Continuing our study of the verses in section A’raf of the Quran where it relates to the people of Paradise and Hell being clearly demarcated. We will look into these verses as they relate to our living in this world. This methodology of studying the verses makes them practical and livable as opposed to some event to happen in the future that I have not experienced. The usage of past tense in the Arabic language used in the Quran should account for the present tense by definition as a relevant guide for human beings pointing to the fact that the message can be experienced while being in this world.
اَهٰٓؤُلَاۤءِ الَّذِيْنَ اَقْسَمْتُمْ لَا يَنَالُهُمُ اللّٰهُ بِرَحْمَةٍۗ اُدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْكُمْ وَلَآ اَنْتُمْ تَحْزَنُوْنَ
7:49 Are these the ones concerning whom you swore that God would never bless with His Mercy? [For now, believers are told] ‘Enter paradise. There is no need to fear or grieve.’
The scenario is depicted as such as those who don’t believe in God may see those that believe in God as if they are not entertaining themselves here by saying: you follow a religion, keep praying but not enjoying your life. As a matter of fact, conscious believers in God enjoy their life within their feelings , being content and not worrying to secure their lives. They may perhaps not wear the best dress, eat fancy food but are happy with what is given to them, because they realize that those things are the witnesses of their infinite qualities. Those who don’t believe are always looking for more worldly pleasures, looking for more and more, always worrying about the future. They think that wealth is going to satisfy them now and want to guarantee tomorrow as well so they work hard for that. Believers are not that greedy and are satisfied with what is given. But it does not mean that the believers are not required to work and try their best; the only difference is not with greed but with satisfaction of what is given to them.
For believers, whoever creates wealth, food that they receive is seen as guaranteeing their future as the owner of sustenance. They see that the giver of these bounties here and now is guaranteeing for the rest of their life. As much as one’s belief, that much they will be satisfied with the Creator, who demonstrates His Absolute qualities in these sustenance promises that His bounties never will cease for those who believe in Him and ask Him to give them as long as they are given existence both in this world and in the next creation. Non-believers are going to face a journeys’ end, i.e. the end of the tunnel, a complete separation from all bounties for they did not recognize the giver and attributed the sustenance to nature or random developments. Thinking that when they die their existence will disappear as human beings, thus their human feelings which crave for never ending satisfaction will never get any satisfaction thinking of such a tragic end. The Quran describes extreme sides which may not be possible practically but we should see that we may take the direction towards one side over the other.
“Blessed with Mercy” – Believers are enjoying paradise as mentioned in the hereafter by enjoying the world right now in their feelings and experiencing infinite Mercy. The Quran uses many examples that we experience in the universe such as palace, rivers, honey, milk to describe paradise. When experiencing the universe with the feeling that the things are all presented by the Absolute Creator of the Universe, I feel His work, art being presented then I can feel comfortable because I realized that their Creator’s Mercy is Infinite. Whereas the non-believers may be working hard but may not see His Mercy in this world.
The experience of practicing belief in this world can result in being welcomed to paradise right now. Emotionally, sensually one can experience paradise, not physically. When I am satisfied in my creation, I am in the presence of an Absolute Being. How much am I convinced that I am experiencing paradise here? In every creation we see the promise of their Creator by manifesting His boundless qualities declaring “I am the Infinite if you ask why I should not give them to you permanently, just trust My promise and ask Me.”
An important question to wonder about is do I hear God saying to me “Enter paradise” while I am living here, engaging in things that I do and seeing that they are all created and made possible by God. A simple everyday example is the food that we eat; no one can create that. The taste, food, texture, colors, smell are all given existence by that Merciful Creator of the universe, God.
Feeling in the presence of God is not an imagination of something or some sort of visualization. We don’t physically experience paradise but the feelings we get from belief in God can be in paradise. The body doesn’t get any satisfaction by itself, the feelings have to come in. The body is not conscious of its existence and is limited to this world whereas the feelings are conscious and go to infinity, beyond this world. In this world I experience the pleasure of the Absolute Creator to be my Creator and Owner. This is what I am convinced about. For example, touching needs a nervous system to function, feelings come in. Another example, feeling and desire to see is in the spirit of a blind person. The person may have eyes that do not function, but the desire to see is not of a material creation.
Belief in paradise or hereafter is not an expectation of something to happen. For example, food is in the process of cooking and I am expecting a delicious meal once served. Belief does not work that way but must be experienced right now through my spirit. We should appreciate belief in a confirming way. Belief is not hoping for something to happen, but being sure that it will definitely happen as long as we appreciate the Provider. If we do not appreciate His being Generous to us then the fear of not getting it permanently will reside in us. Hope and fear that a human finds himself is related to seeking forgiveness. I hope to be forgiven for any wrong perception of creation on one side and the fear of not being forgiven and punished on the other side because of my negligence to appreciate the creation.
