CONTEMPLATION IN THE UNIVERSE

From the smallest particle to the grandest planet, everything in the universe is a Divine masterpiece of art. With countless manifestations of wisdom presented to the appreciation of the human mind, the universe is an exhibition of Divine Majesty.

For the thinking mind, the universe provides an evocative display of creative order and harmony. Countless verses in the Holy Quran give expression to this. To mention only a couple:

“Do they not then look up to heaven above them how We have made it and adorned it and it has no gaps? And the earth, We have made it plain and cast in it mountains and We have made to grow therein of all beautiful kinds. To give sight and as a reminder to every servant who turns frequently (to Allah).” (Kaf, 6-8)

“Do you not see that Allah sends down water from the cloud, then makes it go along in the earth in springs, then brings forth therewith herbage of various colors, then it withers so that you see it becoming yellow, then He makes it a thing crushed and broken into pieces? Most surely there is a reminder in this for the men of understanding.” (az-Zumar, 21)

Water that remains on the earth’s surface serves humans; it is consumed, used for cleaning and various other needs. It is thus prone to become polluted from time to time. But through a magnificent circular process, the Almighty continuously purifies it and serves it up again to serve human need.

Urging us to contemplate the water’s journey of transformation, Mawlana Rumi says:

When divested of its purity, muddied and murky, water becomes disturbed and astounded, just like us, for having been dirtied on earth…It begins to cry from its depths and beseech the Almighty. Thereupon, the Almighty vaporizes the water and elevates it to the skies. Steering it to a variety of paths, He purifies it from top to bottom. Then He pours it back on Earth, sometimes as rain, sometimes as snow, and at times, as hail. Finally, He paves its path to the vast ocean.”

Narrating in a compelling style a natural phenomenon we get to witness during every season of the year, Rumi then adds the following:

Approach the Almighty and purify your heart from all dirt, just like the water! Become thereby a rain; pour down abundance and mercy!

The harmonious journey the universe has been setting out on since its creation, its sublime order entwined with a profound wisdom and mystery, is, in any case, more than enough reason for one to acknowledge that it is all the work of One, Eternal Force.

Contemplating the Skies

One proof of the power and majesty of the Almighty lies in the Divine Sovereignty displayed on earth, in the skies and in the stars. Failing to contemplate the marvels of the skies deprives human understanding from a splendid exhibition of wisdom.

Compared to the skies, the Earth is like a drop in an ocean, even smaller. There is almost no chapter in the Holy Quran in which the grandeur of the skies is not given mention to. There are even many oaths made in the name of the skies:

“By the heaven, holding mansions of the stars” (al-Buruj, 1)

“But nay! I swear by the falling of stars. And most surely it is a very great oath if you only knew…” (al-Waqiah, 75-76)[1]

The immensity of the universe, the separate motions of its objects and the distances separating them are given in gigantic figures that exceed the wildest imagination and the most penetrating comprehension. Scientists have even felt compelled to admit:

“The universe is more terrifying, startling and greater then we can possibly imagine, for the objects in space are distancing themselves from one another at frightening speed.”[2]

Scientists estimate the radius of the universe as 14 trillion light years. The speed of light, as known, is approximately 300,000 km (186,411 mph) per hour.

The Galaxies

There are some hundred billion galaxies in the universe visible to state-of-the-art telescopes. That makes the galaxy a colossal community of spatial bodies that each harbors well nigh a billion stars, including their raw material and residues.[3] The Milky Way, which is home to the solar system, is simply one galaxy among these.

Communities of hundreds or thousand galaxies are called clusters. In turn, communities made up of galaxy groups are called galaxy super-clusters.[4]

Our Milky Way galaxy and the some 30 galaxies near us constitute the local galaxy cluster. The Virgo Cluster, a near cluster which stands at a distance of approximately 65 million light years, includes an estimated 2000 galaxies. A single super-cluster, it should be known, lies amid tens of galaxy clusters, boasting a circumference of a 100 million light years.[5]

Another aspect exhibiting Divine Splendor throughout space is the collision of galaxies. Galaxies collide on a frequent basis. If their orbits cross paths or if they have gained enough proximity their mass gravity attracts them closer to each other. No matter how many billions of stars galaxies may have, owing to the enormous distance separating them, stars pass by each other during the collision without coming into contact. The impact of the collision, however, causes the gases and dust, from which stars are made of, to converge in certain spots, stimulating the formation of stars. Observed, for that reason, is an escalation in the formation of new stars in galaxies that have undergone a collision. According to estimations, a collision of a similar kind looms between the Milky Way and her neighbor Andromeda.[6] The two galaxies are approaching one another at a speed of nearly 500,000 km’s (310,685 mph) per hour. Remembering they are separated by a distance of 2.2 million light years, a collision is imminent in around 3 billion years.[7]

There are approximately 200 billion stars in the Milky Way, just one of which is the Sun. The Milky Way has a circumference of 100,000 light years. Orbiting at a pace of 630 km per second (391 mps), it proceeds at a speed of 900,000 kph (559234 mph) towards the Star Vega.

The Hercules Cluster is made up of 100 small galaxies and lies at a distance of 650 million light years from Earth.

The Solar System

Lying amid the Milky Way, the Solar System has a circumference of 12 billion km (7,566,454,306 miles).  The sun, located at a distance of 30,000 light years from the center of the Milky Way, is believed to be around 4.5 to 5 billion years old.

The Sun transforms 564 million tons of hydrogen to 560 million tons of helium at each second. In the process, 4 million tons of gas radiates forth as rays of energy. In terms of lost mass, the Sun loses 4 million tons of mass per second and 240 million tons per minute. Considering the sun has been consistently consuming energy at this speed for the past 3 billion years, it means that until now, it has lost 400 billion × million of mass. Still, even a massive amount like that is equivalent only to about 1/5000 of the Sun’s current mass.

The temperature of the Sun’s surface is 6000 degrees C° (10,832 F ).  The heat of its core, on the other hand, reaches 20 million degrees C°. While the Sun’s temperature increases constantly, so does it circumference. It is therefore considered a possibility that the ever-growing the Sun could one day explode and spell an end to the planets closest to it, in Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.

Exactly 324,529 times greater than Earth, the Sun has a mass of 2 x 1027 tons, that is a billion times a billion times a billion, multiplied twice, and a gigantic radius of 700,000 km, or 434.969 miles.[8]

The Holy Quran reminds:

“Blessed is He Who made the constellations in the heavens and made therein a lamp and a shining moon.” (al-Furqan, 61)

The Skies are Constantly Expanding

Allah, glory unto Him, states that He constantly expands the flawlessly created skies. The verse declares:

“And the heaven, We raised it high with power, and most surely We are the makers of things ample.” (ad-Dhariyat, 47)

In 1929, scientists discovered that nebula[9] constantly travel further away from our galaxy, a finding later used as a basis for the theory that space is undergoing constant expansion.[10] According to this theory, doubtless one of the most significant turning points in 20th century space research, galaxies are increasingly moving away from each other in proportion with the accumulated distance.[11]

Applying this theory to the objects in space in 1950, scientists proceeded to calculate the speed with which galaxies travel away from each other. While a galaxy 10 million light years away from our own cuts loose at a speed of 250 km’s per second, the breakaway speed of a galaxy 10 billion light years away is 250,000 km’s per second.[12]

That the universe, the enormity of which is spoken of here, is ever-growing in dimension without ever remaining the same, goes to show the impossibility of perfectly comprehending the splendor of the Almighty.

