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Lessons From Quran

Prophethood


If man is held responsible for his actions and his deeds will be accounted for before Allah, then he should be reminded by someone of his responsibilities, duties and obligations. And in this regard there can be no one but the Holy Prophets of Allah. The Divine outlook on the Universe and what we know of man and the world lead us to believe in the necessity of the Prophets for if there is any purpose of the creation of the Universe and if it is running on set principles, then there must be a set course of action also for man who is a part of this world and that course should be free from all defects and errors and it is that of the Prophets. If man's path is not like that he will be an irregular patch on face of the earth. If there is any real purpose of man's coming into existence it becomes necessary that he should determine his destination and achieve an everlasting prosperity. But without the proper guidance of the true path this cannot be achieved and it is the Prophets only who can guide us to that path. Since man is apt to err and forget, he needs somebody who can warn him and guide him at every stage. Therefore, the Prophets give warnings to the society about the dangers that lie ahead of it. 

If man is supposed to build his character he must have before him a perfect example whom he should follow. In this regard there can be none except the Holy Prophets of Allah to guide him.

If a man is supposed to think of his future, then he must have someone who should explain to him of his future. In this respect also nobody but the Holy Prophets can set an example for the people.

On the contrary in the materialistic outlook on the Universe there is no such concept of Prophethood because in this form of approach there is no such programme as prearranged course of action or purpose of man's creation. According to it man has come into existence without any definite purpose or programme of action and as such he will ultimately have to perish like other matter.

It is due to the Divine outlook on the Universe that the institution of Prophethood is deeply rooted in the lives of the Muslims. That is to say the Divine outlook of the Universe is the only means through which we can reach the human and Islamic goal without any doubt and sense of uncertainty and that is the path which is the source of Allah's revelation and Infinite Knowledge, and Allah is Well-Aware of the causes of our prosperity and misfortunes. The path which attracts mankind to itself and which is free from selfish motives and self-aggrandizement is the path of the Prophets.

We are living in this modern age of advancement of science and technology and we witness various types of crimes, corruptions and transgressions of various nations because they have abandoned the path which the Holy Prophets had directed them to follow. They have by their inventions and discoveries set up a sort of blazing fire in which they thrust the people. In the meetings that they hold for protecting the mankind from poverty and tyrannies they exercise their right of veto. Despite the fact that there are millions of starving people in the world they spend their money in the armament race. Although there are available means of comfort and luxuries there seems to be no real comfort and peace of mind, and in order to find a relief from the agonies the people are resorting to suicide, drinking, tranquillizers, and other narcotics. Looking at this sad and sordid state of affairs, can anybody fail to realize that this troubled world needs a straight path of salvation and an infallible guide and leader to lead the people to their ultimate destiny.

Sign of Inability to Recognize Allah 

Under the guidance of our intellect we have selected the Divine outlook on the Universe and have accepted that there is a purpose of the creation. It is moving on a fixed path. All the creations are within the reach of mankind under Allah's supervision because they have been created for their benefits. Under such a circumstance how can one believe that man who is the vicegerent of Allah on this earth and who is the most superior creature of Allah will be left in the lurch without any set principles of guidance and a straight path shown by a guide and a leader? Does this sort of wrong thinking conform to the Divine Wisdom? We can only find an answer to this from the Holy Qur'an which says:  
  

But they failed to make the just estimation of Allah when they said: 'He did not reveal to any man any thing'. (Surah al-An am, 6:91) 

Really how is it possible that Allah who has created all his creations for man can leave him alone without any proper guidance? If that be so it will be contrary to the Wisdom of Allah and if anybody thinks so he has not recognized Allah. 

The importance of the Prophets and their teachings becomes clear to us when we compare the Divine ideology with the human ideology, we become aware of the defects of human ideology and introduce those ideal people, who have been guided by the teachings of the Holy Prophets, to others.

