We will continue with the following verses of section A’raf (Cognizant) of the Quran. This section is important in how it relates to my life now:
قَالُوا۟ يَـٰمُوسَىٰٓ إِمَّآ أَن تُلْقِىَ وَإِمَّآ أَن نَّكُونَ نَحْنُ ٱلْمُلْقِينَ
7:115 They said” “Moses, will you throw first, or are we the first to throw?”
When I look at the story I wonder: Is it important for the Creator of the Universe to bother telling me as to who goes first and who goes second? When the Quran mentions a part of a prophetic story such as here, it must be related to my life now. The Quran doesn’t give details that are not related to my practical life. When the Qur’an mentions a part of a story, I will take it and see how it relates to my practical life now. This is the way of reading the universal message.
If I am put into a position of a debate, should I go first or not? The Quran says, don’t hurry, let the other parties present their ideas.
قَالَ أَلْقُوا۟ ۖ فَلَمَّآ أَلْقَوْا۟ سَحَرُوٓا۟ أَعْيُنَ ٱلنَّاسِ وَٱسْتَرْهَبُوهُمْ وَجَآءُو بِسِحْرٍ عَظِيمٍۢ
7:116 Moses said, “You go ahead and throw.” So, when they did, they deceived the eyes of the people and terrified them, and made a great display of magic.
We understand here that we have to give priority to others to present their ideas which most likely will be false. Whenever one attempts to oppose the prophetic message, they will stand on the opposing end. That means, they will take it from their perspective which concerns only the worldly, bodily happiness. Mostly the reason for rejecting the message is this mistake. The main purpose of the prophetic messages are related to the satisfaction of the human feelings and their permanent happiness. Bodily satisfaction only comes as a result of this spiritual satisfaction. We will see this in the following verses presented to us clearly. We have to have this confidence in letting them present their ideas such as the reality of existence, the reality of human beings, means for happiness in human life, etc. and then present ours on those topics. We should not be debating on useless matters but be serious in presenting the truthfulness of the reality of this world.
The verse continues with the opposing side deceiving the eyes of the people. The material physical side of things appears to the eyes but the human insight, feelings, consciousness sees the meaning and tries to understand it. For example, human life is in the form of a body and this body will die and disappear. However, I have a meaningful side with virtues, feelings that are not visible to the eye but can be understood through human insight, consciousness and reasoning. The human being can no longer be seen just as a body but as a meaningful human being.
The story of Moses mentions that the opposing party threw out their ropes and they appeared to start moving like snakes. The materialist philosophy reduces everything to matter only; dazzling the eyes that the rope became alive and is moving by itself, developing, evolving by itself. The Quran is speaking to this age using this simple example.
People are terrified, afraid of disasters, thinking that nature sometimes gets crazy by itself and causes havoc. These changes, events are thus seen as a great display of terrifying magic.
وَأَوْحَيْنَآ إِلَىٰ مُوسَىٰٓ أَنْ أَلْقِ عَصَاكَ ۖ فَإِذَا هِىَ تَلْقَفُ مَا يَأْفِكُونَ
7:117 Then We inspired Moses, “Throw down your staff,” and it swallowed up their lying inventions.
Moses as a human being never trusts himself but acts under the guidance of his Creator. That is what I have to do, act under the guidance of my Creator. I have to understand that the way the universe operates in a particular way where we see an order to things coming into existence is God’s will that is operating. This is the guidance for me to arrange and organize my life in this world. I have to keep my consciousness awake and see that I am obeying God’s will, a beautiful way for me to worship God along with the prescribed worship.
The verse continues where God tells Moses to throw down his staff: “Don’t be afraid and present the understanding of Creation that I have taught you. It is now your turn”. The magicians had their opportunity to present the case that terrified people by their display to satisfy the eyes. The prophetic message will satisfy the human side, the insight of the human being that looks to the meaning of creation. We learn from the prophetic message on how to discover the meaning in the apparent creation.
