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Lesson - 47
"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
In the previous lesson I commented generally, on this verse, but
did not get into finer details, which I intend to cover now. I have
mentioned the importance of this section of Al-Baqarah. The
Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "I
have been given two blessings no other prophet has received, one
is the Al-Fatihah, and the other is the last section of Al-Baqarah."
I urge the readers to first read the previous lesson, if they have
not already done so, in order to fully benefit from the spiritual
knowledge contained in this section.
Philosophy of accountability of the self
Two truths are revealed in this verse. Firstly, whatever is in
the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah. No one can claim proprietorship,
in fact, even in this earthly existence, the human child comes empty
handed from his mother's womb, and returns to his grave devoid of
all material possessions. As I have discussed in detail in my previous
lesson, every thing belongs to Allah. Secondly, we are told that
man is accountable before Allah for whatever is in his mind, whether
he manifests it or hides it. To understand this section fully, the
reader is advised to study section thirty-nine of Al-Baqarah,
before reading on. Three fundamental statements are made in section
- Loans should be evidenced in writing and a maturity period fixed
for the return of the loan.
- The loan agreement should be witnessed by two persons.
- If a scribe is not available to put the loan agreement into
writing, as for instance in a journey, a collateral should be
taken for the return of the loan.
Now if we read the verse under discussion, it states that whatever
is in the heavens and the earth, belongs to Allah Who created every
thing. Man enters into and leaves this world empty handed. Whatever
he receives from Allah is a loan. The terms of this loan are also
similar. It was enjoined in the previous section to put down in
writing the amount, and the duration of the loan. Similarly, Allah
writes down, and fixes a time limit on whatever he gives to man
as stated in:
"And no soul can die but with Allah's permission
the term is fixed" (3:145).
The life term of every human being is thus fixed and written down.
All that is given during this period is a loan from Allah for which
he is answerable to Him. The terms on which human beings are given
this loan are included in the revealed scripture given to every nation,
and these terms have also been put in writing and preserved in the
Holy Quran. The acceptance of Divine scriptures is, therefore mentioned
in the next verse.
In the preceding section it was also mentioned that the writing
of a loan should be witnessed by two witnesses. Similarly whatever
is loaned to man in this life, is also witnessed by two witnesses.
One of them is the angel who brought this scripture from the Divine
Being, and the other is the Holy Prophet Muhammad, who carried its
message to mankind. The Holy Quran mentions the angels as witnesses,
as in this verse:
"But Allah bears witness by that which He has revealed
to thee that He has revealed it with His knowledge, and the angels
(also) bear witness" (4:166).
The witnessing by the messengers is mentioned thus:
"But how will it be when We bring from every people
a witness and bring thee as a witness against these" (4:41).
Man will be held accountable for all that he is given in this worldly
life. That is why the Holy Prophet once remarked:
"They are at a loss, they are at a loss."
When asked by one of the companions as to who these people were,
"those who are given abundance of wealth, except those
who say, take this in the way of Allah, and take this, and also
Allah has mentioned this accountability in several places, in the
Holy Quran. I will only refer to one verse:
"Then on that day you shall certainly be questioned
about the boons" (102:8).
Who can estimate the blessings that Allah has given to man? The
Holy Quran states:
"And if you count Allah's favors, you will not be able
to number them" (14:34)
The blessings for which man will be specially held accountable are
the various parts of his body, for example, his hands, feet, tongue,
eyes etc. and the way in which he used them for doing good or evil.
The wealth and power, that is given to a man, will also be called
into account. He will be answerable for, whether he used it to serve
Allah, and His fellow human beings, or utilized it only for the
benefit of his self, spouse and offspring. The latter is a basic
animal instinct, for we observe that even animals provide for their
mates and offspring. The topic of man's accountability is very vast,
and beyond the scope of this brief lesson. I urge the reader to
study the Holy Quran in full with its translation for a complete
description of the process of accountability. The reader will find
that it has been explained in a simple and easily understandable
The human soul and its stages of development
The last condition of a loan mentioned in section 39, of Ch.2:283,
is of offering property as a security trust. If what is given to
mankind is a loan, the spirit which Allah breathes into man is a
trust which He takes back at the time of his death. In the Holy
Quran this spirit, when it is first given, is described by the Arabic
word ruh, as in the verse:
"So when I have made him complete and breathed into
him of My spirit (ruh), fall down making obeisance to him"
After the initial creation, the Holy Quran does not use the Arabic
word ruh, but uses the Arabic word nafs, to describe
the soul. At the time of death it is the soul (nafs) which
is taken away as in the verse:
"And no soul can die but with Allah's permission" (4:144).
