CHAPTER iii / Certainty of the Future

Certainty of the Future

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Examples of the first type relate to the religion of Islam and that God has ensured that it will remain forever, and will never be wiped out. These also include the promise that God will preserve the Qur’an intact, free from distortion.

Verses giving these promises are in plenty, such as: “Thus does God depict truth and falsehood. The scum is cast away, but that which is of benefit to mankind remains on earth.”

(13: 17.)

“Do you not see how God compares a good word to a good tree? Its root is firm and its branches are in the sky. It yields its fruits in every season by leave of its Lord.”

(14: 24.)

“It is We that have revealed this Reminder, and it is We Ourself that shall preserve it.”

(15: 9.)

Do we know when such happy news, and indeed firm promises, were issued? All these verses were revealed in Makkah, and we all know the difficulties Islam went through in its early period in that city. It went through ten years of hostility, when the people there were not prepared even to listen to the Qur’an. Indeed, they prevented others from listening to it. The small number of believers who followed Muhammad were subjected to much pressure and persecution.

Then, the Prophet’s whole clan were boycotted and besieged in their quarters for a long period of time. Furthermore, there were secret, and even open, conspiracies to assassinate the Prophet or to send him into exile. Would anyone detect in the thickness of such endless darkness, any faint ray of hope which might have brought those persecuted people a chance to proclaim their faith and to call publicly on others to follow it? If a reformer entertains such a hope, it is based on what he himself feels about the nature of his message.

It certainly does not rely on the apparent course of events. Would he, in such circumstances, allow the hopes he entertains to grow so strong as to become an absolute verdict? Suppose that he is so optimistic and hopeful that he is convinced that his message will triumph in his own lifetime, as he is giving it all that he can.

How will he guarantee that his message will survive after his death, in the midst of overpowering future events? How can he be so certain when he knows that every lesson in history shows that there can be no foundation for such certainty? Many a reformer pursues a clear message of reform, but soon his call dies down.

Cities have flourished in history, but have then declined and now we see only their ruins. Prophets were killed, and holy books were lost, destroyed or distorted.

Was Muhammad ever a man to entertain high hopes or allow his aspirations to control his action? Before he began to receive revelations, he never entertained any hope that he would be a prophet:

“You never hoped that this Book would be revealed to you. Yet it is only through your Lord’s mercy that you have received it.”

(28: 86.)

Even after he was chosen as a Prophet, he could not guarantee that his revelations would remain with him: “If We pleased We could take away that which We revealed to you: then you should find none to plead with Us on your behalf. But your Lord is Merciful to you. The grace He has bestowed on you is great indeed.”

(17: 86-87.)

Such a guarantee to preserve the Qur’an intact must, by necessity, come from an external source, not from within himself. Who could give such a guarantee over an extended future, knowing that time brings a new surprise every day?

Who could guarantee that except the Lord that controls time and conducts all events, the One who determines the beginning and the end of everything that takes place in the universe and who controls its course? If it were not for God’s grace and mercy which He promised him in the verses quoted above, the Qur’an would not be able to stand firm in the face of the determined fight against it that we still witness from time to time.

Refer to history, if you will, to find out how often it turned against Muslim states. How often the enemies of Islam were able to overcome the Muslims and kill large numbers of them indiscriminately.

Indeed, they forced whole Muslim communities to deny Islam and to follow other faiths. They burned books and destroyed mosques. Indeed, only a few of the atrocities they perpetrated would have ensured that the Qur’an would have been totally or partially lost, as happened to earlier sacred books.

It is only through God’s grace that the Qur’an has remained intact despite all the determined efforts of its enemies to destroy it.

Its verses continue to be read as they were originally revealed, and its rulings still apply and continue to be implemented. We may look into daily newspapers to find out what great financial resources are used every year to obliterate the Qur’an, or to turn people away from Islam through falsehood, deception and temptation.

But those who stand behind such efforts and supervise the spending of all these resources gain nothing except what God has spelled out in the Qur’an:

“The unbelievers expend their riches in debarring others from God’s path. They will continue to spend their wealth in this way, but they shall rue it, and in the end they will be defeated.”

(8: 36.)

The fact is that the power that ensures that the Qur’an will never cease to exist is the same One that ensures that the heavens and the earth will not fall and break away. Indeed it is God who “has sent forth His Messenger with guidance and the true faith to make it triumphant over all religions, however much the idolaters may dislike it.”

(9: 36 & 61: 9.)

God will certainly accomplish His purpose, and perfect His light, ensuring that it will continue to spread and illuminate people’s hearts and the world at large. Hence the Qur’an will continue to enjoy its overpowering position, unaffected by the hostility of anyone until God’s purpose is accomplished.

page ii

A Challenge to All Mankind

Everyone knows that a critic can carefully study what an earlier writer has produced and 30 then be able to find in it something that the original writer missed out or overlooked.

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