THE QUR’ÂN AND CONTEMPLATION II

Man is not merely a creature of skin and bone, he is a creature of immense beauty, a wondrous work of art, such that Allah the Almighty bestowed man with the ability to dominate over all creation. If man guards his honor and dignity until maturity obtains divine prosperity and great esteem.

His Lord has created him in the best form (ahsan taqwîm). It is a great shame indeed that such a one who has been entrusted with all of these blessings should waste it all away in a tumult of doubt and ignorance, thereby weaving his own death shroud. Man is a target for the arrows of lust and with the knowledge that we face death at any moment we should live cautiously at all times. Existence resembles a calendar of opportunity which reveals the days which remain of a mortal life; with every passing day we get just a step closer to death.

Our spent days shall be witnesses against us whilst our days which remain are our guests we should prepare to greet. The life of man is as an eternal dossier which is constantly updated by the angels (kirâman kâtibîn) who record each and everything thing he does. One day this dossier will be displayed before him:

“Read your (own) record: Sufficient is your soul this day to make out an account against you.”(Isrâ, 17:14)

Aside from man’s book of deeds, the world too will be a witness in front of Allah the Almighty of the actions he does.

“On that Day will she (earth) declare her tidings.”(Zilzâl, 99:4)

It is hoped that every believer will be able to stand before his Creator without shame for what they have done in this world. The following is the Qur’ân’s guidance to us on how to obtain this:

“They forsake their beds of sleep, the while they call on their Lord, in Fear and Hope: And they spend (in charity) out of the sustenance which We have bestowed on them.” (Sajdah, 32: 16)

“We only fear a Day of frowning and distress from the side of our Lord.” (Insân, 76: 10)

“And those who fear the punishment of their Lord—for their Lord’s punishment is not a thing to feel secure from.” (Ma ‘ârij, 70:27-28)

The Qur’ân states that those who feel safe from the punishment of Allah will be a body of disappointment.

“Did they then feel secure against Allah’s devising but no one can feel secure from the Plan of Allah, except those (doomed) to ruin!” (A‘râf, 7: 99)

Only the disbelievers reject the divine grace and help:

“Never give up hope of Allah’s Soothing Mercy: truly no one despairs of Allah’s Soothing Mercy, except those who have no faith.” (Yûsuf, 12:87)

The heart of a believer trembles with excitement which oscillates between fear and hope. The balance between these feeling of fear and hope will be such that the believer must always be prepared for death, and pray in a state of refuge and helplessness, and take care to continue this balance and harmony until death.

“…Call on Him with fear and longing ( in your hearts): For the Mercy of Allah is (always) near to those who do good.” (A‘râf, 7: 56)

“… They hope for His Mercy and fear His Wrath: For the Wrath of your Lord is something to take heed of.” (Isrâ, 17:57)

Believers must live their lives in contemplation in accord with the description of the verses above.

There is no guarantee of eternal salvation for anybody except the Messengers and those of whom they have informed us. Confirming this, Allah the Almighty commands:

“O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam.” (Âl ‘Imrân, 3:102)

Fear of Allah is the light of happiness. The Qur’ân is replete with verses describing the torment of Hell; in spite of, heedless people say such things as “Allah is forgiving and loving; there is no need to fear Him.” But Allah the Almighty warned those who think in this way in the following verse of the Qur’ân:

“O mankind! Do your duty to your Lord and fear (the coming of) a day when no father can avail aught for his son, nor a son avail aught for his father. Verily, the promise of Allah is true: let not then this present life deceive you, nor let the Chief Deceiver deceive you about Allah.” (Luqmân, 31:33)

Further, some of the heedless ones say things like: “May your sins be mine”. But shame be on those who resort to this kind of spiritual boasting, to claim they can carry the burden of another person’s sins.

The heedless are content in this world, indulging themselves in its blessings. A good person of contemplation knows that life in this world is a blessing from Allah: a person who makes an effort has the excitement of gaining spiritual rank. Those who are blind live rejecting and opposing fate and Divine judgment, whereas a virtuous contemplative person will make an effort to find real peace by looking with wisdom and depth at the truth.

There are some who act as if they have understanding of the mysteries, before their actions and their souls have reached the peak of essence. Without knowing the truth and its secrets they can only explain the same thing over and over again.

Rûmî never reached the rank of such people as Yûnus, yet he wrote the following:

“I don’t want Heaven, nor am I afraid of Hell. I’m an adorer of the Almighty and it’s only him that I adore.”

