Qaf, part 1
The chronologically 34th revealed chapter of the Quran
We may lose ourselves in the descriptions in the Quran and take the message literally which is easy for us to fall into. The Quran includes figurative descriptions, nothing straight forward, and it needs to be interpreted, so the message must be universal. The Quranic description of matters related to belief in the Absolute Being, Angels (which are not physically existing in this world), Hereafter (we have not physically experienced it but have some sense of it), these are not to be understood arbitrarily. There are principles that need to be followed to understand our reality here, and these principles have limitations. The topics of the Quran mostly deal with the subjects related to “belief” and “morality”, the purpose of existence, arriving at a conclusion about what our reality points to. Example: looking at this world, and seeing the meaning inscribed in it, we conclude that an Absolute Being must exist, which is an interpretation. That is, the meaning that I extract from existence refers to a source that is not in the universe.
We must bear this principle in mind that the physical and mathematical readings of the Quran is not a valid explanation to understanding my existence. We need to interpret the physical description of the Quran in terms of the purpose of the Quran. We will describe this later.
Comment: What is the fate of unbelievers in the next world from the point of view of their corporeality?
The Quran does not talk about spiritual resurrection, but corporal. Just like the meaning in a book does not die, similarly the meaning that we extract from creation cannot die. The book burns out and the meaning inscribed in the book remains. The emotional effect of the meaning in us remains, although the body of the book is burned. The Quran says (as per analogy) that the body of the book will be recreated, called resurrection (hashr). We will collect all of you and make a final judgment, accordingly everyone will get what they deserve. The body will be resurrected, so that the meaning/spirit will be inscribed in a book which takes the form of reflecting your reality and represents your understanding. The teaching of any subject must be with extreme points, either total darkness or total light.
Human body is given to us here as we experience our life, functions as a tool in the hand of the spirit/feeling. Our feelings exist independently from the body/tool. Example: my sense of taste is with me, so how am I going to detect the taste? You may cut my tongue, but still, I know that I am missing the taste of the food that I am eating. The body is given to us to experience what is going on in the universe at a physical level and to communicate with the sensual side of the body.
The spirit uses the body to educate itself. Example: My tongue can speak Russian. If I educate myself, I can speak Russian, if I do not then I cannot. When I learn to speak Russian, and when my body dies, my spirit will be given another body to speak the Russian language as well. In other words, the new tongue will speak as much as we trained ourselves here. Similarly, when it comes to the training of submitting ourselves to the truth and becoming aware of the reality of existence, the same principle applies. Example: While looking at a beautiful bird, I may say this is just a material thing that happened to be like this. It developed in this form and it became available to fly and look for its food. Can it be alive by itself? The Artist of the bird manifested its decoration, balance and gave the bird the ability to search for its food. I say that this is nothing but the manifestation of the qualities of the Maker. The qualities of the Maker are seen in the exhibition place of every plant. Example: A specific bird has a balance of flying a certain way, another species of bird has a balance of flying in another way. The common point is that they are all perfectly balanced and are given the ability to fly. Every bird is created with decoration. The common point is being created with decoration.
Every other creation, including stones, are beautiful. Certain stones are precious. Everything has its own shape. This bird is the manifestation of the One who has the quality of beautifying the thing and which has the quality of beautifying continuously. Every stage of the life of the bird changes. When you look at a man, you say that he is around 50 years old. Can you say that this man is 15 years old? Even one’s facial features reveal their age.
The content of my speech reveals my capacity of knowledge. When someone speaks on the phone, can you tell if he is nasty, happy, young or angry? Everything has multiple layers of qualities manifested everywhere at the same time. My mind understands and my feelings confirm it that the Creator is the Absolute One. My existence belongs to Him. I develop my spirit and educate my soul in a way that it receives the manifestation of His infinite qualities as much as I can perceive them. The tools deteriorate here and so I need another tool to practice what I have learned here. My eyes see limited qualities but my mind and spirit comprehend the infinite source of these qualities. I deserve to be given a tool to communicate with this Source as much as I could perceive this Source here. My soul deserves to be given a body which must help me to communicate with these qualities at the level that I could grasp, educate, and develop here. The alternate interpretation to this will see the physical existence of the birds and all the qualities manifested in the universe as gone into non-existence. People with such interpretation will be given tools that will only see a lump of matter, with no hope. That is “resurrection in the hereafter”.
That is why the Quran says that the denying attitude (or the false interpretations) will want what the human being needs for they will not be satisfied with their results. I want eternal expectations and my body as a lump of matter does not have the capacity to let me experience that. It is the potential capacity of the spirit that has an unlimited capacity to acknowledge its eternal needs and freedom with no limitation. The denying attitude uses its potentialities in the wrong way, as if it kills it then that is what you deserve now to be given as a lump of matter for satisfaction rather than what you need. Can a lump of matter really satisfy you eternally?
The spirit is aware of what it needs but I am given what I deserve according to my education of the spirit here. That is justice. My Creator says that you will be treated accordingly in the hereafter. Your spirit will need eternal happiness and you cannot get it because you denied the capacity of your spirit.
Every language is God’s language. If you do not educate yourself and turn your potentiality into capacity, then you know that such a language exists, and you will be deprived of this ability. If I learn a few, my capacity is able to speak a few, nothing more nothing less. The descriptions of the Qur’an are usually like Hell and Paradise; they all point to such results i.e., perfect pleasure and perfect pain. The people are always somewhere in between these two extreme points. God knows who deserves what capacity and accordingly everyone is given what they deserve. From the point of view of their corporeality, the fate of the unbelievers will also be given tools for the spirit to operate and satisfy according to how much they benefited from the message of the Messenger and submitted themselves to it. In other words, the spirit will be practicing and getting what it deserves. The more you practice, the more your mind becomes sharp about the reality of existence.
The spirit will be given a tool/body to practice the manifestation of the infinite qualities of the Creator according to its capacity. Hell is the place with the lack of manifestation of these qualities and the judgment will be completed. Here, people transgress and exploit other people. It seems that everything becomes equal now. Creation is so meaningful and the One who creates the world treats everyone with what they deserve, with one condition, the spirit does not get what it wants here.
Human free will can block the manifestation reaching the human spirit because of the choice of denial of the manifestation of the qualities and saying that these are arbitrary. Meaningless or wrong interpretations do not exist in reality. For example, things are created in a perfect way that we use the word “order” to describe it. The wrong interpretations do not represent reality and the words we use to describe the reality of existence are the bases of human language. These two subjects are not to be confused, the wrong interpretation and the words that I use. For instance, when I tell a lie, my words do not represent reality, whereas, when I use a word to describe an “orange” it represents reality.
When I look at a book, what I see is what my mind deciphers as the meaning. Is it not a real existence? The meaning has an existence, but it is not physical. I am communicating with this existent being as the mind of the author. Just like my spirit is not only a concept although it has no physical existence but it has a real existence. For example, I have a sense of loving and hating something, a sense of enjoyment and pain. I have these senses. It does not mean that it is just a concept, and I cannot describe it physically. These are real existent beings. The meaning that we extract from creation is like a book that we extract meaning from, they are not only concepts that the human mind constructs. Example: the qualities that are manifested in the physical being is a real existence. An artist paints a painting, and we get art from it by looking at the painting. The qualities of art exist and the art manifests itself as a quality in the form of a painting. You communicate with the talent of the artist through the manifested form of the art. This is real communication.
Comment: The challenge to produce a chapter/section of the Quran also relates to the creative act of God.
Exactly, how about the creation of a bird? The Quran challenges that “you cannot say as I say” it is like saying “you cannot create a bird as I create.” When the Quran says “Ar-Rahman”, can that be a meaningless sentence? When God speaks, He speaks with His capacity and demonstrates it in a language that the spirit can grasp. No one can produce a chapter/section/bird like the Quran does.
The act of God cannot be imitated, but the picture or a model of a bird can be drawn or done and decorated in material form. We see that the things are coming into existence with certain qualities manifesting the infinite qualities of their Creator. These endless qualities are manifesting everywhere at the same time, not following a sequence. We cannot put a limit to it. The existence of a bird when you look at aninstance i.e., one moment of existence, you see endless qualities manifesting there demonstrating the capacity of the Creator. As far as the act of creation is concerned, endless capacities are manifested in each bird.
