Chapter One: The Opening (Al Fatiha)

Verse 4......Part 2

(This session is also available in audio and video)


Session 16

Chapter 1, verses 4, a continuation

God is the creator of the day of resurrection, and He alone has the knowledge of its events, its heaven, hellfire and all creation that will be taken into account that day.  God wants you to feel assured that if you were wronged in life, a day will come in which there will be no injustice.     

Even in this world, if it were not for God's justice, people would have endlessly oppressed and transgressed over each other.  But when the Hand of God strikes the tyrant, it makes him an example for others.  And whoever escapes the torment of this world, despite his sin, will meet God in the hereafter so that He will take him into account.  And this warrants praise.  Once you have this certainty in your heart, any feelings of grief, bitterness or resentment that you may have because of the injustice around you are lessened.   

Once, a person came to a righteous man and asked: I would like to know whether I am amongst the people of this world or the people of the hereafter? The righteous man replied: God is most Merciful, thus He did not place peoples' fate and judgment in the hands of their akin.  He placed the scale of each person is in his or her own hand.  Your scale is in your hand, and you are most aware in which direction its balance is tipping.  You may fool others with appearances, but you cannot cheat yourself.  So, look inside and you will know whether you are from amongst the people of this world or the people of the hereafter.

The man asked: How can I do that? The righteous man replied with a question: Whose presences gives you more pleasure, the person who comes to give you money or the person who comes asking you for charity? The man remained silent.  The righteous man continued: if you are happy when someone gives you money, then you are from amongst the people of this world.  But if you are pleased when someone comes asking for charity, then you are from amongst the people of the hereafter.  For man rejoices over whoever gives him what he likes.  The person who gives you wealth is, in fact, giving you this world, and the person who takes charity from you, gives you the hereafter.  If you want to be amongst the people of the hereafter then celebrate and seek those who invite you to charity and good work more than those who give you wealth. 

The concept of ‘the Owner of the Day of Resurrection’ is an essential pillar of faith that cannot be overlooked.  It means that the beginning and the end is from God.  It means that we will all meet him, so we must prepare for that day by keeping God in mind in all our actions.  In contrast, the disbeliever goes about his or her daily life carelessly without taking the final outcome into consideration as mentioned in the following verse: 

As for those who disbelieve, their deeds are like a mirage in the desert which the thirsty takes for water till he reaches it to find that there was nothing, and finds God with him who settles his account, for God is swift at the reckoning. (Chapter 24:Verse 39)

This person has spent their entire life doing whatever he or she wants.....As long as there is no accountability, who will he or she fear? And for whom should he or she restrict their actions in this world?  Religion is accountability!  Similarly, if there had not been a day in which we will be taken to account then why do we pray, fast or give charity?

In fact the entire universe in all its movement is built on the basis of that day…..the day for which you and I must prepare.  When God addresses the believers in the Quran he refers to it as “the great attainment” because the true greatness of the hereafter is that it grants you an everlasting pleasure in paradise.  It is the day which makes us tolerate that which we dislike, strive on God’s path, and spend our wealth to help the poor and the needy so that we may succeed.  God also named it “the Day of Recompense”, because it is the time when every person will be held accountable for his faith.  Did he or she act upon it, or waste it?  

The hereafter also signifies God's justice as some people who transgressed and wronged others may have managed to escape from the punishment of this world.  Would those also be able to escape God's justice? Of course not! They may have escaped the laws and sentences of humans, only to face God's punishment in the hereafter.  Likewise, you must not think that it is good for you to get away with sin without consequences in life; rather it is to your detriment as you may have escaped from a limited punishment to an eternal one.  Truly immense praise is due to God for he alone will judge us that day, for he is the most just and most generous.    

Before we move on to the next verse, we should take time to explain the concept of 'vision'.  There are two types of vision: The vision of sight (by the eye) and spiritual vision (by the heart).  Let’s examine them one by one.  Your vision -in essence your eyesight- is something tangible you experience first-hand through your senses and, as a result, it is irrelevant to belief.  For example, you cannot say "I believe I can see you" if you can already see me.  As long as you can see me, then this accounts for certainty, not belief.  Spiritual vision, on the other hand, is when you believe in the unseen as though you can see it.  This is a key element because spiritual vision, once attained through faith and insight, is more certain than the vision of the eye.

Umar ibn alKhattab, one of the prophet’s closest companions, said:

While we were one day sitting with the Prophet (Peace and blessings upon him), a man with very dark hair, dressed in the whitest of clothes came to us.  None of us knew him, yet he had no trace of travel or hardship.  He sat down close to the Prophet, placed his palms on his thighs and rested his knees against the prophet's knees, then said, "O Muhammad, Tell me about Islam." The messenger of God replied, "Islam is to testify that there is no deity but God and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should perform daily prayers, pay the alms, fast during the month of Ramadan, and perform pilgrimage to the Ka'bah in Mecca if you have the means to do so." the man replied, "You have spoken truly." We were amazed by this man questioning the prophet and then telling him that he was right, but he went on to say, "Inform me about faith." The Prophet answered, "It is that you believe in God, His angels, His Books, His Messengers and in the day of judgment, and in fate -both in its good and evil aspects-" The man replied "You have spoken truly." Then he said, "Inform me about righteousness."  The prophet answered, "Righteousness is that you should serve God as if you could see Him, for if you cannot see Him, rest assured that He sees you." The man asked, "Inform me about the day of resurrection." The Messenger of God answered, "I know no more about the hour of judgment than you do."  The man then asked, "Well, inform me about the signs of the coming of the Day of Judgment." The prophet answered, "It is near when you see children treat their mother as a servant, and when you see the barefooted, naked, and destitute herdsmen competing with each other in raising lofty buildings." After that the man got up and left.  The prophet turned to me and asked, "Umar, do you know who the questioner was?" I replied, "God and His Messenger know best." He said, "That was the angel Gabriel. He came to teach you your religion."

When the Prophet, peace be upon him, said regarding righteousness (It is that you should serve God as if you could see Him, for if you cannot see Him, know that He sees you.) he was referring to the manifestation of spiritual vision within the believer.  When a person believes, he starts to see all his affairs through the prism of this spiritual enlightenment.  For instance, when he recites a verse about paradise, he imagines the people of paradise in immense pleasure.  And when he recites a verse regarding the people of hellfire, his body trembles as though he can see them in torment.