Bediuzzaman says that Allah (may His glory be exalted) willed the creation of a world for examination and trial, for numerous instances of wisdom too fine for our minds to comprehend, assert IBRAHIM OKSAS and NAZEEMA AHMED.
AS we reflect on the year that was and the impending year, 2021, it should give us pause to reflect on the enormous changes that we have witnessed in 2020. Not only did we witness on a daily basis the alternation of night and day but we also experienced the seasonal change from spring to summer and, of course, the almost daily reminder of the reality and truth of death; death signifying a change of abode from this world to the hereafter.
There is a common narrative that as human beings we are hardwired to resist change, and when change seems inevitable, some people may become paralysed by the fear of change and its outcome or result. How do we conceive of and make sense of change in this worldly life? In his contemporary Quranic tafsir, Risale-i Nur, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi elucidates this matter.
He says that Allah (may His glory be exalted) willed the creation of a world for examination and trial, for numerous instances of wisdom too fine for our minds to comprehend. He willed the change and transformation of this world for many reasons. He combined good and evil, and mixed in harm with benefit, and included ugliness in beauty. He joined evil, harm and ugliness to Jahannum and sent them assistance from it. And He despatched good things and virtues to be manifested in Jannah.
Furthermore, when Allah Almighty willed trial and competition in the world of human beings and for there to be differences and change among them, he mixed in bad people with good. Then, when the period of testing closes and Divine Will commands that human beings should be eternal, He will make the bad people manifest the ayah in Surah Ya Sin, ‘Get you apart … O you guilty ones,’ while the good will be honoured and graced with the address in Surah Az-Zumar, ‘So enter there to dwell forever!’
Bediuzzaman then cites the following ayah from Surah al-Baqara that explicitly mentions Jannah (Paradise): ‘But give glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness that theirs are gardens beneath which rivers flow. Every time they are fed with fruits therefrom, they say: Why, this is what we were fed with before, for they are given things in similitude; and they have therein companions pure [and holy]; and they abide therein [forever].’
Bediuzzaman then says that it is incumbent on us to understand that Jannah and Jahannum (Hell) are two fruits which point to eternity from the tree of creation, and that they are the two results of the chain of the universe. Yes, the universe will be convulsed and shaken up with a violent motion, and Jannah and Jahannum will appear and will fill up with the appropriate matters.
The aforementioned ayah from Surah Al-Baqara points to the resurrection of the dead and Great Gathering, and, according to Bediuzzaman, there are four noteworthy points in this matter: firstly, the possibility of the world’s destruction and its death; secondly, their occurrence; thirdly, its repair and being raised to life; fourthly, their occurrence.
(i) The possibility of the death of the universe: Bediuzzaman says that if a thing is subject to the law of evolution (qaanoon al-takaamul), it undergoes growth and development. It has therefore a natural lifespan and allotted time of death; it cannot escape death’s call. According to inductive reasoning, this goes for most members of the species. So, just as man, the microcosm, cannot be saved from destruction, so too there is no refuge from death for the world, the macroanthropos.
Similarly, a tree is a miniature copy of the universe and is pursued by demolition and dissolution; so too the chain of the universe is a part of the tree of creation and cannot be saved from the hand of destruction and reconstruction.
So, if not struck by a violent wind or an external illness ordained by pre-eternal Divine Will before the end of its natural lifespan, and if its Maker does not annihilate it earlier, there will necessarily and certainly and even according to scientific reckoning come a day when the following ayah in Surah At-Takwir, ‘When the sun is rolled up; when the stars grow dark,’ (81:1-2) and the ayah in Surah Al-Infitar, ‘When the sky is rent apart,’ will be realised. Then the macroanthropos will suffer its death agonies and utter a horrible growl, an appalling roar that will resound through space.
(ii) Its occurrence: As is agreed by all the revealed religions and testified to by all sound natures, and indicated by the change, transformation and renewal of the universe, the universe is bound together with a delicate, elevated order and clings to those wondrous bonds. When one of the heavenly bodies receives the order: ‘Be!’ or ‘Quit your orbit!’ we will see the world suddenly taken by its death agonies and the stars and heavenly bodies beginning to clash and collide. Infinite space will thunder and roar.
With the onset of its demise, the creation will be convulsed and beings will separate out, and Jahannum will emerge together with its inhabitants and matters, and Jannah will become manifest, bringing together all the subtleties derived from its elements.
(iii and iv) The third and fourth points refer to the possibility of the repair and raising to life of the earth, and their occurrence. Bediuzzaman states that it is possible for the resurrection of the dead to be proven by both reason, the Quran and the hadiths. Just briefly, order, mercy and grace only become order, mercy and grace with the coming of the Resurrection. The transmitted (naqlee) evidences consist of what everyone has said, that is all the prophets, and what the miraculous Quran states about the occurrence of the Resurrection.
Bediuzzaman concludes that we only have to peruse the samples, examples and similitudes of the Resurrection in the very many realms or species of beings to surmise from their diverse signs the existence of bodily resurrection and eternal happiness in the hereafter.