“But when they saw it, they said: “We have assuredly arrived at the wrong place.” Rather, we have been deprived.” The most moderate of them said, Did I not say to you that you should glorify God?” They said: “Glory be to our Lord. We have transgressed.” Then they approached one another, blaming each other. They said: “Oh, woe unto us! Verily we did behave outrageously! Perhaps our Lord will give us a better substitute for it. We are turning to our Lord in hope.” The Pen (68): 28-32
When we are hungry, we eat food and satisfy our appetite, a short temporary satisfaction. After we have our dinner, what is left? The beautiful dinner has gone and only garbage is left, like the totally destroyed “garden” in the example of the verses we have been studying. We need to pay attention to the fact that the food is created for our feelings that question the purpose in the existence of this beautiful dinner. If we do not question the source of existence of the dinner and its meaning for our reasoning faculty, then it becomes only a temporary satisfaction. At the end we will be surprised and will ask: “Is the life that we are given only to be spent on all these temporary satisfactions and being left with nothing at the end?”
What about your human qualities or expectations, what satisfies them? Is it the food you eat? Is it the job you get? Or is it the person you end up marrying? The Qur’anic example of the owners of the garden demonstrates this reality.
The society leads one to sow a temporary seed but this seed cannot satisfy our human expectations. Human qualities can never be satisfied by transience. For example: If you think that a certain career or job will satisfy you and as a result, you follow the order in creation i.e. (schoolstudy hardcareer success), then you have sowed the wrong seed. Sooner or later, you are bound to realize that there is no job satisfaction. Therefore, you ask: What can satisfy me permanently? Please note that by no means the fact that one should look for career success is being negated here. The fact of the matter is that our goals need to be pointed in the right direction. That is, get the object in order to use it as a means to get to know its Source. In the example above, use the job as a means to get to know your Creator.
The Speech of God speaks to one’s humanity. The Speech of God does not speak to one’s animalistic appetite. We are here for a purpose. The purpose is to get to know the Source of one’s existence, the Creator of you and I i.e. the Creator of the universe. That is, by acknowledging the Creator through its qualities manifested in the universe, can you and I fulfill the purpose of our existence and hence be satisfied in this universe.
How can one be satisfied in this universe when everything is subject to transience?
If you do an effort to go beyond fulfilling your animalistic expectations, then you are headed in the right direction.
What does it mean to go beyond your animalistic expectations?
It means listening to your humanity i.e. what your human senses actually requires. For example, you are given the power of sight through the eyes and you want to be able to experience the power of sight eternally even tough your eye sight maybe going bad. Just the mere fact that you are given this feeling to wanting to experience your power of sight eternally is a sign that there must be an abode where these feelings will be met.
- The feelings points to the One that gives existence.
- The feelings need to be used to question the Source of existence i.e. the One that gives existence to my feelings.
- What am I? I am made up of my feelings i.e. humanity.
- I am created.
Thus, we get to know the Source of our existence through our humanity which encompasses endless feelings and desires.
Let us look into the verse. It is drawing our attention to the fact that without proper awareness of our overall being (animalistic appetite + human appetite), we cannot properly acknowledge the One that gives existence to our overall being i.e. the Creator of the universe.
How can I acknowledge the Creator of the universe?
By paying attention to what you are made up of. Question the Source of existence of all the feelings and endless desire that you encounter throughout your daily interaction with the universe. Ask yourself: “Is the food that I ate responsible for my intellectual abilities?” “Is my friend the source of existence of my happiness?” When you start answering these questions, you will find out that nothing in this universe has power to give existence to any of the qualities we experience here (lailaha). We can deduce this conclusion from observing the transient nature of this universe i.e. nothing is permanent ever and everything is subject to death/transformation/change. Although, our humanity desires things/objects/events to stay or last forever, but in reality, nothing in this universe has the ability to be stable in its existence.
Everything is constantly renewing and subject to perishing. That is how we get to know that the One that gives existence to transience is the One that gives existence to everything we interact with within transience. Through experiencing transience and being unsatisfied with it, we search for a Permanent Source i.e. what can satisfy my needs Eternally?
- Only the One that gives us this desire to be satisfied Eternally in our every interaction with the universe must be able to give Permanent satisfaction (Eternity) in everything that we desire.
As a result, we desire to be with such a Source i.e. Absolute Source which is not of the nature of this universe. That is, you and I want to do everything solely to attach our being to this Absolute Source. That is the only way human beings can live in Paradise.
Paradise is not something that is alien to anyone. Neither is it only an abode to be given in the near future. Since you and I experience the moment, Paradise must be something to experience right now. One does not have to be given death to experience Paradise as it would defeat the purpose of one’s existence here on earth. The sheer fact that you and I are given existence is to live in Paradise right now. Once we experience Paradise in our beings, only then can we secure an Eternal happy everlasting future in our existence. Remember that our existence is Eternal but the conditions of existence experienced by our soul here in this universe is subject to transformation i.e. death.
- Through our physical side we get in touch with this material world and get to know what our humanity truly desire i.e. Eternal existence or Eternal satisfaction.
As a result, we train ourselves to interact with the material world as a means to satisfy our humanity which is only possible by acknowledging the Source of existence of our needs, desires and expectations. There is no other way around. We are given consciousness which needs to be questioned as well. What makes me conscious of my consciousness?
- Only through questioning everything do we get to a conclusion and find the Absolute Source.
- One has to go through negating everything they interact with to come to a conclusion i.e. nothing has the power to give existence to anything (lailaha), therefore there must be a Source which gives existence to everything (illallah).
- Without interacting with creation i.e. our feelings, we cannot go through the process of lailaha illallah.
When you interact with creation with purpose, you get meaning from it. The language you use to express the meaning is yours. That is, what is important is to get the meaning which is coming from the objects/events/things. The meaning points to the Creator of the objects/events/things. As a result, you get to know the Creator better and every interaction with the universe becomes a means to introduce your humanity to its Creator.
The universe is nothing but the manifestation of the qualities of its Creator to conscious human beings. When you observe the sun, with the eye of belief, the sun should point to its Creator. One does not have to go to a scenic vacation spot to find the Absolute. Even within the buildings of a huge city, one can be with the Absolute which is only possible with the eye of belief i.e. being conscious that everything that you interact with points to its Creator. We are all endowed with the same potentialities and through the usage of our freewill we can make the potentialities into abilities i.e. becoming more and more aware of the qualities of the Creator manifested in the universe. Without witnessing these qualities, no one can live in Paradise. Becoming aware of the physical existence of Paradise necessitates the existence of the universe and experiencing these qualities while we are here on earth. Otherwise, our existence would be futile and meaningless.
Everything is perfectly arranged in this universe. By experiencing illness, you get to know the Source of existence of health. By experiencing death (someone else’s), you experience the Giver of life. With this understanding, nothing seems negative anymore. That is, negativity does not exist; it is just the lack of positivity and draws our attention to make us be conscious of the existence of the creation that we regard “positive.” What we regard as “negative” fulfils a “positive” function. Everything is given existence in a positive sense. Finally, when you attach everything to its Source of existence, nothing bothers you anymore including death which becomes an event to look forward to.
Tags: Al-Qalam, Here-and-Now, Qalam Series