Beautifully expressed is the feeling of awe that envelops one upon contemplation of these countless exhibitions of Divine Majesty:

     Grand You are Lord, grand, so grand,

     Greatness itself  to You is a strand!

     (Ali Haydar Bey)

Constantly expanding this colossal universe, Allah, glory onto Him, will eventually roll it up, just like a scribe rolls up a piece of paper.[13] Again, when the time comes, He will transform Earth to an earth of another kind, and the skies to skies of another sort.[14] This entails the creation of a new universe, signaling the beginning of a new life.[15]

The Seven Heavens

In the Holy Quran, the Almighty also makes mention of seven heavens or levels of skies. Presuming what has been mentioned up until now pertains to the first level, how are human reason and comprehension expected to bear the mysteries of the others?

Allah, glory unto Him, asserts:

“Who created the seven heavens one above another; you see no incongruity in the creation of the Beneficent Allah; then look again, can you see any disorder? Then turn back the eye again and again; your look shall come back to you confused while it is fatigued. And certainly We have adorned this lower heaven with lamps and We have made these missiles for the devils, and We have prepared for them the chastisement of burning.” (al-Mulk, 3-5)

Now, lift your head and turn your gaze to the skies! Reflect on the innumerable objects in space, faltering not even for a split second in their orbit amid this grand order, each loaded with an underlying mystery and wisdom in its movement.

If the Earth did not rotate on its axis, one side of it would constantly be bright, while the other side doomed to perpetual darkness. There would have been no way of separating the hours of work from the hours of rest.

There is also inherent wisdom in the fact that it takes 24 hours for Earth to rotate once around its axis. Were it to take longer, Earth would have been something like Mercury, where the difference between daily and nightly warmth exceeds 1000 C° (1,832 F). Excess heat would have scorched the Earth in those long days, leaving only for a menacing cold come the evening, freezing everything in its wake.

With these in mind, take note of how the Almighty has blanketed the day with night and rendered the former a time to work, while the latter a time to rest. Think of the manifestations of Divine Power and Mercy in their relentless pursuit of each other!

Again, had the Earth not rotated around the Sun with a tilt of 23 degrees and 27 minutes, there would not have been the four seasons so vital for life. Furthermore, had the Earth not been given this tilt, water evaporating from the oceans would have surged north and south, turning continents into daunting icebergs.

If the moon, say, was 50,000 miles further away from where it is now, the tides would have been so enormous that the continents would have been deluged twice on a daily basis. Even the mighty mountains would have eroded to utter annihilation, in almost the blink of an eye.[16]

So therefore, do not be stuck in awe of the sky simply for the sake of its immensity and the myriad of stars it boasts. Instead, proceed to reflect on its Creator and how He has fashioned and ordered it all! How is it that the Almighty holds those massive stars together without a visible pillar or peg?

Just think of the Sun and the Moon; do they ever breakdown? Is there ever a time when they are sent to repair? While traveling in their predestined orbits do any of the countless objects in space step out of their Divine course and have accidents?

It is a Grave Sin to Abandon Contemplation

How amazing it is that man is infatuated upon seeing an ostentatious, embellished palace. The sight never leaves his mind, as he keeps on spreading the news of its beauty for the rest of his life. But in spite of constantly seeing the grand Divine masterpiece of art that is the universe, he shrinks back from thoroughly reflecting on it and shies away from making an adequate mention of it. He takes no notice of it and carries on, like it is an ordinary thing. Little is he aware that the palace he admires so much is but a tiny particle of Earth, which in turn is one of the smallest specks of the grand universe…

A person oblivious to contemplating Divine Power resembles the ant in the below parable:

An ant builds a nest in a king’s palace, which is surrounded by high walls, built on a solid foundation, decorated by the most exquisite furniture and swarming with servants. When encountering its friends upon making its way out of its nest, the ant speaks to them about nothing but its nest, the crumbs it gathers and how it stocks them for the morrow. The ant is utterly and almost hopelessly remote from the thought of the magnificent palace in which it roams and the power, splendor and sovereignty of the king. Its ignorance is all the more compounded by the fact that he is completely unmindful of those who live there.

An ignorant man is also unmindful of the Almighty’s divine masterpieces of art, the angels and the righteous person living in His dominion.

There is no way that an ant can become aware of a palace and the beauties it boasts. But through contemplation and imagination, we humans can journey through many realms. In a humble return for the countless blessings the Almighty has endowed him with, a person can come to terms with his nothingness and vulnerability, and prostrate in gratitude. Only a ‘human’ can do this; or in other words, only those who do this can carry the honor of humanness. Indeed, humanity has a natural predisposition and ability for contemplation. Gradually laying waste to this potential by not putting it to use is to betray Divine trust and to bid farewell to one of man’s most defining attributes.

The great Mawlana Rumi provides the following parable to describe those who roam on the display of eternal mysteries and wisdom that is Earth with an idle heart and respond to the glaring Divine messages radiating forth from creation with so little as a dim-witted expression.

An ox one day came to Baghdad and strolled around town from tip to toe. But amid all the beautiful sights, tastes and masterpieces, only some melon and watermelon peels dumped on the side of the road caught its attention. After all, befitting the gaze of an ox or a donkey is either hay scattered on a road, or weed and grass growing from its fringes.”(Mathnawi, v.4, couplet: 2377-2329)

It is said that a certain man during the time of Musa –upon him peace- had worshiped persistently for thirty years; such that a cloud had even begun to shade him during his times of worship, owing to his piety. But there came a day when the cloud did not make its appearance, leaving the man to worship in the sun. He went to his mother to see if she might know the reason.

“You must have committed a sin”, she commented.

“No”, he responded. “I do not believe I have!”

“Did you not gaze at the skies, the flowers? Were you kept back from contemplating the splendor of Allah despite seeing them?” she asked.

“Yes”, the man then confessed. “I failed to contemplate in spite of seeing the wonders around me.”

“Are you looking for a greater sin than that?” his mother then said. “You must repent immediately!”

A believer of right mind must therefore never neglect the duty to contemplate.

The more a person learns of the magnificence of the Almighty’s art and the more he contemplates it, the more his wisdom of the Almighty’s Glory and Majesty and his proximity to the Truth will be.

Ali –Allah be well-pleased with him- has said, “Expanding knowledge of the Quran with some knowledge of astronomy enables one to grow in faith and certainty”, after which he quoted the following verse:

“Most surely in the variation of the night and the day, and what Allah has created in the heavens and the earth, there are signs for a people who guard (against evil).”(Yunus, 6)

Every single being created by the Almighty, serves a specific purpose within the Divine order. Until now, mankind has been able to gain acquaintance with only a few of these purposes. Wisdom unseen and as yet not comprehended are multitudes infinitely greater in number than compared to those thought to have been understood.

If we know what sound is, it is because we have receptive organs like ears. If we know what color is, it is all thanks to our eyes. Who knows of the many Divine manifestations in this infinite realm of being of which we have absolutely no clue, simply because we are deprived of the receptive organs to sense them.[17]

Restrained by a limited power of reason, how can man be able to perfectly comprehend Allah, glory unto Him, when he cannot even completely grasp the entire creatures and their specific characteristics? Muslim scholars, who were able come to terms with just an infinitesimal glimpse of the Almighty’s Splendor and the manifestations of His attributes, felt compelled to admit, in awe and dazzle:

 “To understand Him is to understand He cannot be comprehended.”

