Philosophy and sciences view existence as permanent and discuss the nature and qualities of creatures in detail. They do not mention their duties towards their Creator; if these are mentioned, it is very brief. It is as if philosophy and science discuss only the designs and letters of the book of the universe but attach no importance to its meaning. As for the Qur’an, it views existence as transient, moving, illusory, unstable and changing, and therefore mentions the nature and outward, physical qualities of creatures quite briefly. By contrast, it elaborates the duties of worship with which their Creator has charged them, and the ways they manifest His Names and their submission to the Divine laws of the creation and operation of the universe. Thus, in order to distinguish which is pure truth, we should see the differences between human philosophy and Qur’anic wisdom related to summarizing and elaborating.
However unmoving, constant and static your body outwardly appears, it is in a continuous movement and change in essence and inwardly, and without any pause it comes to a final stop to be revived again at a determined time. Likewise, being a huge body appearing to be constant and static, the world is unceasingly rolling or revolving in continuous changes and upheavals. Time is the dial of the world, with its two ‘hands’ of night and day showing the passage of its seconds, and its ‘hands’ of years and centuries, showing the passage of its minutes and hours. Time plunges the world into the waves of decay and, leaving the past and future to non-existence, allows existence for the present only. As with respect to time, the world is also changing and unstable with respect to space. For the atmosphere changes speedily, filling with and being cleared of the clouds a few times a day and displaying the changes of weather, thus corresponding to the passage of seconds in time. And the earth, which is the floor of the house of the world, undergoes continuous changes through the cycles of life and death and in vegetation and animals, and like the hand showing the passage of minutes, demonstrates the transience of the world. Like its surface, the inside of the earth, where convulsions and upheavals cause great changes like earthquakes, the emergence of mountains in some places and subsidence in others, also shows, like the hour hand of a clock, the mortality of the world. As for the sky, which is the roof the world, through the like movements of heavenly bodies, the appearance of comets and falling stars, and the solar and lunar eclipses, it demonstrates that it is not stable either, going to a final ruin. However slow—like the passage of weeks—are the changes in it, they also show that the world is mortal and moves to its inevitable end.
Thus, all the ‘pillars’ on which the world was built are continually shaking it. That shaking world considered with respect to its Maker, whose movements and changes are like the movements of the Pen of the Divine Power writing the missives of the Eternally Besought-of-All, all the transformations taking place in the world are like ever-renewed or ever-polished mirrors which reflect the manifestations of Divine Names in all different qualities. However, when considered with respect to itself and being a material, created entity, the world continually convulses and moves to decay and death. Although it moves like a flowing water, heedlessness has frozen it and (philosophical) naturalism has solidified it, making it a veil to conceal and forget the afterlife. The defective philosophy, nourished by modern scientific thought and supported by the alluring amusements of corrupt modern civilization and the intoxicating desires it arouses in people, makes the world more turbid and increases its solidity, causing people to completely forget the Creator and the afterlife.
The Qur’an removes heedlessness which gives rise to naturalism
- Whereas, through its verses like,
The Calamity! What is the calamity? (al-Qari‘a,101.1-2)
When the inevitable event befalls (al-Waqi‘a, 56.1), and
By the Mount, and a Scripture inscribed (al-Tur, 56.1-2),
the Qur’an shatters this world and cards it like cotton or wool.
- Through its statements like,
Have they not considered the dominion and inner aspect of the heavens and the earth? (al-A‘raf, 7.185)
Have they not then observed the sky above them, how We have constructed it? (Qaf, 50.6)
Did not those who do not believe know that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them? (al-Anbiya’, 21.30)
it gives that world a transparency and removes its turbidity.
- Through its bright, light-diffusing ‘stars’ like,
God is the Light of the heavens and the earth (al-Nur, 24.35) and
The life of this world is but a play and amusement (al-An‘am, 6.32)
it melts that solid world.
- Through its threatening verses which recall death, such as,
When the sun is folded up (al-Takwir, 81.1).
When the heaven is cleft asunder (al-Infitar, 82.1).
When the heaven is split asunder (al-Inshiqaq, 84.1).
The Trumpet is blown, and all who are in the heavens and who are on the earth fall down senseless, save those whom God wills (al-Zumar, 39.68).
it utterly destroys the delusion that the world is eternal.
- And through its thunder-like blasts like,
He knows all that enters the earth and all that emerges therefrom and all that comes down from the heaven and all that ascends therein, and He is with you wherever you may be. God sees all that you do (al-Hadid, 57.4).
Say: ‘Praise be to God, Who will show you His signs, so that you shall know them. Your Lord is not unaware of what you do’ (al-Naml, 27.93).
it removes heedlessness which gives rise to naturalism.
Thus, the verses of the Qur’an which are concerned with the universe follow that principle the aspects of which have been mentioned above. They unveil the reality of the world and display it as it is. By showing the ugly face of the world, it turns man away from it, and by pointing out its beautiful face which is turned toward the Maker, it turns man’s face toward it. It instructs mankind in true wisdom and teaches them the meanings of the book of the universe with little attention to its letters and decorations. Unlike corrupt, senseless philosophy, it does not give itself over to what is ugly and, causing people to forget the meaning, lead them to waste their time on meaningless things, in pre-occupation with the decorations of the letters.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.