Guidance – The Righteous Path
This installment has queries about two contrasting subjects, guidance and ignorance. The Quran clearly elucidates the fundamentals of guidance and as a testimony to the details the Book presents the fate of previous nations, both successful ones and those who have been perished for their crime of rejecting the truth.
Guidance is the most basic requirement of human beings. It is the right path over which the journey of life begins and ends with a positive note. The way guidance is needed to sail through ocean and walk along the path, the ups and downs of life too demands certainty of direction and authenticity of guiding principles.
Similar to the fulfillment of basic needs, attainment of guidance has to be borne with a sensible approach. The Quran acts as a navigator that unveils the secrets of guidance and put God as its focal point. It delves in detail and specifies that guidance has to be from God and help attain the Paradise and His pleasure. Again, the Book demarcates the dangers of following wishes and desires. Look at the questions how evidently they divulge essentials of ‘guidance’:
قُلۡ هَلۡ مِن شُرَكَآٮِٕكُم مَّن يَہۡدِىٓ إِلَى ٱلۡحَقِّۚ
Ask them: Are there among ones whom you associate with Allah in His divinity those who can guide to the truth? (Ch 10 – Yunus: 35)
أَفَمَن يَہۡدِىٓ إِلَى ٱلۡحَقِّ أَحَقُّ أَن يُتَّبَعَ أَمَّن لَّا يَہِدِّىٓ إِلَّآ أَن يُہۡدَىٰۖ فَمَا لَكُمۡ كَيۡفَ تَحۡكُمُونَ
He Who gives guidance to truth more worthy to be followed or he who finds not guidance (himself) unless he is guided? What then is the matter with you? (Ch 10 -Yunus : 35)
قُلۡ مَن رَّبُّ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ
Say: “Who is the Lord and Sustainer of the heavens and the earth? … (Ch 13 – Ar-Rad: 16)
قُلۡ أَفَٱتَّخَذۡتُم مِّن دُونِهِۦۤ أَوۡلِيَآءَ لَا يَمۡلِكُونَ لِأَنفُسِهِمۡ نَفۡعً۬ا وَلَا ضَرًّ۬اۚ
Say: “Do you then take (for worship) protectors other than Him, such as have no power either for good or for harm to themselves?… (Ch 13 – Ar-Rad: 16)
قُلۡ هَلۡ يَسۡتَوِى ٱلۡأَعۡمَىٰ وَٱلۡبَصِيرُ أَمۡ هَلۡ تَسۡتَوِى ٱلظُّلُمَـٰتُ وَٱلنُّورُۗ
Say: “Are the blind equal with those who see? Or the depths of darkness equal with light?…(Ch 13 – Ar-Rad: 16)
أَمۡ جَعَلُواْ لِلَّهِ شُرَكَآءَ خَلَقُواْ كَخَلۡقِهِۦ فَتَشَـٰبَهَ ٱلۡخَلۡقُ عَلَيۡہِمۡۚ
Or do they assign to Allah partners who have created (anything) as He has created, so that the creation seemed to them similar?…(Ch 13 – Ar-Rad: 16)
أَلَمۡ تَرَ إِلَى ٱلَّذِينَ بَدَّلُواْ نِعۡمَتَ ٱللَّهِ كُفۡرً۬ا وَأَحَلُّواْ قَوۡمَهُمۡ دَارَ ٱلۡبَوَارِ
Did you not see those who have exchanged Allah’s favor with ingratitude to Him, causing their people to be cast in the abode of utter perdition? (Ch 14 – Ibrahim: 28)
أَفَرَءَيۡتَ ٱلَّذِى ڪَفَرَ بِـَٔايَـٰتِنَا وَقَالَ لَأُوتَيَنَّ مَالاً۬ وَوَلَدًا
Have you seen him who rejects Our sings and said: ‘Surely I shall continue to be favored with riches and children? (Ch 19 – Maryam: 77)
قُل لِّمَنِ ٱلۡأَرۡضُ وَمَن فِيهَآ إِن ڪُنتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُونَ
Say: “To whom belong the earth and all beings therein? (say) if you know? (Ch 23 – Al-Muminoon: 84)
قُلۡ مَن رَّبُّ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ ٱلسَّبۡعِ وَرَبُّ ٱلۡعَرۡشِ ٱلۡعَظِيمِ
Say: “Who is (the) Lord of the seven heavens, and (the) Lord of the Great Throne?(Ch 23 – Al-Muminoon: 86)
قُلۡ مَنۢ بِيَدِهِۦ مَلَكُوتُ ڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ وَهُوَ يُجِيرُ وَلَا يُجَارُ عَلَيۡهِ إِن كُنتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُونَ
Ask them: ‘Say, if you indeed know, then to whom belongs the dominion over all things; He Who grants asylum, but against Whom no asylum is available? (Ch 23 – Al-Muminoon: 88)
أَرَءَيۡتَ مَنِ ٱتَّخَذَ إِلَـٰهَهُ ۥ هَوَٮٰهُ أَفَأَنتَ تَكُونُ عَلَيۡهِ وَڪِيلاً
Have you ever considered the case of the person who has made his lust his god? Can you take the responsibility of guiding such a one aright? (Ch 25 – Al-Furqan: 43)
فَمَن يَہۡدِى مَنۡ أَضَلَّ ٱللَّهُۖ
Who will guide those whom Allah leaves astray? (Ch 30 – Ar-Rum: 29)
قُلۡ أَرَءَيۡتُمۡ شُرَكَآءَكُمُ ٱلَّذِينَ تَدۡعُونَ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ أَرُونِى مَاذَا خَلَقُواْ مِنَ ٱلۡأَرۡضِ أَمۡ لَهُمۡ شِرۡكٌ۬ فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ أَمۡ ءَاتَيۡنَـٰهُمۡ كِتَـٰبً۬ا فَهُمۡ عَلَىٰ بَيِّنَتٍ۬ مِّنۡهُۚ
Say: “Have you seen (these) ‘Partners’ of yours whom you call upon besides Allah? Show Me what it is they have created in the (wide) earth. Or have they a share in the heavens? Or have We given them a Book from which they (can derive) clear (evidence)? (Ch 35 – Fatir: 40)
أَتَعۡبُدُونَ مَا تَنۡحِتُونَ
Do you worship that you have (yourselves) carved? (Ch 37 – As-Saffat: 95)
قُلۡ أَرَءَيۡتُم مَّا تَدۡعُونَ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ أَرُونِى مَاذَا خَلَقُواْ مِنَ ٱلۡأَرۡضِ أَمۡ لَهُمۡ شِرۡكٌ۬ فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِۖ ٱئۡتُونِى بِكِتَـٰبٍ۬ مِّن قَبۡلِ هَـٰذَآ أَوۡ أَثَـٰرَةٍ۬ مِّنۡ عِلۡمٍ إِن ڪُنتُمۡ صَـٰدِقِينَ
Say: “Do you see what it is you invoke besides Allah? Show me what it is they have created on earth, or have they a share in the heavens bring me a book (revealed) before this, or any remnant of knowledge (you may have), if you are telling the truth? (Ch 46 – Al-Ahqaf: 04)
وَلَقَدۡ يَسَّرۡنَا ٱلۡقُرۡءَانَ لِلذِّكۡرِ فَهَلۡ مِن مُّدَّكِرٍ۬
We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition? (Ch 54 – Al-Qamar: 17)
These essentials of ‘guidance’ reveal that the Divine Authority, through His words, imparts the informations and admonishes in order to help the humans understand their worth. Therefore leading an exemplary life and solving problems on the basis of Divine Guidance is anticipated, rather the sole intention of human existence on earth is the same.
Thus, you may conclude ‘guidance’ is a fountain head of solace. The one who adheres to it leads a life of peace, happiness and prosperity. This is how the Quran encapsulates the significance of guidance:
فَإِمَّا يَأۡتِيَنَّكُم مِّنِّى هُدً۬ى فَمَن تَبِعَ هُدَاىَ فَلَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَيۡہِمۡ وَلَا هُمۡ يَحۡزَنُونَ
…and whenever there comes to you Guidance from Me, and whoever follows My Guidance, there shall be no fear on them, nor shall they grieve (Ch 2 – Al-Baqarah: 38)
Ignorance – The Perished Nations
Now, let us look at the contrasting side of ‘guidance’. Ignorance is darkness, it’s a sum total of individual and collective attitudes void of righteousness. Many generations have passed; the history reveals their multi-facet accounts of ups and downs. The human history is but a fact-sheet of success and failures of the nations.
There is a general belief that for every period and every nation there was a Messenger / Prophet sent down by God. What history reveals of the past is that some of the nations believed and some rejected. The Quran proficiently illustrates the actual reasons behind their rejection of truth, their failures and why they got destroyed.