The Role of Knowledge and Intellect 

Islam lays a great emphasis on knowledge and intellect so much so that it considers intellect as an inner Prophet and as such has determined rewards and punishments on the basis of intellect. The Holy Qur'an often exhorts us to use our wisdom. In many of the verses, the Holy Qur'an has addressed those who possess wisdom and power of reasoning. Islam has given best instances for defining wisdom. It says that it is through wisdom that worship of Allah is best accomplished. In the traditions of our infallible Imams knowledge and intellect have been given more importance than anything else. Thus whenever somebody says about a man's profuse worship the Holy Imams only ask as to how that man thinks? 

In all the reliable books of traditions (ahadith) the first chapter is about intellect and knowledge and their importance.No other school of thought except Islam has considered it worth while or compulsory for people to acquire knowledge and wisdom. 

The extent to which Islam has given importance to know-ledge and intellect during the days of the Age of Ignorance has no parallel until the present age. Even if we find a man who spends his life in the acquisition of knowledge from the cradle to the grave, expands knowledge of all kinds from animals to heavens, to friends and adversaries and conquers the space and the heavenly bodies we shall be in need of the knowledge and wisdom of the Holy Prophets.

Necessity of Prophets' Guidance 

(i) Limitation of Knowledge: 

Man has a limited knowledge. The number of schools and sciences and arts is increasing day by day. Man is continuously making inventions and discoveries. To leave man on his knowledge and intellect is to leave him alone unguided because men's intellect, knowledge and thinking differ. Many serious and dangerous differences start from the learned and wise people. How then can they resolve the differences and disputes among the people? One man considers one thing proper while the other one considers it improper according to his knowledge and mode of thinking. The fact is that man's knowledge is limited. He has no sufficient knowledge of the past nor of the future; nor is he aware of the immediate or gradual reaction to what he aims at. How wise it is to say that as compared to man's ignorance his knowledge is so infinitesimal as a drop in the ocean or for reaching the celestial heights his knowledge is only like a small stair-case. The everyday changes and amendments made in the laws by various nations and their ficklemindedness are the positive proof of man's imperfect and limited knowledge. 

(ii) Hurdles in the Way of Recognition: 

On the subject of recognition there is a discussion about the hurdles that come in its way. Though man possesses intelligence and power of reasoning, he is so entangled in the whirlpool of his innate weaknesses that he loses the tendency of knowing the truth. The Holy Qur'an and the traditions have paid great attention to these hurdles. Anger, sexual inclinations, personal considerations, partialities and other such things are a stumbling-block in the way of one's knowing the truth.

Example: For travelling by train, bus or plane tickets are issued for the purpose of maintaining discipline and this can only be achieved if the ticket issuing person exercises impartiality, but if somebody pays more and obtains the ticket, or the ticket issuing person is influenced by personal consideration of friendship or regional or social affiliations, the issuing of tickets will not be done in a just manner. Thus how can we entrust the job of making legislation for the society to those whose affiliations and inclinations influence their decision?

In short, man does not have the right to legislate and enact laws for the people, because he is a slave of his wishes and is not capable of recognizing the truth. The Holy Qur'an says: 

The final judgement is in the Hands of Allah. He reveals the Truth and He is the best judge. (Surah al-An'am, 6:57) 

When we talk of the Islamic legislative assembly making the legislations and enacting laws we do not mean actually enacting of laws but we mean that we bring the legislations and the laws in conformity with the Divine commandments.

(iii) Knowledge Becomes Perfect After Centuries: 

It is with the passage of time, that is as when time passes and the knowledge increases man understands some realities. But whom shall we hold responsible for the delay of centuries of years in knowing these realities? 

For instance, it is more than half a century now that it was established that eating of pork causes the growth of pin worms in the intestines and man has come to know of this truth after a passage of several hundreds of years, but only those who became aware of the fact by Divine revelations that eating of pork is forbidden have been safe from its injurious effects for centuries. In Islam there are dozens of other commands whose justification has been discovered after the passage of time and with the advancement of knowledge, but the followers of the ways of the Holy Prophets adopted from the very beginning the right path. But those who depended upon their researches and experiments discovered those hidden facts after centuries. 

(iv) Divine Revelations and the Prophets: 

Man is only able to solve his materialistic problems by virtue of his knowledge, wisdom and power of reasoning but he cannot discover the right path of eternal prosperity and spiritual enlightenment without adopting the path shown by the Holy Prophets. 

