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Lesson 46

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Lesson - 46


"To Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. And whether you manifest what is in your minds or hide it, Allah will call you to account according to it. So He forgives whom He pleases and chastises whom He pleases. And Allah is Possessor of power over all things." Ch. 2:284

This is the first verse of the last section of chapter Al-Baqarah. I will inshaallah (if Allah pleases) give a somewhat detailed commentary on this section. The reason for this is the saying of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that:

"I have been given two blessings that no other prophet has received, one is the Al-Fatihah, and the other is the last section of Al-Baqarah."
According to another tradition this section was revealed to the Holy Prophet, during the Mi`raj (Ascension). In any case, this section contains a sea of wisdom, spiritual insight, and guidance for mankind. I hope I can do justice in explaining this section. May Allah help me in doing so, ameen (be it so).

Questions about the creation of the Universe

The following questions arise in the mind of a person who contemplates. Who created the heavens and the earth? Who created all that is within them, and what is the purpose of this creation? Who created man, and for what purpose was he created? How did man get pre-eminence over the rest of creation? Is there a Being above mankind? What is death and what comes after it? Some of the answers to these questions are in the verse that I have related today, and some follow later.

The first truth revealed in this verse, unknown to mankind fourteen hundred years ago, is that the heaven we see with our eyes is not one, but many. This is the reason why the Arabic word samawaat (many heavens) in the plural tense is used, instead of sama' (heaven), which is in the singular. The extent of this universe is beyond human comprehension. Scientists have attempted to measure the distances in the universe by the speed of light which travels at the speed of a hundred and eighty six thousand miles per second. To gauge the enormity of these distances it helps to contemplate on the following simple mathematical calculation. If the distance traveled by light in one second is multiplied by sixty twice, this gives the distance traveled by light in one hour. By multiplying this further with the numbers twenty four, and then by three hundred and sixty five, the distance traveled by light in one year is obtained. This unit is called one light year in astronomical terms. Current estimates of the diameter of the universe is seventy billion light years. The estimate is likely to be revised upward as more accurate methods are developed.

Fourteen hundred years ago, an unlettered person from Arabia could not have had knowledge of the oneness of creation. In fact, even the scientific minds of the day did not know that this amazing universe was made up of the same matter, and was governed by the same universal laws. This discovery has forced the atheistic scientific minds of our age not only to accept the existence of God, but also that He is One. The Holy Quran revealed this amazing truth fourteen hundred years ago, that whatever is in the heavens and on earth, belongs to Allah, Who created them. No human being can even think of claiming mastery over the heavens. Even in his earthly existence, a human child arrives empty handed from the mother's womb, and at the time of his death, is laid to rest in his grave devoid of all possessions. Whatever mankind is given in this terrestrial existence, and which he apparently considers as his own property, belongs to him only temporarily. This includes his life, health, body, honor, happiness, wealth and power. All that we receive in this life is given to us by Allah. Several verses of the Holy Quran relate this, one of which I will quote:

"Who so desires this transitory life (aajilat), We hasten to him therein what We please for whomsoever We desire" (17:18).
The Arabic word aajilat stands for things to be received soon, in this transitory life.

As I have mentioned in one of my earlier lessons, Allah has appointed mankind as His vicegerent on earth, and has delegated limited authority to him. We observe that this remarkable system of the universe, including the rising and setting of the sun and the moon works with absolute perfection. It is not possible for the sun, or the moon to be a second earlier or late. Man, however, frequently mismanages his affairs and spoils the earth which was created as a paradise for him. This is stated in the verse:

"And We said: O Adam, dwell thou and thy wife in the garden" (2:35).
I explained in my commentary on this verse that by garden (janaat) is meant the garden of paradise on this earth. Man frequently creates discord and difficulties by his actions. Without dwelling into history, we observe in this age of ours, that mankind has made great progress in science and technology, and has advanced the frontiers of knowledge. Despite this material progress, the world today is more degenerate, and lacking in moral values than ever before.

