Achieving Greatness in World:
Achieving greatness in and of itself is not bad. But what is bad is trying to achieve greatness بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ (without The Truth) (46:20). The Quran says that مومنین (Momineen) will be on top of the world (3:139). Standing on top of the minaret when the declaration of اللہ اکبر (Allahu Akbar – Allah is great!) is made, then what does it really mean? Does Allah require our declaration and affirmation that He is great? Whether or not we affirm, He is great by Himself – He is the Almighty Creator of the Universe and everything in it. This, in fact, is the declaration that Allah’s divine system when implemented in the world will lead to greatness of the people; that Allah is the sole Sovereign Authority over them; that they will not accept any other authority along with Allah in that system. This is the meaning of:
أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله
– That there is no other sovereign authority whose obedience we will accept except that of Allah’s. Those who accept and implement this system will achieve greatness in the world (3:139). This will be the hallmark of مومنین (Momineen).
The Quran says:
أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا اللَّـهَ
(46:21) – Do not accept the obedience of anyone else except that of Allah’s.
No one has right to rule over humans except Allah (12:67):
إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّـهِ
Sovereignty only belongs to Allah and to no one else (114:2-3). No one – absolutely no one – can be partner in His Sovereignty:
وَلَا يُشْرِكُ فِي حُكْمِهِ أَحَدًا
(18:26) – “He allots to no one a share in His rule!”
Thus, the foundation of Islam, the کلمه (Kalimah) – أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله – is a revolutionary proclamation that “no one except Allah is the Sovereign Ruler and Authority” in the world.
But, when religion replaced دین (Deen), Muslims became satisfied with this fake definition of کلمه (Kalimah) that “no one is to be worshiped except God,” and accepted the obedience of barbaric tyrants and governments while suffering worst kind of humiliation and rebuke at their hands. The traditional Muslim scholars have perpetuated the myth that having freedom to practice the rituals is enough for Islam. This was the reason Allama Iqbal was compelled to say:
If Mullah is free to pray in Hind;
Islam is free, the ignorant thinks!
The Purpose of Sending Messengers
Every messenger used to convey the same message to his people: Do not adopt the obedience of anyone except that of Allah (23:23, 23:32, and 23:44). Form this we can surmise why their people went after them. Prophets were threatened with dire consequences to the extent that they wanted to drive the prophets away; and they even killed them (2:91, 3:21, 3:112, 3:181, 3:183). Who could tolerate this revolutionary call for overthrowing those who possessed authority and control? How could those at the top tolerate revolution to dismantle status quo?
The messengers conveyed the divine message to their people: that ultimately they will be destroyed if they persist in their unjust ways. It does not matter to Allah whether or not one accepts His obedience. He is the Almighty Creator and His Sovereignty reigns supreme over the Universe. He was Absolute Sovereign before He created the Universe and He will remain so after the Universe is gone. He does not need human obedience. Humans need His obedience if they want to succeed in the long term. He does not punish humans. Humans get punished by the results of their own wrong deeds. Unchecked, human mentality gets wild and cruel. These tyrants acquire power and impose their own tyrannical system on people. History bears witness that every nation has been punished by their own tyrants. Every messenger was given the same reply when he invited his people to Allah’s message:
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ اتَّبِعُوا مَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ قَالُوا بَلْ نَتَّبِعُ مَا أَلْفَيْنَا عَلَيْهِ آبَاءَنَا
(2:170) – But when they are told, “Follow what Allah has bestowed from on high,” some answer, “Nay, we shall follow [only] that which we found our forefathers believing in and doing.”
The Quran replies in response to their demand to bring the punishment:
قَالُوا أَجِئْتَنَا لِتَأْفِكَنَا عَنْ آلِهَتِنَا فَأْتِنَا بِمَا تَعِدُنَا إِن كُنتَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ ﴿﴾ قَالَ إِنَّمَا الْعِلْمُ عِندَ اللَّـهِ وَأُبَلِّغُكُم مَّا أُرْسِلْتُ بِهِ وَلَـٰكِنِّي أَرَاكُمْ قَوْمًا تَجْهَلُونَ
(46:22-23) – They answered: “Hast thou come to seduce us away from our gods? Bring, then, upon us that [doom] with which thou threaten us, if thou art a man of truth!” Said he: “Knowledge [of when it is to befall you] rests with God alone: I but convey unto you the message with which I have been entrusted; but I see that you are people ignorant [of right and wrong]!”
It is important to note here that the divine messenger’s addressees were not asking why we would be punished? Or, how could we avoid it? Or, what could we do to minimize its effect? In their hubris, they were challenging the messenger to bring this destruction. In utter foolishness they were asking him to tell them its timing. This is the mindset of tyrants. They are not used to discussing and resolving things. Subconsciously they think nothing will happen to them because they have the power and authority over everything in their dominion; that they have made all their plans for protection. But the Quran says that destruction will come from sources that they are not even aware of:
أَفَأَمِنَ الَّذِينَ مَكَرُوا السَّيِّئَاتِ أَن يَخْسِفَ اللَّـهُ بِهِمُ الْأَرْضَ أَوْ يَأْتِيَهُمُ الْعَذَابُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ
(16:45) – “Can, then, they who devise evil schemes ever feel sure that God will not cause the earth to swallow them, or that suffering will not befall them without their perceiving whence [it came]?”
Do those who lay down evil plans, are so certain that Allah will not abase them in the earth or that chastisement will not come to them from sources that they are not even aware of? The Quran describes that the things they think will bring them success, in fact, will become the source of their destruction.
مَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعِزَّةَ فَلِلَّـهِ الْعِزَّةُ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِلَيْهِ يَصْعَدُ الْكَلِمُ الطَّيِّبُ وَالْعَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ يَرْفَعُهُ ۚ وَالَّذِينَ يَمْكُرُونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ ۖ وَمَكْرُ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُوَ يَبُورُ
(35:10) – “He who desires might and glory [ought to know that] all might and glory belong to God [alone]. Unto Him ascend all good words, and the righteous deed does He exalt. But as for those who cunningly devise evil deeds – suffering severe awaits them; and all their devising is bound to come to naught.”