Reflecting on the Universal Signs (Aayaat Kawniyyah) of Allaah
For certain, contemplating over these signs, studying the diverse and amazing creations of Allaah such as the sky, the earth, the sun, the moon, planets and stars, night and day, mountains and trees, rivers and oceans and the many other creations of Allaah that cannot be enumerated, is without doubt one of the greatest causes for eemaan and the most beneficial reasons behind its fortification.
Contemplate the creation of the sky, look back up at it time after time. See how it is the greatest sign in its elevation and height, and in its extent and stationeries, whereby it does not climb up like fire or fall descending like a heavy object. It has no pillars and is neither connected from above. Rather, it is held by the might of Allaah.
Next, contemplate its evenness and levelness, there is no rift, split or fissure within it. It does not have any curvature or crookedness.
Then consider the color it has been given, which is the best of colors, the most agreeable to one’s sight and that which strengthens it the most.
Ponder on the creation of the earth and at its construction. You will notice that it is one of the greatest signs of its Maker and Originator. Allaah created it as a resting place and a bed. He made it subservient to His slaves. Allaah placed within it their livelihood and nourishment. He laid down pathways so that they may wander about the land in search for their needs and disposals. He established the earth firmly with mountains, making them pegs, protecting the earth from shaking along with its inhabitants and He expanded its sides and spread it out.
So He extended the earth, spread it out and enlarged it from all its sides. He made it a receptacle for the living, containing them from above as long as they are alive and He made it a receptacle for the dead, containing them from underneath when they die. Thus, its outer is a homeland for the living and its inner is a homeland for the dead.
Thereafter look at it when it is dead, barren and humbled. When Allaah sends down the rains upon it, it stirs and grows. Thus, it rises and turns green and produces every type of lovely growth. It brings forth wondrous vegetation in appearance and sensation, which are delightful to the onlookers and amicable to the feasters.
Next, consider how Allaah has perfected the sides of the earth with mountains that are unshakeable, towering, stern and solid. Consider how He has erected them so perfectly. How he elevated them and made them the most solid parts of the earth, so that they would not dwindle away with the stretch of years and continual succession of rain and wind. Rather, He perfected its creation, fortified its foundation and deposited within them such benefits, metals, minerals and springs, of which He desired.
Now ponder on this delicate and fine air that is held captive between the sky and earth. It is sensed through feeling when blown; its substance is felt and its form cannot be seen.
It runs between the sky and earth and the birds circle and fly in it, swimming with the aid of their wings just as the fish of the sea swim in water. Its sides and ripples collide against each other when in commotion just as the waves of the ocean clash.
Consider how Allaah forms with this wind, clouds that are held between the sky and earth. The wind excites the clouds causing them to rise and become dense, Allaah then combines them together and merges them. The winds then impregnate it; these winds are those that Allaah named lawaaqih, (i.e., impregnators [Refer to Soorah al-Hijr (15):22]). Allaah then drives it by the wind to the land in need of it.
When it rises and ascends above the land, its water falls upon it. Allaah dispatches the winds whilst the clouds are in the atmosphere; the winds scatter and separate the clouds so that they do not harm or destroy something if the water were to descend upon it in its entirety. Once the land takes its fill and need, the clouds leave off the land and disperse. Thus, these clouds water the earth and are carried by the winds.
Next, consider these oceans surrounding the land regions, which are gulfs of one great sea of water surrounding the whole earth such that even the lands, mountains and cities that are visible, are in relation to the water, like a small island in a massive ocean. The rest of the earth is submerged in water. If the Lord did not hold it with His power and will and if He did not hold back the water, it would overflow onto the lands and rise above it all.
Contemplate on the night and day; they are amongst the most amazing signs of Allaah. See how He made the night for resting and as a covering. It coats the world causing the cessation of activities. Animals retire to their dwellings and the birds to their nests. The souls relax and take rest from the pains of their labor and tiredness until when the souls are reposed and have taken sleep and now look forward to their livelihood and its disposal, the Splitter of the morning (Allaah) brings forward the day, His army giving glad tidings of the morning. It vanquishes that darkness and tears it asunder, unveiling the darkness from the world, thereafter, the inhabitants are able to see. The animals then circulate about the land and proceed to manage their livelihood and welfare and the birds depart from their nests.
What a returning and arising, which is so indicative of the capability of Allaah towards the major return!
