Alif, Lam, Mim. Allah-SWT ! …There is no Ilaaha but He-SWT the Almighty, the Wise.
Surah AI-Baqarah ended with the prayer for victory and sway over the non-believers. This Surah discusses the nature of dealings and interactions with them, as if the same topic is being carried further.
To begin with, the difference between a believer and a non-believer is explained. Those believing in Unity and the Divine Attributes are the believers and those who repudiate these are the non-believers. In other words, mankind is divided into two groups of people in this world, namely the believers and the non-believers. This division along ideological lines can also be termed as two nations theory. The believers are essentially a single entity whereas disbelief has further sub-divisions but basically all non-believers constitute a single nation.
Unity has been presented here as a declaration of Allah-SWT’s Unity, that no one besides Him-SWT has the right to be worshiped. Alif-Lam-Mim are the Isolated Letters symbolizing some profound meanings known only to Allah-SWT and His-SWT Prophet-SW. However, a devout follower with a strong spiritual connection with the Holy Prophet-SW may be blessed with knowledge directly from Allah-SWT and he may discern their meanings to a certain extent. The meanings so perceived will, however, not be practicable for others who will still have to believe these Letters to be known only to Allah-SWT and His-SWT Prophet-SW.
Next is the declaration of Divinity and Unity of Allah-SWT , which is supported by the logical evidence that Allah-SWT is Himself Ever-Living and the Sustainer of the entire universe. Nothing can survive without the support of His-SWT Omnipotence. Worship is a demonstration of extreme humility and worthlessness, which is only for the One-SWT Who-SWT is the Greatest and Most Perfect by all standards, and above all needs. A creation, which is dependent for its own survival whether, an idol or an angel, a lofty mountain or a river, a saint or a Prophet-AS can never deserve to be worshipped. Worship is only for the One-SWT Who has always been and shall always be, and that is none save Allah-SWT .
This fundamental evidence is supported by a secondary argument. Unity is not only revealed in the Quran or by the Holy Prophet-SW but has been elementary in all the preceding Scriptures. All the Prophets-AS and Messengers-AS of Allah-SWT invited mankind to believe in the same reality. The Message brought by the first human being and Allah-SWT’s Prophet Aadam-AS was La Ilaha illAllah-SWT , (there is no god but Allah-SWT ). Centuries later, the same reality was reasserted by Prophet Nuh-AS and after a wide stretch of time, by Prophet Ibrahim-AS. His-AS son Prophet Isma’il-AS carried the same Message. The same call was given by Prophets Musa-AS and Harun-AS well as Prophet 'Isa-AS. Finally the Holy Prophet-SW is conveying the ancient Message of Unity and there is nothing new about it. Indeed, the declaration of Allah-SWT ’s Unity and Divinity by more or less a hundred and twenty four thousand chosen personages spread over a long period of time, in different dialects and eras, is itself a proof of the authenticity of the Message. Its credibility gets further reinforced and strengthened when the characters of these noble souls are taken into account. They were not only paragons of morality themselves, but also educated mankind about ethical standards. They were righteous, truthful and trustworthy. The lives of these exalted souls were pure, absolutely free of any evil. They lived centuries apart from each other so by any worldly means or resources it was impossible that they could have communicated Message from one to another. Certainly they all received the Revelation being Allah-SWT’s Messengers-AS and were told by Allah-SWT to spread the word of Unity. Finally the raising of Prophet Muhammad-SW enlightened the entire universe with this truth. In the face of all the logical and traditional evidence available, anyone who rejects Unity or any Attribute of Allah-SWT , or worships anyone other than Him-SWT , is certainly a non-believer. And it is obvious that by rejecting the evidence, the non-believer is inviting a tormenting doom as Allah-SWT prevails over everything and is quick at reprisals.
Besides, among His-SWT Attributes is the quality that nothing in the heavens and the earth can escape His-SWT vigilance and grasp. He-SWT is so absolutely Powerful that He-SWT fashions a baby, as He-SWT pleases, in its mother's womb. It will be a boy or a girl, fair or dark, beautiful or ugly, He-SWT decides Alone. The mother bearing the baby is not aware of what is developing inside her womb, but Allah-SWT is fully aware of everything, as He-SWT Himself is the Maker. Thus it is impossible to hide anything from the Almighty, or to evade His-SWT sphere of control. In other words, a non-believer cannot escape under any circumstances. Allah-SWT , Who-SWT is the Creator, the Provider and the Sustainer, both here and in Akhirah, deserves to be worshipped. It must be clearly understood that there is no god except Him-SWT . He-SWT prevails over everything and is the Wise.
