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Harun Yahya - The Moral Values Of The Qur'an - Chapter 1
The Moral Values Of The Qur'an
   

It is not devoutness to turn your faces to the east or to the west. Rather, those with true devoutness are those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, the Angels, the Book and the Prophets, and who, despite their love for it, give away their wealth to their relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to travellers and beggars and to set slaves free, and who establish regular prayers and pay regular charity; those who honour their contracts when they make them, and are steadfast in poverty and illness and in battle. Those are the people who are true. They are the people who have taqwa (who are pious).
(Surat al-Baqara: 177)



Chapter 1

JUST ESTIMATION OF ALLAH

The Qur’an informs us of the true attributes of Allah:

“Allah! There is no god but He, the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permits? He knows what (appears to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He wills. His Throne does extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory).” (Surat al-Baqara, 2:255)

“Allah is He Who created seven heavens, and of the earth the like of them; the decree continues to descend among them, that you may know that Allah has power over all things and that Allah indeed encompasses all things in (His) knowledge.” (Surat at-Talaq, 65:12)

However, most people not perceiving Allah as He is described in the above verses, cannot comprehend His eternal power and greatness. They believe in superstitions that they have made up themselves, and think that Allah is somewhere far off in the universe, and rarely interferes in “earthly matters”. The limited understanding of these people is mentioned in the Qur’an, in Surat al-Hajj, 22:74. “No just estimate have they made of Allah: for Allah is He Who is strong and able to Carry out His Will.”

Having a thorough grasp of the extent of Allah’s power is the first link in the chain of belief. True believers leave behind them the distorted vision of Allah prevailing in their community, and deny these perverted beliefs by saying:

“There were some foolish ones among us, who used to utter extravagant lies against Allah.” (Surat al-Jinn, 72:4)

The faithful believe in Allah in the way the Qur’an describes. They examine the signs of Allah in both external and internal worlds, and thus begin to understand the great art and power of Allah.

But if the believers happen to overlook Allah and fail to ponder deeply on Him and on His Creation, they may start to be influenced by immoral beliefs particularly at times of difficulty. Allah mentions this as a potential risk in the verse of Surat Aal-e-Imran, 3:154, about the believers who gave up during the war, and “who were anxious on their own account, thought wrongly of Allah, the thought of ignorance.”

A believer would never like to make such a mistake, therefore he should free his heart from everything that appertains to the beliefs of the ignorant, and accept this real faith with all his heart in the way the Qur’an describes.


FEARING ALLAH AS MUCH AS ONE CAN

To fear Allah is the beginning of all. The more one fears Allah, the more superior does one become in the presence of Allah. The Qur’an gives the examples of the prophets, with whom the believers can compare themselves so that they may understand that they really can increase their fear of Allah.

Allah wants people to fear Him to the greatest possible extent. Various ways of showing reverence for the Almighty can be found, for example; spending in Allah’s way, doing good deeds, taking the prophet as an example, obeying him, being attentive to the rules of Allah etc.

“So fear Allah as much as you can; listen and obey and spend in charity for the benefit of your own soul. Those saved from the covetousness of their own souls, are the ones that achieve prosperity.” (Surat at-Taghabun, 64:16)

“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam.” (Surat Aal-e-Imran, 3:102)


DESTINY

Nothing in the universe is accidental. As it is stated  in the Qur’an:

“He regulates all affairs” (Surat ar-Ra’d, 13:2).


In another verse it is said:

“Not a leaf falls but with His knowledge.” (Surat al-Anam, 6:59).It is Allah Who creates and directs all the events; how they will begin and how they will end. It is again Allah Who determines every movement of every star in the universe, every state of every living thing on Earth, the way one will live, what one will say, what one will encounter, as expressed in the verses:


“Verily, We have created all things with Qadar  (Divine Preordainments of all things before their creation)” (Surat al-Qamar, 54:49)

“No misfortune befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees, before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah.“ (Surat al-Hadid, 57:22)

The believers should be aware of this great reality,and in consequence, should never act ignorantly as those who deny it. Having understood that life is just “following destiny”, they never become disappointed or feel afraid of anything. They become confident and firm as the Prophet Muhammad, who told his companion,

“Be not sad, surely Allah is with us.” (Surat at-Tawba, 9:40) when the latter was apprehensive about being found in the cave by the idolaters who wanted to kill them.


