Commentary of Surat ul-Mulk on advent of Zaman - Versese 11-20
- :Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri
11 So they shall acknowledge their sins, but far will be (forgiveness) from the inmates of the blazing fire.
"So they shall acknowledge their sins." L'tarafu, derives from `arafa, to know; i`tarafa is to admit, confess or acknowledge. At the time of the punishment, there is a natural confession. Those who are to be punished will admit that they have hidden themselves from the messages brought to mankind by the prophets, their followers and the Imams (leaders). Everyone has the ability to discern the truth and is therefore able to acknowledge that he has original knowledge. But man hides and denies it through his ignorance, which is built upon arrogance, fear, anxiety and attachment.
Bali-l- insanu ala nafsihi basira: "Nay, man is evidence against himself." (al-Qiyama:14) Everyone has within himself a higher awareness which can shed light on his consciousness. If his consciousness is impure, then his higher awareness is able to discern that his consciousness is dwelling upon something unbecoming. Even so, man can still deny the reflection of his higher awareness. At the point of death, when the ability to interfere with one's destiny stops, all instantaneously becomes clear because time stops.
"But far will be (forgiveness) from the inmates of the burning fire." Sahaqa means to crush, annihilate, pulverize. The people of the fire are those who are obliterated by not having acknowledged the one and only Entity - Allah. How can they remain whole? If one does not admit the power of an ordinary king, he will be crushed. How much more important is it then to accept the One and All-Powerful, Whose kingdom is pervaded by Him. Because of His mercy He gives man countless chances throughout his life to help save himself from the fire.
12 (As for) those who fear their Lord in secret, they shall surely have forgiveness and a great reward.
"(As for) those who fear their Lord in secret, they shall surely have forgiveness and a great reward." The ghayb is the Unseen. Those who have accepted the fact that there is a Creator, a Reality, without direct personalized evidence - without witnessing it - have taken it on by the inference that there cannot be an effect without a cause. They have directly experienced that there are laws that govern this existence and that the cosmos is not in chaos. They want to know the laws - they fear their Lord and they fear transgressing His laws, His bounds. It is for them that there is forgiveness and a great reward, a continuing reward that begins here in this world and continues uninterruptedly into the next.
13 And conceal your word or manifest it; surely He is Cognizant of what is in the hearts.
Asirru is from asarra, meaning to keep secret, to conceal or disguise something. Whether one speaks of it or not, whether one hides it or not, whether one reveals what is inside oneself or not, Allah is aware of what goes on within the heart. Sadr means chest, heart or front. Reality knows what man has put in front of himself, what he has put foremost in his heart. Already, even in this life, there is no hiding place; man is exposed.
The creator of a thing knows its attributes. The creator of a house knows its strengths and weaknesses. He knows the materials he used to build it, what appears on the walls and what is behind the walls. The merciful Perfect-Builder has built with perfection. He has not placed poor quality material behind the walls. Behind the wall of the chest of man He has placed a heart. It is in the hearts of men that He dwells.
14 Does He not know, Who created? And He is the Knower of the subtleties, the Aware.
"And He is the Knower of the Subtleties, the Aware." Subtlety is all-pervading. All entities are plugged into life through the subtle forces of the Creator. The ordinary electrical machine must be plugged into a physical outlet, but Allah's outlet is the entirety of space on earth. As man moves he is spontaneously plugged into the Source. How can one deny the existence of the Creator and that everyone is under His mercy? Allah holds the knowledge and the power of deciding who will remain plugged into the life-support system and whose body is to go back to the worms.
This life is like a laboratory in which the Creator tests the fidelity of His creations. He experiments with them, allowing them to transgress, and gives them the chance to correct themselves. Having made a mess of their lives, they are allowed to wash themselves completely clear of their actions. Many ahadith (plural of hadith, tradition) refer to certain acts of worship, such as ,hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), which, if performed correctly, are like a rebirth. The prayers of the Muslim, if done correctly, make the worshipper emerge refreshed and renewed. None of the negativeness of his past affects him, and all his experiences, the wisdom of a lifetime, are at his disposal.
15 He it is Who made the earth smooth for you; therefore go about in the spacious sides thereof, and eat of His sustenance, and to Him is the return after death.
16 Are you secure of those in the heaven that He should not make the earth to swallow you up? Then lo! it shall be in a state of com motion.
