity and righteousness unless he receives heavenly help. At the stage of the reproving self a person’s condition is that he repents time after time and yet falls down and often despairs and Considers his Condition beyond remedy. He remains in this situation for a period and when the appointed time comes a light descends upon him at night or during the day which possesses divine power. With the descent of that light he undergoes a wonderful Change and he perceives the control of a hidden hand, and beholds a Wonderful world. At that time he realises that trod exists and his eyes are filled with a light which they did not possess before.
What is the significance of seeking the straight path?
The law of nature informs us that for the achievement of each purpose there is appointed a straight path and the purpose can be achieved only by following that path. For instance, if we are sitting he a dark room, the straight path for obtaining the light of the sun is for us to open the window that faces the sun. When we do that. The light of the sun blatantly enters the room and illumines it. Thus it is obvious that for the acquisition of God’s love and real glaze these must he some window, and there must be an appointed method far the acquisition of pure spirituality. Then we should see the straight pelts that leads to spirituality as we seek a straight path for the achievement of all our other purposes. That method is not that we should seek to meet God only through the exercise Or our reason and by following our self-appointed ways. The doors which can only he opened by His powerful hands will not yield to our logic and philosophy. We cannot find the Ever-Living and Self-Subsisting God through our own devices. The only straight path for the achievement of this purpose is that we should first devote our lives. Together with all our faculties, to the cause of God Almighty, and should then occupy ourselves with supplication for meeting Him, and should thus rind God through God Himself.
Describe an excellent prayer of the Holy Quran?
The most excellent prayer which instructs us concerning the time and occasion of supplication arid depicts before us the picture of spiritual zeal is the one that God, the Beneficent, has taught us in the opening chapter of the Holy Quran.
What is the meaning of paradise after death?
The paradise that will be bestowed in the hereafter would be a reflection of this paradise Which will, through Divine power, be manifested physically. This is referred to in the following verses:
For him who fears to stand before his Lord and is in awe of His Greatness and Majesty, there are two gardens, one in this world and the other in the hereafter (55:47). Those who are wholly devoted to God will be given a drink that will purify their hearts and their thoughts and their designs (76:22). The virtuous shall be given a drink which is tempered with camphor from a spring wherefrom the servants of Allah drink. They cause it to gush forth through their own efforts (76:6-7).
What are the drinks of camphor and ginger which will be offered to the righteous people in paradise?
We have already explained that the word Kafoor has been used in this verse for this reason that the Arabic word kafara means suppression and covering up. This is an indication that these people have quaffed the cup of cutting asunder from the world and turning to God with such Sincerity that their love of the world has become quite cold. It is well known that all passions originate in the heart and when the heart withdraws altogether from all undesirable fancies and never reverts to them at all, those passions begin to decline till they disappear altogether; that is what is conveyed in this verse, that is to say, that such people draw far away from the passions of self and incline so completely towards God that their hearts become cold to worldly pursuits and their passions are suppressed as camphor suppresses poisonous matter.
Then it is said: They will be given to drink therein of a cup tempered with ginger (76:18-19). The Arabic word for ginger (Zanjabil) is a compound of zana and jabal. Zana in Arabic idiom means ascending and jabal means a mountain, thus Zanajabal means: He ascends the mountain. It should be remembered that after a person recovers from a poisonous disease he passes through two stages before he is restored to full health and strength. The first stage is when the poisonous matter is completely overcome and dangerous tendencies are reformed and poisonous conditions are safely averted and the attack of the fatal upsurge is completely suppressed, but the limbs are still weak, strength is lacking and the patient treads wearily. The second stage is when the patient is restored to full health and his body achieves full strength and he feels that he can climb hills and run along the heights. This condition is achieved in the third stage concerning which God Almighty has said that godly people of the highest rank drink of cups that are flavoured with ginger; that is to say, that arriving at the full strength of their spiritual condition they can climb high mountains; meaning that they carry out great projects and make great sacrifices in the cause of God.
What is the significance of chains and fire for the disbelievers?
We have prepared chains and collars and a blazing fire for the disbelieves (76:5). This means that for those who reject the truth and have no inclination towards accepting it, God has prepared chains and collars and a blazing fire. The meaning is that those who do not seek God with a true heart suffer a severe reaction. They are so much involved with the world as if their feet are secured by chains, and they bend down so much towards worldly pursuits as if there are collars round their necks which do not permit them to lift their eyes towards heaven. They have a burning desire for the things of the world, property, authority, domination, wealth, etc. As God Almighty finds them unworthy and committed to undesirable pursuits He inflicts them with these three sufferings.
How is the action of God manifested as a consequence of the action of human beings?
As we observe clearly that in our worldly life there is an inevitable result for every action of ours, and that result is the act of God Almighty, the same law operates in religious matters also. For instance, it is said: This means that in consequence of the full striving of a person in seeking God, the inevitable act of God is to guide him along the ways that lead to Him (29:70). As a contrast it is said: When they deviated from the right course and did not desire to tread along the straight path, the Divine action followed in that their hearts were made perverse (61:6). To illustrate this even more clearly it is said:
He who remains blind in this life win be blind in the hereafter also, and even more astray (17:73). This is an indication that the virtuous see God in this very life and they behold their True Beloved in this world.
How can the perfect relationship with God be inculcated?
The method of establishing perfect spiritual relationship with God that the Holy Quran teaches us is Islam, meaning devoting one’s whole life to the cause of God and being occupied with the supplications which we have been taught in Surah Fatiha. This is the essence of Islam. Complete surrender to God and the supplications taught in Surah Fatiha are only methods of meeting God and drinking the water of true salvation. This is the only that the law of nature has appointed for man’s highest exaltation and for his meeting the Divine. Those alone find God who enter into spiritual fire of Islam and continue occupied with the supplication set out in the Surah Fatiha.
What is Islam according to the Holy Quran?
Islam is the blazing fire that burns up our life and consuming our false deities presents the sacrifice of our life and our property and our honour to our Holy God. Entering it we drink the water of a new life and all our spiritual faculties establish such a relationship with God as subsists between kindred. A fire leaps up from our inside like lightning and another fire descends upon us from above. By the meeting of these two flames all our passions and out love for anything beside God are totally consumed and we become dead vis-a-vis our previous life. This condition is named Islam in the Holy Quran.
How does Islam annihilate the lower passions and how do we attain life with prayer?
Through our complete surrender to the will of God our passions are killed, and through supplications we acquire new life. This life is signalised by the receipt of revelation. Arriving at this stage is interpreted as meeting with God, in other words beholding God. At this stage a person establishes a relationship with God by virtue of which he becomes as if he were beholding of God, and he is invested with power and all his senses and his inner faculties are illumined and he feels the strong pull of a holy life. At this stage God becomes his eye with which he sees, and becomes his tongue with which he speaks, and becomes his hand which he assaults his enemy, and becomes his ear with which he hears, and becomes his feet with which he walks. This stage is referred to in the verse:
Allah’s hand is above their hands (48:11). In the same way it is said:
It was not thou who didst throw, but it was Allah Who threw (8:18). In short at this stage there is perfect union with God and His holy will pervades the soul thoroughly, and the moral power that had previously been weak becomes firm like a mountain and reason and intelligence are sharpened to the extreme. This is the meaning of the verse:
He has strengthened them with His spirit (58:23). At this stage the streams of love for and devotion to Him surge up he such manner that to die he the Cause of God and to endure thousands of torments for His Sake and to become disgraced he His path. Become as easy as breaking a small straw. One is pulled towards God without knowing who is pulling. One is carried about by a hidden hand, and to do God’s will becomes the purpose of one s life. At this stage God appeals very Close as He has said:
We are closer to him than his jugular vein (50:17).
In that Condition the lower relationships of a person fall away from him. As ripe fruit falls away automatically from the branch of a tree. His relationships with God deepens and he draws far away from all creation and is honoured with the word and Converse of God. The doors of access to this stage are as wide open today as they were at any time, and Divine grace still bestows this bounty upon those who seek it as He did before.
What is the secret of attaining nearness to God?
This is not achieved by the mere exercise of the tongue. And this door is not opened by vain talk and boasts. There are many who Seek but there are few who find. Why is that so ? it is because this stage demands true earnestness and true sacrifice. Mere words mean nothing he this context. To Step faithfully onto the fire from which other people run away is the first requirement of this path. Boasts avail nothing: what is needed is practical zeal and earnestness. In this context God, the Glorious, has said:
When My servants enquire from thee concerning Me, tell them I am close. I respond to the call of supplicant when he calls on Me. So should they seek Me through their supplications and have firm faith in Me, that they may be rightly guided. (2:187)
Why does Allah give the example of a garden when describing faith?
Then it is said: Give glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness, that for them there are gardens beneath which rivers flow (2:26). In this verse God Almighty has described faith as a garden beneath which rivers flow, and has thus indicated that faith is related to righteous action as a garden is related to the water of the river or stream. As a garden cannot flourish without water, faith cannot Survive without righteous action. If there is faith but no righteous action the faith is vain; and if there are actions but not faith, the actions arc mere show or display. The reality of the Islamic paradise is that it is a reflection of the faith and actions of a person in this life and is not something that will be bestowed upon a person from outside A person s paradise is developed aside him and everyone’s paradise is his faith and his righteous actions, the delight of which begins to be tasted in this very life and one perceives the hidden gardens and Streams of faith and righteous action which will become concretely manifest in the hereafter. God’s holy teaching instructs us that pure and perfect and firm faith in God, His attributes and His designs, is a beautiful garden of fruit trees, and righteous actions are the streams that irrigate the garden.
What example of kalima tayyiba has been given in the form of a tree and what are its signs?
The Holy Quran tells us that a word of faith which is free from every extreme and defect and falsehood and vanity and is perfect in every Was is like a tree which is free from every defect, the root of which is firm he the earth and its branches spread into heaven. It brings forth its fruit at all times and at no time are its branches without fruit (14:25-26). Thus it will be seen that God Almighty has described a word of faith as a tree that bears fruit at all times and has set forth three of its characteristics.
