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Lesson - 26
"In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the
alternation of night and day, and the ships that run in the sea
with that which profits men, and the water that Allah sends down
from the sky, then gives life therewith to the earth after its death
and spreads in it all (kinds of) animals, and the changing of the
winds and the clouds made subservient between heaven and earth,
there are surely signs for a people who understand." Ch. 2:164
The true meaning of worship of One God
This is verse 164 of Al-Baqarah. Verse 136, preceding this
"And your God (Ilaha) is One God ; there is
no God but He! He is the Beneficent, the Merciful."
The Arabic word, Ilaha, which stands for God in this
verse, has a very comprehensive meaning which is thus explained.
- He is the One Who deserves to be worshipped with complete submission.
- This submission should be born out of love. Allah does not benefit
from such love and obedience from mankind, but it is man himself
who reaps the benefit in the form of Spiritual advancement brought
about by the nurturing unto perfection of the Lord (rabubiyat).
Man can thus become a recipient of the blessings that Allah has
prepared for him. A person should, therefore submit to his greatest
Benefactor out of love, not only because of His countless blessings,
but also for the simple reason that he who shows obedience out
of love, stands to benefit most from his Patron. For example,
the child who considers his parents as his benefactors and obeys
them with love, benefits most from their nurturing and guidance.
The one who obeys with reluctance, and only on compulsion, fails
to benefit fully from such direction.
- The third meaning of the word Ilaha is the One Who is
the goal of oneís life, and is therefore sought after as such.
The purpose of manís creation is to search and find the Divine
Being, and to establish a relationship with Him. He who submits
to Allah, gets close to Allah by developing the color of His attributes
which evolve from such submission and thus establishes a relationship
In the verse:
"And your God (Ilaha) is One God; there
is no God but He! He is the Beneficent, the Merciful,"
the main stress is laid on the Unity of the Divine Being, and this
is the basic distinctive feature of the religion of Islam. In this
verse, it is also stated He is Beneficent, and in another place
it is stated:
"The Beneficent taught the Quran"(55:1-2).
Just as His Beneficence has provided for all our physical needs
without our asking, it has also provided for our spiritual need
by revealing the Holy Quran, whose object is to inform man about
the purpose of his creation, and to guide Him towards the Creator.
As a result, the incorrectness and falsity of polytheism which had
taken hold of the world was dispelled by the Holy Quran, and monotheism
was re-established once more, on this earth to stay till the Day
of Judgment. Allah is also Merciful. Those who follow the Quranic
injunctions will be blessed with everlasting spiritual life, happiness,
joy and contentment in this world, and the Hereafter. This verse
also contains forceful arguments in support of the principle of
Unity of God. Man cannot serve two masters at the same time, and
there is no one more Beneficent and Merciful, or more deserving
of our love than Allah, on account of His Benevolence. Man, therefore
cannot make it the purpose of his life to attain closeness to more
than one God. For example, the one who wanders around in search
of two different locations at the same time, will fail to find his
destination particularly if his real destination is neither of those
Signs of the existence and Unity of the Divine Being in the Universe
Sign of Creation of the Heaven and the Earth:
Continuing the same subject of Unity of God, our lesson today identifies
the many convincing signs of the existence, and the Unity of the
Divine Being which are present in the universe around us. The creation
of the earth and the heavens is discussed first with the words:
"In the creation of the heavens and the earth."
Although our earth is full of great wonders, its position in relation
to the rest of the universe is that of a grain of sand in a vast
ocean. Modern scientific discovery in this matter has been truly
amazing. We have found out that the distances in the universe are
so large that our ordinary measures fail to gauge them. Scientists
have, therefore attempted to measure these distances with the speed
of light, for light is the only entity that is common between us
and the rest of the universe. Light, we know travels at the speed
of hundred and eighty six thousand miles per second. If we multiply
this by thirty six hundred, we get the distance light travels in
one hour, multiply this with twenty four, and then with three hundred
and sixty five to calculate the distance covered by light in one
year. This is called a light year. The estimated length of the universe
is seven billion light years, and this extends in all directions.
Scientists have also discovered that the universe is a single entity
governed by the same laws which is a cogent argument in support
of the existence of the Divine Being.
Sign of Alternation of Day and Night:
It is then stated:
"and the alternation of night and day,"
i.e., in the alternating cycle of the day and night also exist signs
of the Unity of the Divine Being. Let us closely observe our own
solar system within this vast creation. The immense power of the
sun which generates the energy equivalent of the detonation of a
hundred million hydrogen bombs every second, has been harnessed
into the service of mankind in such an efficient manner that not
even a slight variation can occur, otherwise it could lead to chaos
in the whole solar system. All forms of life on this earth including
plant, and animal life, and the existence of minerals is dependent
upon the energy, and light that comes from the sun. A slight decrease
in the distance of the sun from the earth could burn all that exists
on the earth. Only a slight increase of this distance on the other
hand would plummet temperatures to where every thing would freeze
and life would become impossible. In a similar manner the moon not
only provides light at night, but also affects many phases of life
on earth. The rotation of the sun, moon and the earth is so well
organized, that not even a variation of an inch or a second occurs
in their motion. This has made it possible for the scientists to
precisely calculate time and distance, thereby enabling them to
land man on the moon. Although the effect of the alternation of
the day and night is an extensive subject in itself, even an illiterate
person can appreciate, that this phenomenon enables one to perform
various activities during daylight, and to rest at night. This powerful
system of heavenly bodies despite its opposing elements, and differences
has been harnessed with the sole purpose of serving mankind. Is
this not a sign of the existence of a Divine Being Who is the possessor
of magnificent power and will?
