A Systematic Study of the Holy Qur’an — PART II: PHILOSOPHY
Life of the World and Hereafter
While this is absolutely true that, without the will of God, not a leaf can shake in the world, this does not mean that man commits sin because God wants him to. Certainly not. God does not force anyone but only lets one do evil; and this allowing by Him is often the result of one’s own deeds. If one’s past records and internal feelings are good, God takes special care of one, and guides whenever one tends to err. But if one’s past record is a bunch of misdeeds and, added to this, there is arrogance, God may let one do whatever one likes. If God has “sealed the hearts” of some hardened Repudiators, it is due to their own conduct and not due to any unprincipled discretion of God; He being the greatest of judges, will never use His discretion in an unjust and abrupt way.
Destiny does not mean that God has already decreed everything in the life of every human being; it only means that God being Omniscient and prescient has recorded whatever is to happen in the universe till the Doomsday. God has given man free will in some affairs, and has made him bound by the will of God in others. Man cannot choose his parents, cannot fix his time of death, and cannot do many things the way he wants. Wherever man is not free to choose, God will not take him to account; wherever man is free to act, his actions will come under scrutiny; it is on the basis of the entire spectrum of his actions that God will pronounce His judgement about one’s fate in the Hereafter.
Present life in the Qur’an has been compared to sports and pastime. This is the most apt analogy possible. Life according to Islam, unlike some other religions, is not unreal. But as the importance of sports and pastime in life is only limited as compared to the other aspects like earning, learning and maintaining the family, so is the importance of this life in the Total Life of man, that includes the pre-birth, post-birth and post-death stages. As the Hereafter is infinitely longer than the worldly life, this should not be given the ordinary importance one attaches to the sports and pastime. The world is like a college hostel. A boy who has a weak vision of the post-college life that should ideally be the real goal of all students, passes his time not in learning and training but in playing and enjoying; for he has only short term benefits in sight. In all probabilities, such a student is bound to fail in examination and would have to face difficulties in the rest of his life. But one who recognises the post-college life (Hereafter) will take the college-life (world) to be only a time for striving hard to achieve success in the life. Therefore, if he really wishes to emerge triumphant, he will have to reserve only a small time during his college life for sports and pastimes. The more he puts his brain and heart to study, the better his results would be. But at the same time, a student should devote some time for playing and for other activities; for he does not have the natural capacity to continue to study without any rest and entertainment. In the same way man should also enjoy the comforts of this life; but this enjoyment should be kept at optimum level, within the bounds set by God, to ensure success in the life after death.
In the name of God, the Kind, the Merciful
LIFE OF THE WORLD AND HEREAFTER IN THE QUR’AN
Moreover, what is the life of this world but mere play and pastime; and the Hereafter is the best home for the people who are vigilant. Do you not have this much intelligence? (6: 32)
Understand it clearly that the life of this world is nothing but a pastime, a game, glamour, show of superiority over one another, and in riches and children. These are like the rain which brings temporary blossoming of crop delighting the farmers but it soon withers; and you will watch it turning pale followed by drying and crumbling. (In contrast) in the Hereafter, there is severe punishment on one hand and the amnesty and pleasure of God on the other. And what is the life of this world but a wealth of vainly pride. (57: 20)
Further, We will keep putting you to test till we recognise the true soldiers and patient performers among you; and We will examine all the (relevant) information about you. (47: 31)
God makes resources available and does so in abundance to whomever he lets avail them; and they feel glad about it; and (in truth) the possessions of this life are nothing compared to (those of) Hereafter. (13: 26)
And God would ask: How many years did you live on the Earth? They would reply: A day, or maybe even a part of the day; better ask those who know the calculation. He would say: Of course your journey was short; one wishes you understood it. Did you suppose (in your mind) that We created you without a purpose and that you would never be returned to Us? (23: 112–115)
Further, whatever you have been given are the (temporary) possessions of the life of the world and its glamour; and what is (in store) with God is better and perpetual. Then do you not have sense? Can the person with whom We made a handsome promise and he got it (in totality) be like the person whom We supplied the possessions of this world but subsequently in the Hereafter was among the people paraded (as convicts)? (28: 60–61)
