Shams part 4
Recap: The chapter was revealed around the third year of Prophethood. At that time, people opposing the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were becoming aggressive, starting assaults, trying to stop the sharing of the Speech of God, notably with the close companions of the Prophets. The revelation is just a preparation for knowing what the aim of life is and how we can prepare ourselves in front of any societal attacks.
91: 9 “He who purifies it indeed is successful.”
By definition, the spirit is pure. Then, what are we going to purify? The most essential part of our human responsibility is our free will. By using our free will, we may protect our spirit in its pure essence, or we may dirty it by choosing the alternate option (which in fact, does not exist, and we may give it a real appearance). Example: The subject of a lie does not exist, but I may choose the option of lying. Similarly, we may use the option of satisfying our egotistical desires, which is not true to our human nature.
Just as we may not benefit from a lamp that is covered with a heavy dark cloth, we may not benefit from our pure spirit. We must be careful not to cover or pollute our spirit with falsehood. We must use our free will to be aware of our consciousness that is in the know of the truth. Otherwise, I do not benefit from the light.
The Quran asks human beings to repent repeatedly. Just as we may have bad relationships with friends and families; we may not have a pleasant, trustworthy relationship with the Source of our Existence. Just as when I hurt a friend’s feelings and feel uneasy about it, I would go and apologize to the friend for hurting their feelings. I would feel better after apologizing and my relationship with my friend will return to good terms. Similarly, repentance is the only way to seek God’s pleasure. The award is immediate because you feel relaxed and peaceful.
The feeling to confess and repent is within us. We do have the option to confess ourselves to religious leaders (just like in Christian traditions) or to a psychologist. However, we need to confess our shortcomings/wrongdoings to God alone.
- Confessing to God is a process that we need to undertake which depends on our understanding of the Creator of the universe.
- Any confession must be between me and my Creator. Because His property (my pure spirit) is damaged, and I need to apologize to Him: “I am sorry I betrayed your trust.” Otherwise, we may cover the light more and more and drown in darkness.
If someone does not get any light from the lamp because they cover it with a heavy cloth, he may see that there is no use of the lamp and he may thus disconnect from the light completely. That is, we put ourselves in a denial status. What we need to do is to remove the cloth from the lamp. If there is a dot on the lamp, we need to clean it immediately. That is the way to God, and He says: “I promise I will forgive You and you will receive light as much as you recognize it (Me).”
Some may say that I have no stain on my spirit and I am fine. No! We must check ourselves over and over again. At least, repent for being negligent in utilizing the tools you are given, we can all ask for forgiveness for our misuse of free will or choosing to be ignorant. One does not have to be a student of the Quran to understand this. The tendency to repent and ask for forgiveness is in every human being, One must not try to be a perfectionist. “Tawwab” means come back and back again. It means that is the condition of the human being to keep returning to Its Source of Existence. We disobey God continuously and that is why continuous creation keeps happening like this where one day I am so conscious in acknowledging the Creator and another day I fall into heedlessness. There is no static station here. Example: Today I am happy and tomorrow I may be angry.
91: 9 “He who purifies it indeed is successful.”
The person who cleanses his/her spirit is saved from corruption and hypocrisy.
9:10 “and he who corrupts it indeed is ruined.”
If we do not repent, then we keep destroying our human side (spirit).
9:11 “in their arrogant cruelty, the people of Thamud called (their messenger) a liar.”
When I choose to deny the reality and follow falsehood, I am acting on an egotistical base (which is contrary to reality). I have free will and the option to heed the message or reject the message. Rejecting the message is calling the message a lie which is extreme arrogance as it is a total contradiction to my reality of being a created being and thus having a Creator.
91:12 “When the most wicked man among them rose (against him).”
When I choose to defy and fight the truth, I am acting in a way to defy my Creator. I try to justify my choice by destroying His signs which point to His Reality, thus I go on the path of denial.
91: 13 “the Messenger of God said to them, “This is the she-camel of God, so let her drink.”
The “she-camel” refers to the property of God. Everything in the world is “mulkullah” or “nakatallah” i.e. His property. Example: a tree, stone and you are the property of God; we belong to Him.
What is the underlying meaning of this verse?
Do not think that this world is eternal. Do not try to fulfill your egoistic desires here. Not trying to worship anything other than God means to not worship yourself or your ego. Do not proclaim yourself as a “mini-God”. Do not put yourself at the center of your life. Everyone belongs to the Creator of the universe. None of the things in the universe belong to itself. How can I claim that I belong to myself? I am owned by the Creator of the universe. If I think that I am acting on my own account, then it means that things out there belong to themselves as well.
- You think that you are powerful, and you can practice your life whichever way you like. No!
