Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals
A Chance That Must Not Be Missed: Qur’an Now At Your Fingertip
Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi
In the verse that precedes this passage, the surah emphasizes that God forgives all sins. Therefore, people should make haste and repent of their sins so that they could earn His forgiveness. It calls on them to heed its call: come on all of you, then! Come on “before the suffering comes upon you, for then you cannot be helped.”
Should the chance be missed, there can be no help. The chance is open now, but its duration cannot be guaranteed. In fact, it can terminate at any moment of the night and day. Therefore, come on and “Follow the best that has been revealed to you by your Lord,” which is this Qur’an that you now have at your fingertips, “before the suffering comes upon you of a sudden, without your being aware of it.”
Come on now before it is too late. Otherwise you will regret missing the chance and ridiculing God’s promise: “lest anyone should say: Woe is me for having neglected what is due to God, and for having been one of those who scoffed (at the truth).”
Alternatively, someone may say that God condemned him to be in error: had He decreed that he would follow divine guidance, he would have been a God-fearing person: “or lest he should say: ‘If God had but guided me, I would surely have been among the God-fearing.”
This is a baseless excuse: the chance is offered to everyone, the means are available to all, and the gates are wide open. Yet people deliberately miss out: “Or lest he should say, when faced by the suffering (that awaits him): If only I could have a second chance in life, I will be among those who do good.” This is something that will never be given. Once this life is over, no return is allowed. All people are now at the stage when they can do what they want. If they miss this chance, all is lost. They will be held to account, and they will be rebuked: “Yes, indeed! My revelations did come to you, but you rejected them. You were filled with false pride and had no faith at all.”
At this point, when the surah has brought our feelings and hearts to the Day of Judgment, it shows us the two contrasting images of the unbelievers and the God-fearing on that momentous day: “On the Day of Resurrection you will see those who invented lies about God with their faces darkened. Is not there in hell a proper abode for the arrogant?
But God will deliver those who are God-fearing to their place of safety: no harm shall afflict them, nor shall they grieve.”
This is the final end: one group has faces darkened by humiliation, sorrow and the scorches of hell. These are the arrogant who, during their lives in this world, were called to turn to God and believe in Him, and the chance was kept open for them even after they went far into sin, but they refused to pay heed.
Now, on the Day of Judgment, they are left in utter humiliation that shows in their faces. The other group is the winner who will not be touched by grief or affliction. These are the God-fearing who, during their lives on earth, paid heed to God’s warnings and hoped for His mercy. They are the ones who will be safe: “no harm shall afflict them, nor shall they grieve.”
With all issues made abundantly clear, let everyone choose what they want. They can either respond to the call and enjoy God’s grace they are certain to find just behind the open gate of repentance, or they can persist in disobedience until the suffering takes them unawares.
This surah then starts its final part summing up its main theme, God’s oneness, from the angle of the oneness of the Creator who created and controls everything. This serves to show how singular the unbelievers’ offer to the Prophet was that he should join them in worshipping their idols in return for them joining him in worshipping God.
Since God is the Creator and Controller of all, how could anyone be worshipped alongside Him? “No true understanding of God have they,” when they associate partners with Him when He has sway over all and everything, subjecting them all to His will: “on the Day of Resurrection, the whole earth will be a mere handful to Him, and the heavens will be rolled up in His right hand.”
As this image of the Day of Judgment is shown here, the surah presents a unique scene of that day, culminating with the angels surrounding God’s throne, extolling their Lord’s glory and praise. The entire universe joins them in their praises: “All praise is due to God, the Lord of all the worlds.” This is, then, the decisive word on the issue of God’s oneness.