Keynote Address by Imam Abdessalam Yassine
Translated by: Farouq Bouasse
1st Iowa Muslims Convention, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
Date: Saturday, March 31, 2001 | Muharram 6, 1421
Islam is not a “religion”
The Meaning of Man
This World and the Hereafter
Islam, the Message
Development and Underdevelopment
Justice and Spirituality
Defamatory Campaigns against Islam
Modern man no longer wonders!
The “what” and the “why”
O Bewildered Man!
I seek refuge with God from the Evil One,
In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful,
May God’s blessings and peace be upon our beloved Messenger Muhammad, his Family and Posterity, and his Companions. All praise is due to God, the Lord of all creatures.
On this day of Sunday, March 25, 2001 (corresponding to Dhu-l-Hijja 29, 1421 A.H.), I will begin my talk with greeting my brothers and sisters who are gathering in the State of Iowa with the greeting of Islam: May God’s peace, mercy and blessings be upon you. Then I address a special salutation from the Qur’ān to the respected men and women who will join us—God willing—in the path of guidance: May God’s peace be upon those who have followed Guidance.
Respected brothers and sisters,
The major claim of the people in all the countries of the world—be they advanced or underdeveloped, rich or poor, mighty and oppressing or weak and oppressed—is that of justice and peace. We too, in the Justice and Spirituality Movement, claim justice and equality between all people, and claim peace in the world. Why? For the simple reason that peace and justice are an integral part of the Message and Mission of Islam.
The national attention in America is presently focused on Islam, and views Muslims as a horde of violent terrorists. Such heavily skewed vision is formed by a defamatory campaign conducted by certain biased newspapers and superficial commentators that have neither time nor readiness to sit down and listen to Islam from the mouths of Muslims.
On the ground, Muslims are not one coherent, monolithic bloc. Muslims, indeed, live in a wide area of scattered countries and have a long, eventful history. Anyone who then takes just one part of their history as a piece of evidence to render his judgment, or contents himself with hasty press commentaries, will understand of Islam none but the reactions of Muslims who protest here and there in the vast lands of Islam; he will comprehend of Islam’s Message none but the one imparted by superficial, biased commentaries whose intent is not to present an objective view of Islam and Muslims, but rather to sully the image of Islam and Muslims.
Islam is not a “religion”
In a gathering like yours, we should go to the roots of the issue. We ought to speak of Islam as an eternal and universal Message, as a Message from heaven to earth, as a liberating Message from God to man so that the latter can overcome those tyrants who keep him—and the whole mankind—from enjoying justice and peace on earth.
We will then go farther and deeper in our talk of Islam, the Islam of our beloved Messenger Muhammad (God bless him and grant him peace), whom God sent as mercy to all creatures. To make our ideas clearer from the start, let us cast aside some ready-made concepts that obstruct mutual understanding, communication and contact between people. Giving specific definitions to certain potentially misleading concepts is indubitably the first enterprise one should undertake if he intends to have any genuine, constructive and fruitful dialog about a momentous issue like Islam and its representatives: Muslims.
The first of these concepts that obstruct mutual understanding between Muslims and their interlocutors is the word “religion.” The Arabic dīn, wrongly translated as religion, has a meaning that is much deeper, more comprehensive, and occupies a semantic, pragmatic field that is much wider. When the word dīn is then translated into a foreign language like English, for instance, and becomes “religion” the word takes on a different guise, and bears by moving from one language to another meanings that have not come from the History of Islam, the Truth of Islam, the Message of Islam, the Qur’ān of Islam, the sunna [model practice of the Prophet] of Islam. Rather, it takes on meanings that have gathered around the word “religion” throughout the eventful history of Christianity in the West, both in Europe and America.
Words inspire man with meanings and concepts that may be misleading. Let us thus discard the word “religion” and talk rather of dīn. What is dīn? Islam is a dīn. Dīn, or Islam, [from the root verb dāna or aslama] literally means to submit to God—Exalted be He. Throughout this talk, we will then be reformulating numerous concepts whose newly discovered meanings stand in marked contrast with those articulated in this modern age where the materialistic credos have overwhelmed the moral values. We thus define man as a creature that was created by a Creator: God—Glorified be He.
