• Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

The Quran: The Voice of God

Recently I have been studying Marxism in considerable detail and have formed the impression that Marx was a man of extraordinary intellect and spirit; few men of such talent can have appeared in the annals of history. Yet, when he gave his mind to the improvement of the human condition, the remedies he offered were unparalleled in their foolishness. Why should this have been so? The principal reason is that he had made no study of the Quran. He had not gone to that great source of knowledge, without which no sound and definite opinion can be arrived at on the vicissitudes of human existence. It must be conceded that the universe is a mystery and that the only book which can unveil that mystery for us is the Quran. No mere mortal can solve the mysteries of life and the universe without the revelations of the Book of God.

Medicines are accompanied by leaflets explaining what illnesses they are designed to cure, how they should be used and what their basic formulae are. But man is born into the world in such a condition that he knows neither what he is nor why he has been put here. No convenient handbook accompanies him, neither are there any signboards fixed to the summits of the mountains to give him directions or to provide him with answers to his questions. Man has, in consequence, formed strange opinions about himself, the earth and the sky, being ignorant of the essential reality of life. When he examines his own being, it appears to him as an amazing accumulation of intellectual and physical powers. Yet, he did not will himself into being, nor did he play any part in the making of himself. Then he looks at the world outside himself and a universe of such extreme vastness, that he can neither encompass nor traverse it, nor can he count the innumerable treasures it contains. What is all this, and why is it there? Where did this world start from and where will it all end? What is the purpose of all this existence? He finds himself completely in the dark on these subjects. Man has, of course, been given eyes, but all his eyes can do is see the outside of things. He has intelligence, but the trouble with human intelligence is that it does not even know about itself. Up till now, man has been unable to find out how thoughts enter the human mind or how the mind functions. With such inadequate faculties, he is neither able to arrive at any sound conclusion concerning himself, nor he is able to understand the Universe.

This riddle is solved by the Book of God. Today, the Quran is the only scripture beneath the heavens about which we can say with complete conviction that it gives us definite knowledge concerning all the realities of life.

Those who have tried to understand the Universe without recourse to the Book of God are just like those blind people who try to find out what an elephant is by touching different parts of its body. One will touch its leg and think he has found a pillar. Another will feel its ear, and think it is a winnowing basket. Its back will be proclaimed a platform, its tail a snake and its trunk a hosepipe. But where in all this is the elephant? No matter how these blind people put together their findings, they cannot arrive at the correct answer. This is the eternal predicament of all atheist philosophers and thinkers. In their attempt to fathom the nature of reality in the universe, they have failed to be guided by true knowledge. As a result, their conclusions have been like those of a man, fumbling in the dark, and just hazarding wild guesses as to the nature of his surroundings, without ever truly understanding it.

There have been people in this world who have devoted their entire lives to the quest for Truth, but who, in their desperation at being unable to find it, have even taken the extreme step of putting an end to their lives. And then there have been others who sought the Truth but who, having failed to find it, settled for a concocted philosophy based on pure conjecture. While the latter, mistaking conjecture for reason, compiled their conclusions and presented them to the world as Truth, the former saw speculation for what it was, rejected it, then—anguished at their own ultimate helplessness—opted out of this mysterious world.

Both groups were denied True Knowledge, for, in reality, no one can understand the secret of life without the help of the original Keeper of the Secret. True, man has been given the capacity to think and understand. But this capacity is little better than an eye which can see only so long as there is some external source of light. In pitch darkness, this self-same eye cannot see anything whatsoever. Only when a light is switched on, does everything become clearly visible. The human intellect, like the eye, needs the light—the light of God’s revelation—if it is not forever to grope in the dark. Without God’s revelation, we can never arrive at the truth of things.