The Source of existence of that moment manifested in a bird demonstrates that infinite qualities are manifested in different forms. Infinitely different forms of the manifestation of power take place. Every action of the manifestation of power points to the infinity of its source.
In the speech of the Creator, we should understand that when a simple sentence is used, it must be interpreted. My understanding of the night in this age is when It covers everything in darkness, which is limited to my capacity. Hence, the meaning is not limited. The Creator’s word is open to interpretation endlessly according to the age of humankind. What I say is limited to my age, experience and capacity of my knowledge. The Quran is open to the minds of the people, everyone has some sort of understanding, which ultimately must refer to the truth. The truth is the source of the speech that has infinite knowledge, capacity and speaking with His infinite capacity, inscribing the meaning with His infinite capacity. We need to read the text according to the capacity of the Author of the text, but at the same time, we should always be aware that we can only read a text within our own capacity.
If a child has written something, then you read the meaning of the sentence within the capacity of the child, the author. You do not expect the child to speak like a grown up educated person. You are bound to get the meaning within the capacity of the child. We read the sentence in a book according to the capacity of the author. That is why the Quran says that if you engage with Me, I will speak to you within your capacity, according to what you have gathered. However, the Author is unlimited in His capacity.
Example: I do not know the future. All the information that I have is obtained from an already created world. I used the created means, body, eyes, mind, emotional engagement, memory, they are all obtained and gained. They are not originated by me, similarly, in the act of creation, everything is original at every moment. In the speech also, I can read the speech of the Creator as revealed to me right now within the conditions of my life to make sense of it and make my life meaningful according to its guidance.
God’s language speaks to everyone. It is not a matter of a human putting words next to each other. Every sentence is originated by Absolute Knowledge, and you read the Quran, through the Prophetic mouth, that happened 1450 years ago. Can I read this text as the Creator is speaking to me now? Yes. I need to get guidance according to my age and physical conditions. We can communicate with the Speaker as speaking to us now so I can understand the Quran for my living conditions. Any man-made book written last century will be outdated, but God’s speech does not need to be updated, for you can grasp the meaning according to your conditions.
- Your Creator is speaking to you now originating everything according to His knowledge which is Absolute. You can get guidance from it, and it makes sense.
The Quran works in harmony with the act of creation which is originated right now. The description of the act of creation is experienced now. I can read the universe with the guidance of the Quran that says: “You can interpret and understand from the act of creation taking place right now through the guidance of My speech”. The universe is not static, and speech of God cannot be static either. If we read the speech of God like a static book, then we kill the meaning of the Quran, and thus reduce the Quran to a human speech of a certain time. Literally, an event is mentioned in the Quran, the meaning must be universal with no limitation, I must bring it to myself. When God says, the people of Noah, who are they? Me, now.
The Creator is always present manifesting His qualities here for us. The similarity of the Speech of the Creator and its act must be born in mind. We should not read the Quran as a mortal person’s writing. It will be the most dangerous Quran.
Let us see the parallel between chapter “Qaf” and “Saad”. As a result of these studies, you will remember all the verses in both chapters. They are revealed around the same period of the mission of the Prophet. Chapter Qaf is revealed in the 34th sequence and chapter Saad later. The earlier revelation is heavily concentrated on establishing the Uniqueness of God, and Absoluteness of God. The belief in God existed in the minds of people but the Uniqueness of God was missing. The mission of the Quran is to remind that the universe is created by God and this notion needs to be perfected, i.e., only the Creator can be the source of existence of anything at any time i.e., Uniqueness of God.
The messenger came to us and is making us recognize the One divine being (ilaahukum ilaahun wahid- Qur’an, 2: 163). That means he believes in God and is letting us know that everything is a representative of God’s qualities here. Example: the universe needs to be created, the bird is in need to be created by God and it is not flying by itself. The birds are flying because of the manifestation of the will of the Merciful One. They are created in a flying form constantly. The birds are receiving the existence and are given life.
