But whoso does good works, whether male or female, and is a believer, such shall enter Heaven, and shall not be wronged even as much as the little groove in a date-stone. (Al Quran 4:124)
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
I did my high school and early college from Cadet College Hasanabdal, 1973-1978. Our religious studies teacher was Chaudhary Muhammad Hussain. Before he did masters and became a teacher, he used to be a police inspector.
He told us an interesting story during one of his classes, while talking about theft. He shared with us the most successful method to get a confession from a Muslim accused of theft, from his police service years. He said it was common that those accused of theft will give false testimony even after swearing on the Quran. But, there was one thing that scared them to death. He said that the police investigators would get three stones and ask the accused to place his hand on them and say that if he lies, let there be three divorces to his wife. With the hand on the stones they will not give false testimony, lest their wives are divorced and next time they are intimate with them they will be committing adultery and possibly fathering bastards. This put the fear of God in them.
Most theologians today will say that such a divorce is not valid but nevertheless it scared the accused to a degree that nothing else did. The accused were not afraid of stealing or swearing false testimony on the Quran, but were scared to death of the three divorces that would not have been valid. An ill placed fear because of the personal, social and religious conditioning of the persons involved.
We may not have committed a theft but many of our religious leaders hold us in the palm of their hands and keep scaring us into contradictory ideas.
They quote numerous verses of the Quran to tell us that God of Islam is the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful and yet based on literal reading of some other verses of the Quran scare everyone that non-believers will go to an eternal hell. An infinite punishment for a finite crime and the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful God, please give me a break!
They tell us that the prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, is mercy for all the people in the world and in the same breath teach extreme prejudice against the people of other sects and scare us enough to believe in those ideas.
They teach us that there is freedom of religion in Islam but, ‘we will kill the apostates,’ scared to death, we accept the ideas of the so called scholars, no matter how nonsensical those are.
The so called scholars tell us that the non-believers mocked at the prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, during his lifetime, and had the freedom of speech, as so says the Quran in Surah Munafiqoon, but they will kill the blasphemer and we readily yield.
Some of them teach us interfaith tolerance with the Christians and the Jews but discrimination against many a Muslim, we oblige.
They teach us that they love Islam and would do anything to help promote it, but do not collaborate to the slightest degree if it is not their sect or their myopic view and many won’t move an inch unless they are the lead dog and we don’t mind.
But, here is my proclamation of emancipation for all the Muslims.
We are not obliged to honor contradictory life style or to follow contradictory instructions or hold contradictory views. The Quran says in Surah Nisa:
أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ ۚوَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ غَيْرِ اللَّـهِ لَوَجَدُوا فِيهِ اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرًا
Will they not, then, meditate upon the Qur’an? Had it been from anyone other than All-Knowing Allah, they would surely have found therein many contradictions. (Al Quran 4:82)
The All Knowing God and His religion and His literal word, the holy Quran, cannot be contradictory. But, humans are always vulnerable to be contradictory!
Conflict or contradictory ideas lead to anxiety, depression and inaction.
The mental conflict below the level of conscious awareness is called unconscious conflict. The conflicts in conscious level, when repressed, shifts to unconscious. Here the desires which cannot be satisfied at conscious level are repressed to unconscious level as a mechanism of escaping. Many of our wants raised by Id may not be socially acceptable. Such wants are objected by the Ego and the Super ego. Hence these are repressed to unconscious.
The repressed desires or wishes remain active in the unconscious part of our mind. They slowly gather strength by making alliance with other similar experiences and become stronger. This group of repressed wants which is working for the satisfaction try to come back to the conscious. This process is called complex. As soon as complexes are formed they give rise to conflicts in the unconscious.
They try to come back to conscious, but prevented by censor or preconscious. So they try to enter the conscious level when censor is at rest or sleep. They may appear in the form of dreams, slip of tongue, slip of pen, motivated forgetting, etc. Sometimes they may appear in the form of peculiar behavior and mannerisms.
I refuse to accept contradictory ideas, no matter what the station of the religious authority or how many of them, to keep my sanity and peace of mind.
It is best to have courage and resolve the conflict and not let the conflict of your parents, your leaders or your loved ones become your conflict. This can be avoided by exploration, learning and placing the blame where it belongs rather than trying to displace it.
The preachers of many of the sects of Islam, keep scaring us, day in day out, in trying to stress whatever is their agenda of the day and not too infrequently it is stressing the sectarian differences.
We need to have better appreciation of the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful and our accountability.
There is a Hadith in Sahih Bukhari: There was a man who had heartlessly murdered ninety-nine people. Then, he felt remorse.
