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Introduction (Living In the Shade Of The Quran) by Sayyid Quthb

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To live in the shade of the Qur’ān is a great blessing which can only be fully appreciated by those who experience it. It is a rich experience what give meaning to life and makes it worth living. I am deeply thankful to Allāh Almighty for blessing me with this uplifting experience for a considerable time, which was the happiest and most fruitful period of my life – a privilege for which I am eternally grateful.

To live in the shade of the Qur’ān is a great blessing which can only be fully appreciated by those who experience it. It is a rich experience what give meaning to life and makes it worth living. I am deeply thankful to Allāh Almighty for blessing me with this uplifting experience for a considerable time, which was the happiest and most fruitful period of my life – a privilege for which I am eternally grateful.

COMMUNICATING WITH ALLĀH

It is a great honour to feel that Allāh Almighty should be addressing me, a humble and insignificant human being, with the blessing and inspiring words of the Qur’ān. They lifted my spirits, and I was raised to a unique vantage point from where I could observe the tumult of human life. I was able to gain a new perspective into man’s endless quest for the trivial and the mundane and the clamour of ephemeral and childish pursuits. I was astounded by the message which has the power to uplift and entirely transform human perception, experience and history on this earth.

I had the opportunity to study the Qur’ān at length and ponder over its clear and full conception of creation and existence and their purpose. I could compare the impact of those ideas with that of others put forward by people throughout history. And I wondered how has life been allowed to degenerate into such darkness and despair, while this rich treasure of guidance and enlightenment is readily available?

I lived in the shade of the Qur’ān, filled with appreciation of that perfect harmony and balance inherent in Allāh’s creation, between a human being’s actions and a the movement of the universe around him. I was ale to see clearly, the dire consequences of the conflict between the two. I could see the folly, indeed the catastrophe, to which humanity is being driven by wicked and ungodly miscreants. Pity the human race, indeed!

In the shade of the Qur’ān, I saw this world of ours expanding for outside what we can see or define. Beyond the visible world lies an unseen dimension which encompasses this and the life hereafter. A human being’s origins extend back into the dim and distant past, and death is not that end of our perennial journey but a passing phase of a long journey that stretches as infinity. What we earn in the temporal world is but a small portion of what is our due; the rewards or punishments we miss or escape here we shall duly meet in the life to come, and justice shall be done

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Nevertheless, our brief life on this earth is real. The world we live in is essentially friendly and hospitable, and its spirit interacts fully with ours. It, like us, turns to One Creator in total submission and reverence. ‘All that is in the heavens and the earth, and their own shadows, prostrate themselves before Allāh, willingly and unwillingly morning and evening (13:15).’ ‘The seven heavens, the earth, and all that is in them, glorify Him; there is nothing but celebrate His praises (17:44).’ Such powerful, outward-looking, all-embracing and optimistic vision inspires utter confidence within the human heart and fills the soul with total inner peace and security

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I lived in the shade of the Qur’ān to see the human being given the respect and reverence never accorded to him by any other philosophy or ideology before or since. The human being’s raison d’ētre emanates from the Divine spirit Allāh breathed into him. The Qur’ān tells us that during the creation of the human being, Allāh said to the angels, ‘When I have fashioned him (a human being) and breathed into him of My Spirit. Prostrate yourselves before him (15:29; 58:72)

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By virtue of this divine breathe, the human being was destined and commissioned to be Allāh’s representative on earth, where he was given access to, and authority and control, over everything. As a consequence of the highest esteem in which the human being is held, Allāh has ordained the ties of belief and faith are only worthy and legitimate ties that can bring people together. They override all other incidental ties of nationality, race or ancestry.

The Qur’ān has also taught me that the believer of the One Illāh is the descendant of a long and noble line of faithful ancestors that include great figures such as Nūh, Ībrahīm, Ismaīl, Ishāq, Ya’qūb, Yusuf, Mūsa, Isā, and Muhammad, may peace and Allāh’s blessings be upon them all. The Qur’ān tells Allāh’s Messengers, ‘This community of yours is one single community and I am your Lord, therefore fear Me alone. (23:52; see also 21;92).’

The Qur’ān makes it clear that in this long procession which began at the very moment people appeared on the earth, all believers have had to face similar challenges and ordeals; oppression, persecution and threats of annihilation and dispersion. Nevertheless, the procession continues along its well-defined path with steady step and clam heart, ever confident that Allāh’s will shall prevail and His promise be fulfilled. ‘The unbelievers said to their messengers, ‘Return to our religion, or we will banish you from our land.’ But their Lord revealed His will to them (the messengers), saying, ‘We shall destroy the transgressors and let you settle in the land after they had gone. This is for those who stand in awe of My presence and dread My warning (14:14(.’

