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There are one hundred and fourteen chapters in the Qur’an. Al-Zalzalah (The Earthquake) is chapter number ninety-nine. There is a story relating to this chapter in which there is a great lesson. It is said that once a man came to the Prophet and after some discussion, he accepted the Prophet’s faith. Then the Prophet said to him: “Stay with Ali ibn Abi Talib—one of his companions—for your further training.”

A few days later, the Prophet asked Ali ibn Abi Talib about the man who had come to him. He replied that he had stayed with him for a while and then he had gone away and that now he had no knowledge of his whereabouts. The Prophet said: “Anyone who meets him, bring him to me.” After a few days, the Prophet was able to meet him again. The Prophet said to him: “I asked you to stay with Ali ibn Abi Talib for your further training. Then why did you leave Ali?” He replied, “You asked me to take training from him. I did so and then I went away.”

Man is accountable to God and every deed of man, big or small, will be evaluated by God. Replying to a further question, he said that Ali ibn Abi Talib had taught him to chapter Al-Zalzalah of the Qur’an, which says: “Whoever has done the smallest particle of good will see it; while whoever has done the smallest particle of evil will see it.” (99:7-8)

Quoting these verses of the Qur’an, the man said that from these verses, he had found the complete message; so there was no need to stay on any longer with Ali. The Prophet asked: “How did you find the complete message in these verses?” He replied: “These verses tell us that man is accountable to God and every deed of man, big or small, will be evaluated by God. Then he will be rewarded for good deeds and punished for bad deeds. Now I always keep this in mind. I always do what seems good to me and I always refrain from what seems bad to me.”

This story explains very beautifully how the Qur’an develops a self-correcting mechanism in every man and woman. The Qur’an wants everyone to be on his or her guard all the time. This concept is bound to make a person conduct himself properly. It is at the basis of a character-building system. This concept inculcates a very strong incentive to always behave well and refrain from bad behavior in every aspect of life. This incentive works not only in public life but in private life as well.

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