We are all in need. Think not? We’re in need of our next breath, our next heartbeat, and countless other necessities. Realizing that we’re in constant need, and that the Creator satisfies our needs constantly, should be very humbling. But, how would we act when the Creator puts people needing compassion in our paths?
Self-reference is one of the keys to honesty and spiritual growth. Let’s apply some self-reference to this question. The difference between our status and the Creator is monolithic, yet he treats us so generously. Why would a far greater being care for something as insignificant as us? It’s because of his kindness and compassion.
We all want to be treated with compassion by this immense, supreme being. So how should we behave when someone “needy” crosses our path? The honest answer is to treat everyone with an expression of gratitude to the Creator by being kind and compassionate to our fellow creation.
Only someone being dishonest, someone detached from reality and arrogant, thinks that they’re better than another person. In reality, there is no difference between the arrogant (i.e. one who thinks he isn’t needy) and another person who knows that he is needy (there is an enormous difference spiritually, of course):
The Quran confirms this beautiful verse from the Bible:
“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (New International Version, Matthew 19:24).
This doesn’t literally mean that the financially wealthy will not enter Heaven, as we know Prophet Solomon was also very wealthy. By “rich man” it means an arrogant person, since those with “wealth” in anything usually think they are beyond need and better than other people.
The Quranic verse confirming the above follows:
“Those who reject our signs and turn away from them in arrogance, the gates of Heaven will not open for them and they will not enter the Garden until the camel passes through the eye of the needle. Thus do we reward the criminals” (The Quran, 7:40).1
Creator, may we be grateful for your kindness by being kind to our fellow creation. Whether it is providing food to the hungry, respect to the disrespected, kindness to those treated wrongly, or knowledge to those in need, and even of the arrogant, help us offer healing for this sickness (never forget self-reference: we must treat ourselves this way as well). Thank you for making our existence a manifestation of your kindness.
See you next post, God willing 🙂
1. This is the verse from the Quran stating how it relates to the Bible and other scriptures: “We have revealed to you the Book in Truth as a confirmation for what came before it from the Book and as a guard for it […]” (The Quran 5:48).
The Quran confirms the beauty and truth in Biblical scripture, but it’s also a guard that protects previous scriptures from the changes that self-serving interests have made to it over time (2:79). For example, saying the prophets, willfully or through other ills, engaged in terrible acts like Prophet David committing adultery then conspiring to have the woman’s husband killed, that Prophet Solomon became an idol-worshiper before passing, or that Prophet Lot’s daughters made him drunk and then did obscene things with him-God forbid (See 2 Samuel 11, Genesis 19:32).
Here are some details. This is what was said about Prophet Solomon in the Bible:
“For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done” (New American Standard Bible, 1 kings 11 4-6).
And here is the Quran protecting the original message of the scriptures:
“And they follow what the devils recite against the kingdom of Solomon. Solomon did not disbelieve (by worshiping idols) […]” (The Quran, 2:102).
May I infer that you’re shy? My inference is based on your manner, how you speak, and that you started blushing as soon as I asked.
Inferences are special because they let us come to conclusions that aren’t clearly stated. A person doesn’t have to tell you that they’re shy. You can figure that out by using evidence from their behavior. When it comes to reading, inferences help us read more into a phrase than the words actually say. Inferences are how we “read between the lines.”
“It’s Ramadan and the sun is smiling on me.” Is this person just talking about the weather and time of year? Or is she happy and feeling the warmth of the holy month of Ramadan?
Inferences are conclusions we make that are based on clear evidence, but what kinds of evidence can we use? Everything: when and where words are used, symbols, figurative language, dialogue, you name it.
Almost anything can be used as evidence, but there’s a difference between assumptions and conclusions, a weak inference and a strong one. I can assume that my daughter, who’s only allowed two cookies a day, did not eat the entire box of chocolate cookies because she’s “my little angel.” If I stick to this assumption even though she walks past me with her head stuck in an empty box of cookies, then I can be sure I have myself a weak inference. I could also investigate by digging up more evidence of a cookie monster attack, like asking her to smile. Chocolate-smeared teeth make for great supporting evidence. Anyway, assumptions come from quick glances and weakly supported clues that usually ignore evidence contradicting our position. Meanwhile, a strong inference is the opposite. It’s based on many well-connected, solid details that all support the inference in different ways.