Throughout human history believers have upheld similar convictions and ideals, faced similar enemies and threats, undergone similar experiences and enjoyed similar triumphs and rewards.

ORDER IN ALLĀH’S CREATION

In the shade of the Qur’ān, I learned that in this existence there is no room for blind coincidence or haphazard events; ‘We have created everything according to a measure (54:49).’ ‘He has created all things and assigned everything its appropriate measure (25:2)’ everything is there for a purpose, but the true and deep wisdom underlying our existence may not always be apparent to the limited human mind. The Qur’ān says, ‘It may well be that your hate something in which Allāh may yet make a source of abundant good (4:19).’ ‘It may well be that your hate something although it is good for you, or love something although it is bad for you. Allāh knows, whereas you do not (2:216)

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Causes, as known to human being, may or may not lead to their usual ‘logical’ effects. Assumptions perceived as essentially inevitable may or may not lead to their conventionally expected consequences. This is so because causes and assumptions do not, in or by themselves, determine action and events., since casues and effects are both determined by Allāh’s absolute will. The Qur’ān says, ‘You will never know, it may be that Allāh will after that bring something new to pass (65:1).’ ‘Yet your can not will except by the will of Allāh (76:30).’

In performing any deed, the believer must prepare and carry out his actions and leave Allāh to determine the results and consequences of those actions. To trust in Allāh’s mercy, justice, wisdom and knowledge is the only safeguard against uncertainty and fear of the future. The Qur’ān says, ‘Satan promises you proverty and bids your to commit indecency whereas Allāh Promises you His forgiveness and Bounty. Allāh is Munificent, All knowing (2:268(‘

In the shade of the Qur’ān I have, therefore, felt totally contented and reassured. I could see Allāh’s hand in every event and everything. I lived in Allāh’s care and cutody and His attribute, as given in the Qur’ān, came alive before my eyes.

Who else would answer the constrained when he cried out to Him and alleviates affliction? (27:62)’

‘He is omnipotent over His servants. He Alone is Wise and all-Knowing (6:18)’

‘Allāh prevails in His purpose, though most people do not know (8:24)’

‘Know well that Allāh stands between a person and his heart and that unto Him your shall be all gathered (8:24).’

‘Allāh is the doer of what He wills (85:16(

‘Whoever fears Allāh, He will find a way out for him, and He will provide for him in a way he had never reckoned on. He who puts his trust in Allāh, Allāh will suffice for him. Allāh is sure to bring about whatever He decrees (65:2)’

‘There is no living creature which He doe not hold by its forelock (11:56).’

‘Is Allāh not enough for His servant (Muhammad)? Yet they (the unbelievers) would frighten you with those (they worship) instead of Him! (39:36).’

‘He who Allāh wishes to disgrace will have none else to honour him (22:18)’

”Whoever Allāh lets go astray, shall have none else to guide him (13:33).’

The destiny of the universe is not left to the mercy of some blind laws. Behind the physical laws there is an active will, the absolute power of Allāh, He creates and decides

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I also learned that Allāh’s hand acts in all things in a manner that is unique to Him. We humans have no power to either, force Allāh, rush His Actions or anticipate His will.

The Divine scheme, as outlined in the Qur’ān, is designed to operate equally well under all circumstances and at all stages of human development, on the macrocosmic as well as the microcosmic scale. It makes full allowance for a human being’s own abilities and potential for improvement and gives careful consideration to his strengths and weaknesses. It neither devalues a person’s role on earth, nor denigrates his statues as an individual or as a member of society.

In its view of the human being, Allāh’s scheme is neither idealistic, raising the human being far above his deserved position, nor doe it describe a human being as worthless or dispensable

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A human being is a unique creature who can, through his natural talents and innate abilities adapt himself to the Divine order of life and so rise to the highest levels of progress and achievement. The Divine order is a universal plan for the long term. It is neither oppressive nor arbitrary. Its perspectives and prospectors are broad and not restricted to the life or interests of one individual: it looks far into the future. Human ideologies, on the other hand, are usually limited to the lifespan of their proponents, who are bent on achieving all their ambitions and settling all their scores within a single generation. This inevitably comes into conflict with human nature, resulting in oppression, conflict, bloodshed, and the desertion of human values and civilisation.

