By January 16, 2023 Read More →

Section Al A’raf – Part 31

Let’s continue on with the verses from section A’raf (Cognizant) that we have been studying.

وَإِلَىٰ ثَمُودَ أَخَاهُمْ صَـٰلِحًۭا ۗ قَالَ يَـٰقَوْمِ ٱعْبُدُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرُهُۥ ۖ قَدْ جَآءَتْكُم بَيِّنَةٌۭ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ ۖ هَـٰذِهِۦ نَاقَةُ ٱللَّهِ لَكُمْ ءَايَةًۭ ۖ فَذَرُوهَا تَأْكُلْ فِىٓ أَرْضِ ٱللَّهِ ۖ وَلَا تَمَسُّوهَا بِسُوٓءٍۢ فَيَأْخُذَكُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌۭ

7:73 “To the people of Thamud [We sent] their brother Salih who said, “My people, worship God alone. You have no god other than Him. Clear evidence has now come to you from your Lord. The she-camel belonging to God is to be a sign for you. Let her graze on God’s earth, and do not do her harm in any way or you will be struck by a painful punishment.”

All the prophets come with the message to “Worship God alone” which is the pillar of the purpose of revelation, teaching the foundation of understanding to what is going on in this world. A question that human beings keep asking: Why am I here in this world? Why do I keep changing? Why is life sometimes beautiful, sometimes horrible, particularly old age and death? The message in revelation comes up with the answer to these human questions. All the prophets primarily have been emphasizing that there is no god other than Him alone. I must wonder about Him. 

The verse continues to describe Him by mentioning “your Lord” which means the one who owns you, consciously and deliberately brought you in this world. With this message, I must be careful with the life that I am living here in this world. The Quran mentions the real events that must have taken place in the past. However, the verse should not be taken only as relating to the people of Thamud to whom prophet Salih was sent, but must be applicable to me as well, to make me realize who my Lord is that is taking care of me continuously.

The phrase “Worship God alone” is not only worshiping God in terms of performing physical duties which must be done as far as how much I am convinced that this revelation is from my Lord, the one who educates me, takes care of me. The prescribed forms of worship may differ according to the conditions of each community or society where God adjusts the forms accordingly. My duty is to find out what is valid now in my life and I can practice it; what I receive from the scripture is what I will be responsible for after being convinced. 

This worship includes all the religious duties which are the prescribed duties, administration of the personal, family, societal life. However, the foundation of worship is understanding that I am a creature who has the quality to acknowledge who is the owner of this universe, has the qualities to give existence to this universe and I must attach my being to Him. Logically, If I belong to him, everything else must belong to Him. He is the one who I have to attribute the existence of everything to while I am utilizing them; I have to use my feelings to appreciate, be thankful to Him. This is the foundation of worship.

 I should have feelings towards Him where I have to educate myself that nothing else deserves to be my Lord. All my feelings must keep in mind that they relate to Him. For example, If I like something, it is my Creator who wants me to like it, if I dislike something, my Creator wants me to dislike it. I have to remember this emotional, sensual, intellectual relation with my Creator is the practical side of worship. After receiving the instructions from my Creator about prescribed duties, I have to do them with consciousness. Apart from these duties, my life should be based on the intellectual, emotional, sensual relation with my Creator. I have to avoid attaching any importance to any source having any effect on me. Whatever happens, I must realize that they are all employed by my Lord. 

The phrase “قَدْ جَآءَتْكُم بَيِّنَةٌۭ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ ۖ “, translated as “clear evidence has now come to you from your Lord.” What is this evidence being mentioned here that is sent by my Lord? Let’s look at the next phrase “هَـٰذِهِۦ نَاقَةُ ٱللَّهِ لَكُمْ ءَايَةًۭ ۖ” which is translated as “The she-camel belonging to God is to be a sign for you”. Historical narratives tell us that there was a camel created as a result of miraculous creation and sent to the people as a sign for the people of that time. This is what I hear from the narration about a she-camel belonging to God, but I would ask where is my she-camel? Anything created miraculously is a camel for me! The Quran uses the word “Ayah” as a miraculous evidence in creation. What is not an “ayah” for me now in this universe where everything is so miraculously coming into existence? A miraculous camel must have happened for the people at that time. Imagine a person coming to me claiming to bring the message from the Lord of the universe, I would want to see some physical sign from him to demonstrate that indeed he is stating the truth and can be relied upon. However, for me everything is a miraculous creation demonstrating to me that everything belongs to the Owner of the universe, only He can be my Lord. 

Notice the relationship in these phrases: “نَاقَةُ ٱللَّهِ and أَرْضِ ٱللَّهِ”, which mention “God’s camel” and “God’s earth”. It is not my earth, neither the camel nor anything I have are mine. Something is miraculously created then how can I claim that it is coming into my land and belongs to me now? I cannot existentially claim that things are my property but I have been given permission to use them by their real owner. I am a tenant living freely and paying nothing to use them. 

The phrase “فَذَرُوهَا تَأْكُلْ فِىٓ أَرْضِ ٱللَّهِ ۖ وَلَا تَمَسُّوهَا بِسُوٓءٍۢ” translated as  “Let her graze on God’s earth, and do not do her harm in any way” which means to never approach her or touch her with a bad intention. When I approach things with a bad intention, the verse says that “I would be struck by a painful punishment”. How does this impact me in my practical life? I have to be careful that I should not treat anything in a bad way. If I do not recognize the Creator of the universe, I can treat anything anyway with the free will that I have been given thinking that the things do not have any protector. God doesn’t seem to be interfering when I try to harm his creature; He doesn’t stop me, doesn’t seem to protect His creature. I am given free will to choose within His order.