(v) Conscience is Not the Only Criterion: 

In answer to those people who think that man's conscience is the only guide which directs him to the right course of action and hence, it is not necessary to follow any Prophets, we should like to say that our conscience is subservient to our will and it is influenced by environment, social customs and rites, it does not lead us to the right path. In this context the example of smoking can be cited. In the beginning smoking leaves a bad taste in the mouth of smoker but gradually he becomes used to it and starts liking it, but a right thinking man will from the very beginning reject it altogether. We also know of people who could not bear the sight of slaughtering the cattle as their conscience did not approve of this act but after the repeated slaughtering of the cattle, their conscience do experience a change. Under these circumstances man's conscience cannot be relied upon as every man's conscience is guided by individual experience and knowledge of things. For instance if we have not seen a person committing any sin or a serious crime and we find that he is shot before a firing squad, a queer feeling is roused in our mind but a man who was in the know of this man's unpardonable deed will not be moved by emotional feelings. But despite all this we do not altogether reject the natural and moral impact of a man's conscious. Imam says: "Prophets came to enliven man's disposition and tendencies". 

However, our discussion centres upon whether can we depend only on the dictates of our conscience? The answer to this is certainly in negative. 

(vi) Feeling of Uncertainty: 

Another thing, which makes man feel the necessity of the Prophets and lose confidence in manmade laws and regulations is the natural doubt which a man entertains in his mind. As for example man feels that he has made laws only after depending on his own knowledge and intellect and thus doubts arise on the following points: 

(i) How could they then be able to fully comprehend all aspects of human nature and how could they conceive the total requirements of human beings?

(ii) How could they inculcate in themselves the spirit of human welfare? 

(iii) How could they be immune from errors and forgetfulness while enacting laws and code of human conduct? 

(iv) How could they ignore the interest of individual or group of individuals and how could they not have deviated from personal considerations of family or economical affiliations? 

(v) How could the individuals or the society have not reacted against the laws made by them? 

These are a few examples of uncertainty and doubts. These doubts have now turned into beliefs about the fallibility of those who profess to be the champions of the cause of human rights and welfare of the society. Thus as a result of the sad experience of imperfect laws hardly anyone would appear to be satisfied and if at all in some areas these laws made by political upstarts and demagogues are being followed, it is simply for materialistic way of life or it is just because of the fear of punishment or harsh treatment by the government in power. Such people unlike the followers of the Prophets do not feel an internal love, a spirit of virtue and purity in themselves.

In fact, why should a man, who is born as a free subject, behave like a vassal? True, such considerations weaken the spirit of obeying man-made laws. This lack of confidence and disinterestedness becomes apparent when man does not find any encouragement about following these laws, because when he finds that in the event of violation he is severely punished by the court of law or other law-enforcing agencies, but he is never rewarded for following these man-made laws in his whole life. Such a thing is in contrast with the Divine laws which have laid down severe punishments for the sinners and incorrigible defaulters on the one hand and has assured of a good reward in the Hereafter for the pious and the devout Muslims. In the Divine religion the human efforts have been so much appreciated that even if a man walks a step for a noble cause he will be rewarded for that. This characteristic only belongs to the code of conduct prescribed by the Holy Prophets.

An Example: Just imagine a host who has invited to dinner some guests but they do not know the way to the host's house and the path that they have followed has lanes and streets, and besides there are people to misguide them and also there are wild animals and the dark and horrible night! Under such a situation there will be two following alternatives left for the host:

(i) Either he should abandon the idea of giving the feast or if the meals have been prepared already, he should throw them away.

(ii) Or he should send a trusted guide with a lantern and arms to bring the guests to his home otherwise the very purpose of inviting them would be defeated. After giving this vivid example we revert to the subject matter of our discussion. If Allah, the Lord of the worlds, Who has created the Universe for the benefit of mankind and Who has invited us to worship Him and to attain eternal prosperity, had not sent a messenger like the Holy Prophet of Islam for the guidance of mankind with all his miracles glowing like a lantern, and in one hand with the Holy Qur'an serving as a complete guide to the right path and in another the strength and the sword, the Divine invitation to us would have become meaningless, because we did not know the right path because of doubts, diabolical inclinations, the following of the transgressors and despotic rulers, and because we were apt to fall into the ditch of polytheism, ignorance, corruptions and dissentions. 