I always look for infinite satisfaction, not the temporary, limited satisfaction. My human senses necessitate it. When I am satisfied with the creation, I am in the presence of an Absolute Being in my feelings based on how much I am convinced. There is a Creator operating before me right now. Everyday a new creation is built. I experience the position of the earth, sun, moon as slowly changing. Nothing is static in the universe; everything is changing and showing me that the position it holds is not fixed but changing. My body cannot stay static but keeps changing slowly reminding me that it is not static. That means that they are under constant control of their Creator.
The verses in the Quran describe these changing phenomena in the universe drawing our attention to an agent changing them; they cannot change by themselves. For example, when the day merges with the night and night with the day.
تُوْلِجُ الَّيْلَ فِى النَّهَارِ وَتُوْلِجُ النَّهَارَ فِى الَّيْلِ وَتُخْرِجُ الْحَيَّ مِنَ الْمَيِّتِ وَتُخْرِجُ الْمَيِّتَ مِنَ الْحَيِّ وَتَرْزُقُ مَنْ تَشَاۤءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ
3:27 You cause the night to enter the day, and You cause the day to enter the night; and You bring the living out of the dead, and You bring the dead out of the living. And You give provision to whom You will without account [i.e., limit or measure]
The word “Yulij” refers to the expanding and receding with no gap in between.
No need to fear or be in grief – why? If I have an unlimited supply of something, I would never feel deprived of it. For example, the money in a bank account diminishes when used and debited. One worries that it may finish, a recession evaporates the savings, money loses value. However, if the source is Absolute, is there any fear for something that I want? If I want something more, no worries, the feeling in me on His being Absolute is guaranteeing that His capacity is endless.
وَنَادٰٓى اَصْحٰبُ النَّارِ اَصْحٰبَ الْجَنَّةِ اَنْ اَفِيْضُوْا عَلَيْنَا مِنَ الْمَاۤءِ اَوْ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللّٰهُ ۗقَالُوْٓا اِنَّ اللّٰهَ حَرَّمَهُمَا عَلَى الْكٰفِرِيْنَۙ
7:50 The people of the Fire call to the people of Paradise, “Give us some water, or any of the sustenance God has granted you! ”and they reply, “God has forbidden both to the disbelievers.
Disbelief by definition (not people, their situation depends on God’s decision, not ours), cannot accommodate in it any hope that will be satisfied permanently, only temporarily in this world. The feeling inside says that after you experience this world, it goes away and will leave you from all pleasure and happiness, nothing is guaranteed. Life is good now but tomorrow is not guaranteed and today is gone too according to disbelief in God. Fear is an inevitable feeling where one sees as going into nonexistence. The hope of continuation of existence even in another form is an indication to a strong hope in humans as seen in some traditions that I must have continued existence in some other form.
For an example of disbelief, a man is driving fast knowing his brakes don’t work and there is definitely a cliff (death) at the end of the road, while he is enjoying his drive temporarily, without functioning brakes he is bound to fall from the unavoidable cliff. How much will he enjoy his experience knowing that his breaks don’t work. What a horrible situation that ruins all the pleasure one is experiencing. A meticulous Quranic commentator in his work describes disbelief as such pleasure as eating “Poisonous honey” which destroys all the taste of enjoyment now.
The Quran’s method is to speak by definition and not accuse anyone or individual. Words such as Paradise, Hell, human beings, believers, disbelievers are by definition the state, thoughts, attitudes that one can take.
There is also this prevalent notion of an intercessor that would save an individual from Hell. An intermediary such as the prophet would intercede on my behalf. Intercession happens as much as I benefit from the teachings of the prophet (pbuh). To follow the prophet is not to follow his body but the message that he brings. To be part of the “Ummah” means to follow the prophet’s (pbuh) footsteps as in his heritage, legacy, or the message that he brought to us.
Belief is not in the body of a man but the body is like a cup within which, the content has either belief or missing belief, i.e. disbelief. One can fill that content with different ideas. In Christian doctrine, the power to create is given to a person. In material science, matter has the power to create or to act by itself. Whatever the misconceptions, the wrong understanding of God becomes your protective friend. Whereas in belief, the creative power belongs to the Creator of the whole universe, God alone, an Absolute Source, and He becomes my guardian and friend if I do not choose to deny Him.
“Give us some water or any sustenance” – In this context the usage of the word water has the symbolic connotation of anything that human being needs and is desperate for and that is being sought after by the disbelievers. In other places, rain/water gives life to the dead earth in the same way as revelation brings life to a dead body.
Tags: Belief, Cognizant, Hell, Paradise