The first is that its root, that is to say, its true meaning should be firm he the earth, meaning that its truth and reality should be acceptable to human nature and conscience.
Its second characteristic is that its branches should spread out into heaven, meaning that it should be supported by reason and should be in accord with the heavenly law of nature which is the work of God. In other words the law of nature should furnish arguments be support of its correctness and truth, and those arguments should be beyond the reach of criticism.
Its third characteristic should be that its fruit should be permanent and unlimited that is to say, the blessings and effects of acting upon it should Continue to be manifested at all times and should not cease to be manifested after a period.
What example of kalima khabisa has been given?
The case of an evil word is like that of an evil tree, which is uprooted from the earth and has no stability (14:27); meaning that human nature rejects it and it cannot be established by reason, or the law of nature or human conscience. It has no more stability than an idle tale.
Second Question: What is the State of Man After Death
What will be the state of man after death?
The state of man after death is not a new state, only his condition in this life is made manifest more clearly in the next life. Whatever is the true condition of a person with respect to his beliefs and actions, righteous or otherwise, in this life, it remains hidden inside him and its poison or its antidote affects his being covertly. In the life after death if will not be so; everything will manifest itself openly. One experiences a specimen of it in a dream. The prevailing condition of the body of the sleeper makes itself manifest in his dream. As a dream transmutes our spiritual condition into a physical form, the same will happen in the next life.
What are the teachings of the Quran on heaven and hell?
If we were not to call the conditions of the next life manifestations and were to say that they would be a new creation by Divine power, that would be perfectly correct. God has said: No virtuous one knows what bliss is kept hidden from him, as a reward for that which he used to do [32:18]. In interpreting the verse that we have just cited our lord and master, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has said that heaven and its bounties are such as no eye has seen, nor has any ear heard, nor have they been conceived by the mind of man. They are described in physical terms but we are told that their source is the soul and its righteousness. The trees of which are their faith and the streams of which are that righteous actions. In the hereafter also they will eat of the fruits of this paradise, only those fruits will be sweeter and more manifest. As they will have eaten those fruits spiritually in this world they will recognize them in the other world and will exclaim: These appear to be the same fruits that we have already eaten; and they will think that those fruits resemble the fruits that they had eaten before in this world.
What does the Holy Quran say about life after death?
It should be kept in mind that the Holy Quran has set forth three insights with regard to the conditions of the life after death which we now proceed to expound. The Holy Quran has repeatedly affirmed that the life after death is not a new phenomenon and all its manifestations are reflections of this life. For instance, it is said: Every person’s doings have We fastened firmly to his neck; and on the Day of Judgment We shall make them manifest and shall place them before him in the form of a book which he will find wide open [17:14]. Concerning the dwellers of heaven it is said: On that day thou wilt see the light of the believing men and the believing women, which is hidden in this world, running before them and on their right hands manifestly [57:13].
What is meant by rivers of water, milk, and wine in heaven?
The Garden promised to the righteous is as if it has rivers of water that corrupts not; and rivers of milk of which the taste changes not; and rivers of wine, which do not inebriate, a delight for those who drink; and rivers of pure honey, which has no impurity [47:16]. It is clearly stated here that heaven should be understood as metaphorically comprising inexhaustible streams of these bounties. This means that the water of life which a person of spiritual understanding drinks in this life will be manifested visibly in the hereafter. The spiritual milk by which he is sustained like a suckling in this life will become physically visible in heaven. The wine of God’s love which inebriated him all the time spiritually in this life, will be manifested in the shape of rivers in heaven. The honey of the sweetness of faith which a person possessing spiritual understanding swallowed spiritually in this world will be manifested and felt physically in heaven. Every dweller of heaven will proclaim his spiritual condition openly through his gardens and rivers. God will unveil Himself on that day for the dwellers of heaven. In short, spiritual conditions will not remain hidden in the hereafter but will be physically visible and perceptible.
The third insight concerning the hereafter is that there will be unlimited progress therein. As God Almighty has said: The light of the believers will run before them and on their hands. They will supplicate: Lord, perfect our light for us and cover us with Thy grace, surely Thou hast power over all things [66:9]. Their supplication that their light may be perfected is an indication of limitless progress. It means that when they have arrived at one stage of illumination, they will perceive a higher stage ahead of them and viewing it they will consider the stage in which they are as being inferior and will supplicate for the attainment of the higher stage, and when they arrive at that stage they will perceive a still higher third stage ahead of them and they will supplicate for its achievement. Thus their yearning for constant progress is indicated by the expression: Do Thou perfect our light. In short this state of progress will continue indefinitely. There will be no falling away, nor will they be expelled from heaven. But will daily advance further forward.
It may be asked that as they will have entered heaven and all their sins would have been forgiven then what further need would there be for supplicating for forgiveness: The answer is that the true meaning of maghfirat (seeking forgiveness), is to suppress and cover up an imperfect or defective condition. Thus the dwellers of heaven will seek the attainment of perfection and their complete absorption in light. Observing a higher condition they will consider their condition defective and would desire its suppression, and then observing a still higher condition they would desire that their lower condition should be covered up and thus they will continuously seek unlimited maghfirat.