The purpose of sending the Prophets to mankind was to prepare man for his journey towards his real evolution. And for every journey there is the necessity of a guide who can show him, the direction, the beginning, the path and the destination. Of all the necessities of human life the necessity of a guide is of paramount importance, as without him man would adopt wrong means and would go astray. Hence the very purpose of the teachings of the Prophets is to show that the Universe is created for the benefit of mankind and man is created to journey towards Allah. And this evolutionary process and journey cannot be accomplished without the teachings of the Holy Prophets, based on Divine revelations.

Difference Between Man's Knowledge And Prophets' Teachings 

We have already stated that human knowledge stands no comparison with the knowledge of the Holy Prophets. We should like to recapitulate all those things briefly as under: 

• Knowledge controls natural phenomena while the Prophets control man himself. • Knowledge provides with ways and means while the Prophets furnish with the purpose of life. • Knowledge sharpens our wits, while the Prophets guide us. • Knowledge brings about an outward change, while the Prophets bring about inner changes also. • Knowledge broadens the mental outlook, while the Prophets cultivate dignity and exaltation.

• Knowledge is a lantern, while religion is both the lantern and the path. 

The scholars have difference of opinion among themselves, but the path of the Prophets is the same. Sometimes knowledge is based on conjectures, that is man thinks that he has understood a certain thing but later he knows that he had not understood anything, but the Divine revelation has nothing to do with conjectures. We see that knowledge is expanding day by day, and yet we find that there is no decrease in corruptions and crimes. 

Today when you fall sick you surrender yourself to a physician, and when your car is out of order, you hand it over to a motor mechanic. Obviously the physician knows much more about your body ailments, and the mechanic knows more than you about the car, though he does not concern himself about it as much as you do. Therefore, it is imperative that we should submit ourselves to Allah and the teachings of His Prophets, because Allah knows more about us than we do, and is more Kind to us. The Holy Qur'an says: 

Do they seek judgement of the Days of Ignorance? But who could be a better judge than Allah for those who are firm in their belief? (Surah al-Ma'idah, 5:50)

Allah knows better about us because He created us, and the Creator knows all about His creations. The Holy Qur'an says: 

Doesn 't the One, who is Subtle, All-Aware and who created all things, know all about them? (Surah al-Mulk, 67:14) 

We quote here a fine narration from the Martyr Nawab Safawi. He said: "If you buy a thing from a factory it is necessary that the engineer who manufactured it should tell you how to use it, and nobody else has any right to give you instructions about it. Similarly, man's position is not short of the position of manufactured articles. Hence, it is necessary that only Allah enacts laws for him as He is his Creator and, it is He who is Well-Aware of his temporal and spiritual needs and requirements and also of his future course of action and destiny in this world and the Hereafter". 

Thus it is necessary that man should select for himself a path but the question arises as to how he should know that path? 

(i) Should he determine it according to his own inclinations?

(ii) Or should he adopt the path others have chosen?

(iii) Or should he follow the path which the Holy Prophets have brought from Allah?

If we ponder over this matter a little carefully we shall approve only the third course, because our experience tells us that many a time we adopted a course of action but ultimately we had to abandon it after discovering our mistakes. You cannot give an example of any man who had not repented hundreds of times of what he had done in his life.

Our intellect and sense of proportion are affected by our lack of knowledge, personal weakness and sentiments, environmental influences and natural disposition and therefore we should not depend upon our own judgement in selecting the first course of action as pointed out above.

The second course of action is also not sound as the same things apply on the judgement of others like that of ours. 

Thus the only course of action that remains for us to follow is the path of Allah which emanates from the Infinite Knowledge of Allah and which is shown to us through the Divine revelations by the infallible Holy Prophets of Allah and as such we cannot afford to remain indifferent to it.

