Friday 31st Oct 2014
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How to Access God?
The Prophet's Way

Cover Story

, by U Muhammad Iqbal

U MUHAMMAD IQBAL illustrates through equations from the Holy Bible and the Holy QurâÄ] how the two Books speak about Oneness of God and how human beings can reach Him.

Nabi or Rasool is an important term in the dictionary of religion. Those who know apply it to an honoured human being who has been selected by God to represent Him and carry out many functions assigned to him by the Appointing Authority. One of the functions is to bring people to God. “I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets…saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them.” (Jeremiah, 35:15) “Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the Lord.” (II Chronicles, 24:19) Gabriel the angel tells Zachariah about John the Baptist, “Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. (St. Luke, 1:16)
The Noble Qur’ト] orders Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s blessings and peace to him): Call people to your Lord. (22:67, 28: 87) Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and reason with them in the best manner possible (16:125) Argue not with the people of the Book except in the fairest manner. (29:46) As he hears and obeys this order, he is described as a summoner unto Allah by His permission. (33:46) He derives his authority to bring people to God from God. 
What is their modus operandi in the mission of providing people with access to God?
Prophets begin their mission with a loud and clear declaration that God has selected them for appointment as His Messengers and they do neither withdraw this declaration nor modify nor contradict it nor claim parity with God to the last breath of their lives. They present themselves as servants of God which they really are in order to give prominence to God and to glorify Him. Abraham is described as a servant of God. (Psalm, 105:6) Moses is the servant of the Lord. (Joshua, 22:5; Psalm, 105:26) David is acknowledged by God as ‘my servant’. (Psalm,89:20) St. Peter describes Jesus Christ as a ‘servant’ of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Acts.3:13)
When Prophet Muhammad (May Allah bless and greet him) is mentioned in the Qur’ト] for the first time, he is mentioned as ‘Our Servant’ by Allah. (2:23)
These Prophets are true to their nomenclature as servants of God and acknowledge God’s supremacy more often than not. “Thou art stronger than I.” (Jeremiah. 20:7) “My Father is greater than I” (St. John, 14:28) The Qur’ト] says, “Glorify Him in a manner worthy of His glory.” (17:11) In another place, “Magnify the glory of your Lord.” (74:3) “His is the glory in the heavens and the earth.” (45:37) “His is the Kingdom and His is the glory and He has power over everything.” (64:1)
Irresistibly fascinating as all Prophets are, they take every precaution to ensure that the fascination the people have for them does not become a hindrance in people’s exclusive devotion to God who is invisible.
Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (St. Matthew, 22:37) Next to this love for God comes the love for the Prophet. “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” (St. Matt., 10:37) In this scheme of devotion, the descending order of importance is as follows: God, Prophet, parents.
Down the ages, throughout the length and breadth of the world, one lakh and twenty-four thousand Prophets, according to one tradition, (and according to another, one lakh more is added) came to teach people how to access God. These Prophets were exalted men, endowed with knowledge and wisdom, in possession of impeccable character and with leadership qualities. They bore testimony that God exists, and invited people to believe in Him. The unanimity with which this testimony was borne by such a huge elitist group in spite of regional, temporal, and linguistic differences cannot be ignored by people with a serious bent of mind. The Prophets had no axe to grind and they had no plans to delude and deceive people. Our reaction to them should be the same as this reaction as recorded in the Qur’ト], “Follow the Messengers, follow those who do not ask any recompense from you and are rightly guided (36:20, 21)
Muslims believe in Allah because the truthful and trustworthy Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s blessings and peace be with him) said, “Believe in your Lord.”(3:193) Those who do not respond to the Prophet’s call can neither defeat Allah nor protect themselves against Him. (46: 32)