The verse continues with the prophetic staff representing the truthful message that swallowed up their lying inventions, which is like a slander to the reality of creation, insulting the Creator’s qualities by denying them. This is summarized in the core teaching of “la ila ha, illallah”:
“la ila ha” comes first and is ingrained in the universe, that nothing of this material world satisfies me. Matter itself satisfies my body until I die away but not my human side. The human side needs permanent satisfaction and matter does not provide that. Matter cannot prevent my death; the way matter is created and arranged shows that they are subject to death. Matter cannot sustain its existence or continue its existence by itself but is subject to the changes and arrangements by the order of the universe which is organized and arranged by its Creator. I cannot trust anything as it changes and gets old, that is how things are created as a grace from my Creator.
“illallah”, is the conclusion i.e. there must be an Absolute Source of Existence that satisfies the human being. The One who gives life and death, everything is in His hands, within His power. A verse in the Quran 11: 56 relates to His Might: “There is no creature but that He holds it by its forelock [i.e. under His power and command].” مَّا مِن دَآبَّةٍ إِلَّا هُوَ ءَاخِذٌۢ بِنَاصِيَتِهَآ
فَوَقَعَ ٱلْحَقُّ وَبَطَلَ مَا كَانُوا۟ يَعْمَلُونَ
7:118 The Truth was confirmed and what they had produced came to nothing.
The truth became apparent. What they produced came to nothing because without any evidence they made their claims. Using certain language and cheating people with the success of technology, is a point we should not ignore. They say: “Look, technology works which is the product of science”. Science only allows a specific group of people to speak on its behalf by saying things are naturally evolving. Under the disguise of science and technology that works, their interpretation is given credence and thus is validated. Technology can only work when people obey the wisely designed order of the universe, it doesn’t work by itself and any arbitrary decision of its engineer. The order cannot be produced by matter itself. Matter is enslaved to the order that is operating. Who set up the order, whose order is it? In fact, when we say that the order works, it means that God’s will, which appears through the creation of the universe, is in play and works. Technology cannot work independently, it only works by following the order in the universe. I obey the order when I do something right; I cannot claim that I produced it. No, I only followed the order.
فَغُلِبُوا۟ هُنَالِكَ وَٱنقَلَبُوا۟ صَـٰغِرِينَ
7:119 They were defeated there and then, and became utterly humiliated.
When the prophetic message is declared, the magicians declare that they are defeated. For example, how do I explain human feelings, the desire for eternal satisfaction? Matter cannot provide me that. The whole idea of matter giving me satisfaction is defeated right there on the spot.
وَأُلْقِىَ ٱلسَّحَرَةُ سَـٰجِدِينَ
7:120 And the magicians fell down, prostrating
The magicians cannot deny the truth which is obvious and clear. At that time, it must be true as they experienced. What about at my time, in my condition right now? The message has to be universal and applicable to me. Am I going through a journey of turbulence? Let’s be honest, the current state of the Muslim world is meddled up with the currents of civilization, full of confusion. They say that the tables will turn where one would prostrate to the truth, which we do not know about when it is going to happen, hopefully soon, God willing.
For example, this can be seen as the “رِحْلَةَ ٱلشِّتَآءِ وَٱلصَّيْفِ” 106:2 winter time for the Muslim world where after winter, spring comes forth in front of our eyes. The journey of winter signifies difficulty, turbulence, and no hope. Although I may think that I am comfortable by turning the heat on during winter, I can get all sorts of goods and services available to me that satisfy my body physically. The message of the Quran brings the news to me that I should not lose hope, as after winter, spring comes forth for my human need desperate for eternal satisfaction.