People who have committed! What is the issue with you that when you are asked to proceed in the direction of God, you tend to gravitate towards the Earth? Do you prefer the life of this world over the Hereafter? (This is in spite of the fact that) the possessions of this life are insignificant compared to those of the Hereafter. (9: 38)
There are people who long for the life and the glamour of this world; We will pay them for their efforts in (the world) itself without any cuts. They are the people (however) who have nothing in store for the Hereafter except Fire; whatever they produce in the (world) will go waste and what they do will prove worthless. (11: 15–16)
If anyone longs for an instant (pleasure), We readily grant to the one we intend to and what We let him have; following this We have readied Hell for him; disgraced and rejected, he will burn in it. And the persons who long for the Hereafter and make all the required efforts (in that direction) and continue to be people of commitment are the ones whose efforts are to be acknowledged. To each one of these and many others, We freely extend Our bounty; (remember that) the bounties of your Lord are not limited. Look how we have given different people superiority in different ways; and surely the Hereafter is ranked higher and superior. (17: 18–21)
Whoever longs for the harvest of the Hereafter, We increase that harvest; and whoever longs for the harvest of this world, We grant him a portion of it, and he will have no fortune in the Hereafter. (42: 20/)
Surely, they love the instant pleasure (of this life) and turn their back to the Hard Day. (76: 27)
O mankind! Without doubt, you are rebelling against yourselves through the possessions of the worldly life. After that you will proceed to Us and We will give you the information about how you had been performing. The example of the life of this world is like this: We send down water from the sky causing growth in the herbage, meant for the nutrition of human beings and animals, till a point when the Earth is draped in an attractive garment (of greenery) and its owners start assuming that they have all the power on it; and suddenly our order comes, either in the night or in the day, converting it into garbage (and it appears) as if it had not flourished at all the previous day. In this way, We detail Our clues to those who think. (10: 23–24)
Life not durable
Give them a comparison about this life: It is like what* We send down from the sky making the vegetation flourish in the land; and then (soon) it is reduced to stable scattering far and wide with the wind. (18: 45)
*This includes rain and sunlight.
The comparison between the two parties is as if one is blind and deaf and the other is equipped with sound vision and hearing. Can they be equal? Will you not take lesson? (11: 24)
What about one who remains in a state of devotion in the night prostrating or standing (in prayers) concerned about the (results in) the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy from his Lord? Ask them: Can the two parties be deemed equal, one that has knowledge and the other that does not have knowledge?” (39: 9)
Hereafter better than World
Wealth and children are the attractions of the life of this world, but the deeds of excellence are what survive in the end, and are (therefore) the best in God’s view in terms of returns as well as the best in terms of expectations. (18: 46)
Further, do not exert your sight in the lust of the possessions We have given to some of the groups — the splendour of the worldly life, aimed at testing them through this; and the resources provided (to you) by your Lord are superior and ever-lasting. (20: 131)
Prophet! Say to your wives: “In case you have been longing for the worldly life and its glamour, come! I grant you these possessions and give you a beautiful freedom (from my life). And if you have been longing for God and His Ambassador and Residence of the Hereafter, then God has certainly readied for the excellent performers from among you a great reward. (33: 28–29)
Moreover, if the probability would not have been (high) that the whole human society would become one community (of Dissenters), for all those who dissent against Kind-Lord, We would have built houses with silvery roofs and stairways to go up; with multiple doors in their houses and the most comfortable couches to recline and (in addition) the jewellery of gold (for them). However, all these would have been merely the possessions of this world; to God the Hereafter is meant only for the dutiful (guards of God). (43: 33–35)
Further, (some of) them argue: there is no life other than this; we live and die and none but Time kills us; and they have absolutely no comprehension about the (truth of life), of course they are merely speculating. (45: 24)
We have put death as the common destiny in your midst; and We are not going to be stopped from changing your forms and remodel you in (shapes) that (at present) you cannot comprehend. (56: 60–61)
Sufficient is the One in whose hands is the State of (Universe), and He has authority over everything. (He is) the One who created Death and Life so that He may examine who among you is excellent in performance. (67: 1–2)