By August 3, 2017 Read More →

Quran-Universe Parallel Reading: Chapter Takwir – Part 1

Analogy: The building must have a Maker. Similarly, the universe must have a Maker.

Knowing that the universe must have a Maker, is that affecting my worldview?

There is no denying the universe must have a Maker, it is so obvious. But that conclusion alone is not enough as it needs to be assimilated in our daily lives. Every moment keeps passing and goes into the next type of creation. What am I making out of these moments is the real question?

What am I doing here?

Analogy: You enroll in a class; you study, listen to the Professor and take the exams. Your final grade is dependent on how much effort you put into mastering the subject. Similarly, the next type of creation must be awarded according to what we make out of our interactions in the universe.

We are given existence and we cannot guarantee anything. The early revelations of the Quran speak about the transient nature of this universe. Do you observe such? We are all the primary addressee of the Quran and we need to be observing the universe and confirming what the scripture says.

How do you explain the nature of existence of this universe?

The nature of the universe is not essential to itself. It means that it is dependent on an Agent to give it existence. In other words, the nature of this universe is transient. This universe exits just because the One who willed it to exist. That is why we exist. So how can some say that the universe has always been existing? Can you show me one thing that necessitates the existence of another thing or itself in this universe? No. Everything is totally dependent to be given existence and I cannot find any evidence that to prove otherwise.

We need to reconstruct our mindset so these conclusions based on our observations settle in our mind and feelings. That is why the early revelation of the Quran teaches the human mind that this universe cannot sustain its existence and at any time it can be destroyed. No one can guarantee that the next moment the world will be made to rotate.

This universe just happened to exist by the will of its Creator. The existence of this universe is not essential within its own self. Birth and death time is decided by the One that gives existence. Everything is given to us including the place of birth, time of birth and family.

Quran speaks according to human observation of the universe. One does not need to be an intellect to study the Quran. What is required from the human being is to be responsible with his/her sense of existence. In order to communicate with the Quran, one has to question their existence seriously. Who am I?

  • The Quranic message is to reconstruct the minds of people.

81:1 “When the sun is folded up.”

Analogy: A plumber comes to your house with his/her toolbox and fixes your bathroom. Then s/he wraps his/her toolbox and leaves. Similarly, every object in this universe fulfills its duty and then leaves.

  1. Observe objects in the universe.
  2. Is the object/sun folding by itself?
  3. What is folding the sun?

81:2 “and when the stars lose their light,”

You have to be responsible for your existence right now. What does it mean to exist? If you have this consciousness, then its good and keep asking, what does it mean to exist? We think that the sun is doing its function permanently as if it is not employed and dependent. Its existence is not essential but accidental, meaning that it just happened to be given existence without any choice. Essential means that its existence is not from itself and guaranteed. Similarly, our existence is totally dependent on the One that gives existence. No one can guarantee their existence for tomorrow or even the next moment. That is to say, if the One that gives existence, which we call God, wills to create the sun, earth, revolving of the order of the earth and you and I, then we can say God willing see you tomorrow. Otherwise, using cultural language without meaning does not revive human spirit. Also, saying we may die tomorrow is irrelevant to the context we are studying here i.e. Existence.

Comment: If God allows, we will exist tomorrow.

  1. God is our conclusion and so we cannot start our statement from that.
  2. “Allow” has some connotation of speculative language or speaking on behalf of God.

The reality is that no one can guarantee that the order will exist the next moment. This universe is dependent on the will of something else, nothing can guarantee their existence. No one can guarantee the existence of the order as it is and of the things as they are. My responsibility is to be aware that the universe is dependent on the will of its Creator.

Yes, we should be doing our daily work such as school, job, marriage… All with the awareness that my existence is totally dependent.

Going back to the verse, sun/star cannot guarantee its existence by itself. No one can guarantee that the lights of the stars will be given existence. So what is doing it then? Ask any human being this question, isn’t the language of the Quran neutral, bias-free? Again, the Quran speaks the obvious i.e. what is observable to you and I.

When you observe an object, always start with questioning the apparent. Example: the glasses are broken. With this we know that there is an agent that broke it but our first observation is that of the prime object/broken glasses, how it is made…

  1. Stage 1: glasses are broken.
  2. Stage 2: what broke it?

The passive voice as in the example above, always include the agent in it but draws attention to the outcome. In the example above, the prime object to draw attention was broken glasses. In light of the verses above, sun/stars does not have independent existence by itself. Yet, the passive voice again. Waiting for the reader to search for the Agent. Let us take another example. Baby exists in a perfect form. Baby exists perfectly. Now, you search for the agent yourself. That is the methodology of the Quran. Example: Look at the tree. Can it give existence to itself? Does it happen to be in existence by itself? Or is it given existence?

Belief system is based on observation. Look at a fly for example. What do you think of it? Can it exist by itself? What can be the agent? Which kinds of qualities are needed to give existence to the fly?

81:3 “And when the mountains are blown away.”

The verses are speaking to human perception. We need to think about how matter comes into existence. Let science speak about the qualities of the particles. We need to question what we observe. How is the mountain made to stand tall for example?

81:4 “And when pregnant camels are abandoned.”

  • What is your pregnant camel? Anything that you place value on for your existence. It could be job, family, marriage…
  • Can you abandon your pregnant camel? When you realize that existence is dependent on an Agent, then you realize that getting the job for example cannot be the ultimate aim of your existence. It was just a duty to do while in this world.

Finally, it is easy to understand that life on earth is transient here. Life on earth is just one aspect of existence. But how many of us reflect on existence? The Quranic message is plain and simple: See the objects around you as they are practically observable and palpable to anyone. Then look at the result and speak about the result. Example: Look how beautifully the sun is made!

(…to be continued.)

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