The Importance of the Signs Leading to Faith
Signs Leading to Faith Help People Faith
Signs leading to faith are one of the most important means that lead people to belief. Those without faith live in deep heedlessness and cannot see any of the surrounding proofs of creation. As their societies have moved away from religion, their minds have drowned in the details of day-to-day life, and their perceptions and consciousness have become so weak that they cannot recognize these countless proofs. But as long as such people are sincere and unbiased, there is hope that when they are told of the signs leading to faith, they will believe in God's existence and oneness, that He created all that exists from nothing, and perceive His infinite knowledge and might.
Since this world is a place of testing, it would be a mistake to expect to witness such a great miracle that would force everyone to choose faith whether they wanted to or not. For example, if a seed thrown onto the ground sprouted into a giant tree in a matter of seconds, the people who witnessed it would describe it as a great miracle. However, since billions of trees do the same thing, but only very gradually, this does not create the impression of a miracle at first sight.
Let's consider another example. Imagine that the human body, which ages as one grows older, suddenly aged before one's eyes. If a new-born baby grew rapidly and became fully developed within a few minutes, matured, and grew old, this would be something astonishing and encourage those who witnessed it to think. And yet this actually happens—the only difference is the time span. The fact that such miraculous phenomena actually take place so slowly that we almost do not recognize them may appear to be something very ordinary to people whose attention, consciousness, and imagination are weak. However, such phenomena are miracles, regardless of the amount of time involved. In order to be aware of these miracles, we need to examine their details in a sincere and open-minded way so that we can see the wisdom and fine calculations within those details.
The Qur'an tells us that those who are heedless cannot see that everything that exists, including their own bodies, are miracles:
Do you not see that God sends down water from the sky and threads it through the ground to emerge as springs, and then by it brings forth crops of varying colors, which then wither and you see them turning yellow, and then He makes them into broken stubble? There is a reminder in that for people of intelligence. (Qur'an, 39:21)
Providing a detailed account of these signs, in all of their perfection and detail, is very important, for such an account helps unbelievers overcome their usual heedlessness. If their attention is drawn to these signs with which everyone is familiar and which few people bother to consider, then they will experience a consciousness of faith, the awakening of their conscience, and the elimination of unbelief's superstitious suggestions.
The first thing that comes to the mind of these newly aware people is that these signs could not have come about by chance or be self-generated. Thus, they will realize and believe in the existence of God, the Lord of infinite might Who created them.
Signs Leading to Faith Deepen Belief
And luxuriant gardens, orchards, and meadows for you and your livestock to enjoy.
Signs leading to faith are not only important to unbelievers, but also to deepening the believers' understanding and belief. In the Qur'an, God emphasizes the importance of His signs by commanding believers to think deeply about the proofs of creation He displays throughout the universe.
In addition to praying, fasting, and fulfilling their other religious obligations, sincere believers must be able to think deeply. Pondering the proofs of creation in "the heavens and Earth," which the Qur'an tells us to do, enables believers to increase their faith by acquiring definitive information about it. The Qur'an also reveals that the proofs of God's existence are directed toward faith with sure knowledge:
There are certainly Signs in the earth for people with certainty, and in yourselves as well. Do you not then see? (Qur'an, 51:20-21)
This verse states that the signs leading to faith, which are visible both in this world and in one's body, will lead people to belief by enabling them to acquire sure and certain knowledge. Such a faith will lead to a greater fear [and awareness] of God, which will cause believers to abide by His commands and prohibitions in a more conscientious manner. As they perform their religious obligations in submission to God, those who ponder the proofs of creation will come to believe that God sees all of their deeds and will reward them for their good actions. Similarly, the fact that God knows even their slightest sin will lead them to repent and strive to abandon these sins.
How many creatures do not carry their provision with them! God provides for them and He will [provide] for you. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.
