The Quran about God’s examples
In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful
Most people, at the beginning of gaining faith in God, feel great enthusiasm. This feeling pushes a person to seek the truth. Naturally, this search is usually conducted primarily among the bearers of knowledge of faith.
For a long time, knowledgeable people have developed a methodology for teaching faith, explaining it through various examples. However, in almost all creeds these examples are not taken from the very Prescription. People try to teach to understand the Creator with the help of their explanations.
Is this approach viable? Obviously, the examples given by the Creator are more valuable than the human ones.
In the text of the Quran there are words, the root of which is the expression “masalya” – “to represent, to be present, to be like, alike, example, sample.”
Indeed, God is not timid to present an example – that of a mosquito or what is smaller than it. And those who have believed know that it is the truth from their Lord.
But as for those who closed themselves, they say, “What did God intend by this as an example?” He misleads many thereby and guides many thereby. And He misleads not except the apostates. (2:26)
He sends down from the sky, rain, and valleys flow according to their capacity, and the torrent carries a rising foam. And from that which they heat in the fire, desiring adornments and utensils, is a foam like it. Thus God presents truth and vainness. As for the foam, it vanishes, [being] cast off; but as for that which benefits the people, it remains on the earth. Thus does God present examples! (13:17)
Have you not considered how God presents an example of a good word? It is like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and its branches [high] in the sky? It produces its fruit all the time, by permission of its Lord. And God presents examples for the people that perhaps they will be reminded. And the example of a bad word is like a bad tree, uprooted from the surface of the earth, not having any stability! (14:24-26)
God presents an example: a servant owned and unable to do a thing and he to whom We have provided from Us good provision, so he spends from it secretly and publicly. Can they be equal? Praise to God! But most of them do not know!
And God presents an example of two men, one of them dumb and unable to do a thing, while he is a burden to his patron. Wherever he directs him, he brings no good. Is he equal to one who commands justice, while he is on a straight path? (16:75-76)
And God presents an example: a city which was safe and secure, its provision coming to it in abundance from every location, but it denied the favors of God. So God made it taste the envelopment of hunger and fear for what they had been doing! (16:112)
And these examples We present to the people, but none will understand them except those of knowledge. (29:43)
He presents to you an example from yourselves. Do you have among slaves any partners in what We have provided for you so that you are equal therein? Would you fear them as your fear of one another? Thus do We detail the signs for a people who use reason. (30:28)
God presents an example: a slave owned by quarreling partners and another belonging exclusively to one man – are they equal in comparison? Praise be to God! But most of them do not know. (39:29)
If We had sent down this Literature (Quran) upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of God. And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought! (59:21)
God presents an example of those who closed themselves: the wife of Nuh (Noah) and the wife of Lut (Lot). They were under two of Our corrected servants but betrayed them, so those prophets did not avail them from God at all!
and it was said, “Enter the Fire with those who enter!”
And God presents an example of those who believed: the wife of pharaoh, when she said, “My Lord! Build for me near Your garden a house! Save me from pharaoh and his deeds! Save me from the obscurantists!” (66:10-11)
People tend to figurative perception. It is expressed in fairy tales, proverbs, sayings, etc. Of course, the Almighty knows our perception better, so the Prescription contains various examples relevant to our understanding.
Divorced women remain in waiting for three menstrual periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what God has created in their wombs if they believe God and the last day. Herewith, return is justified to women if they want reconciliation. And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them. And God is Exalted in Might and Wise (2:228)
And there is no creature on the earth or bird that flies with its wings except [that they are] headships like you.
We have not neglected in the Prescription a thing. Then unto their Lord they will be gathered. (6:38)
Whoever comes with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof, and whoever comes with an evil deed will not be recompensed except the like thereof; and they will not be wronged! (6:160)
The example of worldly life is but like rain which We have sent down from the sky that the plants of the earth absorb – from which men and livestock eat – until, when the earth has taken on its adornment and is beautified and its people suppose that they have capability over it, there comes to it Our command by night or by day, and We make it as a harvest, as if it had not flourished yesterday. Thus do We explain in detail the signs for a people who give thought. (10:24)
And We have certainly sent down to you distinct signs and examples from those who passed on before you and an exhortation for those who are circumspect! (24:34)
Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the example of a rain whose plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes debris. And in the hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from God and contentment. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion! (57:20)
The traditions about the prophet Muhammad narrate about many of the images and comparisons he has given. They abound in the Islamic world, some accept them, and others reject it. Turning to the Quran, we find examples, given by the messenger, which are unquestionable to anyone, including opponents of Islam.
