1446 years ago a window opened in the heavens and God spoke to man…Allah Subhanahu wa ta‘ala revealed His Word through his Messenger Jibreel (alaihi salaam) to His Messenger Muhammad ﷺ and said:
Al-Alaq 96: 1. Read! In the Name of your Rabb, Who created (all that exists), 2. He created man from a clot. 3. Read! And your Rabb is the Most Generous, 4. He (is the One who) taught by the pen, 5. He taught man that which he knew not.
What was there to read when this was the very beginning of the Revelation? The command was for Rasoolullahﷺ and for all of mankind – to look around them and ask, ‘Where did this all come from? How did all this happen?’ This event is so significant and amazing that it demands that we spend time reflecting on it and asking ourselves, ‘What does it mean to say – Allah Subhanahu wa ta‘ala spoke? Is that important for me? Do I need to be concerned about this? Does it make a difference to me? So what should I do about understanding what He said and acting on it?’ Look people, Islam is not mythology. Islam is reality. Allah Subhanahu wa ta‘ala is not a concept. Allah Subhanahu wa ta‘ala is real; He is alive, He exists, He sees, hears and knows and to Him is our return.
And like all facts and all reality none of this is dependent on our belief. Reality is that which exists independent of belief. Whether you agree or not, reality doesn’t change.
Gravity is real whether we agree with it or not. Stand up and try to lift up both your feet and you will discover gravity. Taxation is real. Try not paying taxes one year claiming, ‘I am an A-taxiest. I don’t believe in taxation.’ You will then discover state sponsorship which is the direct result of tax evasion. I don’t recommend that as an alternative to unemployment, believe me. Better to quietly pay your taxes.
The Qur’an begins by drawing attention to the world around us and inviting us to reflect. As I have said many times before – to live, is not simply to draw breath. To live is to live thoughtfully, responsibly with a sense of accountability to the One from Whom nothing is hidden of our intentions, gestures, words or actions. We live in a world of intelligence and reason and are very proud of our analytical thinking. This thinking tells us that the sign of something is proof of the existence of that thing. The footprint of a lion is proof that a lion passed that way and if we continue in that direction we are likely to have a rather permanent encounter. So what do we say when we see the signs of the Creator all around us? That all this is an accident? That it just happened accidentally? To quote from a wonderful article – Scientific Case for God – Mohammed Asadi, “The precision in the “mix” of constants that were necessary preconditions for the universe to evolve and for life to emerge provide mathematical evidence in support of the “God” hypothesis. The odds of obtaining these “constants” without putting “intelligent design” in the equation is one out of 10,000,000 to the power 124. To see how impossible it is, compare this number to the total amount of subatomic particles in the whole universe, which has been calculated to be 10 to the power 80 (Hoyle, Wickramasinge 1985). Faced with such scientific evidence, justice demands that we acknowledge the Creator. These facts make clear the assertion that Atheism is a “faith” based religion, with blind “belief” in nature as the “deity” to be evoked as an excuse for every “cause” that cannot be empirically explained. In this age of science, God is a fact.
So let us see what Allah Subhanahu wa ta‘ala created and while you listen, ask the question, ‘Why?’
In US, up North into the forests of Massachusetts. We walked under a magnificent stand of oak trees the ground under which was in such heavy shade that there was no undergrowth. However I found lots of small green berry-like things scattered everywhere. I picked one up and found that it was a compacted mass of young leaves. My friend saw me looking at it and asked, ‘Do you know what that is? Inside that is the egg of the Midge. It lays its eggs on the terminal bud of the oak, 200 feet up in the air. When that happens, the leaf on which the egg is laid stops growing and the surrounding leaves of the terminal bud grow and envelope the egg. Then the whole compacted mass falls off to the bottom. The egg hatches and the caterpillar is born in the middle of its food, safe and protected from the environment and predators. It grows and eventually the Midge bores its way out of the leaf mass and flies away.’ I thought to myself, ‘That is the meaning of the Ayah:
Hud 11: 6. And no (moving) living creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah Subhanahu wa ta‘ala. And He knows its dwelling place and its deposit (lives & dies). All is in a Clear Book
In Guyana, during one of the trips one of the delightful sights which Allah Subhanahu wa ta‘ala showed me was what I first thought was a moth – flying very busily back and forth, up and down in a most un-birdlike manner. Its wings beat so fast that I couldn’t see them at all. My friend told me, ‘That ain’t no moth man! That is a bird. A hummingbird.’ Later some research showed me that it was the Ruby- throated Hummingbird, an amazing creature with ruby red incandescent throat feathers of the male. The female is more plain in appearance and slightly larger than the male and weighs 4.5 grams.