Here’s a good observation from the Quran to get us started on making great inferences: in the entire Quran, God swears by the pen but never swears by the sword (68:1). This is very meaningful. You can only appreciate how meaningful it is if you make the inferences, though. So, what do you think? What are your inferences?
To make this inference, take into account the symbols used—something you should always do when reflecting on verses. In this case we have the pen and the sword. What does each symbol stand for? The pen is a symbol of sophistication, education, truth, and etiquette. The sword is a symbol of defense, power, danger, and aggression. From these facts very strong inferences can be made. God swears by the pen instead of the sword because he is teaching us that the pen is more powerful than the sword. We can also infer that God promotes education in Islam first and foremost, not violence, as the misguided assume.
Take a look at the metaphors in this verse:
“And if all trees on earth were pens and the ocean were ink, supported with seven more oceans, God’s words would not be exhausted. God is indeed Mighty, Wise” (31:27).
Well, isn’t the Quran God’s words? It might take just one pint of ink to write all of it—not an ocean’s worth. What’s the inference? Although the ink runs dry after a pint, the meanings contained in the Quran’s verses are infinite, which even oceans of ink could not satisfy. This is beauty atop beauty. Can you infer anything else from these metaphors?
Remember to support the inferences you make with as much evidence as you can. This is what separates a solid inference from a weak one. Here is another verse supporting the idea of infinite meanings in the Quran:
“In this Quran we have provided an example of everything for humanity, but man is quite contentious” (18:54).
How can you have an example of everything in just one book? Easy. Because the Quran applies to everything through its symbols, metaphors, and universal principles. Remember that evidence is the ingredient of great inferences and keep thinking!
This is an excerpt of our book “Experience the Symbolic Literature of the Quran” which can be found on Amazon.com
Through earth’s valleys,
This lowest life,
Through cacti and prickly pears
Adorned with spikes—
While pointing wanderers to what’s inside:
For the thirst-blistered wanderer,
The lover of God,
How sweet is its nectar!
When you wander
Through the world’s parchment
Only when you realize
You were never, ever alone.
With the Creator
Through his beautiful expanse.
Anger is just a boiling,
of us latching
onto the thing we’re losing—
wealth, dignity, health—
that we think makes us “whole.”
Anger is like anchors,
chains pulling us to the earth.
Instead of loss pointing us
to the One we will never lose:
our anchors strain,
try might and main,
to keep us stuck to this earth,
plowing scars through it’s crust.
And all the while,
Life pushes us
ahead and up.
keep us back and pull us down.
Help me let loose the anchors of anger,
that chain me to my lower nature.
Help me be a healer.
To heal myself and everyone around.
Our first post in this series was “Materialism: The Lower Nature and Development.” Today’s post covers what Prophets Jesus and Joseph taught us about materialism in the Bible and the Quran.1 Both the Bible and the Quran have much in common, and this shouldn’t be surprising. Take a look at this verse:
“We have revealed to you the Book in Truth as a confirmation for what came before it from the Book and as a guard for it […]” (The Quran 5:48).
Interesting! So the Quran confirms the truths in previous scriptures, and it’s also a guard that protects them from the changes material-minded men have added over time (2:79). For example, saying the prophets, our teachers, willfully or through other ills engaged in obscene crimes like Prophet David committing adultery then conspiring to have the woman’s husband killed, that Prophet Solomon became an idol-worshiper before passing, or that Prophet Lot’s daughters got him drunk then had incest with him multiple times-God forbid!2
Like all prophets, Prophet Jesus taught people not to worship the material—any created thing—but to serve God instead. He taught this beautiful, basic truth in the Bible by reinforcing the dependent and independent (material and Creator-of-material) relationship between himself and God:
“Then a certain ruler asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call Me good?’ Jesus replied. ‘No one is good except God alone’ ” (Berean Study Bible, Luke 18:18-19).
