“Truly dost thou marvel, while they ridicule, And, when they are admonished, pay no heed,- And, when they see a Sign, turn it to mockery,”
The conversation is being continued from here. This conversation will focus in on a few verses of the Qur'an. The conversation is quite detailed and long and requires some thought and reflection. I will address civil questions at the end. The previous blogs on the Queen of Sheeba are here: 5a and 5b.
(Qur’an al-Waqia: 80-86)
“A Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds. Is it such a Message that ye would hold in light esteem? And have ye made it your livelihood that ye should declare it false? Then why do ye not (intervene) when (the soul of the dying man) reaches the throat,- And ye the while (sit) looking on,- But We are nearer to him than ye, and yet see not,- Then why do ye not,- If you are exempt from (future) account,- Call back the soul, if ye are true (in the claim of independence)?”
(Qur’an Ta-Ha: 14-16)
"Verily, I am Allah: There is no god but I: So serve thou Me (only), and establish regular prayer for celebrating My praise.”Verily the Hour is coming - My design is to keep it hidden - for every soul to receive its reward by the measure of its Endeavour. "Therefore let not such as believe not therein but follow their own lusts, divert thee therefrom, lest thou perish!"
Wazwaz: Everyone seeks and wants to know the truth, but with the exception of a few, we all prepare ourselves to receive it selectively. Many of us are prepared to receive truth that validates us, benefits us and elevates us against others. However, truth seekers don’t just seek the truth, but they also prepare themselves to receive it, all of it - since many truths are against us, against our views, our desires, and our opinions. Comment on the Queen of Sheeba and the group addressed in Al-Waqia? Like the Meccans, she received a message from a prophet, but her response is drastically different. How do we understand her response in comparison?
Shaykh Qays: The prophets call to something outside of themselves, to a higher source, a Higher Truth which, in reality is but God Himself. Queen of Sheeba was concerned with the truth, seeking knowledge, and having a life based on higher principles. The Queen put the principle of the truth, and living on the truth, and receiving the truth, above everything else, including their position, their culture, their religion, their wealth, etc.,
According to Islamic teachings, revelation is about noble values that guide to the originator of the heavens and the earth. So our understanding is that desires and selfish interests affect one’s perception and reception of the truth. People may be convinced of the truth, but may oppose it anyway because what is important to them is what they accumulate from this world.
From an Islamic perspective, you also have people who prevent themselves from recognizing the truth; they make excuses. We see this in many people in Mecca, where they made excuses like, saying the Prophet (peace be upon him) was insane or possessed. This was done, in fact, to all the Prophets. There are and always have been people who have vested interests, who use mockery and attacks to oppose the truth and nurture an environment where it is maligned and mocked. They say the person is mad. Today they say the people are uncivilized. Today, some people view Muslims as uncivilized.
During his presidential campaign, someone asked Senator John McCain if Obama was an Arab or Muslim, and Senator McCain responded that these accusations are not true, as Obama is a decent family man. So that is a kind of an excuse. In such excuses there is self-deception rather than self-knowledge. Such excuses allow people to fool themselves. For true self-knowledge to take place one has to have a direct relationship with God. There is something called the truth, and it has a greater right over us than everything we do and own. So Prophet Abraham said,
"Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first [among you] of the Muslims." (Al-An`am 6:162-163)
Wazwaz: Would you agree that one accepts their mortality while the other is divorced from the knowledge of their mortality. One has self-knowledge of who they are while the other is in delusion and acts like they are immortal. They might claim to believe in death, but act as though they are independent of it.
Shaykh Qays: God is addressing a group of people who have forgotten something and He is reminding of it -, that at the moment of death - they are in dreadful anticipation. They are sitting there anticipating, waiting, powerless and vulnerable, dreading what is to come. Yet when they are talking to the Prophet, they are mocking, ridiculing, and jesting instead of listening, reflecting and investigating what the Prophet is saying.
God is reminding them that now you are in this state, but when you are sitting looking at someone who is about to die, someone dear to you, someone precious to you that is not in your state. Remember the reality of your state and that death will face you as well and with it the fear of God. God is simply describing the reality of their state at that time. It is a precise and clear description. Everyone is there, everyone is vulnerable, and everyone is traumatized.
Humble yourself and ask if your attitude toward the revelation, or your attitude toward the truth correct? Think about it when you consider that you are NOT able to bring back the soul, your precious loved one, not the machine, but your dear one back to life. I do not think that they felt that they could bring the soul back, but they are being reminded of what they knew from experience but forgot as they jested and mocked. I do not agree that the condition of the believer is always positive.
Both groups mutually disprove each other, and mutually act on what they believe. In Al-Waqia, God is reminding that group by bringing them to a point of vulnerability. It is a rhetorical challenge, not an actual challenge. So yes, there is that disconnection as you said.
Wazwaz: How would you comment on what you believe is the source of disconnection?
Shaykh Qays: The source of disconnection is the nafs (ego) and hawa (desires). They are content with the status quo, just how Mecca was, just how the idols were, just how the Kab’ah is, just how their fathers were worshipping. The status quo was self-serving, so they were content with it. They do not want to be bothered with self-accountability on the Day of Judgment, and reflecting on everything that they do, at every moment of the day. That state is called taqwa, being constantly aware.
When you look at animals, I was saying to my son recently, if we look at animals, they are seldom unaware. They are constantly alert; their ears turn this way and that way. Yet human beings who live on the same planet want to be oblivious. They want to sit back and relax and be oblivious to everything around us. Faith calls us to reality, to be constantly aware, to be conscious, to think, to listen, to reflect on our vulnerability, to be awake. The source of the problem here is the people’s stubborn attachment to their desires and ultimately to this World.
(To Be Continued...)