The Ability to See the Signs of Allah
In many societies today, the Qur’an is assessed very differently from what is the real purpose of its revelation. In the Islamic world, in general, very few people know the contents of the Qur’an.
Some Muslim people often hang the Qur’an on the walls of their houses within a decorative cover and elderly people read it from time to time. They assume that the Qur’an protects those who read it from "misfortune and trouble". According to this superstition, they consider the Qur’an a sort of amulet against misfortunes.
The Qur’anic verses, however, inform us that the purpose of the Qur’an’s revelation is entirely different from what is mentioned above. For instance, in the 52nd verse of Surah Ibrahim, Allah states: "This is a communication to be transmitted to mankind so that they can be warned by it and so that they will know that He is One God and so that people of intelligence will pay heed." In many other verses, Allah emphasises that one of the most crucial purposes of the Qur’an’s revelation is to invite people to ponder.
In the Qur’an, Allah invites people to reject blindly accepting the beliefs and values society imposes on them and to ponder by pushing aside all the prejudices, taboos and constraints on their minds.
Man must think on how he came into being, what is the purpose of his life, why he will die and what awaits him after death. He must question how he himself and the whole universe came into existence and how they continue to exist. While doing this, he must relieve himself of all constraints and prejudices.
By thinking, while isolating his conscience from all social, ideological and psychological obligations, the person should eventually perceive that the entire universe, including himself, is created by a superior power. Even when he examines his own body or any other thing in nature, he will see an impressive harmony, plan and wisdom at work within its design.
At this point again, the Qur'an guides man. In the Qur’an, Allah guides us as to what we should reflect on and investigate. With the methods of reflection given in the Qur'an, he who has faith in Allah will better perceive Allah’s perfection, eternal wisdom, knowledge and power in His creation. When a believing person starts to think in the way shown in the Qur’an, he soon realises that the whole universe is a sign of Allah’s power and art, and that, "nature is a work of art, not the artist itself". Every work of art exhibits the exceptional skills of the one who has made it and conveys his messages.
In the Qur’an, people are summoned to contemplate numerous events and objects that clearly testify to the existence and uniqueness of Allah and His attributes. In the Qur’an, all these beings that bear witness are designated as "signs", meaning "tested evidence, absolute knowledge and expression of truth". Therefore, the signs of Allah comprise all the beings in the universe that disclose and communicate the being and attributes of Allah. Those who can observe and remember will see that the entire universe is only composed of the signs of Allah.
This, indeed, is the responsibility of mankind; to be able to see the signs of Allah... Thus, such a person will come to know the Creator Who created him and all other things, draw closer to Him, discover the meaning of his existence and his life and so prosper.
Each thing, the breaths a human takes, political and social developments; the cosmic harmony in the universe, the atom, which is one of the smallest pieces of matter, is each a sign of Allah and they all operate under His control and knowledge, abiding by His laws. Recognising and knowing the signs of Allah calls for personal effort. Everyone will recognise and know the signs of Allah in accordance with his own wisdom and conscience.
Undoubtedly, the Qur’an is man’s guide at this point, as in all other matters. As the first step, one can investigate certain points stressed in the Qur'an in order to acquire the mentality that perceives the whole universe as an articulation of the things Allah created. This book is written to draw attention to some of the subjects that we are advised to ponder in the Qur’an. Allah’s signs in nature are emphasised in Surat an-Nahl:
In the Qur'an, Allah invites men of understanding to think about the issues which other people overlook, or just dismiss using such barren terms as "evolution", "coincidence", or "a miracle of nature".
In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are Signs for people of intelligence: those who remember Allah standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: "Our Lord, You did not create this for nothing. Glory be to You! So guard us from the punishment of the Fire.(Surah Ali-‘Imran: 190-191)
As we see in these verses, people of understanding see the signs of Allah and try to comprehend His eternal knowledge, power and art by remembering and reflecting on them, for Allah’s knowledge is limitless, and His creation flawless.
For men of understanding, everything around them is a sign of this creation.