Prophet Jesus beautifully declares that he is not Good. No one is Good. Good is Independent, just like Truth or Light. These are all attributes of God alone. Prophet Jesus reflects the Goodness of God like the moon reflects the sun’s light. Prophet Jesus is just dependent and all of his magnificence comes from God, the Independent. Prophet Jesus is reminding people to mature from the material mind state—our lower nature that wants to focus on something in the material world so we could label ourselves by it, objectify it, and worship it. He’s asking us to grow into higher consciousness: instead of serving the material, serve the creator of all material.
What does the Quran say about this beautiful point? Well, if you’ve guessed that it confirms it, then you’re right. Prophet Joseph says,
“I do not consider myself innocent. Indeed, the (lower) self commands towards evil—except whom my Lord has given mercy” (The Quran, 12:53).3
Prophet Joseph is saying that he, by himself, is not innocent. The Prophet’s innocence is solely dependent on God. It’s only God’s Goodness that Prophet Joseph reflects, something that God bestows by his mercy on whomever he pleases.
When we live by our higher nature, then we are “at one with God.” This is the state that all the Prophets lived in. They were in absolute harmony with the will of their Creator. They were never independent of God, but they did wholly and consciously accept their dependence on him. This is why in the Quran you read statements like “obey God and obey the messenger.” Because the Prophet Muhammad was at one with the will of God, obeying him is obeying God. This is also why Prophet Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (Berean Study Bible, John 10:30 ) and also in this verse:
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him'” (Berean Study Bible, John 14:6-7 ).
First, remember that this verse is metaphorical and we must consider all the sayings of Prophet Jesus in the Bible. We “see” God after we’ve seen Prophet Jesus, because Prophet Jesus is “at one with God.” He is reflecting God’s goodness as one of the prophets God sent here to show us the way. Let’s get some more clarity from other verses of the Bible:
Jesus replied, “Is it not written in your Law: ‘I have said you are gods’ ? If he [God] called them gods to whom the word of God came —and the Scripture cannot be broken— then what about the One whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world? How then can you accuse Me of blasphemy for stating that I am the Son of God? (Berean Study Bible, John 10:34-36 )
Prophet Jesus did not mean that he was the literal son of God, like the Jews who wanted to stone him thought. In fact, he clarified what he meant by quoting Psalm 82:6 from the Old Testament. Here is the full verse he quoted:
“I said, ‘You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High’” (New American Standard Bible, Psalm 82:6).
In the Old Testament, being at one with God was referred to as being “God’s son” or being “gods,” but it doesn’t mean these literally. To avoid the confusion from people thinking that Prophet Jesus or others are literally god or God’s sons, the Quran says:
“Say God is one. He does not have children nor was he the child of another, and there is nothing comparable to him” (The Quran, Chapter 112).
Those looking at the Biblical phrases with their material nature will interpret them materially / literally.
Notice the pattern of similarities and remember what God said the Quran’s purpose was. This book is a confirmation of the scriptures that came before and a guard over them. The Quran clarifies what could have been misconstrued and points us away from our lower, material nature, back to our higher, spiritual nature.
The source of everything hazy and unclear is our desire for the material world. This world is alien to our true essence. Follow your God-given higher nature, as all the Prophets did, submit to the Creator alone, and be at one with God.
See you next post God willing 🙂
1. Prophets Jesus and Joseph are referred to as Prophets Esa and Yusuf, respectively, in the Quran.
2. See 2 Samuel 11 and Genesis 19:32. This is what was said about Prophet Solomon:
For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done (New American Standard Bible, 1 kings 11 4-6).
And here is the Quran guarding the scriptures and protecting them:
“And they follow what the devils recite against the kingdom of Solomon. Solomon did not disbelieve (by worshiping idols) […]” (The Quran 2:102).
3. This statement was made after Prophet Joseph was freed from prison and exonerated of the allegations against him, but it also applies to any time and place.
We don’t make the sun shine. We don’t make food grow from the dirt. We didn’t create ourselves, and neither do we keep our hearts beating. And one fateful day we will certainly pass away. What am I getting at? This is a reminder of how dependent we are. But the lower nature, that stagnates on the material plane, tries life and limb to convince us that we, or whatever material thing we worship, are really independent.
