In one of his articles, Mr. Jochen Katz has pointed out that at one instance, the Qur’an says that everything that exists between the heavens and the earth is devoutly obedient to Allah, while in a number of other verses, the Qur’an itself has contradicted its claim by declaring that Iblis, that is Satan proudly disobeyed Allah and also that a number of human beings reject Allah’s commands and His revelations.
Mr. Katz has summarized his argument, thus:
Is everything devoutly obedient to Allah? That is the claim in 30:26, but dozens of verses speak of the proud disobedience of Satan [7:11, 15:28-31, 17:61, 20:116, 38:71-74, 18:50] as well of many different human beings who reject His commands and His revelations.
As is quite obvious, Mr. Katz has primarily based his argument on Al-Ru’m 30: 26. The referred verse reads as:
وَلَهُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ كُلٌّ لَّهُ قَانِتُونَ
And among His signs is that the heavens and the earth stand firm at His bidding; and when He shall summon you — with just one summoning — you shall all go forth to Him. To Him belongs whoever is in the heavens and the earth; each one of them [, whether willingly or perforce,] absolutely obedient to Him.
The correct understanding of the exact meaning and implication of this verse shall resolve the apparent contradiction pointed out by Mr. Katz. In the paragraphs that follow, I shall try to present my understanding of the verse under consideration, which will itself show why, in my opinion, the objection raised by Mr. Katz is only due to an incorrect understanding of the referred verse.
To fully understand the implication of the verse, it should first be briefly understood that one of the basic messages of the Qur’an is that man has been placed on this planet for a limited time; this life is a temporary phase through which each individual shall pass; this temporary phase is actually a testing time for every individual; God has given man (and Jinn) the freedom of will, in a very small sphere of his affairs; should man use the freedom of will that he has been bestowed upon by his Creator for the right purposes and makes the right choices, he shall stand successful in this test; while, if he uses this freedom for the wrong purposes and makes the wrong choices, he shall then fail in this test. The reward of success is the everlasting bliss of the life of Paradise; while the punishment of failure in this test is burning forever in hellfire. To guide man to the path of success in the test of this life, God not only gave him the internal sense to distinguish between good and evil and right and wrong, but also sent His prophets and messengers to show him the way of His liking. However, even after gaining adequate knowledge of the likes and dislikes of his Creator, man has generally tended to misuse the freedom that God gave him. Thus, the quality which should actually have been used to earn entrance into God’s paradise, has generally been used by man to deserve the wrath of God. All this has happened due to the misuse of the freedom that man was given in a limited sphere of his affairs. Barring this limited sphere of man’s affairs, in which he has the freedom to choose, even man (as well as Jinn) is completely obedient to his Creator’s will, in exactly the same way as are other creations of God like the sun, the stars, the moon, the earth, the winds and the oceans. A man too, like all these other creatures of God, is purely a subject to the Divine will, except in a very small sphere of his life for a very brief period of time.
The verse under consideration is amongst the few of those verses of the Qur’an (like Al-Ra`d 13: 15; or Al-Inshiqaaq 84: 6) in which God has pointed out that even the most rebellious among men is absolutely obedient to His will, in all those spheres in which God has not allowed him the freedom to choose. One such sphere, according to the verse preceding the particular verse under consideration, is the resurrection on the Day of Judgment. On the Day of Judgment, when God calls all men to life, no man however rebellious he might have been shall be able to hold himself back. On that day, each man shall be as obedient to God’s directives as his physical existence has always been, even in the life of this world.
Thus, the two kinds of verses, which Mr. Katz has found to be mutually contradictory actually refer to two separate spheres in the life of God’s creation. Al-A`raaf 7:11, Al-Hijr 15:28-31, Al-Israa 17:61, Ta Ha 20:116, Sa’d 38:71-74 and Al-Kahaf 18:50 and all such other verses refer to the particular limited sphere in Iblis’s life (or the life of any other of God’s creation) in which he has been bestowed freedom for a very limited time. While, on the other hand, verse Al-Ru’m 30: 26 and other verses of this kind refer to all those spheres in which God has not granted this freedom.
© Copyright August, 1999. All Rights Reserved with the Author