By February 7, 2024 Read More →

Section Jathiya, part 5

هَـٰذَا هُدًۭى ۖ وَٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ بِـَٔايَـٰتِ رَبِّهِمْ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌۭ مِّن رِّجْزٍ أَلِيمٌ

45:11 “This is guidance; and those who reject the signs of their Lord, theirs is a painful punishment of torment.”

The best word for “Surah” in English is “Section”, rather than chapter. The word “سورة” literally  means to be protected, enclosed within walls as in a protected castle.  Historically, the Quran was revealed as verses, which were compiled as Sections by the Prophet. In other words, you can follow through any Section to fulfill the purpose of your existence. Soon after the death of the Prophet, the companions decided to compile all the Sections in a Book form, which is called “Mushaf.”

Recap: This Section “Jathiyah” that we are studying, “The Kneeling”, introduces the word “ayah” or “sign” combining two meanings: (1) “signs (ayah) in creation” and (2) the signs (ayah) of the Quran.  We will see how the two support each other, as we are made in a way to study the Quran alongside the universe.  Again, the universe is the silent Speech of the Creator, and the Quran (as Revelation) is the Verbal Speech of the Creator.  

From one aspect, the Creator creates the universe to demonstrate who He is and introduces Himself to conscious human beings.  From another aspect, He sends the guide to human beings on how to utilize the universe and how to live in this world accordingly.  We have human questions.  For example, if I am hungry, I do not need Revelation or God to teach me how to grow produce and feed myself, because the act of producing and eating is an action wise speech that I can follow and learn from the way that the universe is being created.  I have learned how to benefit from creation to feed my stomach, but I have many human questions for which I cannot get clearly stated answers from the universe. Some of them are as follows:

– What am I going to do in this universe since I am going to die at the end?  That is the main human problem.  Since I am bound to die, then why am I given wonderful human qualities? I am given infinite feelings, I have consciousness, I have likes and dislikes…  Why do I bother about injustice that I noticed in the world?  Example: if there is a child that is going hungry, why do I bother about it?  What is the purpose for all these feelings being given to us?  Who gave these feelings to us?  Why did He give these feelings?  For what purpose? 

As I observe the universe, it is wonderfully existing, but it does not explain to me why these feelings are given to me?  How did these feelings come into existence?  If I observe the act of anything in this universe, I can easily conclude that it is not happening by itself.  So, I wonder who is doing this?  Most people who come from religious backgrounds were taught to appropriate everything to a God or “Allah”, which makes people indifferent towards the concept of God.  For example, when someone says “Allah”, it does not excite most people, because of the familiarity with this word.  As a result of this familiarity, we get away from asking the fundamental human questions that would bring confidence in our belief in God.  

Today, with globalization, even a 2-year-old child is connected with the rest of the world through a device.  There is a universal connection through social media.  People hear and learn many alternate ideas such as things that are happening around the world. They hear the experts describing things that are happening  “naturally”.  Now, our minds are challenged.  We must come up with a convincing way of examining what the truth is and how I should conclude about the reality of this universe, about my own life.  

If someone tries to understand the universe without hearing the guidance of the Creator, they have to say that the universe is as it is, and I must explain it as much as possible within itself.  What they are inferring is, that is how it is happening, let me examine the universe, how is it happening within itself?  Within itself means that I can explain it as it appears to be to me.  They are not looking for God as the Creator, because they have no concept of God. On the other hand, those who have heard of the message brought to them by the prophets, have the concept of God. They have no excuses to take into consideration that some people say that the universe needs a Creator who is called God. They are not the same as those who have not heard of the concept of God, the Creator. Some of these people knowingly  reject the Creator and try to explain the existence within the universe itself.  Why?  Because they have not seen God here performing those actions in front of them.

If human beings have heard no news of Revelations and the concept of God from their forefathers, then there would be nothing to reject.  If there was no Revelation, the concept of God would not be in question.  Most Philosophers got the idea of the concept of God from previous Revelations.  Prior to that, people must be wondering that there must be “Something”.  The concept of God is introduced to mankind by the Prophetic traditions.  The Creator of the universe must have employed His Messengers to tell the people, as most Revelation mentions: “We have sent guidance from the very beginning of the human race.” Still some people might not have the opportunity to get to know it. 