Why does the lower nature insist upon materialism? Well, it’s the path of least resistance. It’s like a rock rolling downhill. That’s just how it works. Whether it’s object materialism (worshiping property: seeking its possession as life’s purpose and forsaking the higher nature in its pursuit)1, communal materialism (worshiping a community or system: seeking to be part of a community so we blindly obey its dictates even when it’s against our God-given, higher nature—this communal system can be religious, tribal, political, or whatever organizing institution you think of; this type of materialism is striking because it helps religious materialists realize their sickness),2 power materialism (worshiping our lower nature: seeking to serve our lower desires for power, influence, and lust), or pain materialism (fixating upon some worldly loss that detaches us from higher awareness and keeps us from developing and maturing).3
A person can lean more towards one type of materialism or be infected by all of them.
The purpose of God’s message is to help us develop from the lower, materialistic plane so that we could mature into aware beings. Don’t get me wrong. The material world is important; it’s our foundation for thought and inference that lead directly to the Creator:
“He makes the corn, the olive, the date-palms, the grapes, and every kind of fruit grow forth for you. In that is a sign for people who reflect” (16:11)
There you have it. We become aware by using our God-given faculties of thought and understanding to reflect upon the signs in the material world. This place is our womb for development. Serving the material world, a created thing, as if it were the Creator is the sickness that we’re being called to mature from. This is how we grow, how we live in awareness and tranquil positivity.
Remember the contrast of dependent and independent. The independent is always superior to the dependent, just as light is superior to night, heat is superior to cold, and so on. Everything material is dependent, and so it can never be worthy of worship (worship also means service.) Only the Independent, the Creator, is worthy of our worship.
This is part 1 of this article on materialism. Please click here to read part 2.
See you next post, God willing 🙂
1. “Worship” here means anything that we serve, applying ourselves to obtain satisfaction or fulfill a purpose.
2. One sign of a religious materialist is a person who gives their system the attributes of God. They often judge others and condemn them to hell or bless them to Heaven, although these are God’s prerogatives. They declare that no one can have knowledge unless they go through their system, although God gives knowledge to whomever he pleases. It’s not an institution that gives knowledge to whomever it pleases. Religious materialists put limits on God’s power and confer those abilities to their system.
3. These categories of materialism aren’t mutually exclusive and their boundaries can be more blurred than strictly delineated.
Today’s post is a bit personal and shares some of the struggles in my journey. No matter how much I tried to progress personally and spiritually, something kept holding me back.
I notice myself easily being brought down by negative news. It’s like a bank, and every negative event that crosses me, I add to that account (with interest). I hold onto these bits of negativity and amass them. After the negativity permeates, boils, and spills over, I spread the frustration I feel to those around me, telling them about whatever injustice it was that took place.1
This is not beneficial, and only spreads the fire of negativity.
“God does not love loudly and openly speaking of evil—except for one who has been wronged—God is all-hearing, all-knowing” (4:148).
When we broadcast the evil around us, without a purpose and plan to correct it, we only end up spreading aimless frustration. This does no good at all and sets our spiritual condition ablaze, taking us back from the nearness to God that we so desperately seek.
In the very next verse is the simple, yet challenging answer to dealing with the negativity that keeps us from growing:
“If you reveal a good deed or hide it, or forgive an evil deed, then (know that) God is certainly ever pardoning and powerful” (4:149).
Forgiveness is the answer. And it’s not just forgiving others who do wrong in the world around us; forgiveness most importantly begins with seeking forgiveness from God for the wrongs we do to ourselves and others and then the very next crucial step is that we forgive ourselves.2
Not being able to forgive makes us hold onto anger, desperation, and pain. Forgiveness helps us transcend into higher levels of development that are just impossible to reach without it.
“Those who spend in prosperity and difficulty and those who restrain their anger and forgive mankind. God loves those who do Good” (3:134).
In my journey, I couldn’t keep a promise I made to myself when I was young (and immature), and never forgave myself for it. Like a fractal pattern, everything starts from within, then manifests outward. By not forgiving myself, I could not truly forgive others. This is what has been holding me back. I kept holding onto whatever negativity came my way because of it.
Seek forgiveness from God, forgive yourself, and forgive others.
I hope that you benefit from this article.
