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Living The Quran

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From Issue: 1032 [Read full issue]

Careful Measure
Al-Qasas (The Story) Sura 28: Verses 71-73

Say: "Have you considered if God were to make the night perpetual over you, without break, till the Day of Resurrection, is there any deity other than God that could bring you light? Will you not, then, listen?' Say: 'Have you considered if God were to make the day perpetual over you, without break, till the Day of Resurrection, is there any deity other than God that could bring you a night in which to rest? Will you not, then, see?' It is out of His grace that He has made for you the night and the day, so that you might have rest and seek to obtain some of His bounty, and that you may have cause to be grateful.

These verses alert unbelievers to two great universal signs, the night and the day, and the secrets they involve of what God chooses for His servants. Because of their long familiarity with the succession of night and day, which are sometimes called in Arabic, "the two new ones", people forget their ever-renewing status. Rarely do they admire the sunrise or sunset, and only rarely do they reflect thoughtfully on the spreading of the day or the darkening that ushers in the night. They do not reflect on the act of grace that brings their succession with all that it involves of mercy and life renewal. The Quran alerts them from the long familiarity that blunts their senses and invites them to reflect on these great universal scenes. It presents them with the possibility of either the night or the day lasting forever, and the terrible consequences of either eventuality. It is a fact that people seldom appreciate things until they lose them or fear that possibility.

People miss the light of day when the winter nights become a little longer, and cannot wait for the bright sun when it disappears for a few hours behind clouds. What will they do then if they lose its light completely, with the night stretching perpetually over their world? This question supposes that they will remain alive in such an eventuality, when all life is in peril unless daylight is forthcoming.

People look for the shade when the hours of day stretch and become very hot, and they look forward to the coming of the night when the days stretch longer in the summer. They enjoy their repose and rest in the night. All creatures need the night when they can renew the energy they spend during the day. What would happen to them then, should they remain alive, if the day were endlessly perpetuated until the Day of Judgement? Indeed, all life could perish in a day that never ends.

Everything in this universe is determined according to a careful measure, and every little detail is planned. The night is for rest and repose, and the day for work and activity. It is all part of God's grace. Indeed everything people have is by the grace of God, so that "you may have cause to be grateful," for the blessings and kindness He has granted you. One of these blessings is the succession of night and day. So also are all laws of nature which God has chosen to set in operation, reflecting His knowledge and wisdom.

We should note that the verse speaking of the night being perpetuated forever ended with 'Will you not listen?', while the verse speaking of the other possibility of an endless day, concluded with 'Will you not see?' Both are suitable qualities, because hearing is the important faculty at night, while during the day the primary faculty is sight. This is just an example of how the Quranic style makes extensive use of harmony.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade of the Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 13, pp. 207-209

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