17 Or are you secure of those in the heaven that He should not send down upon you a punishment? Then shall you know how was My warning.
18 And certainly those before them rejected (the truth), then how was My disapproval.
In order for man to have the opportunity to express and experience his faith and sincerity, the earth has been made dhalul (smooth, gentle, easy); upon it he seeks wisdom and rizq (provision, sustenance, divine blessing).
"To Him is the return after death." Nushur (Resurrection) comes from nashara, to announce, spread out, make known and to resurrect, return from the death. Nashur is a publisher. Allah is the supreme publisher, making known His creation. The earth, with its massive mountains, has been made low and submissive. Allah has made the earth smooth so as to be accessible for man to tread upon, indicating the ease that may come from what appears to be difficulty. Manakib are the shoulders, flanks or highlands; they are what are difficult to tread upon. But Allah has made man able to travel upon the earth's `shoulders.' It is an encouragement for man to seek the means to glorify Allah, seeking provision wherever it may easily come forth in this spacious and varied land.
How can one be secure from He Who is in the heavens and is the King of all? There is no certainty that the earth will remain still and not suffer an earthquake. Can one be certain of the earth's solidity? The mu'min is in perpetual awareness, knowing that if he allows himself to think that he is secure from change, he is lost. He trusts that Allah will guide him through the approaching changes and afflictions. Allah says elsewhere in the Qur'an: fa-la ya'manu makra-llahi illa-l-qawmul-khasirun: "But none of those feels secure from Allah's plan except the people who shall perish." (al- A raf::99).
The earth is Allah's laboratory, in which man's attainment is measured according to his commitment to service. It would be unfair if man were suddenly exposed to knowledges that he was not ready to receive. It would be shattering and unnatural. Therefore, there is greater responsibility with additional knowledge.
The relationship of knowledge, responsibility, and Allah, the Giver of knowledge, may be likened to the relationship of the father to his son. The father out of love for his son, measures the degree of his willingness to take on responsibility by testing him. He does not wish to afflict the boy, but recognizes that the more one knows the more one is burdened. For example, being aware of the afflictions of others calls for one to help alleviate them. If, while being tested, one stands one's ground with faith and trust, one will be given additional faith, trust, and freedom. A bird tests its young to see whether or not it can fly from its nest. The mother does not immediately push the chick over the edge, but nudges it, encouraging it to use its wings until they grow in strength. The young bird realizes that it is free as it leaps out of the nest and into the air.
Man is, in reality, free of other than Allah. Allah is unlimited, so man is free beyond limit, but he does not know this because he has not used the wings of iman (faith, trust) and complete dependence upon Allah.
The uncertainty of events stimulates us to reflect in order to be in true abandonment - aware and alive in the now, second by second. In His love for man, Allah tightens His rope upon him for a moment. The rope reminds him of Allah at that instant, but Allah is present all the time. If man is a deserving slave, if he admits to the nobility of his Creator, then he is a noble creation. A noble horse does not have to constantly be pulled and hit on the head, it spontaneously knows that it has a master. Likewise, if man is jolted every now and then it is because he has gone off course - that is the proof of the love of the One Who holds the reins.
One can never be sure to which network of laws one is subjecting oneself. It is man, by his actions and intentions, who unifies himself with a certain set of laws. If his actions are honest and sincere, emanating from a pure source, then he is in a river whose end product and destiny is quite clear. On the other hand, because of man's situation and the degree of his kufr (denial) and unconnected ness, he will be brought into a stream in which he will see an increasing amount of disjointedness and be subjected to an increasing amount of shattering.
The individual's journey in this life is like being in a hovercraft that is skimming across hundreds of different rivers, which are the laws of destiny. The passenger, according to his intention, puts his foot into one river or another. The choice is his. If out of ignorance he puts his foot into a river of filth and danger, then all that he can do is to pull it out, climb back into his vehicle, and move on to the next river. These laws, these rivers, govern destiny. It is up to the individual to end up in the river that gives him smooth passage and genuinely reflects the truth of the Merciful behind it.
19 Have they not seen the birds above them expanding (their wings) and contracting (them)? What is it that withholds them save the Beneficent God? Surely He sees everything.
20 Or who is it that will be a host for you to assist you besides the Beneficent God? The unbelievers are only in deception.
Adapted from the book: "The Mercy of Qur'an and the Advent of Zaman" by: "Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri"
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