Fascination With The Physical Appearance

Fascination With The Physical Appearance

The question of civilization maybe the origin of Arab atheism by all means.

Why are we regressing while others are progressing (materially)?  

Why are we in the bottom and others at the top? 

Why are we lagging behind but others are centuries ahead of us, culturally? 

This is the question of civilization! This is the most difficult question in the history of propagation of the message. 

Indeed, how much did the prophets suffer in dealing with the consequences of this question. 

And how much did the followers misbehave and how many a messenger felt sorry for the misbehavior of their nations. 

The question of civilization is where the disbelief of nations originated throughout the ages.

Allah Almighty says: “And when our verses are recited to them as clear evidences, those who disbelieve say to those who believe, “Which of (our) two parties is best in position and best in association” [Qur’an 19:73]

The researcher Ibrahim Al-Sakran, Allah bless him, says “When the people of Aad received the succession on earth as Allah said about them:  “And remember when He made you successors after the people of Noah” [Qur’an 7:69]

They cultivated the southern Arabia in Ahqaaf and Iram, and they were enjoying stupendous physical power as they had exceptional physical attributes and population density which enabled them to have a very high living standard alongside the architectural expertise, and they acquired the military despotism over the world; they wallowed in their arrogance due to their physical prowess and they neglected the belief in Allah and refused to submit to the revelation, as Allah Almighty mentions their physical strength in Surat Al-A’raf:

“And remember when He made you successors after the people of Noah and increased you in stature extensively..” [Qur’an 7:69]

Allah Almighty confirms their exceptional physique in Surat Al-Fajr:  “Have you not considered how your Lord dealt with ‘Aad -(With) Iram-who lofty pillars. The likes of whom had never been created in the land.” [Qur’an 89:6-8]

The Quran describes their huge palaces, strength and their military despotism, Allah Almighty says in Surat Ash-Shu’ara:  

“Do you construct on every elevation a sign, amusing yourselves, And take for yourselves palaces and fortresses that you might abide eternally? And when you strike, you strike as tyrants.” [Qur’an 26:128-130]

Their pride in their physical strength blinded them as they asked this hollow question filled with arrogance towards Allah’s prophet and they said with political haughtiness: “Who is greater than us in strength?” 

And Allah Almighty narrated their story:  

“As for ‘Aad, they were arrogant upon the earth without right and said, “Who is greater than us in strength?” [Qur’an 41:15] 

By Allah … reconsider their arrogant question:  “Who is greater than us in strength”

then look at the response of the Omnipotent in the heavens and the earth when He responded to them saying:

“Did they not consider that Allah who created them was greater than them in strength?” [Qur’an 41:15]

Their physical abilities made them very arrogant, and they neglected the solemnity of belief so didn’t care about their meeting with their Lord and said irresponsibly: “Does he promise you that when you have died and become dust and bones that you will be brought forth (once more). How far, how far, is that which you are promised.” [Qur’an 23:35-36] 

“The opulent class” among the people of Aad – as is the case in history- was the most opposed to the call of revelation, as Allah Almighty said about them in Surat Al-Mu’minun: 

“And the eminent among his people who disbelieved and denied the meeting of the Hereafter while we had given them luxury in the worldly life said, “This isn’t but a man like yourselves. He eat of that from which you eat and drinks of what you drink.” [Qur’an 23:33]

The nation of Aad had barely disappeared after the disaster of the known hurricanes which lasted for one week, that the civilization of Al-Madaen appeared in Al-Hijr in Northern Arabia, and it repeated the same series of arrogant question due to their  civil and physical strength. 

Thamud also enjoyed the succession in the land after the people of Aad, and they delved into the arts of carving stones and building magnificent architecture out of stones, and some of their monuments are still in existence as a witness of their splendid city, Allah Almighty said about their succession and palaces:  

“And remember when He made you successors after the ‘Aad and settled you in the land, (and) you take for yourselves palaces from its plains and carve from the mountains, homes.” [Qur’an 7:74]

And Allah Almighty said in Surat Ash-Shu’ara describing their luxury and carving: 

“Will you be left in what is here, secure (from death). Within gardens and springs, And fields of crops and palm trees with softened fruit, And you carve out of the mountains, homes with skill.” [Qur’an 26: 146:149]