Allah the Almighty blocks the paths of the mortal being’s soul, with the only remaining path being that which leads to Him. There man’s soul will find the perfection of love. ‘Abdul Qâdir Gaylânî says that a person who reaches this perfection of affection for Allah will be loved by Allah the Almighty to such a extent that love for all creation will be taken from his heart, and the believer won’t be able to think of the world or the hereafter, He will fear, and only want the company of Allah.

This is like the well known story of Layla and Majnûn, The young man who was possessed with his love for Layla broke away from all people to live alone. Leaving the thriving city he went and lived among the wild animals of the desert without taking notice of what others were saying about him. One day somebody asked him:  “Who are you?” “I am Layla,” he replied. Then he asked: “Where did you come from?” “From Layla,” he replied. Then he asked: “Where are you going?” “To Layla,” he replied. Majnûn’s heart had become blind to everything due to his deep love for Layla. (‘Abdul Qâdir Gaylânî)

When a believer is devoted to Allah throughout his life and then dies in this state of devotion, his heart will be purged of all other attachments, worldly and otherwise. Whether isolated or integrating, the adoring heart is always with Allah alone.

“Therefore stand firm (in the straight path) as you are commanded!” (Hûd, 11:112)

Those on the path of Allah the Almighty find joy in his commands; Allah will give them awareness of fathomless truths. Allah the Almighty sent the Holy Prophet (pbuh) as an example to mankind. The Holy Prophet is a fine example for humans at every step of their lives.

It was reported that the Prophet (pbuh) displayed the greatest humanity and compassion, and he loved his grandchildren Hasan and Husain very much. The angel Gabriel came to the Prophet and asked: “Do you love them that much?” The Prophet replied: “Yes, I do love them.”

Then the angel Gabriel told him: “One of them will be poisoned and the other martyred.” On hearing this, the Holy Messenger ensured that his love for them was in moderation.

This shows us that the affection we feel in our hearts for somebody should never exceed our love for Allah. As in this example, even the Prophet was not exempt from warnings and guidance. We must understand the significance of excessive affection from this example and everything we favour or love should be loved in moderation; we must prevent ourselves from idolising the objects of our love. Only our affection for Allah is to be limitless.

If the feelings of fear and hope in Allah continue in harmony, the hearts will turn into clouds of grace floating in the sky of faith. The one who loves always has the fear of harming or losing the affection of the one he loves.

In the Qur’ân we read:

“O you who believe! If you will help (the cause of) Allah, He will help you, and plant your feet firmly.” (Muhammad, 47:7)

While we possess this moment of opportunity we must manifest our faith and make the effort to turn our book of deeds into record of righteous actions. We must never forget that as believers we are the children of Adam who, as a blessing from Allah, had the angels prostrate to him. We are students at the school of Divine Names, students of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the teacher of words of Divine truth.

We aim to be on the straight path, the path of Allah. Thus our hearts must be full of the aspiration and affection of the truth of the Qur’ân and the precious Sunnah of the Holy Prophet. The Qur’ân and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet are our call to the eternal path of happiness. Only the pure souls will have the pleasure of reaching the Creator; not giving consideration or being insensitive to this call is blindness of the heart which will end in regret.

“Do they not then earnestly seek to understand the Qur’ân, or is that there are locks upon their hearts?” (Muhammad, 47: 24)

The Qur’ân in this verse directs us to consider its own uniqueness and loftiness.

“Do they not ponder on the Qur’ân? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.”(Nisâ, 4: 82)

It is not possible to find a verse in the Qur’ân, a book more than fourteen centuries old, which contradicts science; in fact, new discoveries made in every age serve only to increase the miraculous nature of the Qur’ân. The Qur’ân, regulating the lives of the Bedouin in the best way possible and providing them with everything they were in search of satisfied their souls over fourteen hundred years ago. Incredibly, today it continues to encircle intellectuals, consternating and surprising all with its revelations.

The Qur’ân is replete with such excellence of knowledge that it is the guide for every advancement of knowledge, from the past, the present, and until the day of judgment.

One of the pledges of Allah the Almighty, in the Qur’ân, is that with every new scientific discovery we will draw that much closer to understanding the miraculous nature of the Qur’ân. These miraculous aspects of the Qur’ân have been established within the limits of the Divine pledge.

“Soon will We show them Our Signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the truth. Is it not enough that your Lord witnesses all things?” (Fussilat, 41: 53)

There are many examples of this Divine declaration. Here are some verses concerning scientific truths that are contained in the Qur’ân:

O mankind! If you have a doubt about the Resurrection, (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We may manifest (Our power) to you; And We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do We bring you out as babes, then (foster you) that you may reach your age of full strength; and some of you are called to die, and some are sent back to the feeblest old age, so that they know nothing after having known (much). And (further), you see the earth barren and lifeless, but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells, and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs).” (Hajj, 22: 5)

“Man We did create from a quintessence (of clay); Then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest, firmly fixed; Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; Then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then We made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the Best to create!” (Muminûn, 23: 12-14)

In an article on embryology, Dr Keith L. Moore said that after exploring the development of the human embryo, he compared his data with verses of the Qur’ân and concluded that it is in agreement with his findings. He further admitted that with the given examples, the Qur’ân was more advanced than medical science.