This is because created beings contain no reflection or manifestation of the Almighty’s essential reality. Everything created by Allah, glory unto Him, is constituted by the combinations of Divine attributes. The fact that there has not been created a single space that can endure an essential manifestation of the Almighty is proven by the Divine response “لَنْتَرٰينِى/ You can never see Me” [18] given to Musa –upon him peace- upon his adamant request to see the Almighty, as a consequence of which he ended up passing out.  It is for that very reason that, let alone seeing the Almighty’s essential reality, man is limited by an insufficiency to even comprehend the reality of His attributes.

Elegantly depicting this is the late NecipFâzıl:

The atoms in revel, bedecked, festive,

And a light all around, a light all around,

An architecture entwined, the self entwined,

I identify you Lord, the Famous Unidentified!

 The Atmosphere

The air that envelops the Earth holds many secrets and is underlain with numerous wisdoms. The clouds that suddenly appear in the sky, the wind that breezes through the air, sometimes light sometimes in a burst, lightings that emit a tremendous sound, the pelting rain, the falling snow; each is a fabulous manifestation that occurs in line with a magnificent measure.

The Holy Quran summons man to contemplate such manifestations rampant between the Earth and the sky and to behold the proofs that verify the Power of the Almighty, stating:

“Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day, and the ships that run in the sea with that which profits men, and the water that Allah sends down from the cloud, then gives life with it to the earth after its death and spreads in it all (kinds of) animals, and the changing of the winds and the clouds made subservient between the heaven and the earth, there are signs for a people who understand.”(al-Baqara, 164)

The atmosphere, which compassionately embraces our Earth, is one of the most splendid orders of the Almighty in alluding to His boundless mercy for human beings. It is made up of 77% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% of a combination of carbon dioxide, argon and other gases. So easily flammable is oxygen that it is estimated that each increase of a hundredth of oxygen in excess of the 21% spoken of, would increase the probability of a lighting strike induced bushfire by around 70%. An oxygen ratio in excess of 25%, on the other hand, would be more than enough to turn an overwhelming majority of the vegetables we consume to ash.

On another note, despite the constant use of oxygen and carbon dioxide, their ratios in the air are maintained. If it only were humans and animals that inhabited the Earth, they would have used up all the oxygen in the air and turned it into carbon dioxide, and in swift time, they would have been poisoned through inhaling carbon dioxide, which would have increased in an inverse proportion to the decreasing oxygen. But the Power who created the universe also created vegetation. And by giving it an ability to process carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen, He has endowed the universe with a magnificent balance and a life that never ceases.

The Earth’s crust has been set with such a delicate measure that had it been just a little thicker, it would have absorbed all carbon dioxide and oxygen, leading to the end of all vegetation.[19]

Oxygen is a vital need for the biochemical functions our bodies constantly perform at every moment. We ceaselessly inhale air through our lungs and then exhale the very same air. That an appropriate density of oxygen in the atmosphere is needed to accommodate this process of inhaling-exhaling shows that coincidence can not play a hand in maintaining this delicate ratio. Allah, glory unto Him, who has created our bodies in a way that requires a constant need for oxygen, has abundantly blessed us with our most vital, primary need. Not only has He made oxygen easily accessible, He has also placed it in the air in the most perfect ratio. Each simple breath we take is in fact a complex and meaningful exercise and an enormous Divine gift.

When aboard a state-of-the-art airplane, we hear an announcement right before it takes flight, advising us to “Wear the oxygen masks that will automatically deploy in case of a drop in pressure in high altitude.”

But in everyday life, none of us carry the slightest apprehension that, the amount of oxygen in the air will rise to, say, 25% or plummet to 18% by tomorrow and anxiously rush to buy an oxygen mask. A believer or not, every single person leads a life of utmost dependence on the Divine Order. Life would have been unbearable if one was aware of each and every life threatening factor surrounding him.

The air is also like a mirror enlightening our surroundings. Light cannot radiate forth without making contact with matter. A light that crashes into a particle spreads itself around, like a firecracker, in the forms of heat and light. As there are no particles like molecules or atoms in the void of space outside of the atmosphere, they remain in darkness, despite them receiving the light of the Sun just the same.

The Moon, for instance, deprived of an atmosphere, has no layer of gas that can disperse the incoming light of the Sun and enlighten its surroundings. For that reason, whereas the surface of the Moon is bright, the surface above always remains in the dark despite it being inundated by a rain of light.

These wonderful manifestations are clear proofs that the Earth has been created in a way to accommodate human life and according to an all-important purpose. Together with being a grand blessing of the Almighty to His servants, this delicate balance which makes life possible is at the same time a proof of His existence and endless power. That each being in the universe moves in accordance with a set Divine program and that everything we encounter discloses an inner plan, measure and order necessitates the existence of a Power who plans, orders and measures this tremendous balance.

This makes the atheist claim that life and the universe for that matter have come to be and exist through sheer coincidence, a ridiculous nonsense.

İsmailFennîErtuğrul (1855-1946) illustrates this fact by way of the following analogy:

“Stumbling upon a measure and order at any given place, reason necessarily infers the existence of an ordering and measuring power.

Suppose you have a garden. You had the gardener consecutively plant many saplings around it. You turn up there one day to see that some of the saplings have been knocked down here and there, haphazardly. You ask the gardener for an explanation and he tells you that they were knocked down by a sudden storm. You will accept that answer. But you turn up there another day and this time see that the saplings have been knocked down in a pattern; you see, for instance, the fifth sapling in each line knocked to the ground while the previous four have been left in tact and you observe this pattern all around the garden. You, again, ask for an explanation and the gardener tells you, once again, that the storm is to blame. Will you believe that? Certainly, you will not. You will instead blame it on someone’s malicious intent. Even though the first case could be explained through coincidence, the second can not; for this time both measure and calculation have come into the picture.”[20]

No person of their right mind could dispute the fact that the universe maintains its existence through meticulous calculation and a most delicate balance.

Below are just some instances of this Divine balance:

Air Pressure

The gases that comprise the atmosphere apply a pressure of approximately 1 kg to a 1 cm square area, or 14.22 pounds per square inch. That is to say, the human body is under the constant pressure of 15 tons of weight. But Allah, glory unto Him, has balanced that out magnificently, too. Whatever amount of pressure there may be outside, our bodies contain the same amount of outward moving pressure. This drastic difference in air pressure is the very reason behind the illnesses and nasal bleeding experienced by some who ascend to higher elevation. Astronauts, who traverse beyond the atmosphere, on the other hand, can only travel wearing uniforms with inbuilt air pressure.

The Cold-Heat Harmony

With their capacity to retain high heat, carbon dioxide and vapor molecules adequately dispersed in the air enable the maintenance of a perfect harmony. Absorbing some of the rays of sunlight that come during the day, these molecules prevent an excess increase of heat. When night falls and the Sun withdraws its rays, the heat absorbed during the day is withheld by these molecules in the air, just like a hothouse, and is not released into the void of space. Because it does not have a protective roof of this kind, the Moon, for instance, is scorched by excess heat during the day and is under the grip of a blistering cold at night.

The Winds

In terms of its purposes with regard to heat, pressure, level of moisture and many other activities that take place therein, the atmosphere is divided into different layers. The troposphere, the first of these layers, is through which rain, snow and winds occur. The layer extends to almost 16 km’s (10 miles) to the sky from above ground level and its temperature gradually decreases all the way to -56°C (-74 F).  Founded in this layer of the atmosphere is a flawless cyclical system.

As the Earth’s axis is a fraction tilted, it is not only the equatorial region that receives the rays of the Sun in a straight trajectory. This enables the distribution of heat to tropical regions. Consequent upon higher temperatures in these regions, a high amount of heat is stored; and the storage of this heat enables the maintenance of the required force and energy for winds.

