Opinion Editorials, June 2004, To see today's opinion articles, click here: ww.aljazeerah.info
A Day Boding Ill for Unbelievers
Arab News, 6/12/04
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent
Those who entertain no hope of meeting Us say: “Why have no angels been sent down to us?” — or, “Why do we not see our Lord?” Indeed, they are far too proud of themselves and they have been insolently overbearing.
On the day when they shall see the angels, the sinners will receive no happy news then, and they will say: “a forbidding ban!”
We shall turn to whatever deeds they have done, and We shall transform it all into scattered dust.
On that day, those destined for paradise will be graced with the best of abodes and the fairest place of repose.
On the day when the skies shall be rent asunder with clouds, and the angels shall be sent down (in ranks).
On that day, true sovereignty belongs to the Most Gracious (alone). (The Standard, Al-Furqan: 25: 21-26)
The first verse in this passage shows how unbelievers who have no expectation of meeting their Lord make overbearing suggestions, demanding that angels are sent to them or that God should reveal Himself to them so that they could believe in Him. Conceited and too proud, their main preoccupation is their own position. They no longer give proper estimation to other things and values. They think themselves to be masters of the universe who deserve to be given what they have arrogantly suggested.
A truly sarcastic reply is given to them as they are informed of the terrible eventuality awaiting them when they see the angels, which is the less overbearing of their demands. They will only see the angels on a very hard and difficult day on which they will be destined to receive unbearable and inescapable suffering. That is the day of reckoning when evil deeds are punished. “On the day when they shall see the angels, the sinners will receive no happy news then, and they will say: ‘a forbidding ban!’”
This is the day when their suggestion is granted, “On the day when they shall see the angels”. No good news is given to the sinners on that day, for their punishment awaits them. How terrible is the fulfilment of their request! This is when they say, ‘a forbidden ban!’ This phrase used to be said by the Arabs to avert evil and enemies. It is a sort of appeal in hope of driving away the enemies and avoiding any harm they may cause. They utter it on that day by force of habit, because the whole thing comes to them as a surprise. But what would their words avail them on that day?
“We shall turn to whatever deeds they have done, and We shall transform it all into scattered dust.” It all happens in a brief moment. Our imagination follows the motion described in detail, with actions being raised and thrown up in the air. In no time, all good works they did in this present life is left like scattered dust, because it was not based on faith. Faith establishes a bond between people’s hearts and God, and makes good works a way of life, chosen on purpose with due reflection, not in response to a fleeting whim or sudden impulse. With believers, good works are never reduced to the sort of single actions that do not reflect a well-defined method with a clear objective.
According to Islam, man’s life and action are closely related to the universe and the law that governs its existence and binds it all to God, including man and all his activities in life. When man’s life is separated from its central access that relates it to the universe, he finds himself lost, without influence and with no value attached to his work. Indeed his actions become non-existent. It is faith that binds man to his Lord, adding value to his actions and giving them credit in the overall system of the universe.
Hence, the works of the unbelievers are thus made to die, and their death is shown in a highly tangible image: “We shall turn to whatever deeds they have done, and We shall transform it all into scattered dust.”
On the other side we find the believers, who dwell in heaven, in a perfectly contrasting image: “On that day, those destined for paradise will be graced with the best of abodes and the fairest place of repose.” They are well settled, enjoying their comfort. The feeling of settlement is contrasted with the scattered dust in the other image, and the reassurance felt by the believers contrasts with the fear of the unbelievers that makes them send a worried prayer. The unbelievers also used to suggest that God and the angels should come to them on top of clouds. Such suggestions perhaps show some influence of Jewish legends speaking of God revealing Himself over a cloud or a column of fire. Therefore, the Qur’an shows another image of the day when their request for seeing the angels is granted: “On the day when the skies shall be rent asunder with clouds, and the angels shall be sent down (in ranks). On that day, true sovereignty belongs to the Most Gracious (alone).”
This verse, and many others in the Qur’an, make it clear that the day will witness far-reaching celestial events indicating a complete collapse of the system that controls all parts of the universe, including all celestial bodies. Such an upheaval indicates the end of this world. The upheaval is not limited to the earth, but includes planets, stars, solar systems and galaxies. It is useful to look at some aspects of this upheaval as described in different surahs in the Qur’an: “When the sun is darkened, when the stars fall and disperse, when the mountains are made to move away... when the seas are set alight.” (81: 1-3 & 6) “When the sky is cleft asunder, when the stars are scattered, when the oceans are made to explode, when the graves are hurled about.” (82: 1-4) “When the sky is rent asunder, obeying her Lord in true submission; when the earth is stretched out and casts forth all that is within her and becomes empty, obeying her Lord in true submission!” (84: 1-5) “When the sky is rent asunder and becomes red like burning oil.” (55: 37) “When the earth is shaken with a mighty shaking, and when the mountains are pounded with a mighty pounding, such that they become as scattered dust.” (56: 3-5) “When the trumpet is blown with a single blast, and the earth and the mountains are lifted up and crushed with a single stroke! Then that which must come to pass will on that day have come to pass; and the sky will be rent asunder - for, frail will it have become on that day.” (69: 13-16) “On a day when the sky will be like molten lead, and the mountains will be like tufts of wool.” (70: 8-9) “When the earth is rocked by her (final) earthquake, when the earth shakes off her burdens.” (99: 1-2) “The day when people will be scattered moths, and the mountains like tufts of carded wool.” (101: 4-5)
These are some of the verses that describe the great upheaval that signals the end of our world and the arrival of the Day of Judgment.
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