The Meaning of Man
The prevailing concepts in the contemporary leading civilization define man as a being that was self-made as a result of evolutions that took place in the very distant past. Man was a germ that had come from Mars, or another planet, and then evolved on the shores of an ancient sea into a fish, a reptile, a mammal walking on all fours, until it became an ape. Then the ape evolved until “he” could speak; “he” spoke for reasons readily furnished to the modern, perplexed man by pseudo scientists who obstruct him from the way of God. That primitive ape spoke, according to them, to fulfill certain needs: subsistence, survival, self-defense. That is the meaning of man in the contemporary Godless civilization.
Yet when Muslims speak of man, they see him as a creature just like the heavens and the earth, and the fauna and flora that are in them. Man is a creature. This man-creature has been granted a singularly great care by the Maker—Glorified be He—Who prepared for him a temporary house from which he will traverse into a House in which he will dwell for eternity. He will traverse from the house of this world into the House of the Hereafter. God—Exalted be He—created him in this world to test him and to give him the chance to perform righteous deeds for which he will be rewarded in the Hereafter, in Paradise.
This World and the Hereafter
Dear brothers and sisters,
The contemporary western hearer would almost decline to hear some Islamic terms unless the latter accept to be stripped of their original content, adapt and follow the course of the western contemporary discourse. Talking of this world and the Hereafter as creatures and houses one leading to another is a discourse that is not accepted by the western rationalism that believes only in the visible, the audible, the palpable, and the liable to experimentation in scientific laboratories. The western modern science is then interested only in what it sees and hears of the affairs of this world. As for the Hereafter, it is unseen and, therefore, absent, inexistent. That is why it does not believe in it.
Speaking of God—Glorified be He, of the Messengers and of their Missions, those are topics that are not appreciated by the contemporary western hearer who rejects God—Exalted be He—knowingly or unknowingly. Therefore we must, O brothers and sisters to whom I have the honor to speak in this conference, arm ourselves with enough patience in order to listen attentively to the Message of Islam.
Let us then recapitulate. We have thus discarded the word “religion” and the blurry concepts that stuck to it owing to the West’s unfortunate epic with the Church. We have also cast aside the pseudo meaning of man as it is conceived by the secular rationalists who do not believe in God and in the Hereafter. We have spoken of two opposite concepts of which only a half exists in the western civilization and culture: this world and the Hereafter. When we read the Qur’ān and the sunna, we find that this world and the Hereafter are inseparable creatures, adjacent houses one leading to the other.
Then what effort should a mind exert that has been shaped and educated by the western secular culture in order to accept that there is a temporal life in this world and an eternal life in the Hereafter? What effort should it exert especially if it has been formed and educated from its early childhood in a purely western school or a western-style secular school wherein it hears nothing of something called the Hereafter?
The western hearer may have attended the Church or mixed with the Christian clergy who talk of heaven as a hazy, fuzzy, untouchable, indescribable and mysterious kingdom whose secrets are decipherable only for the initiates. On the other hand, when Muslims talk of the Hereafter their account is based on an accurate, minute description of such world as of death—the bridge from this worldly life to the Hereafter—to what comes after death: resurrection, judgment, Paradise, or Hell. All such facts are presented with minute details which any seeker of the truth about his existence cannot find anywhere else aside from the Holy Qur’ān. One then must exert a great deal of effort on his recalcitrant ego to calm down its restlessness and urge it to listen attentively to the Message of the Qur’ān, the Message of Islam.
Islam, the Message
In a session like ours, one cannot scrutinize his own person, his background, his education, the penchants of his ego and the impacts of education on his person in such brief moments. Yet perhaps—we pray to God that it be the fruit of this meeting—if the desperate need to know about the secret of his existence springs out in the heart of man, if God—Exalted be He—grants him the favor of musing over himself instead of wandering aimlessly in this immense contemporary world full of racket, political conflicts, heated disputes, fierce wars, unbridled violence, if God—Glorified be He—guides him into inquiring about his miraculous origin and ultimate destiny, then man will hopefully be able to listen heedfully to the Message of Islam, for Islam is a message above all.