Mankind's reformation possible only through reformation of the heart

Unless there is moral reformation of man, who runs the activities of this worldly life, the world cannot be a better place. This is not possible, until the heart of man is reformed. The reason for this is that human intelligence which is centered in his brain gives uniform guidance to all of mankind. Man, however, is motivated by the desires and emotions. Human intelligence is like the driver of a vehicle, or the rider of a horse. Despite intellectual inhibitions, man tends to do what his heart desires when his emotions and desires, which are the motive forces, run out of control.

It is, therefore, stated in the verse under discussion today that:

"And whether you manifest what is in your minds (ma fee un fosi-kum) or hide it, Allah will call you to account according to it."
The Arabic words ma fee unfosi-kum have been translated as, 'what is in your hearts', or minds. I will now comment based on this meaning. No other religion, or revealed scripture has mentioned accountability of what is in the mind, or given it importance similar to what the Holy Quran has done. The legal systems of this world only hold men accountable for their actions, and not for what is within their hearts. This is, however, a shortcoming, for the actions of men are manifested much later, they are contemplated first. For example before a thief commits a robbery, he plans it for a long time in his mind. He spies on the occupants of the house which he is going to burglarize. He makes various inquiries, and then ultimately goes through with the decision that brings about the apparent act. A black marketer, or a licentious person cooks the whole scheme in his mind, and in the end commits the action. In short, all the moral and spiritual illnesses of mankind first take root in the mind, and manifest much later on as actions. Until the roots are extracted, one cannot get rid of these illnesses.

For example, if a doctor cleans the purulent secretions from an abscess, but does not treat it, the sore will not heal. He has to go to the source, or root of this illness, and get rid of it. Religions which have not called into accountability the inner thoughts of man, have been unable to accomplish his reformation. Human laws can only address his actions for they are unaware of his inner thoughts. These are only known to the person whose mind is contemplating them, or to Allah Who is the Creator of that mind, and all the systems within it. That is why the Holy Quran calls Allah the Most High as:

"The Knower of what is in the hearts (50:16),"
for He knows very well what is within our minds.

The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has described this wisdom very well, he states:

"Pay attention to this that within the body of man is a piece, which if it is in a righteous state, the whole body becomes well, and if it becomes corrupted it leads to the corruption of man. Beware that it is the heart of man."

Within the hearts of men are all sorts of evil emotions like malice, envy, hatred, enmity and pride, which are spiritual illnesses. When these become the motive forces for his actions, but are camouflaged under the false impression of good intent, other people are misled. Nevertheless, this results in a lot of wickedness and corruption. Hence, it is that unless man is held accountable for his inner thoughts, he cannot be reformed , nor can the sorrows of humanity be remedied. How correctly has the Holy Prophet stated this:

"The goodness, or evil of an action is based on the intent with which it is done."
For example, the action of a murderer and a doctor, whose operation fails, can both lead to the death of a person. The doctor is paid for his action while the murderer goes to jail. The only difference is that of intent which is motivated by different emotions and desires in the two cases.

The Holy Quran is an amazing book of wisdom. The wisdom underlying the words, "whether you manifest what is in your mind, or hide it," is that a person's mind is expressed first by his tongue. A child for example, does not know how to hide his inner feelings. As he grows older, the fear of antagonizing people, or of punishment, arises and he begins to hide what is in his mind. With maturity he becomes an expert at hiding his intentions, and inner secrets from fear of people, or the law. The Being Who has created the human mind, and all its inner systems is aware of these hidden secrets, and as a form of chastisement creates the fire of discontent in the heart of such a man. Quite frequently, He manifests the hidden detriment, and evil of such a person in this world leading to his dishonor and disgrace. Such a person then receives chastisement for it in this world, which is a proof for the accountability, and punishment of the Hereafter.
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