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Warning and Admonishment, the Main Activity of the Prophets

By: Ayatullah Dastghaib Shirazi
A revelation of the Mighty, the Merciful. (36:5)
It means that the revealed Quran is from the omnipotent and Most Wise God. Two of the beautiful names (Asmaa-e-Husna) of God are mentioned here. Mighty (Azeez) is from ‘Izzat’, meaning predominance, might and power. God has power over all things.
Merciful (Raheem) is from ‘Rahmat’ and ‘Raafat’–The reason for this is that you should know that your God is absolutely needless of you and your prayers and worships; and also your guidance.
If the entire universe becomes disbelieves it cannot put even a dot on His Greatness. (Persian couplet)
Absolutely Mighty is God alone. He never needs anything. If everyone in the world becomes faithful it will not add an iota to His Kingdom. Likewise, if everyone becomes denier and sinful, nothing would be diminished from His Kingdom. Whatever invitation to His worship and obedience He has extended is by way of mercy and compassion as He has a lot of love for His creation, His slaves and servants. He is Most Kind (Raheem). His Mercy demands that man must not be destroyed. Man should not turn away from his well being. The revelation of the Holy Quran is a demand of that Mercy.
Otherwise, had He wished to act in accordance with the appellation of Mighty, the demand of His Might would have been indifference. But since He is Merciful, He did not leave man to himself, instead He guided him. This revealed Quran is from God Who is Merciful and Mighty too and it is due to His Mercy that He sent Muhammad (‘s):
And We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds. (21:107)
He sent a mercy for all in the name of Muhammad (‘s) to hold the hands of all the human beings. But some did not want to benefit from this mercy. They wronged and oppressed themselves and thus deprived themselves of this mercy.
So that you may warn of that which they did not fear
That you may warn a people whose fathers were not warned, so they are heedless. (36:6)
The first word, ‘that’ denotes a goal. It means that the Almighty and All Wise God revealed Quran for warning man, that is this community, the people of Mecca and the Arab peninsula.
“Whose fathers were not warned,” has two aspects: First, the Arabic word ‘Maa’ (not) is negative and not conjunctive. That whose forefathers did not fear may now fear. It hints towards the time of interval (fitrat). The period between the prophethood of Isa (‘a) and Muhammad (‘s) is called the age of Interval. God sent no messenger during this period. Of course, there existed the deputies and legatees of Isa (‘a) and the earth was not void of the Proof (Hujjat) of God, but no Messenger Prophet who brings message from God and His revelation had come for nearly six hundred years. In this verse Allah says, “We have sent you, as their fathers were not warned in the intervening period.”
The second aspect is that if the Arabic word “Maa” is a conjunction it would hint towards their forefathers before the time of Isa (‘a), so that you may warn them by which their ancestors were frightened, that is their ancestors whom the past prophets had warned.
The focus here is on the phrase “That you may warn a people…” In the Holy Quran, the aim of sending prophets and messengers is described, especially of the last Prophet. as:
…as bearers of good news and as warners…(2:213)
The messengers were harbingers of good tidings and also warners from Almighty God. They give good tidings to the faithful who fear God and perform good deeds. Every human being who obeyed God benefits from the everlasting welfare and divine bounties. Muhammad (‘s) arrived and gave good tidings to the faithful that if they perform good deeds, a great reward awaits them.
Rightly directing, that he might give warning of severe punishment from Him and give good news to the believers who do good that they shall have a goodly reward, (18:2)
The Quran also says:
(As for) those who say: Our Lord is Allah, then continue in the right way, the angels descend upon them, saying: Fear not, nor be grieved, and receive good news of the garden, which you were promised. (41:30)
According to traditions, for such people the angel of death, would be kinder than their mothers. It indeed deserves congratulations that those of us who fast would be pardoned by God and it is a matter of great happiness for us.
Traditions say that there are two joys for the one who fasts: One at the time of breaking of fast (Iftar), which indeed is a spiritual pleasure if man breaks the fast with proper attention to God. Then, he himself experiences the spiritual happiness. Secondly, the happiness at the time of meeting his Lord, at the time of his death.[1] You hearkened to the Command of Allah and fasted for His sake; and refrained from eating and drinking, so now:
Eat and drink pleasantly for what you did beforehand in the days gone by. (69:24)
Your Lord is not ungrateful. He does not overlook the tiniest of your deeds.
I give another good tiding for my dear youths: Anyone whose eye falls on a stranger lady and he refrains from looking at her again by looking upwards or bowing his head down, God grants him two things at once: the coolness of faith which he tastes at once, that is, he experiences and understands the coolness of faith and spiritual delight. Another pleasure is at the moment of death. A Hourie accompanies him in the grave and in Barzakh. She is the same one who has been reserved for him.
A narration says, “One who glances at a (stranger) woman, but instantly looks away at the sky or turns his gaze down; before he could remove his gaze fully, Allah marries him to a black-eyed Hourie and He creates such a freshness of belief in his heart that he is extremely delighted.”[2]
Thus the Prophet is the warner, the frightener. O’ one who omits the Prayer! At the time of your death the angel of death would be very hostile to you. When you die faithless you are dying a denier’s death and are on equal footing with him. Fifty calamities are prepared for you.[3]
O’ usurer! You will arrive in the Field of Gathering with a belly full of fire. O’ one who misappropriated an orphan’s property! You are devouring fire unknowingly. But the reality would dawn on you after death.
(As for) those who swallow the property of the orphans unjustly, surely they only swallow fire into their bellies and they shall enter burning fire. (4:10)
O’ oppressor! Each and every bit of others’ rights (swallowed by you) would be demanded from you. You will be asked to repay them. If don’t have anything to repay, you will have to bear the burden of the sins of others (whom you oppressed). Thus your burden and punishment would be multiplied so that Divine Justice may be established.[4]
It may be stated here, by the way, that this is a warning not merely for the people of the Arabian Peninsula. Muhammad (‘s) is the warner for all the people till the Day of Judgment.
And We have not sent you but to all the men as a bearer of good news and as a warner…(34:28)
You should be hopeful and enthusiastic about good tidings and fearful of the warnings.
Acceptance of Islam means that good tidings given by Muhammad (‘s) inspire you to perform good deeds and warnings given by him restrain you from sins. Otherwise you are falsely claiming: Islam is my religion; Quran is my (Holy) book. You claim that Quran is a code of conduct, but do you follow it honestly?
The Prophet of Islam has given you so many good tidings. Get up early in the predawn hours. Wake up a quarter or half an hour before Sahri (predawn mealtime) and do not miss the eleven units of Salatul Shab (Late night prayers). Do not neglect begging forgiveness from God.[5]