What is meaning of seeking forgiveness in heaven?
This seeking of maghfirat or istighfar is sometimes made the basis of adverse criticism of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. I trust that now it will have become clear that the desire for maghfirat is a matter of pride for man. He who is born of woman and does not make istighfar his habit, is a worm and not man, he is blind and not seeing, he is unclean and not pure.
What are the three states of existence according to the Holy Quran?
It might be explained at this stage that according to the Holy Quran there are three states of existence. The first is the world, which is called the first creation and is the state of effort. In this world man works good or evil. After resurrection the virtuous will continue their advance in goodness but that would be by the sheer grace of God and would not be the result of any effort of man.
The second is the intermediate state which is called barzukh. In Arabic idiom barzukh is something which is situated between two other things. As that state will be between the first creation and the resurrection it is called barzukh. This expression has always been employed for the intermediate state. Thus it comprehends a great hidden testimony in support of the existence of the intermediate state. Barzukh is an Arabic word which is compounded of Barra and Zakha, which means that the manner of earning through action has ended and has fallen into a hidden state. Barzukh is a state in which the mortal condition of man is dissolved and the soul and the body are separated. The body is buried in a pit and the soul also falls into a sort of pit which is indicated by the expression Zakha, because it is no longer able to earn good or evil which it could only do through its relationship with the body. It is obvious that the health of the soul is dependent upon the health of the body. An injury inflicted upon one part of a person’s brain causes loss of memory, and an injury occasioned to another part destroys the faculty of reflection and brings about unconsciousness. Similarly a convulsion of the brain muscle or a swelling or a hemorrhage or morbidity may be causing obstructions lead to insensibility, epilepsy, or cerebral apoplexy. Thus our experience teaches us definitely that the soul, divorced from the body, is utterly useless. It is entirely vain to imagine that our soul without its body can enjoy any kind of bliss. We might entertain such a fancy but reason lends it no support. We cannot conceive that our soul which is rendered helpless by minor upsets of the body could continue in a perfect condition when its relationship with the body comes to an end altogether. Does not our daily experience teach us that the health of the body is essential for the health of the soul? When one of us reaches extreme old age his soul also falls into dotage. Its store of knowledge is stolen by old age as is said by God, the Glorious. Another matter that must be kept in mind is that in His word God has described as dead those people who are involved in vice and error and has declared the virtuous as alive. The reason for this is that the function of the lives of those who die in a state of neglect of God, for instance, eating and drinking and indulgence of their passions are cut off, and they have no share of spiritual sustenance. They are truly dead and will be revived only for punishment. After Barzukh there is the state of resurrection. In that state every soul good or bad, righteous or disobedient, will be bestowed a visible body. That day has been appointed for the perfect manifestations of God, when very person will get to know the Being of his Lord fully, and everyone will arrive at the climax of his recompense.
Third Question: The Object of Man’s Life and The Means of its Attainment
What is the true purpose of a human being’s life in this world?
Different people being short-sighted and lacking high resolve, appoint different purposes for their lives and limit themselves to worldly goals and ambitions. But the purpose that God Almighty has appointed for man in His Holy Word is as follows:
I have created men and jinn so that they may know Me and worship Me [51:57]. Thus the true purpose of man’s life is the worship of God, His understanding and complete devotion to Him. It is obvious that man is not in a position to appoint the purpose of his own life, for he does not come into the world of his own accord, nor will he depart therefrom of his own will. He is a creature and the One Who created him and invested him with better and higher faculties than those of all other animals. Whether anyone penetrates to it or not, the purpose of man’s creation without a doubt is the worship and the understanding of God and complete devotion to Him.
What are the means of achieving the true purpose of a human being’s life?
It may be asked how can this purpose be achieved and through what means can a person find God? The very first means of achieving this goal is to recognize God Almighty correctly and to believe in the True God. Unto Him alone is the true prayer, as He has the power to do all things. Those on whom they call beside Him, do not respond to them at all. Their case is like that of one who stretches forth his hand towards water that it may reach his mouth, but it reaches it not. The prayers of those who are unaware of the True God are but a delusion [13:15].
The second means is to be informed of the perfect beauty of God Almighty; for the heart is naturally drawn to beauty, the observations of which generates love in the heart. God is One in His being and His attributes and His glory. He has no partner. All are dependent upon Him. He bestows life on every particle. He is the source of grace for everything and is not in need of grace from any. He is neither a son nor a father for He has no equal and no one is like unto Him [112:2-6].
The third means of approach to God is knowledge of His beneficence, for beauty and beneficence are the two incentives of love. The beneficent attributes of God are summed up in Surah Fatiha as follows: God creates His servants from nothing, out of perfect Beneficence and His Providence is available to them all the time. He is the support of everything and every type of His beneficence has been manifested for His creatures [1:2-4].
The fourth means of achieving the true purpose of life appointed by God Almighty is supplication, as He has said: Call on Me, I shall respond to you [40:61].
