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Paragons of the Quran is work being a translation of Amthal fil Quran al-Kareem by Imam ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah [d.751H]
Paragons of the Quran
Fire and Water
Allah, Exalted is He, Mentioned the two examples – of fire and water – in Surah al-Ra’d (thunder), but this time when speaking of the believers; Allah says,
أَنْزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَسَالَتْ أَوْدِيَةٌ بِقَدَرِهَا فَاحْتَمَلَ السَّيْلُ زَبَدًا رَابِيًا وَمِمَّا يُوقِدُونَ عَلَيْهِ فِي النَّارِ ابْتِغَاءَ حِلْيَةٍ أَوْ مَتَاعٍ زَبَدٌ مِثْلُهُ كَذَلِكَ يَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْحَقَّ وَالْبَاطِلَ فَأَمَّا الزَّبَدُ فَيَذْهَبُ جُفَاءً وَأَمَّا مَا يَنْفَعُ النَّاسَ فَيَمْكُثُ فِي الْأَرْضِ كَذَلِكَ يَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ ﴾ السورة ورقم الآية: الرعد (17).
He sends down from the sky, rain, and valleys flow according to their capacity, and the torrent carries a rising foam. And from that [ore] which they heat in the fire, desiring adornments and utensils, is a foam like it.
Thus Allah presents [the example of] truth and falsehood. As for the foam, it vanishes, [being] cast off; but as for that which benefits the people, it remains on the earth. Thus does Allah present examples.
In this ayah, Allāh compared the Revelation that was revealed by Him to the (spiritual) life of the hearts, and the hearing and sight faculties to water that brings life to the earth with plants; and compared the hearts to the valleys, since a large heart can accommodate great amount of knowledge just as a large valley can accommodate a lot of water.
As for a small heart, it can only accommodate according to its size just like a small valley. Hearts bear guidance and knowledge according to their capacity in a similar manner to the flow of water when it comes in contact with earth and runs over it; it picks up scum and foam.
Similarly if knowledge and guidance come in contact with the hearts, they agitate what is present in them of lusts and doubts to uproot them and carry them off similar to how medicine works; when it is consumed it interacts with the body to rid it of harmful elements in order to ensure achieving absolute healing despite the taste of bitterness it causes.
This is the way in which Allāh “shows (the ex- ample of truth and falsehood”. Then He mentions the example with the fire, saying “And from that (ore) which they beat in the fire, making adornments and utensils, is a foam like it”; it is the filth and dirt that is removed during the process of casting gold, silver, copper and iron – the fire removes it, differentiating it and separating it from the valuable metal that is of benefit, and these impurities are cast and discarded “it vanishes (being passed away”.
In the same way, lusts and doubt are tossed by a believer’s heart and discarded, just as the flowing water and the fire discard the foam, scum and impurities, and what remains in the bottom of the valley is pure water which people drink from and irrigate with and give to their livestock.
And in the same way, pure and unadulterated faith settles in the centre of the heart and takes root, from which the person himself benefits and others also benefit from it. Whoever does not comprehend these two examples and does not reflect over them and try to understand what is intended by them, then he is not from among those people (who have the qualities mentioned in the two examples); and Allah is the Granter of success.
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