PUTTING TRUST IN ALLAH

Since Allah is the only decision-maker, every happening is in favor of the believers: everything has been planned for the benefit of religion and for the believers' life in the hereafter. Believers can refer to their past experience to see that there is a good for them at the end of every event. For that reason, believers put their entire trust in Allah. He is the one and only Protector. What a believer should do is to behave as Allah wants him to: fulfilling his responsibilities but depending on Allah for the outcomes. The following verses express this mystery, which is unknown to unbelievers.

“... for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out. And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. Verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion.” (Surat at-Talaq, 65:2-3)

“Say: ‘Nothing will happen to us except what Allah hasdecreed for us: He is our Protector: and in Allah let the believers put their trust.’” (Surat at-Tawba, 9:51)

What the believers should say to the unbelievers is also stated in the Qur’an:

“And why should we not put our trust in Allah while He indeed has guided us our ways. And we shall certainly bear with patience all the hurt you may cause us, and in Allah (alone) let those who trust, put their trust. (Surah Ibrahim, 14:12)

In another verse, it is said:

“If Allah helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in Allah (alone) let believers put their trust.” (Surat Al-e-Imran, 3:160)



PONDERING

In the Qur’an, it is stated that the unbeliever is one who neither recognizes nor appreciates the signs of Allah. The distinguishing mark of a believer is his ability to see those signs and proofs. He knows that these are not created in vain, and can realize the power and great art of Allah everywhere and find ways to revere Him. He is one of those men of sense, who "celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (and say): 'Our Lord! not for naught have You created (all) this! Glory be to You! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire.' ” (Surat Aal-e-Imran, 3:191)

At various points in the Qur’an, expressions like, “will you not take heed?”, “...there is a sign for thinking men,” lay stress on the importance of pondering upon the signs of Allah. Allah has created an endless list of subjects for reflection. Everything wesee and sense in the heavens and on the earth and in between is indeed a manifestation of Allah’s creativity and, as such should be food for thought. One of the verses gives the example of these divine blessing of Allah:

“With it He produces for you corn, olives, date palms, grapes and every kind of fruit: verily, in this is a sign for those who give thought.” (Surat an-Nahl, 16:11)

Let us think for a moment of one of the above mentioned items: the date palm. The tree, as is well known, grows up from a seed out of the earth. From this tiny seed (a seed is not even 1 cubic centimetre in size), arises an enormous wooden mass of 4-5 metres long and hundreds of kilograms in weight. The only thing that the seed can use while constituting this great mass is the earth in which it is buried.

How can a seed know how to form a tree? How can it "reason" to decompose the necessary substances in the soil to create wood? How can it predict the required shape and structure? This last question is especially important, because it is not an ordinary wooden piece that emerges from the seed. It is a complex living organism with roots for assimilating substances from the earth, with veins and with branches that are perfectly organized. A human being has difficulty in drawing even a picture of a tree, while on the contrary a simple seed can produce such an extremely complex object by merely using the substances in the soil.

This observation concludes that a seed is extremely intelligent and wise, even more so than we are. Or to be more precise, there is an amazing intelligence in what a seed does. But what is the source of that intelligence? How can it be possible for a seed to have such intelligence and memory?

No doubt, this question has a single answer: the seed is created by being endowed with the ability to form a tree, that is, it is programmed so in advance. Every seed on earth is encompassed by Allah and grows within His knowledge. In one of the verses it is stated:

“With Him are the keys of the unseen, the treasures that none knows but He. He knows whatever there is on the earth and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but with His knowledge: there is not a grain in the darkness (or depths) of the earth, nor anything fresh or dry (green or withered), but is (inscribed) in a record clear.” (Surat al-An'am, 6:59)

It is Allah who creates the seed and causes it to spring forth as a new plant. In another verse it is said:

“It is Allah Who causes the seed-grain and the date-stone to split and sprout. He causes the living to issue from the dead, and He is the one to cause the dead to issue from the living. That is Allah: then how are you deluded away from the truth?” (Surat al-An‘am, 6:95)

The seed is merely one of the numerous signs that Allah has created in the universe. If men begin to think not only with their minds but also with their hearts, and ask of themselves, the questions “why” and “how”, they will be able to understand that all of the universe is the proof of the existence and power of Allah.


BEING CAREFUL

All things are created with wisdom and with an ulterior purpose. In consort with this ulterior purpose, there are benefits for the believers in all happenings. Because Allah is on the believers’ side and does not let them down.

Encounters in life may at first seem unfavourable for the believers. However, one should understand that even seemingly dire events, for example, a plot of hatched against them by the unbelievers, will ultimately turn out well for them. Allah will sooner or later let them savour His beneficence so, believers should be completely sure that there is goodness in all.