The Necessity of Following the Guidance of the Prophets 

There are many arguments which lead us to follow the teachings of the Holy Prophets. We give below a few examples. 

(i) The Holy Prophets brought about in their times great revolutions, which are preserved in the annals of history and they moved on towards the stage of martyrdom. Their achievements were acknowledged by all including friends and foes. They possessed high qualities of personal behavior so much so that even their enemies could not accuse them of any fault. The Prophets in support of their teachings and view-points put forward clear proofs and evidences. showed miracles and created a large number of their followers. If we consider that the Prophets' sense of duty and their fear of Allah were the motivating factors for the propagation of the Divine Message, it will be sufficient reason for us to change our course and follow their course because according to the scholars we should avoid all possible risks of loss. It cannot be said that the possibility of loss is less, because in the opinion of even a stubborn person howsoever less the possibility of loss may be since it entails hard and eternal torment, it turns our intellect towards the search of the path of those great personalities and makes us change our own path. 

(ii) People have always been saying that we should try to learn morals from the insolent people by not doing things which they do. Here if we look to the enemies of the Prophets, we shall find that men like Abu Lahab, Abu Jahl and Abu Sufyan were the arch-enemies of the Holy Prophet, and nowadays big powers are bitterly opposed to the ways of the Holy Prophets. We can now trace the truth of the course of action of the Prophets from the opposition of these Satanic powers.

(iii) The third thing which prompts us to follow the teachings of the Prophets is that there is a tendency of appreciating and adopting a good and noble thing present in man. If man tries to look at the innumerable Blessings of Allah and realizes that he has really discovered the worldly and spiritual Blessings he will at once decide to follow the path which the Creator of all these Blessings has set for us especially when we keep this truth in view that in opposition to any law-making man Allah has never kept in view His personal interest or the interest of any particular community or group of people. He did not want anything except our welfare and prosperity. In the Holy Qur'an Allah directs us to be truthful in acknowledging the favour of His Blessings:

Quraysh should worship the Lord of this House (Ka'bah). It is He Who fed them when they were hungry and has made them secure from fear. (Surah Quraysh, 106:3—4) 

Prophets' Path—Mankind's Long-standing Desire 

By his very nature man likes that law which is based on justice. He admires that type of government which is not established by a particular class or group of people. He adores only that leader who is free from selfishness and sense of superiority and who leads a simple life. Equality, freedom, simplicity, truthfulness piety, and justice are man's inherent desires.

History bears testimony that such an ideal form of govern-ment based on justice was found with only those people who had before them the teachings of the Prophets, as the inherent desires and aspirations of mankind can only be fulfilled by following the teachings of the Prophets. This fact is proved by the glaring example of the present day forms of government which are totally void of the teachings of the Prophets and the rulers have been exploiting and sucking the blood of the poor masses in every part of the world for over centuries. They are so deeply engrossed in racial discriminations, idolatry, oppressions and similar other inhuman activities.

The Prophets in the Mirror of the Holy Qur'an 

Now that through wisdom we have realized the necessity of the Prophets, we should refer to some verses of the Holy Qur'an: 

A Messenger is appointed for all people. When the Messenger for them came he judged among them fairly and they were not wronged. (Surah Yunus, 10:47) 

We have sent you in all Truth as a bearer of glad tidings and a warner. (Surah Fatir, 35:24) 

Surely, in Our Hands is the guidance. (Surah al-Layl, 92:12) 

Who is a better judge for the people whose belief is based on certainty, than Allah. (Surah al-Ma'idah, 5:50) 

Say, final authority only belongs to Allah. Had He wanted He would have given you all guidance. (Surah al-An'am, 6:150) 

It means that after Allah made it clear about His argument, there remains no excuse on the part of the people that they could not distinguish between the right and wrong path as guided by Allah's infallible Prophets and it is Allah who will bring those people to task as they showed indifference to the teachings of the Holy Prophets.