God calls on believers in the following terms:
O you who believe! Have fear [and awareness] of God, seek the means of drawing near to Him, and strive in His Way so that, hopefully, you will be successful. (Qur'an, 5:35)
As revealed in this verse, trying to draw closer to God is a means of hoping for salvation. Therefore, the signs leading to faith are means that help believers draw closer to Him by acquiring a deeper comprehension and understanding of His existence and nature. For instance, meditating on the living beings He has created, as well as observing and thinking about their perfect internal structures and systems, enable people to witness God's infinite might and power from a closer vantage point.
For example, people who learn about the human body's magnificent structures see the clear evidence of God's existence and artistry, and realize that everything, including their own bodies, is His work and is controlled by Him at every moment. At the same time, they draw closer to God by comprehending their own helplessness. Feeling themselves moving ever closer to God causes them to turn more toward gaining His mercy and good pleasure. For instance, they decide to use the time that they formerly wasted in ways designed to gain His good pleasure and perform their religious observations with greater enthusiasm.
Finally, signs leading to faith play a most important role in moving from a superficial and imitative faith to an unshakeable and powerful one.
Signs Leading to Faith Defeat Atheism
And people, beasts, and livestock are likewise of varying colors. Only those of His servants with knowledge have fear [and awareness] of God. God is Almighty, Ever-Forgiving.
In our own time, atheists and all enemies of religion are making intense efforts to deny God's existence and oneness. In return, God offers believers many proofs and means that they can use to defeat and overcome these distorted and misguided philosophies. Signs leading to faith head the list of these proofs.
The greatest untruth asserted by those who deny God is that everything, living or otherwise, came about as the result of chance. In order to invalidate this superstitious belief and bring the proofs of creation into the light of day, we need to study and explain these signs according to the tenets and practices of modern science. Unbiased people who come to see the magnificent structures in living things, as well as the extraordinary systems and countless delicate balances in the universe, realize that these cannot have come about by chance and that God created everything through His infinite might. Thus, the unbelievers' claim that all of creation is the result of chance are swept aside. As the Qur'an tells us: "Say: 'Truth has come and falsehood has vanished. Falsehood is always bound to vanish'" (Qur'an, 17:81).
Those who are unaware of the signs leading to faith are defenseless in the face of atheism's assertions. For example, all of us have seen people who were raised in conservative families and received a religious upbringing rapidly lose their faith during their high school or university years because of what they hear and see around them. The reason for this is that atheists adorn their superstitious beliefs with "reason and science" in order to portray themselves as people who know everything about nature and the universe, who have grasped the laws of life and unearthed all of the relevant facts. In this way, they influence and mislead those people with conservative upbringings but who are unaware of the signs leading to faith, for their faith is not built on sure and certain knowledge.
However, someone who knows about these signs can easily identify and deal with the atheists' lies and falsehoods. Such people are more useful both to themselves and to those around them. Being unaware of these signs leaves a person defenseless when confronted by atheists, whereas knowing, comprehending, and explaining these signs makes them intellectually superior to all forms of atheism.
Signs Leading to Faith Enable Us to Appreciate God Properly
That is God, your Lord. There is no deity but Him, the Creator of everything. So worship Him. He is responsible for everything.
Thinking deeply about the signs leading to faith and seeing how they reflect God's names allows one to move closer to Him. Thanks to this virtue acquired by those who begin to know God better and see His manifestations in all places, they come to appreciate His might.
For instance, those with a deep knowledge of and concentration on the signs leading to faith understand that God controls all people and knows each moment of their lives. The body's trillions of cell, as well as the bodies of all people and of all the living things, exist and survive only by His will. Clearly, such a system can continue only because an infinite power, knowledge, intelligence, and reason—God—exists. Just thinking deeply about this one point enables people to witness His names from a closer vantage point and to appreciate His might properly.