We are consumers, we are not originators of anything. We cannot create anything; we are just asking. If we are not given existence at a moment, then we cannot experience anything here. If we are not created with the capacity to receive and acknowledge the Source of our existence, then life here is just meaningless then for I am acting on my own.
I may say that I am doing something practically because of my familiarity with things. However, every moment is independently given existence by the will of the Creator. We are just given the opportunity to ask, use free will to ask the Creator to create our desire for us. I am not given the opportunity to create but to ask.
Example: I am moving, or I am sleeping. Everything is nothing but using the given existent things. I think that the freedom of choice means creating. It needs a lot of reflection. When death comes, it means that I am not given the quality to do anything. If your muscle does not move, can you move it? No because you cannot choose to ask the Creator to create its actions. When you cannot choose to move your hands, then the act is not created anymore. That is, such a man has lost his abilities and he is created this way. What we do here is that we just follow the way the things are created. That means we only follow the order of the act of creation..
Uniqueness of God= Tawhid. The Absoluteness of God is unlimited, and you cannot describe it. That is how the mystery of creation is here. You cannot attribute the Absolute qualities to anything, but everything points to the Absolute qualities of the Creator.
I cannot create anything and when something is created, the Absolute qualities are manifested. I am just using what is created for me.
50:1 “Qaf! Consider the glorious Quran.”
Hey, wake up! You are going to receive something, prepare yourself, there will be an explanation that you did not know. Be careful, think about it, take it seriously. Be careful about the content of this speech. It is going to teach you what you do not know. Watch out! This is not an ordinary speech, rather its content is something that you cannot attribute to anything of this world.
It will take you to something beyond the capacity of this universe and the universe points to its reality. Just as you know that the meaning you get from a book is not from the paper but the author. What it is going to tell you is the truth and you can understand it. The meaning is not originating from a piece of this world. As if this verse is telling us: “You cannot really understand and grasp what is going on in this world within the conditions of this universe. You cannot go beyond the capacity of this universe. I am going to teach you what you cannot learn here on earth by yourself.”
50:2 “But they deem it strange that a warner has come to them.”
When I look at the messenger, I say that this is a man like me, why should I see him as higher than me? As if the messenger is claiming that this is his knowledge. But the messenger is so clear about the reality, “it is not me who is speaking, I know nothing”. All the Prophets say that “this is not my language, it is from my Creator. Think about this message in terms of the Creator’s knowledge, not my knowledge, I may be worse than you.”
We see how everything is being created here, plants, animals, human beings and everything else. God gave existence to the universe, and did He just leave? How about speaking to me telling me what is expected of the conscious being? How can you optimize your life in this world? How can you fulfill the purpose of your existence here? How can you communicate with the universe?
You have the capacity of communicating with the Creator, you can do that. Muhammad, the illiterate guy is speaking and communicating something. How can an illiterate guy know such content? No one questions that. Is it from God? Can it be from the One who knows it? It becomes a difficult thing to try to understand the revelation of the Prophet as he receives it from God, let alone give the possibility that it may be something true, let me consider it.
If someone thinks of Muhammad as a mission bearer from himself, as if he is saying what he is saying from himself, and just delivered the Quran to humanity, then it becomes impossible to appreciate the value of the content of the Quran and the behavior of the Prophet. The Prophet is not only employed to convey the message to the people, but also, he is employed to put the content of the message in his life according to the living conditions of the people.
A scholar’s mission is to gather information and transfer it to the people generally. The Prophets, on the other hand, are employed among the people who receive the message and practice the content of the message in the form of a human being. They practice the universal message of the Speech of God. When we are asked to follow the Prophetic path (sunna), we are looking at the Quranic message performed within the living conditions of his time and try to apply it to my living conditions through the principles of the speech of God. If someone does not see the sunna in the Prophetic acts, then they cannot follow the Speech of God. We need to transfer the Prophetic way into our lives. We must keep in mind that we are transferring the teachings of the Quran within the capacity of a person to be practiced in this world within our life conditions. The message of the Quran is exemplified in his behavior. The same message is what I should exemplify in my behavior while living in this world.
Tags: Al-Qaf, Death, Meaning of Existence, Message, Prophet, Prophetic Message, Qaf Series, Reality, Sunna, Truth