(That day) when you were at one end of the valley and they (the unbelievers) at the other, and the caravan below you (on the low land by the coast) you would surely have declined to fight if the Makkans had offered you battle. But the battle did take place that Allah may end the matter which had been accomplished, so that he who had to die may perish after a clear demonstration, and he who had to live may survive in the light of positive proof, for Allah hears all and knows every thing. (Surah al-Anfal, 8:42) 

Indeed, there should be a clear difference between a straight path and a ditch so that we may select the right path with full freedom. The Holy Qur'an says: 

The Messenger were sent to give people the glad tidings (of Allah's Mercy) and warn them (of His punishment) so that mankind would not have any argument against Allah.(Surah al-Nisa, 4:165) 

The underlying idea behind this verse is that people would have put forward an excuse of their ignorance, and for every censure or criticism against them they would have said that none had warned them. In this way the people's argument would have been justified. The Holy Qur'an says: 

Had We destroyed them with a torment before the coming of Muhammad they would have said, 'Lord, would that you had sent us a messenger so that we could have followed Your revelations before being disgraced. (Surah Ta Ha, 20:134) 

The above verse also carries the same idea as conveyed in the previous verse.

A Review of Other Forms of Thinking 

Those people who consider themselves unconcerned about the Divine revelations approved of the following types of laws: 

(i) The laws made by one single individual, which are based on self-interest, personal aggrandizement, and have every kind of weakness, defect, injustice, foolishness, narrow-mindedness and scattered ideas.

(ii) The unjust laws which are made by a particular class or group of people, e.g. the capitalists or the labourers, to suit their individual requirements.

(iii) The laws which are made by the national assembly no matter whether they happen to be useful or not for the nation. Such types of laws are considered by the people as progressive.

From this we have understood as to who through what source has a right to make laws. We have also known that the law maker should possess the following qualifications: 

(i) He should have a complete and thorough knowledge of the subject and should be fully aware of man's carnal and spiritual needs and problems.

(ii) He should be compassionate and magnanimous.

(iii) He should be honest and just and should not favour one or the other individual or group of individuals out of expediency.

(iv) He should be an honest judge and should not have in viewthe expediency or the interest of a particular individual or a group ignoring reality and justice of the cause.

Obviously, such a law-maker can be none except Allah whose messages, instructions and laws reach us through His revelations to the Holy Prophets. Thus the Prophets are the medium of receiving Divine messages, which they transmit to the people.

Why People Obey the Laws? 

Every law becomes prevalent in a particular way. We should like to state two such ways:

(i) Ignorance and Stupidity: 

People sometimes obey the laws because of their ignorance and stupidity. Allama Iqbal said very aptly: "Man has become a slave of a man like himself because of ignorance. He had within himself the ego of self-respect but he threw that precious pearl under the feet of despots like Qubad and Jamshed. He then after acquiring the slavish mentality became a creature worse than a dog for I have never seen any dog bowing down before another dog". 

Islam does not approve of blind following. Many of the Qur'anic verses severely criticized the ways and means of the idolaters, who justified their action on the ground that their ancestors did the same thing. Their only plea was that their elders did the same thing. The Holy Qur'an says: 

When (the faithless) commit indecent acts they say, 'We found our ancestors used to do so, and Allah has commanded us to do the same! (Surah al-A'raf, 7:28) 

(ii) Fear and Greed: 

The tyrants make people obey their laws and unjust commands through threat and intimidation. TheHoly Qur'an says: 

(Fir'aun) said, 'If you take another god besides me, I will most certainly make you one of the imprisoned. (Surah ash-Shu'ara, 26:29) 

The despotic rulers used to attract the people through allurements just as Fir'aun gathered the magicians of his kingdom and promised them a good reward for humiliating Prophet Musa. The Holy Qur'an says: 

When the magicians came they asked Fir'aun: 'Will there be any reward for us if we win'. He replied, 'You will be then my closest associates '. (Surah ash-Shu'ara, 26:41—42) 

It is obvious that threat and temptation are the two strong means through which people can be made to follow the laws, and these means weaken the faculty of independent and careful action. Islam has declared about the torment of Hell and the reward of Paradise but these are not meant for the present world as the people consider them as a thing of distant future which will happen after their death. Hence they select their path and obey the order with perfect calmness and peace of mind. There is a great difference between the two persons one of whom has to pay his debt the following day and the other has to do that after a few years. The former becomes restless and worried about his liability while the latter appears to be free from care as if he has no debt at all.

