A SERIOUS and sincere analysis of the Qur'an reveals that its central theme is man. It deals with concepts relating to God, the universe and man which have emanated from man's own limited knowledge run counter to reality. The same applies to concepts which have been either woven by man's intellectual fancies or which have evolved through man's obsession with animal desires.
The ways of life which rest on these false foundations are both contrary to reality and ruinous for man. The essence of true knowledge is that which God revealed to man when He appointed him His vicegerent. Hence, the way of life which is in accordance with reality and conducive to human good is that which we have characterised above as 'the right way'.
The real object of the Book is to call people to this 'right way' and to illuminate God's true guidance, which has often been lost either through man's negligence and heedlessness or distorted by his wicked perversity.
If we study the Qur'an with these facts in mind it is bound to strike us that the Qur'an does not deviate one iota from its main subject, its central theme and its basic objective. All the various themes occurring in the Qur'an are related to the central theme; just as beads of different sizes and colour may be strung together to form a necklace.
The Qur'an speaks of the structure of the heavens and the earth and of man, refers to the signs of reality in the various phenomena of the universe, relates anecdotes of bygone nations, criticises the beliefs, morals and deeds of different peoples, elucidates supernatural truths and discusses many other things besides.
All this the Qur'an does, not in order to provide instruction in physics, history, philosophy or any other particular branch of knowledge, but rather to remove the misconceptions people have about reality and to make that reality manifest to them.
It emphasises that the various ways men follow, which are not in conformity with reality, are essentially false, and full of harmful consequences for mankind. It calls on men to shun all such ways and to follow instead the way which both conforms to reality and yields best practical, results. This is why the Qur'an mentions everything only to the extent and in the manner necessary for the purposes it seeks to serve. The Qur'an confines itself to essentials thereby omitting any irrelevant details. Thus, all its contents consistently revolve around this call.
In Sura 'Al Teen' Allah says:
"We have indeed created man in the best of moulds, then do We abase him (to be) the lowest of the low, except such as believe and do righteous deeds: for they shall have a reward unfailing." (46)
These verses also indicate to the exalted position of man. To man, Allah gave the purest and best nature and man's duty is to preserve the pattern on which God has made him. But when he neglects this and goes in his own way, he will be abased to the lowest possible position.
Verily, Islam is the first religion to declare Man as the foremost of creation and the masterpiece of the Creator. Allah has cast man in the best of proportions, made him spotless and by nature upright. Every person is born on Islam: but his parents, environment and society turn him into a Jew, Christian or good or bad. Allah declares in Sura Yunus that He guided every one to the Straight path of unity of Allah, but they adopted different paths.
In the Holy Qur'an no other creation is described in such detail as man and the importance, respect and honour that is bestowed on him. "And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: (XLV : 13).
It is evident therefrom that everything in the Universe is created to serve man, cast in the best of moulds, and the vicegerent of Allah. Let us examine the purpose of his life. The responsibilities are in direct proportion to the prestigious position one holds.
It is remarkable here that the very first revealed verses discuss with the creation of man and related things. The first verses of Sura 'Al Alaq' can be translated as follows: "Proclaim (or Read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, who created - Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: Proclaim! And thy Lord is most Bountiful, - He who taught (The use of) the pen, taught man that which he knew not".
The important point to be noted is the first verse proclaimed acquisition of knowledge that is the essence of the identity and personality of man. At the same time it taught to seek it by agreeing the Creator Allah.
The declaration or proclamation was to be in the name of God the Creator. It was not for any personal benefit to the Prophet: to him there was to come bitter persecution, sorrow, and suffering. It was the call of God for the benefit of erring humanity. God is mentioned by His title of "thy Lord and Cherisher", to establish a direct nexus between the source of the Message and the one addressed.
The Message was not merely an abstract proposition of philosophy, but the direct concrete message of a personal God to the creatures whom He loves and cherishes. "Thy" addressed to the Prophet is appropriate in two ways:
(1) he was in direct contact with the divine Messenger (Gabriel) and Him Who sent the Messenger; (2) he represented the whole of humanity, in a fuller sense than that in which Christ Jesus is the "Son of Man".
Allah Ordains. I have only created Jinns and Men, that they may serve Me (LI:56)
This is the ultimate aim of religions. Submission and self abasement should not be to any other creature, nor vows and wants be beseeched of another creature; but the nucleus of succour should be Allah only and His Ultimate Being.
In religious parlance this is called Worship. Further, the aim and object of "Thee alone we worship and Thee alone we ask for help"; and the formula of virtue: "There is no one worthy or worship but Allah and Mohammad (salla Allahu alaihe wa sallam) is His Messenger" also lead to the same desire that except Allah there is no other being worthy of Worship, and for soliciting of aid, and Mohammad (pbuh) the Messenger of Allah was sent to preach the above Message to the entire world.
