Cars, telephones, computers or cell phones: The technical devices we use in almost every moment of our lives are of great importance to us. We all strive to ensure they work smoothly without a hitch. We immediately take a car that runs out of oil or a television without a good picture for technical service or to a repair shop, and do our best they work to full capacity.
The same thing applies to our own bodies. We go to the doctor for regular health check-ups or when something is wrong. But how careful are we over our spiritual health?
The main reason we’re so punctiliousness over our cars or phones is our expectations of them. We have not the slightest doubt that a car exists to get us to where we want to go when we want to go there and that our phone is there for us to communicate with others. So the moment they no longer meet our expectations we feel the need to take appropriate measures. But if we were not fully aware of what a computer or phone is meant to do, would they still be so important to us? There is no doubt that in that case we would feel no interest in them, nor the slightest concern over whether or not they are working. We would even think they were a waste of space and get rid of them.
But what if the thing in question were ourselves, and not a car or phone? Very few people reflect in detail on how they were created, the purpose of life, why people die and what happens to them afterwards. Yet everyone, and especially those who say, “I am a Muslim,” must ask themselves how and why the universe they live in came into being. They must think about the meaning of life, death and the life of the Hereafter. And in doing so, they must free their minds from all pressure and prejudice.
The month of Ramadan is a most important and blessed month when Muslims develop these thoughts. Of course the month of Ramadan has numerous benefits, such as increasing social solidarity among Muslims, strengthening feelings of brotherhood and unity and intensifying cultural activities. However, what really makes this blessed month so important is that through Ramadan people are encouraged to turn to God in a more powerful way. Fasting is a great opportunity for people who genuinely fear God to draw closer to Him. Obeying the commands of God, remaining steadfast throughout the day for the approval of God, eating the iftar meal and rising at sahur are all great blessings and are means to attain good deeds. Muslims, who seek to please God with every step they take and to live as He reveals, also seek a means of drawing closer to Him through fasting.
So what are the ways of drawing closer to our Lord and Creator?
Our guide at this point is the Qur’an. The Qur’an tells people what to reflect on and what to look at.
In verse 19 of Surat al-Mulk, Almighty God states that birds flying in the sky, a matter about which we almost never stop to ponder, is an extraordinary phenomenon, and that He is the One Who brings it about:
Have they not looked at the birds above them, with wings outspread and folded back? Nothing holds them up but the All-Merciful. He sees all things.
In verse 4 of Surat ar-Ra’d, our Lord encourages us to think on how plants nourished in the same soil and watered with the same water produce fruits with such a variety of flavors:
In the earth there are diverse regions side by side and gardens of grapes and cultivated fields, and palm-trees sharing one root and others with individual roots, all watered with the same water. And We make some things better to eat than others. There are Signs in that for people who use their intellect.
As we can see from these verses, God wants us to be people who observe what is going on around us and who reflect on His glorious creation, rather than being merely blown where events lead us and living in a state of obliviousness. In another verse God says:
Those who remember God, standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: ‘Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire.’
(Surat al-Imr’an, 191)
Thanks to this way of thinking cited in the Qur’an, we can better grasp the perfection in God’s creation and His infinite knowledge and might.
When we begin thinking along the lines given in the Qur’an we realize that the entire universe is evidence of His might and artistry. Through the Qur’an, people are invited to reflect on numerous phenomena and living things that bear witness to the Existence, Oneness and Names of God. These entities that bear witness are described as ‘signs,’ meaning ‘expressed, proven evidence, definitive knowledge and truth,’ in the Qur’an. Therefore, the signs of God comprise all those entities that show or testify to the existence and the attributes of God. The eye that knows how to see will perceive that in fact, the whole of creation consists solely of the signs of God.
That is a person’s duty – to see the signs of God. In that way, he will come to know our Lord, his own creator and that of all other entities, to draw closer to Him, to grasp the meaning of life and his own existence and to attain happiness and salvation.
In the Holy Qur’an, God reveals that happiness is only possible through a sincere faith, and a profound devotion to and love and fear of Him. When a person is close to Almighty God, Who created him, the entire universe and the past and present out of nothing, God will open the gates of happiness for him. Our Almighty Lord will respond with goodness, blessings and happiness to anyone who sincerely turns to Him.
However we may have lived before, this month of Ramadan is a new opportunity for all Muslims to draw close to God. We may therefore begin to make use of that opportunity by reflecting on the fact that God is the One Who created the flowers right beside us and the birds flying above our heads.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Arabian Gazette: