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a Question That Needs No Answer Sayyid Qutb

a Question That Needs No Answer Sayyid Qutb

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09/29/2009

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A Question That Needs No Answer
Commentary by Sayyid Qutb
 In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent  Paradise will be brought within sight of the God-fearing; whereas theblazing fire will be placed in full view of the ones lost in error. It shall be said to them: “Where is now all that you used to worship instead of God? Can they help you or even help themselves?”They will be hurled into hell, as also those who are lost in error, and Iblis’ hosts, all together. And there, quarrelling with one another, they will say: “By God, we wereobviously in error, when we deemed you equal to the Lord of all the worlds. It was only the truly guilty ones who led us astray. And now we have none tointercede for us nor any loving friend. Would that we had a second chance(in life), so that we could be believers.” Indeed, there is in this a sure sign; yet most of them will not believe. And indeed it is your Lord who is the Mighty One, the Merciful. (The Poets: Al-Shu’ara: 26: 90-104)
This passage portrays a scene of the Day of Judgment, which wasfeared by Abraham. It is so vivid that he almost sees it with his own eyes ashe addresses his humble prayer to God.The scene starts with the image of heaven being brought near, so as to be within sight of the God-fearing, who actually remained apprehensive lestthey might be made to suffer God’s punishment. The fire of hell is also brought in full view of the erring ones who strayed away from the right pathand denied the Day of Judgment. As they stand within sight of hell, listeningto stern rebuke for their bad deeds before they are thrown in hell, they will
 
 be first asked about the deities they used to worship. The question that will be put to them is: “Where is now all that you used to worship instead of God?” Where are they? “Can they help you or even help themselves?” Noanswer is heard from them. Indeed none is expected. It is only a questiongiven by way of rebuke. Hence, “They will be hurled into hell, as also thosewho are lost in error.” The very word used here suggests that they fall into iton top of one another, with much noise from the repeated falls. It is the samesituation that happens when a landslide takes place followed by further landslides. These people who were lost in error are accompanied in hell with“Iblis’ hosts, all together.” Indeed they are all part of Iblis’ hosts.We are then made to listen to them as they speak in hell, saying totheir false deities and the idols they worshipped: “By God, we wereobviously in error, when we deemed you equal to the Lord of all theworlds,” worshipping you, alongside or instead of God, as if you were equalto Him. They say it now when it is too late. They put the blame on the guiltyones who led them into errors and prevented them from listening to divineguidance. They now wake up and realize that it is too late and thatapportioning blame will benefit them nothing. “And now we have none tointercede for us nor any loving friend.” Neither deity nor friend will be of any avail to us now. But then they think that if there was a possibility of areturn to life, they could still mend their erring ways: “Would that we had asecond chance (in life), so that we could be believers.” But this is merewishful thinking. There can be no return. They are already on Judgment Day.This is followed by the standard comment in this surah: “Indeed, thereis in this a sure sign; yet most of them will not believe. And indeed it is your Lord who is the Mighty One, the Merciful.” This comment is repeated in thesurah every time the fate of any community that opposed God’s messengersis shown, such as Aad, Thamud and Lot’s people, and it follows also everysign given to any group who denied God and His messengers. The scenefrom the Day of Judgment that we have been discussing is shown here in
 
 place of a scene of punishment in this world. It shows the end faced byAbraham’s people, and indeed the ultimate end of all idolatry. Hence, itgives the same lesson in every historical account. We should remember thatscenes of the Day of Judgment are shown in the Qur’an as if they are taking place in front of our eyes so as to touch our hearts and souls in the same wayas they are touched when reflecting on the fate of past communities.The surah gave its account of Abraham’s story after it had given amore detailed one of Moses, thus going back in history. Now it goes further  back to tell us about Noah and his people. The chronological order is notimportant here because the focus is the ultimate end of idolatry and denyingthe divine message.Like the accounts of Moses and Abraham, Noah’s story is referred toin several surahs. It was given in brief in Surah 7, The Heights, within thecontext of a historical account of God’s messengers and their messages,which means that there it followed Adam’s fall from heaven, concentratingon Noah’s advocacy of God’s oneness and his warning to his people thatthey would be risking grievous suffering. They accused him of being deep inerror, expressing their amazement that God should send them a manmessenger. Their punishment by drowning is mentioned without givingdetails.In Surah 10, Jonah, the story is given in brief, concentrating on theend of his mission when he challenged his people but they still denied him.He was saved with those who followed him, while the others were drowned.Surah 11, Houd, gives much more details about the floods, the ark andwhat happened after the floods. It mentions his prayer concerning his sonwho was drowned with the rest of the unbelievers. In this surah we are also

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