And present to them an example of two men: We granted to one of them two gardens of grapevines, and We bordered them with palm trees and placed between them [fields of] crops. (18:32)
And present to them the example of the life of this world, [its being] like rain which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingles with it and [then] it becomes dry remnants, scattered by the winds. And God is ever, over all things, Perfect in Ability! (18:45)
O mankind! An example is presented, so listen to it! Indeed, those you invoke besides God will never create a fly, even if they gathered together for that purpose. And if the fly should steal away from them a thing, they could not recover it from him. Weak are the pursuer and pursued! (22:73)
And present to them an example: the people of the city, when the messengers came to it (36:13)
There has never been a person in history that was equally pleasing to everyone. Muhammad is no exception. His opponents, in opposition to his words, tried to bring their arguments. They did not perceive him as a messenger of God, respectively, the information voiced by the messenger was also considered false.
So do not assert similarities to God. Indeed, God knows and you do not know. (16:74)
Look how they strike for you comparisons; but they have strayed, so they cannot [find] a way! (17:48)
Look how they strike for you comparisons; but they have strayed, so they cannot [find] a way! (25:9)
And We have certainly presented to the people in this Literature (Quran) from every kind of example. But, if you should bring them a sign, those who closed themselves will surely say, “You are but falsifiers!” (30:58)
And he presents for Us an example and forgets his [own] creation.
He says, “Who will give life to bones while they are disintegrated?” (36:78)
Going against the messenger, they went against the very Creator, not understanding this. In spite of everything, the Almighty gave His examples in the Prescription to all the arguments of the deniers of the Lord’s signs.
And they do not come to you with an argument except that We bring you the truth and the best explanation. (25:33)
The examples given by the Creator refer not only to the explanation of all things, but also show the qualities of the deniers of the signs of the Most High. These qualities are universal and applicable to any person, regardless of his status.
Their example is that of one who kindled a fire, but when it illuminated what was around him, God took away their light and left them in darkness [so] they could not see. (2:17)
The example of those who closed themselves is like that of one who shouts at what hears nothing but calls and cries cattle or sheep – deaf, dumb and blind, so they do not understand. (2:171)
O you who have believed! Do not invalidate your charities with reminders or injury as does one who spends his wealth to be seen by the people and does not believe God and in the last day. His example is like that of a smooth stone upon which is dust and is hit by a downpour that leaves it bare. They are unable to keep anything of what they have earned. And God does not guide the closed people! (2:264)
Those who feed at the expense of usury will not exist, except as the one whom disobedient struck by insanity. That is because they say, “Indeed, trade is like usury.” But God has permitted trade and has forbidden usury.
So whoever has received an admonition from his Lord and desists may have what is past, and his affair rests with God. But whoever returns – those are the companions of the fire, they will abide therein. (2:275)
The example of what they spend in this worldly life is like that of a wind containing frost which strikes the harvest of a people who have wronged themselves and destroys it. And God has not wronged them, but they wrong themselves! (3:117)
Indeed, those who closed themselves – if they should have all that is in the earth and the like of it with it by which to ransom themselves from the punishment of the day of standing before God, it will not be accepted from them, and for them is a painful punishment! (5:36)
And is one who was dead and We gave him life and made for him light by which to walk among the people like one who is in darkness, never to emerge therefrom? Thus it has been made pleasing to the closed ones that which they were doing! (6:122)
And recite to them, the news of him to whom we gave Our signs, but he detached himself from them. He followed the disobedient and became of the lost.
