Saturday, July 4, 2009

The words of Allah are inexhaustible

“Say: If the sea were ink for [writing] the words of my Lord, surely the sea would be depleted before the words of My Lord would be depleted, even if we brought [another sea] like it for its aid.” {Qur’an 18:109}

This verse, along with a similarly worded statement in 31:27, which speaks of seven oceans being depleted before Allah’s words would become exhausted, is among the most beautiful expressions found in the Qur’an. Certainly there are many lessons that can be taken from this text, but for the sake of this brief composition we hope to focus on this; everyone and everything in creation is a ‘word of Allah’!

Every ‘word’ has a unique set of characteristics, just as every single hand has finger patterns that cannot be found in another person [i.e. fingerprints]. In this sense, no single ‘word’ has superiority over another. All of them come together to express the power, existence, and grandeur of the Sustainer of the universe. Perhaps a better analogy would be that of a book, any document or position paper. Many people become intrigued with the number of times a single word or phrase appears therein, while overlooking the clear intent or message the author attempts to convey throughout the entire text. Such an approach does a bit of a disservice to the text as well as its composer.
In saying that all humans, prophets and non-prophets, Muslim and Non-Muslim, and that all things in the creation, the trees, the animals, the sun, the moon, are ‘words of Allah’, it becomes important to qualify this assertion. To accomplish this, we have to examine the context in which the Qur’anic text under discussion is given. Immediately after the verse under discussion, we read

“Say [O Prophet!]: I am a man similar to yourselves [the only real difference being] inspiration has come to me, that your object of worship is really [suppose to be] the one [and only deity] [Ilaahukum, ilaahun waahidun.]].[Q 18:110]

While the ‘words’ in the form of prophets and scripture has ceased ‘writing’ [as the Qur’an itself is the final scripture, and its recipient Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah is the final prophet], the ‘words’ in the form of personal spiritual strength, intuitive knowledge, teachers and the like will continue throughout time. After all, we ask Allah’s guidance every day in Salaah. We do not invoke him in a vacuum, nor is he absent from the word [Na’oodhoo Billaah!] If such was the case, prayers and supplications would be useless.

“Allah does not communicate with man, except by inspiration [wahy], or from behind a barrier [Hijaaban] or by sending a messenger, to convey to him what he [Allah] wills. Surely, he is the most high, the wise” [Q 42:51].

Thus, the communication from Allah is continuous, and comes in various ways. In the same vein, we come to understand the phrases “spirit” and “word” [4:171 etc...] in reference to Jesus Christ. Christians hold the view that he, upon whom be peace, was ‘the word of God’ in a sense that he was unique, leading to the supposition that he was Divine. It is true that the Qur’an has dealt with that idea repeatedly, but the use of the phrase “a word from him” shows us that Allah seeks to convey, in a polite and subtle manner, the fact that while he was indeed unique in many ways, he was still a creation of Allah, not sharing divinity. To put all one’s eggs in one basket, or in this case, one word, and then exaggerating the position of that word, is quite damaging spiritually. A person’s religion or spiritual life becomes dependent on an individual or a set of individuals, which can lead to exploitation, fraud, and even mental slavery! So, when dealing with the idea that Jesus [or anyone else] is Divine, remember that the position of Jesus in the sight of Allah is similar to that of Adam. He had no physical parents as far as we understand, but that does not make him divine! It makes him an object created by Allah.

The Qur’an is the word of Allah, having the final say on all theological and spiritual issues [Q 25:1]. Its very nature is such that reading it always provides some new insight or guidance, regardless of the number of times it has been read in the past. It is the ultimate scripture in many ways, not just because it is the final book. It is suitable for a guide for all people, at all times and situations. It is because of the Qur’an that we come to understand the position of ‘words’ in this world.

Such realizations give spiritual freedom, and allow us to be able to call a spade a spade. It creates a basis for making better decisions in all parts of life, to be just and fair not only to our selves, but indeed to all others as well, regardless of their religious label or skin color. May Allah make us able to read and understand his words correctly, and to translate those words into practical results! Ameen!


Anonymous said...

What a gentle reminders of the words "ALLAH U AKBAR "