| The religious history of mankind can
be divided into two distinct periods. In the first period, which occupies
the major portion of this history, the Almighty directly interacted with
the inhabitants of this earth by selecting certain personalities as his
representatives. To them, He revealed His guidance for the benefit of mankind.
They were deputed by Him to fully explain and elucidate the basic truths.
Although these truths are inherently known by a heedful person through
the testimony of his conscience and intuition, the Merciful Allah supplemented
this arrangement by appointing His representatives from among mankind to
remind them of these truths. Over a period, which extends to several thousand
years, numerous personalities were chosen for this purpose. In religious
parlance, they are called Anbiya (Prophets). The last of these personalities
was Muhammad (sws). With his demise in 632 AD, the institution of Nabuwwat
(Prophethood) was terminated and this first period of history was brought
to an end.
Today we are living in the second period of history, which is to continue until the end of this world. In this period, divine interaction through appointed representatives no longer takes place. It seems that once the Prophets of Allah were able to establish the intellectual superiority of monotheism over polytheism, the Almighty brought to an end this mighty institution since its implications regarding the trial and test of its immediate addressees were far reaching.
The first period of history has a certain feature that is wholly and solely specific to it. The Qur’an, a Book which belongs to this first period, mentions this feature. As per this feature1, the judgement which is going to take place in the Hereafter is visually substantiated in this period during the lifetime of certain Anbiya2 (Prophets) elevated to the higher cadre of Rusul3 (Messengers).
Owing to this feature, certain directives of the Qur’an are specific to this first period and cannot be extended to the next period. This of course does not mean that they lose their relevance to the second period. It only means that while they cannot be applied in this second period, their application in the first period has already afforded mankind with certain testimonies which have a profound bearing on his attitude towards life in this second period. It is imperative that the basis of the directives of the Qur’an be understood in order to appreciate which of them is confined to the first period and which is applicable to both. It is by not differentiating between these directives that many misconceptions have arisen in understanding the Qur’an.
This article shall attempt to first outline this all-important feature of the first period. Next the details of its application in the period of the last Prophet and Messenger, Muhammad (sws), shall be outlined. In the third section, various directives that belong specifically to the first period and that have been erroneously related to the second period shall be delineated. The article shall end on a summary of the fundamental premise and on some conclusions drawn from the overall discussion.
Precisely put, the topics to be discussed in this article are:
A. The Judgement: A Basic Feature of
the Age of Rusul
Here is a list of what is presented under these topics
A. The Judgement: A Basic Feature of the Age of Rusul
B. Details of ‘The Judgement’ in Muhammad’s Period
C. Directives Specific to the Age of the Last Rasul
D. Concluding Remarks
|1. The first person to highlight
this feature specific to the age of Rusul was Hamidu’l-Din Farahi
(d:1930), a Qur’anic scholar from the subcontinent. However, it
was his pupil, Amin Ahsan Islahi (d:1997) who refined and perfected
this premise in his celebrated Qur’anic Commentary. Subsequently,
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi (b:1951) a student of Islahi lent further precision
to it in his work on hermeneutics. It is beyond the scope of this article
to trace the development of this feature in the works of these scholars.
Those who want to be aware of this historical development are advised to
look up the following works of these authors.(i) Farahi, Majmu‘ah Tafasir,
1st ed., (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1991), pp. 465-477, (ii) Islahi,
Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 3rd ed., vol 8, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1985),
p. 273 (iii) Ghamidi, Usul-u-Mabadi, 1st ed. (Lahore: Danish
Sara, 2000) pp. 55-8
2. singular: Nabi
3. singular: Rasul