Much frightening but less dreadful
Here it is said: “That you may warn”. I have been told that people say behind me that all I talk about is death and all that is frightening. My answer is the same reply given by Shaykh Shustari who says: They say the Shaykh is so much frightening the people. Well, the Shaykh does frighten, but who amongst you have become afraid? Do you know anyone who did not sleep due to his fear, who shed tears because of the fear of grave and hereafter or who left sinning due to a fearful heart?
The hearts have hardened. Negligence has overtaken the souls. Otherwise had the heart been listening, it would have trembled, but you sit at the base of the pulpit as a pastime or for seeking blessings (Thawaab). There are very few who truly desire to be admonished and get salvation.

Utbah trembles on hearing the Quran
Let us see a narration in this connection. The Meccan polytheists were enraged at the religious propagation of Prophet (‘s). One of their chiefs, Utbah was quite proficient in eloquence and rhetoric. They persuaded him to go and confront the Prophet (‘s) and find out some way of silencing him.
Utbah said, “First let me go alone and see what should be done.” He went to the Holy Prophet (‘s) and said, “Recite your poetry for me.” The Prophet said, “I am not a poet!” Utbah again said, “Let me hear your words.” The Holy Prophet said, “These are not my words; it is the Word of the Lord of the Worlds.” Utbah said, “Okay, read the same for me.”
Now the reader is Messenger of God and despite the coarseness of his ears, Utbah listened. The Prophet (‘s) recited Surah Ha Mim Dukhan to him. When he reached the verse:
I have warned you of a scourge like the scourge of Ad and Samood. (41:13)
Utbah in spite of all his ferocity broke down. He put his hand on the holy mouth of the Holy Prophet saying, “Please, for the sake of kindness, it is enough.”
The Holy Quran shook such a hardcore disbeliever. The News given by Quran made him tremble. So when he returned to the polytheists, Abu Jahl and others taunted him saying, “Have you also become a follower of Muhammad?” Utbah said, “No, but his speech is neither poetry nor a lecture. It is not a composition of any human being. It has put me on fire.”
I too intend to admonish you. Prophet Muhammad admonished so that, till the Day of Judgment, people may fear:
And certainly We have made the Quran easy for remembrance, but is there anyone who will mind? (54:17)
How many verses has he brought? He brought verses describing torments of Hell:
And food that chokes and a painful punishment, (73:13)
Likewise are verses about the nasty and frightening keepers of Hell.
O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones; over it are angels stern and strong, they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them, and do as they are commanded. (66:6)
But, how strange that hearts have hardened. Even those who read Quran do not read with an intention of being affected by it. Read Quran with a thoughtful and pondering mind, not merely mechanical recitation. Of course, that too brings rewards. But it is less beneficial (than what is recited thoughtfully). Woe unto those in the eyes of whom Hereafter is only a story. As Ali (‘a) has said in Nahjul Balagha, when one of us dies, we entrust his body to the grave and then return, and gather around his inheritance, as if nothing has happened:
There surely came over man a period of time when he was a thing not worth mentioning.(76:1)
You never think that you will have fifty stations and the duration of each of them is a thousand years.
He regulates the affair from the heaven to the earth; then shall it ascend to Him in a day the measure of which is a thousand years of what you count. (32:5)

Balance (Mizan) is for Muslims
We say, it is for disbelievers; there tortures are not for us, while it is mentioned in the second volume of Bihar that Imam Zainul Aabedeen (‘a) says, “The Balance and detainment is for Muslims who performed good as well as bad deeds.”
And others have confessed their faults, they have mingled a good deed and an evil one; may be Allah will turn to them (mercifully); surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (9:102)
Otherwise, a disbeliever has no accounting; he has done no good that his sins and virtues be compared:
These are they who disbelieve in the communications of their Lord and His meeting, so their deeds become null, and therefore We will not set up a balance for them on the day of resurrection. (18:105)
In the Quranic commentary of Nishapuri, there is a story of a schoolboy who had gone to school in good health but, when he returned from the madressa, he had fever and finally was bedridden. His father asked, “What happened?” The boy replied, “Today the teacher reminded us of this Quranic verse:
Fear the Day which will turn a child into an old person.
The fear is so terrible and I am worried about the hardship of that Day.” Finally the child died and the father wailed said on his grave, “My son, you had a pure nature and a holy heart that is why the Quran impressed you. O father! Your black heart too should die of fear.”
It is narrated that before attending the station for accounting (in Hereafter) we have to remain in a state of amazement for forty years[6]. What we face in the grave is called the state of amazement. O honorable friend! Have you ever decided what you should think? Have you made preparations for tomorrow’s Day of Judgment? Don’t you have to face the Holy Prophet, Imam Ali and Fatima (‘a)?
[1] Safinatul Bihar, vol.2, pg.64
[2] Miraatul Kamaal of Mamqani
[3] Tradition and its explanation is given in vol. 2 of Gunahane Kabira (The Greater Sins). Please refer to what has been mentioned about the one who leaves Prayer.
[4] Biharul Anwar vol.3
[5] Biharul Anwar vol.3
[6] Kifayatul Muwahideen

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