1. For example, if someone wrongs me, then I may speak of it to someone else and end up backbiting, which is terrible and stifles spiritual progress. Also, by aimlessly spreading negative news that hurts me deeply, I fall into the same boat, rowing backwards instead of forwards.
2. “And do not be like those who have forgotten God, so he has made them forget themselves. (Indeed) those are the wicked” (59:19).
Conversely, if we remember God, then he will allow us to remember ourselves. Applying this point to the theme of this article: we remember God and ask his forgiveness, then he allows us to remember our own higher nature. It is our higher nature that forgives our own lower nature. This is how we forgive ourselves for the times that we let ourselves down. If we cannot forgive ourselves, we can never forgive others.
You strive to accept Truth
even when its against you
to accept Truth
even when it favors you.
How could you stand
against the insurmountable—
obstacle upon obstacle—
without accepting the Truth
that favors you?
That favors your excellence,
that proclaims Success
is yours to experience—
to faithfully recreate
day to day
Because the Truth is
Your Creator is excellent,
He created you,
So your nature
when it’s against
or when it favors you—
Be complete and manifest!
We clamor to the immediacy
of what we see,
Blind to the immediacy
of the Unseen—
Although it’s Far Supreme:
With the Universe’s
To attain Mastery,
Stop being reactionary,
finding quick release
of lowest tendencies:
The path of
See the Unseen,
Of the Creator—
All lowest immediacies.
We can achieve our highest stage of development by letting go of our lower nature—offering it to the Creator—and living through our higher nature instead. How do we reach the summit:
“But he did not rush towards the steep mountain path. And what would explain to you what the steep mountain path is? Freeing a slave, or feeding (others) on the day of famine; an orphan of kin, or a person in abject poverty” (90:11-12).
The higher nature is boundless hope, confidence, humility, honesty, goodness and tranquility. And it really does take the losses & challenges of this world to point us in that direction. “We will certainly try you by fear and hunger; and loss of property, lives, and fruits. But let the patient rejoice.” (2:155).
The lower self is possessive. It never wants to let go. Whether it’s holding on to some worldly benefit or holding on to some worldly pain, it just keeps holding on. The higher nature doesn’t depend on the material, so it’s always letting go. It depends on God directly. And through this, God gives us material benefit. This is what brings us balance in this life. It’s how we seek “the good in this world and the good in the next […]” (2:201). We can only fully experience the good in this world through our higher nature. Living by the lower nature means we interact with the world through a diseased heart and ultimately turn our surroundings to waste.
The losses we face, no matter how great, bring us closer to consciousness and purifying our hearts from diseases of our lower nature. Here in this “lowest life”— the hayatu dunya, we can ascend the path to the highest heights: we can keep surrendering to the Creator. Losses remind us to lose the lower nature 🙂
Climb that steep mountain to the summit, and let’s live consciously!1
See you next post, God willing 🙂
1. In this life, we never actually reach the summit of the mountain because we will never stop climbing until God recalls our souls. We never really lose our lower nature in this world. We keep trying though, fall down, get back up, and get ever closer day to day. Remember: our Lord is Ever-Forgiving 🙂
Is God unknowable?1 The answer is a little bit No and a whole lot Yes.
We can know God. Well, we can know general things about him like his beautiful attributes: he is forgiving and just, he establishes the truth, he is majestic, he is The Judge, and many more.
Besides the general, though, we don’t really know God at all. We can never know God entirely or anywhere near it. To know something completely means that it has to have a beginning and an end. It has to be contained, and limited. Look at the alphabet for example. We know our ABCs completely because they have a beginning and an end. It starts on A and ends at Z. But God has neither beginning nor end!
Take water as another example. We know a bit about water. We know under certain conditions water will always freeze, and in other conditions water will always evaporate. At this point we can predict water’s behavior down to the tiniest conditions and control it. With God it’s the exact opposite. God is not controlled; he’s the one in control.
What does the Quran have to say about knowing God?
When Prophet Jesus speaks to God on the Day of Judgement, he says, “[…]You know what is in me, but I do not know what is in you. You are the Knower of all things hidden.” (5:116)
Even Prophet Jesus has nowhere near a complete knowledge of God in any sense whatsoever. A quick side note: although the Creator knows what is in our hearts, it’s through life’s journey that we discover the truth about our hearts for ourselves.
