Albert Camus’ book, The Plague, stunned me with the parallels that could be drawn to the modern world, and in particular, to how most Muslims go through life. Camus describes the condition of the populace prior to the disaster (i.e., the plague) that befell them as follows:
“A pestilence isn’t a thing made to man’s measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn’t always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they haven’t taken their precautions.
Our townsfolk were not more to blame than others; they forgot to be modest, that was all, and thought that everything still was possible for them; which presupposed that pestilences were impossible. They went on doing business, arranged for journeys, and formed views. How should they have given a thought to anything like plague, which rules out any future, cancels journeys, silences the exchange of views. They fancied themselves free, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences.”
Hm. They “forgot to be modest,” and “they fancied themselves free.” Hardly the greatest of crimes, you might think. However, when we consider the evils that arrogance and anarchy lead to, we might come to a very different conclusion, for the greatest crime of these transgressions is the ultimate crime against Allah, namely that of disbelief. Interestingly, Camus comments as follows:
“Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves.”
Again, he dwells on the evil of self-preoccupation. What is more, he points out that people, for the most part, fail to learn from the past:
“And since a dead man has no substance unless one has actually seen him dead, a hundred million corpses broadcast through history are no more than a puff of smoke in the imagination.”
Is this not the case for most people, and especially, for most Muslims? Despite the multiple wars and genocides of the past and present, most Muslims place emphasis on worldly pursuits rather than the pursuit of Allah’s pleasure. What will wake them up, if not the recent genocides of Muslims in the many corners of the world? These could very well be the “hundred million corpses broadcast through history” that barely break the surface of most Muslims’ contemplation. When will Muslims wake up and start to live their religion fully, including showing a good face to the world through polite religious discourse and high moral example? For Camus, the populace did not even begin to contemplate reform until the rats and people were starting to die (in other words, until it was too late): “And it was then that fear, and with fear serious reflection, began.”
This reminds me of Allah’s warning in the Holy Qur’an: “And We sent not the signs except to warn, and to make them afraid (of destruction)” (The Noble Qur’an 17:59)
When it comes to arrogance and denial, I think of Pharaoh and his followers, and others of their like. In the Holy Qur’an, we find this:
(TMQ7:132-6) They said (to Moses): “Whatever Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) you may bring to us, to work therewith your sorcery on us, we shall never believe in you.
So We sent on them: the flood, the locusts, the lice, the frogs, and the blood: (as a succession of) manifest signs, yet they remained arrogant, and they were of those people who were Mujrimun (criminals, polytheists, sinners, etc.).
And when the punishment fell on them they said: “O Moses! Invoke your Lord for us because of His Promise to you. If you will remove the punishment from us, we indeed shall believe in you, and we shall let the Children of Israel go with you.”
But when We removed the punishment from them to a fixed term, which they had to reach, behold! They broke their word!
So We took retribution from them. We drowned them in the sea, because they belied Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.)
So people! Beware of arrogance and denial of religious evidences, before Allah seals the hearts as a result of the evil of their transgressions! As Allah teaches humankind:
(TMQ 7:146-7) I shall turn away from My Ayat (verses of the Qur’an) those who behave arrogantly on the earth, in a wrongful manner, and (even) if they see all the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they will not believe in them. And if they see the way of righteousness (monotheism, piety, and good deeds), they will not adopt it as the Way, but if they see the way of error (polytheism, crimes and evil deeds), they will adopt that way, that is because they have rejected Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and were heedless (to learn a lesson) from them.
Those who deny Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and the Meeting in the Hereafter (Day of Resurrection), vain are their deeds.
For those who call to truth and to Islam, do not get frustrated. Remember that Allah teaches us in the Noble Qur’an, 12:106, “And most of them believe not in Allah except that they attribute partners (unto Him, i.e., they are Mushrikun – polytheists)”. Whatever we do, most people will choose to disbelieve . . . and according to the scholars who have commented on this ayat, THAT INCLUDES MUSLIMS. Although this is sad, it is the duty of the believer to accept Allah’s decree. So do not be disheartened, for “And most of mankind will not believe even if you desire it eagerly” (TMQ 12:103), and “Verily! You (O Muhammad) guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills.” (TMQ 28:56). Sahih Bukhari #5705, relates a hadith in which Allah’s Messenger, Muhammad (Peace be upon him), related that “Nations were displayed before me; one or two prophets would pass by along with a few followers. A prophet would pass by accompanied by nobody . . .” So imagine: If there were even prophets who could not gather more than “a few followers,” and in at least one case, not a single follower, who are we to complain at the poor results of our efforts? Remember that the goal is to achieve Allah’s pleasure by discharging our duty to Him, which is to bear the message. If we persevere, show the noble qualities of Muslims, keep good relations, and be ambassadors of peace, truth, and the final revelation and religion of almighty Allah, we will be successful.
When a Roman Catholic scholar involved in the Dead Sea Scrolls Project discovers a heretical message contained in one of the Scrolls he hides it. Decades later, a prominent archeologist discovers reference to the scroll in an archeological dig. This discovery spurs the world religions into a dangerous game of cat and mouse, in which all who seek the hidden scroll are mysteriously silenced, leaving the salvation of humankind to a father and son, who must either find the hidden scroll … or die trying.