By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
September 04, 2017
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009
We pick up where we left in the preceding reflection and move forward.
We demonstrated that in the divine creative scheme, human conscience is imbued with a polarity of good and evil and unless one refrains from evil he cannot be a model of goodness.
In one its early Suras, al-Shams (the Sun), the Qur’an blends the majesty of nature and the mystery of the working of man’s inner-self (Nafs - traditionally, soul) to lead up to the theme of the polarity of man’s inner self. It declares:
“By the sun and its brilliance; and the moon as it follows the sun (literally, ‘it’); and the day as it reveals the sun (it)and the night as it veils the sun (it); and by the heaven and the One Who has built it; and by the earth and the One Who has spread it; and by the man’s inner self (ingrained instincts), and He Who has fashioned it; and Who has inspired it with the temptation of what is evil (Fujura)and a restraining impulse against evil (Taqwa) - He indeed succeeds who purifies it (his inner self); and he fails who corrupts it (91:1-10).
The lead verses represent an extended oath of the Qur’an to the truth of its pronouncement regarding the polarity of man’s inner self (Nafs) between Fujura– that tempts him succumb to his base desires, and Taqwa that is a watchdog against his base desires. The Qur’an also refers to them as Nafs al Ammara, (12:53) - the Nafs that draws man to evil, and Nafs al Lawwama, (75:2) – the Nafs that restrains him from evil.
The divine scheme leaves it on individual humans to be dictated by his Nafs. (Inner self) and says:
“O Believers! Ye have charge of your own Nafs (inner-self). He who errs cannot harm you if you are rightly guided…” (5:105)
Accordingly the Qur’an says that on the Reckoning Day, each person (Nafs) will account for his deeds as illustrated by its following verses:
“And heed the day when you shall be brought back to God. Then each person (Nafs) be paid what it earned and none shall be wronged.” (2:281)
“And We shall set up the balances of Justice for the Resurrection Day, so that no person (Nafs) shall be wronged at all. And if there was (a deed) as little as the weight of a mustard-seed, We will bring it forth, and sufficient are We as accountant …”(21:47).
“Then on that Day no person (Nafs) will be wronged at all and you shall but be repaid the rewards of your past deeds.” (36:54)
The foregoing short review makes two points very clear:
1. Every person is vested with a polarity of the instincts of his inner self (Nafs) and is independently accountable for his’/ her own deeds.
2. Every human, regardless of religion, religiosity can groom himself to be models of goodness or archetypes of evil depending upon whether he succumbs to his lowly instincts or harness the ingrained Taqwa that activates his restraining self. This brings us to the broader notion of Taqwa in the Qur’an to be reviewed in the next Reflection.
To end this reflection on a poetic note, the following lines from Poet Laureate Muhammad Iqbal may be recalled:
Khudi Ko Kar Buland Itna Ki Har Taqdir Se Pahlay
Khuda Banday Se Khud Puchhe Bata Teri Raza Kiya Hai
[Cultivate your Nafs (khudi) to such a great height that before awarding any destiny
God may ask his Slave – Say, what will please you.Reflections on Qur'anic Message - Part-6: Qur’an Singles Out Good Deeds as the Common Criterion of Divine Judgment for All Those Who Believe In God and Eventual Accountability to Him
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.
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