READ THE BOOK OF THE UNIVERSE!
The first Qur’anic verse is that which was revealed to us at Hira:
iq’ra bi-is’mi rabbika alladhī khalaq
“Read in and with the Name of your Lord, Who has created.” (96:1)
Of course, this is the greatest learning.
What are you to read? You are read the Divine Majesty. You are to read the workings of Divine Power. You are to read the Divine inscriptions in this universe. Allah Almighty has helped us greatly to read these. In other words, Allah Almighty created this realm as a mirror [of the Divine attributes]. What great need human beings have for contemplation! How much are they to draw near to Allah Almighty through this contemplation and become fine servants and feel their helplessness. This is the kind of learning centre that Allah has established, this learning centre of the universe. It has been prepared for the human being.
Human beings and animals have been coming here since the creation of Prophet Adam, upon him be peace. Animals were created for human beings too, as were trees and vegetation. They will continue until the Last Hour. Their function will end at the end of the world. All of them will be destroyed at once and a new world will begin anew.
And so, the universe, from the micro to macro, from the smallest entity the atom, to galaxies, from the smallest creature to the most gigantic, in the sea, on land and in the air, all of these need to reflect to us the Divine Majesty of Allah Almighty.
Allah Almighty grants bits of knowledge: Physics, chemistry, and the like… Why does He do so? Why does He grant these to us and not to other creatures? From here we are to remember the Divine Majesty and the workings of Divine Power and exclaim, “Oh my Lord!”
How does a human being come into existence from a fertilised ovum? How do various devices come into being within them? How do these devices work? How many branches do these split up into in a lifetime? It is still not possible to gain insight into them.
This goes to show Allah Almighty – from the product to the maker, the cause to the Creator of causes, from the art to the artist. Of course, if one has a heart. If there is a heart, it is to develop. If there is such a heart, the eyes will then see.
iq’ra bi-is’mi rabbika alladhī khalaq
“Read in and with the Name of your Lord, Who has created.” (96:1) This verse will become manifest.
Such an eye is important. This eye is an eye connected to the heart. The eye here is an instrument, a pair of glasses. Both Abu Bakr, may Allah be well pleased with him, and Abu Jahl saw the Messenger of Allah, as did Abu Lahab. When they looked at Allah’s Messenger, everyone saw the feelings they held within their own selves. Abu Bakr saw his love and was struck with awe and admiration. Abu Lahab and Abu Jahl saw their own rancour and darkness.
So, Allah Almighty wants us to behold this realm of the universe with precisely such a heart, with a heart that deepens in such a way and proclaim, “Oh, my Lord!”
This is why a friend of Allah says:
“For the knowing, this realm is a journey of wonder (that is, the beholding of the workings of Divine power), while for the foolish – excuse my saying so – it is food and appetence.”
Sa’di Shirazi says:
“A single leaf on a tree is a record of experiential knowledge of Allah. For the foolish – pardon my saying so – all trees put together do not even amount to a single leaf.” They see in the same way other creatures do.
And so, this, or our heart’s advancement [depends on] our taking lesson from the universe. This is what began within the Prophet’s Companions. A huge tree emerging from a tiny seed, an animal emerging from a tiny egg, a human being emerging from an almost nonexisting entity… gave rise to a deep contemplation within the Companions. And a perception of the [final] stopping place of this realm being the grave developed within them.
The Qur’an is our book of instruction. It is a book of guidance for the pious and God-conscious. A miracle of speech. A universe that speaks and advises – the Qur’an. The universe is the actual, while the Qur’an the literal. In other words, the universe guides us in silence while the Qur’an guides us out loud. Two forms of guidance.
As for the Messenger of Allah: A great, endless blessing from Allah Almighty.
laqad manna l-lah
“Assuredly, Allah has done the believers a great kindness…” (3:164)
The greatest blessing is the Messenger of Allah. The summit of 124,000 Prophets. Every Prophet came to his people, while the Messenger of Allah, raḥmatan lil’ʿālamīn, a mercy for all the worlds, came to all humanity until the Last Day and for all time.
He was sent to all people, from the lowest echelon to the highest. The Messenger of Allah is a miracle of Allah Almighty within the human being. The universe is an operative miracle. The Qur’an is a miracle of speech. The Messenger of Allah is a miracle in the human being. There is no such second person, no second Prophet.
