Of God, of man, of this world
More reflections on Surah al Zumar
If you do not believe, surely God is beyond need of you. He is not pleased with disbelief for His servants. And if you are grateful, He is pleased therewith for you; and none shall bear the burden of another. Then unto your Lord is your return, and He shall inform you of that which you used to do. Truly He knows what lies within the breasts.
Allah speaks the truth and Glory to Him. This verse is an encapsulation of our existence, our existence in relation to Allah and this world. It contains within it indications of the Nature of Allah, the nature of man, and the nature of this world.
Allah is absolute, far beyond need of us or need of anything for that matter. Rather, everything that exists in the worlds exists because of Him. And not only do we exist because of Him, we are entirely dependent on Him every moment that we do exist. We are contingent beings; we are in need.
O mankind! You are needful of Allah; and He is Self-Sufficient, the Praised.
We are not just needful of Him when we think we are, when we want a new car, a new house, when we need clothes or food; rather, we are needful of Him every single moment, with every breath we take. He causes everything to exist and He causes everything to happen, every expansion of the heart, every contraction of the heart, every expansion of the lungs, every contraction of the lungs, every expansion of our sustenance, and every contraction of our sustenance. Furthermore, we need His pleasure.
We are His servants and every servant, while in a state of servitude, needs his master. Our disbelief in Him incurs His displeasure; our gratitude to Him incurs His pleasure. Disbelief in Him is equivalent to being ungrateful to Him. The Arabic word for disbelief is كفر (kufr) which comes from the word kafara which linguistically means to cover over. Disbelief then, literally, is to cover the blessings of Allah, to be ungrateful for them, to not acknowledge from Whom they came. It has quite unfortunately become common for people to thank the universe, or nature, or to just say thank you with the pronoun “you” having no referent. This is pure delusion, pure ingratitude, pure disbelief.
Those of us in this state should be wary of death, wary of our return to our Creator. Certainly, He is watching and, certainly, He will remind us of what we do. But, not just those of us in this state; rather, all of us have cause to worry for we can never be grateful enough for even the blessing of eyesight just like we can never be grateful enough to the mother that bore us for nine months and cared for us another year after that, much longer for some of us, while we could not care for ourselves. Being grateful is an action; it is something we do, not just feel. Our actions reflect how grateful we are and we are responsible for those actions.
He it is Who brought into being for you hearing, sight, and hearts. Little do you give thanks!
And Allah, the Most Elevated, knows best.