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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
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
"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
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
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
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,
"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.