Essence of Qur’an
The Essence of Message of Qur’an
Qur’an, Chapter 103: “The Flight of Time”
Interpretation of the Meanings
“If only this Chapter (103) was revealed in the Qur’an, it would have been sufficient for the guidance of mankind”: Imam Shafie
Chapter (Surah) No:103, is a matchless specimen of comprehensiveness and brevity of the message of Qur’an. A whole world of meaning has been compressed into three short sentences in few brief words, which is too vast in content to be fully expressed even in a book. In it, in a clear and plain way it has been stated what is the way to true success for man and what is the way to ruin and destruction for him. The great scholar of Islam; Imam Shafie has very rightly said that if the people only consider (understand) this Chapter well, it alone would suffice them for their guidance(Ibne Kathir), he is also reported to have said that , if only this Chapter was revealed in the Qur’an, it would have been sufficient for the guidance of mankind (Abdah). How important this Surah was in the sight of the Companions can be judged from the tradition cited from Abdullah bin Hisn ad-Darimi Abu Madinah, according to which whenever any two of them met they would not part company until they had recited Surah Al-Asr to each other. (Tabarani). According to Imam Razi; This Surah is very harsh, because Allah has decided to destroy all the mankind except those who comply with the four conditions i.e. to have faith, perform Righteous Deeds, urge one an other to Truth and to Patience and Constancy. It implies that the salvation is collectively contingent upon these four acts. As every human is concerned about his own self similarly he has to preach to others i.e. inviting to the Deen (Islam), advise to act on good things and avoid forbidden and the prohibitions.
The subject matter of the Chapter (Surah) number 103 of Qur’an indicates that this chapter must have been revealed during the earliest period of preaching of Islam at Makkah (610-623 C.E), when the message of Islam was being presented in brief but highly impressive sentences so that the listeners who heard them once could not forget even if they wanted to, for they were automatically committed to memory.
“By (the Token of) time (through the Ages) Verily Man is in loss, Except those who have Faith and do righteous deeds and urge one an other to Truth and urge one an other to Patience and Constancy.”(Qura’n;103:1-3).
It implies that the salvation is collectively contingent upon these four acts. As every human is concerned about his own self similarly he has to preach to others i.e. inviting to the Deen (Islam), advise to act on good things and avoid forbidden and the prohibitions.
Four Conditions for Salvation:
It is clear that the mankind will meet destruction, salvation will only be granted to those who comply with the four conditions:
Ø Firstly have faith in Islam
Ø Secondly perform righteous deeds
Ø Thirdly urge one an other to Truth and
Ø Fourthly urge one an other to patience and constancy.
The True Faithful, Believer:
It is explained in Qur’an:
“The (true) Believers are those only who believe in Allah and His messenger (Muhammad, peace be upon him) and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah. Such are the sincere ones.”(Qura’n;49:15).
“But those who believe and work deeds of righteousness and believe in the (Revelation) sent down to Muhammad-for it is the Truth (Haqq) from their Lord He will remove from them their ills and improve their condition. This because those who reject Allah follow vanities while those who believe follow the Truth (Haqq) from their Lord: Thus does Allah set forth for men their lessons by similitudes.”(Qura’n;47:2-3).
There will be resistance and hardship, in performance of righteous deeds and urging one an other to truth (Haqq), hence the believers have to urge one an other for ‘patience and constancy’. Abu Sa'id al-Khudri Narrates: “I heard the Messenger of Allah as saying: He who amongst you sees something abominable should modify it with the help of his hand [‘hand’ is interpreted as with in his bounds of authority or power, not to create anarchy through wild mob justice]; and if he has not strength enough to do it, then he should do it with his tongue; and if he has not strength enough to do it, (even) then he should (abhor it) from his heart and that is the least of faith”. (Sahih Muslim Hadith 79, Narrated by AbuSa'id al-Khudri).