The fear of chastisement or hope of the reward on the Day of Judgement does not compel a man to perform a certain command. This is proved from the fact that despite his being aware of the promises made by Allah, man remains indifferent to his obligations.

(iii) Need and Competition: The third thing which prompts a man to obey laws is his requirements as well as his competition with other people. 

(iv) Reason and Intellect: Sometimes reason and intellect play an important part in making the people obey the laws. If for instance, a policeman closes a certain route for the drivers and they know its reason they will obey his order without any grudge, but if they are not told any reason and suspect the policeman's order to be arbitrary they will definitely refuse to follow his instructions.

Islam too adopts the course of reason and intellect for making the people obey its laws. That is why sometimes it says very briefly that we should do a certain thing in order that we may imbibe the spirit of piety. As for example regarding the command of observing fast, the Holy Qur'an says:

Believers, fasting has been made obligatory on you as it was made obligatory on the people be fore you, so that you may become pious. (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:183) 

This command in fact is for man's spiritual advantage. Similarly, in this very context the Holy Qur'an says about charity: 

The example of those who spend their wealth to please Allah with firm and sincere intention is like the garden on a fertile land which after a heavy rainfall or even a drizzle, it yields its fruits twice as much. (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:265) 

In many of the traditions of our infallible Holy Imams reasons and arguments for following the commands of Islam have been told, and a number of books have been written on this subject like Ilalush Shariya'. Fortunately in these days of development and progress new realities and the philosophy of commands come to light. 

(v) Love and Affection: The fifth reason by which one follows the commands of the other is due to love and regards he has for him even if that attachment of love and regard is false not to speak of the love which is based on knowledge and spiritual enlightenment besides reason. The Holy Qur'an says: 

But the love of the faithful for Allah is more intense. (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:165) 

These are the various ways which cause the people to obey the laws. Needless to emphasize that the best and the most rational way is the fourth and the fifth way which we have elaborated about.

In short, the best way in Islam which we should adopt is the one which is based on knowledge, wisdom, love and affec-tion. The Holy Qur'an says:Call (the pagans) to the path of your Lord with wisdom and good advice, and reason with them in the best possible manner. (Surah an-Nahl, 16:125) 

Force should be applied only in the last resort. The Holy Qur'an says: 

Quraysh should worship the Lord of this House (Ka'bah), Who provided them with sustenance when they were hungry and gave them security against fear. (Surah Quraysh, 106:3-4) 

Feeding and maintenance of peace are the first steps towards worship of Allah. By that means the people would become conscious of Allah's Benevolence and Mercy.

Who is Responsible for the Enforcement of Laws? 

We have discussed previously that ignorance, stupidity, threat, temptation, competition etc. are not the real factors which can enforce laws. The best means are to develop one's wisdom, intellect and sense of love and respect for the one who enforces the laws.

Now we deal with the characteristics of those who are responsible for the enforcement of laws:

(i) Intellectual Maturity: No religion other than Islam encou-rages its followers to acquire knowledge and apply reason. That is why in Islam associating with pious scholars or touring around from country to country and to consult with one another is to broaden one's mental horizon. In the Holy Qur'an we learn of the past history of the ancient nations, their downfall and the lives of the Prophets and the secret of their success. Ignorance, apathy and obstinacy are found in those people who have given up their power of thinking and faculty of applying their reason. According to the Holy Qur'an, the philosophy of obeying the commands and the ruination of the past stubborn nations are good lessons for ensuring the enforcement of laws. 