It is He-SWT who has sent…and none except the men of understanding will heed.
It is Allah-SWT Who-SWT revealed unto His-SWT bondsman the Quran with some firmly constructed Ayat that are unambiguous and free from all obscurity. A person who is familiar with the language will have no difficulty or confusion in understanding the obvious meanings of the word or in their interpretation. Take for example; "Say you: come, I shall recite what your Rabb-SWT has forbidden to you..." 6:151, or other such Ayat: As one ponders over them, the meaning and the propriety is easily understood.
Washing Of Feet
As an example, Tafsir-e-Mazhari has cited the Ayah referring to the washing of the feet in ablution: “O’ you who believe! When you stand up for Salat, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows and wipe your heads and wash your feet up to the ankles.” (7:6) ‘Wash your feet up to the ankles,’ clearly states the extent to which feet must be washed. The word ‘feet’ is grammatically coupled with ‘face’ and ‘hands’ and not with ‘heads’. If it is read in conjunction with ‘heads’, it would mean ‘to wipe the heads to the ankles’, which will be a totally wrong interpretation. The Shiite scholars claim that K'ab stands for the raised upper part of the foot, so both the feet must be wiped up to the risen part. But this meaning of K'ab is against the obvious usage. By consensus, the meaning of K'ab is ankle, and since there are two ankles in a foot, therefore, the ankles would be the extent of washing and not wiping the feet.
In short, firmly constructed Ayat are those whose meanings are clear and definite. These Ayat provide the basis for all teachings. There are other Ayat, which are symbolic. Unless explained by the Holy Prophet-SW, no linguist can have an access to the real intent of these no matter how serious his thought might be.
The Ayat, which have been directly explained by the Holy Prophet-SW, are termed as Mujammil (abridged) such as those relating to Salat, Zakat, Hajj and usury. And those Ayat that have not been so explained are called Mutashabihat (symbolic). These pertain to matters not directly related to practice such as the Isolated Letters Alif-Lam-Mim or, for example, the Ayah “The Beneficent established on the Throne”. To believe in these is mandatory because they are true. The understanding of such symbolic Ayat is, however, given to people of cognition through intuition or by Divine teachings, like Prophet Adam-AS was blessed with the knowledge of all names. But it must be remembered that gleaning from the Prophetic knowledge is impossible without spiritual manifestations. It happens occasionally; when words and speech fail! Therefore, it is an impossible task for the common man. The right course of action regarding the interpretation of these symbolic Ayat is to check them against the clearly constructed ones. Where there is a conflict, the perceived interpretation must be rejected outrightly leaving no room for any argument. For example, the Quran categorically declares with regard to Prophet 'Isa-AS: He-AS was no more than a man whom We-SWT favoured 43:59; ‘Isa-AS is like Adam-AS in the sight of Allah-SWT , He-SWT created him (Aadam-AS) from dust. 3:59.
Now if from the Mutashabihat like Kalimatu Allah-SWT (Allah-SWT ’s Word) and Ruh Minhu (spirit from Him-SWT ) anyone tries to prove that Prophet ‘Isa-AS is a partner in Divinity or is Allah-SWT’s son, he will be totally wrong. These Ayat were revealed to the Holy Prophet-SW when a delegation from the Christians colony of Najran waited on him-SW. The Holy Prophet-SW proved that the belief in trinity was false. Thoroughly confounded, they asked the Holy Prophet-SW “Don't you call Prophet 'Isa-AS as Kalimatu Allah-SWT (Allah-SWT ’s word).” He-SW replied: “Undoubtedly”; “Well then it proves his-AS Divinity,” they added. The Holy Prophet-SW told them that the people who have perverted hearts and are devoid of pious nature pursue the Mutashabihat and interpret them according to their own vain desires.
