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Article appeared Friday, June 12th, 2020 in The News Today, Bangladesh

The Revelation (616) yousuf mahbubul Islam, PhD

We ask God to save us from problems faced and from diseases. In fact, we approach
Him in a serious manner when in trouble. But, have we ever given a thought to Him? For
example, have we ever thought who He is or what He is like? Without thinking, one
might plead, but we can’t see Him?

If, however, we applied our logical questioning ability, we could ask the following
question. Why do we ask God to save us from problems and diseases, in the first place?
Is it because we intuitively know that it is only God who can listen to our pleas and also
the only One who can help or cure us? How can He do these feats? Are these qualities
or attributes that God has? If He can hear personal prayers, can He also hear the
prayers of everyone, i.e., each person in the rest of humanity? If He can hear everyone
who calls on Him, does it mean that He is All-Hearing? If He can cure everyone’s
problem, does it mean He knows what to do, i.e., He is All-Knowing, and that He has the
power to do what is needed? That is, is He then All-Powerful? It is possible to confirm
these Qualities of God? For example, can we look up the Holy Scriptures to find out?
Can we find, e.g., how our ancestors and prophets in the scriptures looked upon and
addressed God? As given in the Qur’an, after Prophet Abraham and his son Ismail built
the House (the Ka’aba){1} together, they addressed God with the following prayer.
“And remember Abraham and Ismail raised the foundations of the House (with
this prayer), "Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us as You are the All-Hearing,
the All-Knowing."” [2.127]

Why does Abraham address God as All-Hearing and All-Knowing? Are these God’s
names? Or does Abraham acknowledge the related Attributes or Qualities of God?
Abraham believes in the qualities of God, that He is All-Hearing and All-Knowing and
prays with the conviction that God has already heard and already knows that he has built
the House {2} – the direction towards which all prayers are to be performed. Being All-
Hearing and All-Knowing, God obviously knows what Abraham and son have been
doing. Accordingly, Abraham prays only for God’s acceptance of the intention that this
task was done seeking His Pleasure. In our cases, if we can seek God’s help without
having seen Him, should it be difficult to think about His relevant Qualities? How, then,
should we address Him for help? For example, are there any qualities we can address
when seeking His Protection? Would it be logical to first acknowledge that, it is He, that
protects His creation and that it is only He that can provide protection in the situation at
hand; and then ask for His Protection? If He then solves our problem or arranges to cure
our disease, would it be logical to thank Him?

Another linked question; do we believe that addressing God only while in trouble or in
need is demonstration of belief? If so, let us consider the following analogy. Imagine a
parent with two children, each of whom he/she loves dearly. She looks after all their
needs and also lavishes gifts upon them. How should each child respond? One child
takes the gift and runs away to immediately play with it. When bored, or in trouble this
child comes back for more or for help. The other child, conversely, appreciates the
thought behind the gift and hugs the parent saying, thank you every time he/she
receives a gift! When rescued from trouble, this child also thanks the parent. Is there a
difference between the attitudes of each child towards the parent? Are there similarities
and differences? It is important to understand that both children know that the parent is
the source of gifts and helps to solve problems encountered. One child however uses
the parent only as a service provider for fulfilling selfish needs. The importance of the
gifts may be greater than the love or gratitude towards the parent. The other
acknowledges and gives value to the parent. This second child also appreciates the
parents in front of others. If the first child were also grateful, would the parent take the
gifts away?

Now lets compare these two differing attitudes with our personal approach/attitude to
God. We all know intuitively that it is God that provides and that, it is He, Who can save
us from trouble, e.g., it is only He that can save us from diseases spreading all over.
How should we pray? Should we assume that the disease is a power in itself greater
than God and look to Him as a service provider, e.g., bug exterminator? Or should we
acknowledge that He is the Origin and Source of everything, He is our Protector and the
only One that can protect and then seek His Protection?

Let us compare our understanding of who God is with the response that human’s
feel/have while being invited to turn to Him. The following Verses are given in the Holy
Scripture Qur’an.

28.57 “They say, “If we were to follow the guidance with you we should be
snatched away from our land.” Have We not established for them a secure
Sanctuary to which are brought as tribute fruits of all kinds? A provision
from Ourselves? But most of them understand not.”
People feel that if they turn to God they will lose their property/wealth. What logic does
God give in response? God is asking where did the property/wealth come from in the
first place? Where does sustenance for everything come from? Does God have to plan
the production of every grain of rice, bring every fruit into existence before it comes to
our dining tables ready for us to eat – or do these things happen randomly? What is the
lead-time before a grain of rice arrives at the table? If we follow guidance and are
grateful to God, is He likely to snatch back everything? Are we like the first child who
likes to play with the gifts (wealth, property, food, etc.) provided but denies
acknowledging and being grateful? If we are self-centered, ungrateful and do not
acknowledge Him, what kind of character do we display? What kind of behavior is
ingratitude? Does being focused on ourselves demonstrate a belief that we are more
important than God?

28.58 “And how many populations We destroyed which exulted in their life
(of ease and plenty)! Now those habitations of theirs after them are
deserted all but a (miserable) few! And We are their heirs!”
Do we realize that this Verse is a warning to understand the history behind archeological
ruins? Do we want to become an archeological ruin?

28.59 “Nor was your Lord the one to destroy a population until He had sent
to its Center an apostle rehearsing to them Our Signs: nor are We going to
destroy a population except when its members practice iniquity.”
To God, who looks after everything that we need and has given us existence, ingratitude
is iniquity or grossly unfair behavior. Is there a lesson in this for us?