Millions of tons of water vaporized from the seas and oceans mount the gentle air. From there, they are delivered by winds to lands in need of water. As a result of this cyclical motion, rainfall is not reserved only for wet regions, but, through a perfectly executed plan, each and every region receives its due share of rainfall.

The immaculate motion of the atmosphere enables the transfer of heat. With help from the north to south motion of the low and high pressure systems and the strong currents, the cold air of the northern latitudes makes its way down south, while the southern heat makes its way up north.

That the Sun provides different parts of Earth with various intensities of heat enables the masses of air in the atmosphere to heat up in different levels. Hot air, compliant with the Divine command it is given, rises immediately. Constituted that way are active sources of air, known as low pressure centers in warm climates and as high pressure centers is cool climates. As a result, the tiny particles of air begin to move in the form of a wind, through which moisture, heat, intensity and energy found in the atmosphere, as well as pollens that reproduce plants, are shifted to their required places.

The Holy Quran declares:

“And We send the winds fertilizing, then send down water from the cloud so We give it to you to drink of, nor is it you who store it up.”(al-Hijr, 22)

Winds, just like the rest of creation in the universe, comply, in absolute obedience, with the Almighty’s sovereignty. It is a means of mercy when our Lord commands it to be so, yet also a manifestation of a destructive wrath when, again, our Lord decrees.

A vivid illustration of this fact is the below verse, depicting how the Ad Tribe was annihilated by a vigorous gale:

“For We sent against them a furious wind, on a Day of violent Disaster. Plucking out men as if they were roots of palm-trees torn up (from the ground)”(al-Qamar, 19-20)

The Other Benefits of Air

As well as carrying on its gentle shoulders millions of tons of water, the air also lifts airplanes boarded with hundreds of passengers. It distributes light and heat. It also brings, to our hearing, sounds of hundreds of different wavelengths, of which mobile phones are perhaps the most noteworthy example.

On the other hand, air presents our sense of smell with various types of fragrances without mixing them together. If it were not for the atmosphere, neither would we have been able to make ourselves audible to the person right by our side, nor flick on the light switch with the hope of seeing what lies in front of us. Circulating through our lungs, air moreover performs a vital task. By all these, it reminds believers with a knack for contemplation of the infinite glory, power and mercy of Allah, glory unto Him.

A Divine Filter

The layer above the troposphere that reaches a height of 50 km (31 miles) from ground level is called the stratosphere. The stratosphere blocks out dangerous rays of excess energy from the Earth. Found here is the ozone layer. An oxygen molecule consisting of a triad of atoms, the ozone filters the harmful aspects of the Sun’s rays.

Ultraviolet rays emitted by the Sun decrease growth in plants, cause skin cancer human beings, damage the eye and increase the risk of catching a number of contagious diseases. What the stratosphere does is that it catches the ultraviolet rays that come from the Sun and reflects them back, and at once, turns oxygen to ozone through a superbly balanced chemical reaction.

In fact, so dangerous a gas is ozone that inhaling 1/200 grams of it is enough to kill a person. But just look at the mercy of the Almighty that He has made a filter out of such a layer of poison and put it to use in maintaining the climactic balance and in preventing a harm that would have had fatal consequences for human beings.

The Guarded Canopy

The layer that extends to 80 km, (49.7 miles) above ground level and which is considered the middle layer of the atmosphere is the mesosphere, serving firm as a shield against pelting meteors.

Passing the obstacles of Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon, meteors come under the force of the Earth’s gravity and enter the atmosphere at an incredible speed. What is commonly referred to as a shooting star is actually a meteor which comes into contact with the atmosphere and is burned to dust in the mesosphere. Had there not been a protective layer of the kind enveloping Earth, or if the current layer was a fraction thinner, millions of meteors would have fallen on Earth and wreaked destruction, punching countless holes on its surface just like that of the Moon. But the boundless mercy of Allah, glory unto Him, turns these giant cannons bound for Earth into dust before they ever make contact with its surface. Then, each particle of this dust turns into the nucleus of a tiny raindrop.

The formation of clouds requires fine particles that are a combination of both earth and space. On top of that, these particles are required to reach the highest atmospheric level. The moist winds that breeze their way into there apply an intensity on the nuclei and form a cloud particle. According to a physical and mathematical plan, the cloud particles, in turn, become tiny drops of rain, which will then fall once again on earth.

Long before anything about the atmosphere had been discovered, the Almighty, the Owner of the Earth and skies, had said:

“And We have made the skies a guarded canopy and (yet) they turn aside from its signs.”(al-Anbiya, 32)

Radio Waves

The atmospheric layer that begins from 500 km (310 miles) above ground level and reaches an elevation of 1000 km is called the ionosphere. There, the atoms and molecules are not uncharged but ionized, that is either by receiving or emitting electrons, they are charged with electricity. As a result of these atoms becoming ionized through absorbing the high energy rays of the Sun, the heat in the layer can at times reach 2000°C. For the atmosphere, the ionosphere is like a mirror made up of ions. Virtually hitting this mirror are the electromagnetic waves of radio and wireless transmitters that rise to space, some of which are then reflected back on Earth. The reflected waves then reach every single corner of Earth, making it possible to follow radio and wireless broadcasts everywhere with relative ease.

As can be seen, Allah, glory unto Him, has rendered Earth, a massive body sailing at a rapid speed in the dark void of space, a home abounding in life, set moreover to an ideal heat. Dominated by a pleasantly warm climate, not even a single waft breezing through Earth is without wisdom; not even a single leaf drops of its own accord, without reason.

Each created thing, from the smallest to the largest, is a portrait of the pattern of lessons and a Divine masterpiece.

The Almighty says:

“Do you not see that Allah has made what is in the heavens and what is in the earth subservient to you, and made complete to you His favors outwardly and inwardly? And among men is he who disputes in respect of Allah though having no knowledge nor guidance, nor a book giving light.”(Luqman, 20) [21]

How blissful it is for those who can read the wisdom and truth laden lines of the book of universe, understand them and plumb to the depths of contemplation![22]

Clouds, Rain and Snow

Just think of the clouds, giant vessels sailing in the skies. One of the functions of clouds is to prevent the Earth from being exposed to excess heat. When temperatures rise, water becomes vaporized at a faster rate, generating more clouds. The rays of the Sun are then mirrored back towards the direction whence they came, preserving the balance of heat on Earth.

Allah, the Most Compassionate, sends the winds as harbingers of rain. The winds then, with Divine Command, move the mountain like clouds and steer them to their destined places. The Almighty, who distributes clouds in the skies as He wishes and clusters them around one another, then extracts raindrops from out of them, through which He enables the growth of various fruits on Earth. He reminds us that this will be the manner in which the dead will be resurrected, wanting human beings to take note of this grand portrait of wisdom.[23]

The Almighty showers His mercy upon whom He wills. Delighted especially upon the glimpse of rain are those hit by a severe drought. Their despair immediately turns to hope.[24] For the Almighty is He “…who sends down the rain after they have despaired, and He unfolds His mercy; and He is the Guardian, the Praised One.”(as-Shura, 28)

The Almighty at times turns drought and at others rain or hail into means of punishment, penalizing His rebellious servants, striking whom He wills and protecting whom He spares.[25]

In other words, the Almighty aligns the relation between the skies and Earth in line with human behavior and their own inner world.