Moore said that as well as the terms used to identify the three stages all being concurrent with scientific facts, they were also an example for medical science. In the Qur’ân, the described phase of the egg or seed form was consistent with all the content of the scientific research. The clot phase, where the foetus is in the hanging position and looks like a dull piece of blood, shows all the characteristics of the foetus, stored in this blood clot. In the foetus phasethe foetus looks like a piece of chewed up meat, as if there are teeth marks.

As a result of his research, Keith admired the Qur’ân and the Holy (pbuh) a great deal, and confirming this miracle of 1400 years ago, he embraced Islam. We are given confirmation of this and of the other miracles of the Qur’ân:

“And those to whom knowledge has come see that the (Revelation) sent down to you from your Lord- that is the Truth, and that it guides to the Path of the Exalted (In Might), Worthy of all praise.” (Saba, 34:6)

Scientific studies of the finger print confirmed that the finger tips never change throughout life; no two persons’ finger prints are the same; this is why for the police and law makers, the finger print is the most reliable way of discovering a person’s identity. This fact has been discovered towards the end of the 19th century, yet in the Qur’ân we read:

Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones? Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers.”(Qiyâmah, 75:3-4)

The uniqueness of every finger tip was thus brought to our attention centuries earlier.

The Qur’ân is well in advance of science as stated in this verse:

“Say: If the whole of mankind and jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur’ân, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support.”(Isrâ, 17:88)

Laying down all its basis of knowledge, the Qur’ân does not stem from the knowledge of a mere person, it is the enlightenment of Allah the Almighty. At the same time, the means for scientific discoveries and our ability to understand, is also by virtue of Allah’s grace upon us.

All the Messengers and Saints attained their knowledge from the essence of the Qur’ân. This is why the content of all the Divine books guided towards the Holy Qur’ân. A person is representative of the whole of mankind, and the Qur’ân is a divine book that embraces the whole of mankind. The knowledge that it contains is eternal, wisdom for all time.

The awliyaullah (friends of Allah), together with this understanding, experience with every word and every letter of the Qur’ân manifestations of diverse mysteries; they attribute this knowledge and subsequent authorships which they write to the Qur’ân’s Divine Light. One mystery is that of the prosperous and precious night of the Miraj.

One and a half years before the Hijrah, on the 27th night of the month of Rajab, the ‘night journey’ of the Prophet (pbuh) from Masjid al-Haram in Mecca to Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, and the ‘Mi‘râj’, or the ascent into the endless sky, a great manifest of divinity, took place.

This is how this miraculous journey is explained in the Qur’ân:

“Glory be to (Allah) who did take His Servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose precinct We did Bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our signs: for He is the One Who hears and sees (all things).” (Isrâ, 17:1)

In another verse, the manifestation of this Divine journey and its wisdom is explained:

“Be hold, the Lote-tree was shrouded with what shrouds. (His) sight never swerved, nor did it go wrong! For truly did he see, of the signs of his Lord, the Greatest!” (Najm, 53:16-18)

When we think about the event of the Mi‘râj in all of its glory we can clearly see that this appearance of Divinity was from Allah the Almighty, in order for the Prophet (pbuh) to witness His power and magnificence; it was a display from the “Loved One to the beloved”. The deep wisdom of this Divine call and its exceptional elegance and beauty is beyond the comprehension of human understanding. From this aspect the spiritual wisdom of this glorious journey is excluded from the boundaries of knowledge; it remains a mystery between the ‘Loved One and the beloved.’

On the anniversary of that holy night, the minarets, with their shining lights, touch the skies, and we must never forget that the grace of their holy light and the tributes are in memory of that holy night of Mi’raj.

The Divine reminder of the night of the Mi‘râj for humans is without doubt the prayer (salât). Prayer is the pillar of faith, the glimmer of the eye, and the consciousness of the soul: it is an ascension of the believer’s soul meeting with the Creator.

All of us who have the privilege of being a servant of Allah and a follower of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) have the ability of living our own personal Mi‘râj. There are clear signs that the ascension of a believer can be attained with prayer and the condition of our prayer determines our level of ascension. We are called five times a day to ascend on a divine journey to the Beloved.