- We have to let creation be as it is. Example: the camel belongs to God and it cannot protect itself. This means that I cannot treat the camel or anything as I want. No!
This verse does not only speak to the people of Thamud; rather it is speaking to us right now. The Prophet comes letting the elite of the society know (who rule over the poor) not to mislead people. Example: most of us do not know how to defend our rights. We may hire expensive attorneys to defend us thinking they would be our defense voice against the injustices. The reality is that everyone follows the requirements established by most elites in any society. This message is applicable as to how I structure my social life knowing that I belong to God and everything around me belongs to God. I have to respect His property. How do I use myself and the things around me? The river is God’s property, I have no right to claim exclusive rights and devoid others to benefit from the property of God.
7:75 “But the arrogant leaders among his people said to the believers they thought to be of no account, “Do you honestly think that Salih is a messenger from his Lord?” ‘Yes, we believe in the message through him.’
People who refuse to submit to an Owner of the universe deny the Speech of God (the message) in a sarcastic way i.e. rejecting Prophethood (employees of God to deliver the truth).
7:76 ‘but the arrogant leaders said, ‘we reject what you believe in.’”
There is a conflict between arrogant people and poor people in any civilization. One side cannot defend themselves (poor) and the other (elite) imposes their authority on the weak and poor. Here, “she-camel” or the poor cannot defend themselves. That is injustice.
- God creates everything equally for everyone as far as creation is concerned. The whole universe is the common property of every individual being.
The universe is free for everyone, yet certain things are imposed onto us by the civilization and certain ideologies.
- Example 1: Everyone is free to homeschool their children i.e. you can only learn and teach your children what you want to teach them. However, the textbooks/curriculum are under state authority. What if you want to teach your children about the Owner of the universe?! There is unjust treatment of educating children going on in this civilization. Even religion is taught in a secular way.
Injustice at the social level is the main problem that the Prophets struggled against. This was followed by the destruction of idols in the hearts of the people (which is the human ego). If the human ego is destroyed, belief in God is simple. Just a tiny fly is enough to believe in God. How can a tiny creature come into existence as a result of an accident? How can it nourish itself and protect itself from harm? Do you own water? It is just given to you by the One who owns the “she-camel”.
- Example 2: Countries produce mass weapons of destruction. Why do countries have to buy and sell weapons? There is still the imposed fear of losing and not winning wars. There is so much competition. As a result, there are so many psychological issues. Rather than wasting it in useless matter and purpose, that money could be invested in real education, useful technologies for the benefit of human beings.
If someone does not believe in God, then s/he has to be arrogant as much as they can. We need to also protect the rights of plants and animals. Oceans are also polluted, they are all she-camels, property of God as well. Forests are also being destroyed, we cannot destroy them, it is for everyone. The elites (rich people) have no right to pollute things that are free for their own selfish benefit.
91:14 “But they called him a liar and slaughtered her, therefore their Lord crushed them for their sin and made their punishment equal unto them all.”
How careless can be a one who does not believe in God?
Everything is given freely to us and here we are utilizing all those bountiful resources for our benefit. Example: We are polluting our air with toxics by our own choice. Who suffers? All of us, rich and poor. What are the poor people breathing? Fresh air. Now, everyone is equally damaged with polluted atmosphere. Same goes with food, why is organic food expensive whereas food with additives is cheap? Within God’s order, we are producing more than what God has established, by adding chemicals. We distort the way things are meant to be which is pure.
At the end of my acts, I will be taken into account for all my doings. Everyone is affected with the nuclear decisions of a country. God does not give a final decision while we are here. My life is directly related to the social subjects that I encounter in the civilization. If I am a bad/good person, society has a bad/healthy cell in its body. Everyone is harmed by the ill treatment of harmful people and exploitation of poor people.
91: 15 “He did not fear the consequence.”
While we are busy with following the social structure, we pay attention to our immediate interest. We do not see the consequence of it. Example: I may do something where I see that it brings benefit for me now. Rather, I need to take the consequence of my action because it may be more harmful. Am I in recognition that whatever I am benefiting from, is the “she-camel”, property of God? Is this act to satisfy my egoistic side? Am I doing any injustice to the rest of the creation? The consequence is polluting the universe and my spirit when I do not fear the consequence.
The prophetic message is not just a matter of believing in God or praying/fasting (following prescribed rituals only). Rather it is directly related to our social living with respect and justice. That is why it is important to read the Quran for a solution to our sociological problems as well, not only psychological issues. That is, we are in need to organize our belief system and organize our social living with His guidance as well.
Tags: Al-Shams, Creation, Prophethood, pure spirit, Purification of the Soul, Purify Our Souls, Repentance, Shams Series, Turn back to God