Reflections on Surah Qaf

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This chapter covers such tenants of faith that totally eliminate the need of delving into the words of the theological rhetoricians (Ahl al-Kalam) or the ramblings of the thinkers of the day. It mentions the beginning of creation, the final return, monotheism, prophethood, faith in the Angels, the division of man into the wretched (the destroyed) and the blissful (the successful) and the qualities of both, affirmation of the Perfect Attributes of Allah and His being absolved of all deficiency and imperfection. It mentions the Lesser and Greater Days of Rising, and the two worlds: the Greatest (the Hereafter) and the Lesser (this world). It mentions the creation of man, his death and his return, his condition at the time of death and his condition on the day of his return. It mentions how Allah encompasses man in every way, even knowing what his own soul whispers to him. It mentions the recording Angels standing over him writing every single word that he utters, that he will be recompensed on the Day of Rising, that there will be a driver driving him to the judgement, and a witness who will bear testimony against him. It mentions that when the driver brings him to the appointed place, he will say,

  “this is what I have, made ready,”[1]

meaning: ‘Here is the person You ordered to be brought forward,’ and then the command will issue forth,

  “You two, hurl into Hell every obdurate disbeliever.”[2]

This is similar to the case of a criminal being forced into the court of a king who then passes sentence on him, ordering that he be imprisoned and punished as warranted by his crime.

Ponder how this chapter clearly proves that the Allah, Glorious is He, will restore this very body that obeyed or disobeyed Him. He will either bless it or punish it, just as He will bless or punish the very soul that believed in Him or disbelieved in Him. He, Glorious is He, will not create a new soul and a completely new body and bless or punish them as postulated by those who have no understanding of the reality of the Resurrection. In their view the soul is an accidental property that forms part of the body. This understanding contravenes the teaching of all the Messengers and contradicts the Qur’an, the Sunnah and all revealed scripture. In reality this position constitutes a rejection of the resurrection and such a person has agreed with the position of the obstinate deniers. These deniers never rejected Allah’s ability to create new bodies which He would bless or punish, how could they possibly reject this when they witness mankind as a species promulgating through the ages! In every instant Allah creates new bodies and souls different from those that have passed away, so why be shocked at something they witness everyday with their own eyes? What shocked them was that they themselves would be restored and recompensed; this is why they said,

  “How bizarre! When we are dead and turned to dust and bones, will we then be raised up again alive?”[3]

  “That would be a most unlikely return!”[4]

If the recompense was to take place on bodies different to these, it would not be a resurrection or a return, instead it would the beginning of a new creation; in such a case there would no salient point in His saying,

  “We know exactly how the earth decays their bodies.”[5]

Allah, Glorious is He, stated this in response to an unstated question, ‘How is He able to differentiate the various parts of the body that have decomposed to their base elements?’ This is the reply: He knows exactly how the earth consumes their flesh, their bones and their hair, and He is also fully able to reconstitute the component parts of the human body into a new creation.

Therefore, Allah, Glorious is He, establishes the Resurrection by affirming His perfect knowledge, His omnipotence and His perfect wisdom. This is because the doubts of the deniers all revolve around three matters:

  1. Their remains would have decomposed; one person would be indistinguishable from another.
  2. Allah’s ability and power have no role to play in this.
  3. Such an event would be pointless. True wisdom dictates the preservation and continuance of the human race forever, each generation passing away only to be replaced by another. But to believe that the whole of humanity will cease and then all of them will come back to life is to hold to something that has no useful purpose.

The proofs of the Resurrection as mentioned in the Qur’an revolve around three principles:

  1. Affirming Allah’s perfect knowledge. His response to “…who will give life to bones when they are decayed?” was

      “Say, ‘He who made them in the first place will bring them back to life. He has total knowledge of each created thing…’.”[6]

    Allah says,

      “The Hour is certainly coming, so turn away graciously. Your Lord, He is the Creator, the All-Knowing,”[7]

      “We know exactly how the earth decays their bodies.”[8]

  2. Affirming Allah’s perfect ability and power,

      “Does He who created the heavens and the earth not have the power to create the same again?”[9]

      “…on the contrary! We are well able to reshape his fingers”[10]

      “That is because Allah is the Real and gives life to the dead and has power over all things.”[11]

    Allah, Glorious is He, mentions both of these with His words,

      “Does He who created the heavens and the earth not have the power to create the same again? He is the Creator, the All-Knowing.”[12]

  3. Affirming Allah’s perfect wisdom, such as His sayings,

      “We did not create the heavens and the earth and everything between them as a game”[13]

      “We did not create heaven and earth and everything between them with no purpose”[14]

      “Does man reckon he will be left to go on unchecked?”[15]

      “Do you suppose that We created you for amusement and that you would not return to Us? Exalted be Allah, the King, the Real”[16]

      “Or do those who perpetrate evil deeds suppose that We will make them like those who have faith and righteous actions, so that their lives and deaths will be the same? How bad their judgement is!”[17]

This is why the correct position is that the truth of the Resurrection can be apprehended by the intellect as well as the Divine Law. Additionally, the perfection of the Lord’s Names and Attributes demand that it occur. He, Glorious is He, is absolved of what the deniers surmise in the same way that that His perfection is absolved of all deficiency and imperfection.

