Think 'Green' Outside The Masjid
Take a stroll outside. Which signs of Allah do you see? One of the most beautiful aspects of our Islamic tradition is the constant refer...
One of the most beautiful aspects of our Islamic tradition is the constant reference to the outdoors. Repeatedly we are told to reflect upon the Sky, Sun, Moon, Stars, Mountains and Rivers, which are presented to us as signs.
These signs contain manifest and subtle meanings that humble us through beauty, awe and sheer creative magnificence. However, if we never stop to reflect and seek opportunities to take in these signs, then we risk limiting the depths our spiritual growth.
One of my greatest experiences in understanding this relationship occurred while sitting in a tree-stand just before dawn. I was hunting whitetail deer in New England and as the sun began to rise the beauty of the morning sun filled my eyes and soul with an array of colors in the sky and amongst the trees. The brilliant colors of autumn that embellish the Northeast are breathtaking. However, this morning I was blessed to see beyond the leaves and trees into a deeper meaning.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a leaf falling, and as it floated down I followed it until it reached the floor of the forest. Immediately I thought of the verse in the Qur'an that reads:
“And with Him are the keys of the unseen treasures--none knows them but He; and He knows what is in the land and the sea, and there falls not a leaf but He knows it, nor a grain in the darkness of the earth, nor anything green nor dry but (it is all) in a clear book.” (Qur'an, 6:59)I thought of this leaf falling in the knowledge of God, and after it landed I began to look at all the leaves on the ground in relation to God's knowledge. I then extended this thought to the leaves in the surrounding area, and then to the state, and then the region, and then to the entire East coast. Then I extended this thought to the continents and then thought about this occurrence happening from the beginning of time to our present day and beyond. It was an amazing experience!
With this thought I looked at the trees and was reminded of the following verse:
“And if whatever trees upon the earth were pens and the sea [was ink], replenished thereafter by seven [more] seas, the words of Allah would not be exhausted; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise. (Qur'an 31:27)Similarly, what if all these trees were pens, and every tree, from the beginning of time to the end were used to write the words of God? And what if the Atlantic Ocean—where I grew up—and the Indian Ocean--where I swam while in South Africa--and the Pacific Ocean--that I gaze upon each day, and all remaining oceans, with their limitlessness, were ink? Endless pens and unlimited ink, yet the words of the Creator Supreme would not be exhausted!
With this new understanding I was able to connect the outward and that which is apparent with subtle meanings from the Divine. My immediate feeling was gratitude. How many times had I walked through this area, how many times had I walked among the trees and how many leaves had fallen in my sight? How many times had I looked at the floor of the forest only to see composting debris, devoid of any meaning? It was as if a veil had been lifted and these meanings were now as obvious as they were visible.
These moments of clarity are gifts and I long for more of them. However, one thing I know for sure is that these moments will never happen if I don’t get outside!
Director of Student Life
Zaytuna College, California
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