Islām adopts a very gentle approach towards human nature, encouraging, prodding, pampering, cajoling, reprimanding and where necessary, disciplining and restraining. It prefers the patient, caring attitude, confident of the eventual outcome. It is a continuous process of growth and development that can only get better as time goes on. Islām, like the oak tree, starts slowly and grows gradually, steadily overcoming all difficulties, vicissitudes, and adversities, there is no need for compromises, half-hearted solutions, or arbitrary or foolish measures. In Allāh’s scheme, things must be allowed to take their natural course. ‘No charge will you ever find in Allāh’s way (35:43).’

Another feature of the universal Divine order is that it is inherently built on a universal Truth (al-Haqq). This, again, has not come about by pure chance or as a result of coincidence. Allāh Himself is al-Haqq, and from Him, as the Qur’ān affirms, emanates all existence: ‘It is because Allāh is the Truth and all that they (the unbelievers) evoke besides Him is false. He is most High, Supreme (22:62).’

Truth is the mainstay of all existence and should the world deviate from the Truth, it would decay and fall apart, ‘Had Allāh (al-Haqq) followed their (the unbelievers) caprice, the heavens, the earth, and all that lives in them would have surly been corrupted (23:71).’

Hence, regardless of how things may seem, Truth will eventually become manifest, the Qur’ān asserts, ‘We hurl the Truth against falsehood and it crushes it, and falsehood withers away (21:18).’

Likewise, goodness and righteousness are inherent and permanent in the cosmic superstructure. The Qur’ān alludes to this fact in saying:

He sends down water from the sky and riverbeds flow, each according to its measure, and the torrents bears a swelling foam. Likewise from what people melt in the fires to make ornaments and utensils rise similar foam. Thus doe Allāh illustrate Truth and falsehood. The scum is cast away while that which is of benefit to mankind remains behind on earth. Thus Allāh doe set forth His parables (13:17).’

It also says:

Do you see how Allāh compares a good word to a good tree? It roots are firm and its branches reach to the sky; it yields its fruits at all times by its Lord’s leave. Thus does Allāh set parables for people so that they may reflect. And an evil word is like a bad tree, up rooted from the face of the earth. It can not have a stable position. Allāh will strengthen the believers through the true unshakeable word in both this life and the hereafter. Allāh lets the wrongdoers go astray. Allāh does whatever He wills (14:24-27).’

This clear and forceful belief brings infinite reassurance and fills the human heart and soul with peace and tranquillity. It reinforces a human being’s trust in truth, goodness and righteousness, and given the human conscience the dignity and the confidence to transcend the limits of its environment.

My study of the Qur’ān has led me to the firm conviction that humanity will see no tranquillity or accord, no peace, progress or material and spiritual advances without total recourse to Allāh. This, from the Qur’ānic point of view, can mean only one thing: the organisation of all aspects of human life in the Qur’ān. The alternative would be corruption, regression and misery, the Qur’ān puts it thus, ‘If they do not respond to you (Muhammad) on a Path which you should follow and do not yield to the desires of the ignorant ones. They can avail you nothing against Allāh. Transgressors are patrons one to another while the believers have Allāh for a patron (45:18-19).’

It is, then, an extremely serious matter that concerns the very foundations of faith in Allāh and the happiness and well-being of mankind.

The secrets of a human being’s talents and potential can only be unlocked by Allāh, his Creator, and He alone can prescribe the cure for a human being’s ills. The key to a person’s happiness is in Allāh’s Hands. Allāh says: ‘And we reveal of the Qur’ān that which is a panacea and a mercy for the believers (17:82).’ ‘This Qur’ān leads to what is most upright (17:9).’

However, a human being tends not to follow the logical and sensible course of actions, which is to refer matters concerning his guidance and direction to Allāh, who knows the secrets and limitations of a person’s being

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This fundamental error of judgement on a human being’s part is the cause of all the misery and confusion humanity has seen. This isolation of Islām from the active leadership or mankind has been a watershed in human history, and by far the worst setback humanity had suffered.

Islām assumed the leadership of humanity at a time of grave decline, when corruption and decadence were fire and injustice rampant. The revelation of the Qur’ān and the advent of Islām, which was based on it, marked a rebirth of a human being far more significant than even his first one.

Islām gained that leadership by virtue of the original concepts and laws outline in the Qur’ān, which introduced a fresh understanding of life and its values, and of the whole world order. These concepts brought about new and exciting realities hitherto unknown in human society, characterised by purity and beauty, and a healthy and positive attitude towards life and the world.

Then came the tragedy that removes Islām from its position of leadership, which then fell into the hands of various man-made ideologies, dominated in the main by materialism.

There have always been cynics who claim that humanity has to chose between the adoption of wither a God-given system which negates all material achievement of a human being, or a system based entirely on a human being’s own intellectual abilities and accomplishments which has no room from Divine intervention whatsoever.