Sign of the Ships and the Sea:
Another very intriguing argument is then given:
"and the ships that run in the sea with that which
To the casual observer it seems that the oceans have caused the
division of the earth into different parts leading to various racial
differences, thus forming the basis of human conflict. The ships,
by establishing a connection between these separated land masses
have led to the elimination of some of these differences. From these
very oceans which appear to be the cause of such conflict, Allah
has provided mankind with unlimited benefits. Besides being the
source of fresh water which is the basis of all life, they also
have a seemingly limitless supply of food. The only way to reach
this food source is also by means of these ships, and ocean freighters.
International trade and commerce depends on them, and they are the
least expensive means of transportation of goods, and materials
from one country to another. For the transfer of heavy equipment
which cannot be sent by air we have to rely on sea transportation.
Who evolved the natural laws of physics which enable these ships
to navigate the oceans, and for whose benefit were they created?
Sign of the Life-giving Rainwater:
It is then stated:
"and the water that Allah sends down from the sky,
then gives life therewith to the earth after its death."
This verse also describes a natural phenomenon which manifests strong
evidence of the existence of the Divine Being. Who has created this
potent connection of life and death between the earth and the heavens
which do not appear to be visibly linked? When the earth becomes
lifeless due to lack of moisture, who generates vapor from the brackish
sea water, cools it down in the higher strata of the atmosphere,
propels it by means of pressure changes and winds, and brings it
down as fresh rain water? Not only does this enliven the dead earth,
but also makes the water fit for the consumption of man and beast.
Who created this unity of purpose between the opposing elements
of the earth and the sky, the salt water of the ocean and the fresh
rain water, in fact life and death itself?
Sign of Creation of animal Life:
The Holy Quran then says:
"and spreads in it all (kinds of) animals."
In this verse, attention is then drawn to the fact that the earth
contains hundreds and thousands, in fact millions and billions of
living organisms. Who has created this vast variety of animal life
for the sole purpose of serving mankind? Does this not prove the
existence, and Unity of an ingenious Creator?
Sign of the Changing Winds
This verse closes with the statement:
"and the changing of the winds, and the clouds
made subservient between heaven and the earth, there are surely
signs for a people who understand."
Who moves the wind currents all over the earth in such a manner
that if a pressure change occurs over South America, the winds may
shift from the West to the East, and cause rainfall in Asia. Similarly
a weather occurrence on the South pole may affect conditions over
the North pole etc.
In this profound Quranic verse, besides the cogent arguments for
the unity, and the existence of the Divine Being, our attention
is also drawn to the fact that all the elements mentioned in these
verses, despite their impressive strength, are subservient to One
God. The law that works on the earth is the same that works in the
whole universe. This has been proven by modern scientific studies,
and development of space programs based on the same principles of
physics which apply here on earth. It is not hard to contemplate
the power and majesty of the Being Who is the Creator of, and controls
the universe with such powerful elements as the sun, oceans and
winds. Why should man not be subservient to such a God? The Holy
Quran puts it very well, that this is not difficult to understand
for the one who uses his intellect.
There also lies another matter of wisdom in this Quranic statement.
It tells us that all the powerful elements of nature mentioned in
these verses, lack the intellectual capability with which man is
blessed. With the use of this intelligence, and development of scientific
knowledge, man has been able to make these powerful forces subservient
to his will. The One who blessed man with such intelligence, and
created all scientific knowledge, is Himself the possessor of such
magnificent intellect that manís mental capabilities are insignificant
in comparison. It behooves mankind, therefore to serve such a Creator
without any reservations. Besides man the rest of the creation lacks
such common sense, and it is therefore, subordinated to man by the
Will of the Divine Being. The intelligent choice for man, which
is to his own benefit, is to serve the One Who created all these
forces, and harnessed them for manís benefit. This is well illustrated
by the historical example of nations who made worldly progress,
but lost it and were themselves destroyed, because their intelligence
did not progress beyond the material and external element, and remained
devoid of the spiritual insight.
History is replete with examples of the rise and fall of nations
who concentrated solely on worldly progress and materialism, to
the exclusion of moral and spiritual values. These nations lost
their worldly glory, and their intellectual prowess which they considered
to be the basis of their civilization, was destroyed.