A Message to the Enlightened Thinkers
Dr. Ali Shariati
After a philosophical discussion, the Qur'an reminds mankind of historical realities. It states that the world is not limited to the Arabian Peninsula nor only to the Eastern and Western empires. It advises man to study history in order to see beyond the geographical limitations of the seventh century. "Have they not travelled in the land and seen the nature of the consequences for those who were before them?" (30 : 9).
What a surprise! The Qur'an asks the half-enlightened souls and pseudo-intellectuals why they do not travel on the earth. Are they not familiar with the end of those who lived before them? Do they not realize the destiny of history and the fate of creatures? What actually happened to those superpowers? The so-called intellectuals should remember what became of the previous superpowers, and compare it to the conditions and the end of contemporary ruling powers. Not limiting themselves to Mecca, Medina and Constantinople, they should evaluate the situation and reach a conclusion. "They were stronger than those in power." (30 : 9).
There were powers which had been much stronger than the Persian and Byzantine empires but nevertheless, they had perished. An examination of history and archeology (in terms of the era and status of their colonies) reveals that ancient powers were much stronger than the contemporary superpowers. "They were stronger than these in power and they dug the earth and built upon it more than these have built." (30 : 9). Even more than contemporary colonialists, the powers of the past searched most of the earth and whenever possible acquired colonies. Because of their might, they were able to exploit numerous areas. "Messengers of their own came unto them with bayyinat (clear proofs of Allah's Sovereignty)." (30 : 9).
As indicated in the verse, however, they were presented with "clear proofs." Such an insightful phrase! It shows the way to distinguish good from bad and right from wrong and to make people aware of their society and the era which they are living in. During the time when the majority of the people were living in darkness, lacked direction, were aimless and overcome by the rumors and propaganda of the oppressors, the "clear proofs" were revealed. While the oppressors were occupied with their selfish and false belief in their undivided authority, the prophet's message initiated enlightenment. Amidst an environment of darkness, confusion, shortsightedness, submissiveness by and oppression of the masses, and superpowers being overcome by their illusions, the messengers appeared with their clear guidance for mankind. "Surely Allah wronged them not, but they did wrong themselves." (30 : 9).
In spite of Allah's gift of guidance, the people were heedless. Of course, this was not the fault of Allah but of the people, since He did not leave them alone and helpless. By sending them His clear guidance through the messengers, He laid down the rules, and to the masses He sent hope, light and awareness. Allah addressed both the oppressor and the oppressed. He told the rulers that their power would perish. As for the masses, He informed them that their weakness would be temporary and that they would soon gain power Furthermore, if people remained oppressed, it was their own fault. He who is oppressed has himself helped the oppressor. "But they did wrong themselves. Then Evil was the consequence to those who dealt in evil, because they denied the revelations of Allah and made a mockery of them." (30 : 9-10).
The following Qur'anic verse is as genuine and permanent as the natural phenomena. It clearly states that if a group of impoverished and oppressed people became aware of their situation, recognize the correct path and decide to free themselves, Allah guarantees their success. ". . . In Allah's help to victory. He helps to victory whom He will. He is the Mighty and the Merciful." (30 : 5). Allah will help them. Whoever is associated with Allah will be victorious over any power. These are Allah's words and will definitely be actualized. The Qur'an goes on to say: "Allah produces creation...." (30 : 11)
Allah wants to raise the position of the poor and miserable hostages of the Third World (the dwellers of Mecca, for example, whether then or now) and get rid of their inferiority complexes. They will no longer feel helpless, weak, depressed and humiliated when comparing themselves to the superpowers, who are technologically and militarily more advanced. Allah will humiliate and destroy the super powers; Allah is the only power to be considered and relied upon. The contemporary superficial powers are to be rejected. "Allah produces creation. Then he reproduces it. Then unto Him ye will be returned 99 (30 : 11). Throughout the Qur'an, the destiny of mankind which gives hope and encouragement to the oppressed groups of all eras and systems is reiterated. "So set thy purpose (O Muhammad) for religion...." (30 : 30).
People should not be confused by the various leaders, parties and powers that exist. They should not idolize a leader for many Years investing their faith and aspirations in him and then, when that person disappears, find themselves devoid of all hopes and goals. Had they filled their hearts with love and relied on their faith (instead of having love for and faith in the individual), they would have been heroes themselves. No, they chose to be puppets and worshippers of powers whose god was dead long ago and who pledged allegiance to Satan. "So set thy purpose," rise and get rid of the false hopes and fruitless expectations that exist as a result of relying on the East or the West. "So set thy purpose for religion...." (30 : 30). Furthermore, move toward the religion which is the genuine source of faith. Which faith? Which belief? The one that saves mankind from all the false faiths and leads it to the truth. Return to such a faith. But which one is it? ". . . Religion as a man by nature upright the nature (framed) of Allah, in which He has created man." (30 : 30). Instead of being the hostage and puppet of the superpowers, man must return to his human nature. He must be himself, have self-respect and discover all the internal hidden powers. Allah exists in man, so rely on Him since He is the real source of hope and happiness. But which nature should mankind resume? ". . . In which He has created men." (30 : 30).