We surrender to the things we know about God and to all the endless, infinite things that we don’t. What do we know about God: the all-important basics of course. Our daily interactions with the Creator prove that he is there for us—he created this planet that provides food out of dirt—with him is all hope in any circumstance, he is the only one upon whom we can always trust, and so on. Please feel free to add many more beautiful basics of God that you’ve experienced 🙂
All truth helps us grow by leaps and bounds, but how does this truth help?
There’s a certain arrogance that festers when we think we truly know God. There’s also an electric liberation that comes by admitting we don’t.
People who say they know God end up putting limits on him. This happens without exception. They end up judging people as only God can. They think they can condemn someone to Hell or consider themselves or others a saint.
“Do not consider yourselves pure, he knows best who is righteous” (53:32).
They will literally tell someone that their prayer is not accepted for this or that superficial reason. Only God knows if a person’s prayer is accepted. Someone can make a prayer in Navajo and God will accept it. Another example is calling people kaafir (a thorough ingrate to God). These decisions are strictly in God’s domain. He is The Judge (Al-Qadi, Al-Haakim). He may judge the person being called kaafir as a true servant, while judging the accuser as the true kaafir.
“Oh you who believe, let not one people mock another people. It may be that the (ridiculed) are better than the (ridiculing)” (49:13).2
When we accept that we don’t truly know God, we can no longer play God, or pretend that God is our henchman. God is not going to do this or that if someone does this or that crime. In our worldly legal systems, we can try our best to be just and punish or forgive according to our higher nature (although our judicial systems often punish or forgive based on things like social control, nepotism, etc.), but God will never act according to our whims. He judges each person individually according to what they’re going through. That is the Creator’s prerogative.
“To God belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. He forgives whomever he pleases and punishes whomever he pleases. God is Forgiving, Merciful” (48:14).
Accepting that, “[God] does whatever he pleases” (2:253) is a major step in purifying our self-serving, lower nature—the one that tries to set itself up as a god.3
When someone thinks they truly know God, they also try to limit his interaction with his creation. They believe that God only gives knowledge to people whom they deem worthy. If a seeker of Truth doesn’t go through specific avenues and institutions, they think God won’t bless that person with knowledge, or if knowledge is acquired, it’s inferior. This is false. It’s equivalent to saying, “God’s hands are tied.” Do you remember who made this statement before? The ungrateful did in 5:64. The Creator’s response:
“[…] Nay his hands are openly stretched out […]”(5:64).4
To realize that God’s hands are outstretched is to realize that we don‘t control God nor any of his blessings. Our knowledge cannot contain him. God encompasses all, but he is not encompassed. God gives whatever he pleases to whomever he pleases however he pleases.
“We have revealed signs making (all things) clear. God guides whomever he wills to a straight path” (24:46).
That feeling of liberation we get by admitting we don’t know God comes from surrendering our lowest self and giving up arrogance.
That’s right. We don’t know God entirely, but we do know of him though our interactions with him and his creation. God doesn’t do what we want or think. Yet, he always does what’s best. In this we have hope. Thus do we surrender to the limitless Creator of the universe.
See you next post, God willing 🙂
1.Russell Brand mentioned that God was unknowable in one of his videos rebutting atheist claims about God not existing. His comment was the inspiration for this blog post analyzing how “knowable” God is using the Quran as the guide.
2.Note this verse addresses the believers and tells them not to let one qawm (which means nation, group, or people) mock another qawm. This verse is not saying that believers can mock people of other faiths but not their own. It’s telling believers that no group should mock another and that they should discourage anyone groups that do this since we are not God and cannot know God’s judgement of ourselves or any other people.
3.Remember Pharoah literally let his lower nature run amuck and made that exact statement proclaiming his “godhood.” Pharoah told his nation, “I am your Lord the Highest” (79:24).
4. Although this verse was said in the context of Jews denying that God blessed Prophet Muhammad, it still applies outside of this context because when we believe “God’s hands are tied” in any way whatsoever, we’re following the path “of those who earned anger and those who go astray” (1:7). God’s hands are ever outstretched to all of his creation.
God is Greater.
