When we lose sight of the message, we misunderstand the purpose of creation and have many unanswered questions:
Why were we created?
Why has Allah given Shaitan power over us?
Why did Allah create us with weaknesses?
Why did He empower our enemies?
What spiritual weapons has Allah equipped us to combat the tools of Shaitan?
Why has Allah placed so many tribulations in our lives?
When our ancestors, Adam and Hawa (Eve) disobeyed Allah, Allah banished them to the earth as “enemies of each other“, except those who follow the guidance of Allah. The lesson we can take away from this incident is that all our spiritual diseases originated from our stubbornness and disobedience to Allah, and the antidote is the opposite –submission and obedience to Allah.
Allah has told us that He has elevated mankind above all other creation but we were also created with the base qualities and desires of animals, such as our appetites and survival instincts. We hover between the quality of angels and level of beasts. If we submit to our base desires and to Shaitan, we incline towards the level of animals. If we emulate and develop qualities in accordance with Allah’s commands, then we ascend to the level of angels. As human beings, we will never attain the quality of angels, but the more effort we make, the more elevated our status will be.
Adam AS and Hawa repented for their errors, while Shaitan continued his arrogant path and refused to seek Allah’s forgiveness. In the succeeding generation of humankind, the story of Habeel and Qabeel taught us that the one who submitted himself to Allah and was generous and humble had his sacrifice accepted by Allah. The one who was swayed by Shaitan became possessed by jealousy and envy, had his sacrifice rejected by Allah and ended up murdering his own brother. Through these examples, Allah educated us on the constituents of the first problem in mankind, which is trusting our base instincts and Shaitan instead of Allah.
All the stories of creation carry the same basic theme, which is to worship Allah. In Arabic the word “worship” has multiple connotations – surrender, love, submission and gratitude. If we do not know Allah, how can we implement all these qualities in our lives? How can we love someone and indicate thankfulness when are ignorant of the characteristics and the quality of the one we are grateful to? Imagine if we said – this is Rasheed, please take him as your friend. But we don’t tell you more about Rasheed – where he’s from, how old he is, what he works as, where he lives,what kind of personality he has – then why would you want to take him as a friend? You don’t have any facts to make any decision about him, much less take him into your trust.
This is why according to some scholarly opinions, we cannot worship Allah unless we know Him.
From the numerous verses in the Qur’an where Allah introduces His characteristics to us, we can conclude that Allah wants us to gain the knowledge of Him. This is the knowledge that if we are able to comprehend, the deen will be easy, practical and relevant. Islam will be a living, organic religion instead of an abstract set of rules and rituals which are performed without conviction or understanding.
Waking up to reality
Allah has a constitution with us. He can question us on what we are doing, but we are not to question Him on what He’s doing. This is because we will never be able to comprehend the knowledge of Allah. During Musa’s AS expedition with Al Khidr, a sparrow stood on the edge of the boat and dipped its beak once or twice in the sea. Al-Khidr said: “O Musa! My knowledge and your knowledge have not decreased Allah’s knowledge except as much as this sparrow has decreased the water of the sea with its beak.”
Our knowledge is exceedingly minute compared to the knowledge of Allah, but many of us are too arrogant to admit it. When humankind makes a scientific discovery, we are thrilled and award the scientist for the breakthrough, but never praise the Creator for inventing it in the first place.
There are an increasing number of atheists, who equate their knowledge to that of the Creator. They forget their own limitations. We do not even know the complete ingredients of one type of food, and we profess to know the ingredients to mankind. We think that our knowledge, acquired over our short lifespans and which are severely limited by the era we live in, the geographical territories, societal make up and even the breadth of our experiences, can compete with the One who had existed aeons before the universe was created, and who will live perpetually long after we have turned to dust. All this is obvious. Can someone who grew up in Australia be an authority on the social issues of Taiwan? Can someone who is an expert on gynaecology advice on tropical diseases in Brazil? Can a medical discovery of the 1900s still be valid in today’s era? Yet, with our limited horizons, we think we know better than the Creator and that we do not require His guidance.
“Go down from it, all of you. And when guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows My guidance – there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.” (Al Baqarah, verse 38)
Allah promised that He will protect His slaves, the sincere believers, and the ones who rely on Him.
Once we lose sight of this, we lose the understanding of the message of Allah and the spiritual remedy that comes alongside the message. When we lose focus, we enter into the realm where we are spiritually asleep.
Waking from physical sleep, we are disoriented. Imagine if someone shook you awake in the middle of the night and asked you where the keys are? Your mind would be too disoriented to answer remember or answer.
If we are spiritually asleep, can we accurately value the situation and the reality? We are numb, living in a dream like state, and vulnerable to the insidious whisperings of Shaitan. The message of Allah may even be shouted as a warning, but we are not spiritually awake to comprehend it. What if we spend the major portion of our lives in this foggy condition? We will be weak in faith, lack the correct moral compass and will be virtually defenceless against forces harmful to our souls.
We go to college, obtain our degrees, and postgraduate degrees, get a great job with a hefty salary, and then we start praising ourselves, admiring ourselves and now all our achievements only serve to feed our egos. We become arrogant, forget who we are, and that there are millions of others richer and cleverer than we are. The cycle of accumulating wealth and knowledge makes us forget our origins and destinations. Whereas a microscopic virus can knock us dead in hours, or just slipping on the bathroom floor can break our necks. We have forgotten our own vulnerability, and that we will be dust, buried under dust. All our achievements on earth are temporary, and the timespan in which we chase the glories of the material life compared to the infinity and eternity of our final destination are far more crucial to our eternal existence.