Rain is sent down by the Almighty in drops so that each remains separate in its own course without mingling with one another. Each drop of rain falls in its destined trajectory, without swaying the slightest bit. It neither comes late, nor does the raindrop next in line rush and overtake the drop beneath it. If entire humans and jinn were to join forces in making a single drop of rain or if they were simply to attempt to count the number of raindrops that fell in a single village at just one instant, they would not be able to. Only their Creator knows their exact number.

There is also an immeasurable wisdom in the icy, frozen drops of hail and in the snowflakes which fall like fine cotton, both of which are made up of fine water.

Who raises the drops of rain and snow that fall onto the ground to the highest branches of trees? Indeed, water is distributed around every single inch of a leaf but it is unseen. Through their capillary veins, each speck of the leaf and concurrently the whole tree receives its fair share of water.

How is it that water, which is supposed to flow on a downward course, able to make its way all the way up to the top?[26]

If raindrops were to fall in compliance with the law of gravity, each drop would have struck Earth at the speed of a flying bullet. And that would have meant living beings would have suffered instant death at the hands of these bullet-like drops. Yet, each raindrops falls onto the ground at a consistent speed, slowly, without causing the least hurt or harm.

Shaped according to a specified measure, water then takes the shape of tiny raindrops. Then through the lifting force of the air and the fluidity of the drops themselves, the force of gravity is balanced out, enabling the drops to hit the ground at a constant speed.

These truths alone would suffice for those who gaze with wisdom to appreciate just how magnificent the Divine order and harmony, effective throughout Earth in which we live, is. No less clearly would they see the infinite knowledge, power and wisdom of the Almighty by such observation.

Contemplating the Ground

Pious servants are steeped in contemplation. They become acquainted with the language of blooming flowers, chirping birds and trees that yield fruit. They mirror onto their spiritual lives the elegance and beauty they see. They gain an elegance of spirit like flowers and generosity like trees abounding in fruits. These are the lucky people Allah, glory unto Him, praises in the Holy Quran.

The Almighty has decked out the Earth’s surface in the best manner imaginable and has made it hospitable to human existence. Placing paths and passages thereon, He has mad the ground suitable and mild to travel on.

The Holy Quran states:

“Who made the earth a resting place for you and the sky a canopy and (Who) sends down rain from the cloud then brings forth with it subsistence for you of the fruits; therefore do not set up rivals to Allah while you know.”(al-Baqara, 22)

“Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse, And the mountains as pegs?”(an-Naba, 6-7)

“He it is Who made the earth smooth for you, therefore go about in the spacious sides thereof, and eat of His sustenance, and to Him is the return after death.”(al-Mulk, 15)

Allah, glory unto Him, has spoken of the ground in His Sacred Book so that humans could delicately reflect on the wisdom underlying it.

Above ground is for the living, while below ground is for the dead. The Almighty says:

“Have We not made the earth to draw together to itself, the living and the dead…”(al-Mursalat, 25-26)

Now, look carefully at the ground when parched; it looks all but dead! Yet, once met with water from the skies, it vibrantly comes to life and regains its green. It grows multicolored plants. From the depths of its bosom emerge various forms of life. Then take note of how the Almighty has reinforced the ground with colossal mountains! Just look at how He has stored reserves of water underneath them? How does He then burst out springs from these and form vast rivers on Earth? Just how does He raise sweet and pure water forth from dry rock and murky mud? How is it that this water gives life to all things? Through water, how has Allah, glory unto Him, raised from the ground wheat, grapes, clovers, olives, dates, pomegranates and countless others? Each has a different shape, color, taste and aroma; to each a distinct beauty, a distinct pleasure…Some are superior to others in terms of nutrition. But all are watered by the very same water and emerge from the very same soil.[27]

Plants

Once a seed falls to the ground and is touched by the soil’s moisture, it begins to develop, as a result of which its lower and upper parts crack open. From its upper part emerges the tree, which develops higher above the ground, while from its lower part comes the root, regally spread out deep under the soil. This is an amazing spectacle; for although the seed is of a single nature and is under the affect of a single influence, it brings forth one distinct part that grows upward and another that becomes entrenched further beneath the ground. It is astounding that a single entity can give birth to two opposing elements. This, we know, must be through the will and governing of One Creator, who exudes wisdom in all His acts.

One part of the tree that springs forth from this seed becomes wood, and another leaves. Further, another part smiles in the form of flowers which then further develop to yield fruits, generating certain vitamins of benefit to the human body.

Again, a single fruit possesses numerous characteristics. For instance, whereas the seed of a grape is cold and dry, its fleshy part is warm and juicy. That a fruit develops various characteristics from a single seed, despite each of these being exposed to the same influences, is undoubtedly the working of an infinitely powerful and wise Creator.

Furthermore, Allah, glory unto Him, has rendered flora a natural pharmacy for the healing of many diseases. Some plants are cures, sources of nutrition; they reinvigorate the body. While some revive, others, being poisonous, kill. Once consumed, a plant mutates to become another element. Many plants purify the blood. Many others give life and energy. Others provide calm and put one to sleep…

What a cause of wonder it is that through plants water and carbonic acids are transformed to sugar and wood and that oxygen is released for organisms to breathe.

There is hence not a single leaf or weed that buds out from the ground that does not carry loads of benefit for human beings; such that man does not even have the power to grasp them all at their core.

An assortment of colors, scents, tastes and leaves of distinct shapes which the seemingly ordinary weeds manage to garner from the depth of earth, are absolute wonders no chemist could manage to replicate.

The harmony and order prevalent during the growth of plants is a distinct manifestation of Divine Majesty. A plane tree, for instance, produces millions of seeds each year. To allow them to scatter to their surroundings, these seeds have transparent parachutes of feather; and with the aid of blowing winds they are ushered to places extremely remote. If each seed given off by a single plane tree was to end up developing into a tree, the whole world would have come under a plane tree invasion. In other words, the vast Earth would have been too small for only a single species of tree. This example can be extended to other beings as well.

In fact, years ago in Australia, they began using a species of kakitos to build hedges. But because there was no native insect in Australia hostile to the kakitos, the plant began to spread infectiously. A rapid growth that sent the locals to despair saw the kakitos end up covering an area as big as England, in length and width. Wreaking destruction on their lands and settlement, it eventually forced the local townspeople out of their homes, who gradually left a trail of ghost towns in their wake.

After rummaging the Earth from head to toe, scientists discovered a species of insect that lived only off the kakitos and consumed nothing else; an insect that developed in rapid speed and moreover had no known faunal or floral enemies in Australia. As anticipated, the insect overpowered the entire kakitos in short time. Today, the kakitos are reserved to only a small area and are far from posing a threat. As for the hoards of insects imported to tackle the destructive plant, there remains only enough to keep the pressure on what now is a scarce amount of kakitos.[28]

This goes to show the existence of a somewhat mystifying and almost inexplicable yet at the same time a harmonious ecological balance effective throughout the universe. No sound mind could therefore challenge the existence of a Power who prevents some species of plants and animals from increasing in excess and plaguing the Earth.

Again, what cause for wonder it is that millions of distinct plants and fruits emerge from the compound of soil! Our Lord, the Razzaq, the Absolute Provider, prepares different feasts for beings of different species…

A human being, for instance, cannot consume a majority of what a sheep eats, and vice -versa. Provisions are therefore distributed among creation according to a delicate balance. The below verse, displaying the Divine Power behind providing and distributing provisions to creation, is thought-provoking indeed:

“And how many a living creature that does not carry its sustenance: Allah sustains it and yourselves; and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.”(al-Ankabut, 60)

When one thinks of it, how great a manifestation of Divine Mercy it is that living beings provide mutual means for each others’ survival, to the point where a bird feeds another injured bird by carrying morsels to its beak.