Indigence and want are a part and parcel of man's nature. Whether supernatural or super human, man seeks their aid to remove his evils and thus debases himself before them. Because of ignorance and stupidity he considers these objects to be beneficial redressers of grief and disposers of difficulties. It is this false absurd belief which compels him to prostrate before creatures which are far inferior to him.
To remove these confusions of senses and mental delusions, the Messenger of Allah preached the Message of truth to the entire world to the effect that man being the most superior of the creatures and nature's masterpiece cannot under any circumstances debase himself before any other creature which is inferior to him.
He can bow in humility only before the Supreme, the Exalted and the All knowing Allah in Whose hands are the reins of the Universe and who is pure of all defects. It is He who is our Deity and worthy of worship and entitled to be beseeched.
Allah alone is our Creator, our Lord, our protector, Master and the Supreme Judge. We are His creatures, his slaves and subjects. He alone we worship and to Him alone we beg to remove our wants for He alone is free of wants and all of us are beggars unto Him. By being His dependants we become free of want the entire world.
The one prostration which man considers onerous, relieves him from thousand prostrations. Allah ordains: It is ye that have need of Allah: but Allah is the One free of all wants, worthy of all Praise (35:15). Man becomes a real human being, daring and fearless, only after he accepts this Truthful Message. Allah alone becomes his centre of hope and fear.
Allah, the Lord and the Supreme Judge of the Universe. It is now that his every action is subject to the Command of Allah; man's weakness is now converted into his strength; his indignity into his respect; his poverty into his wealth; and he is no more afraid of any living creature in the world.
The Message: "Be ynot afraid of them, but fear Me, if ye have faith" (3:175) makes man fearless of the entire world he is hopeful and fearful only of Allah and none else.
"Is not Allah enough for His servant" (39:36) makes him independent of the entire universe. Once the attachment with other creatures is disconnected, man's soul attains peace and is contented with Allah and free from the servitude of false gods. What is superior to Allah whose realisation man longs for? Now he has everything for himself. Allah ordains: "In order that ye may not despair over matters that pass you by, nor exult over favours bestowed upon you. For Allah loveth not any vainglorious boaster" (L VII:23). Again".... when you should be uppermost: for Allah is with you..." (XL VII:35).
The conception and understanding of the True Deity has exalted man to heights beyond description. Once man, like a contemptible and despicable animal was afraid and fearful of every one. He considered every one to be redresser of grievances and disposer of misfortunes and bowed his head in slavery before them and sought their help and succour. He spent his life in worshipping and imploring them. He himself was weak and his godhead was also weak. "Feeble are those who petition and those whom they petition" (22:78).
Having understood and accepted the Divine Mission, man then hold the sword of none, but Allah an advances, and in the words of the Holy Qur'an, he questions the ignorant and the polytheists: "Is it some one other than Allah that ye order me to worship, O ye ignorant ones".
When man removes the fetters of worship of false gods, he feels free and independent for the first time in life. The heavy burden of fear is removed from his chest. Now he bows before his Real and True master, and finds his Lord and Protector to be merciful, And the Revelation ".... And he is full of Mercy to Believers" (33:43), inspires in him contentment and peace.
He is now convinced that after this declaration of Faith, Allah will treat him with Mercy and Beneficence. His heart is further strengthened by the fact that Allah is All knowing and Wise and considers every act of Allah as according to his Wisdom and Plan he considers Allah as his mentor in all his deeds. Having recited "For enough is Allah as a disposer of affairs" (33:48) he finds contentments and gets involved in his daily work.
Allah has made everything in the Universe for the benefits of man. But blinded with, pomp, pleasure, power, property, money, luxury and other worldly enjoyments man forgets to remember Allah and show gratitude to Him. Allah says in sura 'Al Alaq' "Nay, but man doth transgress and bounds, in that he looketh upon himself as selfsufficient. Verily, to thy Lord is the return (of all). (68) .
As it is crystal clear from these verses all our knowledge and capacities come as gifts from God. But man, in his vanity and insolence, mistakes God's gifts for his own achievements.
The gifts may be strength or beauty, wealth, position, or power, or the more subtle gifts of knowledge or talents in individuals, or science, or art, or government, or organisation for mankind in general.
These verses also remind us that man is not selfsufficient, either as an individual, or in his collective capacity. If he arrogates God's gifts to himself, he is remindedbackwards of his lowly physical origin (from a drop of animal matter), and forwards, of his responsibility and final return to God.
In Sura 'Al Adiyat', the Qur'an refers to the negative attitude of man towards his Creator:
"Truly man is to his Lord, ungrateful; and to that (fact) He bears witness (By his deeds); and violent is he in his love of wealth" (68). Here the Qur'an asks man what an evil choice he makes in committing treason against his own Benefactor by going after the petty baubles of this world's wealth of fleeting gains?
to be continued...