Human reasoning works in two ways:

  1. If there was no guidance from God, human beings would try to explain the universe within itself by using their human qualities.  
  2. For those who have the access to the Revelation they may or they may not use it to make sense of the creation. If they do not pay attention to creation at all, then they would be superficially following Revelation.

The Quran comes up with many claims.  Examples: Everything in the universe is Created by the One who creates the universe. There will be a Hereafter.  How do I know?  Only, by observing the universe can I progress in my reasoning about such claims.  Let us see how the Quran mentions God, it uses the word “Ahad”, which means indefinability of the Creator i.e. Absoluteness, I cannot define it and it teaches us that He must have His Own Existential Level which I cannot find any equivalent to in this universe.  I cannot explain Absolute in any other way for it has no limit i.e. “mutlaq“.  I cannot liken it to anything of this universe.  For example, you cannot compare the Engineer of an iPhone to anything of the iPhone as the Engineer has another Existence Level of a human being.  That is how we should understand Absolute or “Ahad”, and that is how the Quran introduces to us how the universe has an Absolute Being that has various qualities. Then the Quran directs us to the universe to investigate and see the various qualities that we experience and teaches us that those qualities point to the qualities of the Creator of the universe. The Creator introduces Himself to us in 2 ways (see below): The Creator says to us:With these qualities, I created this world in order to introduce Myself to you.”  

  1. You have the spirit from Me, your Creator, and the universe is My act of creation.  
  2. This message, the Revelation is My speech.

(Analogy A: The creation as a machine, The Quran as a manual book, and the Prophet as the instructor).  

Now, I am going to teach you how to practice, where the Prophet is the practitioner of the message of God.  It is a Mercy from the Creator to employ an instructor for us.  If we do not pay attention to the universe, then we are bound to imitate the Quran, rather than confirming it.

Let us look at the verse now.

هَـٰذَا هُدًۭى ۖ وَٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ بِـَٔايَـٰتِ رَبِّهِمْ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌۭ مِّن رِّجْزٍ أَلِيمٌ

45:11 “This is guidance; and those who reject the signs of their Lord, theirs is a painful punishment of torment.”

What guidance?  Which signs?

The signs here refer to the creation and speech of God at the same time. This is guidance that we can understand in two ways:  

  1. The universe is a source of guidance, and
  2. The Speech is a source of guidance.  

Please refer to Analogy A mentioned on page 2.  Example: a laptop manual says to press on the key “f”, and the letter f will appear on the screen.  How can I believe that?  By pressing the key.  When I follow through and I see that whatever the manual says laptop works perfectly, then I feel confident that this manual is prepared by the One who made the machine.  Manual helps and the universe confirms the manual, that is the only way to get out of superficial belief or “imitation”.  Now, this belief becomes “confirmation”, “yes this manual is prepared by the One who made the machine, and I am convinced”.  That is called “الايمان بالكتب, belief in the books i.e. Revelation.  

From the beginning, the Revelation is to be confirmed, and in some matters, you have to say that I am convinced that this book is from the Creator of the universe, and hence, my Creator because I am part of this universe.  I will listen to my human feelings i.e. human spirit.  If my human spirit says to pray, then I must pray with the confirmation of the witnessing of the universe.  When I stand up in prayer before God, it means that: “Here I am, and I understood that the universe has an Absolute Creator, and I am just acknowledging the Creator of the universe by standing up and prostrating before its Creator”.  It means that there is no object in this universe that I am standing before.  It is a form of salutation by saying “Allahuakbar”, i.e. the name of the Creator is beyond the limitations and the definitions of the universe, He is the Source of Existence of the universe.  Then, bowing down and respecting His grandeur and greatness: “I am admitting that I am subject to You”.  Going to prostration or “sajdah,” I am saying that “You are above everything and I am nothing”.  This really corresponds to my reality, and I can relate these movements to my feelings.  Example: if I see someone respectful, I salute by lowering myself and acknowledging their greatness (hello).  This act is very human and very satisfactory.  

