In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
When Allah made His covenant with the Prophets: “If, after what I have vouchsafed to you of the scriptures and wisdom, there comes to you a messenger confirming that of which you have been given possession, you shall believe in him and you shall help him. Do you,” said He, “affirm this and accept the obligation I lay upon you in these terms?” They answered; “We do affirm it.” He said; “Then bear you witness, and I am also a witness with you.” Then those who turn away afterward are indeed transgressors. Do they seek a religion other than Allah’s, when every soul in heavens and earth has submitted to Him, willing or by compulsion, and to Him they shall all return? Say: We believe in Allah, and in that which has been revealed to us, and that which had been revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Issac, Jacob and their descendants, and that which had been bestowed by their Lord on Moses and Jesus and the Prophets. We make no distinction between them. To Him do we surrender ourselves.” -- (The House of Imran, “Aal Imran” 3; 81-84)
Commentary by Sayyid Qutb
Translated by A.A. Salahi & S.A. Shamsi
The commentary in the last issue was devoted to the first three verses of this passage. We explained that these verses leave no doubt whatsoever that the message given to all Prophets and messengers was essentially the same. They all laid down the same constitution for their peoples, based on total submission to Allah in all affairs. The message given to Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was the final and complete version of this faith. This is the reason for which Allah has made His covenant with the Prophets, that they would follow Prophet Muhammad, should he be sent with his message in the lifetime of any of them. This covenant remains binding on the followers of those Prophets. This is followed by the third verse which asks: “Do they seek a religion other than Allah’s when every soul in heavens and earth has submitted to Him, willingly or by compulsion, and to Him they shall all return.?” The ultimate return of all living souls is to Allah, the creator, who controls the whole universe and conducts all its affairs.
If man’s aim is to be happy and to ensure his peace of mind and to have a good system for his life, then he must inevitably return to Allah’s constitution and implement it in his life as an individual and in the life of his community. This ensures that man’s life is in perfect harmony with the system followed by the universe. In this way, man does not find himself following a system of his own making which is essentially at variance with the system followed by the whole universe and devised by the creator, when he must live within this universe and deal with the system of the universe. Only when man achieves harmony between his own system which encompasses his feelings, motives, relations and practices and the system of the universe he becomes able to work in cooperation, rather than in conflict, with the great powers in the universe. If he finds himself in conflict with these powers, his own world is left in latters, or at least he cannot fulfil his mission on earth which has been assigned to him by Allah. On the other hand, when he achieves harmony with the laws of nature which operate in the universe and to which all living things are subject, he will be able to fathom their secrets and to make use of them in a way which ensures his own happiness and peace of mind. He will be spared all worry, fear and conflict. When we say that man can make use of these powers, we mean that in the case of fire, for example, he will not burn himself by it, but will use it for cooking, heating and having light.
In its essence, human nature is in harmony with the laws governing the universe. Human nature submits to its Lord like every living thing. When man forces his own life out of the system laid down by Allah, he finds himself in conflict not only with the universe, but also with his own nature. This will result in his own misery and worry. He will suffer a great deal as erring humanity is now suffering despite all its scientific achievements and all the facilities provided by his materialistic civilisation.
Man suffers a great deal because he finds himself in a terrible void. His soul is devoid of the truth which it desperately needs, the truth of faith. His life is devoid of the divine method which achieves harmony of movement between man and the universe in which he lives. When man leaves the cool shade provided by Allah’s way of life, he finds himself in the blazing heat of the desert. Having left the straightforward path he suffers a worrying type of corruption.
This is indeed the reason for all the misery, worry and confusion suffered by humanity, and for all its feelings of hunger, thirst and deprivation. Man tries to escape from all this by resorting to drugs and drinks, fast cars and aimless adventures. Material affluence, high level of productivity, easy life and a great deal of spare time does not help reduce his misery and worry. Indeed, the more he has of these the greater his worry and confusion. This emptiness continues to chase man like a fearful ghost. Man tries to run away, but he can only run into an endless void.
The first impression formed by anyone who visits the West is that their people are trying to ‘escape’. They want to escape even from their own souls. The thin veil of affluence and sensuous enjoyment which is carried too far is soon lifted to reveal all sorts of psychiatric complaints, deviation, perversion, worry, madness, drinks, drugs and crime.
The people of these countries cannot determine the true purpose of their lives. They cannot attain happiness because they grope in the dark for that divine system which alone will ensure harmony of movement between themselves and the universe around them, and between their system and that of the universe. They cannot have peace of mind because they do not know Allah, to whom they shall all return.
Since the Muslim nation, not the one which lives in any particular geographical area or in any particular period of history, is the one which is aware of the true nature of the covenant between Allah and His messengers, and knows fully the truth of the single faith Allah has given man through the line of His noble Prophets and messengers. Allah instructs the Prophet (Pbuh) to declare this truth in absolutely clear terms. He orders him to declare that his nation believes in all past messages, respects and honours all past messengers, and is fully aware of the true nature of divine faith which is the only faith acceptable to Allah Say: “We believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to us, and that which has been revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Issac, Jacob and their descendants, and that which has been bestowed by their Lord on Moses and Jesus and the Prophets. We make no distinction between them. To Him do we surrender ourselves. If he who seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him, and in the life to come he will be among the lost.”
This is the reality of Islam; It encompasses all past messages, maintains loyalty to all past messengers. It shows that divine faith is one, and returns all religions to their common source. It implies believing in all these messages as a whole, as they have been given by Allah. It is important to note here that the first of these two verses states believing in Allah and what has been revealed to Muslims, i.e. the Qur’an, and what has been revealed to all previous messengers. Its concluding comment on this acceptance is: ‘To Him do we surrender ourselves.’ This acknowledgement of submission to Allah is very significant. It comes after it has been explained that Islam means total surrender, submission and obedience as well as the implementation of a certain system and a well-defined law. This is absolutely clear in the preceding verse: “Do they seek a religion other than Allah’s, when every soul in heavens and earth has submitted to Him, willingly or by compulsion, and to Him they shall return?” It is clear that, in relation to all beings “Islam means surrender and submission, as well as obedience to the law and implementation of the system. It is for this that Allah deliberately explains the meaning of Islam and its true nature on every occasion, so that no one may mistake it for a word stated verbally, or an acceptance made mentally, without leaving its practical effects on life in the form of submission to Allah’s law and the implementation of that law in real life.