It must be kept in view that these are the minimum requirements, not the additional requirement to gain the spiritual height and higher goals. In simple language one can say that this is the minimum level that is the past percentage required to just pass a in particular exam. It is normal observation that majority of people strive to achieve the minimum objectives, therefore in this Chapter, those very minimum requirements have been described. The corollary is that all the four requirements; Faith , Righteous Deeds , urge one an other to Truth and urge one an other to Patience and Constancy, are must and none out of them can be relegated or ignored because this is the word of God hence neither a word can be added or deleted at will. If any one ignores them then the responsibility of his salvation is not with Qur’an. It is just like a doctor who prescribe 4 medicines to the patient and the patient at his own decides to take only 1 or 2 medicines hence the responsibility of the treatment does not lie on the doctor but on the patient.
Belief and Deeds:
It is important to emphasize this point because the majority of Muslim thinks that anyone who recites the Kalma (shahadah) [oral declaration of faith of Islam] will definitely attain the salvation meaning thereby that to attain the salvation the Faith (Eman) is the only requirement, just an oral commitment is enough. Thereafter if one perform certain Righteous Deeds that is the additional thing, which would raise their spiritual levels further. They think that to achieve the salvation there is no need for action. The Qur’an explains the Believers (Faithful):
“The (true) Believers are those only who believe in Allah and His messenger [Muhammad (peace be upon him)] and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah. Such are the sincere ones.”(Qura’n;49:15).
The Believers are not to be shaky in their faith. Their hearts and minds are to be purged of petty thoughts and petty things, while Islam requires the complete submission of one's being to God. The Faith (Eman) must enter in to the hearts. Yet, if we obey God and His messenger, He will not withhold from us the reward of our deeds as God is Forgiving and Merciful. There are very few people who think that along with the faith some actions are also required to achieve the salvation. Even these few people do not consider it necessary to persuade others for performance of Righteous Deeds.
Preaching of Truth:
It is also thought that the Preaching of Truth is the job of a specific group of people and it is not appropriate and obligatory for every one to preach. They ignore they great responsibility which God has bestowed upon every Muslim:
“Then We have given the Book (Qur’an) for inheritance to such of Our servants as We have chosen (Muslims)……” (Qura’n;35:32).
As inheritor of Qur’an, there are five obligations of Muslims, (1) Believe in Qur’an (2) Read the Qur’an. (3) Understand the Qur’an. (4) Act upon the teachings of Qur’an. (5) Convey the message and teachings of Qur’an to others [Muslims as well as non Muslims]. It is mentioned in Surah Al-i Imaran:
“Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity.’(Qura’n;3:104).
Even that small group of Muslims has also taken the preaching to be a past time job thereby whole Muslim Ummah is in a state of paralyses, inaction and suspicions. We cannot get out of this state unless people know that to attain salvation the performance of Righteous Deeds is also obligatory. They should declare and advocate the preaching of truth and remain steadfast if there are hurdles and discomforts. This is that great realities which has been impressed upon in this very brief and comprehensive Surah.
In order to understand the reality of Faith (Iman) firstly one must ponder that;
Ø Who am I?
Ø From where did I come?
Ø What was our form before our birth in this world?
Ø What is this world?
Ø What are the objectives of my life?
Ø What is the beginning and end of this world?
Ø After the death, weather we will live in same form or not?
[Find answers > https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=dgxfvv3_77c5cxzwdc&hl=en]
Those who have some interest in philosophy know that all thinkers have been being pondering on these questions and trying to find satisfactory answers of these questions. Obviously the satisfactory answers to these questions cannot be found through our five senses because so far the man has not been able to reach the depth of mysteries of life. Without the real knowledge man is totally helpless.
The Messengers of God:
With this background in view, if we ponder that in the history of mankind there have been persons who have been telling the people that they posses a special type of knowledge (through Revelation, Wahi) due to which they know for sure that neither this universe was in existing for ever nor it will remain forever rather it has been created by The Creator who is unique and the only one in Himself. He is in existence since eternity and will remain forever. He created every thing including the mankind and life, not only the life of this world but He will Create you again after death and that will be your real and eternal life. In that eternal life you will be dealt with according to your thoughts, believes, actions and deeds of this world. Same Creator and the Lord have appointed them on this job of revealing to you the reality. They tried to teach the correct way of leading the life in this world so that you could be saved from the great loss and destruction in the next world to attain success and salivation.