(ii) Stirring the Sentiments: To stir up the people the law enforcing authority may take the help of their sentiments. The matter of encouragement has been presented in the Holy Qur'an to the extent that it says to the Holy Prophet in the following verses: 

Collect religious tax (Zakat) from them. You would purify and cleanse them thereby and pray for them. Your prayers give them peace. (Surah at-Tauba, 9:103) 

Then he is of those who believe and urge upon one another to be patient, and urge upon one another to be kind. (Surah al-Balad, 90:17) 

Man is certainly in loss, except those who believe, and do good deeds and enjoin truth on one another and enjoin upon one another to bear with patience. (Surah al-Asr, 103:2—3)

Why do you not fight for the cause of Allah or save the helpless men, women and children who cry out, 'Lord, set us free from this town of wrong doers and send us a guardian and a helper? (Surah an-Nisa, 4:75) 

In this verse the Almighty Allah in order to persuade them to take part in jihad has referred to the sad plight of those people and children who have got into the clutches of the tyrants, and has stirred the moral sense of the people. 

Yet he has not entered into 'aqaba'. Would that you knew what 'aqaba' is? It is the setting free of a slave or the feeding of an orphan relative and downtrodden destitute person in a day of famine. (Surah al-Balad, 90:13—16) 

Thus it should be borne in mind that these revelations had the real aim of rousing the people to action.

(iii) Belief in Allah and the Day of Judgement: The most important and viable factor which plays a vital role in making people abide by the laws is the Belief in Allah and the Day of Judgement. That means the emphasis is on the belief that man is the creature and servant of Allah and as such he has to be obedient to Him as he is under the surveillance of his Creator and being Allah's creature, he will have to return one day to Him and will have to account for his deeds. This belief also means Allah will compensate him by rewarding him ten times greater than what is due to him against his noble deeds and that He will pardon his shortcomings and errors, and that his deeds and misdeeds even so small as of the size of an atom will be taken into account. Indeed such a perfect faith and belief plays an effective role in obeying the Divine commands. 

(iv) Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil: When the people in a certain nation give up doing evil acts, then all the individuals of the society start enjoining good and forbidding evil. When a motor car driver goes to a wrong direction, the drivers of other cars blow the horns and kindle the lights to remind the driver of the traffic rules that he is violating and n1ake the defaulter drive his car in a proper way. By this it is meant that the people can enforce the laws themselves.

(v) Government and Punishment: In the above-mentioned example if the driver does not pay heed to the warning of other drivers, then he will be prosecuted by police and fined. Of course sometimes punishment and a harsh treatment become necessary. But this is in no way related to the following Quranic verse: 

There is no compulsion in religion. (Surah al-Baqarah, 2: 256) 

Because this verse means negation of compulsion in faith and beliefs. It does not mean that we can do whatever we like otherwise hoarders, thieves and usurers can use this verse as an excuse for their misdeeds, and can say that there is no compulsion in religion and so they can do whatever they like.

Signs of the Prophets 

There are three ways of recognizing the Prophets: 

(i) Miracles: Whenever a man claims that he has a link with the Creator of the Universe Who possesses Infinite Knowledge and Absolute Power, he should perform such deeds and say such things as others cannot do. To prove the truth of his claim he should cause such events to happen as are beyond human power, and this will show that he has his link with the other world. Such deeds are called miracles. 

A Question: How do the miracles of the Prophets differ from the skill and feats of the inventors, magicians, devout worshippers, wrestlers, and why are these people not recognized as Prophets?

Answer: The answer to this question is that the feats of these people are the result of their constant practice and exercise of a long period of time just as in the beginning an athlete lifts a small weight that an ordinary man can do but gradually by virtue of regular practice and exercise he is able to lift a heavy weight of a dumbbell which can only be lifted by several men combined. But in the case of Prophet Saleh when the people asked him to perform a miracle by bringing a she-camel of a particular characteristics out of a mountain, he did not tell them to wait until he could practice performing that sort of deed because such extraordinary supernatural feats cannot be done even after lifelong efforts and practice.

(ii) Divine Guidance: The ways and manners of the Prophets are the result of Divine teachings and guidance. Every devotee or inventor is dependent on the guidance of a teacher or a helper but Prophets do not need any such teacher or guide. 

(iii) Supernatural Powers: An expert or genius specializes in one or the other branches of science and his work is dependent upon some restricted possibilities. On the other hand the Prophets perform all kinds of supernatural acts as they derive their strength and power from Divine sources and the Divine Power is not limited so as to show one or two miracles only. 

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