Have you ever asked yourself, what is the purpose of our life in this world if at the end, it is Allah who will determine our fate, whether we will reside in Jannah (Insha-Allah) or will be the permanent residence of the damn hell-fire (wa nau’zubillah!)? Or has it ever crossed your mind, where is the justice of Allah (astaghfirullah…) if each and every one of us has already been pre-destined to go to the Jannah or the Jahannam?
In this week’s tarbiyyah, I’ll try to address this issue, although I am fully aware that is such a serious discussion, as it heavily involves our aqidah. Hence, I ask for Allah’s guidance and His forgiveness, for I am just a normal human being; mistakes and flaws are inevitable. In verifying this issue, I have chosen a particular surah from the Holy Quran to guide and assist me, Insha-Allah; surah as-Shams (the Sun).
Surah as-Shams, the 91st surah in the Quran, was revealed to prophet Muhammad (pbuh) during the 13 torturous years in Mekkah, which is why it is considered as surah Makiyyah. It contains 15 verses, which can be divided into two parts; the first one being the first 10 verses and the rest forms the latter part.
I won’t go further with the tafseer of this surah, as I would prefer to argue and discuss my real intention on this week’s tarbiyyah, that is the conscience of our actions. The 7th verse of this surah goes, “And [by] the soul and He proportioned it.” In tafseer Ibn Kaathir, it reads as, “By nafs, and ‘Ma sawwaha’ (He who apportioned it).” Soul, or nafs, is just a fitrah for every human being. Every one needs his soul and nafs to complete his daily needs. Believe it or not, without nafs, you won’t even be tempted to touch your food, or have a hot shower during a cold day or even reading a book that you usually can read without knowing when to stop. Nafs is the very thing that drives our wants. Yet, in this verse, Allah reminds us that He has proportioned the nafs. We shall not heed our nafs, by letting it to take full control of our body and mind. Instead, we are the one who should be able to control and tame our nafs. In addition, this verse also means that man is not created a sinner by birth and a criminal by instinct, but on right and sound nature. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) explains in his hadith:
“Every new born child is born on true human nature (fitrah); it his parents who make him a Jew, or a Christian or Magian afterwards. Its example is of an animal giving birth to complete and sound yyoung one. Do you find any one with a torn or slit ear?” (Bukhari and Muslim)
In the next verse, Allah proclaims; “…then inspired it with its wickedness (fujur) and piety (taqwa).” This is where why whole discussion will centre on. Allah has given us nafs and proportioned it, and then He reveals both wickedness and righteousness to our soul. In other words, Allah has readily shown us two roads, one heads for a life full with obedience to His commandments and the other one will lead us to disobey Him. Ibn Kathir further argues this as, “He (Allah) explained the good and the evil to it (the soul).” Ibn Kaathir has included a very interesting story in his tafseer relating to this verse, about a man who came to see Rasulullah (pbuh) and asked him about destiny. When Rasulullah (pbuh) told him that it was preordained, the guy then argued where is the justice of Allah? Rasulullah (pbuh) then answered that whoever Allah has chosen to reside in Jannah, He will make it easy for him and whoever is pre-destined to be damned in the hell-fire (nau’zubillah), Allah will also make it easy for him. (This hadith is recorded by Imam Ahmad and Imam Muslim.)
In explaining this particular hadith, so that we avoid any misinterpretation and confusion, let us ponder on verse 10 of surah al-Balad, the 90th surah in the Quran;
“And We have shown him the two ways (of good and evil).”
It is very obvious and clear that Allah does not punish someone without showing him first the choices that he has had. If he chooses to obey Him, He will surely reward him. And if he chooses to follow his fujur and fulfill his nafs, then only Allah will punish him accordingly. And Allah further establishes this notion in verse 9 of Surah as-Shams that reads, “Truly successful is he who purified his self.” Those who decide to purify his soul and control his nafs, is victorious in this world and the hereafter. And those who fail to observe his duty as His humble servant, are described in the next verse, “..and a failure he who suppressed it.”
Yet again Allah is the Most Just, the Most Beneficent and the Most Merciful. He knows well enough that human cannot survive on his own without proper guidance and advice. That is why Allah sent His messenger to lead us towards the right path. In surah as-Shams, verse 11-15, Allah gives us a clear example of how He revealed His messages to the Thamud people through Prophet Salleh (pbuh), who called for taqwa and warned them against fujur. But when his people denied him, by killing the she-camel that Allah had sent as a proof of His Almightiness, Allah punished the people by unimaginable torments and azab, nau’zubillahi min dzalik. And Allah concludes the surah with a reminder that “He does not fear the consequence thereof.”
Sayed Abul A’la al-Maududi has summarized this surah with a very simple, straight-forward yet deep and profound theme; to distinguish the good from the evil and to warn people who were refusing to understand this distinction and insisting on following the evil way, of the evil end. He also emphasizes that the future of man depends on how by using the powers of discrimination, will and judgment that Allah has endowed him with, he develops the good and suppresses the evil tendencies of the self.
In a nutshell, it has to be said that we, by fitrah, has the natural conscience of all our actions. Although it is true that Allah has pre-ordained our fate and destiny in the Lauh Mahfuz, long before Adam was created, He has indeed inspired us through our mind and soul of the wickedness and righteousness. With the guidance from the two most precious treasures left to us by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – al-Quran and as-Sunnah – it is really up to us to decide, whether we want the eternal life of Jannah, or rather disturbingly, the torments of the hellfire. And if we choose the former, Insha-Allan, He will make it easy for us. =)
I conclude this week’s tarbiyyah with two verses from the Holy Quran, and I’ll let you to ponder them yourself. May Allah guide us all, Insha-Allah.
“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned…” – 2:286
“If you could but see when the criminals are hanging their heads before their Lord, [saying], “Our Lord, we have seen and heard, so return us [to the world]; we will work righteousness. Indeed, we are [now] certain.” – 32: 12
Allahu a’lam, wassalamu a’laikum warah matullah.
p/s: Some of the readers might not be able to understand some of the arabic terms that I used in this article, and being a weak and ignorant person myself, I am not able to literally translate them. Apologies for any inconvenience caused. To readers who are able to translate them, please kindly do so. Jazakumullah khair, may Allah reward all of you, Insha-Allah.