The question that I think this chapter is asking me to answer is this: Do i want to be with those I love and with whom I find joy and enjoyment? [my answer here is yes!]
And do I think that I can fulfill this need and desire of my soul in the conditions I currently find myself in? [my answer here is no!]. And this is the problem, a mystery. I find myself with a need I did not give myself and which is dear to me. And i find myself in a world that refuses to me the permanent and absolute fulfillment of the need to exist (and the need for all that makes existence desirable to also exist) eternally, and without-end! I do not stop desiring to exist because I can’t find the source of eternal existence. I am confounded and turn to whoever has made me to help me. In chapter 84, I think my maker is speaking to me to help me.
Revelation, even as it seems to be telling me something about a “future”, it’s telling me about it in order to offer guidance here and now. And for me take guidance from it, i need to reflect about the truth it reveals to me. Instead of reading signs as descriptions of some future event that I have not seen or witnessed yet, i should read them as indicating something about what I can (and need to) witness and resolve here and now but fail to without these signs being revealed to me.
The chapter points me to some realities around me (the heavens, the earth, the evening sky, the night) – it asks me to think about that aspect of these realities that I ignore: 1) someone is Lord over them and they are subject to this Lord’s command. They cannot be as they are on their own and 2) They are being changed from one state to another. They do not change on their own. Whoever is making them in this way, in “stages”, being changed from one state to another, is thereby communicating something that I, as a human being, need to notice to solve my problem [sated above].
It tells me that my endeavor, my struggle, any choice through which I desire to attain anyything “good” or “beautiful” is under the purposeful command of my Lord, just as the heavens and earth are! In each of those endeavors towards the good, I am actually reaching towards my eternal Lord, from whom all that I love issues and with whom all that I love is therefore found. If I can be aware that my movement (struggle for any perfection) is towards him and taking me to him, I can feel safe that the goods of life, and enjoyable existence with “my people” is not being lost (to time for instance) but is going back to the source and my accounting about it is easy for me i.e. if i am asked: did you lose all that you love? I would say, ‘no! its with my Lord and I am going to return to that life of joy and comfort when I am taken from this world’. If, however, there is no such return to my beloved kind of life (symbolized as a life with “my ahl” i.e. a life full of all that my heart desires), my account of desiring a life with them is not easy: it is an impossibility for me to ever return to what i am constantly losing (as if to a fire that is consuming life slowly) and all i can say is (with great difficulty) that I should try to enjoy myself as much as possible while I can. I must find some heroic and difficult justification for joy while my beloved life is being extinguished forever. I must endure fire and the source of life looks upon me i.e. in my despair, i can see clearly that my soul is not at peace and is meant for joyful existence! Why else would it be in pain and in need of justifications to rationalize away the pain!
My “book” i.e. all the things i find meaninful in life becomes non-existent (its behind my back i.e. i dont see it..i dont see meaning in life) while if I see that i am moving towards that which was beloved to me and that just passed on towards my Lord, from whom it came, the meaning of my life is preserved – it is eternal life and eternal joy with the Sustainer and Owner of all that I love!
The torture and tormet that I can witness here is telling me that more of the same awaits me if I do not change my perspective. I need to notice that things are not simply this way by chance or on their own. There is a Lord who is doing this. A Lord who creates in stages, who makes things exist and then takes them out of existence (like night and day). He tells me that my life too is in stages – I love something and then that thing passes. But in this passing, the Lord of what I loved, from whom it came and to whom it returned, remains and, in reality, it is this Lord that I am loving when I love something. I can meet Him i.e. i can see Him as the real end of my desire and struggle (to attain something beautfil or perfect) – a lovely gathering of friends, a loving relation with my child or parent etc. As I find Him as the real end and as the source and Lord of all that i love, i see Him as my real love. And all i love is with Him so that what I have seen here and loved, I can feel secure that I will find with Him. I will “return” to whatever joyful life He has shown me here as He has shown it to let me know what He wants to give to me…and He brings to witness His power to sustain the world and to change it in stages, to create night and day, to bring life from death (so that he can empty the earth, which, to me, seems to have swallowed so many of my beloved people). He can bring forth all – the earth is keeping only what He commands it to hold as a trust. The souls of my beloveds are not forever inaccessible to me on the other side of the heavens – He who keeps the sky intact can open its doors and I can return to re-unite with all that I love again! To be aware of my Lord, to see His beauty and His sustenance and perfection as what I glimpse/meet when I endeavor for a result (e.g. when I cook an egg to feed myself, when I work to earn a livelihood, when I wash to experience cleanliness, when i experience His compassion, His care and His comfort through relations whose company I enjoy), is to be safe against the loss of what I enjoy and love.
I am not a victim of cruel time. I am being taken in stages (where each experience or effort is an opportunity to meet my Lord as the desired/beloved goal) back to my lord, as is everything that is coming from Him and through His command. If I see my Lord in my life, I am going back to the home He is calling me to – all that I see here are His call and signs. If i ignore the Lord, there is nowhere that I or anything I love goes. I am consumed by loss and despair.
I hope I am among those who can return joyfully to everything and everyone that makes life beautiful eternally (verse 9). I should try to see my Lord’s face in all that I do – i can meet Him here and witness the truth of the ultimate meeting with Him. I ask my Lord for the same for you. God willing!
And I ask myself, as the verse asks me: how is it that I hear the news of eternal life being given to me, how is it that I can witness the Lord from whom all must come and who is the ever-lasting owner of what I endeavor towards and love, and I do not experience such joy and gratitude that I fall to prostration, everytime that I hear this news! I shouldn’t think about verses of the Quran as “prostration verses” and turn it into some mechanical exercise. The message of eternal life, if its truth is witnessed and affirmed and experienced, produces such joy and awe in me (of umerited mercy) that this meaning is best responded to by prostrating in gratitude and exalting my Lord.
It seems the verses claim that the Quran in general is bringing such a news and that it would provide such healing for the agonies of the soul that the proper response to receiving such meaning and truth would be joy and gratitude and a desire to exalt and praise the Lord.