It is based on nature that Allah created all of mankind, that is, human nature and not the nature of those who rely on Eastern or Western empires and favor one ruler or class over the other. It is a nature that considers humanity to be Allah's representative and guardian of the earth. It is a nature that gives mankind sovereignty over the world and freedom from being a hostage.
So set thy purpose (O Muhammad) for religion as a man by nature upright the nature (framed) of Allah, in which He has created man. There is no altering (the laws of) Allah's Creation. That is the right religion ... (30 : 30).
All the phenomena in the world (i.e., whatever Allah created) abide by the rules of creation. Mankind must rely on those rules and regulations, which no law or person can change. Even the superpowers which claim to be capable of changing the direction of the entire world, as well as history, are totally impotent when their power is compared with that of Allah. "There is no altering (the laws of) Allah's creation. That is the right religion ..." (30 :30).
Man can always depend on this powerful and everlasting ideology. It will
never fail. " ... But most men know not" (30 :30). Suddenly the Qur'an speaks of
(Due to the shortage of time, only a brief explanation will be presented). The rain falling from the clouds is symbolic; it may refer to ordinary rain as well as the descent of consciousness, love and the true faith which enters the heart of a dead nation to revive it just as the spring rain gives life to the dead trees.
He brings forth the living from the dead and He brings forth the dead from the living and He revives the earth after her death. And even so ye be brought forth. Corruption does appear on land and sea because of (the evil) which men's hands have done. That He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return. (30 : 40-41).
Corruption appears all over. What causes it? Man's own hands And now, man witnesses and tastes the fruits of his actions (i.e. poverty and humility). Perhaps humanity will arise from its slumber and change its way of life. "Allah is He who created you and then sustained you, then causes you to die, then gives life to you again" (30 : 40). Mankind is then reminded of history: "Say (O Muhammad to the disbelievers): Travel in the land, and see the nature of the consequences for those who were before you. Most of them were idolaters." (30 : 42).
It is apparent why they had misfortunes. Their bodies are buried under the demolished palaces of power and treasures of wealth. Their power is gone with the wind. After commanding mankind carefully to study history, the Qur'an again reminds: "So set thy purpose resolutely for the right religion . . . Allah is He who sends the wilds. (30 : 43 and 48).
The same source that rules nature rules human societies. The ,same principles that affect the earth, agriculture, animals, and Plants similarly will affect the psyche and fate of societies, classes, groups intellectuals, devoted individuals and nations in general. Allah grants man to think about nature and draw conclusions. An examination of history is not sufficient; nature must also be examined: "Allah s He who sends the winds so that they raise clouds and spreads them along the sky as pleases Him...." (30 : 48).
Allah sends the winds, that is, the breezes of wisdom and awareness to a generation or a nation, "so that they raise clouds." (30 48). He raises the clouds full of sensation, affection, love, awareness, and determination, "and spreads them along the sky." These little "potentials" rise upward toward the sky, join together and establish a heavy mass which stretches from one horizon to the other. Then, it will start to rain. The drop of rain will fall from the hearts of these clouds. "And when He makes it to fall on whom He will of His bondsmen...." (30 : 48). Once the rain touches those whose hearts are ready to accept it, they will be revived and grow, "then they rejoice." (30 : 48). Those people are the ones who will receive the good tidings and become hopeful. The cold and gloomy days of their lives will be transformed into warm and refreshing days. "Look, therefore, at the prints of Allah's mercy (in creation)...." (30 : 50).
Man must observe the signs of Allah's mercy. Even if he is tortured today, he must remain hopeful of the future, "Look therefore at the prints of Allah's mercy (in creation): How He quickens the earth after her death. Lo! He verily is the Quickener of the dead, and He is able to do all things." (30 : 50). Allah can do anything He wishes. Surely He can revive a dead nation, that is, shower it with the rains of awareness, love and faith. But, on the other hand, the Qur'an does not want to present the situation in an idealistic fashion. It does not want to portray a utopia or use baseless slogans to make people happy. Considering the facts, analyzing problems and being realistic are extremely important and not to be ignored. The Qur'an says: "For verily thou (Muhammad) can not make the dead to hear...." (30 : 52).