The fifth means of achieving the purpose of life appointed by God Almighty, is striving in His cause; and that is to say, we should seek God by spending our wealth in His cause and by employing all our faculties in furthering His cause, and by laying down our lives in His cause and by employing our reason in His cause; as He has said: Strive in His way with your wealth and your lives and will all your faculties [9:41]; and: Whatever We have bestowed upon you of intelligence and knowledge and understanding and art, employ it in Our cause [2:4]. We surely guide along Our ways those who strive after us [29:70].
The sixth means of achieving this purpose has been described as steadfastness, meaning that a seeker should not get tired or disheartened and should not be afraid of being tried, as God has said: Upon those who affirm: God is our Lord, and turn away from false gods and are steadfast, that is to say, remain firm under trials and calamities, descend angels, reassuring them: Fear not nor grieve, and be filled with happiness; and rejoice that you have inherited the joy that you had been promised. We are your friends in this life and in the hereafter [41:31-32].
The seventh means of achieving the purpose of life is to keep company with the righteous, and to observe their perfect example. One of the needs for the advent of prophets is that man naturally desires a perfect example, and such an example fosters zeal and promotes high resolve. He who does not follow an example becomes slothful and is led astray. This is indicated by Allah, the Glorious, in the verse: Keep company with the righteous [9:119]; and in the verse: Guide us along the path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed Thy favors [1:7].
The eighth means of achieving the purpose of life are visions and true dreams and revelation. As the path that leads to God Almighty is a difficult one and is studded with misfortunes and hardships and it is possible that a person might go astray while treading along this unfamiliar path and might begin to despair and stop going forward, the mercy of God desires to keep comforting him and encouraging him and augmenting his zeal and eagerness. So it is His way that from time to time He comforts such people with His word and His revelation and makes it manifest to them that He is with them. Thus they are strengthened and go forward eagerly on this journey. He has said: For them there are glad tidings in this life and in the hereafter [10:65].
Fourth Question: The Operation of the Practical Ordinances of the Law in This Life and the Next
How do actions affect us in this life and in the hereafter?
We have already stated that the effect of the true and perfect Divine law upon man’s heart in this life is that it lifts him from a savage condition and converts him into a human being, and thereafter invests him with high morals, and finally makes him godly. Their effect in the hereafter is that a person who adheres to them will observe his spiritual relationship with God as a manifest reality. The service that he rendered to God’s creatures out of his love for God which was stimulated by his faith, and his yearning for righteous action, will be manifested to him as the trees and rivers of paradise. In this context God Almighty has said: We call to witness the sun and its light; and We call to witness the moon when it follows the sun and obtains its light from it and conveys it to people; and We call to witness the day when it manifests the light of the sun and shows up the paths; and We call to witness the night when it darkens and envelops everything within itself; and We call to witness the heaven and the purpose for which it has been created; and We call to witness the earth and the purpose for which it has been spread out like a floor; and We call to witness the human soul and its quality which makes it equal to all these other things; that is to say all those qualities which are found dispersed among the other bodies that have been mentioned are all comprehended in the soul of the perfect man. As these bodies serve man in diverse ways, the perfect man performs all that service by himself. Then He says: That one will be delivered from death and will attain salvation who purifies his soul, that is to say, who serves God’s creatures out of his devotion to God like the sun and the moon and the earth. It should be kept in mind that in this context life means life eternal, which will be bestowed upon perfect man. This is an indication that the fruit of conforming to the practical ordinances of the law will be the eternal life of the next world, which will be sustained for ever by the vision of God. Then it is said that he who corrupts his soul and does not acquire the qualities for which he was bestowed appropriate capacities and goes back after spending an unclean life, shall be ruined and shall despair of life eternal. This is illustrated by the event of the she-camel of Allah, which was hamstrung by a wretched one of the tribe of Thamud and was prevented from drinking at its fountain. This is an indication that the soul of man is the she-camel of God which He bestrides, meaning that the heart of man is the place of Divine manifestations. The water of the she-camel is the love and understanding of God which sustain it. When the Thamud hamstrung the she-camel of God and prevented it from having its drink they were overtaken by God’s chastisement and He cared not how their dependents would fare. Thus would be ruined one who corrupts his soul and prevents it from taking spiritual nourishment and does not desire to foster it (91:2-16).
What is the wisdom behind calling the creations of God to witness?
There is a deep philosophy in God’s calling the sun and the moon etc. to witness. Some of our opponents, out of their lack of knowledge, criticize God for calling to witness created things. As their intelligence is earthly and not heavenly, they fail to appreciate true insights. The purpose of taking an oath is that the one who takes an oath puts forward a testimony in support of his claim. A person who has no witness of his claim calls God to witness, for He knows what is hidden and He is the foremost witness in every controversy. Such a person puts forward the testimony of God by taking an oath in His name, meaning thereby that if God does not thereafter chastise him, that would be proof that God has confirmed the truth of his claim.