There exists a profound lesson in the fact that countless Divine feasts have been held since the beginning of the world without break and without neglecting to feed a single living being, and that this still continues as we speak. If we pause here for a moment and think…Three-quarters of Earth’s surface is covered with water. A majority of the remaining quarter is comprised by deserts or rocky areas unsuited for the growth of plants. Only a portion of what remains is soil. But just how mighty the power of Allah, glory unto Him, is that through a ceaseless metamorphosis, He renders soil the source of nourishment for all living beings on the land!

The Vast Seas

Water covers three-thirds of Earth’s surface entire. Because of this, neither can the freezing colds of the North and South Poles nor the scorching tropical heat can take Earth in their grip.  The Earth’s surface, warmed up by the rays of the Sun during the day, distributes this heat all around, like a radiator. As for the seas, despite receiving millions of calories of heat from the Sun, they can warm up only to a certain degree; but once warmed up they do not lose their heat easily. So, the Earth’s seas regulate climates and act as a thermostat moderating against excessive heat or cold; hence the reason why they are of greater mass compared to land. By virtue of vaporization, they moreover satisfy the need lands stand in for water. Lesser seas would have meant lesser vaporization and that would have resulted in a drought fierce enough to turn the entire land on Earth to desert.

No less are the characteristics of maritime beings to those of land. Pearls, corals and other adornments and especially the fresh seafood acquired from the depths of seas are of particular importance to human beings.

Water

The survival of all beings on Earth depends on water. A person, unable to find water despite desperately needing to, would doubtless not blink an eye in surrendering all the treasures of Earth just to have one precious sip. Again, he would not think twice about relinquishing all of Earth’s treasures just to release the consumed water from his body, if he was unable to. Man is cause for wonder! Just how does he make such a big deal of gold and silver while remaining oblivious to the enormity of the blessings placed by the Almighty within just a single sip of water?[29]

It would not take long for a person, who contemplates these underlying wisdoms as is worthy of their nature, to realize that all beings on Earth depend on the protection and aid of a Creator of infinite knowledge and power just to survive. He would come to terms with the fact that he lives under miraculously perfect conditions, in a virtual wonderland, he herself would have been unable to maintain. Neither reason nor conscience would then be blind enough to have the nerve to rebel against Allah, glory unto Him, the Creator and the Regulator of the Universe.

Underlying Wisdoms in the Animal Kingdom

One ought to look carefully at the birds fluttering in the skies, animals both domesticated and wild and the tiny, barely visible insects; for they possess such peculiarities that it is impossible not to stand in awe of the splendor, power and wisdom of the Almighty.

Just how has the Creator placed such incredible appendages on those tiny, hardly perceptible insects? And how to they flawlessly carry out their functions without faltering? Even a complete insight into the features they simply possess stands beyond the capability of human comprehension.

If man was to gaze carefully at animals, their diverse shapes and appearances and then reflect on what they provide of their skin, fur, meat and milk for man’s comfort, he would no doubt become aware of the boundless blessings and mercy of the Almighty. Allah, glory unto Him, has given each of them a distinct skin to protect them from the cold, thick nails to safeguard their feet and has covered for all the needs they may have in the best, most aesthetic manner conceivable.

For example, parading in bodies adorned with the most beautiful, exquisite of patterns despite having a lifespan of a mere fortnight, butterflies reveal many mysteries through their body language; just one of the infinite Divine wonders presented to the gazing eye, the comprehending mind and especially the sensitive heart…

The Holy Quran summons us to observe the camel and reflect on how it has been created:

“Will they not then consider the camels, how they are created? And the heaven, how it is reared aloft? And the mountains, how they are firmly fixed? And the earth, how it is made a vast expanse? Therefore do remind, for you are only a reminder.”(al-Ghashiya, 17-21)

That means that manifestations of Divine splendor beckon in an observation of the structure of animals and other organisms.

The Almighty has endowed all living beings with such characteristics that they produce different products despite feeding off the same food. For instance, if a cattle or sheep were to eat the green leaves of a mulberry, they would produce meat, milk and skin or wool. A silkworm on the other hand, a tiny bug, weaves silk from the very same leaves. Similarly, the ability of a bee to generate honey from pollen is absolutely beyond human power.

While a single animal is able to turn grass into meat and milk, human beings, the most perfect of creation, cannot emulate this feat even using tons of grass just in hope of producing a mere drop of milk, even if they were to set up the most state-of-the-art laboratories for the purpose.

The Almighty declares:

“And most surely there is a lesson for you in the cattle: We give you to drink of what is in their bellies, from between the feces and the blood, pure milk, easy and agreeable to swallow for those who drink.”(an-Nahl, 66)

The Honeybee

Allah, glory unto Him, states:

“And your Lord revealed to the bee saying: Make hives in the mountains and in the trees and in what they build: Then eat of all the fruits and walk in the ways of your Lord submissively. There comes forth from within it a beverage of many colors, in which there is healing for men; most surely there is a sign in this for a people who reflect.”(an-Nahl, 68-69)

The Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- has said:

A Believer is like a honeybee. He eats what is clean, he produces what is clean, he settles on clean places and he neither breaks nor harms where he settles.”(Ahmed, II, 199; Hakim, I, 147)

  Mentioning the traits of a Believer, the Prophet –upon him blessings and peace-, at the same time, hints at the beauties of a honeybee and its underlying wisdom.

Huseyin Kashifi comments:

“Contemplative believers know that Allah, the Omniscient and Omnipotent, has created the frail honeybee upon numerous underlying wisdom.

The honeybee obeys and never strays of the path.

It eats the sweet and sour fruits it comes across and gives sweet honey in return.

It is so pious that it does not eat anything but what is pure.

It is so obedient that it never leaves the Almighty’s command.

It is so loyal that it travels to places remote only to return to its home of origin.

It is so clean that it does not perch upon and eat what is dirty.

It is such a craftsman that even if the entire architects and engineers were to join forces, they would not be able to imitate what it produces.

There…just as there are curative properties in the honey they produce for diseases of the body, there is, in contemplating their states a cure for ignorance, the disease of the heart.”

The Marvel of Instinct

In the following, İsmailFennîErtuğrul highlights how animals lead their lives within a Divine program called the subconscious mind or instinct:

“Animals know through instinct without ever being taught of the essentials needed to maintain their survival, the continuation of their offspring and the food that is good for them. Birds build wonderful nests. Migrant birds come together on a specific day before setting out. Before dying, instead of killing the other bugs that are to become food for its babies waiting to hatch out of their eggs, some insects injure their glands so as to make them unable to crawl and then place the injured bugs by the side of the eggs. Yet, how amazing it is that once developed these very insects begin to live off foods of other kinds. Bees possess the ability to determine the gender of larvae by changing their foods. In this way the bees can make a queen out of a larva should the hive lose its leader through an accident of some sort…”[30]

Again, how astounding it is that once a hornet overpowers a grasshopper, it digs a hole in the ground. It then stings the grasshopper in such a spot that the grasshopper does not die though it loses consciousness. Placed in the hole in the ground, the grasshopper is henceforth like conserved meat. Soon after this, the hornet lays her eggs by the side of the hole and the newborns find the fresh meat they need to consume by their side the moment they enter the world. As for the hornet, she flies to a remote place, away from the newborns, to die. There is no way that such mysterious behavior can be explained through terms like adaptation and learning. They have been given this instinctual knowledge by the Almighty.[31]

After spending years in the sea, a salmon returns to its native waters, the river. What’s more, it comes back to the very place it was born, the shore where the stream flows into the river.