The Quran needs to be confirmed, and how can I do that?  By using my human qualities and seeing the concrete and palpable examples demonstrated in front of me that are renewing constantly which are the manifestation of the Creator’s qualities. I learn what kind of Creator He is.

Example: John comes to me and says that he is the best chef in NY, and everyone knows him.  How can I believe in John?  He can play the role and cheat me; we do not know what he claims to be is true or not.  How can I confirm that John is the best chef in NY?  There is only one way to do that.  John must take me to the restaurant where he prepares dishes, where I can see how people are enjoying the food.  When I have the pleasure of eating the food he prepared, I say that even if John did not tell me that he was the best chef, I would still give him the title of best chef I have experienced thus far.  The confirmation of the Quran’s claim about belief in God, Angel, Hereafter, and Prophethood is only possible after seeing the manifestation of these qualities witnessed by the act of creation which I can experience.  In our example, witnessing by eating the delicious food that John offered.  

Example: Some people may argue, can the Creator of the universe not do His job by Himself rather than hiring someone to act on His behalf?!  The creation is taking place with no one being employed but some people imagine some concepts like “nature” “accident” and think they are operating in the acts of creation. The fallacy here lies in perceiving God to be like a human being.  Like the mayor of a city employs someone to construct a road, rather than doing it Himself.  If God is like a mayor, then He cannot be the Source of Existence of the universe continuously changing, perfectly renewing it in space-time.  We are continuously changing, and it is not felt as the changes are small and gradual but surely we notice it when we compare it with a larger time period.  There are no gaps in creation.  Space wise and time wise the order is perfectly adjusted.  My existence is constant (i.e. continuous) but changing.  What does it mean?  How can I explain my existence?  Someone is giving existence to the whole universe, which is an amazing manifestation of creation!  Only an Infinite Being can do this!!  You cannot express this Being with a  number!!!

Some bright Physicists say that we live in a multi universe, rather an infinite universe.  How do you explain the infinite universe existing within itself?  I can see that the universe is limited and subject to change.  I cannot stop myself from aging, let alone the galaxies cannot stop themselves from being changed.  Hence, it is inevitable to read the Quran under the witnessing of the universe and understand what news the Quran brings to us.  Example: When I look at the iphone, I can conclude that the iphone must have an Engineer.  Where is the Engineer?  That is ghaib, Absolute, not of the nature of the universe.  You cannot find the Engineer of this universe in the universe.  Every quality of the iphone shouts that I have a conscious Engineer.  When we think of the Creator of the universe, we should not think of It as the mayor of a city, for the mayor is a part of the universe, but the Creator of the universe must be “ghaib” or unseen (there is really no word to translate “ghaib”).  The only way that we can explain “ghaib” is by saying, “not of the nature of the universe”.  

Why does the Quran combine the signs of what it claims, and the way the universe is happening in front of my eyes as I can experience and see it?  In order to apprise those who reject the signs of their Lord, the One who is maintaining the whole universe (including themselves), that these are the signs of the One who created me, is taking care of me, providing my sustenance/provision (whatever I need) and is presenting the data for my intelligence and reasoning in the way the universe is created.  For example, I can eat food and reflect on how the food comes into existence, how I am made to be able to chew, taste, and further extend this reasoning to the rest of the universe.  

It is easy for an honest person to understand this matter and say: “The universe is created in a miraculous way.” When you look at the whole universe, it is evident that the Source of its existence must be Absolute.  That is how the Creator is manifesting Its Absoluteness with continuous change, different dimensions of creation.  Only in this way, we can understand that the Source of Existence must be Infinite.  Otherwise, at the end of the day, the universe is limited.  Whether we become rich or not, everything here is limited.  If the work is limited, then that is how much power and quality the Creator of the universe has.  But the Quran brings the news of simple examples of the change of “Day and Night”, which refers to the time dimension of creation.  The sun, moon and the planets are the simplest demonstration of the workings of the galaxies.  You do not need to use binoculars, just with the naked eye you can see the changes brought about by the Creator of the universe on a daily basis.  Changes that are experienced is the challenging side of the universe, and the best way to understand Absoluteness.  

