The first word of the first verse is addressing to people who are not reading creation. That is how revelation starts addressing human beings in the form of guidance for a person’s life journey from beginning to end. For every verse that we read, we need to ask how can I benefit from this verse. If someone comes to you saying that they have received revelation from God. You should ask: Is there really a God? Do I really need a God? After studying creation, I can then come to a conclusion. That is the process of “free-thinking”.
These verses that we are studying draw human being’s attention to the stages of their own creation. Every human being has the potentiality to be ungrateful, aggressive, and obstinate to submitting himself/herself to the truth that s/he recognizes. We have to acknowledge that there is a tendency in us to be obstinate and ungrateful but at the same time we have freewill not to submit ourselves to this tendency.
Example: I may have a tendency to tell a lie and get around problems in my life. It is my choice that I choose to follow, I am free to do so. Whenever we have to make a decision, it is as if we are at a crossroad between two options. Is there any second in our lives that we do not take decisions? No. Even when I go to sleep, I have chosen myself to be in sleep mode i.e. not to be aware for the following 8 hours, I know that. That is how creation is around us.
The hardest thing for any human being is to admit the truth and submit to it. Anyone can sit comfortably and reflect on the purpose of their existence. What am I doing here? What is my being here? If I do not answer these innate human questions and keep going on with my life, then every activity I do will be meaningless. Why? Because I do not know the purpose of my being here in this universe. I may choose not to pay attention to this reality (I am free to do so) and keep going with my daily, weekly and monthly schedules, appointments and goals in life.
What is the end result of all that I have been given? Example: I get hungry and I eat food. I get satiated. Then a couple of hours later, I get hungry again. What is the point of all this? Can eating be the purpose of my life? No. Should I not eat? No. My physical side needs food. However, I need to use my human qualities to question this process i.e. need for hunger, food being available and eating the food.
- Question: Why am I in a position that requires me to be needy?
I am a human being that questions. That is part of my being and I just cannot deny it. Even if I think that I am the result of accidental happening, I have the consciousness to ask how come I am created. No one can escape asking questions. It is part of our reality. Do not cover it up! How can one be happy if they lead a life which denies their own reality? Think about it!
We all know that we are subject to death at any given moment but we do not want to die. These are innate human senses which are given and yet are seemingly contradictory. Additionally, no one wants to be a victim of an evil act but we have no control over events. We do not want our beloved ones to die but we know that they will depart soon. We do not want to get old but we get old. This dilemma is always with us and we need to make it the point of focus to seeking answers to the purpose of our existence. If I do not get satisfactory answers to these contradictory human questions, then I am contradicting my human reality.
Example: Can I be happy when I cut my finger? No. I have to either accept not to be happy or accept not to cut my finger. I cannot live with cutting my finger and laughing together as a result of my choice because as a human being I am aware that my consciousness rejects this contradiction where I ignore all my human reality i.e. thinking that I will not die, I will not get old, my loved ones will always be around…as if everything will happen as I want according to my feelings.
I did not create these feelings. They are given to me. Even if they are the results of accidents, they are still within me. The smallest particle of matter does not have consciousness to give existence to my feelings i.e. any material in the universe cannot have the ability to reason.
How can I be aware of the consciousness of my human qualities? I need to use my freewill to make judgments about myself (not others) and come to a conclusion for myself so I may choose one way. I cannot choose two ways at the same time or live with a split personality, the main cause of all psychological illnesses in this century i.e. I want to enjoy my life but I cannot enjoy it in a way that contradicts my humanity.
Example: A physical illness can cause psychological distress. With a physical illness, one can get treatment easily as oppose to psychological distress. However, when you accept the reality that “Yes, I do not want to die but I will die eventually.” If you realize that you are given the sense of not wanting to die means you do not want to go into annihilation, and death itself is not going into annihilation, but a kind of transfer of existence, then you do not feel the psychological distress because you are just left with one problem, a physical illness. If one gets convinced about this reality, then he does not suffer from insecurity leading to psychological distress. Mostly stress enhances all problems (psychological and physical) where human being chooses psychological attitude which damages the body’s natural metabolism. When you know that you can find solutions within yourself, then your body’s metabolism repairs itself i.e. the way it is created.