Those who passively receive views and information about Islam content themselves with what newspapers and magazines write profusely and what the Internet and TV channels broadcast incessantly. Most of what is published and broadcast seldom speaks of Islam objectively and deeply. Journalists speak of Islam as events, as violence here and there; yet the difference between Islam and Muslims is a difference between the Message and the Message’s recipients. If we judge Islam through the bad condition of Muslims—division, underdevelopment, malgovernance—we will automatically consider Islam as the cause of their defeat and underdevelopment.
As for the civilized man—the well-fed, well-dressed man, the well-fixed man who lives, for instance, in Iowa, or in any other state of mighty, wealthy America—he looks at Islam from the tower of his arrogance, wealth, power, science and authority over nature through Muslims who are weightless in the balance of world power—that’s a grievous mistake! Islam is not responsible for the bad condition of Muslims; rather, Muslims owe their backwardness at all levels to their estrangement from the Islamic Message.
Development and Underdevelopment
How have Muslims become disunited? How have Muslims lagged behind nations? That is a long question that needs an elaborate answer, which is not the subject of our talk. For a century or more, a host of Muslim thinkers have been emphatically asking this question to Muslims: “Why have Muslims become underdeveloped while other nations have become advanced?”
In my view, I believe that the question itself—as far as its content and its formulation are concerned—comprises a serious error of judgment, if not many. For people seldom mark pauses to think twice about the concepts and words they use. Let us come back again to rectify the concepts: development and underdevelopment.
Development and underdevelopment in our age are gauged with the balance of power, wealth, high technology, good governance according to the western standards of democracy, liberalism, freedom, human rights, and so on and so forth. So you are developed if you are identical, if your image is identical to what the western man thinks of development. This concept is too unfitting for us to comprehend Islam because it speaks only of this worldly life, of material development in this worldly life. As for Islam, it looks above all to man.
Justice and Spirituality
Does man, as a human being, descend or ascend in the ladder of morality and spirituality? When man speaks of moral and spiritual progress, does he speak of this new concept of development in the world of reality or that of fiction? For justice, equality and the minimal standard of material welfare are indispensable and inseparable from moral and spiritual ascension.
No man, no people and no nation can ever aspire to attain high morality and sublime spirituality if they are immersed in the mire of social inequality, political injustice, need, indigence and ignorance. Spirituality is indeed intrinsically and organically linked to the physical and material condition of man as an individual and a member of society.
That is why the Justice and Spirituality Movement, ever since its inception, has been unfailingly claiming with equal resolution and earnestness two demands and striving to achieve two objectives at the same time. Two claims, two objectives, two sides of the same coin: justice and spirituality, justice in society and spirituality in the hearts of its citizens. That means that moral and spiritual ascension is inseparable from social, political and economic development.
Defamatory Campaigns against Islam
I will now move on to another subject after we have discarded certain concepts in lieu of which we have put terms that befit our intent in presenting the Islamic Message as it was originally presented in the Qur’ān and the Prophet’s model life. After we have cast aside such erroneous concepts susceptible to corrupting our channels of communication and contact, let us now have a look at the impact of the defamatory campaigns conducted against Muslims on the western public opinion.
When in Country A, B or C, an Islamic revolution takes place and certain mistakes, perhaps even numerous mistakes, are committed—mistakes in theological creeds, political approaches, diplomatic conduct with western countries—the western intellectuals and others, especially the common intellectuals, hasten to read what journalists and other commentators write on the Islamic revolution in that country. On the basis of the errors committed by Muslims, they judge Islam.
So if women are treated unjustly in a Muslim country, Islam is held responsible. If Muslims are underdeveloped and hopelessly unable to achieve development in their country, Islam is made accountable. If a movement emerges in a Muslim country and makes use of violence—thinking that physical force and explosives will enable Muslims to take rapid, giant strides towards development—the West judges such movement not on account of its own motives, but rather puts the blame on Islam.
In one word, Muslims are indiscriminately ascribed attributes without a modicum of deliberateness, level-headedness, deepness, and earnest search of the truth. Islam is accused of what Muslims commit. Islam is thus synonymous with terrorism, fanaticism, backwardness, underdevelopment, etc. And then come TVs and cameras to film Muslim Tribe A fighting against Muslim Tribe B, and to shoot Muslims in Country A naked, hungry, starving to death, dying of injustice, dying in thousands and hundreds of thousands under the whips of torture.
