By Amanulla Vadakkangara 

While analysing the positive and negative doings of men, we should realise that even though God's punishment is delayed, it is not to be supposed that He does not see all things. He is like a Guardian on a watch≠tower defending His Law, and protecting the weak and innocent with His mighty arm. God's providence is ever vigilant: His punishment of evil≠doers is a form of justice to the weak and the righteous whom they oppress. It is part of the signification of His title as Rabb.

Contrast with God's justice and watchful care, man's selfishness and pettiness. God tries us both by prosperity and adversity: in the one we should show humility and kindness; and in the other patience and faith. On the contrary we get puffed up in prosperity and depressed in adversity, putting false values on this world's goods. Even though God provides for all, we see people complain if the provision is measured and restricted to their needs, circumstances, and antecedents, and does not come up to their desires or expectations, or is different from that given to people in quite different circumstances. The Qur'an says: "But when He trieth him, restricting his subsistence for him, then saith he (in despair), 'My Lord hath humiliated me!?'

The lesson here is man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward. Nobody can leave without facing any difficulties or passing through problematic situations of various levels. But he is supposed to overcome such situations with patience. In Sura Al Balad the Qur'an draws a vivid picture of this aspect. Allah says: "Verily We have created man into toil and struggle, thinketh he, that none hath power over him? He may say (boastfully): wealth have I squandered in abundance! Thinketh he that none beholdeth him? Have We not made for him a pair of eyes? and a tongue, and a pair of lips? and shown him the two highways? But he hath made no haste on the path that is steep. And what will explain to thee the path that is steep?∑(It is) free?ng the bondman; or the giving of food in a day of privation to the orphan with claims of relationship, or to the indigent (down) in the dust, then will he be of those who believe, and enjoin patience, (constancy, and self≠restraint), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion. Such are the companions of the Right Hand. But those who reject our signs, they are the (unhappy) Companions of the Left Hand. On them will be Fire Vaulted over (all round)."

Allah recollects some of the blessings he gave to men and explains the two highways of life, where he may enter. The easy path referred here is, as we noted earlier, the life of a materialist who would prefer to enjoy the worldly glories without thinking about a day, where he will stand before Allah for judgement of his words and deeds.

The difficult path of virtue is defined as the path of charity or unselfish love, and three specific instances are given for our understanding: (1) freeing the bondman, (2) feeding the orphan, and (3) feeding the indigent down in the dust. As regards the bondman, we are to understand not only a reference to legal slavery, which happily is extinct in all civilized lands, but many other kinds of slavery which flourish especially in advanced societies. There is political slavery, industrial slavery, and social slavery. There is the slavery of conventions, of ignorance, and or superstition. There is slavery to wealth or passions or power. The good man tries to liberate men and women from all kinds of slavery, often at great danger to himself. But he begins by first liberating himself.

Allah's statement to man in Sura Al Inshiqaq is also supporting this fact, the Qur'an says: "Thou man! verily thou art ever toiling on towards thy Lord painfully toiling, - but thou shalt meet Him."

This life is ever full of toil and misery, if looked at as empty of the Eternal Hope which Revelation gives us. Hence the literature of pessimism in poetry and philosophy, which thinking minds have poured forth in all ages, when that Hope was obscured to them. "Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought." "To each his suffering; all are men condemned alike to groan!" It is the noblest men that have to "Scorn delights and live laborious days" in this life. The good suffer on account of their very goodness: the evil on account of their Evil. But the balance will be set right in the end. Those that wept shall be made to rejoice, and those that went about thoughtlessly rejoicing, shall be made to weep for their folly. They will all go to their account with God and meet Him before His Throne of Judgment.

There is no doubt that the path of virtue is not an easy one. But Allah encourages believers by giving hope of a better tomorrow. See the translation of some of the verses of the Holy Qur'an in this connection.

1. If the people of the towns had but believed and feared Allah, We should indeed have opened out to them (all kinds of) blessings from heaven and earth" (3:96).

2. A pious man is free of sorrow, fear and danger. "Those who are righteous and mend (their lives) on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve" (7:35).

3. He is safe from the enemies, "But if ye are constant and do right, not the least harm their cunning will do to you? (3:120).

4. He will have Allah's company and help. "For Allah is with those who restrain themselves, and those who do good" (16:128).

5. A pious person is promised permitted sustenance and liberation from hardship "And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out" (LXV:2) "And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine" (LXV:3) "And for those who fear Allah, He will make their path easy" (LXV:4).

6. The lives of the pious people are successful in the Hereafter as they are chosen servants of Allah. "For Allah doth love the righteous" (9:7).

7. The deeds of pious persons only are acceptable to Allah. "Allah doth accept the sacrifices of those who are righteous" (5:30).

8. The pious will be honoured in the presence of Allah. "The most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you" (XLIX:13).

9. Not only the deeds of the Pious are acceptable but their sins are also forgiven. 'O Ye who believe! Fear Allah, and (always) say a word directed to the Right" (33:70) "That He may make your conduct whole and sound forgive your sins: (33:71).

10. The Pious will receive deliverance from the fire of Hell. "But Allah will deliver the righteous to their place of salvation: no evil shall touch them, nor shall they grieve? (39:61).

11. The Pious will eventually enter paradise and will live in real pleasure. "As to the Righteous, they will be in Gardens and in Happiness" (LII:17).

12. There are glad tidings for the Pious in both the worlds. In this world, the glad tidings are comfort and blessings of Allah, freedom from fear and sorrow, safety from enemies and Allah's company and help. In the Hereafter the glad tidings are peace in the grave, and on the Day of Judgement; and the accounting of their deeds will be made easy. "Behold; verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear, not shall they grieve" (11:62).

"Those who believe and (constantly) guard against evil" (11:63). For them are Glad Tidings, in the life of the present and in the Hereafter; no change can there be in the Words of Allah. This is indeed the supreme Felicity" (10:64).

Allah is the greatest wellwisher of us. He counsels us to live piously as this is the only aim in life. "Verily, We have directed the people of the Book before you and you (O Muslims) to fear Allah" (4:131).

Piety is in the nature of the Faithful and is the common factor for the success in this world and in the Hereafter.