This means that Allah Almighty wants for us to know him closely. There are so many Qur’anic verses which describe the Messenger of Allah very closely.
Now, we cannot fill the ocean into this glass. It would overflow. Allah Almighty holds him up as an example for us in the Qur’an’s verses. That he is al-uswa al-hasana, the Fine Exemplar. For whom? A person can be an example for a peoples, an example for [members of] a profession. He, however, is an example for all humanity.
Thus, it is declared, “Surely Allah and His angels bless the Prophet…” (33:56)
Allah Almighty bestowed him as raḥmatan lil’ʿālamīn, a “Mercy to all the Worlds.” The angels beseech Allah for him.
“…invoke the blessings of Allah on him, and pray to Allah to bestow His peace on him, greeting him with the best greeting.” (33:56)
Ibn ‘Abbas, the Messenger’s paternal cousin, saw the Messenger of Allah as a child. He says that we need to engage in much contemplation especially in this month of Rabi’ al-Awwal. He states:
“Allah has never created any soul that is dearer to Him than Muhammad. For I have never heard Allah swear by the life of anyone else.”
Only upon the Messenger of Allah He declares in the Qur’anic chapter al-Hijr: “laʿamruka“. (15:72) He declares, “By your life (O Muhammad),” He swears upon his life.
Every phase of life… This was why the Companions were in a [constant] state of vigilance. They would tread the path upon which he walked. They would rest beneath the tree under which he rested. They would go and lean on the rock on which he leant during the Farewell Pilgrimage.
That is to say, by striving to emulate him in all their daily dealings and affairs, in their worship, etc., they sought to emulate him in all their other states.
wal-ʿaṣr (103:1). Allah Almighty swears by his Era.
He swears by his city. (See al-Balad, 1)
In the Qur’anic Chapter al-Yasin, Allah swears by his Prophethood. (See 36:3)
Again, Allah Almighty ascribes great value and esteem to everything gaining merit with respect to affinity with him, to the degree of this affinity.
He renders his lineage the most superior. He sanctifies his Noble Household. He demands that his family and relatives be loved.
He honours his tribe.
He renders his wives the Mothers of the Believers.
He renders Hamza the master of martyrs.
He renders the Noble Companions, people of piety and righteousness. He chose them from all humanity to be the Prophet’s Companions. And He presents them as an example to all humanity in the 100th verse of the Qur’anic Chapter at-Taubah.
He renders the era in which he lived the best era of the Children of Adam, the Era of Bliss.
He renders the Ka’ba the direction of his worship.
Allah Almighty takes upon Himself the protection of His Book, the protection of the Qur’an. In the Qur’anic verse that was recited, it is declared: “(O Prophet!) Move not your tongue to hasten it (for safekeeping in your heart). Surely it is for Us to collect it (in your heart) and enable you to recite it (by heart).” (See, 75:16-17)
He renders Madina Munawwara, the Illuminated City, a sacred precinct.
If we were to greet someone in our prayers, this would annul our prayer. But Allah Almighty makes us offer greetings to him in our prayers:
‘at-tahiyyatu li-llahi wa-s- salawatu wa-t-tayyibatu…
(All verbal worship such as glorification, praise and thanks and salutations, in addition to physical and monetary deeds and acts of worship belong to Allah.)
as-salamu ‘alayka ayyuha-n-nabiyyu wa rahmatu-llahi wa barakatuh
(Peace be upon you, O Messenger, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings!)
Then, from the Messenger of Allah upon us and upon the righteous servants of Allah… In other words, a prayer goes to those righteous servants from every single prayer that is offered.
In short, He bestowed much much more upon His Messenger. Allah Almighty even made his devil Muslim.
This goes to show that however much merit we can acquire in closeness to him, this is the extent to which:
lā khawfun ‘alayhim walā hum yaḥzanūn
“…[we] will have no fear, nor will [we] grieve.” (10:62) We would have entered into this sphere.
As long as we can become closely acquainted with the Messenger of Allah… And so the Companions came to know him closely and were stricken with awe.