If I don’t acknowledge that any creature has a Lord, it is as if its Lord is not protecting it. If I realize that this universe has an owner and these creatures must be owned by Him, I have no right to harm them. Apparently, He is not protecting them if I harm them. If I do this, “I will be taken away, captured, a painful punishment will capture me.” How so? Let’s say there is an innocent plant, and I harm it for nothing. I am allowed to use animals and plants as long as I need them, not to harm them but let them fulfill the purpose of their existence. They are created by my Creator and He allows me to use them as much as I need. These days, oceans are polluted, plants and animals are being harmed. What happens is that the painful punishment harms me physically. What about the psychological side? When someone is harming a cat, how would I feel? I would feel that this should not happen and if physically able to I would try to prevent it. This sense is given to me by my Lord to tell me about what are the wrongful or rightful acts. In the USA, the authorities are called who will handle it as the general public is encouraged to steer away from interfering in the public properties in an unjust way. Another example is when one destroys public property, he is reported to the authorities for this violation of public property and must be judged accordingly. This sense for seeking justice is the witness that there is a wrongful action; that is how we are created. A third example is when I harm another creature as a conscious being, I should feel the pain in my emotions; a pain God creates in me to tell me that this is a wrongful action that I am doing.

How about treating the things without acknowledging their creator? When I say things don’t have any owner, I can treat them as far as my understanding of their being is concerned. Considering them as having no owner, I feel within myself that I have no owner, I have no protector in my life. I happened to be this way and as a result of accidents, and at the end I will be destroyed for no purpose. This is the painful punishment which is inevitably taking place in me. Meaninglessness, as in having no purpose, is the most unbearable feeling for a person. If someone asks me to do something about which there is no purpose, I would ask why? I wouldn’t do it unless someone forces me to. I would never do it voluntarily. I do whatever I am doing for a purpose. If I do something with no purpose, that would be strange and I would feel the pain of wasting, doing something purposelessly. I should check if I am doing things without being conscious of them. Maybe I am spending my time on petty things, not those that would satisfy my human feelings which are worth doing. Using consciousness is the only way we can practice seeing that everything belongs to their Creator, God, and everything has the right to exist and live in this world. Everything is my brother, i.e. belonging to the same source. This universe is the palace where everything belongs to an Absolute being – should anything bother me by knowing this? He is doing this to me as a favor in order to satisfy my feelings, so that I will become aware of the purpose of existence: To know who I am and who my Owner is. This is the only way to live a purposeful life.

A few things to note is that God may not be protecting things physically. Although I have the free will to deny my feelings for justice and right and I may do whatever my caprices want me to do, the right of every creature will be taken care of by their Owner whether it is a physical, psychological, emotional, intellectual abuse. The feelings within me tell me about right and wrong, happiness and pain which is a sign that God created us with this feeling to let me know who God, the Owner of my feelings is. We have to pay attention to the fact that all human feelings are created in order to know who my Lord is. My creator has created this feeling for a purpose. My feelings have no limitation and must be used to understand their Absolute Creator in terms of infinity as the capacity of feelings is infinity.


وَٱذْكُرُوٓا۟ إِذْ جَعَلَكُمْ خُلَفَآءَ مِنۢ بَعْدِ عَادٍۢ وَبَوَّأَكُمْ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ تَتَّخِذُونَ مِن سُهُولِهَا قُصُورًۭا وَتَنْحِتُونَ ٱلْجِبَالَ بُيُوتًۭا ۖ فَٱذْكُرُوٓا۟ ءَالَآءَ ٱللَّهِ وَلَا تَعْثَوْا۟ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ 

7:74 Remember when He made you successors after ‘Ad and established you in the land – and you built palaces on its plains and carved homes into mountains. So, remember Allah’s favors, and do not go about spreading corruption in the land.”

The previous people were destroyed because they rejected the prophet as a whole community except a few of them and those few were saved. God creates the next civilizations to follow suit. As we hear civilizations rise and fall, go up and down as it has been happening in history. No one can claim that this civilization has been the best. In practical life, as economics improves doesn’t mean that the society is better than the previous generation. For example, we can notice that prosperous children are more spoiled than others as they have many more things freely available. Thus, God says in this verse that we replaced you with another group of people. In another verse, it is stated that God creates better people to replace the current people. 

The phrase “you built palaces on its plains and carved homes into mountains” thinking that they would be secure and last forever. I am given the opportunity in this life to do many things. I know the previous generations that built huge houses, palaces and they are destroyed. I do things as if I am going to live here permanently. We should have this understanding that this place is not permanent. 

Death is much more important than life and full of wisdom, we should learn to live in peace with death. That is how we can overcome many problems such as psychological, loneliness, depression, boredom, unhappiness. Death is the best adviser that lets people know what their reality is. I have to utilize life in such a way that I can solve my death problem. I should take the lesson from death, that those who died have taken nothing with them. They can put something in my dead body but it will rot away with the body. Nothing belongs to me. I am the tenant and the place that I am living in does not belong to me. If I pretend to be the owner of the house and I can use anything the way I want (like God’s camel), the result would be that I would be taken into account for it in both this world and the next. I can regard them in any way which will be taken into account. The owner of this palace of the universe must  give the right of each and every being.

The phrase “Remember Allah’s favors and do not go about spreading corruption in the land”. Spreading corruption in the land physically, emotionally and ideological as well. Someone may do something wrong which is practical but is a small matter in corruption. The real matter is to treat the universe with meaninglessness when the things are declaring the qualities of their Lord and fulfilling the purpose of their existence. 


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