By Syed Akbar Hassan
The Qur’ān (27:1-6) says: “Ta Sin. These are ayat of the Qur’ān, a clear, elucidating book; a guidance and joyful tidings to the believers who attend regularly to prayers and pay their zakat, and who firmly believe in the life to come. As for those who will not believe in the life to come, We make their deeds seem fair to them, and so they wander about in distraction. These are the ones for whom grievous suffering is in store, and who in the life to come shall be the worst losers. Most certainly, you receive the Qur’ān out of the grace of One who is Wise, All-Knowing.”
The Qur’ān is described as “a guidance and joyful tidings to the believers.” For certain, it provides guidance for us in every way. It also gives us what brings happiness both in this life and in the life to come.
That the guidance and the happy news are given to us – the believers – only is especially significant. The Qur’ān is not a book of theoretical or applicable science that yields all its benefits to whoever reads and understands it. It addresses hearts in the first instance and gives all its light and fragrance to an open mind which receives it with certainty and contentment. When a person’s mind is refreshed with firm belief, it can better appreciate the Qur’ān and understand far more of its meanings than we can imagine. It brings about miraculous changes in this life as one adopts a new way of life. All the systems, legislation and values the Qur’ān promotes are based first and foremost on faith. Hence, a person who does not, deep at heart, believe in Allah or accept that this Qur’ān is revealed by Allah, or that its contents represent the system Allah wants implemented in human life, cannot find the desired guidance in the Qur’ān and will not share the joyful news it brings.
The Qur’ān contains inexhaustible treasures of guidance, knowledge and sound directives, but faith is the key to opening it all. Without this key, it does not yield its treasures to anyone. Hence those who truly believed in it were able to accomplish miracles. But when the Qur’ān was reduced to no more than chants set to charming tunes that people enjoyed hearing without touching their hearts, it remained an unopened treasure, incapable of achieving anything.
The surah outlines the qualities of the believers who find guidance and happy news in the Qur’ān. The first quality is to attend regularly to prayer, offering it as it should be offered, with our hearts and souls conscious of the fact that we are standing in front of Allah in all His majesty. Thus, we feel ourselves in contact with His sublime presence, and our thoughts fully attentive to addressing and glorifying Him. Secondly, they pay their zakat, which is the obligatory charity. When we pay it, we purge our hearts of stinginess rising above the lure of wealth. We give our brethren some of what Allah has granted us, thus fulfilling our social duty towards our community. Finally, they firmly believe in the life to come, which means that our fate in the hereafter remains topmost in our thoughts. It prevents us from giving free rein to our desires and keeps the fear of Allah alive in our hearts.
It is only such obedient believers who can hope for Allah’s reward yet still dread His punishment. Only they, with their hearts open to the Qur’ān, can find its guidance and receive its happy news. For them, it is a light illuminating their lives, providing them with strong motivation for action. It is their only reliable guide and one which they always refer to.
Strong emphasis is placed on believing in the hereafter; this in the form of a stern warning to those who refuse to believe, and persist with their erring ways. They feel good about them and remain enthralled in depravity.
Believing in the life to come is the motive that keeps whims and desires in check, urging us to lead a life of moderation. When such belief is lacking, we cannot restrain ourselves from pursuing wanton desires, thinking that our only chance for indulging in pleasure is that offered in this life. Yet life on earth is scarcely long enough to fulfil a small portion of what people desire or hope for. Besides, when someone has the means to lead a life of indulgence, what can stop him from pursuing his wildest pleasures unless he has to reckon with standing before Allah, the Exalted, awaiting His judgement, reward or punishment? Indeed, a person lacking belief in the hereafter will inevitably pursue every pleasure within his ability. No sense of shame or check will restrain him. It is in the nature of human beings that we love pleasure unless we are guided by a divine message that tells us of a future, permanent life that follows this short one, and that the latter is but preparation for that future life. If we heed this guidance, we will find much greater pleasure in different types of pursuits.
It is Allah, the Exalted, who has moulded human nature in this fashion, giving it the propensity to follow His guidance when it opens its receptive faculties to this, and the opposite propensity to remain blind when it shuts such faculties down. His will is always done, in both situations. Hence, the Qur’ān says in reference to those who will not believe in the hereafter: “We make their deeds seem fair to them, and so they wander about in distraction.” They choose not to believe, and thus Allah’s law comes into operation making their deeds seem fair and attractive to them. They cannot see any foul element in what they do and so remain unable to find a clear way leading them aright.
When evil is made to seem fair, the end result is well known: “These are the ones for whom grievous suffering is in store, and who in the life to come shall be the worst losers.” Whether suffering is meted out to them in this present life or in the life to come, they will have to face utter ruin in the hereafter. It will be their just recompense for pursuing what is evil.
The surah’s opening is completed with an ayah that re-emphasises the divine source of the Qur’ān: “Most certainly, you receive the Qur’ān out of the grace of One who is Wise, All-Knowing.” The Qur’ān is the sublime gift presented by the One who does everything wisely and plans everything on the basis of perfect knowledge. Indeed, His wisdom and knowledge are clearly seen in the Qur’ān; its mode, the duties it assigns and directives it gives, in the system it follows, in its revelation at the most appropriate time, in the flow of its component parts and in the harmony of its subject matter.