It is, therefore, not permissible for a person to take the oath of any created thing, for no created thing possesses knowledge of the unseen, not has it the power to punish one who takes a false oath. In these verses God calling various phenomena to witness is not the same thing as a person taking an oath. Divine manifestations are of two types. One, those that are obvious and concerning which there is no controversy. Secondly, there are those Divine manifestations which are inferential concerning which people differ and can fall into error. By calling to witness the obvious phenomena God Almighty’s purpose is to establish by their evidence His inferential manifestations. It is obvious that the sun and the moon and the day and the night and the heaven and the earth, possess the respective characteristics that we have mentioned, but everyone is not aware of the characteristics possessed by the human soul. Thus, God has set forth His obvious manifestations as witnesses for the purpose of explaining His inferential manifestations. It is as if He says: if you are in doubt with regard to the qualities with which the human soul is invested, then reflected upon the sun and the moon and the other phenomena cited which obviously possess these qualities. You know that man is a microcosm that comprises a tiny representation of the pattern of the universe. As it is clear that the great bodies of the macrocosm possess these qualities and provide benefits for God’s creatures, then how can man, who ranks above all those bodies, be without those qualities? That is not so. Indeed, like the sun man possesses the light of knowledge and reason whereby he can illumine the world. Like the moon he receives the light of vision and revelation from the Divine and conveys it to others who have not yet arrived at the highest stage of human progress. Then how can you say that prophethood is a false notion and that all prophethoods and purported Divine laws and books are only the imposture and selfishness of certain human beings. You observe how all paths are lit up and the heights and depression become distinct when the day dawns. In the same way perfect man is the day of spiritual light, by his advent every path becomes clearly distinguishable. He points out the right path, for he himself is the bright day of truth and righteousness. Similarly, you observe how the night accommodates the weary and how the laborers, after working hard during the day, sleep in the gracious lap of the night and rest from their labors. The night also covers up all defects and imperfections. In the same way, the perfect servants of God come to provide comfort for people and the recipients of revelation relieve all wise people of extreme effort. Through them great problems of insight are easily resolved. Also Divine revelation covers up the defects of human reason and, like the night, does not let its faults to become known, inasmuch as wise people correct their mistakes on their own in the light of revelation, and thus through the blessings of God’s holy revelation save themselves from being exposed. That is the reason why no Muslim philosopher offered the sacrifice of a rooster to an idol as was done by Plato. Plato was misled as he was deprived of the light of revelation and despite being a great philosopher he perpetrated such a stupid and hateful act.
What is the reason for calling the sky and the earth to witness in the Holy Quran?
The Holy Quran has, at another place, recited such an oath for the purpose of citing an instance of the law of nature in support of the phenomenon of revelation and has said: We call to witness the heaven that sends down rain and the earth that sprouts diverse types of vegetation with the help of such rain, that the Quran is God’s word and His revelation, and that it decides between the truth and falsehood and is not vain talk, that is to say, it has not been revealed out of time and has come like seasonable rain (86:12-15).
Here God Almighty has set forth a well known law of nature in support of the truth of the Holy Quran, which is His Word. It is a matter of common observation that at a time of need rain comes down from heaven and that the vegetation of the earth all depends upon rain. When rain is held back then gradually the wells also run dry, so that the water in the earth also depends upon rain from heaven. That is how in the rainy season the level of water in the wells also arises, the reason for which is that heavenly water exercises a pull upon earthly water. The same is the relationship between divine revelation and human reason. Divine revelation is heavenly water and reason is earthly water which receives sustenance from heavenly water. When heavenly water, that is to say divine revelation, is held back, the earthly water also dries up gradually. That is the reason why, when a long time passes and no recipient of revelation appears on the earth, the reason of the wise is corrupted, as earthly water is corrupted and dries up. To appreciate this phenomenon it would be enough to cast a glance at the condition of the world immediately before the advent of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. As six hundred years had passed after the time of Jesus, and no recipient of revelation had appeared during the interval, the whole world had been corrupted. The history of every country shows that before the advent of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
Fifth Question: Sources of Divine Knowledge
What are the three types of knowledge?
God Almighty has indicated three types of knowledge, namely knowledge by certainty of reason, knowledge of certainty of sight, and knowledge by certainty of experience. This might be illustrated thus. When a person perceives smoke from a distance his mind conceives that smoke and fire are inseparable, and therefore where there is smoke there must be fire also. This would be knowledge by certainty of reason. Then on a nearer approach he sees the flames of the fire and that is knowledge by certainty of sight. Should he enter into the fire, that would be knowledge by the certainty of experience.
What are the means to achieving knowledge by reason?
It should be known that the source of the first type of knowledge, that is to say knowledge by the certainty of inference, is reason and information. One can obtain the certainty of knowledge by inference through one’s ears also. The books of the Prophets are also a source of knowledge through hearing, provided there should be no contradiction in the account that is heard.
The Holy Quran is not confined merely to knowledge gained through continuity of hearing, it contains well reasoned arguments which carry conviction. It is called a Reminder meaning that the Blessed Quran does not set forth anything that is new but is a reminder of that which already exists in man’s nature and in the book of nature (21:51). Thus intellectual arguments which have a sound basis undoubtedly lead a person to the certainty of knowledge by inference.
Human conscience is also a source of knowledge which has been named human nature in the Book of God: Follow the nature designed by Allah, the nature according to which He has fashioned mankind (30:31).
What are the means to achieving knowledge by sight?