Mark the words, presenting the historical reality of previous nations in the form of questions reveal two important aspects. One, the human conscience support to the reasonable words that are being used and the second, the world acts like a museum, anyone can travel to its length and breadth to certify the reality and see the images of what is being said:
أَلَمۡ يَرَوۡاْ كَمۡ أَهۡلَكۡنَا مِن قَبۡلِهِم مِّن قَرۡنٍ۬ مَّكَّنَّـٰهُمۡ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ مَا لَمۡ نُمَكِّن لَّكُمۡ وَأَرۡسَلۡنَا ٱلسَّمَآءَ عَلَيۡہِم مِّدۡرَارً۬ا وَجَعَلۡنَا ٱلۡأَنۡهَـٰرَ تَجۡرِى مِن تَحۡتِہِمۡ فَأَهۡلَكۡنَـٰهُم بِذُنُوبِہِمۡ وَأَنشَأۡنَا مِنۢ بَعۡدِهِمۡ قَرۡنًا ءَاخَرِينَ
Have they not seen how many a people We have destroyed before them? People whom We had made more powerful in the earth than you are? And upon them We showered from the heavens abundant rains, and at whose feet We caused the rivers to flow? And yet We have destroyed them and We created after them other generations. (Ch 06 – Al-Anam: 06)
سِيرُواْ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ ثُمَّ ٱنظُرُواْ ڪَيۡفَ كَانَ عَـٰقِبَةُ ٱلۡمُكَذِّبِينَ
Travel through the earth and see what was the end of those who rejected Truth? (Ch 06 – Al-Anam: 11)
أَفَلَمۡ يَسِيرُواْ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ فَيَنظُرُواْ كَيۡفَ كَانَ عَـٰقِبَةُ ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِهِمۡۗ
Do they not travel through the earth, and see what the end of those before them was? …(Ch12 – Yusuf :109)
فَسِيرُواْ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ فَٱنظُرُواْ كَيۡفَ كَانَ عَـٰقِبَةُ ٱلۡمُكَذِّبِينَ
So travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who denied (the Truth)…(Ch16 – An-Nahl:36)
وَكَمۡ أَهۡلَكۡنَا قَبۡلَهُم مِّن قَرۡنٍ هُمۡ أَحۡسَنُ أَثَـٰثً۬ا وَرِءۡيً۬ا
But how many (countless) generations before them have we destroyed, who were even better in equipment and in glitter to the eye? (Ch19 – Maryam :74)
وَكَمۡ أَهۡلَكۡنَا قَبۡلَهُم مِّن قَرۡنٍ هَلۡ تُحِسُّ مِنۡہُم مِّنۡ أَحَدٍ أَوۡ تَسۡمَعُ لَهُمۡ رِكۡزَۢا
How numerous are the peoples that We destroyed before them! Do you perceive any one of them, or hear even a whisper of them? (Ch19 – Maryam: 98)
أَوَلَمۡ يَسِيرُواْ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ فَيَنظُرُواْ كَيۡفَ كَانَ عَـٰقِبَةُ ٱلَّذِينَ كَانُواْ مِن قَبۡلِهِمۡۚ كَانُواْ هُمۡ أَشَدَّ مِنۡہُمۡ قُوَّةً۬ وَءَاثَارً۬ا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ فَأَخَذَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ بِذُنُوبِہِمۡ وَمَا كَانَ لَهُم مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ مِن وَاقٍ۬
Do they not travel through the earth and see what was the End of those before them? They were even superior to them in strength, and in the traces (they have left) in the land: but Allah did call them to account for their sins, and none had they to defend them against Allah. (Ch 40 – Al-Mumin: 21)
أَمۡ خُلِقُواْ مِنۡ غَيۡرِ شَىۡءٍ أَمۡ هُمُ ٱلۡخَـٰلِقُونَ 0 أَمۡ خَلَقُواْ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَۚ
Have they been created without a Creator? Or, are they their own creators? Or, have they created the heavens and the earth? (Ch 52 – At-Tur: 35-36)
أَمۡ عِندَهُمۡ خَزَآٮِٕنُ رَبِّكَ أَمۡ هُمُ ٱلۡمُصَۣيۡطِرُونَ
Do they possess the treasures of your Lord? Or, is it they who control them? (Ch 52 – At-Tur: 37)
أَمۡ لَهُمۡ سُلَّمٌ۬ يَسۡتَمِعُونَ فِيهِۖ فَلۡيَأۡتِ مُسۡتَمِعُهُم بِسُلۡطَـٰنٍ۬ مُّبِينٍ
Do they have a ladder by climbing which they overhear what goes on in heavens? Then let their listener produce some manifest proof? (Ch 52 – At-Tur: 38)
أَمۡ عِندَهُمُ ٱلۡغَيۡبُ فَهُمۡ يَكۡتُبُونَ
Do they have the knowledge of the unseen realities whereby they may be writing down? (Ch 52 – At-Tur: 41)
أَمۡ لِلۡإِنسَـٰنِ مَا تَمَنَّىٰ
Shall man have (just) anything he hankers after? (Ch 53 – An-Najm: 24)
وَمَا يُغۡنِى عَنۡهُ مَالُهُ ۥۤ إِذَا تَرَدَّىٰٓ
Will his wealth profit him when he falls headlong (into the Pit)? (Ch 92 – Al-Lail: 11)
Perished Nations – Lessons to Learn:
This way, the Quranic questions specify the following reasons / lessons one can understand from the ignorant attitude of perished-nations:
- Basically they rejected faith in the Creator.
- They were materially progressed but spiritually not.
- They thought material advancement would ensure their bright future.
- They were absolutely blank with regard to the certainty of their knowledge and claims.
- The culture of the past nations can be immortal only when it is conform to the Divine guidance.
- The perished nations have less significance to the advancement of succeeding generations.
- There possessions and claims are a mere deception, doesn’t help in shaping the future of humanity.
- They heavily banked upon their material advancement, but in no way it helped them emerge conqueror.
One of the main reasons described for the destruction of the nations is that it could serve as a warning to the succeeding generations:
فَجَعَلۡنَـٰهَا نَكَـٰلاً۬ لِّمَا بَيۡنَ يَدَيۡہَا وَمَا خَلۡفَهَا وَمَوۡعِظَةً۬ لِّلۡمُتَّقِينَ
So We made this punishment an example to their own time and to the succeeding generations, and a lesson to those who fear Allah. (Ch 2 – Al-Baqarah: 66)
© Muhammad Abdullah Javed – June 2016
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