And their innovation in the carving of mountains gave them a safe structure as Allah Almighty referred in Surat Al-Hijr when He said:

“And they used to carve from the mountains, houses, feeling secure.” [Qur’an 15:82]

And Allah Almighty said referring to their construction on the earth: 

“And to Thamud (We sent) their brother Salih. He said “O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. He has produced you from the earth and settled you in it, so ask forgiveness of Him.” [Qur’an 11:61]

Their physical abilities and their civil excellence over their generation deluded them, and they would judge others based on the material standard of physical appearances;  they denied the revelation brough by the prophet of Allah, Salih, peace be upon him, and they would absolutely reject anyone who did not possess any physical strength that he could be blessed with revelation and prophecy, as Allah Almighty said: 

“Thamud denied the warning, And said, “Is it one human being among us that we should follow? Indeed, we would then be in error and madness, Has message been sent down upon him from among us? Rather, he is an insolent liar” [Qur’an 54:23-35]

But .. as is the case according to the cosmic rule and law of history, those who annoyed Allah’s Prophet Salih were the elite and physically strong, whereas his followers were the weakest persons, and Allah conveys this dialogue in Surat Al-Ar’af:  

“Said the eminent ones who were arrogant among his people to those who were oppressed-to those who believed among them, “Do you (actually) know that Salih is sent from his lord?” They said, “Indeed we, in that with which he was sent are believers, Said those who were arrogant, “Indeed we, in that which you have believed, are disbelievers.” [Qur’an 7:75-76]. [1] 

The human beings throughout the history of Prophethood haven’t been afflicted with a greater ordeal such as the pride of physical strength against the competitor. 

The response to the question of civilization is found in the meaning of obligation. 

And its purpose is just like the separation between the religious principle and the bank balance.  

Just because there is an increment in your bank balance, or that or your paunch is showing doesn’t mean that you are upon the truth. And the thinness of your opponent doesn’t mean that he is upon falsehood! 

But the minds behave like this and imagines this to be the case. 

But the religion looks to the physical world, accumulation of wealth and technological development as means to the end, and not the end itself. And the religion has only turned the question of civilization from a goal into a channel towards the goal. 

“Allah extends provision from whom He will and restricts (it). And they rejoice in the worldly life, while the worldly life is not, compared to the Hereafter, except (brief) enjoyment.” [Qur’an 13:26]

Islam warns regularly from depending on the worldly life and rejoicing in it. 

“So when they forgot that by which they had been reminded, We opened to them the doors of every (good) thing until, when they rejoiced in that which they were given, We seized them suddenly, and they were (then) in despair.” [Qur’an 6:44]

The bedazzlement with the physical world and the asceticism towards the revelation comes from the disbelief of unbelievers throughout the ages. 

“Indeed, We have made that which is on the earth adornment for it that We may test them (as to) which of them is best in deed.” [Qur’an 18:7]

A sincere believer is the person who leaves the profits and business upon hearing the call for Salah. 

“O you who have believed, when (the adhan) is called for the prayer on the day of Jumu’ah (Friday), then proceed to the remembrance of Allah and leave trade. This is better for you, if you only knew.” [Qur’an 62:9]

The world is just like a dead lamb which has no value in the sight of Allah- as mentioned in Hadith- 

Jabir b. Abdullah reported that Rasul Allah (ﷺ) happened to walk through the bazaar coming from the side of ‘Aliya and people were on both sides of him. There he found a dead lamb with very short ears. He took hold of its ear and said: ‘Who amongst you would like to have this for a dirham?’ They said: ‘We would not like to have it even for less than that as it is of no use to us.’ He said: ‘Do you wish to have it (free of any cost)?’ They said: ‘By Allah, even if it were alive (we would not have liked to possess it), for there is defect in it, as its ear is very short; on top of that it is dead now.’ Thereupon, Rasul Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘By Allah, this world is more insignificant in the eyes of Allah than (this dead lamb) is in your eyes.’” [Sahih Muslim]

Here, the question of civilizations dwindles and begins to disappear, and astute is the one who would close the material trade to benefit his religion and leave it for the sake of His Lord!

[Question of Civilization by Moheb ben Meskin, p. 4-8]


[1] This has been adapted from The Revelation of Civil Recourse by Ibrahim al-Sakran

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