Article appeared Friday, March 11th, 2016 in The News Today, Bangladesh
Do we reflect on the opportunities that life provides? For example, each has a unique personality, a unique set of skills, a specific environment and opportunities to exercise personal free will and derive satisfaction from the efforts made. All these are, however, potential abilities and opportunities. The person may choose to develop his/her personality, polish potential skills and engage efforts to utilize the opportunities and derive satisfaction. Or one may choose to idly spend the given time, e.g., watch movies, upload on Facebook what we are watching, count the number of “likes” and at the same time feel envious about the wealth, latest products and progress that others have made. So, potentials and opportunities exist. It is entirely up to the individual what he/she wants do with these. The question to ask is who would lose if these are underutilized? To understand, we may draw an analogy here. Underutilized potential is like having an expensive brand car and not learning to drive it or driving it at 5-10mph fearing accidents, etc. If we took the trouble to learn and use the cars potential we may discover that it has many safety features.
Now, if we learn and do use the full potential of the car’s abilities, would we be in a position to derive satisfaction and be full of praise towards the manufacturers’ quality and ability? Would we publicize our praise by telling other people regarding the quality and performance of the car? This praise would help to establish the manufacturer as a quality brand name. Likewise, what may happen if efforts are made to utilize the human potential and opportunities? There are human beings who enjoy pushing existing performance records. But wait, who does the credit for quality performance belong to? Now, in the case of the car, we praise the manufacturer – in comparison, whom should we praise in the case of the human being’s performance success?
If we praise the Creator for the achievement, we demonstrate belief and establish His truth; if we praise ourselves or any other created object/thing we prove our disbelief and demonstrate ingratitude for the unique potential, opportunities and success given. In addition, when we credit other objects/things in place of the Creator we effectively assign qualities that only He has (i.e., we effectively deify the other objects/things). The following Verses 53 – 55 from Chapter 16 of the Qur’an warn us regarding this attitude.
“And whatever you have of favor – it is from Allah; (you know this as) when you are touched by adversity it is to Him you cry with groans for help.” [16.53]
“Yet when He removes the adversity from you, behold, some of you turn to other gods to join with their Lord.” [16.54]
“So they deny the favors We have given them! Then enjoy yourselves; but soon will you know (your folly)!” [16.55]
Verse 16.53 gives the proof that we know who grants favors – as we cry to Him to when in trouble or when we need something. Equally, we know who gives opportunities, skills, wealth, beauty, success, etc., as we may blame Him for giving others more, i.e., we may demonstrate envy. The following Verse from Chapter 15 warns us accordingly,
15.88 “Do not extend your eyes toward that by which We have given enjoyment to certain classes of them nor grieve over them (as they are ungrateful); but lower your wing (i.e., show gentleness and kindness) to the believers (i.e., those who turn to their Lord and are grateful).”
Just as each person is unique, so are the blessings tailored to the individual – so must the gratitude be individual. We need only check our own attitude and gratitude towards the Creator. We are tested only on what we are individually given, not by what others have. We are therefore warned against demonstrating ingratitude and disbelief.
“Who receives guidance receives it for his own benefit: whoever goes astray does so to his own loss: no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another: nor would We visit with Our Wrath until We have sent an apostle (to give warning).” [17.15]
15.89 “And say, "I am indeed warning openly and without ambiguity"”
We are given potential skills and opportunities to enjoy and derive individual satisfaction when we are given successes and thereby need to praise the Creator, just as one praises and talks about the manufacturer of a brand car when benefits are felt. Instead, if we are envious and demonstrate ingratitude and disbelief we would be in serious trouble with the Merciful Creator who has given us a life to live and individually enjoy. Such ingratitude and disbelief annoys the Creator just as those who, isolate Revealed Verses of the Holy Scriptures and use them for political or limited selfish gain while on earth, seriously annoy Him.
15.90 “(Of just such wrath) as We sent down on those who divided (Scripture into arbitrary parts)”
15.91 “(So also on such) as have made the Qur'an into shreds (as they please).”
Such people separate Verses of the Holy Qur’an and use them out of context for personal or political gain. How should the Creator look upon such people?
15.92 “So, by your Lord, We will surely call each of them to account”
15.93 “About what they used to do (i.e., for all their deeds).”
15.94 “Therefore declare openly what you are commanded and turn away from those who join false gods with Allah.”
15.95 “Indeed, We are sufficient for you against those who mock (you and the revealed Scriptures)”
15.96 “(i.e.,) those who make equal with Allah another deity. But soon will they come to know.”
15.97 “We do indeed know how your heart is distressed at what they say.”
15.98 “But celebrate the Praises of your Lord and be of those who prostrate themselves (to Him) in adoration.”
15.99 “And serve your Lord until there comes to you the Hour that is certain.”
Everything would be clear to all upon death – be warned that death on earth is a fact that no one has escaped. - yousuf mahbubul Islam, PhD, Honorable VC, DIU