Norms of history mentioned in the Quran 3

All over history and in all societies there has always been the same relationship between the Prophets and the pompous people living in luxury. This relationship points to a norm of history. It should not be regarded as a mere chance. Had it been a chance only, it would not have been repeated again and again and would not have acquired a generality to the extent that Allah says:

We sent not to any township a Warner, but its pampered ones declared: . . ."

Therefore there is always a negative relationship and a contradiction between the celestial missions in the social life of people and the position taken by the pampered ones living in luxury. In fact this relationship separates the role of the Prophets in social life from that of the luxurious ones.

On the whole this relationship is a part of the social outlook of these two groups, as we will explain when we deal with the role of Prophethood in society and the social position of the Prophets. There we shall show that those who live in luxury are the natural opponents of Prophethood in society.

That is why the Qur'an says:

When We would destroy a township We send commandments to its people who lead a luxurious life, and they commit abominations therein, and so the word of doom has effect for it, and thus We annihilate that township completely. How many generations have We destroyed since Nuh! And Allah suffices as the Knower and the Beholder of the sins of His slaves.(1)

This verse speaks of a definite relationship between the injustice of the rulers and the destruction which follows it. The verse emphasizes that this relationship being a historical norm, has existed all over history. On this very subject another verse says:

If they had observed the Tawrat and the Injil and that which was revealed from above them and from beneath their feet. "(2)

Still another verse says:

If the people of the township had believed and refrained from evil, surely We should have opened for them blessings from the sky and from the earth. But they denied, and so We seized them on account of what they used to earn. (3)

Had they kept treading the right path, we would have given them abundant water to drink.(4)

The above three verses show that there is a special relationship between acting in accordance with the commandments of Allah on the one hand, and prosperity and abundance of production on the other. In modern terminology it may be called the relation between fair distribution and increased production.

The Qur'an emphasizes that there can be no shortage of production and no poverty where fair distribution prevails. Fair distribution increases wealth and boosts up prosperity. Some people think that fair distribution causes poverty, but that is not true. The trend of history proves contrary to that and shows that whenever celestial rules of distribution are observed, national wealth increases and the blessings of the heaven and the earth are showered.

Necessity of Investigating Historical Events

Other verses of the Qur'an urge the people to thoroughly examine the historical events and ponder over them so that they may discover the laws of nature and the trends and norms of history. Allah says in the Qur'an: Have they not travelled in the land to see the nature of the consequence for those who were before them? Allah wiped them out. And for the disbelievers there will be the like thereof.(5) Have they not travelled in the land and seen the nature of the consequence for those who were before them?(6)

How many a township have We destroyed while it was sinful, so that lies in ruin, and how many a deserted well and lofty tower! Have they not travelled in the land, so that they may have hearts to feel and ears to hear? For indeed it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts in the bosom, that grow blind.(7) How many a generation have We destroyed before them, who were mightier than these in prowess so that they overran the lands! Had they any place of refuge? Surely therein is a reminder for him who has a heart or gives ear with full intelligence?(8)

These verses taken together make clear the concept of the norms of history. They emphatically say that like any other field there exist definite laws in the field of history too.

Importance of Discovering Norms of History From the Quran

The discovery of this Quranic concept is a big achievement, for as we know, the Quran is the first book which emphatically and in a very convincing way tells us of the existence of the norms of history and severely opposes the idea that events take place automatically. It also rejects the view that all events being divinely decreed, we have no choice but to submit to them. Most people regard historical events as a series of incongruous happenings. They interpret them on the basis of accident, fate or power of Allah, whose decree cannot be resisted.

The Qur'an is absolutely against this wrong idea. It does not consider any event to be without a cause or to be a mere manifestation of Allah's irresistible power. In contrast, it tells human intelligence that the field of history is governed by definite laws and norms, and that to be the master of his destiny man must know them. If you are aware of these laws, you can influence them, otherwise if you keep your eyes shut, these laws will certainly overpower you. Therefore you should open your eyes so that you may recognize them and dominate them instead of being dominated by them.

This great Quranic discovery paved the way for human intelligence to understand and realize the practical role of history in human life. Eight centuries after the revelation of the Qur'an efforts in this respect were begun by the Muslims themselves. It was Ibn-Khaldun who undertook the study of history and discovered its laws and norms. At least four centuries thereafter in the beginning of the Renaissance period the Europeans began to pay attention to this subject which was not pursued further by the Muslims.

The Europeans discussed this subject from various angles, and the basis of their way of thinking each of the various European schools of thought such as the idealists, the materialists and others tried to determine the laws of history from its own point of view. As a result several theories emerged, the most renowned and clamorous of them being historical materialism or Marxism which has influenced history itself. Therefore we may say that all efforts in this connection has been inspired by the Qur'an, which still retains the proud privilege of introducing this idea for the first time in the field of human knowledge.

NOTES:

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1. Surah Bani Isra'il, 17: 16 -17

2. Surah al-Maidah, 5:66

3. Surah al-A`raf, 7: 96

4. Surah al-Jinn, 72:16

5. Surah Muhammad, 47:10

6. Surah Yusuf, 12: 109

7. Surah al-Hajj, 22: 46

8. Surah Qaf, 50: 36 - 37

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