There are many examples of this kind of situation in the Qur’an; the life of Yusuf (Joseph) is one of the most remarkable. In his childhood, Yusuf had been thrown down to the bottom of a well by his brothers. He was later rescued and then accused and imprisoned, even though he was innocent. For a person withoutfaith, these incidents may be thought of as the greatest misfortunes. Nevertheless, Yusuf  always kept in mind that these could only happen under Allah’s direction and that all would certainly turn out for the better. And this proved to be true. Allah turned the “disasters” to good account; Yusuf was released from prison and in time became one of the governors of that land.

The situation with Yunus (Jonah) was no different. He fled to a laden ship, where, to retain his place, he drew lots. When the draw proved unfavourable, he was thrown into the sea where he was swallowed by a gigantic fish. The Qur’an informs us that he was rescued and was sent to a “nation a hundred thousand men or more,” only because he had glorified Allah.

“Had he not been of them who glorify Allâh, He would have indeed remained inside its belly (the fish) till the Day of Resurrection. But We cast him forth on the naked shore while he was sick, And We caused a plant of gourd to grow over him. And We sent him to a hundred thousand (people) or even more. And they believed; so We gave them enjoyment for a while.” (Surat as-Saaffat, 37:143-148)

All these examples given in the Qur’an teach us that the events which seems to be a “misfortune” are not really so for the believer. If he puts his trust in Allah, seeks refuge in Him and asks help only from Him, then nothing will be a matter of regret for him. Allah does create certain difficulties, but they are only to put man to the test and to strengthen believers’ loyalty and faith.

The opposite holds true for the unbelievers. Nothing in this life can be good for them. Things that strike them as delightful or pleasant are indeed “misfortunes”, and these will increase their torment in the Hereafter. Anything that they achieve unjustly is entered in their record, and for this they will ultimately be responsible. On this score the Qur’an records Allah’s commandments:

“And let not those who covetously withhold of that which Allah has bestowed on them of His Bounty think that it is good for them. Nay, it will be worse for them; the things which they covetously withheld shall be tied to their necks like a collar on the Day of Resurrection. And to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is Well­Acquainted with all that you do.” (Surat Aal-e-Imran, 3:180)



GOODNESS IN ALL

All things are created with wisdom and with an ulterior purpose. In consort with this ulterior purpose, there are benefits for the believers in all happenings. Because Allah is on the believers’ side and does not let them down.

Encounters in life may at first seem unfavourable for the believers. However, one should understand that even seemingly dire events, for example, a plot of hatched against them by the unbelievers, will ultimately turn out well for them. Allah will sooner or later let them savour His beneficence so, believers should be completely sure that there is goodness in all.

There are many examples of this kind of situation in the Qur’an; the life of Yusuf (Joseph) is one of the most remarkable. In his childhood, Yusuf had been thrown down to the bottom of a well by his brothers. He was later rescued and then accused and imprisoned, even though he was innocent. For a person withoutfaith, these incidents may be thought of as the greatest misfortunes. Nevertheless, Yusuf  always kept in mind that these could only happen under Allah’s direction and that all would certainly turn out for the better. And this proved to be true. Allah turned the “disasters” to good account; Yusuf was released from prison and in time became one of the governors of that land.

The situation with Yunus (Jonah) was no different. He fled to a laden ship, where, to retain his place, he drew lots. When the draw proved unfavourable, he was thrown into the sea where he was swallowed by a gigantic fish. The Qur’an informs us that he was rescued and was sent to a “nation a hundred thousand men or more,” only because he had glorified Allah.

“Had he not been of them who glorify Allâh, He would have indeed remained inside its belly (the fish) till the Day of Resurrection. But We cast him forth on the naked shore while he was sick, And We caused a plant of gourd to grow over him. And We sent him to a hundred thousand (people) or even more. And they believed; so We gave them enjoyment for a while.” (Surat as-Saaffat, 37:143-148)


All these examples given in the Qur’an teach us that the events which seems to be a “misfortune” are not really so for the believer. If he puts his trust in Allah, seeks refuge in Him and asks help only from Him, then nothing will be a matter of regret for him. Allah does create certain difficulties, but they are only to put man to the test and to strengthen believers’ loyalty and faith.