A scholarly acquaintance of mine once remarked that learning—so it is held—is not acquired by reading book after book and possessing a string of degrees from colleges and universities, but consists, in its supreme form, of faith. The Quran likewise states that, ‘in fact, it is those who fear God who are learned.’ But he failed to grasp the significance of this, he said. I replied, “Karl Marx is considered a ‘prophet’ in the field of economics, but he did not have one whit of the True Knowledge which, today, by the grace of God, you possess.” Faced by a world in which a small number of feudal lords and industrial magnates had taken possession of a disproportionate share of the available wealth, while most people lived in abject poverty, Marx concluded that what lay at the root of these disparities was the present system of ownership which caused articles to be produced, not for their utility to the producer, but for the profit they would yield when sold to others. This permitted the privileged few to behave as plunderers, heaping up profits and increasing their own property to the detriment of their fellow men. The remedy proposed by Marx was to abolish ownership rights altogether, and to transfer the means of accumulating wealth to the public sector. The government was then to be entrusted with the organization of a public system of creation and distribution of wealth which should serve the interests of all.

At that particular point in time, it was those who possessed the necessary capital who were in a position to profiteer. The question now arose as to the actual advantage of having the government take complete control of these funds in order to turn them into a public treasury. Would not this new group of people—the members of government—be tempted, as individuals, to do the same as their capitalist predecessors, considering that they would also be vested with military and legislative powers? Karl Marx’s analysis was that the system of ownership was flawed by jealousy and the opportunities it gave for outright plunder. According to him, such social defects would disappear in a communist society. ‘Now, tell me,’ I asked my friend, ‘Was Karl Marx correct in thinking so?’ ‘Certainly not,’ he replied, ‘The idea of accountability in the Hereafter is the only thing in this world that can cleanse a man of cruel and selfish tendencies.’ ‘That is the real answer to the problem,’ I said. ‘For Karl Marx’s self-made theory resulted in even greater oppression and cruelty than in the days when political and economic powers were shared by the Czars and the capitalists. Now, under the communist system, the powers of Czars and capitalists have all been rolled into one, and it is the common man who suffers.’

All those philosophers who have attempted— without God—to solve the riddle of the Universe have fallen into the same pitfalls as Marx. As to their thinking, one is struck by how such great intellects could produce such infantile suggestions. They are like so many blind people, trying, gropingly, to identify an elephant and declaring, with finality, that it is four pillars, or four tree trunks. It is only when life and the universe are scrutinized in the light of the Book of God that everything appears clearly in its true form; then even a person of very average ability has no trouble in understanding the truth of things; at the very first glance, he goes straight to the heart of the matter. To a person who does not possess this Knowledge, however, the universe is but a labyrinth in which he wanders, lost and distraught.

We owe much to the human sciences. Yet the absolute maximum that we can learn from them is what the universe is. Till now, they have not given us one iota of knowledge on the subject of why the universe is as it is. Bring together a few gases, minerals and salts, and you have a moving, conscious human being. Put seeds in the ground and up spring plants and trees. Just make a change in atomic numbers and innumerable elements come into being. From just two gases, water—that most precious of commodities— is prepared. Steam, produced by molecular motion within water, gives inanimate engines the power to move. The electrons within an atom are too tiny to be seen through a microscope, but they too are a vital source of colossal, mountain-shattering power. These are all matters of fact. Scientific events do take place as described. But this description is the outer limit of our scientific ‘knowledge.’ When we ask why things are as they are, and why things happen as they do, human science gives us no guidance whatsoever.

Studies in astronomy show that the number of stars in the sky is as numerous as all of the sand grains on all the sea-shores of our planet, many of the stars being vastly greater in size than our earth, some even being of such enormous girth that they could accommodate hundreds of thousands of earths inside them and still have room to spare. A few of them are even big enough to contain millions and millions of earths. The universe is so vast that an aeroplane flying at the greatest speed imaginable, i.e., at the speed of light, (186,282 miles per second) would take about ten billion years to complete just a single trip around the whole universe. Even with such a huge circumference, this universe is not static, but is expanding every moment in all directions. So rapid is this expansion that, according to an estimate by Eddington, every 1300 million years, all the distances in this universe are doubled. This means that even our imaginary aeroplane travelling at the speed of light would not ever be able to fly all the way around the universe, because it would never be able, to catch up with this unending expansion. This estimation of the vastness of the universe is based on Einstein’s theory of relativity. But this is just a mathematician’s guess. To tell the truth, man has yet to comprehend the vastness of the universe.

Source: The Quran: An Abiding Wonder
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