Although the human race may be lost in the “modern magical idea” of natural happenings, chance, accidents; no one can explain the qualities of matter as happening by themselves. The prophetic message explains my human nature and brings a confirmable and acceptable interpretation of existence and purpose of my life. Every new discovery we make cannot be explained by randomness or happening by itself. Matter does not possess any quality to give existence, sustain its own existence yet alone give existence to something else. The source of existence of the thing, the order in creation cannot be matter but an Absolute Source of existence that knows and possesses all qualities to give existence. To that we prostrate.
For example, when a student is not studying and not concerned about his future, the parents panic. They will ask the student: “what are you doing? Will I continue to look after you after I die? Take your life seriously and work for your future.” Nowadays, most people’s understanding of “future” is until we die. People’s main concern is this worldly life. Whereas, the prophetic message is primarily concerned with permanent life but includes the happiness we experience in this life in our feelings while living in this world. Whether we take lessons from it, to submit and prostate after hearing the news of the prophetic message is an option we have. The human spirit cannot be corrupted completely, it is from God and He protects it from corruption. The professional magicians (nowadays scientists) realize the difference between the right way of interpreting creation and the false claims about it. But Pharoahic like arrogant people think of their position only even if the truth is presented to them clearly.
قَالُوٓا۟ ءَامَنَّا بِرَبِّ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ
7:121 They declared, “We ‘now’ believe in the Lord of all worlds,
The structure of these verses is interesting. These are incredible universal messages for us. I should believe in the Lord of all the worlds, the One who has given existence to the entirety of this universe, perfectly integrated, working in harmony, nothing contradicting with another thing, working perfectly. Whoever owns this universe, we believe in It.
رَبِّ مُوسَىٰ وَهَـٰرُونَ
7:122 the Lord of Moses and Aaron.”
Isn’t the Lord of all the worlds enough? Why mention Lord of Moses and Aaron?
The notion of “Rabbul Alameen”, translated as “Lord of all the worlds” cannot be separated from the message that the prophets bring to us. The message telling us to worship the Lord of the worlds is what the message of the prophets is, they cannot be separated. I cannot imagine the message as something irrelevant to my reality. I cannot separate the messenger of God from the message of the Quran which presents the notion of the Lord of the universe. The institutionalized religion is a man-made thing but the message of the prophets is not but directly from the Lord of all the worlds.
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَكْفُرُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِۦ وَيُرِيدُونَ أَن يُفَرِّقُوا۟ بَيْنَ ٱللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِۦ وَيَقُولُونَ نُؤْمِنُ بِبَعْضٍۢ وَنَكْفُرُ بِبَعْضٍۢ وَيُرِيدُونَ أَن يَتَّخِذُوا۟ بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ سَبِيلًا
4:150 Surely those who deny God and His messengers and wish to make a distinction between God and His messengers, saying, “We believe in some and disbelieve in others,” desiring to pursue a path in-between.
Who are those who deny God and His messengers? Isn’t this apparently contradictory that if one denies God and his messengers, why then do they wish to make a distinction between God and His messengers? Those who claim that they believe in God may see the messenger as a human being that lived a long time ago. Why should I follow a man and bother about it? Some excuses are: The times have changed, lots of things have changed, I have to follow the trend now in civilization which was not available at the time of the prophets, etc. This results in just an intellectual belief in God with a life based on the flow and understanding of civilization. The Quran indicates that these people in fact do not fully grasp the message properly.
Those that are aware of the reality of this universe and conscious in their living understand that one cannot separate the Lord of the universe from the message of the prophets. One is the declaration of the universe by His actions, the other is to put His revelation into human real living conditions. If we think that belief is just an intellectual comprehension and not to be related to our physical lives here on earth then we are separating the message from its practical examples demonstrated to us by the prophets. The reality of the universe and of human nature witnesses the truthfulness of the message of the prophets. On the other hand, the message of the prophets witnesses and confirms the reality of the universe and of human nature. They both work together.
Tags: A'raf Series, Al-Araf, Belief, Feelings, human qualities, Life, Lord, Quran, Worship