Honest and conscientious people—they are many in the West—watch everyday the woes and wrongs that are afflicted on Muslims around the world. Each day in Palestine, for instance, innocent children are killed, whole families are driven out of their homes, and scorching bombs of all sorts are dropped on the heads of people in Palestine, Muslims and Christians. In the West, there are conscientious people who condemn such wrongs; unfortunately, those honest people are not the ones who decide over the present and future of the contemporary world. Decisions are taken in higher institutions, in the U.N. Security Council and by the national governments. Injustice is then made to last for reasons we have no time to talk of. For the time being, let us talk of Islam, let us receive Islam from the Revelation of the Qur’ān and the Sayings of the Prophet (God bless him and grant him peace).
Modern man no longer wonders!
The western mentality, the American Anglo-Saxon in particular, expects in this meeting to hear of events. I am thus expected to give accurate facts, precise information about certain events. The superficial among people content themselves with news: Event A took place on Day C, and Country B invaded Country D, etc. People are thus drifted away and dragged on their heads with daily events taking place here and there.
In our gathering, we will talk in depth; we will talk to man as an individual, as a human being before we may talk to him of the events of this worldly life. We will talk to him of the Great News as it came in the Holy Qur’ān. What is this Great News? God—Exalted be He—says in Chapter 78: “What are they asking (each other)?” “About the Great News, about which they are in disagreement. Verily, they will come to know. Verily, again, they will come to know.”
What is this Great News? The Qur’ān does not bring it straightforward, but directs man’s mind to ponder over himself and over the world around him. “Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse?” This earth, O man, God made it for you so that you may live on it; He made on it sustenance for you; He made on it paths to take and places to rest in. “And the mountains as pegs? And (have We not) created you in pairs?” God—Glorified be He—created man in pairs, a man and a woman. “And made your sleep for rest?” This is one of the great signs of God’s miraculous creation of man. He made him sleep. “Sleep” is among man’s important needs. If man does not sleep a reasonable number of hours, he becomes totally insane, deranged, unbalanced. I imagine a mind that is idiot, superficial, and really underdeveloped in the balance of morality and spirituality going to take part in a trivial, silly and childish record-breaking contest like Guinness. People will thus compete among one another to see who will stay sleepless for a long time. One will stay sleepless for one week; another will surpass him by three days, etc. These are trivial, futile enterprises.
God—Exalted be He—addresses the sensible men. As for the harebrained, they have no brains with which they can earnestly receive the Message of the Qur’ān, the Great News in the Qur’ān. “Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse?” The rationalist, inventing and self-important mind would say: “The earth is not a wide expanse. The earth is round-shaped.” Then you may argue, O brother and sister, that Muslims talked of the earth’s roundness nine centuries ago long before Galileo and those who came after Galileo. They surpassed the modern nonsense that says, “the evidence that the Qur’ān is a compilation of false accounts is that it alleges that the earth is a wide expanse.” The very miracle is that you can see—you, the modern man who knows of the earth’s roundness according to the scientific facts supplied to you by astronomers, geographers and topographers—that the earth is a wide expanse. Then how has this round-shaped entity become a wide expanse? How does it move so rapidly? Perhaps you don’t feel that! That’s among the miraculous signs of God—Exalted be He.
Astronomers, geographers, topographers and geologists do not ask such questions. I, the simple and naturally disposed human being, certify that the earth is a wide expanse. The Qur’ān addresses me with a language that I can understand in any time or place. Before the earth was discovered to be round-shaped, man attested that it was a wide expanse, a place for rest, a place supplied with means of subsistence. In our current times, the fact that I know from the modern sciences that the earth is round-shaped should enjoin me to wonder even more and more at such a miracle.
Unfortunately, the modern man—busied with learning different languages, various cultures, and immersed in studying world folklores, world shapes, world images—has been hit in one of his most precious assets: the ability to wonder and feel amazed. He cannot wonder; there is nothing to wonder at in this world. As he knows everything, he does not need to wonder at anything.
The first thing he actually should wonder at is his miraculous origin. Unfortunately, he easily swallows the nonsense Darwinism presents to him as “facts” about his origin: he was an ape. Before being an ape, he was so-and-so for certain phases of his evolution. After the ape, he evolved until he began to talk.