The second state of knowledge of sight. That is a degree of knowledge when there is no intermediary between us and that of which we have gained knowledge. For instance, when we perceive a good or bad smell through our sense of smell, or perceive the sweetness or saltines of something through our sense of smell, or perceive the sweetness or saltines of something through our sense of taste or perceive the warmth or coldness of anything through our sense of feeling, all such knowledge is, as it were, certainty through sight.
With regard to the hereafter our knowledge arrives at the degree of certainty by sight when we receive direct revelation and hear the voice of God through our ears, and behold the true and clear visions of God with our eyes. Without a doubt we are in need of direct revelation for the purpose of achieving such perfect understanding for which our hearts hunger and thirst in our beings.
What proof has been given in the Quran for the existence of revelation?
In short, if God Almighty designs to bestow perfect understanding upon His seekers then He has certainly kept open the way of converse with them. In this context God, the Glorious, has taught us the supplication in the Holy Quran: Guide us along the path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed Thy favors (1:6-7). Here by divine favors is meant heavenly knowledge by way of revelation and visions that are bestowed directly upon man. At another place it is said: Upon those who, having believed in God, continue to be steadfast, descend God’s angels reassuring them: Fear not, nor grieve, and rejoice in the paradise that you have been promised (41:31). Here it is clearly stated that the righteous servants of God receive revelation from God at times of fear and grief and angels descend upon them to reassure them. At another place it is said: that the friends of God receive glad tidings in this life through revelation and converse with God and will also have the same experience in the hereafter (10:65).
What is the meaning of revelation?
What then is revelation? It is the living and powerful converse of the Holy and Mighty God with a chosen servant of His, or with one whom He designs to make His elect. When this converse starts in an adequate and satisfactory manner, being altogether free from the darkness of false concepts, and is not composed merely of a few inadequate and meaningless words, and is full of delight and wisdom and grandeur, then it surely is the word of God with which He designs to comfort His servant and to manifest Himself to him. Sometimes revelation is vouchsafed to a person by way of trial and is not equipped with full blessings. In such a case the recipient is put on his trial at this elementary stage so that having tasted somewhat of revelation he should order his life along the lines of those who are true recipients of revelation, in default of which he would encounter frustration. If he does not adopt the ways of the truly righteous he is deprived of the fullness of this bounty and is left only with vain boasting.
Millions of the virtuous have been recipients of revelation, but they were not of equal standing in the estimation of God. Indeed, even the holy Prophets of God, who are recipients of divine revelation at the highest level, are not equal in rank, as God Almighty has said: Of these Messengers some have We exalted above others (2:254).
If a righteous and virtuous servant of God should experience unobstructed dialogue with the Divine and should hear heights and delicious, and meaningful, and wise, and majestic divine utterances in a state of complete wakefulness in the shape of question and answer at least ten times, that is to say he put a question and God replied to it and then in complete wakefulness he made another submission and God made answer to it, and he made another humble supplication and God replied to that. This could have happened ten times. If in the course of such dialogue God should accept his prayers and should instruct him with excellent insights and should inform him of coining events and should honor him repeatedly with His clear dialogue, such a one should be deeply grateful to God Almighty and should be more devoted to Him than anyone else, because God of His pure grace, has chosen him from among His servants and has made him the heir of those faithful ones who have passed on before him. This bounty is most rare and is the highest good luck. For him on whom it is bestowed everything else is utterly without value.
What are the means of achieving knowledge of certainty through experience?
The third source of knowledge is certainty through experience, that is to say, all the hardships and calamities and sufferings that are experienced by the Prophets and the righteous at the hands of their opponents, or that are imposed upon them by Divine decree. Through these hardships and sufferings all the commandments of the law and its directions that were comprehended by the human mind intellectually, appear in practical shape and become experience, and by being developed by practical exercise arrive at their climax, and the person concerned himself becomes a perfect code of Divine guidance. All the moral qualities like forbearance, retribution, endurance, mercy etc. which hitherto pervaded the mind and heart theoretically, become part of the personality through practical experience and make their impress upon the total personality of the sufferer, as God the Glorious has said: We shall surely true you with somewhat of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and lives and of the fruits of your labour, that is to say you will suffer all this at the hands of your enemies, or by virtue of Divine decree. Then give glad tidings to the steadfast, who, when misfortune overtakes them, do not lose heart but say: Surely to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return. It is these on whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy, and it is these who are rightly and perfectly guided (2:156-158). These verses indicate that there is no virtue in the knowledge that is confined to the mind and heart. True knowledge is that which emerges from the mind and regulates and trains all the limbs, and manifests in practice all the store of memory. Thus knowledge is strengthened and fostered through its impress being imposed on all the limbs by practical experience.
What is the difference between knowledge by experience and knowledge obtained merely through academics?
He has warned us: You will surely be tied in respect of your possessions and your persons, that is to say, people will plunder your wealth and will kill you; and you will surely suffer many hurtful things at the hands of Jews and Christians and of those who set up partners with Allah; but if you show fortitude and restrain yourselves, that indeed would be evidence of high resolve (3:187). The purport of all these verses is that only that knowledge is beneficial which has been tested by experience, and the knowledge that is merely academic and has not been the subject of experience is without beneficence.
