Life in 21st century is dynamic and fast paced – “you snooze, you lose”. And in this fast track of existence, our careers, family, friends and entertainment consume us so entirely that we barely take the time to stop and stare at our surroundings, reflect at the creation of the heavens and the earth.
As a result, our soul becomes blind to the ayaat of God that are all around us at every moment of every day and even when we see them – we don’t actually see them, not with our spiritual lens anyway. Hence, we miss out on one of the most fundamental ways of connecting to God – through nature – which is also one of the most potent purifiers of the soul created.
Well, no more, inshaaAllah! Here’s a read for you to adjust your mindset in such a way that the next time you stop to appreciate your environment, you’ll be reminded of God and His words regarding it in His Book – and as such, that moment of reflection for you will turn into an act of remembrance and worship that you’ll be rewarded for in the Hereafter.
Ayaat of God
The word “ayaat” in Arabic basically means signs, miracles, evidences, proofs, reminders etc. that vouch for the existence of God, and Allah uses this word in the Qur’an to describe the nature around us too many times for us to not sit up and take notice. Consider the following verse from the Qur’an where Allah swt says:
“Verily, in the creation of the heavens and of the earth, and the succession of night and day; and in the ships that speed through the sea with what is useful to man: and in the waters which God sends down from the sky, giving life thereby to the earth after it had been lifeless, and causing all manner of living creatures to multiply thereon; and in the change of the winds, and the clouds that run their appointed courses between sky and earth: [in all this] there are signs [of Allah’s attributes etc.] indeed for people who use their reason.” [2: 164]
The purpose of the creation of the sky, the birds and the clouds, the thunder and the wind and the rain, the sea and the mountains and the trees, the sun, the moon and the stars – every part of nature that surround us, the seasons that shape our lifestyle, the celestial bodies that drive our clocks – every single one of them have the ability to remind us of God’s existence and might and power, if only we take a few moments to still our ever-racing thoughts and reflect.
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[And it is He] who has created the seven heavens one above another. You can see no fault in the creation of the Most Merciful. Then look again [to the sky]: “Can you see any rifts?” Then look again and yet again; your sight will return to you in a state of humiliation and worn out. [67:3-4]
What do you think of when you look at the sky? Do you marvel at its blueness? Do you ever think about the fact it looks as if it’s a ceiling on earth, but anyone with the basic knowledge of astrophysics can tell that the Earth is continuous with the rest of the galaxy and there is no tangible partition separating them. But then – look closely. You won’t see any cracks or be able to peak into outer space through this “ceiling”. The creation is perfect, because the Creator is Perfect – Blessed is He in Whose Hand is dominion, and He is able to do all things. [67:1]
Action Point: Reflect on this for a moment the next time you look up at the sky – your heart will overflow with awe at your Creator’s Power, I promise this.
Related: Benefits of Reciting Ayat al-Kursi
“Blessed is He who has placed in the sky great stars and placed therein a [burning] lamp and luminous moon.” [25:61]
Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated with how magnificent the moon is and I could barely keep myself from returning to the balcony over and over again to gaze at it during full moon nights. This enchanting creation of Allah has always inspired this thought: “If the creation is this beautiful, how beautiful would the Creator be?” On such a similar night many years ago, the Prophet ﷺ looked to the clear, full-moon and told his companions, “Undoubtedly, you will see your Lord just as you see this moon and you will have no difficulty seeing Him.” [Bukhari, Muslim]
The Prophet ﷺ used the moon again in another narration, “Do you crowd one another in order to see the moon on the night of a full moon? Do you crowd one another in order to see the sun?” They said: “No.” He said: “Of a surety, you shall see your Lord as you see the moon on the night of a full moon, you shall not crowd one another to see Him.” [Tirmidhi]
And he ﷺ used to supplicate: My Lord, I ask You for the delight of gazing at Your Countenance and the eagerness of meeting You.
Action point: Next time you gaze at the full moon, enthralled at its beauty, think about how much you want to be among the ones who are given the honor of gazing at the Blessed Face of Allah (swt) on the Day of Judgement, and revive the sunnah of making the above du’a.
The Wind, Clouds and Rain
“And it is He who sends the winds as glad tidings before His mercy (i.e. rain) until, when they have carried heavy rainclouds, We drive them to a dead land and We send down rain therein and bring forth thereby [some] of all the fruits. Thus will We bring forth the dead; perhaps you may be reminded.” [7:57]
“Do you not see that Allah drives clouds? Then He brings them together, then He makes them into a mass, and you see the rain emerge from within it…” [24:43]
The Wind: Do you ever think about how powerful they are? This thing that we enjoy blowing at our face and hair is also the thing that holds up the clouds – the “tufts of cotton look-alike” in the sky that weigh hundreds of thousands of kilo-tons. How awesome is that? SubhanAllah!