It is well known that these people are known as prophets and messengers of God. To endorse their teachings and agreeing with them is called Faith (Iman). The Faith has two aspects, first oral commitment and secondly to believe in heart. It emphasis that we orally confess and stand witness that we believe in all the Messengers of God sent prior to and finally that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the last Messenger of God and accordingly to his teachings, we believe in one God and his attribute, the life after death, the Day of Judgment, accountability, reward and punishment, paradise and hell and we have firm believe on them; this is called Iman.
The Faith and performance of Righteous Deeds are intertwined, if we ponder that there is a person (nonbeliever) who thinks that this universe came into existence by an accident and its completed system is working automatically with another person, who believe that a Great Knowledgeable and Most Powerful Being has created this universe and that it is being run as per His system. Would their actions and attitude would be similar? Won’t there action will be wide apart, similarly if a person thinks that this is the only life which you are enjoying in this world and that there is no life after death, there is no accountability for our deeds, no reward or punishment. Then an other person (believer) who believes that the real life will start after death and this world is only like preface of a book and after death every human will have to answer for all his deeds (good or bad). Won’t their attitude and approach towards life would be totally different!
The nonbeliever will not care much about good or bad, permitted or not permitted; he follows his own perceptions pleasing to him/her. Where as the believer will be careful and responsible. Hence possession faith is a major factor in transformation of personality of human being. There is a Hadith [tradition of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him] that no sinner will commit a major sin in the state of faith (Iman), no thief will commit theft in the state of faith (Iman) no drinker will drink [wine or intoxicants] in the state of Iman, once these sins are committed, the real faith gets out. Hence faith and performance of Righteous Deeds, good character and good behavior are essential ingredients of faith. This is the reason that Chapter 103, describes that after Faith the second condition of salvation is performance of Righteous Deeds ‘Tawasi’, it means to give advice, urge with vigor. “Truth” (haqq) is explained in Surah Muhammad (Qura’n;47):
“But those who believe and work deeds of righteousness and believe in the (Revelation) sent down to Muhammad-for it is the Truth (haqq) from their Lord He will remove from them their ills and improve their condition. This because those who reject God follow vanities while those who believe follow the Truth (haqq) from their Lord: Thus does God set forth for men their lessons by similitudes.”(Qura’n;47:2-3).
The more the wicked rage, the better will be the position of the righteous, and God will make it easier and easier for the righteous to love and follow the Truth. We learn the greatest moral lessons by parables and similitudes from things that happen in the outer world. If a man goes after a mirage or a thing that has no real existence, he can never reach his goal, while the man that follows the kindly Light from God that leads him on must be happier in mind, sounder in heart, and firmer in life, generally for every moment that he lives. The Truth is to believe, act upon Qur’an and preach to others. To invite for good and resist prohibitions, advise people to be kind with one an other, to get closer to God by His obedience and worship, spend wealth in charity and for the cause of preaching of Islam and struggle against evil is also way to Truth.
The faith (to believe) and thedo righteous deeds are interlinked as mentioned in Qur’an:
“We have indeed created man in the best of molds. Then do We abase him (to be) the lowest of the low. Except such as believe and do righteous deeds: for they shall have a reward unfailing.”(Qura’n;95:4-6).
There is no fault in Allah's creation. God gave the purest and best nature to human, and thus it’s the duty of humans to preserve the pattern on which God has made him. But by making him vicegerent, God exalted him in posse even higher than the angels, for the angels had to make obeisance to him. But man's position as vicegerent also gives him will and discretion, and if he uses them wrongly he falls even lower than the beasts. If man rebels against Allah, and follows after evil, he will be abased to the lowest possible position. For Judgment is sure. Those who use their faculties aright and follow Allah's Law will reach the high and noble destiny intended for them. That reward will not be temporary, but unfailing.
The life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a true explanation of this Chapter . He had faith to perform good deed and for continuously 23 years he preached the true reality of one God and Islam, he bore all the mental and physical hardship (isolation by social boycott, starvation, migration, stoning at Taif) till the truth was established in the Arabian Peninsula.
Finally it can be concluded after analysis of Chapter 103; that the mankind as a whole is heading towards total loss and destruction “except” those who posses Faith , do Righteous Deeds , urge one an other to Truth and urge one an other to Patience and Constancy. After fulfilling these four obligations one can qualify to seek the attainment of salvation.
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