If someone rejects the signs of the universe, and therefore, rejects the news of the Revelation (The Quran), it means that they are choosing to be blind to the evidence that is perfectly adjusted by their Lord.  Example: If someone has a baby and does not believe in God, then only Hell can manage them.  How do you explain the existence of a perfect little human with imagination, analysis, thinking, concluding, knowing what is right and wrong, and with a free will to choose and decide?!  A perfect little human coming from one cell, who wrote inside the cell?!  Our existence is a real act of an Actor, just like the blueprint of a monument is a witness to the Architect.  There is Infinite knowledge being manifested in the DNA of one cell.  Again, Infinite cannot be represented by a number, you can only discover as much of the knowledge based on your capacity. 

Example: when you go to the toilet at least twice a day, you release yourself of waste.  Don’t you wonder what chemical engineer operates in your body?  Who is separating the various particles of our food?  Is the digestive system and intestine looking to survive and adapting themselves to the environment by themselves?  Are they deciding on their own which particle to separate from others?  When you take vitamins, do the nutrients act on their own to get delivered at their appropriate place?  Who is arranging the delivery system?  Is it happening accidentally? Are the particles looking to survive on their own in order to adapt to the environment?  Do these people think that human beings are idiots to swallow this explanation?!  Are you insulting me that I am an idiot, and I can swallow this explanation?!  

Are the particles randomly trying to get into the right track of the digestive system?  How is the digestive system allowing for delivery?  In and of itself, the intestine is a piece of meat in my body and does not have conscience.  Again, how are people making sense of this?  Perhaps they confuse such matters with the study of science.  Looking into the old testament, the Israelites rejected the witnessing of the universe, because they had no other option. The students of the Quran are not paying much attention to this aspect  as well.  Studying material sciences only stops the students from benefiting by studying the Quran.  Historically, during the Ottoman Empire,  they removed the study of material sciences from the curriculum of  islamic schools in general.   The only study left were Arabic grammar and the jurisprudence or “fiqh” side of the Qur’an.  This was the beginning of corruption of Islamic sciences.

“Science” means studying the universe and studying the universe means, in turn, studying the book of the universe, written by God.  How can I ignore the workings of the universe?  It must be studied and demonstrated that these are the manifestations of the qualities of the Creator.  For example, while eating food at John’s restaurant (earlier example), we keep talking about the chef, John, such as John must have put some special spices, or John must have marinated with good seasoning and perfect measurement… John this and John that….  What am I going to do with talks about John, he is not there with me?  While I am eating the food and talking about John, I am getting to know the qualities of being a chef manifested in the restaurant.  Similarly, that is how I know and make sure that the Creator of the universe must have these kinds of qualities.  Without eating the food, can you praise John’s qualities?!  No.  Without eating John’s food, can you be a believer in him being the best chef in town?  No.

Let us take another example.  Jane claims to be the best software engineer.  The company asks for her resume, her portfolio and gives a test to see if she is really telling the truth, and knows what she claims.  After seeing the results or action, they employ her.  No employer takes the words of a person, so how can one take the word of the Speech of God at face value?  Why are we negligent of this reality and ignore the universe when it comes to confirming belief!?

Comment: We take it for granted due to familiarity. 

Unfortunately, most believers fall into the trap of being familiar with concepts and suffice themselves with it.  Everyone is playing with their own claims within themselves, entertaining themselves by applauding themselves.  We must confirm!  

Science is my right and my Lord’s property i.e. this company belongs to my Boss/Lord.  We should not leave the property of my Lord to be owned by those who claim it to have no Owner.  When we do not study the universe, other people hijack the universe and interpret it as they want and present it to the public.

A bright Atheist remarks:  “I want to apply my scientific research methods  in defining the Owner of the universe”, in terms of His physical experience within the universe He created.  Isn’t this absurd?!  The maker of anything cannot be of the nature of its product; this is only logical for everyone to understand it.

Can I make a machine without following the orderly creation of the universe?  No, I must follow the Creator’s order in the most obedient way.  The machine is my Creator’s gift to me, I can only claim that I worked and prayed for it by following the order to receive the result to be created; I cannot create the result.  With this understanding, I must own technology as belonging to my Boss/Lord of the universe.  I acknowledge the Source of my existence and I have every right to talk about the universe.  We must have this confidence!  

