It is He who has sent His messenger with the guidance
and the religion of truth to make it prevail over every
other religion. However much the disbelievers may
(Surah al-Tawbah, 9:33 and Surah As-Saff, 61:9)
2. The absolute supremacy of the good and the pious.
Indeed We have written in the Psalms after the Torah had
been revealed: The righteous among My slaves shall
inherit the earth". (Surah al-Anbia. 21:105)
3. The final collapse of the oppressors and the tyrants.
We willed to show favour to those who were persecuted in
the earth and to make them leaders and masters. It was
also Our will to give them power in the earth and to
show Pharaoh, Haman and their hosts to experience
from their victims what they feared most.
(Surah al-Qasas, 28:5-6)
4. A bright and happy future for humanity.
Moses told his people to seek help from Allah and
exercise patience. The earth belongs to Him and He has
made it the heritage of whichever of His servants He
chooses. The Final Victory is for the pious.
(Surah al-A'raf 7:128)
This idea is not an outcome of any wishful thinking,
but it emanates from the total working of the system
of nature, the evolutionary process of history,
man's confidence in the future and the total
rejection by him of pessimism about the destiny of
mankind, which is extraordinarily bleak, according
to certain theories.
Expectation of Solace
Aspiring for the realization of this human ideal has, in
the Islamic traditions, been termed as 'Expectation of
Solace'. Its underlying idea is substantiated by the
Islamic and Qur'anic principle of the prohibition of
despair of Allah's Mercy.
Those who believe in Allah's universal Kindness can
never lose hope, whatever be the circumstances, and can
never submit to despair and despondency. Anyhow, it must
be borne in mind that the principles of the expectation
of solace and non-despair of Allah's Mercy have no
personal or group application. They simply refer to
Allah's general Benevolence and Kindness to the entire
man kind. As for the exact nature of solace, it is
determined by certain other Islamic traditions and
Expectation of solace or cherishing of a hope for the
future is of two kinds. One is constructive and dynamic.
It is an act of virtue. The other is destructive and
paralysing. It is a sin and should be taken as a sort of
These two kinds of expectations are the direct result of
the two divergent notions of the appearance of the
promised Mahdi which in turn have emanated from two
different approaches to historical changes and
revolutions. Hence, it would not be out of place here to
refer briefly to the subject of historical changes.
Let us examine whether the historical developments are a
chain of accidental occurrences or a sequence of natural
events. In nature there is nothing really accidental.
In other words, no phenomenon can come into existence
casually and without a case, though, relatively
speaking, there are incidents which may be regarded as
taking place accidentally and just by chance.
If, one morning, you leave your house and run into a
friend whom you had not seen for years and who is
passing by your house at that particular moment, such a
meeting will be considered accidental. Why? Because
there exists no natural law that your leaving your house
will essentially be followed by such a meeting or else
such a meeting would have taken place everyday. How
ever, it is also true that such a meeting is an
essential consequence of this particular departure at a
particular moment in specific circumstances.
When we see that no binding and invariable sequence
exists between a cause and its effect we call the
resulting event an accident. Accidental occurrences are
not governed by any universal or general rule, nor do
they come within the purview of any scientific law, for
a scientific law is concerned only with an invariable
sequence between specific conditions and a specific
One may say that the historical developments are nothing
more than a series of accidental occurrences, not
governed by any universal or general rule. To support
his view, he may argue that a society is a mere
collection of individuals. Everyone of them has his own
personal traits and individual character. Personal whims
and individual motives produce a set of incidents, which
lead to a series of accidental occurrences and it is
these happenings which constitute a historical
But that is not the real story. According to another
point of view a society has its own personality,
independent of the individuals, and it acts as demanded
by its own nature. The personality of the society is not
identical with that of the individuals. It comes into
being through the combination of individuals and their
cultural actions and reactions.
Thus, the society has its own nature, its own character
and its own rules. It acts according to its own genius
and its actions and reactions can be explained through a
set of universal and general laws.
We have to admit that a society has its own independent
personality, because only then can we say that history
has a philosophy and is governed by norms And rules. It
is only then that history can be a subject worthy of
deep study and a source for learning lessons.
On the contrary, if it is assumed that history has no
personality then only the life of the individuals can be
studied and not the collective life of nations and
peoples. In that case the scope of taking lessons and
drawing morals will also become limited to the
individual's life. As mentioned above, there are two
contrary notions of history and historical developments,
which, in fact, revolve around the main question whether
a society has a personality or not.
The Qur'an and history
The expectation of solace, which forms the subject of
the present study, is a question which is philosophical
and social as well as religious and Islamic. As
mentioned earlier, it has a Qur'anic basis. Hence,
before an attempt is made to describe the nature of this
expectation, it will be in the fitness of things to
throw some light on the Qur'anic view regarding society
and the ever-changing course of its life i.e. history.
It is undeniable that the holy Qur'an looks at history
as a lesson, a precept, a source of knowledge and a
subject worth contemplation and deep thinking. Now the
big question is whether the Qur'an looks at history from
an individual angle or a collective one; whether it puts
forth only the life of the individuals for persuading
others to emulate the example of the good and to abstain
from the ways of the wicked, or it has an eye only on
the collective life, or at least on the collective life
too. In the latter case, is it possible to infer from
the Qur'an that the society, as distinct from the
individuals, has a personality, a life and even
consciousness and feelings? Similarly, is it possible to
deduce that groups and nations are governed by definite
rules which are equally applicable to all of them?