This little bird migrates from these forests of South America, 2000 miles, all the way north to the bank of the Mississippi River part of which route is straight across the Gulf of Mexico. The same gulf in which the famous BP slogan, ‘We’re bringing oil to American shores’, came true in a rather unexpected manner. It appears that the slogan was actually a hoax. The Gulf of Mexico is 600 miles wide and the Ruby-throated Hummingbird takes 26 hours to make the crossing. Remember this is not an albatross coasting on thermals on a 12 foot wingspan. This is a little bird the size of a moth beating its wings at more than 1000 rpm flying alone across the vast expanse of 600 miles of open ocean. It is not an aquatic bird. If it lands in the water, it becomes fish food. But it doesn’t. It flies, non-stop across the ocean, through one night and day until it safely reaches the shore on the other side. Ask why is it that the Ruby-throated Hummingbird must leave bird heaven, the Amazonian rain forest, when there is no winter snow or summer drought to drive it north and make this amazing journey?
Ask what is the meaning of 26 hours of non-stop flight across the open ocean? Allah Subhanahu wa ta‘ala draws our attention to the birds and says:
Mulk 67: 19. Do they not see the birds above them, spreading out their wings and folding them in? None holds them up except Ar-Rahman (Allah). Verily, He is the All- Seer of everything.
Allah Subhanahu wa ta‘ala draws our attention to the world around us and made this challenging statement:
Fussilat 41: 53. We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their ownselves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (Qur’an) is the truth. Is it not sufficient in regard to your Rabb that He is a Witness over all things?
Allah Subhanahu wa ta‘ala draws our attention to the common everyday miracles that we are a part of and take for granted. How many of us reflect on the miracle of sleep and the fact that the body continues to function even though we are dead to the world? How many reflect on the rain, the earth, mountains, the sun and moon? He said:
Naba 78: 6. Have We not made the earth as a bed, 7. And the mountains as pegs? 8. And We have created you in pairs. 9. And have made your sleep as a thing for rest. 10. And have made the night as a covering (through its darkness), 11. And have made the day for livelihood. 12. And We have built above you seven strong (heavens), 13. And have made (therein) a shining lamp (sun). 14. And have sent down from the rainy clouds abundant water. 15. That We may produce therewith corn and vegetation, 16. And gardens of thick growth.
Allah Subhanahu wa ta‘ala mentioned the importance of His Kalaam – His Revelation, the Qur’an:
Hashr 59: 21. Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, you would surely have seen it humbling itself and rending asunder by the fear of Allah Subhanahu wa ta‘ala. Such are the parables which We put forward to mankind that they may reflect.
Then Allah Subhanahu wa ta‘ala introduced Himself in Ayaat the Glory and Magnificence of which is unmatched:
Hashr 59: 22. He is Allah, than Whom La ilaha illa Huwa (none is worthy of worship except He) the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. 23. He is Allah than Whom there is La ilaha illa Huwa, the King, the Holy, the One Free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures, the All-Mighty, the Compeller, the Supreme. Glory be to Allah! (High is He) above all that they associate as partners with Him. 24. He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor of all things, the Bestower of forms. To Him belong the Best Names . All that is in the heavens and the earth glorify Him. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.
There are two kinds of knowledge – that which we know or can find out by ourselves, no matter how long it takes; and that which we can never find out no matter how much we try. The second kind would be unimportant if it didn’t concern us – but it does. That knowledge has to do with the result of our actions and about what will happen to us when we are called to account. That knowledge has to do with life after death and the only way we can learn about it is by listening to the One Who doesn’t die. That is the next subject in the Qur’an.
A man came to Rasoolullahﷺ and demanded, ‘What does your Rabb say?’ Rasoolullahﷺ recited:
Takwir 81: 1. When the sun Kuwwirat (wound-up and lost its light). 2. And when the stars shall fall; 3. And when the mountains shall made to pass away; 4. And when the pregnant she-camels shall be neglected; 5. And when the wild beasts shall be gathered together; 6. And when the seas shall become a blazing Fire (explode); 7. And when the souls shall be joined with their bodies; 8. And when the female (infant) buried alive shall be questioned. 9. For what sin she was killed?
The man started weeping and put his hand on the mouth of Rasoolullahﷺ because he remembered what he had done with his own daughter. Allah Subhanahu wa ta‘ala mentioned that Day and warned us about it and He told us that we will see that Day and that we need to prepare for it, if we don’t want to be among the losers. He said:
Hadeed 57: 12. On the Day you shall see the believing men and the believing women their light running forward before them and by their right hands. Glad tidings for you this Day! Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever! Truly, this is the great success!