The opposite holds true for the unbelievers. Nothing in this life can be good for them. Things that strike them as delightful or pleasant are indeed “misfortunes”, and these will increase their torment in the Hereafter. Anything that they achieve unjustly is entered in their record, and for this they will ultimately be responsible. On this score the Qur’an records Allah’s commandments:

“And let not those who covetously withhold of that which Allah has bestowed on them of His Bounty think that it is good for them. Nay, it will be worse for them; the things which they covetously withheld shall be tied to their necks like a collar on the Day of Resurrection. And to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is Well­Acquainted with all that you do.” (Surat Aal-e-Imran, 3:180)



DEATH IS NEAR

The members of the profane society are basically  ignorant, negligent and shallow. Their lives are not based on common sense or logic. On the contrary, they live with vain and false beliefs, and follow conjectures that end with fallacies. One of these is their belief about death. They believe that death is something even not to be thought about.

What they really expect is to escape from it by ignoring it. By not thinking about it, they believe that they can elude it. But this is just like the ostrich who puts her head in the sand in order to escape from the danger. Ignoring danger does not make it disappear. On the contrary, the person at risk will certainly encounter danger, but without having made any preparations for it, will, in consequence receive a much bigger shock— unlike the believers who ponder on and prepare themselves for this important reality, the truth of which has been experienced by all thepeople who have ever lived. Allah, therefore, admonishes the unbelievers in the following verse:

‘The death from which you flee will surely meet you, then you will be sent back to (Allah), the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen, and He will tell you the things that you did.” (Surat al-Jumua, 62:8)

Death is not a “disaster” which should be forgotten, but an important lesson that teaches people the real meaning of life. It should therefore be the subject of profound thought. The believers ponder deeply on that great reality with sincerity and wisdom. Why do all people live for a period of time and then die? All created beings are mortal, and this shows that they are powerless and unable servants of Allah. Allah is the only owner of life; all creatures have come to life by Allah’s Decree and will ultimately die by Allah’s Decree. On this the Qur’an declares:

“All that is on earth will perish: But will abide (Forever) the Face of your Lord,- full of Majesty, Bounty and Honour.” (Surat ar-Rahman, 55:26, 27)

Everyone will die, but none can predict where and when that will be. Nobody has any guarantee that he will be alive the next minute. Therefore believers should behave as if they are to die at any moment. Thinking about death will help believers increase their sincerity and fear of Allah and they will always remain conscious of what awaits them.

In the Qur’an, the significance of keeping death in mind is expressed in the following verse:

“We granted not to any human being immortality before you, then if you die, would they live forever? Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial. To Us  you will be returned.” (Surat al-Anbiya, 21:34-35)



THE NEVER-ENDING ATTEMPTS OF SATAN

When Allah created Adam and commanded the angels to prostrate themselves before him, they all prostrated themselves except Satan, who thenceforward was cursed. Satan’s response was to ask Allah for a reprieve till the Day of Resurrection. This was so that he would have the opportunity to make people transgress. Once reprieved by Allah, he committed himself to a course of action intended to derail mankind:

“He said: ‘Because You have sent me astray, surely I will lie in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path. Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones’” Surat al-A‘raf, 7:16-17)

“ ’I will mislead them, and I will create in them false desires; I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and to change the nature created by Allah.’ Whoever, forsaking Allah, takes satan for a friend, hath of a surety suffered a loss that is manifest.” (Surat an-Nisa, 4:119)

One who is unaware of the menace of Satan, cannot protect himself against him and can easily be deceived by him. Therefore, believers should be fully alert to Satan, as is commanded in the Qur’an:

“Verily Satan is an enemy to you: so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his adherents, that they may become Companions of the Blazing Fire.” (Surah Fatir, 35:6)

Those who should be the most cautious about Satan are the believers, because it is they who are Satan’s actual targets. There is no need for him to try to make the unbelievers transgress; because they have already turned out to belong to his own army. He, therefore, strives to the utmost to weaken the believers so as to prevent them from serving Allah. That is why believers are particularly warned against Satan:

“O you who believe! Follow not Satan’s footsteps: if any will follow the footsteps of Satan, he will (but) command what is shameful and wrong: and were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah on you, not one of you would ever have been pure: but Allah doth purify whom He pleases: and Allah is One Who hears and knows (all things).” (Surat an-Nur, 24:21)

As Allah says in the Qur’an, true believers will not be affected by the activities of Satan. But those who are weak and heedless may be easily influenced by his delusions. Never should we forget that Satan is ceaselessly striving to promote evil. Believers should always be on their guard and keep Allah in mind at all times.