What does Allah Almighty demand of us?
illā man atā l-laha biqalbin salīm
“…But only he (will prosper) who comes before Allah with a sound heart.” (26:89)
He demands from us a refined heart. Just as we are born pure, we are to become purified through our acts of worship, remembrance and the like. With a refined heart, a heart that has become purified Allah Almighty invites us to His presence, to His Paradise.
A heart that has attained rest. He declares: “O you soul at rest!” (89:27) There is no prior direct address by Allah Almighty to His servant in the Qur’an.
“Return to your Lord, well-pleased (with Him and His treatment of you), and well-pleasing to Him.” (89:28)
They are to be pleased with Allah. No saying, “Oh!” “Ugh!” or “Why!” They are to obey. And Allah will be pleased with them.
“And enter my Paradise!” (89:30) He declares.
fa-alhamahā fujūrahā wataqwāhā qad aflaḥa man zakkāhā
“And Who has inspired it [the human selfhood] with the conscience of what is wrong and bad for it, and what is right and good for it – He is indeed prosperous who has grown it in purity.”(91:8-9)
Wickedness: everything pulling a person away from Allah is to be eliminated.
Piety and righteousness makes one a traveller to Paradise, while wickedness renders the person a traveller to the Fire.
This means that however much we can distance ourselves from the Fire is how close we become to Paradise. Now, this water is clear. It is water that has been prepared to drink. If a small amount of impurity falls into this water – these impurities are sins – the taste of this water would be entirely lost.
And so, the human being is told:
“Do not forget two things!” The Qur’anic instruction. The Messenger of Allah is instructed:
alā bidhik’ri l-lahi taṭma-innu l-qulūb
“Be aware that it is in the remembrance and of and whole-hearted devotion to Allah that hearts find rest and contentment.”(13:28)
“We are not to forget Allah Almighty.” We need to be aware that we are under Divine watch.
The second: “Not to forget mortality.”
kullu man ‘alayhā fān
“All that is on the earth will perish.” (55:26)
kullu nafsin dhāiqatu l-mawt
“Every soul is bound to taste death…” (29:57)
The human being is not to forget death.
They are not to forget Allah Almighty; they are not to forget death. The task will then become easier.
yaḥdharu l-ākhirata: They will, “fear the Hereafter.” (See 39:9)
This is because – all praise and thanks be to Allah! – we came [to this world] as Muslims, through the manifestation of the Divine Name (Al-)Hadi‘: The All-Guiding. But Allah Almighty does not give us a guarantee that we will leave as Muslims.
He declares: “…and see that you do not die save as Muslims (submitted to Him exclusively).”
“O you who believe! Keep from disobedience to God in reverent piety, with all the reverence that is due to Him, illā wa-antum mus’limūn, and see that you do not die save as Muslims (submitted to Him exclusively).”(3:102) This is what He declares.
Similarly, in another verse, in the chapter entitled Muhammad:
“…If you help Allah(’s cause by striving in His cause), He will help you and make your feet firm (so that you are steadfast in His cause and ultimately victorious).”(47:7)
This means that we are constantly upon slippery ground, until the last breath. Everything will end with the last breath in any case. There is no possibility of making amends in the grave or in the Hereafter.
And, “Forget two things!” it is stated. Allah Almighty is All-Merciful – Infinite Mercy. The Messenger of Allah is pitying, compassionate and merciful. The servant, too, is to be merciful and increase their acts of righteousness and good works.
“Forget all the good and charity you do for others.” Do not over estimate them. Do not let these give you a sense of self-conceit and arrogance.
Secondly: “Forget the wrong done to you by others.” Forgive them. Allah Almighty asks:
“…Do you not wish that Allah should forgive you?” (24:22)
Again in the Qur’anic chapter al-Ta-Ha, Allah Almighty declares:
“…So keep from disobedience to Allah in reverence for Him and piety, and set things right among yourselves to allow no discord; and obey Allah and His Messenger if you are true believers…” (8:1)
There is no such thing as, “I’m right,” or “They’re wrong.” Allah has made us brothers and sisters.
Again, in another verse, at the end of the chapter al-Fath, it is declared: “…and [the believers] are compassionate among themselves.” (See 48:29)
So, a believer has to forgive their Muslim brother or sister. They are not to say, “They did this or that to me.” And Allah will forgive them too, insha’Allah.
Osman Nuri Topbas