A Light from Heaven (Mankind’s need for the message)
A Light from Heaven
(Mankind’s need for the message)
When Yousef entered the meeting hall in the youth hostel where they were staying, he found Michael sitting at a table with his eyes staring at the hall ceiling, as if deeply contemplating the chandelier hanging from it. Yousef went towards Michael and greeted him, but Michael did not notice him. Yousef pulled up the chair opposite him and said:
Yousef: You seem concerned about something important. Care to share?
Michael (Preoccupied): Oh … Sorry, hello, I did not notice you.
Hasn’t Rajiv arrived yet?
Yousef: Actually, I’m five minutes early,
but here he is coming towards us.
Rajiv: Greetings my friends. I have been so looking forward to meeting you.
Yousef: So are we…
Michael: I must just say that I’m very happy about these fruitful dialogues, and have been pondering deeply before both of you came about an important matter that I’d like to share with you. Our previous conversation left me overwhelmed, contemplating that if the One who created us is the One we should worship, then is it reasonable that He would leave us without sending us any message or any means of knowing Him? Is it reasonable to leave us alone just like that?
Rajiv: How coincidental! I was thinking about this very point just before coming.
Yousef: That's a very good question, and it’s in its place. God is the One who created human beings in the best stature, and made all that's on earth subservient to them, and sent down from heaven blessings, though they do not deserve any. And it is not reasonable that He created this universe and human beings, and provided these blessings in vain or without purpose.
Michael: (Relieved) It is very good that we touch on this point, because I want to know what is the real purpose and goal for which God created the universe and human beings, and sent His blessings unto them?
Rajiv: I expect that this will be linked to the characteristics of the true God that we have mentioned in the previous dialogue, since the Lord was present before the existence of the creation; however I can't deduce the exact relationship.
Yousef: What you are saying is correct Rajiv. I will try to make the matter more specific and clear, and more understandable with this example: When you love something, it is natural that you would like to actually achieve it. Is that not so?
Yousef: So, what stops you from actually achieving it?
Rajiv: The cause that comes to my mind now is that I am not capable of achieving it.
Yousef: So when you have the ability you'll be able to achieve your goal. And this is the case here.
Michael (Frowning): Your example has made me even more baffled and confused!
Yousef: Okay, and for that I apologize, but just bear with me for a while. We have agreed in our last discussion that the qualities and attributes the Lord Almighty has are the best and most beautiful. They are loved by both God and His creatures, and some of these qualities are that He is the Creator, The All-Capable and the Sovereign King. And the love of these qualities requires that one will act as they dictate and implement them. So since God is All-Capable and nothing can prevent Him from carrying out His will, He created the creation to make manifest one of His beloved attributes, as because He is a Creator, He loves to create. And because He is a Benefactor He loves to give, because He is the Most Merciful, He loves to be merciful and because He is All-capable, nothing can prevent him from doing what He wants and wills.
Michael: So what is our place in this order?!
Yousef: Our position is that God created us to know Him and to declare that He is too great to have any imperfections and defects. He grants us blessings not only to enjoy them, but also to thank Him for them and not to waste them; He, the Almighty, loves us to thank and praise Him, and this requires us to be submissive to Him and show loving servitude to Him alone, for He alone is the Benefactor, The Creator and worthy of worship.
Rajiv: There are two points raised by what you've just said. The first being, does that mean that one must remain in the temple to achieve what you say?
Yousef: No, no, I didn't mean that at all. This sense of servitude to God is a lost cause and is not recognized by Islam, the religion I follow, for servitude to God covers all the activities of life, including construction of the earth and the establishment of human civilization.
Michael: But we construct on the earth and establish our contemporary civilization without referring to religion.
Yousef: For that reason, we find the manifestations of human misery as a result of this civilization; such as the spread of anxiety and suicide, homosexuality, and social disruption, and the injustice of man towards his fellow men, especially when he feels that he will not be held accountable for anything. When a civilization is in such a form, it is closer to being just a secular life, that is a system that is interested in things and inventions and their development, while it lacks the human dimension. But if we take this dimension into account, we cannot but notice the components of man, on top of which comes the spiritual component. When civilization and human activity is linked with the Creator of humans, then all its aspects are consistent with the humanity of man, in fact with the whole of humanity and with the whole universe, simply because He who created this man and who created this universe knows most what suits them best and what doesn't.
