Imagine if you were offered the ability to obtain the superpower of invisibility. Such that whenever you wanted you could transition back and forth between being visible and invisible. And for the sake of the thought experiment, your ability to turn invisible would also include any clothes you happen to be wearing when you make the transition. This way you won’t have to jump through hoops in order to be able to utilize this power. The only contingency is that once you are granted this ability you will never be able to get rid of it. Would you accept this superpower or not?
For most people, this proposal would seem like a no-brainer. Of course, they would want this power. They will only think of the upside and think that isn’t it always better to have more power than less. They could use it in the case of an emergency if they are ever targeted, threatened, or attacked. Some people may think that they could use it for amusement like playing pranks on people. But it probably won’t take long before such power can quickly go down dark paths.
They will be able to go through the world undetected. They could gain access to any movie, concert, event without having to pay. They can spy on others and see what people say and do when they think no one is watching. Want to know what the people you know are saying about you when they think you aren’t around? Want to be able to spy on your neighbors in the privacy of their own home? They can steal and never have to work another day in their life. Just walk into a bank grab all the cash you want and walk out. They can seek revenge, punish, or terrify people that they have a vendetta against. That kid in school who gave you a hard time, you could walk up to them in broad daylight and punch them right in the nose. They can conduct espionage and infiltrate the most secret facilities and have an influence on communities, nations, and geopolitics. They can blackmail and coerce individuals to do their bidding and push society to the direction they want.
So as a God-fearing individual who believes all these acts mentioned above were sinful and will very likely cause you to fall into Hell, would you trust yourself with such power and have the willpower not to misuse such knowledge?
While this thought experiment seems far-off, the reality is that God offered His creatures powers far grander than invisibility and while all other creatures were fearful of such powers it was only the human being who accepted it.
[33:72] We have offered the responsibility (freedom of choice) to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they refused to bear it, and were afraid of it. But the human being accepted it; he was transgressing, ignorant.
إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَنْ يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنْسَانُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا
God gave us the power to be able to distinguish right from wrong, to make decisions for ourselves, to be able to submit or object, to be able to either accept what God tells us and draw closer to Him or to reject it and go astray. With any power that is given, there also comes a great responsibility.
With provisions comes power and responsibility, and one of the greatest provisions one can have is knowledge. From history, we see that this is what God provided the human being with.
[2:31] He taught Adam all the names then presented them to the angels, saying, “Give Me the names of these, if you are right.” [2:32] They said, “Be You glorified, we have no knowledge, except that which You have taught us. You are the Omniscient, Most Wise.” [2:33] He said, “O Adam, tell them their names.” When he told them their names, He said, “Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of the heavens and the earth? I know what you declare, and what you conceal.”
In Lake Tahoe, Nevada there currently is a 500 lbs bear, known as Frank the Tank, that has been causing havoc on the residents of Tahoe, breaking into dozens of homes and stealing their food. While this action by the bear is unsettling the response is not the same if this was done by a 500 lbs human. The reason is that we don’t expect the bear to have the same understanding of right and wrong as a human. Therefore, we hold humans more responsible for their actions.
As humans, we have an infatuation with knowledge and gaining of understanding. What we fail to consider is that the knowledge we gain can hurt our souls if used inappropriately.
[16:67] And from the fruits of date palms and grapes you produce intoxicants, as well as good provisions. This should be (sufficient) proof for people who understand.
(٦٧) وَمِنْ ثَمَرَاتِ النَّخِيلِ وَالْأَعْنَابِ تَتَّخِذُونَ مِنْهُ سَكَرًا وَرِزْقًا حَسَنًا إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لِقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ
Consider the Manhattan Project and the making of the nuclear bomb. This technology can be used for good or for evil, but once this knowledge is revealed then we are responsible how we choose to use it. God also, gives us the example of what was taught by the angels to Solomon’s kingdom.
[2:102] They pursued what the devils taught concerning Solomon’s kingdom. Solomon, however, was not a disbeliever, but the devils were disbelievers. They taught the people sorcery, and that which was sent down through the two angels of Babel, Haroot and Maroot. These two did not divulge such knowledge without pointing out: “This is a test. You shall not abuse such knowledge.” But the people used it in such evil schemes as the breaking up of marriages. They can never harm anyone against the will of GOD. They thus learn what hurts them, not what benefits them, and they know full well that whoever practices witchcraft will have no share in the Hereafter. Miserable indeed is what they sell their souls for, if they only knew.
