Surah Al Aaraf (No. 7) Verses 29-34
Say: My Lord enjoineth Justice
SAY: MY LORD ENJOINETH JUSTICE
Verses 29 to 34 of the sixth Surah (Al-Aaraf) have been rendered into English by Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall as follows:
"Say: My Lord enjoineth justice. And set your faces upright (toward Him) at every prayer and call upon Him, making religion pure for Him (only). As He brought you into being, so return you (unto Him).
" A party hath He led aright, while error hath just hold over (another) party, for verily, they choose the devils for protecting friends instead of Allah and deem that they are rightly guided.
" O children of Adam! Look to your adornment of Allah which He hath brought forth for His bondmen, but be not extravagant. Verily, He loveth not the extravagant.
" Say: Who hath forbidden the adornment of Allah which He hath brought forth for His bondmen, and the good things of His providing? Say: Such on the Day of Resurrection will be only for those who believed during the life of the world. Thus do we detail Our revelations for people who have knowledge.
"Say: My Lord forbiddeth only indecencies, such of them as are apparent and such as are within, and sin and wrongful oppression, and that ye tell concerning Allah that which ye know not.
"And every nation hath its term, and when its term cometh, they cannot put it off an hour nor yet advance (it)."
- Justice is of the essence of religion. This is stressed throughout the Quran, as for instance, we are told in Surah Al-Hadid (LVII-25):
"We verily sent Our messengers with clear proofs, and revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance that mankind may stand by Justice".
Reliance on Allah alone and earnest prayer make a believer upright. Such is religion in its purity. It is important to bear in mind that we are to return to Him Who created us, so that we may strive to follow His way which is they way of truth, justice and beneficent human activity. It is Allah's mercy that man can best seek and find guidance to the good life. If one chooses to rely on the so-called wisdom of those who in their blindness and arrogance deny the messengers of Allah one goes to the lap of devils. Misguidance is all that one should expect from the Prince of darkness and his disciples. Those who are merely worldly-wise:
"Follow naught but opinion and they do but guess." (VI-117; X-67).
Godless philosophers have failed to agree even on a definition of morality. The remarks of Pope Pius XII (published at page 4 of the Dawn of the 28th January 1956) about the atheistic taint in Western civilisation are apposite:
"It is trying to imprison man in a complete determinism to annihilate all real liberty and to bind minds and hearts in pitiless servitude."
- The injunction for looking to one's adornment at every place of prayer indicates the need for avoiding negligence in one's dress in the orderliness of mosques. The best clothes appear untidy if worn negligently. Even one who has only rags to wear can appear tidy if he keeps his rags clean and puts them on with care. The mosque is a haven of peace for believers who find there an atmosphere of brotherhood and human sympathy, all being assembled for the one purpose of communing with their Lord in prayer. Any space, a building or an open ground, which is used for congregational prayers serves the purpose of a mosque. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said that the whole earth has been made a mosque and clean for him. The Quran does not forbid the good things of life. All good things are made lawful for believers so long as the limits of moderation and justice are properly observed. It would be ingratitude to neglect the good things of Allah that He has provided for us in this world. In XLV-13 & 14 we are told:
"Allah it is Who hath made the sea of service unto you that the ships may run thereon by His command and that ye may seek His bounty, and that haply ye may be thankful. And He hath made of service unto you whatsoever is in the heaven and whatsoever is in the earth; it is all from Him. Verily, here are signs for people who reflect"
Believers are asked in the Quran, again and again, to reflect on Allah's signs in the marvels of His creation.
In the earlier days of Islam, while the teachings of the Quran guided the life and thought of Muslims they did exert themselves to seek the bounties of Allah in His creation. They explored the seas and distant lands and also diligently applied their minds to reflection and the pursuit of knowledge. The value of their contribution to human knowledge is acknowledged to this day. Their pious endeavours were rewarded by Allah and they enjoyed centuries of honour, prosperity and progress, till they began to neglect their duty to Allah and became ungrateful. Extravagance and waste are repeatedly forbidden and condemned in the Quran. They are the main cause of poverty and want in this world. The laws of the Quran would, if earnestly followed, secure general prosperity. The injunctions relating to Zakat, prohibition of usury, and the rules of inheritance are important safe guards against the accumulation of wealth in the hands of few to the detriment of the mass of people. It is only through observance of the rules of justice that general prosperity can be achieved. A believer's enjoyment of the good things that Allah has provided does not make him neglect his duty to Allah and the discipline which it requires. He knows that man's prosperity in this world and felicity in the hereafter lies in obedience to Divine laws. A believer whose faith is true must necessarily be firm in the path of moral rectitude and just and beneficent in all his doings.
