Quran Talks to Nations and Societies: Are We Listening?
BY: MANSOOR ALAM
The Quran has raised the status of مومنین (Momineen) so much that they will have whatever they wish – an exclusively divine attribute. مومنین (Momineen) do not go against the divine law. They synchronize their will with the Will of Allah:
رَّضِيَ اللَّـهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ
(5:119) – Well-pleased is God with them, and well-pleased are they with Him: this is the triumph supreme. [Asad]
So, whatever they wish for, Allah will give them.
However, Allah goes further:
لَهُم مَّا يَشَاءُونَ فِيهَا وَلَدَيْنَا مَزِيدٌ
(50:35) – In that [paradise] they shall have whatever they may desire – but there is yet more with Us. [Asad]
To prove its claim, the Quran brings proof from the laws of nature and nations’ history. Instead of individuals, the Quran talks about nations and societies. It says that don’t you see how the rains come from clouds and give life to dead earth; how flora, fauna, and plants provide you with vegetables and fruits? Don’t you see how gigantic planets and stars remain stable and continue to operate properly because they follow Allah’s laws (50:6-9)? Thus the Quran asks human societies and nations to learn a lesson from Nature. It says to them that since Nature follows our set laws, it functions properly. Therefore, if you will follow Our divine laws given in Our guidance communicated to you by Our Messengers, then your nations and societies will also function properly. But if you don’t follow Our laws pertaining to human society; that if you violate them – then you will suffer the consequences.
The Quran, therefore, asks humans to learn a lesson from the history of past nations. It says: Look at the history of nations and societies and learn what happened to them when they transgressed Our laws. The Quran mostly talks about the system of life, not individuals. In a good system, even flawed individuals tend to be good. In a bad system, even the right individuals are forced to become bad. This becomes a vicious circle.
The Quran declares:
وَكَمْ أَهْلَكْنَا قَبْلَهُم مِّن قَرْنٍ هُمْ أَشَدُّ مِنْهُم بَطْشًا فَنَقَّبُوا فِي الْبِلَادِ هَلْ مِن مَّحِيصٍ
(50:36) – AND HOW MANY a generation have We destroyed before those [who now deny the truth] people of greater might than theirs; but [when Our chastisement befell them,] they became wanderers on the face of the earth, seeking no more than a place of refuge. [Asad]
Therefore, O Messenger! Tell your people – who arrogantly boast that nothing will happen to them because they are too powerful – that you pass through the ruins of nations that were more powerful than you in your daily travels. You must learn from their past. Their history is written on the bricks of their ruins. How beautifully the Quran has described their stories.
First, they were too arrogant to admit that their misbehavior would ruin them despite their power and strength. But when the destruction came, they started seeking refuge, but no nation offered them refuge. They must have many treaties with weaker nations when their stars were shining high. But after their downfall, they were even rebuffed by those weaker nations. This is what the Quran wants nations to learn from the destructions of past nations. There is no exception to the law of rising and fall of nations.
Wrong systems suffer destruction
We don’t have to go to antiquity to learn from the relics of their ruins. In our period, conditions are moving so fast that what used to happen in thousand years is happening in few years and even in few months. If one wants to see World War I’s effects, one can look at the powerful nations and see what happened to them. Great and powerful nations could not find refuge after their destruction. What the Quran is saying above becomes very clear in front of our eyes. In principle, these are the results of wrong systems of life. Those nations were superpowers of their times.
It applies equally to all nations. The question is not of being a superpower or of a lower-power. This is Allah’s law. It equally applies to all nations. Nations with the wrong system of life are ultimately destroyed, and they do not find refuge.
Learning from history
The Quran is not a history book to be taught to students in the class. The Quran repeatedly inspires us to learn a lesson from the history of past nations and not to repeat their mistakes for our own good. It says:
إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَذِكْرَىٰ لِمَن كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ
(50:37) – In this, behold, there is indeed a reminder for everyone whose heart is wide-awake -that is, [everyone who] lends an ear with a conscious mind. [Asad]
In these historical episodes, for people who have a living heart or who at least attentively listen to others and take note, there is a great lesson for them. They can apply their minds and learn from these facts and reach a conclusion on their own. If they cannot understand on their own, they can at least listen with all their heart to those who explain to them. Then they can learn a lesson from the history of past nations. However, who will learn lessons? Only those who have thinking hearts. Moreover, after listening, they take serious notes and protect themselves. But those who do not listen with their hearts and do not think will never learn any lessons:
وَلَقَدْ ذَرَأْنَا لِجَهَنَّمَ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنسِ ۖ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لَّا يَفْقَهُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ أَعْيُنٌ لَّا يُبْصِرُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ آذَانٌ لَّا يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْغَافِلُونَ
(7:179) – And most certainly have We destined for hell many of the invisible beings and men who have hearts with which they fail to grasp the truth, and eyes with which they fail to see, and ears with which they fail to hear. They are like cattle -nay; they are even less conscious of the right way: it is they, they who are the [truly] heedless! [Asad]
Well, these people say that how could humans be raised after death? Don’t they see this gigantic Universe that we created from nothing? Even now, science is not able to grasp how large this universe is. Scientists have found that the Universe is expanding, carrying billions and billions of galaxies within it! The Quran said this 1,400 years ago: وَالسَّمَاءَ بَنَيْنَاهَا بِأَيْدٍ وَإِنَّا لَمُوسِعُونَ (51:47) – And it is We who have built the Universe with [Our creative] power; and, verily, it is We who are steadily expanding it. [Asad]
The Universe and human actions
Since the Universe is expanding, every object of the Universe, the earth, the planets, the stars, the galaxies, everything is always in motion. The Quran says that there is a real purpose behind the working of this Universe. It says:
وَخَلَقَ اللَّـهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِالْحَقِّ وَلِتُجْزَىٰ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ
(45:22) – God has created the heavens and the earth in accordance with [an inner] truth, and [has therefore willed] that every human being shall be recompensed for what he has earned and none shall be wronged. [Asad]
So far, science has not reached the stage where it could figure out what role the Universe plays in making sure everyone gets one’s due; and that no deed remains uncompensated. Psychologists are working hard to figure out what role the environment plays in human character formation, but that research is in its initial stages. Still, the knowledge is primitive in this regard as to how the Universe ensures justice to human actions.