This is a most vile and cynical view, the choice is never as stark or as cruel as that. The Divine order (Minhāj or Shar’īh) is not antagonistic or human innovation and achievement. It is, in fact, the progenitor and patron of the very spirit of the creativity which is the driving force behind a human being’s fulfilment of his role as Allāh’s representative on earth. Allāh has endowed a human being with all the necessary faculties, talents and skills to carry out that most noble role, and He has harnessed for his benefit all the natural laws and forces that can help him in fulfilling that task. Allāh has ensured a certain harmony and co-ordination between a human being and his environment that can enhance a man’s performance and creatively and raise that quality of his life. A person’s own achievement, material or otherwise, thus becomes itself an expression of gratitude to Allāh, and a spur to further constructive activity.

The argument that a God-given way of life and a human being’s ability to advance and improve are mutually exclusive, stems from evil motives and bad death. It can only add to a person’s confusion, bewilderments and misery.

However, the argument is sometimes advanced in response to people’s fascination with the astonishing achievements made by human beings especially in the fields of science and material progress, rather than a consequence of ignorance or bad faith. Bring so much in awe of human achievement, some are easily tempted to separate natural forces and religious values, claiming that they are mutually exclusive and operate in totally separate spears. This basically flawed argument leads to the distorted concept that material progress can be achieved without the need for religious values, and that the consequences of the interactions of natural laws are inevitable regardless of whether people believe in Allāh or not, and whether they have adopted the imperative of a God-given system or a man-made one.

This is what we may call the ‘Grand Illusion.’ Religious values and natural laws are, in fact, inseparable. They intact all the time and coalesce at several points, and they are both ultimately controlled by the Power of Allāh. There is, therefore no justification for separating these two sets of forces in a person’s consciousness. This is the rational and intelligent understanding that the Qur’ān tries to instil in a person’s mind when it says:

Had the people of the Book believed and been God-Fearing, We would have pardoned them and admitted them to gardens of bliss. Had they truly observed the Torah and the Injīl and what we revealed to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed abundance from above and from beneath them (5:66)’

‘I (Nūh) said, ‘Seek forgiveness of your Lord; He is ever ready to forgive He will send abundant water from the sky for you and bestow upon you wealth and offspring. He will provide you with gardens and flowing rivers (13:11).’

‘Allāh does not charge and people’s lot unless they change what is in their hearts (13:11).’

To believe in Allāh, and to worship Him with full sincerity, and to implement His prescribed order in society, are all manifestations of submission to Allāh’s universal order. The laws that we observed and experience every day.

It is true that at times we are confused by certain paradoxes we observe in nature as well as in society. Sometimes it seems that discarding religious values and relying solely on materialistic laws leads to success. But this is a very short sighted view, because the outcome in the long term is quire the opposite. This is true even in the case of the Muslims civilization. It grew and prospered when religious values and materialistic principles were bought together, while it decline began exactly at the moment when they began to diverge. Muslim civilisation has yet to recover from that catastrophic reversal in its history.

In contrast, we have today’s materialistic civilisation which is like an albatross flying with only wing. The huge advances it registers on the material scale are undermined by its reverses on the humanitarian, psychological and spiritual one.

Allāh’s Sharī’ah forms only part of His overall universal order, and the implementation of the Divine law in society acts as a catalyst in bringing harmony and balance into a person’s relationship with the world around. But the Sharī’ah must be built on faith in Allāh. It is designed for application within an Islāmic society; to whose building and progress it in turn contributes.

Islāmic law is complementary to Islām’s overall view of the human being, nature and the world. This view is based on a comprehensive and integrated concept that unites such elements as fear of Allāh, conscientiousness, purity of feeling, broadness of concern, high moral standards and upright behaviour. Within such a view, compatibility is easily achieved between the so-called ‘natural laws’ and ‘human values,’ which are perceived as different aspects of a single universal law.

A human being is seen as an active force in this structure. His will and his actions, his faith and his well-being, his submission to Allāh and his contribution are all forces that exercise a positive influence on life and the world. They also are influenced and controlled by the principles and precepts of Allāh’s universal scheme. These forces produce results and multiply when they act in harmony, but they can result in suffering, corruption and stifle when they do not: ‘Allāh will not withdraw a grace He has bestowed on people unless they change what is in their hearts (8:53).’

The link between a human being’s actions and his feelings on the one hand, and Allāh’s universal order on the other, is real and constant. No one would wish for this relationship to be broken or undermined, unless they wish ill for a person and his future.

These are but a few general observations that living ‘in the shade of the Qur’ān’ has inspired within me. I humbly pray to Allāh they may be of benefit to you.

source : mimbar tawheed

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