"There was for Saba, aforetime, a sign in their homeland [Yemen] two gardens to the right and to the left . . . be grateful to Him[Allah] . . .But they turned away, and We sent against them the flood released from the Dams [Maarib dam]" (Qur'an. Saba:15-16)
Reflections on verses 1-5 of Surat Al-Hajj October 7, 2010
Surat Al-Hajj continues from where Surat Al Anbiyaa left off—the Hereafter. It starts by powerfully addressing all of humankind without exception, “O humankind, fear your Lord! The Quake of the Hour is a thing terrible indeed.” (22:1) Allah (SWT)—our Creator who appointed Himself as our Provider and Sustainer, who reared and nurtured us through His infinite mercy and blessing—reminds us of the terror of the Hour. A reminder which is a mercy and blessing, in and of itself. Indeed, Allah (SWT) sends us reminders throughout our lives in the form of gestures, signs, alerts, alarms, and even loud sirens to wake us up from heedlessness. The question is not whether you have been forewarned, because you definitely have, but rather how sensitive are you to messages from Allah (SWT)? Some of us are extra sensitive to the slightest of gestures, whereas others only hear the loud sirens signalling danger. Are they hard of hearing? Nope, but rather their sins have caused a thick coating around their hearts. For as the Prophet (saw) warns us, “When one commits a sin, a black speck appears on his heart. If he disowns it and repents, his heart will be purified. But if he ignores it and repeats the/a sin, the spot spreads, until it overtakes the entire heart.”(Tafsir al-Qurtubi, vol. 19, pg. 259) So assess your sensitivity to the messages of Allah (SWT)? And if you aren’t picking up the signals, practice caution by resorting to repentance it’s real tough on sins. Oh, why go far? What impact does the first verse of Surat Al Hajj have on you? Does it pierce your heart and cause you to tremble? Or is it merely words and nothing beyond that?
The weight of words on the listener depends on who is saying them. When we read the headlines: “Millionaire Gives in Charity” what is the amount that comes to your mind? So, imagine when Allah (SWT) the Lord of the Worlds, the Great and Magnificent describes the Hour as “terrible”? This “quake” will change the state of the universe and time as we know them forever. Of course, during our lifetimes, we have heard of and maybe even witnessed quakes in the form of natural disasters, but these are minuscule compared to that of the Hour. These are but a taste of things to come.
To aid us in understanding the terror of the “terrible quake” and its impact on us Allah (SWT) the All Merciful explains further, bringing us close to its impact, “On the day you witness it, every nursing woman shall forget her nursing child; every pregnant woman will deliver what she is carrying; And you shall see mankind drunk, but they are not drunk. Rather, the doom of Allah is so grievous.” (22:2) Breastfeeding is the most extraordinarily intimate experience between mother and child. During this very special on-on-one session, the whole world fades into the background. Their eyes lock, fingers intertwine and then wander to trace each others’ faces. So attentive is the mother to her suckling child, that any unusual sound is reason for alarm. So, terrible will be the impact of the Hour on this very same mother, that her eyes that were once attentive to her suckling child will be distracted to the point of forgetfulness. The most intimate ties will be severed. So sudden and powerful is this quake, that every expecting mother who struggles throughout her pregnancy to keep her child will deliver it whether it has reached to term or not. Similarly, trees bearing fruit will be completely unburdened. And the whole human race will be so engrossed in their strange surroundings with utmost certainty that it is real. They stagger in drunken stupor, yet they are not drunk rather it is the reality of the doom that has befallen them. This verse Allah (SWT) is grabbing us by the collar and shaking us to the reality of the matter. It is real and hence Allah (SWT) speaks of it in the past tense. It is so certain that it is a done deal.
Despite this certainty there are those why deny this knowledge “about Allah.”. Allah says, “Among people is one who argues about Allah, without knowledge, and follows thereby every obdurate demon. It has been decreed upon him, whoever takes him for counsel, he shall lead him astray and guide him to the torment of the raging Fire.” (22:3-4) In so much of a denial are they that they are willing to debate the authenticity of the existence of Allah and the Hereafter, so much so that they deem it even unnecessary to acquire the proper knowledge to debate the matter. Ignorance is all that is required for them to hold a “scholarly” debate. Some go as far as to publish books based on this pseudo knowledge. Their resistance to the in-depth study of the verses of Allah (SWT) attests to the fear of their turbulent souls encountering a truth they would be forced to submit to, how could they when they are madly in love with their own thoughts and ideas—a license for their imagination to go wild. They concoct sophisticated fabrications that are seen for what they are by the intelligent: eloquent pseudo-knowledge packaged in hardcover copies, hugged by designer dust jackets, that adorn the shelved of eminent library.
