21 The Prophets (Al-Anbiya’): Poems based on the Qur’an
This Surah was revealed during the latter part of the Meccan years when the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was experiencing much opposition from the Meccan Tribal Chiefs who were attempting to influence others against the Prophet by asking, “Is this man anything but a mortal like yourselves? Are you going to fall under his spell with your eyes wide open” (v. 3) and stating the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was having “muddled dreams” or “He made it up,” “He is just a poet” (v. 5) (even when the community the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) grew up in knew he couldn’t read), as well as demanding the Prophet show them the same signs that previous messengers did. The response presented in the Surah is that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is mortal just like every other previous Prophet sent by Allah, but in spite of their mortality were saved from destruction, while those who didn’t believe the Messengers were destroyed: “They said, ‘Woe to us! We were wrong!’ and that cry of theirs did not cease until We made them burnt-off stubble” (vs. 14–15). The metaphor of “burnt-off stubble” is a description of fire burning a plant upon which the root of the plant still survives. So, those who burn in hell fire will not be completely extinguished, but their souls will be in torment forever.
For, “whenever any fresh revelation comes to them from their Lord, they listen to it playfully with frivolous hearts” (v. 2). These are hearts that have no understanding, and use mocking to make fun of Allah’s words spoken through the Messengers. They follow their own desires in the world, and have no need for spiritual wisdom. Therefore, they refuse to understand and use their reason (“Will you not use your reason?” v. 10) The admonishment to use reason is used frequently in the Qur’an, for reason was given to humans by Allah to ascertain truth from falsehood, objectivity from subjectivity, right from wrong, evil from goodness, and beauty from ugliness. When reason is not used to determine the truth, it is clear evidence a person is operating from within their egos. The ego is a deceiver and will protect the true self from self-knowledge. For if one doesn’t know themselves, their understanding is veiled and they will not see the truth. If the self can’t perceive its own true motives, then it drowns in a sea of unknowing — floundering around in the deep depths of deception. Additionally, Satan resides closely with the self-deceiver for they are easy to manipulate.
Allah did not create simply to entertain Himself. His Creation was not just on a whim. Have you ever created a beautiful poem or painting? What was your intent in creating? If you did it just for the fun of it, the quality of your work suffered greatly. A true Poet or Artist creates meaning from the depths of their souls, and will put all of their creative abilities to its fullest use in an attempt to express their artistic intent. Allah “ did not create the heavens and the earth and everything between them playfully” (v. 16). He lovingly created us with free choice so that we ourselves would have the decision to love Him, or to turn away. This parallels our love relationships in this world. To make the choice to intentionally love someone is throwing our very being into a place of vulnerability, handing our hearts over to a person who is imperfect and may not return our love. But, oh, the beauty is in the gift freely given. And the gift given to Allah is to the perfect Creator who will always return our love and bids us to journey to His kingdom on Mt. Zion. He awaits His beloved with perfect love. Also, our Creator made His Creation so complex that variability continues to expand outwards in His multiplicity of design. Allah the One, the Only God, creates diversity from His Unity, and not in a haphazard manner, but in such amazing intricacy that we can only be awestruck at the magnificent Determination of His Will. For those who refuse to believe, this Surah states, “We hurl the truth against falsehood, and truth obliterates it — see how falsehood vanishes away!” (v. 18) Falsehood can’t stand against reality, and Allah always reveals what is hidden in the dark by His light.
The next section uses logic to reveal the illogical belief system of idol worshipers. “Have they chosen any god from the earth who can give life to the dead?” (v. 21) If there were then the “earth would be in ruins” for God is above all of creation, and holds all of created beings accountable to Him only. Furthermore, all messengers before Muhammad were taught that there is only one God who should be worshiped, and yet the polytheistic believers stated that the angels are His daughters. No one stands in an equal position with God, in fact, “they are only His honored servants, they do not speak before He speaks and they act by His command. He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they cannot intercede without His permission — indeed they themselves stand in awe of Him” (vs.27–28).
The Surah then directs the disbelievers to Allah’s creation as proof of His existence — “Are the disbelievers not aware that the heavens and the earth used to be joined together and that We ripped them apart, that We made very living thing from water?” (v.30) Galaxies are formed by clouds of semi-compacted gases moving through space and then colliding with other gas clouds until the momentum of the collision creates gravity which then forms a new galaxy. Below is a series of photographs showing the creation of a galaxy:
So, the gases begin revolving around itself due to gravity and the super heated gasses then cool off to create a solid, and subsequently planets revolving around a sun is formed in a balance of beautiful synchronicity. So “the heavens and the earth” joined together are the basic elements of earth moving through space to form gas clouds. Here is a link to a video displaying gas clouds colliding: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a011500/a011534/10661-540-MASTER_high.mp4
The most recent theory on how the universe was formed is the “ekpyrotic universe theory” devised by Steinhardt and his collegue Neil Turok at Cambride University as an alternative to the Big Bang theory. According to Steinhardt and Turok, the universe didn’t have one point of beginning, “…but [is a series of ongoing creations occurring] multiple times in endless cycles of fiery death and rebirth. Enormous sheet-like ‘branes’ representing different parts of our universe, collide about once in every trillion years, triggering Big Bang-like explosions that re-inject matter and energy into the universe…they claim that their ‘cylic’ theory would explain not only inflation, but other cosmic mysteries as well, including dark matter, dark energy and why the universe appears to be expanding at an ever-accelerating clip.” This theory infers the universe may be eternal and is self-renewing (https://www.livescience.com/1774-greatest-mysteries-universe.html).
