Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Chapter 2, Verse 39
“And those who disbelieve and deny Our signs - those will be companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally." (Chapter 2: Verse 39)
In the previous verse, God informed us that Adam will be given guidance and a curriculum from Him to follow on earth. Whoever believes and properly applies it will have nothing to fear in this world, or worry about in the next. In this verse, we are presented with the contrasting image of the disbelievers. God began with the phrase: ‘and those who disbelieve and deny Our signs.’ Disbelief, as we explained earlier, is the effort to conceal the existence of Allah. And the effort to conceal something is, in by itself, proof that it exists.
In fact in order to conceal something, it has to be present and understood by the mind first. When someone tells you about something that does not exist, you find it hard to understand. You have to relate it to what you already know by saying: it is big like this mountain or blue like this lake and so on. Once you understand something, you will have a name assigned to it. A rocket, for example, did not exist, and thus did not have a name until it was created. Neither, did the word laser exist until it was discovered.
Let's apply that concept to the word 'God.' If you do a search within every present language and within every language that ever existed, you will find that each one of them has a word for ‘God’. In fact, when God –Who is unseen- name is mentioned, it is understood by everyone whether little or old, ignorant or learned, the one who travelled the world and the one who never left his or her hometown. All of these people know God through the nature of faith and the instinct which He instilled within our hearts.
Allah continues: ‘and deny Our signs’. The word 'signs' is translated from the Arabic origin 'Ayat'. The word 'Ayat' applies to three things. First are universal signs such as the sun, moon, stars, earth, and the oceans. Allah created these signs in a manner that far surpasses the ability of humans, so they may serve as indicators and reminders of the existence of a greater power. Miracles are also known as signs. When Allah sends a Messenger to a nation, He grants him the ability to do what is against the laws of nature. This proves to the people that he is sent from God. Believers are often attacked for their faith, and they go through hardships which necessitates a miracle that strengthens and steadies them on the straight path. Lastly, The word ‘Aayat' is used for verses of the Noble Quran. These miraculous words of God confirm the authenticity of the prophethood of Muhammad until the day of judgement, and serve to strengthen the believers at times of hardship.
The verse explains that those who deny God's signs are disbelievers, and they are the ones who reject and oppose faith. But isn't denial the result of the inability to understand? The answer is, more often than not, denial is intentional. Take for example the people of Pharaoh who were afflicted by trials, difficulties, and diseases that struck them so that they may turn to God and believe. However, despite being certain that these are signs from Allah they persisted in their denial as explained in the following verse:
They denied them, in their wickedness and their pride, even though their souls acknowledged them as true. See how those who spread corruption met their end! (27:14)
Out of mercy and compassion for mankind, Allah made his signs clear, magnificent, and numerous. If anyone takes a little bit of time to pay attention and study any of these signs, each would surely lead him or her to the creator. But sadly, many people either ignore, deny, or attribute these signs to other than God. This denial often stems from the desire to follow and pursue the inclinations and whims of one's self.
God grouped those who disbelieve and those who deny His signs under one punishment. He says: ‘those will be companions of the fire.’ A companion is someone who is fond with his or her mate and likes to spend time together. Hence, ‘companions of the fire’ means that hellfire has passion for the disbelievers. It literally rejoices as the disbelievers enter it, similar to the happiness of a person upon the arrival of his or her dear friend. God says:
On that Day We will ask Hell, "Are you filled?" And it will answer, "Is there yet more for me?" (50:30)
Here you can see the intensity of love between Hellfire and the disbelievers. The joy comes from performing the duty that it was created for by burning the disbelievers, sinners and hypocrites as they disbelieved and caused corruption on earth. Likewise, paradise loves the companionship of every person who believed in God and applied His teachings in sincerity. God says:
As for those who believe and do good, righteous deeds, and have humbled themselves before their Lord, they are the companions of Paradise; they will abide therein. (11:23)
Paradise accompanies the believers, loves them and clings to them, just as the fire escorts the disbelievers and the deniers and feels satisfaction when burning them. These companionships are eternal, never to change, subside or decrease. God says:
These are the people who buy the life of this world at the price of the Hereafter: their torment will not be lightened, nor will they be helped. (02:86)
Always keep in mind that Adam (peace be upon him) descended to earth while carrying with him the guidance and practice of the first heavenly curriculum on earth. God never left man on earth, not even for a single moment, without granting him the guidance that illuminates for him the right path. Moreover, within the curriculum, Allah legislated repentance and forgiveness so that you and I do not feel hopeless or despair from our mistakes. Allah who created you is the most Merciful; He opened wide for you the doors mercy, and the doors of paradise. When you make a mistake, or commit sin, always remember repentance and move back to your creator. Faith is available to whoever wants to follow God's path, and forgiveness is ever present for whoever happens to deviate from it.