Near at Hand, Protection of God, Nafs

Issue 646 » August 12, 2011 - Ramadan 12, 1432

Living The Quran

Near at Hand
Al Naba (The Tiding) - Chapter 78: Verse 40 (partial)

"Lo! We warn you of a chastisement near at hand..."

In the Quran it is said that divine chastisement is near at hand. This statement was made over fourteen hundred years ago, and countless people had died prior to its revelation. Moreover, even now it cannot be said with certainty that the Last Day will occur after how many hundreds, thousands or even millions of years. Given this, how can this chastisement be described as something "near at hand"?

Time is actually relative to man's life. As long as he is alive, he is fully aware of it. After his death, only his soul survives, which does not any consciousness of time. So, when man is resurrected on the Day of Judgement he will think that he has been woken up only after a few hours' sleep. It will not occur to him that he had been lying dead for thousands of years.

Compiled From:
"Towards Understanding The Quran" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi, Part 30, p. 16

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Protection of God

"I advise you to fear God and obey, even if a black slave becomes your leader. Those of you who live long enough will see great controversy, so adhere to my Sunna and the Sunna of the rightly guided caliphs. Cling to them stubbornly. Beware of newly invented matters in religion, for every invented matter is an innovation. Every innovation is going astray, and every going astray is in Hellfire." [Tirmidhi]

The Arabic word translated here as "fear of God" is taqwa. Derived from wiqaya (protection), taqwa means to be in the safekeeping or protection of God. This has two aspects. The first is that believers fear God and obey Him by observing His commands and prohibitions. The second aspect is that, by studying nature and life and discovering the laws of God that control them, people acquire scientific knowledge and order their lives. Science cannot be established if people do not discover these laws.

To be under the safekeeping of God, true religion and science should be combined, for they are two expressions of a single truth. According to Muslim scholars, the universe is "the Created Quran." where God's laws issuing from His Attributes of Will, Destiny, and Power are operative. The Quran, the collection of Divine laws issuing from God's Attributes of Speech, is "the composed universe" or "the universe in words."

The second point is that believers should not disobey their government without justifiable cause. Without a leader, a community is like a broken rosary whose beads have scattered everywhere. Such a situation of social and political conflict usually results in anarchy and destruction. The hadith also points out a truth that even modern democracies have proven unable to grasp: no racial discrimination. It is clearly stated that an emancipated black slave can lead the Muslim community. This was not only a theoretical assertion, but was testified to by the numerous and great black administrators and scholars who were respected and obeyed.

God's Messenger also draws attention here to his Sunna. As he is the most excellent example for all aspects of life, believers are to follow his example until the Last Day. Such adherence guarantees that Islam retains its original purity. Any deviation will result in social and doctrinal splits and new importations into Islam, the religion perfected by God. Adherence to the way of the first four caliphs also guarantees of Muslim unity and Islam's maintenance.

Compiled From:
"The Messenger of God: Muhammad" - Fethullah Gulen, pp. 115, 116

Cool Concepts


The terms nafs (soul, self) is used in the Quran in various, but similar, complementary meanings. First, it means the self a person or a thing. In this meaning, it is also used for God (Quran 3:28, 5:116).

Its second meaning is the substance and essence which is the source of physical life in a human being or the dimension or aspect of the spirit which is the basis of animal and human physical life (Quran 6:93).

In its third meaning, as the basis of the human physical or worldly life, it is the essence or substance which is aware of the needs of life, which demands and tastes pleasures and encourages a person to meet those needs and experience those pleasures. In a sense, it is the substance which incites a person to commit evil (Quran 12:53). It can and must be trained. When trained, it can be elevated from being a substance which commands evils, or being an evil-commanding soul, to the rank of being a soul at rest with faith in and worship of God (Quran 89:27-28).

In its other and most comprehensive meaning, it is human nature or the individual person (Quran 4:1).

Compiled From:
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, pp. 664