After citing the example of a tiny fly as a sign leading to faith, God speaks of those who are heedless of these truths and do not properly appreciate His might:
O humanity! An example has been given, so listen to it carefully. Those whom you call upon besides God are not even able to create a single fly, even if they were to join together to do it. And if a fly steals something from them, they cannot get it back. How feeble are both the seeker and the sought! They do not measure God with His true measure. God is All-Strong, Almighty. (Qur'an, 22:73-74)
While referring in other verses to those who do not think about these signs, God says that these people have no fear of Him:
Say: "Who provides for you out of heaven and Earth? Who controls hearing and sight? Who brings forth the living from the dead and the dead from the living? Who directs the whole affair?" They will say: "God." Say: "So will you not guard against evil?" That is God, your Lord, the Truth, and what is there after truth except misguidance? So how have you been distracted? (Qur'an, 10:31-32)
He sends down water from the sky. From it you drink, and from it come the shrubs among which you graze your herds.
As can be seen from these verses, researching, learning about, and meditating on the signs leading to faith are means of understanding, with sure and certain knowledge, God's absolute control and dominion over all of creation. This understanding leads to submission to God. Believers who ponder the body's many systems and delicate balances understand that the body itself did not establish these perfectly functioning systems. They realize that the body is a collection of cells formed from atoms devoid of any consciousness, sensory organs, and reasoning ability. Given this reality, they form the sure opinion that everything in their bodies, down to the single cell and even the single atom, functions at His command and by His will. Thus, there is no place for chance or coincidence in any phase of any phenomenon.
Only Those With Knowledge Fear God as They Should
Does He Who created the heavens and Earth not have the power to create the same again? Yes indeed! He is the Creator, the All-Knowing. His command when He desires a thing is just to say to it "Be!" and it is.
Researching and acquiring information about these signs and thinking about them gradually leads to a deep accumulation of knowledge. People with such knowledge "grow profoundly in knowledge" or "possess knowledge," in the words of the Qur'an. And, these same people witness that God encompasses all places and that there is no deity but Him:
God bears witness that there is no deity but Him, as do the angels and the people of knowledge, upholding justice. There is no deity but Him, the Almighty, the All-Wise. (Qur'an, 3:18)
People who possess knowledge see His manifestations at every moment in their own bodies and all around them. For example, people who know that a tiny ant performs its duty with perfect obedience and proficiency, and that it has a planned and flawless working system to carry food back to the colony, see God's superior mind and might in every ant.
People with knowledge who acquire a closer knowledge of God by thinking deeply about these signs acquire a better understanding of His great might and power. However, those with only a little knowledge of these signs think that it is enough simply to say: "How well God has created this" when they see a bird flying, for example. Those with knowledge, on the other hand, know that the birds' wings are designed for flight, that they fly in a "V" formation to conserve energy, and that their feathers' have a special design. In short, they are aware that everything in each bird, from flight to reproduction, from the shape of their feathers to their colors, was created within God's superior order and design.
But when such people see a new-born baby, they just say, "What a pretty baby. May God give it a long life." Of course, remembering God when looking at a baby is excellent behavior. However, it is much better to consider the developmental phases that this baby will go through, to remember that God created all of these phases, and to praise and thank God. In fact, people with true knowledge think about the miraculous aspects of a baby's pre-birth stages and the extraordinary nature of a single sperm reaching the egg that is so far away from it, remember that these two cells from two different bodies come together in perfect harmony, and see the perfection of how they turn into a seeing, hearing, and thinking human being. When they consider examples of such superior creative artistry, their faith in the face of God's superior power and knowledge grows. Their fear [and awareness] of God also grows and is strengthened to the same degree that they feel His names. This characteristic is revealed thus in the Qur'an:
… Only those of His servants with knowledge have fear of God. God is Almighty, Ever-Forgiving. (Qur'an 35:28)
And Earth—We spread it like a carpet, and how well We smoothed it out! And We created all things in pairs so that, hopefully, you would pay heed.
The Qur'an praises the people of knowledge for such superior qualities. All believers must seek to achieve this same level. To that end, they must see all of the events they experience and all of the entities with which they come into contact as signs leading to faith, and then think deeply about them.