My innateness rejects such nonsense, refutes such judgment. In America, there is a group of Christian clergy who stand against Darwinism. Unfortunately, they fight it with incomplete weapons, they combat it with arguments drawn from the Torah and the gospels—scriptures that have been subject to human interference and manipulation. I do not want to talk here of the Torah and the gospels, for this is again not our subject matter.
Modern man no longer wonders; he has been robbed of such feeling. Modern man does not even ask about his first right to know his Maker, the purpose of his creation and his ultimate destiny after death. Such are decisive, momentous questions. That is the Great News that every sensible man should receive. Unfortunately, no one would receive the Great News in the Holy Qur’ān and the sunna of the Prophet (God bless him and grant him peace) even though the Holy Qur’ān has not been distorted as were the former scriptures. The Prophet (God bless him and grant him peace) transmitted to us its teachings accurately and faithfully. Modern man does not wonder at that.
In the noble verses of Chapter 78, God—Glorified be He—asks: “In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. What are they asking (each other)?” A question. “About the Great News, about which they are in disagreement.”The question could be put differently: “Are they asking about the Great News—the News about the Hereafter, the meaning of man, the purpose of his creation and his destiny after death—or are they asking about other things? “Verily, they will come to know. Verily, again, they will come to know.” Then a series of questions follows: “Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse, and the mountains as pegs?” We will leave to volcano experts and geologists to explain to us the function of mountains, their origin—is it volcanic, non volcanic, or is it the result of the earth’s folding across distant geological times? That is not our subject matter. “And have We not created you in pairs?” The sequence of questions still follows: “And made your sleep for rest, and made the night as a covering, and made the day as a means of subsistence?”
The “what” and the “why”
When astronomers eventually unfolded the secret of the rotation of the night and the day, they washed their hands of the matter completely. They came to know the “what”, but they missed the divine guidance to wonder at the “why.” Why the night? And why the day?” Some of them feel amazed and wonder at the marvelous order of the universe. “Every single thing is measured before His sight in due proportion.” They wonder at the marvelous order of the universe, in the rotation of the night and the day, the function of the sun, the moon, the sea, and the land.
Some of them may fall in perplexity, but do not find the way to the source of the Truth. They do not listen to the Qur’ān because the Holy Book has been sentenced by the modern culture in the West and, unfortunately, even in our countries among some westernized intellectuals affected in their minds and their hearts. They do not listen to the Great News from the Maker of the universe, the Maker of man. They do not wonder, they do not inquire, they do not receive the facts from their sources. They would rather say, ‘Modern science has made such-and-such discovery’, and that’s all! Modern science, in constant evolution, brings fantastic discoveries and inventions, but man does not wonder at such findings.
Modern man has normalized his relationships with inventions. The Internet, for instance, is a marvelous invention, one of the wondrous inventions ever. Electronics engineers made it. Did they make it? They certainly made the networks, the wires, etc. But how about electricity, speed measure, and the distance covered by such networks? Those are the creations of God—Exalted be He—which man then pieced together. However, man no longer wonders at such miraculous things.
“And have We not built above you seven strong firmaments?” God—Glorified be He—built above us, the earthlings, seven strong firmaments, seven heavens. The modern sciences know but one heaven. They think that the Noble Qur’ān’s talk of seven heavens is none but a metaphor. For the modern sciences have discovered visible entities the last of which is “Hobble.” They discovered the universe, the expansion of the universe in billions of light years, in twenty billion light years, and tomorrow they will come to four hundred billion. But the universe of God—Exalted be He—is infinite, for God’s creation never ends.
When man is full of conceit on account of the things he makes with his hands, his inventive mind and genius, such self-importance keeps him from listening to the inner call in his heart, if he ever has a heart. If he does not, he will remain superficial and hostage of the modern, consumerist civilization. In the American society, man is well-fed, well-dressed, lives in comfort, enjoys himself as he pleases. Having satisfied his bodily desires, his ambition will not rise above such earthly inclinations to ask, wonder and feel amazed.
“And have We not placed a shining lamp (the sun), and sent down from the clouds abundant water (the rain).” Modern scientists have explained how the rain is formed, how sea water evaporates and rises to the sky, then how the cold winds come, and how clouds and then drops of water are formed, etc. And that’s all! They have explained the “what”, but how about the “why” and the “where”? Water, this is a miracle that defies the human mind. Where did water come from? Water is a divine creation that the modern and postmodern sciences cannot make.