And if We had willed, we could have elevated him thereby, but he adhered [instead] to the earth and followed his own passion. So his example is like that of the dog: if you chase him, he pants, or if you leave him, he [still] pants. That is the example of the people who denied Our signs. So relate the stories that perhaps they will give thought. How evil an example [is that of] the people who denied Our signs and used to wrong themselves! (7:175-177)
Indeed, those whom you call upon besides God are servants like you. So call upon them and let them respond to you, if you should be truthful! (7:194)
But they who have earned evil doings – the recompense of an evil deed is its equivalent, and humiliation will cover them! They will have from God no protector. It will be as if their faces are covered with pieces of the night – so dark [are they]. Those are the companions of the fire; they will abide therein! (10:27)
Or do they say, “He invented it?”
Say, “Then bring forth a surah like it and call upon [for assistance] whomever you can besides Allah, if you should be truthful.” (10:38)
Or do they say, “He invented it”?
Say, “Then bring ten chapters like it (Literature) that have been invented and call upon whomever you can besides God, if you should be truthful!” (11:13)
The example of those who closed themselves from their Lord is [that] their deeds are like ashes which the wind blows forcefully on a stormy day; they are unable [to keep] from what they earned a thing. That is what is extreme error! (14:18)
For those who do not believe in the hereafter is the description of evil; and for God is the highest attribute. And He is Exalted in Might, the Wise. (16:60)
And We have certainly diversified in this Literature (Quran) for the people from every kind of example; but man has ever been, most of anything, prone to dispute. (18:54)
The example of those who take patrons other than God is like that of the spider who takes a home. And indeed, the weakest of homes is the home of the spider, if they only knew. (29:41)
Have they not travelled through the land and seen how was the end of those before them? God destroyed them, and made it an example for the closed ones. (47:10)
Then let them produce a story like it, if they should be truthful. (52:34)
Like the example of those shortly before them: they tasted the bad consequence of their affair, and they will have a painful punishment!
Like the example of the disobedient when he says to man, “Close yourself!” But when he has closed himself, he says, “Indeed, I am disassociated from you! Indeed, I fear God, Lord of the worlds!” (59:15-16)
The example of those who were entrusted with the Torah and then did not take it on is like that of a donkey who carries volumes of books. Wretched is the example of the people who deny the signs of God. And God does not guide the obscurantists! (62:5)
Along with the description of the deniers of the signs, God gave a detailed description of believers, citing certain images.
Or do you think that you will enter into the garden while such has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by hardship and adversity and shock until messenger and those who believed with him said, “When is the help of God?” Unquestionably, the help of God is near. (2:214)
The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of God is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And God multiplies for whom He wills. And God is all-Encompassing and Knowing! (2:261)
And the example of those who spend their wealth seeking means to the contentment of God and assuring themselves is like a garden on high ground which is hit by a downpour – so it yields its fruits in double. And if it is not hit by a downpour, then dew is formed. And God, of what you do, is Seeing! (2:265)
And it has already come down to you in the Prescription that when you hear the signs of God, with people closed from them and mocking them, so do not sit with them until they switch to another story. Indeed, you would then be like them. Indeed God will gather the venal and closed ones in Hell all together! (4:140)
The example of the garden, which the circumspect have been promised, is [that] beneath it rivers flow. Its fruit is lasting, and its shade. That is the consequence for those who beware, and the consequence for the closed ones is the fire! (13:35)
The example of the garden, which the circumspect are promised, wherein are rivers of water unaltered, rivers of milk the taste of which never changes, rivers of wine delicious to those who drink, and rivers of purified honey, in which they will have from all [kinds of] fruits and forgiveness from their Lord! (47:15)
Muhammad is the Messenger of God. Those with him are forceful against the closed ones, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating, seeking bounty from God and His contentment. Their mark is on their faces from the trace of prostration. That is their example in the Torah. And their example in the Gospel is as a plant which produces its offshoots and strengthens them so they grow firm and stand upon their stalks, delighting the sowers – so that God may enrage by them those who closed themselves.
God has promised those who believe and corrected themselves among them forgiveness and a great reward! (48:29)
We are not talking about non-recognition of human arguments in any form, we are talking about priorities. After all, our Wise Lord brought the wisest examples. Proceeding from this, I would like to appeal to soak first with divine examples, and then rely on the human, without putting them on the same level.