The Qur’an comprises all that was revealed before it and which was of permanent and universal application. So much of it as had been forgotten and was still needed is revived in the Qur’an. That which was of local or temporary application has been replaced by universal commandments.
Whatever Sign We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than that or the like thereof. Dost thou not know that Allah has the power to do all that He wills. (Ch.2: V 107)
This is a Book whose verses have been made unchangeable and then they have been expounded to detail. It is from One Wise, and All-Aware. (Ch 11: V.2)
We have thus the assurance that if we turn to the Qur’an we shall find therein the guidance that may be needed at all stages and in all the spheres. The Qur’an being the very word of God is alive, and dynamic like the universe, and the guidance that it provides not only keeps pace with the changing pattern of human life, but runs in advance of such changes. All that is necessary is that mankind should continue to maintain direct communion with its Maker so that Divine guidance may continue to be manifested to it.
To revert to our problem. In as much as man has, within a certain sphere, been given the choice between different courses of conduct, there can be no surety that he will not make a wrong choice. But guidance has been provided, following which he may safeguard himself against making a wrong choice, or against the evil consequence of having made such a choice. All advance in knowledge and science is a bounty of God. His law is:
…If you are grateful, I will, surely bestow more favours on you; but if you are ungrateful, then know that My punishment is severe indeed. (Ch. 14: V 8)
The problem is, what is it that will ensure beneficent use-by man of God’s bounties? We have already seen that Islam insists, for this purpose, upon the certainty of faiths in the unity of God, and a vivid realisation of full accountability for one’s conduct, both here and hereafter, that is to say, faith in the life after death:
Say, I am only a man like yourselves; but I have received the revelation that your God is only One God. So let him who hopes to meet his Lord do good deeds, and let him join no one in the worship of his Lord. (Ch. 18: V 111)
The Qur’an on Today’s Crisis
In fact, there are clear and striking indications in the Qur’an of the crisis with which mankind is confronted today. The spiritual cause of the crisis is described as mankind’s repudiation in practice of the Unity, Majesty and Power of God. The remedy indicated is that man should make his peace with his Maker and return to the true worship of the One God. All else that may be needful will then be added. In other words, to him who has faith in the One God, all else shall be added; while from him who hath not this faith that shall be taken which he hath.
Before we proceed to state these indications it is necessary to remind ourselves that revelation often speaks in parables and similitude. In this connection it is of particular significance that Jesus Christ(as) himself often spoke in parables. One reason that these parables often contain prophecies of great import, and it is of the nature of prophecy, which is designed to create and strengthen faith in the unseen, that it should be subject to interpretation. The import of what we are about to consider is however, clear that in today’s circumstances there is not much risk of error in interpretation.
We should also remember that the events of the very brief period of his ministry spent by Jesus(as) in the Holy Lord have come down to us in very meagre form. A great deal must have passed between him and his disciples which is not recorded in the Gospels.
Towards the end of the fifth chapter of the Qur’an we read as follow:
When the disciples said, ‘O Jesus, son of Mary, is thy Lord able to send down to us a table spread with food from heaven?’ he said, ‘Fear Allah, if you are believers.’ They said, ‘We desire that we may eat of it, and that our hearts be at rest and that we may know that thou hast spoken truth to us, and that we may be witness thereto.’ Said Jesus, son of Mary, ‘O Allah, our Lord, send down to us a table from heaven spread with food that it may be to us a, festival, to the first of us and to the last of us, and a Sign from Thee, and provide sustenance for us, for Thou art the best of sustainers.’ God said, ‘Surely I will send it down to you, but whosoever of you disbelieves afterwards – I will surely punish them with a punishment wherewith I will not punish any other of the peoples.’ (Ch.5: Vs. 113-116)
It is clear that according to the Qur’an, the disciples asked Jesus(as) to pray that God should bestow material prosperity upon his followers. The first reaction of Jesus(as) was to warn them against making such demand, but they persisted and explained why they desired to be blessed with material prosperity. Jesus(as) then prayed that God should bestow upon his followers material prosperity, ‘to the first of us and to the last of us,’ that is to say, that Christian peoples should enjoy long periods of material prosperity both during the early ages and also during later ages. God accepted the prayer of Jesus(as), promised to bless the Christian peoples with two long periods of outstanding material prosperity which should be a sign from God. But He also warned that if the bounties bestowed by Him were not properly used, and the people who were the recipients of these bounties did not maintain communion with God, punishment would overtake them such as had not overtaken any other people.
No detailed comment is called for. History bears, witness that the Western people who, since the fourth century of the Christian era, have constituted the bulk of the Christian community have enjoyed two extended periods of outstanding material prosperity. We are now witnessing the culmination of the second of these remarkable periods. The achievement of the last quarter of a century in the fields of science and technology would have been considered impossibilities at the close of the nineteenth century. Yet these very achievements have become a source of fear and dread through the enormous power which they have suddenly placed in the hands of man.