The bright Atheist continues: “You deny science.”  I say, “I deny your meaningless interpretation.  The Creator of the universe says that science is My Property, and its interpretation is your fabrication which has no truth(such as nature, randomness).  Let us not forget that matter has no consciousness and no qualities at all originating from itself.  They are made like everything else with no qualities of their own, rather given qualities.  They must exist as they are employed and created.”  

Let us understand the meaning of “denying” by looking into the two scenarios below, don’t you have to know something to deny it?  Yes.  Without knowing can you deny something?  No.

Scenario One: I have a metro card in my pocket, and I am a stingy person. You asked me to swipe for you, and I refused saying that I do not have my metro card.

Scenario Two: I have a metro card in my pocket, and I am a forgetful person.  You ask me to swipe for you, and I genuinely say that I do not have my metro card.  Is this ignorance or what?!

When the Quran uses “deniers” or “rejecters” it means that you do not want to submit, that is why you willfully deny it as in scenario one.  The word “rabbihim” in the signs of their Lord, means that he knows it but does not want to submit and acknowledge it. In his conscience (not consciousness, which is super intelligence of humankind), i.e. in your inner sense, the way your reality speaks to you, if you deny His signs, there is a painful punishment of torment, and you find yourself in a contradicting position.

Example: there is a dog in your vicinity that you hear weaning, as if crying for some food.  You know that you must give it something, but you ignore saying that this is an animal, not a human being.  Can you sleep comfortably?  No.  Isn’t it inhumane?!  Yes, and that is the torture of when you reject your reality.  

The latter part of the verse mentions that because of contradicting their reality, there is a painful punishment of torment in this world of contradicting their reality with their denial or rejection.  They say that I must make up something to soothe my pain, they deny their human sides. They say that when the body dies, we will feel nothing.  For example, chop your arm, and let someone step on it, do you feel any pain?  No. The body does not feel anything.  That is why they reduce themselves to body. When the body rots in the grave, we do not feel anything.  However, we are not body.  The pain is our human conscience and spirit.  Do you think that the body is feeling the pain of not feeding the dog?  How do you define yourself?  Are you your eyes or brain, a material body?  Who are you?  When you say, “I remember something or I saw something”, who is “I”?  There is a cell in the brain that records something, what is the “I”?  The cell?  The conscience is the one who feels the torment here, and after death in the next creation when the body is separated from the conscience i.e. the spirit which is of the nature of law or “amr” (God’s command and will), but your body comes from the production of the soil, and it goes back there, not that significant.  

Your spirit or conscience is an independent existence that feels torment, and accordingly in the next creation a body will be given to it.  According to the description about the deniers in some verses in the Quran, “sumyun bukmun umyun” (dumb, blind, and deaf), the spirit would want to see, but the eye will not be able to see, although they will have a body.  The tools do not function in Hell. The deniers will say that “we used to see, why don’t we see?” for example.  They will be given a body with what their spirit requires, but they will not be able to utilize them, and they will feel the punishment of the torment by not obtaining and getting anything resulting from their denial of the Creator in this worldly life.  They denied their Creator by attributing things, including their tools to random happenings. That is what the Quran reminds us of, “give the deniers the good news for not having anything they desire for.”  They will be left alone with their own made up concepts, they will be told, let your concepts like “nature” or “random happenings” help you. Wait for whatever you need randomly develop and satisfy you.

It is not God that punishes but the denier himself/herself punishes himself/herself.  If someone comes to your restaurant, and asks you for food, which you provide, how do you feel?  Merciful towards that person, and your feelings represent God’s mercy.  Now, that same person comes again the next time, and just takes the food without asking, does not clean after himself, denies your generosity and does not acknowledge you as the owner of the restaurant (rather he says that the food is randomly cooking by itself), would you give him food next time?  No.  At least you can let them know to be respectful and ask for permission.  Similarly, denial is complete rejection.  

    • According to the level of rejection, the pain of Hell is proportional to it.  
  • According to the level of confirmation, the pleasure of paradise corresponds to it  and is multiplied.  We must appreciate more so we are given more.

That is how the Quran becomes meaningful in my practical life, by relating the message in different perspectives that we experience in our existence.

 




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