Ponder on the condition of the sun and moon when rising and setting to establish the state of night and day. If it were not for the rising of the sun and moon, the affair of this world would become inoperative. How would the people attend to their livelihood and dispose of their affairs whilst the world upon them is dark? How would they take pleasure in their life with the absence of light? So:
تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ فِي السَّمَاءِ بُرُوجًا وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا سِرَاجًا وَقَمَرًا مُّنِيرًا وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ خِلْفَةً لِّمَنْ أَرَادَ أَن يَذَّكَّرَ أَوْ أَرَادَ شُكُورًا
“Blessed be He who has placed in the heaven huge stars and has placed therein a great lamp (i.e., the sun) and a moon giving light. He is the one who placed the night and day in succession, for such who desires to remember or desires to show his gratitude.” [Soorah al-Furqaan (25):61-62]
Examine the creation of the animals, with all their diverse characteristics, species, forms, usefulness, colors and endowed marvels. Some of them walk upon their bellies, some on two legs and some on four. Some of them have feet as weapons in the form of claws; some have beaks as weapons, like the eagle, vulture and the crow. Others have teeth as weapons and yet others have horns as weapons for use in defense of themselves.
Reflect and take heed in general from the setting of this world, the formation of its parts and the excellence of its arrangement and order, proving most cogently the perfection of the capability of its Creator and the perfection of His knowledge, wisdom, benevolence and delicateness.
If you do reflect on the world, you will notice it to be like a house that has been built and prepared with all of its apparatus, interests and all that it is in need of.
Thus, the sky is its roof that is hoisted above it. The land is its bed; it is a mat, bedding and an abode for the occupant. The sun and moon are two lamps that shine within it. The stars are lights, an adornment and guide for those who move about along the paths of this house. Gems and minerals are stored within it, like the provisions and storehouses that have been prepared and set; each and every thing of it is for its own specific purpose and use that befits it. All kinds of vegetation have been prepared for the purposes of the house. Varieties of animals have been laid out for its welfare, for mounting; providing milk; nourishment; clothing; enjoyment; employment and keeping guard.
Moreover, the human being has been declared as the king, being commissioned with all of this. He is the one who rules and disposes by his actions and commands.
Within all this, is the greatest sign and strongest proof of the Creator, the All-knowing, the Wise and fully cognizant, who has set proper measure and order for his creation in the finest way.
In fact, reflect and take heed in particular, from Allaah’s creation of yourself, O person.
Consider the start, middle and end of your creation. Look with all insight at the beginning of your creation, from a trickle of dirty despised fluid; whereby the Lord of all lords extracted this fluid from between the back-bone and ribs, guided it by His might with the narrowness of its channels and the diversity of its passages up until Allaah brings it to its abode and place of assembly.
See how Allaah united the male and female and placed love between them and how He led them with the chain of desire and love to come together, which is the cause behind the synthesis and formation of a child.
Look at how He predestined those two fluids despite the distance apart from each person. He brought them from the depth of veins and organs and gathered them to one place. He prescribed for them a firmly established dwelling. Air cannot get to it to spoil it; cold cannot get to it to harden or congeal it and no accidentals extend to it.
Allaah then transforms that white saturated trickle into a red clinging-like substance (that resembles a leech), which inclines towards a black color. Allaah then makes it into a chewed lump (of flesh) completely different to the clinging-like substance in its color, essence and form. Allaah then fashions it into bare bones without any clothing, which is contrary to the chewed lump in form, look, proportion, feel and color and so on, the stages of a person’s creation make a gradual process up until he emerges upon these forms that Allaah has fashioned him with; He originated for him, hearing, sight, a mouth, nose and the rest of the openings. He extended and spread out his legs and arms and separated their ends into fingers and toes and then further split them into phalanxes. He also assembled the inner organs such as the heart, stomach, liver, spleen, lungs, womb, intestines; each one has a proportion and benefit specific to it, so how perfect is, the One Who created (everything) and then proportioned (each thing appropriately) and Who measured and guided, Who said:
وَفِي أَنفُسِكُمْ ۚ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُونَ
“And also in your own selves, will you not then see?” [Soorah adh-Dhaariyaat (51):21]
“All of creation, from the atom to the Throne, are connected pathways to acquiring knowledge of Allaah and are profound evidences pointing to His eternality. The Universe, in totality, is made up of tongues uttering the oneness of Allaah. The world, in its entirety, is a book, of which the letters of its particulars are read by the discerning, all according to the level of their insights.” [See Dhayl Tabaqaat al-Hanaabilah of Ibn Rajab, 1/307. This is a saying of ‘Uthmaan Ibn Marzooq al-Qurashee]
So, reflect on these and other signs, which Allaah has created within the Heavens and earth. Contemplation, close examination and meditation on these signs yield immense benefits in the strengthening and steadfastness of one’s eemaan, because he apprehends through these signs, the oneness of his King and Creator and His perfection. Consequently, his love, glorification and veneration of Allaah will increase as will his obedience, submission and humbleness before Him. These are amongst the greatest benefits resulting from this reflection.
Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy upon him, says:
“If you consider what Allaah has invited His servants to reflect on in His Book, it will impart you with knowledge of Allaah, of his oneness, His attributes of perfection and qualities of magnificence such as the extensiveness of His capability and knowledge and the perfection of His wisdom, mercy, benevolence, kindness, compassion, justice, pleasure, anger, reward and punishment. Thus, with this (all), He introduced Himself to His servants and encouraged them to reflect on His signs.” [Miftaah Daar as-Sa’aadah of Ibn al-Qayyim, page 204]
Ibn as-Sa’dee, may Allaah have mercy upon him, states:
“… and one of the causes and incentives for eemaan is reflecting on the universe; on the creation of the heavens and earth and on the diverse types of creation contained within them; to look at the human himself and the attributes he possesses, for this is a strong incentive for eemaan.
This is because of the greatness of creation found within these present entities, which points towards the might, capability and greatness of their Creator.
It is also because of the prevalent beauty, order and perfection that baffles the learned, which point to the vastness of Allaah’s knowledge and the comprehensiveness of His wisdom and it is also because of the assorted benefits and abundant blessings that cannot be counted and are innumerable, which point to the magnitude of Allaah’s mercy, generosity and benevolence.
All of this calls to the glorification of its originator and maker, to gratitude of Him, to becoming attached to His remembrance and having sincerity of religion to Him alone; this is the spirit and secret of eemaan.”
[At-Tawdeeh wa al-Bayaan, page 31. See or-Riyaad an-Naadhirah also by Shaykh as-Sa’dee, pages 238-280]
For this purpose, Allaah, al-Kareem, encourages His servants in His book to contemplate on these signs and indications and He directs them to study and reflect in many places within His Book. This is because of the many advantages for the slaves and the immense returns they attain from it. Allaah says:
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِن مَّاءٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخَّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ
“Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, and the ships that sail through the sea with that which is of use to mankind, and the water which Allaah sends down from the sky and makes the earth alive therewith after its death, and the moving (living)creatures of all kinds that he has scattered therein, and in the veering of winds and clouds which are held between the sky and the earth, are indeed signs for people of understanding” [Soorah al-Baqarah (2):164]
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَكُم مِّن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ إِذَا أَنتُم بَشَرٌ تَنتَشِرُونَ
“And among His signs is that He created you from dust and behold, you are human beings, becoming widespread.” [Soorah ar-Room (30):20]
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَثَّ فِيهِمَا مِن دَابَّةٍ ۚ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ جَمْعِهِمْ إِذَا يَشَاءُ قَدِيرٌ
“And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and earth, and of all the creatures He has dispersed within them. And He is ever-potent over assembling them all if He so desires” [Soorah ash-Shooraa (42):29]
Allaah also says:
أَفَلَا يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى الْإِبِلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ وَإِلَى السَّمَاءِ كَيْفَ رُفِعَتْ وَإِلَى الْجِبَالِ كَيْفَ نُصِبَتْ وَإِلَى الْأَرْضِ كَيْفَ سُطِحَتْ
“Do they not look at the camels: how they have been created? And at the heaven: how it is raised? And at the mountains: how they have been rooted and firmly fixed? And at the earth: how it has been spread out?”[Soorah al-Ghaashiyah (88):17-20]
There are other numerous similar aayaat in the Qur’aan, in which Allaah calls His servants to look at His signs and manifestations of his actions that represent the most supreme evidence of His oneness and singularity and for His might, will and knowledge. It is also evidence of His benevolence, gentleness and generosity. This is the greatest invitation of His servants towards having love of Allaah, thanking Him, glorifying Him, obeying Him and being attached to His remembrance.
In conclusion, it becomes evident that study and contemplation of the Universe remains as one of the greatest causes of eemaan and the most beneficial incentives for it.