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Lesson - 48


"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

Human soul, the trust of God

How true is the statement of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that he has been given two blessings of the like of which no other prophet received, one the Al-Fatihah and the other the last section of Al-Baqarah. My previous two lessons were on the later, but the subject is far from complete. The last point I made in my previous lesson was that the Divine spirit breathed into man at the time of his creation passes through all the experiences of an individual's life. It is affected by his good and evil, thoughts, words and deeds, and shapes into a personality of its own for which the Holy Quran uses the term nafs or soul. The spirit which comes from the Divine Being, and gets transformed into the nafs or soul is a trust from Allah, the Most High, which is taken back from man at the time of death. The Holy Quran mentions this trust in these words:

"Surely We offered the trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains and they refused to bear it and feared from it, and man bore it. Surely he is ever unjust ignorant" (33:72).
The Arabic word zaloomun translated as 'unjust', also means ready to bear loss, and the word jahoola translated as ignorant, also means 'oppressor'. This verse states that the burden of trust of the spirit, which Allah has given to man, is so heavy that the heavens and the earth and the mountains are unable to bear it, but man has the capability to do so.

The heart of man capable of manifesting the Divine Presence

When man truly fulfills this trust, his heart becomes larger in magnitude than the heavens, wider in expanse than the earth, and greater in strength than the mountain. It is only then that God, Who cannot be contained by the heavens and the earth, manifests His glory in the heart of man. One may recall here the events of Prophet Moses narrated in the Holy Quran. When Prophet Moses asked God to show Himself to him, he was told that he would not be able to see Him with his physical eye. The human eye is a very delicate structure. It cannot even tolerate a flash of regular light, much less the manifestation of Divine glory. To get this point across, Allah the Most High manifested His glory on a nearby mountain which was rent asunder as a consequence, and Prophet Moses fainted (7:143). Thus we see that Allah, Whose manifestation cannot be borne by mountains or contained by the heavens and earth, manifests Himself in the heart of a true believer. Based on a Hadith of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), Maulana Rum, the famous Persian saint and poet, expresses this point succinctly thus:

"The Holy Prophet said that Allah stated, 'I cannot be contained within the heavens and the earth, but it is strange that I can be in the heart of a true believer. So if you want to find Me, look for Me inside that heart.' "

Hazrat Khawaja Moin-ud-din Chishti, another saintly person, states in a couplet:

"There is a King in the palace of my heart; if He pitched a tent on the outside, He would not be contained by the dry land and the oceans."
Hazrat Khawaja Mir Dard, a saintly poet puts it thus:

"The heavens and the earth cannot comprehend Thy magnitude, it is only my heart that can accommodate Thee."
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Reformer of the 14th. Century Hijra said:

"I do not visualize a throne greater than the heart of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) on which Allah the Most High was manifest."

Why man is capable of bearing the trust of the Divine Spirit

In summary if man can truly bear the trust of the spirit that Allah has given him, he gets to know Allah, which is the real purpose of man's creation. The reason why man can bear the burden of this trust is given in the verse that I quoted earlier from chapter thirty-three. Man is ever ready to bear loss and oppression. In Arabic, the words zaloomun and jahoola when taken in the negative sense can mean unjust and ignorant. However, the Arabic word zulm also means causing a loss and jahal also means oppressing. For example there is a couplet from the days of ignorance before Islam which reads thus in Arabic:

a-laa laa yujhal-na ah-dun alai-na fa-najhal fauqa jahl al jahlaina: "Beware no one should use force upon us, for we shall oppress more than the greatest oppressor."
The word Jahal (verb form of jahoola) is therefore used in this blessed verse of the Holy Quran in a positive sense to describe that quality of man, as a result of which he can suppress and discipline his self, and thereby bear the burden of the trust. All righteous deeds, and supplications entail some discipline of the self. For example, offering the five obligatory prayers, or getting up late at night for the tahajjud (late night prayer) all require a great measure of self discipline. A similar effort is involved in performing ablutions, or concentrating one's wandering thoughts towards God. The other quality of man that is praised, and because of which he can bear the burden of the trust, is that he can bear repeated loss to his self. Sacrifice in the way of Allah, in particular monetary sacrifice, appears on the surface to be a loss. Similarly, man can even sacrifice his life in the way of Allah, despite the fact that there can be no greater loss than this for the welfare of his family. When, however he does all this, then Allah, the Most High, creates in the heart of such a person the magnitude that does not exist in the heaven, the expanse that is not there in the earth, and the strength is not possessed by the mountain.

Can this really happen to the heart of a true believer? Consider an atom which cannot even be seen with the naked eye, yet it contains within its tiny mass the same structure and relative magnitude as the astronomical universe. Thus, it has its own heavens, stars, and planets, a true replica of the real universe, despite being a sub microscopic speck. If Allah can create a whole universe in a tiny speck, why is it difficult to comprehend that He does something similar in the heart of a believer? He certainly can and does, as is the experience of all prophets, saintly persons and even the true believers.

A psychologist has written that it is the natural desire of man to bring the expanse of the earth under his control. This found an expression in the behavior of such conquerors, as Alexander the Great, Napoleon and Genghiz Khan. The superpowers of this age follow a similar policy of domination over the world, and spend a great deal of effort, and millions of dollars to achieve this objective. Similarly, man has the desire to climb mountains, and risks his life to do so, although there is no apparent benefit. The desire to go into the heavens is the motivating factor behind space exploration, and billions of dollars are spent for this purpose. In the physical world it is not possible for every human being to ascend into the heavens, or to climb mountains, or to control the expanse of the earth. In every human being, however, Allah has created the capability to achieve this and much more in a spiritual dimension, by truly fulfilling the trust of the soul placed within him.

Allah's Mercy takes precedence

Let us now ponder on the remaining verses of this lesson. It is stated that Allah will call man to account for the condition of His trust, whether man manifests it by his words and deeds, or hides it. There will be accountability for all the worldly boons that Allah has given to man as a loan, but in particular Allah will ask man about the way he handled the spirit that came from Allah, and was the most precious trust given to him. All the deeds and words of a man, and the thoughts that dwell in his mind are recorded in his soul. In holding the soul accountable, therefore, all things given as debt to man are accounted for.

The burden of this great responsibility and the fear of reckoning makes the heart of man to shudder. Divine words of comfort, however, follow immediately:

"So He forgives whom He pleases."
In the matter of reckoning, chastisement should have been mentioned first, but Allah mentions His forgiveness first. The Holy Quran is full of such consolations. For example, it is stated:

"Say: O My servants who have been prodigal regarding their souls, despair not of the mercy of Allah; surely Allah forgives sins altogether. He is indeed the Forgiving, the Merciful" (39:53),
or as in verse:

"He has ordained mercy on Himself " (6:12,54)
and: "My mercy took precedence over my anger", as stated in Hadith of the Holy Prophet.

A warning is also given in the words: "And chastises whom He pleases." Allah's forgiveness, and mercy is for the person who continues to strive in the way of Allah with good intentions, but is still prone to mistakes and shortcomings. However, it is necessary to subject a person who is intentionally evil to the remedial hell fire for the purpose of his reformation, and purification. The Divine words at the end of this verse are:

"And Allah is Possessor of power over all things."
Allah can forgive whom He pleases, and chastise whom He thinks deserves punishment. The Divine Being in Islam is not constrained like the gods of other religions who cannot forgive on their own free will, and are bound to dispense punishment (as is the basis of the Christian concept of atonement), or who cannot reward more than a person deserves (as is the basis of the Hindu belief of transmigration). Before the Possessor of Power over all things, the soul of man can bow down in humility, and ask for repentance and reform.

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