Who has endowed the salmon with the instinct to return to its place of birth? If you were to put a salmon in another stream that flows into the same river, immediately realizing that it is in the wrong place, it would turn back and make its way back to its stream of origin, swimming against the flow to get to its place of birth.

It is even more difficult to make out the mystery of the eel. When about to hatch, these amazing creatures come from all the lakes and rivers across the world and make their way towards pits located near the Bermuda Islands[32], where they lay their eggs and die. The eels of Europe, too, traverse a distance of thousands of miles across the vast ocean and arrive at the same place. Without further ado, the newborn eels, which supposedly do not know anything other than that they have opened their eyes in boundless waters, set out from those pits and swim relentlessly, up until they ultimately reach the shores where their parents had once come from. The eels do not stop there; they proceed to reach the river or lake where their parents had dwelled in. Up until now, there has never been a sighting of an American eel in European waters, and vice-versa. What’s more, owing to the greater distance they are required to travel compared to other species of eels, Allah, glory unto Him, has extended the lifespan of the European eel by about a year!

Now, what is the origin of such a strong feeling of direction?[33]

These amazing traits of animals show that neither their lives nor their behavior are based on sheer coincidence and that, much rather, they all take place within a plan and program sketched out by the Power who has created them.

It stands as one of the clearest proofs of the existence, power, splendor and sovereignty of Our Lord that even animals are governed by a higher consciousness. By exhibiting such proofs to the judgment of mankind, Our Lord exposes those who are ready to acknowledge the Truth and submit to it, as opposed to those who will stubbornly turn a blind eye on the miraculous manifestations staring at him in the face. The verse indeed declares:

“Surely Allah is not ashamed to set forth any parable- (that of) a gnat or any thing above that; then as for those who believe, they know that it is the truth from their Lord, and as for those who disbelieve, they say: What is it that Allah means by this parable: He causes many to err by it and many He leads aright by it! But He does not cause to err by it (any) except the transgressors” (al-Baqara, 26)

Creation in Pairs

Reserving singleness to Himself alone, Allah, glory unto Him, has created all beings in twos. The Holy Quran reveals:

“And of everything We have created pairs that you may be mindful.”(ad-Dhariyat, 49)

“He created the heavens without pillars as you see them, and put mountains upon the earth lest it might convulse with you, and He spread in it animals of every kind; and We sent down water from the cloud, then caused to grow therein (vegetation) of every noble kind.”(Luqman, 10)

Dual creation, of which science has only recently become aware, was informed by the verse of the Quran revealed 14 centuries ago, presented humankind as a gift of insight.

Delicately prepared beyond the most innovative thoughts and wildest imaginations of human beings, like the most exquisite bride’s chamber, our universe has been subjected to a specific and incredible marital law, according to the particular characteristics of each and every element, from the cells of plants and animals to the mysterious protons and electrons of atoms that dwell harmoniously in matter. And this opens up for us a magnificent horizon for contemplation.

Contemplating the Blessings of the Almighty

The greatest favor Allah, glory unto Him, has bestowed upon us is that, among the entire possible range of creation, we have been created as human beings and have come into the world in a Muslim environment. Of even further greatness is that we have been subjected to the Holy Quran and have been made members of the followers of the Prophet –upon him blessings and peace-.

For us, the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- is the most perfect example of the Holy Quran personified. Teaching us the Book and wisdom, he makes our inner worlds crystal-clear. Fully comprehending just these favors alone would be enough make us fall prostrate in gratitude, without lifting our heads for even a mere second.

Of course, the Almighty’s favors are not limited to these. Like a virtual cloudburst, many of His blessings pour down upon us, His servants, at each moment. The Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- states:

“Allah has said, ‘Provide, so that I provide for you’. The treasures of Allah are vast. What He provides for entire creation does not reduce His treasure in any way. He provides ceaselessly, day and night. Think of what Allah has provided since the day He created the heavens and earth! They have not reduced anything from His Sovereignty.” (Bukhari, Tafsir, 11/2, Tawhid, 22)

Required by these blessings are their contemplation and inferring through them the existence of their Creator, conducive to a thankfulness for His Power and Generosity.

Omar ibn Abdulaziz –may Allah have mercy on him- remarks:

“There is beauty in remembering Allah in conversation. But contemplating the blessings of Allah, now that is the most virtuous of deeds.”(Abu Nuaym, Hilya, V, 314; Imam Ghazzali, Ihya, VI, 45)

Ingratitude or a lack of due appreciation is to neglect giving thanks for these blessings and to squander the lavishly, in a manner dictated by the ego. This state of mind distances one from the Almighty, their ultimate source.

Thankfulness is threefold:

1. Thankfulness of the heart: To think about the blessing.

2. Thankfulness of the tongue: To utter praises of the Allah, glory unto Him, over the blessing.

3. Thankfulness of the limbs: To give the blessing’s due in proportion, at least, with the enjoyment acquired.

It has been said on the other hand that ‘to each blessing, a thanks of its kind’; that is, whatever it may be that the Almighty has blessed us with, we ought to extend it those in need. So states the verse:

“And seek by means of what Allah has given you the future abode, and do not neglect your portion of this world, and do good (to others) as Allah has done good to you, and do not seek to make mischief in the land, surely Allah does not love the mischief-makers.”(al-Qasas, 77)

Contemplating at Every Opportunity

Ziya Pasha writes:

A wisdom of a thousand lessons read in every page,

Of the universe, o Lord, how beautiful a stage!

In what could be taken as an elucidation of the above couplet, the great Muslim scholar Sufyan ibn Uyayna –may Allah have mercy on him- used to frequently repeat the below saying, originally belonging to a poet:

“If contemplative, man takes a lesson from everything.”(Imam Ghazzali, Ihya, VI, 45)

This must be the logic behind the Arabic proverb, “So many things to take a lesson from, yet so few are those who do.”

Each Particle Explains the Almighty

Once one is able to learn how to read the book of universe through contemplation, every single particle around him begins to instill in him the majesty of Allah, glory unto Him, and bring him closer to His knowledge. Fuzuli articulates this beautifully:

If a wise is able to grasp the revelation Divine,

Each particle for him becomes a Jibril come-to-life

Allah, glory unto Him, declares:

“But nay! I swear by that which you see, and that which you do not see. Most surely, it is the Word brought by an honored Messenger.”(al-Haqqa, 38-40)

One of the wisdoms underlying the vows taken in the Holy Quran is to draw attention to a particular lesson, benefit of and insight into the object on which the vow has been taken. The servant is thereby summoned to gain a depth of spiritual feeling through an understanding of that splendor.

Thus all beings, both visible and invisible, evidence the power and lordship of Allah, glory unto Him. Countless wisdoms beckon in their thought and reflection.

The wisdom acquired and mysteries solved as a result of the strengthening of our ability to contemplate and sense through the verve of the Quran will be just as magnificent as the grandeur a tiny plane seed gains through becoming a grand tree in fertile soil.

The Almighty declares:

“Most surely in the heavens and the earth there are signs for the believers. And in your (own) creation and in what He spreads abroad of animals there are signs for a people that are sure. And (in) the variation of the night and the day, and (in) what Allah sends down of sustenance from the cloud, then gives life thereby to the earth after its death, and (in) the changing of the winds, there are signs for a people who understand.”(al-Jathiya, 3-5)

Getting hearts and minds to focus on such material for contemplation alluded to by the Holy Quran will deliver one to the climes of taqwa. Just as flowers depend on water, air, soil and light to exist, granting contemplation a desired level depends on attaching it to piety.