Greater than the heedlessness—
the diseased mindlessness,
void of its Creator—
That fuels lowly
into something other
than your True You
Our true immunity
Is what God inspired
Reach this essential Truth
Yes, Within You
Why let viruses:
dishonesty, pomp, injustice,
Infect you too?
God is Greater
than any victimizer
than their behavior
Borne of Godlessness
God is Greater
Even Heals the victimizer!
Like a Light
Shining upon night
In the face of evil,
You be You
Your True You:
Repel the evil with better
and your enemy
Your bosom friend (41:34)
This is Truth!
Light upon Light
This is what God calls you to,
Light that shines within You
God is Greater
Hope is God’s name,
And Trust is our refrain
Seek the True
Only to it
Not to material
lost in denial
ridden with pomp
And when we do interact
With behavior borne of night,
Repel the evil with the better!
God is Greater:
Seeking Peace with the material world?
with the cruelty, suffering, and ignorance?
To accept injustices
“ways of the world”?
To sit idly,
Only outside of our higher nature,
Would we be at peace with the sicknesses
of this material world.
Their existence is clear reminder,
That material is not God.
Peace is not with the material world.
Peace is only in it.
Peace that shines from beyond it,
Soothes in midst of it,
Comforts through Creator of it.
Seeking Peace with the material world?
The Truthful only live at Peace in it.
This post is about all the Quran’s verses reminding us to “fear God.” But what does this mean? Should we fear God like we fear a threat to our lives? If you’ve ever wondered about this, or wanted some clarity, then hopefully this post will benefit you.
Let’s start off with an incisive verse describing the context of “fearing God”:
“Indeed only those who fear God amongst his servants are those with knowledge. God is indeed Mighty, Oft-forgiving” (35:28)
This verse is saying that if you don’t have knowledge, then you won’t fear God. Only if you have knowledge will you fear him. That’s very important. There are two, different kinds of fear. The irrational fear of ignorance is one kind. It leads to paranoia, disease, and other destructive outcomes. Then there’s the kind of fear based on knowledge and truth. That is why the word for fear in 35:28, khasheya in Arabic, means “fear with veneration, respect, honor or awe.” 1 It does not mean the ignorant, destructive fear we commonly think of.
Fearing God has another context in the Quran: humility.
“Had We sent down this Quran upon a mountain, you would have seen it humble itself and split apart from fear of God. Thus do We provide examples to mankind so they may reflect” (59:21).
A form of khasheya was also used for fear here in the context of a mountain humbling itself and bringing itself low. We know what an evil seed arrogance is, right? An arrogant person wouldn’t humble himself from fear of God at all. But it is the humble that realize God’s majesty and crumble from the highest level to the lowest, prostrating upon the ground in awe of the Creator much like we do during prayer.
If “fearing God” in the ignorant sense were ever meant in the Quran, then the following verse wouldn’t make much sense:
“Do not be distressed for God is indeed with us” (9:40).
The word used above was not fear but distress. Distress comes from ignorant fear.2 Verse 9:40 repeats what Prophet Muhammad said to his friend Abu Bakr during their migration to Medina as they hid in a cave from approaching pursuers. Notice how being conscious of God makes all the distress, paranoia and ignorant fear disappear. If we were supposed to “fear God” in the ignorant sense, then the verse would say, “Be distressed for God is indeed with us!” But that, of course, isn’t the case 🙂
The following verse clearly marks the difference between the right and wrong kinds of fearing God:
“’Throw your staff (oh Moses)!’ But when he saw it undulating as if it were a snake, he turned away retreating and did not look back: ‘O Moses! Do not fear; indeed, messengers do not fear in my presence’” (27:10).
Notice how the closer you are to God, the more knowledge you have, and the less ignorant fear there is. In fact, it doesn’t exist at all since messengers have no fear of God in his presence. In this verse the Arabic word khaaf was used for fear. It is a synonym of khasheya. 3
There’s one more word used in the most common phrase translated as “fearing God.”
“Oh you who believe, be patient, vie with one another in patience, be steadfast and fear God so that you may prosper” (3:200).