The challenge is clear and explicit in the Noble Qur’ān. In Chapter 56, God—Glorified be He—said: “Do you see the water which you drink? Is it you who send it down from the clouds or are We the senders? If We willed, We verily could have made it salty (and undrinkable). Why then do you not give thanks (to God)?” Where did water come from? They may take water from the sea, desalinate it and make it drinkable, but they cannot make water. That’s impossible. The modern sciences can analyze water, one atom of oxygen and two atoms of hydrogen. Yet they cannot make water. That’s impossible.
O Bewildered Man!
The efforts of the modern sciences are devoted to searching for water in Mars and Jupiter. Is there water there? Can water remain there? The arrogant modern man goes to those planets aboard his space shuttles in an attempt to occupy them and establish a human society there. He asks if there is water there. If you are powerful, you modern man, then make water. Go to Mars and make water. Make an environment, create trees, plants, oxygen and make that planet viable for mankind. God—Exalted be He—is the One Who created all that, and you are a creature among His creatures, O bewildered man who does not wonder and feel amazed.
“And Have We not sent down from the clouds water in abundance, that We may produce therewith grains and herbs, and gardens of luxurious growth?”Those questions draw man’s attention to things he knows: heaven, earth, water, fauna and flora. God—Exalted be He—is Gracious and Merciful to His servants. He wants man to ponder over the Message of Islam from what he already knows. He invites him to inquire and to wonder. Then the Great News comes to Him from God—Glorified be He—His Maker: “Verily the Day of Decision is a day appointed.”The Day of Resurrection has a fixed time, the time that God’s Decree decided.“The Day when the Trumpet will be sounded” by one of the angels. These facts are absent in the modern western culture. The angels are creatures that the Torah and the gospels talked of. According to western literature, an angel is a creature that is unseen, that we cannot perceive with our senses, something symbolic and unreal, something that belongs to the world of imagery, poetry and subtleties.
“The Day when the Trumpet will be sounded, and you shall come forth in groups.” O men, O human beings, you will come forth from your former and later generations, from your different countries, from your aberration if you once were aberrant, and from your guidance if you once were rightly guided. “And the heaven shall be opened, and it will become as gates.” How does the heaven open? On the Day of Resurrection, “the earth shall be changed to a different earth, and so will be the heavens.” “And the mountains shall vanish and become as a mirage.” These firmly established mountains represent for the innately disposed man the utmost image of firmness, strength, solidity and immobility. Those mountains will disintegrate and become like a mirage.
Then comes the Great News: God—Exalted be He—states the destiny of some of those who will come forth in groups to Him on the Day of Judgment, “Truly Hell lies in wait” for those who deserve to dwell in it for eternity because they did not believe in God—Glorified be He, did not acquire the moral and spiritual virtues, did not behave justly on earth as individuals, societies, governments or states.
“Truly Hell lies in wait for the tyrants.” We come back again to the tyrants. Tyranny is made of different kinds and degrees. The most important kind and degree of tyranny that is of interest to us in this gathering—in fact, it should be a permanent concern—is the tyranny of my self, of my ego. If my ego becomes tyrannical, haughty and refuses to listen to the message of Islam (submission to God), the message of im?n (moral rectitude), the message of justice, the message of ihs?n (spiritual perfection), the message of peace for the world—and that is the Message of Islam—it will be reckoned among the tyrants whose final home will be Hell: “Truly Hell lies in wait for the tyrants.”
In the western culture, there are relics from the Torah and the gospels of accounts about the Hereafter, Paradise and Hell. However, there are no detailed accounts of such creatures similar to those contained in the Qur’ān because those scriptures were subject to human manipulation. “They (the tyrants) will dwell therein for ages. Nothing cool shall they taste therein, nor any drink, save a boiling fluid and a fluid dark, murky and intensely cold. A fitting recompense (for them).” Why? “For that they used not to fear any account (for their deeds).” They used not to love to meet God—Exalted be He. They used not to believe in the Hereafter.