The Prophet and the liberators who wished to motivate the poor and oppressed people who were humiliated by the two superpowers succeeded in certain areas. They encouraged the people, helped them gain their honor, freed them from Eastern or Western slavery and enlightened them about their duty to determine their own fate and future and finally become the rulers of the world. But the Prophet could not force the dead to hear him. The dead are the ones who are like cadavers or statues, devoid of the senses and energies of life. They cannot realize anything. Even if they are presented with countless pieces of evidence, they will not believe and will follow their own whims. Their own jealousy, self-centeredness and narrow-mindedness causes their death. Those who listen to no one cannot be forced to hear. Therefore, it is impossible for them to hear any message. How fascinating! Is the Qur'an talking about the people of the seventh century or addressing humanity today? Pay attention to the Qur'anic wisdom. One cannot make the dead listen. One cannot make the deaf or those who do not want to hear listen. Even if they do, they cannot understand.
Regardless of the fact that they read, listen, think and remain objective,
such people cannot hear the message since they lack their senses and
consciousness. The message will not be absorbed unless the person is ready to
listen and wants to hear what is being said, "For verily then (Muhammad) can not
make the dead to hear." (30 : 52). Such a clear message and true fact! Who would
guess these words are fourteen hundred years old? Was this said to the few
Meccan desert tribes or is it for the civilized people of the twentieth century?
Can any conscious individual today say anything more factual and effective than
what is being said?
The blind will not see in any case. Only those who can see, feel lost, and search hard to escape the darkness can receive guidance. Those who are blind and do not even want to listen cannot be led or saved from being lost. Only those who believe in and respect the sign of Allah (i.e., Muslims who yield to the will of Allah because they possess instincts which enable them to realize that fact and logic direct them to the truth) can be saved.
Allah is He who shaped you out of weakness, then appointed after weakness strength.... But those to whom knowledge and faith are given will say: The truth is, ye have tarried, by Allah's decree, until the Day of Resurrection. This is the Day of Resurrection, but ye used not to know. (30 :54 and 56).
Man should not feel desperate. Allah created him out of weakness. Those who are endowed with knowledge, love and faith would suggest paying closer attention to the last ayat of Surah al-Rum, in order to understand the conclusion. "Verily we have coined for mankind in the Qur'an all kinds of similitude's and yet if thou came unto them with a miracle, those who disbelieve would verily exclaim: Ye are but tricksters!" (30 : 58).
Throughout the Qur'an, Allah sent humanity all the true signs, examples and proofs for any situation or process. Man's way was enlightened while his responsibilities were designated. The principle of existence was created around faith and hope. So many examples, including the study of natural phenomena, the study of history, the destruction of the powers which thought they were eternal and the victory of the poor, weak, oppressed and homeless groups of people who thought they would always be oppressed and lacked hope for freedom were presented to mankind.
The genuinely conscious individuals who exhibited understanding were not impressed by the glory of the superpowers, nor were they cheated by false and baseless slogans regressive slogans which talked about humanity and human rights but in reality destroyed mankind by making people believe they were so weak and powerless that their affairs had to be determined by others who were more capable. Those fortunate ones who possessed awareness were able to return to the true faith (i.e., from falsehood to the truth, to the real source of all powers, to the sovereignty of the world, to the philosophy of creation, to the destiny of time, to society, to matter, to nature, to the natural laws and to the blooming flowers in spring and the falling leaves in autumn). They did not consider the happenings of only one or two centuries as the basis for their analysis and beliefs. Instead, they were more clear headed and analytical. They examined history, not limiting themselves to their immediate environment (considering it the whole world), but investigating all times and places. They understood the fate of the previous powers, who were even more oppressive and colonialist than the contemporary superpowers. They saw that the latter had perished, leaving behind ruins so that humanity would learn a lesson. They also saw how a small and impoverished group of people were victorious over strong powers. This was how they discovered themselves and found the Almighty's power, the power of God. They found faith and hope in themselves and realized that the East is a wild wolf while the West is a rabid dog. They realized that because the East and the West were overwhelmed by the desire for additional colonies, aggression, selfishness, fascist behavior and exploitation, they inevitably gave birth to corruption, nihilism, aimlessness, worthlessness. Eventually, those "great" super-powers were overthrown by a group of poor and oppressed people who came from a deserted area of the earth and had not dared to say a word when tortured by Abu Jahl and Umayyat Ibn Khalaf.
The present generation of Muslims can rule the world if they know Allah,
understand the world and discover the great values that Allah has bestowed upon
them. With a strong spirit, they can overcome the powers and become the world's
leaders during this generation. But how is that possible in light of the
existing hardship, poverty, deprivation, desperation, inability, pessimism,
misunderstanding and improper education? The Qur'an tells mankind: 'So have
patience O Muhammad)! Allah's promise is the very truth, and let not those who
have no certainty make thee impatient." (30 : 60). The believers must be patient
and show resistance. The promise of Allah is true. The believers should not
allow non-believers to change their minds or alter their positions.