وَاتَّبَعُوا مَا تَتْلُو الشَّيَاطِينُ عَلَىٰ مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَانَ وَمَا كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَانُ وَلَٰكِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ كَفَرُوا يُعَلِّمُونَ النَّاسَ السِّحْرَ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَى الْمَلَكَيْنِ بِبَابِلَ هَارُوتَ وَمَارُوتَ وَمَا يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَا إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ فِتْنَةٌ فَلَا تَكْفُرْ فَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مِنْهُمَا مَا يُفَرِّقُونَ بِهِ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَزَوْجِهِ وَمَا هُمْ بِضَارِّينَ بِهِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلَا يَنْفَعُهُمْ وَلَقَدْ عَلِمُوا لَمَنِ اشْتَرَاهُ مَا لَهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلَاقٍ وَلَبِئْسَ مَا شَرَوْا بِهِ أَنْفُسَهُمْ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ
For every provision that God gives us there is the possibility that the provision can either draw us closer to God or further away. It can either pull us towards righteousness or towards sin. It is out of God’s mercy that He does not give us more than we can handle otherwise we would transgress.
[42:27] If GOD increased the provision for His servants, they would transgress on earth. This is why He sends it precisely measured to whomever He wills. He is fully Cognizant and Seer of His servants.
(٢٧) وَلَوْ بَسَطَ اللَّهُ الرِّزْقَ لِعِبَادِهِ لَبَغَوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَٰكِنْ يُنَزِّلُ بِقَدَرٍ مَا يَشَاءُ إِنَّهُ بِعِبَادِهِ خَبِيرٌ بَصِيرٌ
Solomon was one of the most powerful kings that ever walked on this world. He was born to King David and had vast amounts of wealth even in his youth. The Quran shows us the lengths he was willing to go to correct his ways when he sensed that the worldly possessions were distracting him from his Lord.
[38:30] To David we granted Solomon; a good and obedient servant. [38:31] One day he became preoccupied with beautiful horses, until the night fell. [38:32] He then said, “I enjoyed the material things more than I enjoyed worshiping my Lord, until the sun was gone. [38:33] “Bring them back.” (To bid farewell,) he rubbed their legs and necks. [38:34] We thus put Solomon to the test; we blessed him with vast material wealth, but he steadfastly submitted.
And it was because of his devotion to God alone that God allowed him to have even more to prove the strength of his faith.
[38:35] He said, “My Lord, forgive me, and grant me a kingship never attained by anyone else. You are the Grantor.” [38:36] We (answered his prayer and) committed the wind at his disposal, pouring rain wherever he wanted. [38:37] And the devils, building and diving. [38:38] Others were placed at his disposal. [38:39] “This is our provision to you; you may give generously, or withhold, without limits.” [38:40] He has deserved an honorable position with us, and a wonderful abode.
We see that even with all his power, knowledge, and understanding Solomon never turned into a tyrant or an oppressor. In the following exchange we see the level of care that Solomon had towards the smallest forms of life.
[27:15] We endowed David and Solomon with knowledge, and they said, “Praise GOD for blessing us more than many of His believing servants.” [27:16] Solomon was David’s heir. He said, “O people, we have been endowed with understanding the language of the birds, and all kinds of things have been bestowed upon us. This is indeed a real blessing.” [27:17] Mobilized in the service of Solomon were his obedient soldiers of jinns and humans, as well as the birds; all at his disposal. [27:18] When they approached the valley of the ants, one ant said, “O you ants, go into your homes, lest you get crushed by Solomon and his soldiers, without perceiving.” [27:19] He smiled and laughed at her statement, and said, “My Lord, direct me to be appreciative of the blessings You have bestowed upon me and my parents, and to do the righteous works that please You. Admit me by Your mercy into the company of Your righteous servants.”
How many leaders who did not possess a tenth of the kingship that Solomon had could care less about the life of another human being, let alone of the ants that they trample upon. These tyrants have no problem uprooting and destroying the lives of properties of others if it means more power and status for themselves in this life. Similarly, as God increases the opportunity for the righteous to confirm their righteousness, he also increases the provisions and influence of the unrighteous to confirm their sinfulness.
[3:178] Let not the disbelievers think that we lead them on for their own good. We only lead them on to confirm their sinfulness. They have incurred a humiliating retribution.
(١٧٨) وَلَا يَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ خَيْرٌ لِأَنْفُسِهِمْ إِنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ لِيَزْدَادُوا إِثْمًا وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُهِينٌ
Just because we may not yield power over a military or country does not mean that we are off the hook. As mentioned one of the greatest sources of power is knowledge, and simply by having the access to the knowledge in the Quran and the words of God we are therefore a whole lot more responsible than others who do not.
[5:112] Recall that the disciples said, “O Jesus, son of Mary, can your Lord send down to us a feast from the sky?” He said, “You should reverence GOD, if you are believers.” [5:113] They said, “We wish to eat from it, and to reassure our hearts, and to know for sure that you have told us the truth. We will serve as witnesses thereof.” [5:114] Said Jesus, the son of Mary, “Our god, our Lord, send down to us a feast from the sky. Let it bring plenty for each and every one of us, and a sign from You. Provide for us; You are the best Provider.” [5:115] GOD said, “I am sending it down. Anyone among you who disbelieves after this, I will punish him as I never punished anyone else.”
If we do not take heed to this message and do righteous works then we will be held more responsible than others who have not received this message.