THE SOUL IS PRONE TO EVIL

Another enemy that we should guard against is within ourselves. Allah has inspired in people both good and evil. The evil inspiration in us always works for Satan. The Qur’an explains the two sides of our souls:

“By the soul and Him Who perfected it in proportion and inspired it to understand what is right and wrong for it. Truly he succeeds that purifies it. And he fails that corrupts it!” (Surat ash-Shams, 91:7-10)

People should be aware of this evil in themselves and always be on guard against the danger. Denying this evil side of our souls will not help us to escape from it, and we should try to purify it as is laid down in the Qur’an.

Believers should never, therefore, claim that they are entirely pure, but be wary of the vain provocation of their souls. The admission of Yusuf (Joseph):


‘“Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord bestows His Mercy: but, surely, my Lord is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful,”’ (Surah Yusuf, 12:53) should always be borne in mind as a good example of the appropriate attitude.

People should carefully watch out for the foibles of the soul and do good and practice self-restraint, as in another verse it is averred that “men’s souls are swayed by greed.” (Surat an-Nisa, 4:128)

What that greed may lead men to, is also stated in the Qur’an. It was the soul of one of Adam’s sons that prompted him to murder his brother:

 

“The (selfish) soul of the other led him to the murder of his brother: he murdered him, and became (himself) one of the lost ones.” (Surat al-Ma’ida, 5:30). It is the same propensity to evil that made Samiri lead Moses’ people astray in his absence. Samiri says

“...thus did my soul suggest to me.” (Surah Ta-Ha, 20:96)

The only way to attain salvation is by curbing the evil of the soul:

“Those saved from the covetousness of their own souls, they are the ones that achieve prosperity.”(Surat al-Hashr, 59:9)

“And as for him who fears to stand in the presence of his Lord and forbids the soul from low desires, the Garden will be his home.” (Surat an-Nazi’at, 79:40-41)

The struggle with one's soul is the biggest struggle for a believer. The believer has to check upon himself to decide which of his emotions and wishes are acceptable and which are evil. He has to stand against the evil instigations of his soul such as selfishness, jealousy, arrogance and greed.

Our souls shall cause us to entertain vain desires and passions. They whisper to us that we will be satisfied when we gain more money, and to have a higher status. However, these pleasures never satisfy the believer in any real sense. The more money we have, the more we will want to have. In many ways, our souls will lead us to act just like insatiable wild animals.

Our souls can only be satisfied if we devote ourselves to Allah, and not to our own shallow desires. We are created to be the servants of Allah: “...for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.” (Surat ar-R’ad, 13:28). Nothing else can give peace and satisfaction.

That is why only true believers have completely satisfied souls, because they keep themselves away from evil, guard against the depravity of their souls and dedicate themselves to Allah.

“To the righteous soul the Almighty will say: 'O soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back to your Lord, well pleased (yourself), and well-pleasing unto Him! Enter you, then, among My devotees! Enter you my Heaven!' "( Surat al-Fajr, 89:27-30)




BEING CHOSEN BY ALLAH

If we cannot determine our physical appearance,  neither can we determine our destiny. It is only Allah Who determines the birth of a man, his community, his family and the experience he will have throughout his life. It is again Allah Who inspires in us wisdom and good sense.

Even our faith in Allah does not depend on our own characteristics. Again it is Allah, the One and Only, Who grants us faith. He is the One Who guides, teaches and trains. As Musa (Moses) said in reply to a question put by Pharaoh: “Our Lord is He that gave to each thing its form and nature and further, gave guidance.” (Surah Ta-Ha, 20:50)

Therefore, believers are the ones who have been singled out for Allah’s favour: “Your Lord creates and chooses as He pleases: no choice have they (in the matter)” (Surat al-Qasas, 28:68)

Those who go to hell are the people who fully deserve it, because they have rebelled against Allah Who created them and in feeling the wrath of Allah, they receive their just deserts. As for those who are admitted to paradise, Allah grants them His blessings and forgives their sins.

The believers must understand how wonderful it is to have been chosen by Allah, and must be grateful and praise Allah with all their hearts for what He has given them in His munificence. They should appreciate that they have been chosen from among millions of people and that they are the few blessed servants of Allah to be selected and set apart from a community whose members face perdition. The entire conduct of the believers should reflect the honour of this great privilege. Allah describes those who face perdition thus:

“By (the Token of) Time. Verily man is in loss. Except those who have faith and do righteous deeds, and recommend one another to truth, and recommend one another to patience” (Surat al-‘Asr, 103:1-3)

Is there a higher honour than that of being rescued and exalted above all others by the Lord of the Universe?