The Qur’an mentions new creations being formed as in 14:19, “Do you not see that Allah has created the heavens and the earth with truth? If He will, He can remove you and bring (in your place) a new creation!” Also, Additionally, in Surah 29, “Do they not see that God brings life into being and reproduces it? Truly this is easy for God. Say, ‘Travel throughout the earth and see how He brings life into being; and He will bring the next life into being. God has power over all things” (vs.19–21)
In the latest universe theory, we understand matter and energy is moving through the “heavens” to provide that which is needed to expand the universe. This matter and energy creates gases which eventually form solid planets with life giving water. Some scientists believe the first gemma or chlamydospore (a small cellular body or bud that can separate to form a new organism) has been found in the depth of the sea which would indicate the true location of the origination of life on the planet. The Qur’an mentions that humans were made from clay or mud which is a combination of water and dust, and most living things are made up of a high percentage of water (“We made very living thing from water”). We are the very matter of stars and all living things. We originated from particles floating around in space, timeless and ever evolving, dying and being born again in a constant cycle of ever giving life. We were formless until His Spirit moving over the face of the earth gave us not only physical life but a spiritual being as well. Out of the mud of the newly formed earth we arose, dripping with the dark matter of the physical world, but lit up from within by His Divine Spark. Do we sink back into the slimy mud from which we arose, thereby smothering the Light of Love, or do we rise up slowly letting the mud be cleaned off by our Merciful Creator to enter into His Loving Abode dressed in garments of righteousness? It is fully our choice to be loved or to reject the very love that would welcome us into open arms to be healed and blessed. For it is love that creates the nature of our Creator within us, and it is rejection of His love that will sadly transform our being into that of His enemy, the devil.
And yet, the disbelievers in Mecca begged for Allah to quickly bring the Judgement Day as proof of what the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was teaching, not quite understanding that when the Day of Destruction arrives it will be too late for forgiveness and pleading with the Almighty, “It will come upon them suddenly and stupefy them; they will be powerless to push it away; they will not be reprieved” (v. 40). The messengers who were sent before Muhammad mocked their messengers but were overtaken by that very thing they mocked. “But do they not see how We are shrinking their borders? Is it they who will prevail?” (v. 44) Evil never prevails, even when it appears the darkness is encroaching more and more, for Allah will overturn the darkness with light. This is a clear sign for us today as we are bewildered by all of the hatred, wars, and evil that is taking place in our world which is increasingly causing us to lose hope that even in spite of our prayers there may be a real threat of evil overtaking good. But, let your hearts be lifted my believing brothers and sisters — Allah always prevails!
The metaphor of “scales of justice” (v. 47) is used to portray the perfect justice of Allah. Even the “weight of a mustard seed” of good action will be considered by our Merciful Lord. Think about the miniscule, tiny mustard seed, and why such a little amount would be enough to tip the balance of the scales in our favor. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds, and yet grows larger than all garden plants with larger seeds into a massive tree. What is this metaphor revealing? That even one believer with a small amount of righteous actions will produce ten fold. Allah can take one believer who may not have a large number of pious deeds but still multiply the effects of their actions such that many disbelievers will be saved and brought to His kingdom — that is the miracle of faith.
Even though the one single community of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was torn apart by the Chiefs divisive techniques, all will return to Allah. Sixteen Prophets who were protected by Allah so the message He blessed them with could be delivered is mentioned so that it is understood that all people will be held responsible for their choices because all communities have had and will be given the opportunity to receive Allah’s warnings and truth.
However, during the times of the last days an evil force referred to as “Gog and Magog” will be “let loose and swarm swiftly from every highland.” This is not two separate entities or events, as the Greek article qualifies both nouns, suggesting a single unity. Early historical records mention an evil army (the people of Gog) from the land of Magog, that invaded, plundered and killed. However, this is used as a metaphor to indicate a major battle by forces that are intent on evil in its method of destruction. But the hope for believers is in one of the Surah’s closing statements, “We wrote in the Psalms, as We did in [earlier] Scripture: ‘My righteous servants will inherit the earth.” Satan’s power of evil will never be able to stand against Allah. Allah the Giver of Life will “roll up the skies as a writer rolls up [his] scrolls. We shall reproduce
creation just as We produced it the first time: this is Our binding promise. We shall certainly do all these things” (v.104).
From stardust you came,
a sparkle in Allah’s eyes —
an explosion outward
leading to force inward,
and the earth was formed.
Look closely mortals —
hidden in the depth of the sea
a little cell multiplied
and He said “Be” and we were.
Look again mortals,
how Allah the Almighty
takes the smallest organism
to create all life on earth,
and in His miracles of miracles
takes the smallest amount of faith
and transforms it into a nation.