Due to lack of space it is not possible here to discuss
these questions in detail, but it may be stated briefly
that the answer to all three questions is in the
The holy Qur'an, while relating the stories of the past
for the purpose of reflection and instruction, puts
forth the life of the past nations as an admonishing
material for the benefit of other people:
That nation is gone. They have reaped what they sowed,
and the same applies to you. You are not responsible for
their deeds. You are responsible for your deeds only".
(Surah al-Baqarah 2:134-141)
The holy Qur'an repeatedly refers to the subject of the
existence of the nations and their duration. For
Every nation can only live for an appointed time. When
its term ends, it will not remain (alive) even for a
single hour, nor will they die before the appointed
(Surah al A'raf 7:34 and Surah al-Nahl 16:61)
It emphatically refutes the idea that destiny can in any
way be affected by the blind forces of fate. It clearly
states that the destiny of nations is subject to and
governed only by the firm and consistent laws of nature.
Are they waiting for the punishment which has been the
lot of the earlier people. You will not find any change
in Allah's way (of dealing with such people).
(Surah al Fatir 35:43)
It also draws attention to a point which is of vital
importance. It points out that the people, by looking at
their deeds and behaviour, can find out for themselves
whether a good or a bad destiny awaits them, for the
forces which determine the destiny are just a sequence
of reactions set in motion by their own deeds. In other
words, particular acts are always and invariably
followed by particular reactions. Thus, though the
course of history is ordained by the Divine Will, the
role of man as a free agent is not eliminated. There are
many passages in the Qur'an which refer to this subject.
We quote just one verse here.
Surely Allah does not change the condition of a people
unless and until they change their own conduct,
behaviour, customs and manners.
(Surah al-R'ad 13:11).
Interpretation of the evolution of history
If it is admitted that a society has its own nature,
character and a living, growing and developing
personality then the next question is, how is its
evolution to be interpreted i.e. how does it strive for
a state of perfection?
We have already seen how the holy Qur'an lays stress on
the genuineness of society's personality and its
evolutionary progress. We also know that there have
been, and still are, other schools holding a similar
view. Now we must find out how, from the viewpoint of
the holy Qur'an and from these other schools of thought,
history develops. What are the responsibilities of man
in this respect and what part is he supposed to play?
What form should "The Great Expectation" assume is
another closely related subject which must be explored
Historical evolution is interpreted in two different
ways. One method is known as the materialistic or
dialectic and the other is called human or natural. In
other words, in respect of historical evolution there
exist two different approaches and two different ways of
According to each of them the great expectation assumes
a different form and a distinctive nature. We propose to
explain these two ways of thinking, but only to the
extent that they are related to the question of the
expectation and hope for the future.
Some people interpret history from the angle of
transformation of one contradictory into another. Not
only history but the evolution of the entire nature is
also interpreted by them on this basis. Hence, before
explaining the materialistic interpretation of history,
we propose to explain briefly the dialectic
interpretation of nature, which is the basis of the
materialistic interpretation of history.
Firstly, according to this doctrine, everything in
nature is constantly moving and striving to reach the
next stage. Nothing is static or motionless. Therefore,
the correct approach to nature is to study things and
phenomena while they are moving and changing and to
realise that even our thinking, being a part of nature,
is constantly undergoing a change.
Secondly, every part of nature is influenced by other
parts and in turn influences them. The whole universe is
bound by a chain of actions and reactions. Nevertheless,
a complete harmony exists among all parts of nature.
Hence, the correct approach is to study everything in
nature as it is related to other things and not in
Thirdly, motion originates from contradiction. It is
contradiction which is the basis of every motion and
change. As the Greek philosopher, Heracleitus, said
2,500 years ago, struggle is the mother of all progress.
Contradiction in nature means that everything is
inclined to its opposite and it nurtures its antithesis
within itself. Along with everything that exists,
factors which tend to destroy it, also set off factors
those which tend to preserve the existing state and
those which tend to transform it into its antithesis.
Fourthly, this internal struggle continues to intensify
and grow till it reaches a point where a sudden
revolutionary change takes place. There the struggle
culminates in the triumph of the new forces and the
defeat of the old ones with the result that the thing is
transformed into its antithesis completely.
Following this transformation the same process begins
anew, because this phase again nurtures its opposite
within it, and a further internal struggle leads to a
fresh transformation. Anyhow, this time the thing does
not revert to its original state, but is transformed
into a state which is a sort of combination of the first
and the second phases. This third state is known as
synthesis. Thus, nature moves from thesis to antithesis
and then finally to synthesis and after completing one
cycle, again starts following the same evolutionary
Nature has no ultimate goal and is not striving to a
state of perfection but is rather inclined towards self
destruction. However, as every antithesis tends towards
its own antithesis, this process perforce takes the
shape of synthesis, resulting in compulsory evolution.
This is what is called the dialectic interpretation of
History being a part of nature, the same law of
evolution applies to it also, the only difference being
that, its components are human. History is a continuous
process and is influenced by inter-relations between man
and nature and between man and society. There is a
constant conflict and confrontation between the
progressive groups and others which are in a state of
decay. This struggle, which in the final analysis may be
described as the struggle of contradictories, after
going through a violent and revolutionary process, ends
to the benefit of the progressive forces. Every event in
the course of this struggle is followed by its
antithesis and the process goes on until the evolution
The basis of human life and the motive force of history
is the function of production which at every stage of
its development creates particular, political, judicial,
domestic and economic conditions necessitating the
development of relations among individuals.
But the function of production does not remain static at
any particular stage. It continues to develop, for man
is a tool-making creature. With the gradual development
of tools the production goes up and with that new men
with a fresh outlook and a more developed conscience
appear on the scene, for not only does man make the
tools but the tools also make the man. The development
of productions and the increase in its quantum create
new economic equations which bring about a set of new