“Have you ever considered him who tries to prevent” Iqra (96):9
“A worshipper from praying?” Iqra (96):10
Who prevents me from worship?
- I, myself prevent myself from worshipping.
WORSHIP= inescapable feeling that I have to thank a Source that makes me happy.
- Analogy: You receive a bouquet of flower and it makes you happy. You check the sender’s name and realize that it is from a very special friend. You immediately go to that friend to give him a hug and say thank you.
- Similarly, the Creator of the universe fills your needs at every moment. You breathe, eat, learn…When you are truly grateful for the food you enjoyed, you say thank you to the Provider. Additionally, your body is inclined to wanting to express it physically as well.
PRAYER= putting the act of worship (acknowledgment) in physical form.
Each verse has its own reality and is used to express it. As a human being with consciousness, I want to know what that reality is.
Some people do not pray because they are not convinced about the reality. If I do not feel the need to worship, I would never be inclined to pray. Not feeling the need to worship is a sign of insecurity about one’s existence. When I lack the confidence that I have to use my life in a certain way where my every action should be to find and acknowledge the Source, then I will never have the sense of the need to worship. In this case, I have decided not to submit myself to the reality.
Let’s look into the second verse now. The Speaker is suggesting that a person has to be a worshipper in order to be prevented from worshipping. This makes me ask myself:
- Am I a worshipper?
- What does it mean to worship?
- Am I in need to worship?
While questioning the above questions, it is inevitable to realize that we are made in a way that we always look to attribute qualities to something. For example, I may feel privileged that I am the child of a nice family. As a result, I feel indebted to that source. Parallel to that, I may attribute qualities to myself i.e. self-worshipper. Example: I got the job because of my good looks and ivy-league degree. Example: I got the girl because of my fat wallet and luxurious car.
It is imperative that one questions her/his abilities as well. How did I develop my ability to think?
What is worship?
- Knowing my status in this universe i.e. how do I see myself in this universe.
Universe declares to us that it is the product of a Conscious Source. My duty is to acknowledge the Source and be thankful to it. When I am happy, I say thank you. When I am unhappy, I should have an argument with the Source of my existence: “I did not want it; you gave me the sense of not wanting it. Why do you put me in a dilemma?” If one asks questions, answers must come. It is not rebelling against God. There must be purpose in the existence of things (I am given intelligence to find out the purpose in the existence of this dilemma) which makes one realize that everything is from the same Source which creates opposites. It is as if the universe is created in pairs that complement each other. Example: happiness/sadness. Health/illness. Light/Dark. Love/Hate…
Everything is coming into existence all at once. There is no prior event giving existence to the current event. Although it may seem that my body from last night is transforming to my body that I see now. In reality, the body is given a new existence at every moment. Just as your hair and nails grows in a week, similarly, act of creation is occurring simultaneously with a new atom coming into existence at every moment.
When you are conscious of God, it is a way of praying. When your humanity is satisfied with the Source, then you develop confidence in your being given existence in this universe.
We need to develop the Quranic concepts and make sense of them so we may be convinced about the truth for ourselves. Keep asking questions.
“Have you considered if he gives the lie to the truth and turns (his) back.” Iqra (96):13
- Anyone who turns away from questioning reality is in denial with himself.
- Within myself, there is an urge that I have to take myself seriously.
- Are you getting ready to meet your Creator instead of fixing your hair to impress your friend?
“Does he not realize that God sees all?” Iqra (96): 14
- Don’t you think the One who creates you does not know you?
Stop covering up the truth (Arabic for Ka-Fa-Ra). In other words, stop being a “kafir” or denier!
- Stop claiming purity for yourself!
- Question what does belief mean?
- Question what does it mean to put my hands up in the air when praying?
Just as prayer is the body’s need to express happiness physically (action side), similarly, hadiths are actions and thus cannot be applied without studying the proper teachings of the Quran. One has to ask: what is the real motif behind these actions that the Prophet has performed and the people who witnessed them have narrated?
These classes help us establish how to read the Quran for ones’ personal life right now. Only then will you understand the meaning behind every ritual, which is putting one’s sense of worship into a physical from. If we realize that every physical action we perform is not created by us but by the One Who Creates everything. Then, this reality needs to be acknowledged and physically expressed as well.
Tags: Al-Alaq, Guidance, Here-and-Now, Iqra Series