As wealth is multiplied by commerce, in the same way knowledge arrives at its spiritual climax through practical experience. Thus practical experience is the principal means of perfecting knowledge and bestows a light upon knowledge. The ultimate certainty of knowledge is achieved through experience of every part of it. That is what happened in Islam. God Almighty provided the Muslims with the opportunity to illustrate whatever they were taught in the Quran in their practice and thus to become filled with its light.
What was the reason for separating the life of Holy Prophet (pboh) into a time of trials and a time of great victory?
God Almighty divided the life of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, into two phases: one phase of hardship and calamities and sufferings, and the other of victory; so that during the phase of sufferings those high moral qualities might be illustrated which come into play at such times, and during the phase of victory and authority those high moral qualities might be illustrated which cannot be displayed in the absence of authority. Thus both these types of qualities were perfectly illustrated in the life of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, by his passing through both these phases and conditions.
What kind of example did the Holy Prophet (pboh) set during the first phase of his life?
During the period of trials in Mecca, which extended over thirteen years, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, demonstrated in practice all the high qualities which a perfectly righteous person should exhibit at such a time, such as trust in God, perfect serenity under sufferings, steady and eager carrying out of duties and fearless courage. Observing his steadfastness many of the disbelievers believed in him and thus testified that it is only one who has complete trust in God who can display such steadfastness and endurance of suffering.
What kind of example did the Holy Prophet (pboh) set during the second phase of his life?
During the second phase, that is to say the phase of victory, authority and prosperity, he demonstrated such high qualities as forbearance, forgiveness, benevolence, and courage, so that a large number of the disbelievers in him through witnessing his exercise of those high qualities. He forgave those who had persecuted him, granted security to those who had expelled him from Mecca, bestowed great wealth upon those among them who were in need and have obtained authority over his bitter enemies, forgave them all. Witnessing his high morals many of them testified that such qualities could only be demonstrated by one who comes from God and is truly righteous.
How did the Holy Prophet (pboh) sacrificed his own life for the well-being of other human beings?
His greatest quality was the one that is set out in the Holy Quran in the following words: Tell them: My worship and my sacrifices and my living and my dying are all wholly for Allah (6:163). This means that the whole purpose of his life was to demonstrate the glory of God and to provide comfort for His creatures so that through his constant suffering of death they might procure life.
In the above verse, what is meant by death?
No one should be misled by the mention of his death in the cause of God and for the good of His creatures, into thinking that he had at any time (God save us) contemplated destroying himself, imagining like the ignorant and the insane, that his suicide would be of benefit to others. He was entirely free from any such stupid line of thinking and was wholly opposed to it.
How did the Holy Prophet (pboh) display high moral standards in his life?
There is no high moral quality for the exercise of which God Almighty did not afford him an opportunity. All excellent moral qualities like bravery, generosity, steadfastness, forbearance, meekness, etc., were in his case so clearly established that it is not possible to seek his equal. It is also true that those who had carried their persecution of him to the extreme and had designed the destruction of Islam, were not left unpunished by God. To forgo chastisement in their case would have amounted to the destruction of the righteous under the heels of their enemies.
What was the purpose of the wars in which Holy Prophet (pboh) took part?
The purpose of the wars of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was not to cause needless bloodshed. The Muslims had been expelled from their ancestral homes, many innocent Muslim men and women had been martyred, and still the wrongdoers were not prepared to restrain themselves, and continuously obstructed the progress of Islam. In these circumstances the Divine law of security demanded the safeguarding of the persecuted once against total destruction. Therefore, those who had drawn the sword were opposed with the sword. Thus those wars were directed towards rooting out the mischief of those who were bent upon murder and were aimed at repelling evil. They took place at a time when the wrongdoers were bent on the ruins of the righteous. In these circumstances, if Islam had not had recourse to measures of self-defense, thousands of innocent women and children would have been slaughtered and an end would have been put to Islam.
Why does the Holy Quran teach us to treat our enemies with kindness?
It is a great error on the part of our opponents that they imagine that revealed guidance must under no circumstances inculcate resistance to the enemy and should always demonstrate its love and mercy by way of meekness and gentleness. Such people imagine that they display great reverence for God, the Lord of Honour and Glory, by attributing to Him only the qualities of gentleness and tenderness. But those who are given to reflection and pondering can easily perceive that such people are involved in gross and obvious error. A contemplation of the Divine law of nature clearly shows that it certainly is pure mercy. But that mercy does not manifest itself by way of gentleness and tenderness in all circumstances. Out of pure mercy, like an expert physician, it sometimes administers a sweet drug to us and at other times it prescribes a bitter medicine for us. Divine mercy deals with us as each of us deals mercifully with his body. This illustration should help us to realize that when God observes that His righteous servants are in peril of being destroyed at the hand of the worshippers of falsehood and that this would lead to great disorder He manifests His appropriate designs, whether from heaven or from earth, for the safeguarding of the righteous and for the putting down of disorder; for as He is Merciful, He is also Wise. All praise belongs to Allah the Lord of the Universe.