Letters And Numerals
The commentators quote an incident that the Jews tried to calculate the life span of the Muslim Ummah by the numerical values of the Letters. The Jewish scholars, Hayye ibn Akhtab and K'ab bin Ashraf etc called on the Holy Prophet-SW and said: “We have come to know that Alif-Lam-Mim has been revealed to you.” The Holy Prophet-SW replied in the affirmative. They said: “We take this as the life expectancy of your-SW Ummah, as its numerical value is 71. Are there any more revelations of this kind?” The Holy Prophet-SW replied, “Yes. Alif-Lam-Mim Sad.” Hayye calculated it as 161 years and asked: “Are any more?” The Holy Prophet-SW replied: “Yes Alif-Lam-Ra”. They again calculated and said that it came out to be 231 years, and inquired if there were any more of such Letters. The Holy Prophet-SW replied in the affirmative and told them more Letters: “Alif-Lam-Mim-Ra”. Hayye said that the value now became 371 years and in a state of confusion added that they did not believe in such things. It is a common practice with the Shiites today to rely upon the Letters and their numerical values. Some heretics copy the same. This practice is nothing but ignorance and a replica of Jewish traditions carried on only by those with perverted hearts in order to beguile people. Their aim is to distort beliefs in different ways through Jews who launched it with the intention harming Islam. Thus the sects Maruriah, M’utazilah and Rafidhi came into existence. Often ignorant people and lately heretics indulge in such interpretations to their own detriment, whereas Allah-SWT only knows the real meaning of these Isolated Letters. Unless He-SWT Himself decides to inform someone, no one can dare know. It does not, however, mean that even the Holy Prophet-SW did not know, because Allah-SWT declares in the Quran: “It is for Us-SWT to explain it and make it clear.” (75:19). In the light of this Ayah, no part of Quran could possibly have been left unexplained to the Holy Prophet-SW.
In short, no one merely relying on linguistic skills can gain any access to the secrets of these Isolated Letters unless and until Allah-SWT reveals Himself. It also indicates that not only the Holy Prophet-SW himself, but also his-SW devout followers get their share of Prophetic beneficence. The most chosen ones are blessed with this knowledge directly from His-SWT Presence (Ilm-e Ladduni). To acquire such knowledge is possible only through an unexplainable association with the Being or His-SWT Attributes, outside the pale of human effort and striving. And those firmly grounded in knowledge say that the entire Quran is from Allah-SWT and we believe in it. According to the commentators this refers to the Ahl-e-Sunnah, who accept the interpretations endorsed by the Companions-RAU, the pious precursors and the consensus of Ummah. These people rely entirely upon the Muhkamat as the main axis and acknowledge their lack of knowledge regarding the Mutashabihat, leaving them to Allah-SWT.Indeed only those are guided who have a sound mind and a pure nature and who do not make false claims to knowledge, because such an attitude is arch ignorance.
“O our Rabb-SWT ! … Indeed Allah-SWT never fails to keep His-SWT promise.”
Those who cherish guidance as Allah-SWT’s Blessing and always seek His-SWT Protection saying: “O Allah-SWT ! Cause not our hearts to stray after You-SWT have guided us and blessed us with the Book and the capability to believe in both Muhkamat and Mutashabihat. In short guidance depends upon the well being of the heart and only those actions are rewarded which are performed with utmost sincerity.
To safeguard Din, it is imperative to pay attention to the purification of one's heart. It is heart breaking to see this important aspect being ignored today. Neither do we see reformers with illuminated hearts, nor earnest seekers of this wealth. It appears as if this market has run out of business and all those once actively involved in it have departed, leaving behind a world inhabited by wild roaming in human garb.
Yet it must be remembered that the world would never be without people having enlightened hearts, because that would mark its end. According to the Holy Prophet-SW, the Qiyamah will befall when there will be no one saying “Allah-SWT Allah-SWT ”, that is, there will be none whose heart is engaged in Allah-SWT’s Zikr. Pronouncing Allah-SWT’s Name orally carries no value unless endorsed by the heart, nor does it avert Allah-SWT’s Wrath. Therefore, it is indispensable to search for people with purified hearts, as their company is life-giving. So the righteous always pray to Allah-SWT for His-SWT Mercy. This Mercy is not mere affluence and riches, but the company of the Aulia, where Allah-SWT’s Blessings descend, and are dissipated. It also denotes steadfastness in Din. Only the company of His-SWT friends is the source of His-SWT Mercy.
Allah-SWT is the Greatest Bestower and will surely summon everyone before Him-SWT on the Day of Resurrection. And it is also absolutely sure that He-SWT never breaks His-SWT Word. Whereas it does not befit His-SWT Grace not to honour a promise of reward, the non-conformists (M'utazilah) believe that the promise of retribution will also be kept. However, besides faithlessness and polytheism, which He-SWT has vowed not to forgive, no sin is grave enough for His-SWT Mercy. Just as punishment is conditional to lack of repentance, so it is to absence of mercy and forgiveness. Therefore, if He-SWT forgives out of Mercy, it shall certainly not be a breach of promise.