16 Nov The Qur’an says: Primordial Convenant
The Qur’an says: Primordial Convenant
What is the Primordial Covenant?
This matter is directly mentioned in the Qur’an:
And whenever your Sustainer brings forth their offspring from the loins of the children of Adam, He (thus) calls upon them to bear witness about themselves: “Am I not your Lord?”—to which they answer: “Yes, indeed, we do bear witness thereto.” [Of this we remind you] lest you say on the Day of Resurrection: “Verily, we were unaware of this.” (7:172)
According to this verse, every soul was required, at some point, to bear witness to its recognition of the Divine Existence and Unity. Qur’anic commentators continue to debate when this covenant was made. Therefore, we will look at a few considerations as to when and how and to whom this question was put.
When we were as yet nothing and received the command Be!, we gave an affirmative existential response to God’s creative act, which is represented or dramatized as a question–answer or a covenant.
When were still in the form of atoms or even particles not yet formed as atoms, the Lord of the Worlds, Who cherishes and leads everything to perfection, made these particles feel the desire and joy of being human. He therefore took the promise and covenant from them, which is considered a “Yes” from all atoms to God’s creative call, though it was far beyond their own power to even imagine such an affirmation.
Such question–answer or offer–acceptance is not in words or statements. For this reason, the event has been interpreted allegorically by some, as if the question were put, answered, and had a particular legal value and effect, although it is not an actual verbal or written contract. In fact, without taking into account God’s power and innumerable ways of communicating with His creatures, considering this covenant to be an ordinary contract can lead only to difficulty and error.
This acknowledgement and declaration, this covenant bearing witness against ourselves as regards our recognition of the Divine Existence and Unity, is the ground of our knowing and feeling ourselves, of comprehending that we are nothing other than ourselves.
In other words, this covenant is the ground of self-knowledge. It means that we start to look into the mirror of knowledge (ma’rifa), witness the realization of diverse truths reflected in our consciousness, and acknowledge and declare that witnessing. However, the offer–acceptance, the perceiving–making perceived, the covenant, is not overt or amenable to direct perception. Perhaps it becomes perceived after many warnings and orders, and thus the significance of moral and religious guidance, counselling, and enlightenment.
The ego or self (nafs) is created and entrusted to us so that we may know and declare the Creator’s Existence and Unity.
Therefore, we prove God’s Existence with our own existence, and show God’s Attributes with our own attributes.
For example, our deficiencies and imperfection show God’s all-sufficiency and perfection; our privations show God’s wealth and abundance; and our inability, weakness, and poverty show God’s power, favor, and benevolence.
The covenanted self is God’s first favor and bestowal upon humanity. Our proper response is to know and declare God’s Existence throughout creation and to perceive His Light in all lights. This is how the primordial covenant is fulfilled. The covenant is like a command that is accepted through understanding the meaning of the magnificent Book of Creation written by the Divine Power and Will, of our comprehending the secrets of the lines of events.