Then He, Glorious is He, informed us that the deniers, because of their denying the truth, are perplexed,

  “they are, therefore, in a state of extreme confusion,”[18]

unable to achieve anything.

Then He invited man to look at the heavenly world: its construction, its elevation, its uniformity and beauty; and, moreover, to look at the earth, how it has been spread out, how it has been prepared to fulfil its purpose, how it has been made firm with mountains, the many types of benefits that are found in it, all the useful plants that grow in it with their various hues, shades, shapes, sizes and qualities. In all this lies an instruction and reminder for every penitent human being was he but to reflect and ponder. Such a person will take heed of the proof that they contain of Allah’s monotheism and the Resurrection, exactly as the Messengers informed him that he would. Hence, the person who is reflecting takes instruction from all he sees, and then takes heed; this cannot come about except for a person who is penitent, turning to Allah with his heart and limbs.

Then He invited man to ponder the source of his provision, food, clothing, animals and gardens: the blessed water which He brings down from the sky. Through this water grow gardens with a variety of vegetation and fruits: the white, black, red, yellow, bitter and sweet and everything in between. Through it sprout all the various types of grain for harvesting in their different shapes and sizes, with their diverse benefits. Then He specifically mentioned the date-palm tree because of the lessons and proofs that it contains which are not hidden to any who care to ponder. Concerning water, Allah says,

  “by which He brings the earth to life when it was dead,”[19]

and He says,

  “thus will be the Emergence!”[20]

i.e. you will emerge from the earth after you have decomposed much the same way as fruit, vegetation and seeds of harvest sprout from the earth.

We have expounded upon this analogy and others like it that are mentioned in the Qur’an in our book, Ma`alim, explaining some of the lessons derived from them and some of the subtleties found in them.[21]

Then Allah, Glorious is He, proceeds to establish prophethood using concise and lucid words which do not admit any ambiguity or doubt whatsoever. He informs us that He sent messengers to the people of Noah, `ªd, Thamùd, and the people of Pharoah all of whom denied them and were punished in different ways. The threat that had been conveyed to them by His Messengers were they to disbelieve proved to be true and this in turn demonstrated their veracity and the veracity of the one who told us this about them ﷺ. He told us their narratives in detail, in conformity to the accounts found with the People of the Book, this without his being taught by anyone or having read it in a book. None rejects the occurrence of these events except someone who is a liar or one who arrogantly rejects what is undeniable, the same applies to those who claim that it was only natural disasters that afflicted them. Such a person knows within himself that he his lying and obstinately rejecting what has been witnessed by the eye and passed down from generation to generation, he is like someone who rejects the existence of famous kings, scholars and ancient lands.

Then Allah, Glorious is He, returns to proving the resurrection with His saying,

  “Were We incapable of the first creation?”[22]

One says to everyone who is unable to do something, ‘he was incapable (`ayiya) of it’ or, ‘such and such a person was unable to do this matter.’ The poet said,

  They were unable to fulfil their affairs
Like the pigeon, worn out by its egg.[23]

Allah says,

  “…and was not incapable of creating them.”[24]

Ibn `Abbas and Maqatil explained [the original verse to] mean, ‘Were We debilitated by creating them?’ This explanation really furnishes us with one implication of the word; the actual meaning of this word is more general. The Arabs say, ‘I a`ya from knowing such and such a matter’ when he cannot understand it, its purpose, or is unable to acquire it, the implication of which is being worn out by doing so. The line of poetry they used as proof [that this word means weariness] is actually a proof for this more general meaning. This is because the pigeon is not debilitated by laying its egg; rather it is bewildered, unable to determine where to lay the egg. It flies here and there, finally laying the egg only to be further confounded, not knowing where to store it safely; hence it continuously moves it from place to place in utter confusion, unable to determine the best place to keep it. This is the same condition as the person who is `ayiya of his affairs, he does not know what is demanded of him and neither does he know how to fulfil it. Therefore, the meaning of the word in this verse is not weariness or exhaustion, as stated by some who do not know Qur’anic exegesis, (rather it is more general) and, additionally, Allah, Glorious is He, explicitly negates weariness from Himself at the end of this chapter with his words,

  “…and no weariness touched us.”[25]


Footnotes

[1]Qaf (50): 23

[2] Qaf (50): 24

[3] al-Saffat (37): 16

[4] Qaf (50): 3

[5] Qaf (50): 4

[6] Ya Sin (36): 78-79

[7] al-Hijr (15): 85

[8] Qaf (50): 4

[9] Ya Sin (36): 81

[10] al-Qiyamah (75): 4

[11] al-Hajj (22): 6

[12] Ya Sin (36): 81

[13] al-Dukhan (44): 38

[14] Sad (38): 27

[15] al-Qiyamah (75): 36

[16] al-Mu’minun (23): 115-116

[17] al-Jathiyah (45): 21

[18] Qaf (50): 5

[19] al-Baqarah (2): 164

[20] Qaf (50): 15

[21] I`lam al-Muwaqqi`in, vol. 1, pp. 150-195

[22] Qaf (50): 15

[23] `Ubayd ibn al-Abras, Diwan, pg. 138

[24] al-Ahqaf (46): 33

[25] Qaf (50): 38, i.e. because fatigue has been explicitly negated at the end of the chapter, this is further proof that the meaning of the word in this verse is more general.

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)



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