Believing in the Hereafter and thinking about one’s post mortem destiny are the most important things over which should ponder the sensible people in civilized countries like the United States of America, or other countries in this age, and in every age. Unfortunately, the western man has firmly established himself in the conviction that after death, he will be dust. And if he is well off with millions of dollars in America, he will purchase from specialized corporations a place for him in a giant fridge. He will abide therein for centuries until modern science—he alleges, and that’s a silly allegation—discovers methods to bring the dead to life. Look at man’s tyranny, look at man’s aberration!
“For that they used not to fear any account (for their deeds), and they (impudently) treated our signs as false.” They used not to fear any account for their deeds, they used not to believe in the Hereafter because they did not listen, and they impudently treated God’s signs as false. They denied them a strong denial. “And everything We have preserved in a Book.” Everything is kept in a record with God—Glorified be He: my words, my deeds, my life with its minute details and single moments, my inner thoughts, my intentions. God—Exalted be He—knows all those things.
“And everything We have preserved in a Book.” Because the modern man is full of conceit about his inventions and no longer has the feeling of wonderment, he easily concedes the existence of a giant or a tiny computer that records the deeds, the identities, the places of residence, the movements, the incomes, and all the particulars of the residents of New York, for instance, and sends them in a split of a second worldwide. Yet he would not accept that there is divine power.
The power of a creature can never be compared to that of the Maker—Exalted be He. While the creature accepts that he can make a giant or a tiny computer and work wonders with it, he would not accept that there is a Maker Who has a computer—God forgive me for making such analogy—that can record and compute the deeds of all creatures, of former and later times, of all generations and species, of all ages and centuries. He would not accept that. God—Glorified be He—is the All-Mighty and has full knowledge of the Record. “And everything We have preserved in a Book. So taste (the fruits of your deeds).” It is said on the Day of Judgment to man who disbelieved in God in this world: “So taste (the fruits of your deeds).”
In this noble chapter, God—Exalted be He—mentioned the accounts about Hell and the Hereafter before talking of the destiny of the blessed believers who are the opposite of the tyrants. The opposite of the tyrants are the pious who fear God—Glorified be He, who do not treat their brothers and sisters in humanity arrogantly and unjustly, who do not wreak havoc on the land, the sea, and the sky.
“Verily for the righteous there will be the greatest of achievements (in the best of places)” in the Hereafter. “Gardens enclosed and vineyards.” In Paradise, there are gardens and vineyards. The naturally disposed man who lives in an agricultural and pastoral society understands perfectly the meaning of having gardens of palm trees and vineyards. The modern man would not wonder at such divine favors. Because he has plenty of money, he can purchase from the nearby supermarkets processed, canned grapes and bananas that have been brought to him from the four quarters of the globe. But at the same time in the West, the sensible of this age are concerned about the environment and the destiny of the environment. If the environment is damaged, there will no longer be gardens or vineyards.
Dear brothers and sisters,
You may have noticed that in my speech I have been deliberately addressing your minds, your hearts and your souls. The reason is that I am a man who seeks no reward from you in this world, but I rather hope to earn a reward from God—Exalted be He—in the Hereafter. At this stage, I say to each one of you: please read the Noble Qur’ān, go back to the Noble Qur’ān. Those of you who know Arabic very well, let them refer to some authentic interpretations of the Qur’ān for assistance. As for those who do not know Arabic very well, please exert every effort to learn it. That’s indispensable. But meanwhile, you may resort to some reputable, trustworthy translations of the meanings of the Qur’ān. The translation of the Qur’ān is something difficult. A translation does not convey the Message in its complete form. It only gives an overview, a foretaste of the Message of the Qur’ān.
In the end of this session, I ask God—Exalted be He—to grant us peace, security and guidance.
I seek refuge with God from the cursed Evil One, “In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise is due to God, the Lord of all creatures. Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgment. You do we worship and Your aid we seek. Show us the straight way, the way of those on whom You have bestowed favors, not (the way of) those who earn Your anger, nor those who go astray.” Amen.
O Lord! Shed Your blessings upon our Master Muhammad, the Prophet, and upon his wives, Mothers of Believers, his progeny, and his family even as You shed them upon our Master Abraham. You are Worthy of all praise, the Glorious. “Glorified be Your Lord, the Lord of Honor and Majesty, from the things they attribute unto Him, and Peace be upon the Messengers, and Praise be to God, the Lord of all creatures.”