Ittaqi Allah is the Arabic phrase in this verse. Ittaqi is translated as fear and Allah is translated as God. Ittaqi happens to be very closely related to the word taqwa: both are the same root word in different forms.
Taqwa has many meanings and is often translated as God-consciousness, righteousness, piety, and fearing God.4 The most basic root meaning is to guard or protect, and the derived form, ittaqi, literally means to “guard yourself.” That’s why it’s also translated as being mindful. In the phrase ittaqi Allah, it’s translated God mindfulness or fearing God. But the word has more meanings besides these. It also means to keep your duty or to take something in between you and another as protection, like armor.5
Let’s put all of this together, shall we? Ittaqi Allah can mean to fear God (not the ignorant fear), to respect your duty to God, to take God as your armor, thus guarding yourself with God. Ittaqi Allah does not mean to guard yourself against God. God is our true Helper and Protector, not our enemy (see 2:257).
Hopefully our discussion in this post has cleared a lot of things up. Let’s end with an insightful finale. Why did God create us?
“Oh Mankind, worship your Lord who created you and those before you so you may gain taqwa (God-consciousness)” (2:21).
“(He is) the one who created death and life to test you as to which of you is best in action. He is the Mighty, the Forgiving.” (67:2).
Looking at both of these verses together gives us a comprehensive answer. God created us to gain taqwa: the same word for fear and all the meanings mentioned previously. Fearing God in the Quran means to have awe of God in reverence through knowledge and humility, to take our Creator, The Truth, as a protector against wrong and to keep our duty to him by performing the most beautiful of deeds.
- See Lane’s Lexicon, Volume 2, page 745. It’s interesting to note that khasheya also means to hope.
- Fear and distress are used side-by-side in many verses. This is the common refrain: “on them (the righteous) shall be no fear nor will they be distressed” (2:112, 2:262, 2:274, 2:277, 3:170, 6:48, 5:69, 7:35, 7:49, 10:62, and many more). The word huzn means grief or distress. This frequent juxtaposition indicates the closeness of fear and distress in origin and effect.
- Reference is same as footnote 1
- Click here to read the blog post delving into the meaning of taqwa and its use as a magnificent symbol of a garment/armor.
- See Lane’s Lexicon Volume 8, page 3059
See you next post God willing.
Hope in God is your ultimate expression of iman, belief and trust in Him.
Positivity is hope dressed in different flair.
Have hope in the midst of the whole world crumbling around you,
and by God, you will be a source of hope for others,
All of God’s creation.
Hope was never vested in the world of material anyway.
How much you have or don’t,
How much you’ve lost or gained,
But the importance of this lowest life is that it’s a stage,
a stage in our development.
Do you know what’s confidence?
It is hope in God in the most improbable of impossible
(and in the most usual of regular).
Be hopeful and God’s Light will shine on you with radiance.
Only when you view the world as the end-all,
As your primary existence,
Would you lose hope
and let the primitive,
“My kin, My religion, My skin, My nation”
We must look at options relatively
and choose the BEST option.
Hope is always the best option
Everything else is ingratitude, disease, deception.
All Truth produces “correct” results
And all falsehood produces the opposite.
There is nothing more correct than promoting life and wellness
And what reduces these is stress
Materialism does not offer hope.
It only produces
paranoia, pessimism and possessiveness.
It increases distress.
Just like an equation,
Plugging in the wrong variable gives you the wrong answer.
Search your experiences,
and uncover that worshipping material
is the wrong answer.
Hope in the Creator
Confidence in an existence beyond this
Produces hope no matter the meanest
of circumstances in this lowest world.
Hope in the Creator of the material
is the right answer.
Respect the material and honor it.
Know it is a test and a stage for your development.
Besides this, it is little more than whim.
Because it will not last.
How could the temporary be the end-all?
When our hearts are tied to the eternal?
Choose the BEST option:
Hope where there seems none.
All Hope is with Our Guardian.
God is enough
If we but knew (4:45, 132).
He it is
That made you
in the wombs,
however He pleased (3:6),
Adorned you (40:64)
God’s creation (30:30)
He is enough
If we but knew (59:24)
You are God’s You.
outside this truth?
In the empty
outside of you?
With dazzled speech
And replace it
God is enough.
You know this true.
In every code
That makes you,