The Prophets assert that the world is a creation and its Creator is only one and He owns His creation. “For who is God save the Lord? Or who is a rock save our God?” (Psalm, 18:31) The Qur’ト] says that God is one (Aha’d) and He is As-Samad (rock) see chapter 112. “There is none like thee.” (II Samuel 7:22, I Kings 8:23, II Chronicles, 6:14) The Qur’ト] says, “Naught in the universe is like Him.” (42:11) “None is comparable to Him.” (112:4) Solomon said, “O Lord God of Israel, there is no god like thee in the heaven nor in the earth.” (II Chronicles. 6:14)
“All that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine.”(I Chronicles, 29:11) cf . The Qur’ト], 2:255. “Thou even, thou art Lord alone, thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee (Nehemiah, 9:6) The Qur’ト] says, “There is no other God but Allah- the Creator of all things. Serve Him alone- for it is He who is the guardian of every thing.” (6:102)
God’s own testimony that He exists is conveyed by the Prophets. “There is no god with me: I kill and make alive; I wound and I heal. (Deuteronomy, 32:39) The Qur’ト] encodes the testimony thus: verily I am Allah. There is no other God beside Me. So serve Me and establish prayers to remember Me. (20:14)
Prophets bring people to God by telling them about His glorious attributes. “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power. And the glory and the victory and the majesty…and thou art exalted as head above all.” (I Chronicles, 29:11) “The Lord is Merciful and Gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy (Psalm, 103:8) “God is angry with the wicked.” (Psalm, 7:11) ‘The Lord loveth the righteous! (Psalm, 146:8) “Thou, O Lord, shall endure for ever.” (Psalm, 102:12)
“Will God dwell on the earth?” (I Kings 8:27) This question seems to deny the incarnation of God on earth.
The desire to see God is shared by one and all. The invisibility of God seems to lead to the denial of God. “Philips said, show us the father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus replies. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the father.” (St. John, 14:8, 9) The very existence of Jesus is the indication of the existence of God. Seeing God is a reward and a privilege. In answer to Philip’s question, Jesus does not refer to a beatitude: Blessed are the pure in heart for they WILL see God. (Emphasis mine); (St. Matthew, 5:8)
Job seems to say that he will see God after his physical Resurrection. “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God(Job, 19:26) Job says this too, “I know that thou canst do everything and that no thought can be withholden from thee (Job, 42:2) Ezekiel chapter 37 may be read for physical resurrection.
Islam teaches its followers to access Allah through His ninety-nine holy names. Some of them are given here: He is Allah: There is no other God except Him – the knower of the unseen and the manifest, He is the most Merciful, the most Compassionate, He is Allah: There is no other God except Him- the King, the Holy, the All-peace, the Giver of security, the Overseer, the most Mighty, the Overpowering, the All-great. (59:22, 23)
Allah describes His attributes in the first person. “I am Much Relenting, Most Compassionate.” (2:160) “I am Ever Forgiving, Most Compassionate.” (15:49) “This is Me, Allah, the All-Mighty, the All-wise (27:9) “I am Allah, the Lord of all creatures of the universe.” (28:30)
Scriptures draw our attention to the functions of God. “Thou hast made heaven and earth.” (II Kings, 19:15) “He himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men should seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” (Acts, 17:25-27) Allah says in the Qur’ト], “I am quite near; I hear and answer the call of the caller whenever he calls Me (2:186) God guides us. “I will teach you the good and right way.” (I Samuel, 12:13)God will be our judge. “The Lord is our judge.” (Isaiah, 33:22) On the Day of Judgment, “The Lord alone shall be exalted.” (Isaiah, 2:17)
In the Qur’ト], Prophet Abraham adumbrates God’s comprehensive role in every individual’s life. (26:82) God alone will be our judge. “Allah will judge with justice, whereas those whom they call upon beside Him cannot judge at all.” (40:20) On the Day of Judgment, “No one shall have the power to do anything for another, and all command shall be Allah’s.” (82:19) “All sovereignty shall be Allah’s.” (22:56)
Prophets performed miracles to show that God’s power was behind them. It was God who selected Abraham and it was God who heard Moses and Aaron and was watching them when they confronted the Pharaoh.  
“How can you be ungrateful to (and deny) Allah who bestowed life upon you when you were lifeless, then He will cause you to die and will again bring you back to life so that you will be returned to Him?” (2:28)
In these circumstances, what should man do? “Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes, 12:13)


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