In Part 1, we came to the conclusion that toil and struggle are part of creation, and human beings reach their objectives through toil and struggle. Once humans accumulate knowledge, skills, and wealth they may use them to stifle the toil and stop the struggle. “He thinks that none has power over him. He may say: I have squandered wealth in abundance.” [90:5-6]
No need anymore for toil and struggle. They forgot that toil and struggle brought them to that phase in life. The common way to express that idea: We want to retire! Quran is saying: No! This is not the route human beings must take in life. They must not forget that toil and struggle were responsible for their success. In fact, all their previous experiences prove and testify to that fact.
Quran is saying: Toil and struggle are part of your creation, and the One who gave your eyes to see around, lips and a tongue to speak and express yourself, and the faculty of thinking to make informed choices in this life is Allah- Allah who knows better of you and about you. He knows how you were created and shaped and knows what you need to fulfill your objectives and complete your project. “He thinks that none behold him? Have We not made for him a pair of eyes, and a tongue, and a pair of lips, and shown him the two ways?” [90:8-10]
Quran is saying: Resist this idea of retiring and do not respond to the voice that is tempting you to stop the struggle in the middle of the road. Forget the paradigm by which your actions are directed to end toil and struggle. If that paradigm were true, Mohammad (ﷺ) and all the Messengers before him would have followed it.
Quran is proposing: Unlearn this paradigm and shift your thinking to a different level. The new Quranic paradigm is teaching us how to make our toil and struggle consciously oriented and strategically productive. Quran calls this paradigm: “Scaling the ascent.” “But he has not scaled the ascent that is steep. And what will explain the ascent. It is freeing the slave or the giving of food in a day of privation, to the orphan with claims of relationship, or to the indigent down in the dust.” [90:11-16]
Quran picks the most difficult predicaments and the steepest paths where those affected may wish to die in order to bring their suffering and struggle to a halt. Physical and mental slavery, hunger, and extreme poverty- if we know how to solve them, we are giving to our toil and struggle a different direction and better taste. The approach to these social issues must be different. Face them with the belief that in transcending them you come out more equipped and capable of facing bigger and tougher obstacles. Your own experience will be the tangible proof of this social fact. What is more important here is that you have assisted other human beings and have made life possible for them again. Such human beings may happen to be under the bondage of slavery and required emancipation, or orphans in your families, or needy who are poor and hungry. In all these cases, you give and you do not expect any return or reciprocity. The new idea that Quran is bringing to our attention is that these social issues constitute our own obstacles, and when we give, assist, and liberate others, we are – in fact- liberating and assisting ourselves before anybody else.
Quran is promoting the spirit of giving in the one who gives and in the one who receives. Those in need have the strongest understanding of the meaning of giving. They appreciate more than anybody else the value of giving. When we help them to scale their ascents, we are creating new human beings who will help others to scale their ascents. (domino effect).
What is the environment that helps grow and develop this quality of giving, sympathy, and empathy? “Then he will be of those who believe, and enjoin patience, and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion.” [90:17]
Patience, mercy, and compassion and enjoining them in society create the appropriate environment for the growth and the thriving of human beings capable of scaling their ascents by helping others scale their ascents. This is not an individual feat but mostly a societal one. The quality of their toil and struggle will determine their status and position in the hereafter among the people of power and strength. “Such are the companions of the right hand.” [90:18]
On the other side we see those who disbelieve in the value of toil and struggle suffering from helplessness and deficiency of social immunity. Quran calls their state: Kufr. Kufr, in essence, is covering – covering up the truth and twisting the facts. It is a disease that prevents us to see the truth. It is a movement in the direction of the abyss, imprisonment, and failure to actualize the human essence. Consequently, they will choose for themselves a position in the hereafter compatible with their attitude in this life: Hellfire besieging them in all directions. “But those who reject our signs, they are the unhappy companions. On them will be fire vaulted over all around.” [90:19-20]
By Dr Walid Khayr