The Almighty desires His servants to be people of delicate thought; inquiring human beings of understanding. Each Muslim should therefore turn to contemplation, at every given opportunity, with an ardent feeling of worship. The words of Rabia –may Allah have mercy on her soul-, the wife of Ahmed ibn Hawari, provide splendid examples in relation:

“Whenever I hear the adhan, I am reminded of the crier of Judgment Day…

“Whenever I see snowfall, it is like I see books of deeds drifting about in the sky…

“I am reminded of Resurrection the moment I see a pack of swarming grasshoppers…”

It is reported that Caliph Harun ar-Rashid once went to a bath, where the bath attendant accidentally poured boiling water over him. Suffering major burns on his scalded body and in agonizing pain, the Caliph rushed outside and gave away thousands in charity, commenting:

“I cannot stand the heat of hot water today…How will I be if I am destined for hellfire in the Hereafter?”

The Prophet –upon him blessings and peace-, taking a lesson from everything he witnessed, used to turn to the Lord in thanks and seek His refuge. We, too, ought to perceive Divine splendor in everything we see and seek to acquire the spiritual food to sustain the inner world of our hearts and minds. Wherever a Muslim may look, be it the Sun, the Moon, the atmosphere, his own creation, his ancestors or children, he must read the Divine messages communicated through them with the eye of the heart. By virtue of reflecting on his origin and destination, on how he is able to survive, by whom he is given a particular shape and form, a specific brand and span of life; and through acknowledging that neither life itself nor the universe is ever detached wisdom, that nothing has been created in vain and most importantly that man himself has not been left unaided and alone, he must constantly be aware of Divine power and majesty.

Why has the Almighty created the Universe?

Allah, glory unto Him, says:

“And We did not create the heavens and the earth and what is between them in vain. We did not create them both but with the truth, but most of them do not know.”(ad-Dukhan, 38-39)

Contemplating the universe must grant one an appreciation of the will of the Almighty and of the fact that everything, presented to the use of man, has been created with a purpose. Through this, one must reflect on his responsibilities towards the Creator and not neglect his duties of servanthood. Remaining insensitive and ingrate to the enormous favors and blessings of the Almighty, is a undoubtedly a woeful ignorance that does not, in any way, befit the honor and dignity of being human.

Man must not forget he will be called into account for all the blessings received; so states the Almighty:

“Then on that day you shall most certainly be questioned about the joy you indulged in!”(at-Takathur, 8)

We are therefore eternally indebted to our Lord for all the blessings that surround us, both for those of which we are aware and unaware. How wonderful are those hearts of wisdom which, fully conscious of this debt, strive to put deeds of gratitude into practice!

[1]     Also see, ad-Dhâriyât, 7; an-Najm, l; at-Takwîr, 15; at-Tarıq, 1; as-Shams, 1-2, 5.

[2]     Yûsuf al-Hajj,  Mawsûatu’l-I‘cazi’l-Ilmi, p. 413.

[3]     http://www.biltek.tubitak.gov.tr, Evren/Evrenin Yapıtaşları Gökadalar, (Accessed, 06.12.2005).

[4]     http://www.biltek.tubitak.gov.tr, Evren/Gökbilim Sözlüğü, (Accessed, 06.12.2005).

[5]     http://www.biltek.tubitak.gov.tr, Evren/Evrenin Yapıtaşları/Gökadalar/Gökada Kümeleri, (Accessed, 06.12.2005).

[6]     http://www.biltek.tubitak.gov.tr, Evren/Evrenin Yapıtaşları/Gökadalar/Çarpışan Gökadalar, (Accessed, 15.12.2005); http://www.biltek.tubitak.gov.tr/haberler/gokbilim/99-08-4.pdf

[7]     http://www.newsandevents.utoronto.ca/bin/000414b.asp; http://www.biltek.tubitak.gov.tr/haberler/gokbilim/2000-05-3.pdf

[8]     See,http://www.physics.metu.edu.tr/~ecevit/bilinen_evren_gercekleri.ppt, (Accessed: 21. 06. 2007); http://gokyuzu.org (Accessed: 21.06.2007); http://www.ozaltin.8k.com/NN/2.htm. (Accessed: 16.10.2004); Yûsuf al-Hajj,  Mawsûatu’l-I‘cazi’l-Ilmi,, p. 413-417; Akram Ahmed İdrîs, al-Falak wa’t-Tıbb Amama Azameti’l-Qur’ân, 19-112; Prof. Dr. Osman Çakmak, Bir Çekirdekti Kâinat, p. 66.

[9]     Nebulas are the massive white spots, apart from stars, found in space, given the name due their resemblance of whitish clouds.

[10]    Celal Kırca, Kur’ân-ı Kerîm’de Fen Bilimleri, p. 165; an-Najjâr, as-Samâ, p. 82-93; Faruk Yılmaz, Kâinâtın Yaratılışı, p. 64-67, 255-258.

[11]    Şakir Kocabaş, Kur’ân’da Yaratılış, Istanbul 2004, p. 19.

[12]    Prof. Dr. Osman Çakmak, Bir Çekirdekti Kâinat, p. 28.

[13]    al-Anbiya, 104.

[14]    Ibrâhîm, 48.

[15]    See, an-Najjâr, as-Samâ, p. 82, 105-106, 187-194; http://www.biltek.tubitak.gov.tr, Evren/Evrenin Kaderi/Kapalı Evren.

[16]    See, İlim-Ahlâk-Îman, prepared by, M. Rahmi Balaban, Diyanet Publishing, Ankara, p. 187.

[17]    The universe, according to Muslim scholars, consists of substances and accidents. Substances are material entities. Accidents, on the other hand, are the perceptible qualities of a material entity. Color and smell, for instance, are accidents perceptible only through the subsistence of a material being. As mentioned above, color would not have been perceived had there been no such thing as eyesight, and smell it were not for smelling. As we are to begin a life of a unique character in the Hereafter, presuming we will then begin perceive accidents of an entirely distinct nature is as conceivable as considering many other accidents to exist, here on Earth, that lie beyond our perception.

[18]    al-Arâf, 143.

[19]    See, İlim-Ahlâk-Îman, prepared by: M. Rahmi Balaban, p. 187.

[20]    Îman Hakîkatleri Etrafında Suallere Cevaplar, p. 21-22, Sebil Publishing, Istanbul, 1978.

[21]    Also see, al-Jathiya, 13.

[22]    See, Prof. Dr. Osman Çakmak, Bir Çekirdekti Kâinat, Istanbul 2005, p. 118-131.

[23]    See, al-Arâf, 57; Fâtır, 9.

[24]    See, ar-Rûm, 48.

[25]    See, an-Nûr, 43.

[26]    See, Imam Ghazzali, Ihyâ, VI, 67-68.

[27]    See, Imam Ghazzali, Ihyâ, VI, 63.

[28]    İlim-Ahlâk-Îman, prepared by, M. Rahmi Balaban, p. 190.

[29]    See, Imam Ghazzali, Ihyâ, VI, 65-66.

[30]    Îman Hakîkatleri Etrafında Suallere Cevaplar, p. 58-59.

[31]    See, İlim-Ahlâk-Îman, prepared by: M. Rahmi Balaban, p. 189.

[32]    The Bermudas are a chain of islands in the Atlantic, off the north coast of the Caribbean, east of the United States.

[33]    İlim-Ahlâk-Îman, prepared by: M. Rahmi Balaban, p. 188-189