He went to a learned man and told him about his past, explaining that he wished to repent, reform, and become a better person. “I wonder if Allah will pardon me?” he asked.
For all his learning, the scholar was a man who had not been able to digest what he had learned. “You will not be pardoned;’ he said. “Then I may as well kill you, too,” said the other. And kill him he did.
He then found another worthy individual and told him that he had killed a hundred people. “I wonder,” he said, “whether Allah will pardon me if I repent?” Being a truly wise man, he replied, “Of course you will be pardoned; repent at once. I have just one piece of advice for you: avoid the company of wicked people and mix with good people, for bad company leads one into sin:”
The man expressed repentance and regret, weeping as he sincerely implored his Lord to pardon him. Then, turning his back on bad company, he set off to find a neighborhood where righteous people lived.
On the way, his appointed hour arrived, and he died. The angels of punishment and of mercy both came to take away his soul. The angels of punishment said that as a sinful person he rightfully belonged to them, but the angels of mercy also claimed him, saying, “He repented and had resolved to become a good man. He was on his way to a place where righteous people live, but his appointed hour had come.” A great debate ensued, and Gabriel was sent as an arbitrator to settle this affair.
After hearing both sides he gave this verdict: “Measure the ground. If the spot where he died is closer to the good people, then he belongs to the angels of mercy, but if it is nearer to the wicked people, he will be given to the angels of punishment.”
They measured the ground. Because the man had just set out, he was still closer to the wicked. But because he was sincere in his repentance, the Lord moved the spot where he lay and brought it to just outside the city of the good people.
That penitent servant was handed over to the angels of mercy.
The most encouraging verse in regards to Divine forgiveness to me seems to be: “Surely, Allah will not forgive that any partner be associated with Him; but He will forgive whatever is short of that to whomsoever He pleases. And whoso associates partners with Allah has indeed devised a very great sin.” (Al Quran 4:48)
However, I do believe that all the verses on a given subject should be read in unison to come to a more balanced understanding. So, I am going to list several verses below, which I believe have a clear bearing on the issue of ultimate forgiveness and salvation on the Day of Judgment. First a few verses about the accounting and scaling the good deeds versus the evil ones:
The Crashing Blow! What is the Crashing Blow? What will explain to you what the Crashing Blow is? On a Day when people will be like scattered moths and the mountains like tufts of wool, the one whose good deeds are heavy on the scales will have a pleasant life, but the one whose good deeds are light will have the Bottomless Pit for his home a – what will explain to you what that is? — a blazing fire. (Al Quran 101:1-11)
On that Day when the Trumpet is blown, the ties between them will be as nothing and they will not ask about each other: those whose good deeds weigh heavy will be successful, but those whose balance is light will have lost their souls and will be in Hell. (Al Quran 23:101-103)
On that Day, people will come forward in separate groups to be shown their deeds: whoever has done an atom’s-weight of good will see it, but whoever has done an atom’s-weight of evil will see that. (Al Quran 99:6-8)
And Luqman continued, ‘My son, if even the weight of a mustard seed were hidden in a rock or anywhere in the heavens or earth, God would bring it to light, for He is all subtle and all aware. (Al Quran 31:16)
There is a Hadith that once there was a prostitute, who saw a thirsty dog yearning for water near a water well. She was so moved that she descended in the well and brought water in her shoe for the dog. The Merciful God was so moved by the mercy of the woman that He forgave all her past sins and granted her paradise.
Such Hadiths may suggest to the novice a degree of randomness in God’s Judgment. But, to get a balanced view of Divine matrix in Afterlife, one should read the above quoted verses once again and then flavor them with the following verses that highlight that even though there is accounting and no randomness, yet the forgiveness and mercy of God will be the over-riding theme on the Day of Judgment:
But if you avoid the great sins you have been forbidden, We shall wipe out your minor misdeeds and let you in through the entrance of honor. (Al Quran 4:31)
Everything in the heavens and earth belongs to God. He will repay those who do evil according to their deeds, and reward, with what is the best, those who do good. As for those who avoid grave sins and foul acts, though they may commit small sins, your Lord is ample in forgiveness. (Al Quran 53:31-32)
Whoever has done a good deed will have it ten times to his credit, but whoever has done a bad deed will be repaid only with its equivalent – they will not be wronged. (Al Quran 6:160)
Whoever comes before God with a good deed will receive a better reward; whoever comes with an evil deed will be punished only for what he has done. (Al Quran 28:84)
So, unlike those accused of theft, in the opening of this article, we do not have to run scared of the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful and carry a balanced understanding of our accountability, so we do not get scared and entangled into contradictory ideas and beliefs.