On the Day of Judgment it is the soul (nafs) which will appear
before Allah as stated in the Holy Quran:
"And every soul comes, with it a driver and a witness"
This soul (nafs) will be given a different body after death,
and will enter into hell or heaven. In short, since soul is the
essence of man, everything that is given in this earthly life is
given to the soul, and so too will be the rewards and punishment
of the Hereafter. In light of this fact, if we study the words of
the verse under discussion once more, it states:
"To Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever
is in the earth."
It is because of this that Allah is the One Who gives everything
to mankind. The human soul is mentioned after this, for it is the
common factor between this life and the Hereafter.
The spirit which is placed in man at the time of birth is exposed
to all the stages and experiences of his life. For example, childhood,
teenage, youth, old age, good health, sickness, joy, grief, worries,
knowledge, wealth, struggle for worldly things, good deeds, evil
deeds, hard work and laziness, usage of time wisely or its wastage,
the good and evil thoughts in one's mind, etc. In fact, the spirit
is affected by all of this, and evolves into an individual, or personality.
All the good and evil deeds done by an individual cast their reflection
on his soul. That is the reason why the Holy Quran states in the
verse under discussion:
"And whether you manifest what is in your minds (anfosi-kum,
'souls') or hide it, Allah will call you to account according
In regards to the soul I have discussed earlier that it is given
to man as a trust from Allah, and is taken back by Him at the time
of death. Man is accountable before Allah for how he took care of
this trust. The Arabic word amanat for trust is from the
root aman which means, "the realization of peace by the human
soul and the removal of the state of fear." We, therefore fulfill
our duty towards the trust of Allah when our soul becomes the soul
at rest, or the nafs-i-mutma'innah, and there remains no
fear and sadness in it. That is why the Holy Quran says about the
"they have no fear nor shall they grieve."
Fear or apprehension is an ex ante feeling while, sadness or grief
is an ex post feeling. For example, the fear of being caught exists
in the heart of a person who has lied, but once he is caught, it
is replaced by sadness. The heart of a true believer is protected
against such innocuous elements for he does not commit wicked and
evil deeds. Even when confronted by difficult circumstances, righteous
persons do not fear or grieve, because of their strong belief. The
Reformer of this century, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmed has shed great
light on the soul at rest (nafs mutma'innah) in his momentous
lecture, "The Teachings of Islam." In brief, he states that the
Holy Quran calls the first stage of the human soul as the nafs
al-ammara i.e., one wont to command evil. In this stage man
does whatever his self commands. This is the animal stage because
an animal also does what the provocation of his emotions, and desires
leads him to do. In this stage man is liable to commit wrongful
deeds as stated in:
"Surely (man's) self is wont to command evil, except
those on whom my Lord has mercy" (12:53).
The nafs al-ammara, or the animal soul commands evil, except
for those upon whom Allah has mercy. After receiving the Divine
guidance, man initiates the reformation of his soul by opposing
evil inclinations and his soul passes into the stage which the Holy
Quran calls the nafs al-lawwamah, or the self accusing soul.
An animal never reprimands itself. This stage has been called the
moral stage by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmed. At this level man rises
above his animal instincts, and acquires human, or moral values.
The Holy Quran has called the last stage of the soul's development
as the nafs al-mutma'innah, or the soul at rest as stated
"O soul that art at rest, return to thy Lord, well-
pleased, well-pleasing, So enter among My servants, And enter
My Garden!" (89:27-30).
This is the spiritual stage in which the spiritual and moral values
become so dominant and established in the human soul that the earlier
struggle between good and evil, which was waged in the stage of
the self accusing soul, ends with a victory for good. With this
stage, man at this stage enters into the paradise of contentment
in this life, and after death he is given the paradise of the Hereafter.
The trust of the Divine Spirit that Allah has breathed into man
is thus truly fulfilled when it becomes the 'Soul at Rest.' This
trust has been mentioned in another verse of the Holy Quran which,
if God willing, is the subject of my next lesson.