By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam
The Quran (95: 1-6) says:
By the Fig and the Olive, and by Mount Sinai, and by this secure land, We have indeed created man in the best of mould, then We cast him down as the lowest of the low, except for those who believe and do good deeds – theirs shall be an unending reward!
In this verse, ‘the Fig’, ‘the Olive’, ‘Mount Sinai’ and ‘this secure land’ are all symbolic words. In reference to these, the verse means that the earth, with its fruit-bearing trees, lush green mountains and magnificent settlements, bears witness to a truth—and that is, that this earth is an exceptional planet. Another world of this sort does not exist in the whole of the vast universe. And it was on this planet that man has been settled—man, like whom no other being exists in the entire cosmos.
Despite this extraordinary arrangement, this world is marked by a strange contradiction. And that is that while a human being appears to be the noblest of creatures, practically speaking the circumstances in the midst of which he has to spend his life in this world are, for him, “the lowest of the low”.
This exception—this contradiction—is a giant question mark. It demands an explanation. Without a proper explanation for this, this world becomes an unexplainable phenomenon.
The Quran provides the answer to this question, as indicated in the verse referred to above. It tells us that those who believe and do good deeds will receive unending reward in the world of the Hereafter. By ‘believe’ is here meant discovery of the truth, and by ‘good deeds’ is meant actions in accordance with discovered truth. Those who give evidence of this will be saved from an unfortunate end and will be considered eligible for great reward from the Creator.