These pseudo scholars are deluded by the supposition that the mere reading of books by those who have taken great pains to write them after a lifelong acquisition of knowledge, transforms them into instant scholars. Reading on its own is insufficient, but rather as Allah (SWT) advised “. . . ask the followers of the reminder if you know not.” (21:7) For accepting one’s self as ones counsel, rather than the experts in the matter is indeed following the plan devised by Shaytan. It is the acquisition of knowledge Shaytan-style. Shaytan relied on his own knowledge to question Allah’s (SWT) order about prostrating to Adam (as). Shaytan proclaimed arrogantly, “I am better than he. You created me of fire but him You created of clay.” (7:11) Hellfire was decreed for Shaytan as it was for his future followers and supporters.
Imagine the fate of these pseudo scholars; after living their entire lives in the dark in this world, and they suddenly come out to the light of the truth in the Final Hour. How will their eyes adjust to the sudden light? Indeed they will go blind. They relied on themselves for knowledge beyond their human capability, ignoring the light of guidance leading them to it—the light in the revelation, the Qur’an. If only they accepted and approached the light, walked through it gradually and gave their eyes time to adjust they would have found themselves in unison with the rest of the Universe—praising Allah (SWT).
In our own quests for knowledge beyond our human faculties, this verse ought to cause us to pause and re-assess. Who are our guides? Are they Allah’s (SWT) book and the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) and those who adhere to them? When we are lost out on the street, do we simply take the hand of anyone who offers to guide us? If the answer is no, then similarly why surrender our mind to anyone when it comes to our religion. Do we not aspire for heavenly advice that in earnest is “off the hook”—I am using it in original sense used by Frederick Douglass, i.e. liberating. Just so we are “off the hook” when we meet our Lord (SWT)! We ought to be worried whether or not, in our quest for knowledge, we are “pleasing Allah.” That should be our number one worry in our quest for knowledge in life. And we ought to know that there are those who are “going down” and they want to pull us down with them.
Yet, the All-Merciful still addresses those in doubt,
“O mankind, if you are in doubt about the resurrection, We created you from dust, then from sperm, then from a blood clot, then from a morsel, formed and unformed, to make it plain to you. And We plant in the wombs whatever We desire, for a stated term, Then We bring forth, a child, and then to reach full maturity. Some of you die, some are held over to the most degrading old age, So that, once having known, he comes to know noting. And you will see the earth lifeless, but when We send down the rain upon it, it vibrates, and doubles its yield, and comes out in plants, of every kind, a joy to behold. This is so because Allah is the Truth.” (22:5)
How many people today on a quest to find their origins pay money to genealogists? They say that their peace of mind and sense of direction in life depends on it. Allah (SWT) offers it for free, and goes further than any modern genealogists dares to go. Allah (SWT) takes us back to our very beginning, when it was just us and Allah (SWT). Our father Adam (as) was literally created from soil and so were we his descendents. We are literally made of soil, live on it, and are nurtured from it. So, go and grab yourself a handful of soil and know with certainty that that is indeed your beginning.
Then Allah (SWT) tells you about the early stages of your development—scientifically called embryology, a science just recently discovered in the 20th century. Science tends to talk about this stage mechanically—but it is the prime example of Allah’s Mercy when none could claim any involvement in providing for you. We all witnessed it even though we don’t remember, and Allah (SWT) reminds us of it. We were a little drop of water that took its journey down the fallopian tube, and then buried ourselves into the wall of the uterus and hung there for dear life. Who knew that we even existed then? None but Allah! That first gush of blood to the uterus was Allah (SWT) saying, “Welcome dear creation of Allah.” Some of us came to term and some of us didn’t yet, in the eyes of the believer, faith that Allah (SWT) is indeed the All-Merciful places both cases in a positive light. As for our date of arrival into this world, modern science and technology can attempt to “pretty accurately determine it” but the final say is Allah’s (SWT). Allah (SWT) continues that some die young, while others mature and continue to the most abject time of life—old age. These are facts of life, “. . . This is so because Allah is the Truth.” (22:5) Can modern science and technology change this fixed process? Can they find a cure for death? Can modern science and technology concerned with anti-aging methods and concoctions stop the aging process? Time and time again the helplessness of our human abilities are apparent, yet many refuse to see. We can only ask Allah (SWT) that if we were to reach the abject stage of old age, that Allah (SWT) preserve our minds. It has been proven through example that memorizing and studying the book of Allah (SWT) preserves the mind in old ago. So, remember to use your brain cells well in your youth, so they serve you well in old age.
Then Allah (SWT) gives another live example of Allah’s (SWT) ability to resurrect the dead, “And you will see the earth lifeless, but when We send down the rain upon it, it vibrates, and doubles its yield, and comes out in plants, of every kind, a joy to behold.” (22:5) Today modern technology, intentionally or unintentionally, has confirmed that “. . . Allah is the Truth” (22:5) so watch this video and see for yourself as a dead seed comes to life once again. Likewise, I hope that our hearts have come to life when we sincerely seek to understand the words of Allah (SWT).
Will have the next verses that we talked about posted soon insha Allah. . .