In the Light of the Quran: Peace—Within and Without
by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui
The Light (Pakistan), 24th February and 1st March 1976 Issue (Vol. 56, Nos. 8–9, pp. 1–2 and 23–24)
The world has been teetering on the edge of a precipice for the last quarter of a century. It may reel over and fall any day into the inferno of the Third World War. The previous two World Wars were nightmares for those who, like the author, lived through them. The loss of life, limb and property was terrible. What is worse, those wars shattered the human mind and brought about cataclysmic upheavals in the political, economic and social fields. The present day spiral of inflation, the socio-economic unrest throughout the world, and the breaking-up of the family-life so visible in the West, are all fruits of those two World Wars. What is worse, moral and social values are shattered, apparently beyond repair.
The first World War was fought under the slogan:
“a war to end all wars.”
Actually, it was the beginning of world wars. Mankind reposed its confidence in the League of Nations. But it failed to prevent even small wars such as Italy’s attack on Abyssinia and the Spanish civil war, to mention only two. And when the Second World War came, nobody could stop it. It was not for want of intensive efforts within the League of Nations, and without, to prevent a world war.
Learning from that bitter experience, the statesmen of the world built their hopes, and that of mankind, on the United Nations. We have seen the sad failure of that world organization. Leaving alone the wars in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East, nearer home, we in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent have seen in the case of the Kashmir war and the two Indo-Pakistan wars how impotent the United Nations is in preventing wars or redressing wrongs done to weaker nations.
No wonder that mankind has lost confidence in the world leaders—what is worse, in itself. Even the Big Powers apprehend that the third world war may start at any moment. That is why deadly inter-continental ballistic missiles are all the time ready to be fired. Submarines capable of firing nuclear missiles are prowling around the sea coasts of America and Russia. Aircrafts bearing nuclear bombs and missiles are all the time air-borne towards territories of the other country. The surface ships of both the countries carry their arsenals of nuclear bombs and missiles to be fired at a minute’s notice. The heads of these states carry, wherever they go or may be, the codes which will enable them to press the button for unleashing all the horrors of the third world war.
And because it will be a nuclear war, it may mean the end of all life, at least in and around the target areas, the rest of the world being mutilated and damaged by the nuclear fall-out which will hang suspended in the air and spread destruction far and wide. The effects of the nuclear fall-out are unknown and unpredictable. That of the atomic bomb were seen on a small scale in the case of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What the much bigger and more deadly hydrogen bombs will do, we may not live to see. And even those who survive, may not be able to comprehend.
Are the statesmen of the world not aware of these terrible dangers? Of course, they are. And they are trying their best to avoid a third world war. But so they did to avoid the First and the Second World Wars. If they did not succeed then, how can we be sure that they will succeed now? If not by design, then by accident or by circumstances beyond their control, the terrible world conflagration for which they have prepared, and are further preparing all the time, may break out.
No wonder that mankind has lost confidence in its leaders, what is more, in itself. Why should man, who thought he was the ruler of the earth and is now reaching for the planets beyond the moon, who thought he was the maker of his own destiny, be so helpless to save himself from death or a shattered life worse than death? To those who believe that there is no power above man, there is no answer. And that is why they are so helpless and hopeless.
But to those who believe, as we do, that there is a Creator of the universe Who is also its real Ruler, there may be an answer. The question is where? The answer is that the Great Creator did not leave man alone to flounder, to come to grief, to destroy himself. Here is a ray of light, and a message of hope and cheer, from the Holy Quran:
“Glorify the name of thy Lord, the Most High! Who creates, then makes complete. And Who measures (i.e., makes destiny), then guides.” (87:1–3)
If the Great Creator does all that to the whole of His creation, He must have done it to perfection for the best of His creation, namely, man. From time to time He sent His Prophets and revealed books to mankind when it lay scattered over the earth. Unfortunately, those books are now lost as they were not reduced to writing immediately. They were transmitted by word of mouth for centuries before they were reduced to writing. And we know what can happen to transmission by word of mouth. The original text of even a small message cannot survive in its original form from one mouth to another. Over a period of centuries, there could possibly be no hope for the survival of such messages. In some cases, as the Bible, the original text is nowhere to be found. Only translations, changed every few years, survive.
This loss of revealed books seems to be a part of the Divine design. They were by their own admission, for a particular people to whom they were sent. They also served a temporary need, as shown by the changes brought about in the guidance given to each nation. For instance, to Bani Israel the original teachings of the Torah, given through Moses, were changed by the Israelite prophets who succeeded him and particularly by Jesus Christ whose book, now known as the New Testament, is a book separate from the Old Testament of Moses and his successors.
The teachings of the prophets and books sent to different nations were meant to meet the moral and spiritual needs of each particular nation at a particular stage of its development The Bani Israel after a long time of slavery and bondage to the Pharaohs and the Egyptians were so demoralised and demeaned that they needed toughening up through the severe Law given by Moses. But when Bani Israel went to the other extreme of hard-heartedness, they needed the softening up of the teachings of Jesus Christ and his book.
National prophets and national revealed books, unfortunately, led to religious differences, bigotry and intolerance. This should not have happened had the original revealed books and the teachings of the prophets survived in their true form. According to the Holy Quran, all prophets and their books taught basically the same religion of Islam. Says the Holy Book:
“Mankind is a single nation. So Allah raised prophets as bearers of good news (to those who believe and do good deeds) and as warners (to those who disbelieve and fall into evil ways)” (The Holy Quran, 2:213).
“And certainly We raised in every nation a messenger, saying: ‘Humbly obey Allah and shun the devil’” (16:36).
“And mankind is but a single nation, but then they disagreed” (10:19).
As already stated above, religious differences arose because the original Divine messages were not reduced to writing for centuries, some original texts are completely lost, others are admittedly corrupted—there being various versions of the same book. Each nation glorified its own religion, such as it was, and raised its prophet to divinity. Monotheism, the basis of all religions, was lost beyond recognition.
The solution of the problem was therefore to put an end to national prophets and ephemeral teachings, and to unite mankind in one religion and under one prophet. This was done under Islam, under the Holy Prophet Muhammad, under the Holy Quran. This is the only Book which was reduced to writing as soon as it was revealed, and is admittedly extant in its original purity.
If Divine guidance is now to be found in its original purity only in the Holy Quran, the question then is: “What guidance can mankind get from the Holy Quran to find peace, within and without man, which it has failed to get by its own efforts?” That we will Insha-Allah deal with in our next issue.