The Clouds: Sometimes they look soft, like something straight out of a fairytale, sometimes they are dark grey and angry, conveying the news of an impending storm. This amazing creation of Allah that our eyes marvel at every time we see them, look at how Allah describes it being formed and giving rise to rain 1400 years ago – the facts that science has only discovered just a few decades ago! If that’s not an evidence of Qur’an being God’s Word, I don’t know what is.
The Rain: Do you ever feel like you’re dead on the inside? Like you have lost the fight inside you and are just going through the motions, feeling too weak to break out of the shackles of this world. Ponder on this: “[It is He] Who sends down rain from the sky in measured amounts, and We revive thereby a dead land…” [43:11]. Just like He revives the Earth through rain, Allah (swt) can give life to your dead heart as well. And guess what? The Messenger of Allah (may God’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Two will not be rejected, Supplication when the Adhan (call of prayer) is being called, and at the time of the rain.” [Al-Hakim; Abu Da’wud]
So here’s an action point: Raise your hands and pour your heart out to Al Wadood wal Mujeeb, your Loving God, the Responder, and let your sorrow and pain be washed away along with the pouring rain. And know that God will take care of you, nurture your heart and revive it once again.
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“Do they not see the birds above them with wings outspread and [sometimes] folded in? None holds them [aloft] except the Most Merciful. Indeed He is, of all things, Seeing.” [67:19]
Think about the days you felt so low that you could barely leave the bed in the mornings. The days when you were so worried about how you will manage to earn enough to feed your family. The days when you were so scared about your safety that even leaving your house was an act of bravery. All the worries that constantly consume our thoughts, all the anxiety that we constantly fight to keep at bay – who is it that holds us up through it all and gives us the strength to push through? Who is it that ensures that we come out upright on the other side?
Indeed, none holds us aloft except Ar Rahmaan. Let the birds remind you of The Only one Who you are safe entrusting your affairs to – al Wakeel, and inspire tawakkul in you.
And what do you think of when you look at the trees? Beautiful greenery, source of Oxygen… or perhaps it reminds you of the season – winter/summer/spring? Here’s something God urges you to ponder about – and learn from – as you look at this wonderful creation of His.
“Have you not considered how Allah presents an example, [making] a good word like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and its branches [high] in the sky? It produces its fruit all the time, by permission of its Lord. And Allah presents examples for the people that perhaps they will be reminded.” [14:24-25]
“And the example of a bad word is like a bad tree, uprooted from the surface of the earth, not having any stability. Allah keeps firm those who believe, with the firm word [i.e. the Qur’an], in worldly life and in the Hereafter. And Allah sends astray the wrongdoers. And Allah does what He wills.” [14:26-27]
Action point: When you leave your home and encounter trees, let them be a reminder of how “good”, kind words can bring you closer to God (“its branches high in the sky”) and be a constant source of reward for you (“It produces its fruit all the time”), God willing. And how the “bad” word (e.g. backbiting, lying etc.) can, in the same way, take you further away from God. Let this be a reminder to practice the advice of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ: speak good or remain silent!
“If We had sent down this Qur’an upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah. And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought.” [59:21]
This verse is enough to leave anyone in awe when we think about it. And I know not many of us gets to see mountains for real – except through pictures on the internet may be – so here’s another perspective worth pondering over: Think about the mountains in your life. The mountain of sadness you carry in your heart. The mountain of helplessness that sometimes engulfs you. The mountains of heedlessness and sin that take you away from your Creator. The mountain of grief you keep tamped down or the mountains of expectations and responsibilities that burden your soul. All these mountains? Face them with the Word of God and see how you scale and conquer them. When you stand by the Qur’an and make God your strength, nothing can hold you down, bi idhnillah!
Say, “Have you considered: if your water was to become sunken [into the earth], then who could bring you flowing water?” [67:30]
I was visiting my village home once when the water tank in the terrace became empty just when I was getting ready for a shower, and this is the verse that popped up in my mind out of nowhere. Do you ever think though about what our condition would be if we had no water? We curse when we lack water for a day or a part of it – but when was the last time we consciously thanked God for allowing us to enjoy it? It’s so easy to feel entitled and take this vital-for-life blessing of God for granted, but if it were taken away, how long would we last?
Action point: In this time when so many people on Earth are not blessed with clean water, let us actively be grateful for it as God promises, “if you are grateful, I will increase you [in favor]” [14:7]
Action Point: Glorify the One Who Created…
This is a mental exercise of sorts: whenever you look at a particular thing in nature, or hear of or experience a natural disaster, think about the one verse or sentence regarding it that will remind you of God – it may be an analogy God used in His Book, or a hadith from our Messenger ﷺ or a pearl of wisdom from a scholar. And as we see and remember God in our hearts through His Creations, let’s not forget to fulfil another purpose of our existence: Glorifying Allah.
“The seven heavens and the earth and everything that is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts [Allah] by His praise, but you do not understand their [way of] exalting. Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving.” [17:44]
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