Michael: Does this mean that in order for, say, Rajiv to perfect his work, he has to refer to books of religion? How can this be?! Then if we accept what you've said, how do we arrive at what God wants from us to lead upright lives?
Yousef: What I’ve said doesn't mean that religion is involved in technical matters of science and mundane activities, but it lays the framework and ethical rules for the activities of life, and the systems for different aspects of life. Religion also regulates relationships among humans, between one and his society, and also among societies. In addition to that, religion defines for man his place in this universe, and his relationship with his Lord.
Let me give you two examples, for clarification. God created us and created earth and everything on it. He brings forth food from the earth for us due to the rain He sends down from the sky, and He also brings forth medicine and deadly poisons. He granted us with an intellect, so as to be able to distinguish what is harmful from what isn't. He gave us the ability to experiment in order to discover these plants and make use of them, extracting drugs and medicines from them. Then He laid down for us a general rule in His religion, which is that everything that harms us or harms others is prohibited.
Another example is that all human beings agree on the good of justice and the abhorrence of injustice, but when you enter into the details of this justice, you find many differences. This is because minds differ with regards to their purposes and objectives, and also each group has conflicting interests. We, therefore, need the source of Justice to be Him who has authority higher than all human beings, One in front of whom all human beings are equal, and in front of whom no party will win because of favoritism, or personal interests and benefits.
As for how to get to know what God wants from us; this is also linked to the attributes of God, as He, the Almighty, is the Sovereign King and the Wise One, and it is linked to what we have already mentioned in the beginning of this dialogue, that God created the universe out of wisdom and not in vain. Do you think that it is wise that a company, for instance, establishes and builds its facilities, employs its workers and staff, runs its machines and markets its products without any operation or management systems and regulations?!
Michael: Of course not.
Yousef: What do you think would happen if this was how this universe and creation operates?! It is for that reason, therefore, that God sent down His books and covenant to act as guidance for humans, leading to their welfare in religion and worldly affairs, by means of ambassadors between Him and His slaves. These ambassadors are His messengers, may the mercy and blessing of God be upon them all, who are intermediaries between God and His creation, relaying His commands and prohibitions, in order to let people know their Lord, and to guide them to the meaning of justice and the harms of injustice. They explain to people what is of benefit to them and what is harmful for them in this world and the Hereafter.
Humans are in utmost need of the message, because all his actions are performed for one of two reasons: one to bring what benefits them and another to ward off what harms them. The message is the light that shows man what will benefit him and what will harm him. It is the light of God on His land, and His justice among His slaves.
The objective of the message is not sensory discrimination between what is beneficial and what is harmful, for this is something that animals can do. The donkey, for example, can differentiate and distinguish between barley and dust. What is meant by the message is to distinguish between acts that harm the doer in this world and the Hereafter, and acts that will benefit him in this world and the Hereafter. If it wasn't for that message, minds wouldn't have been guided to the details of benefits and detriments of life.
Rajiv: The second point is that we see people vary in their attitude towards the Lord and their submission to Him. How then are they equal in their enjoyment of His blessings?
Yousef: This is the wisdom of trials and tests, to make clear their attitude towards their Lord. However, they definitely aren't equal in their rewards and final abode. This reward is based on the messages of the apostles which serve as regulations and the covenant that should be referred to.
Michael: I have a third point to add, which is: how do all human beings enjoy God's blessings, while from among them you find the deceptive, the liar and the unjust, and some of them might even escape from the punishment of the society, and the law may not be applied on him?!
Yousef: This is also the wisdom of trials and tests. But these people, if they escape punishment and the community's application of justice on them, they definitely do not escape from the application of divine justice on them. This is one of the wisdoms of the resurrection and reckoning after death on the Last Day, that is the Day of Judgment. On that day God will grant rewards to people for their good deeds, or will punish them for their evil actions towards their Lord, towards themselves and towards others. On that day, there will be the true judgment between adversaries.
But there must be a reference on which people can depend. It must be known to them and available for them to refer to. Here also comes the role of the messages of God's messengers, who describe to people the basis on which they will be held accountable, and describe to them what will happen to them if they adhere to, or violate this basis. These messengers also describe what the Afterlife will be like; blissful or painful, full of reward or punishment, and what will occur on the Day of Judgment.
Rajiv: Mr. Yousef, do you remember that we said that we need to discuss the qualities of the true religion?
Yousef: Yes, I remember that.
Rajiv: I think it is time to open this file.
Michael: You are right, Rajiv. I suggest that we devote our next discussion to that very subject.