Signs Leading to Faith Broaden a Person's Mental Horizons
Learning and thinking about the signs leading to faith, as well as understanding their wisdom and detail, are very important to broadening a person's mental horizons.
The Sun and the Moon both run with precision. The stars and the trees all bow down in prostration.
In our own time, people live monotonous and restricted lives in the suffocating atmosphere of crowded cities. They cannot see the signs leading to faith that surround them, and ignore them even if they do see them. Yet for believers, everything is a sign leading to faith. Knowing that God created the order in the universe, they evaluate all living or non-living entities from that perspective. For example, even nonbelievers are signs leading to faith, for God revealed in the Qur'an that there will be such people. Moreover, their unbelief, despite His clear existence, is a means to increase the believers' fear [and awareness] of God and encourage them to thank Him for the gift of faith. In terms of these signs, believers do not think only about the astonishing features of trees, flowers, or animals, but also about the facilities created by God (e.g., transport vehicles, telephones, or computers) as more signs leading to faith. They know that they all exist with God's permission and thank Him for the way in which they make life easier.
The tense, angry, weary, thoughtless, crude, and disrespectful behavior we see all around us comes from those people who are unaware that God has created all things. However, those who interpret everything as signs leading to faith and duly think about these, grow and broaden in spiritual terms.
In the Qur'an, God compares people who lack spiritual depth and understanding, as well as those who think along narrow lines and with simple logic, to the "Badawis" (bedouins). These were nomadic Arabs, in the days of our Prophet (May God bless him and grant him peace), as opposed to urbanized Arabs. While they had literary and aesthetic cultures, the bedouins were an ignorant, hard, and crude-natured lot. Having such a nature is a major obstacle to understanding and living by religion. That is why God states:
The desert Arabs are more obdurate in disbelief and hypocrisy, and more likely not to know the limits that God has sent down to His Messenger. God is All-Knowing, All-Wise. (Qur'an, 9:97)
The "bedouin character" represents ignorance, thoughtlessness, and vulgarity. In order to put that character right, people need to work to become cultured, deep-thinking, and capable of comprehending the superior artistry and wisdom in God's creation. Studying, learning and thinking about, and interpreting the signs leading to faith is the basis of what God requires from us. In one verse, He describes this feature of Muslims as follows:
[People with intelligence are] those who remember God, standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and Earth: "Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire." (Qur'an, 3:191)
... "The Lord of the East and the West and everything between them, if you used your intellect." (Qur'an, 26:28)
So far, we have considered how the signs leading to faith enable people to have faith by knowing Him better. We have mentioned how they increase believers' faith, implant an unshakeable faith in their hearts, and allow them to appreciate God properly. All of these qualities engendered by learning and thinking deeply about these signs increase believers' fear [and awareness] of God, and causes them to adhere to God's commands and prohibitions in a more enthusiastic and conscious manner. For that reason, they are a means of attaining God's mercy, which consists of God's gifts of what is auspicious, abundance, beauty, knowledge, wisdom, peace, joy and happiness, an increase in reason, and the granting of blessings. In the Hereafter, on the other hand, it means salvation from the eternal suffering of Hell and attaining the infinite blessings of Paradise and God's constant compassion.
Paradise consists of different levels, which believers reach according to the level of their faith. Therefore, believers who grow within the signs of faith bear closer witness to His infinite names and so possess an unadulterated and superior faith based on sure and certain knowledge. These people are, by His will, superior to the same extent in the levels of Paradise. (And God knows best.)
Believers who study and learn about these signs will be rewarded with high ranks in Paradise, by His will, on account of their deep thinking and trembling fear [and awareness] of God:
The believers are those whose hearts tremble when God is mentioned, whose faith is increased when His Signs are recited to them, and who put their trust in their Lord; those who perform prayer and give of what We have provided for them. They are, in truth, the believers. They have high ranks with their Lord, as well as forgiveness and generous provision. (Qur'an, 8:2-4)