- Verse 33 briefly states what Allah has forbidden. The first thing is indecencies open or concealed. With reference to this there is a tradition recorded in Bukhari's Kitab-Uttafsir which indicates that Haya (purity in thought and behaviour) is a Divine attribute and that for that reason Allah has forbidden every form of obscenity. There is another tradition in Bukhari (Kitabul-Iman) according to which Haya has been described by the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) as part of Iman (faith). Purity in thought, word and deed is a test of the strength of a believer's faith. Haya was a prominent virtue of the soldiers of Islam, as of all Muslims, of the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and of the time of the Khulafai Rashideen (may Allah be pleased with them). It was the Iman of the soldiers of Islam of those days that imparted to them indomitable courage, so that the might of the great empires of Persia and Rome could not resist their valour. The prohibition of every form of lewdness and indecency is a vital safe-guard against social evils which lead to endless degradation and misery. Psychologists of modern times like Freud have sought to ridicule the very idea of Haya. They have unfortunately found many admirers of their cult of shamelessness, including a man of such outstanding intellect as Bertrand Russel. The effect of this cult of shamelessness has been a widespread deterioration in the western countries which men of good sense in those countries regard with consternation and distrust. It is a hopeful sign that some distinguished psychologists are now questioning the validity of Freud's theories and some are even urging people not to be ashamed of the sense of shame. It is probable that the western countries will, before long, be compelled for the preservation of their social fabric to return to Christian standards of morality. Even Mr. Bertrand Russels's enthusiasm for the Freudian cult appears from his more recent writings seems to have abated. The Quran does not ask us to become ascetics and to deny ourselves all the good things of life. What it forbids is sin and obsession with unworthy desires and neglect of the higher things of life. To one who is blessed with the discipline of firm faith anything which has even a suspicion of obscenity must necessarily appear abhorrent. The mass of Muslims must be unaware of the strict injunctions in the Quran against obscenity of every form. Otherwise there would be no demand amongst them for obscene literature and obscene amusements like dancing and obscene cinema shows the popularity of all which seems to depend on the sickly "sex appeal". It would be a good thing if purveyors of obscenity in literature could also be persuaded to employ their gifts to better purpose. It is surely possible to write readable books without contaminating them with a morbid view of sex. What believers can do and are in duty to Allah bound to do is to set a good example and :to
"call unto the way of the Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation" (XVI-125).
There would be no demand for obscene literature and entertainment if people took a sane view of sex. The injunctions against obscenity are sure, if faithfully obeyed, to promote a healthy view of sex. Particular attention is to be given to the purity of the mind which is implies in the word "hidden in the injunctions against obscenity. A man with a clean mind is well armed against all morbid inclinations. The laws of Allah are all for the highest good of His creatures. Breach of these laws inevitably leads to disaster. Muslims have had rich rewards from Allah for following the Siratal-Mustaqim under the guidance of the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) and his immediate followers (may Allah be well pleased with them). Afterwards when they began to deviate from the Siratal-Mustaqim they also suffered heavy chastisement from time to time for ingratitude and disobedience to Divine commandments.
The other things forbidden in the verse are sin, wrongful oppression and associating with Allah for which no warrant hath been revealed and saying concerning Allah that which we know not. Sin covers all forms of dereliction of duty to Allah which includes duties to Allah's creatures including one's own self. Every sin involves wrong to one's self sin as the Quran emphasises. "Oppression" which is the word used in the translation does not carry the full sense of the word "Baghya" in the text which also means injustice, trespass, covetousness, and breach of the peace. Every believer must always bear in mind the following example of associating another with Allah or "shirk" given in the Quran itself:
"Hast thou seen him who chooseth for his god his own lust?" (XXV-43).
"Hast thou seen him who maketh his desire his god?" (XLV-23).
This emphasises the supreme necessity of self-discipline for a believer. Nothing of any value in this world or the Hereafter can be achieved without vigilant self-discipline. The description of Siratal-Mustaqim in verses 152 to 154 of the sixth Surah (Al-Anaam) indicates the meaning of Islam as shown by a tradition of the prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) related by Hazrat Abdullah ibni-Masood (may Allah be pleased with him). The tradition is to the effect that Siratal-Mustaqim (in Surah Fatihah) means Islam. One needs to study the whole Quran to know the meaning of Siratal-Mustaqim and Islam in detail.
- The rise and fall of nations is according to Allah's scheme of creation. It is not possible for us with our limited vision to comprehend the whole of Allah's scheme of creation We have, however the assurance in the Quran, and all believers whole-heartedly believe it, that Allah is Just and Wise and Merciful. The belief saves believers from vain regrets and frustration.