Be Like Adam's Son: You Are Mere Humans

From Jawdat Said

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Nations and cultural systems are grossly deluded and barred from seeing the truth about themselves. And so they need so many examples about themselves and about others to see how they fare in comparison with other nations and cultures. One telling example must be Satan: he was the first to boast that he was created from fire, while Adam was created from a baser material, mud. So, it would be useful for people to reflect that pride about one's race or ethnic group or culture is walking in the steps of Satan. Therefore, those who raised themselves and claimed to be "sons of God, and His beloved ," were told, as the same verse continues, "Why then does He punish you for your sins? Nay, you are but men – of the men He has created." (5:18) So, Muslims who claim to be privileged with God, would do well to reflect how painful a scourge God has inflicted on them over the recent history: this must awaken them to the fact that they are mere men, and that the laws that apply to others apply to them. Do not Muslims still claim that no followers of any religion will be admitted into Paradise but they, the Muslims? Do not they still claim that all the ideas and deeds of other nation are of no value at all?

Do not we mock those who issued indulgences, guarantees that warrant Paradise to certain individuals? So why assume that we may claim to be favorites with God? We have a big claim that God is on our side, although He shows us again and again that his laws apply to all humans alike, "No change will you find in Allah's way of dealing: no turning off will you find in Allah's way of dealing." (35:43) No matter how long we cling to our deluded notions, history will not give up and change its laws: it is rather we who will change our attitudes, with or without more suffering.

People can open their eyes and ears and so understand. But if they refuse, then the increasingly higher price of ignorance will force them to understand. So, it is either we study past history to understand, or wait until more catastrophes and suffering make us understand. And if our generation is already too blinded to see light, there will be in the next generation or the one next to it enough light. To save people from that great toll of ignorance, the Qur'an is full of exhortation to explore history and move around to see and hear. (e.g. 25:38-45)

It may be useful to notice that an important ruling like that of inheritance is not mentioned more than two or three times in the Qur'an; but how often in contrast it admonishes us to walk around and see the outcome of past people's conduct, and in one location it comments: "To each one We set forth parables and examples, and each one We broke to utter annihilation for their sins." (25:39) See how often the history of Pharaoh and Moses is mentioned in the Qur'an, in great detail, in some detail, or in brief.

It is worth our while to probe what happened to our minds that we can be impervious to the historical narration of the Qur'an despite its significance. We vitally need to bring life back to events. Why should we go on paying higher and higher toll for our ignorance?

The law in the Qur'an concerning what happens to peoples and their responsibility is, "Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change what is in their souls," (13:11) which shows that what is inside the minds determines what events come over peoples. And what is in the minds is men's responsibility.

It was Ibn Khaldoun who taught us that history, "on the surface is no more than events that happen to nations; but looking deeply, we find behind the visible events causes and effects; we find guidelines that tell us why something happens." People used to attribute what happened to them to their gods, but the gods are no more than what goes on inside the minds. Therefore, when the unbelievers reacted to the Prophet's call by saying, as the Qur'an reports, "When they see you, they treat you no otherwise than in mockery: 'Is this the one whom Allah has sent as a Messenger? He indeed would well-nigh have misled us from our gods, had it not been that we were constant to them!'" (25:41-42) you could say that they were talking not about their gods but about their mental habits and attitudes.

And we can say about ourselves that when we raise God most highly, we also raise our ideas very highly, and hold to them most tenaciously. What you hold about your god, and about history, will guide you, rightly or wrongly. It is not enough to say, 'I believe in the One True God,' if what is inside your mind about life and the world is not so unlike what the idol-worshipper holds. If the others, those who explicitly declare that they strive for success in this world act in accordance with God's laws "the sunan in Qur'an's terms", while we do not, then they will attain their quests while we do not, no matter how we boast that we believe in God and His revealed message.

And indeed, the behavior that ensures your salvation (as community) in the Hereafter is itself what ensures your salvation in this world.