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Lesson 30

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Lesson - 30


"It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteous is the one who believes in Allah, and the Last Day, and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and gives away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask and to set slaves free and keeps up prayer and pays the poor-rate; and the performers of their promise when they make a promise, and the patient in distress and affliction and in the time of conflict. These are they who are truthful; and these are they who keep their duty." Ch. 2:177

In the preceding lesson I have explained why it is inappropriate to interpret the verse:

"It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West,"
as the change in direction of prayer from Jerusalem towards the Sacred Mosque at Kabah. As pointed out earlier, the terms ‘East’ and ‘West,’ stand for the people of the East and West as is also the common connotation of these words in the English and Urdu languages. In the advancement of culture and the civilization which is mentioned here it was the East which took the first initiative. It gave birth to all the great religions of the world, many great empires, and arts, sciences, literature, and social etiquette, flourished here at a time when Europe and America were still in the dark ages. People, therefore, used to look upon, and turn in the direction of the East in order to learn about culture and civilization. This situation reversed itself in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. The West not only became politically dominant, but made such amazing progress in the scientific, and technological fields that the whole world was astounded, and quickly tried to follow its lead. Serious differences of opinion arose between people of the old and the new schools of thought. Some were of the opinion that only the eastern culture and civilization possessed all that was good, and all that came from the West was evil. There were others who considered the eastern culture as old and antiquated, and blindly embraced whatever came from the West.

The Holy Quran points out over here that all the cultures created by mankind irrespective of the fact that they are from the East or the West, are devoid of the higher forms of righteousness. We know that eventually the eastern culture fell into all kinds of evil and moral depravity, and are also witness to the shamelessness and obscene behavior rampant in the western society today. The Holy Quran tells us that real culture and civilization, is evolved from higher moral qualities which in turn are acquired by believing in Allah. Belief in Allah means awareness of His attributes, which from the very beginning of man’s creation have been the real source for his knowledge of goodness. The complete detail with which the Holy Quran has explained the attributes of Allah, is enough to teach man all acts of righteousness. Culture means cultivation of high moral standards, and these are created through acts of righteousness, the real source of which is Allah, the Possessor of all goodness.

Belief in the Day of Judgment, a highly effective deterrent against evil

The real reward and benefit of righteousness will be realized in the life Hereafter. It is for this reason, the Holy Quran has laid this as the next principle of belief, in the verse under discussion. As I have explained in my commentary on Al-Fatihah, the words, "Yaum-i-deen," in their broadest sense mean, the life Hereafter in which man will continue to receive reward for all his acts of righteousness. The Arabic word, Yaum also means the time period which extends from the morning till evening i.e., a day, or a specific time period. In this sense, the phrase means, the Day of Judgment, in the Hereafter. The Holy Quran has repeatedly informed man that a day will come when he has to account for all his words, actions, in fact even his hidden thoughts. Praise be to Allah! What an effective deterrent to sin is this belief in the Day of Judgment. If this belief becomes firmly entrenched in a person’s heart, it leads to the reformation of all his feelings, words, deeds, thoughts and desires. This leads to the development of greater acts of righteousness, and higher degree of morals — the real culture, unlike the superficial man made culture, the glitter of which easily fades away.

Belief in the Angels involves listening to the inner voice of guidance

Allah is the greatest Benefactor of mankind, and the Holy Quran is a book full of great wisdom and knowledge. It states, that in order to help man to acquire higher morals, Allah has created three agencies. The first of these are the angels. Angel is the link between man and God, by means of which Allah creates the desire for righteousness in man’s heart. Belief in the Angels, which is the third principle of belief laid down in this blessed verse, means that man should be aware of the fact that there is within his inner self a Divinely created agency which motivates him towards righteousness. He should, therefore pay attention to the desire for righteous action generated in his heart, because it is motivated by the angel under direction from God. He should act upon it expeditiously, and not let it go to waste, for that would be a great misfortune. To waste an opportunity to do good is one’s own loss, for time and opportunity do not return.

Divine Scripture, a guidance in black and white

The other means that Allah Almighty has created for the benefit, and guidance of mankind is the Divine Scripture. The Angel of high dignity who brought this Book is named Gibraeel (Angel Gabriel). There is always this danger that the angel which is inside of man’s self, being hidden from his eyes, goes unnoticed. In order to safe guard against such occurrence, Allah made the provision that He revealed His Book to guide nations for all times. It tells us in black and white the acts of righteousness to be accomplished, and the evils to be avoided. Other nations either lost their scriptures, or they were distorted, or manuscripts with opposing views were created. Allah, out of His Beneficence collected together all the essential teachings of these scriptures in the Holy Quran, completed it, and saved it for all times. The Holy Quran mentions this in the following verses:

"Wherein are (all) right books" (98:3)

"And We have revealed to thee the Book with the truth, verifying that which is before it of the Book and a guardian over it" (5:48).

The word, ‘Book,’ has been used as a class i.e., it verifies all the revealed scriptures prior to it, and preserves of their teachings, that which is essential. The truth which was adulterated, or lost from the earlier scriptures was revealed again through the Holy Quran, and the portion which needed to be saved, was preserved in it. In addition to this, the religion, and blessing of God was completed in this Book (5:3), and Allah is now the Guardian of this Book as stated in this verse:

"Surely We have revealed the Reminder, and surely We are its Guardian" (15:9).
For the reasons cited above, the word Book (Kitab) has been used in the singular tense, in the verse under discussion. It is now necessary only to accept one Book of guidance, the Holy Quran. Who so ever accepts the Holy Quran accepts the righteous teachings of all the previous scriptures. In any case this is the only revealed Book which is complete and fully preserved.

A human role model essential for the teaching of righteousness

Allah has appointed an angel within the inner self of every being to guide it towards higher virtues. He has also revealed a Book in which all acts of righteousness are clearly mentioned, along with how they can be acquired, and evil avoided. Words can, however, be ineffective unless accompanied by a living example. Allah has, therefore, created the example of the prophets for the guidance of mankind. Every nation considers its prophet as a role model of higher virtues. Details of their noble example are found in scriptures and religious traditions. The Holy Quran also, has highlighted the high moral qualities of these prophets, where ever it has made mention of them. In addition to this, the exemplary character of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), is mentioned in the Holy Quran, and books of his life history and Hadith document every aspect of it in great detail. His daily living, sayings and actions are so well preserved that it is not an exaggeration to call him the ‘Living Prophet.’

The Holy Prophet, a Role Model of Quranic Teachings

A Prophet, by acting upon all the injunctions of the scripture revealed to him, demonstrates that they can all be put to practice. Hazrat Ayesha, the noble wife of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), remarked about him that:

" His character was the Holy Quran,"
that is if any body wanted to learn about his character, he could read the Holy Quran. His character was a practical demonstration of all the Quranic teachings and injunctions. In fact, Allah has given a certification to the noble character of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), in these Quranic verses:

"And surely thou hast sublime morals" (68:4)

" Whoever obeys the Messenger, he indeed obeys Allah" (4:80).

Following the example of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), means submission to Allah.

In short, by belief in Allah, the Day of Judgment, the angels, the Holy Quran, and the prophets, man can acquire the higher moral qualities in their full manifestation, and in a complete manner.

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