SECOND RAY: We discussed in the Twelfth and other Words to what extent human philosophy is inferior to the Qur’an’s wisdom. Here we will compare them from another perspective.
Philosophy and science view existence as permanent and discuss creatures’ nature and qualities in detail. If they mention their duties toward their Creator at all, they do so only very briefly; they discuss only the designs and letters of the Book of the Universe and ignore its meaning. Whereas the Qur’an views the worldly existence as transient, moving, illusory, unstable, and changing. It speaks of creatures’ nature and outward, physical qualities rather briefly, but mentions in detail the duties of worship with which their Creator has charged them, the ways they manifest His Names, and their sub mission to the Divine laws of creation and operation of the universe. Thus, in order to distinguish truth from falsehood, we should see the differences between human philosophy and Qur’anic wisdom related to summarizing and elaborating.
However unmoving, constant, and static a clock outwardly appears, it is in a state of continuous movement in essence and inwardly. Likewise the world, which is a huge clock of the Divine Power, rolls or revolves unceasingly in continuous change and upheaval. Its two “hands” of night and day show the passage of its seconds, and its “hands” of years and centuries show the pas sage of its minutes and hours respectively. Time plunges the world into waves of decay and, leaving the past and future to non-existence, allows existence for the present only.
The world also is changing and unstable with respect to space. Its atmosphere changes rapidly, filling with and being cleared of clouds several times a day and displaying weather-related changes. Such activity corresponds to the passage of seconds. The earth, the world’s floor, undergoes continuous change through cycles of life and death and in vegetation and animals. Such cycles correspond to the passage of minutes and demonstrate the world’s transience.
Such cycles can also be found in the earth’s interior, where convulsions and upheavals such as earthquakes that result in the emergence of mountains and sinking of lands occur. These are like an hour hand and also show the world’s mortality. The movements of heavenly bodies in the sky (the world’s roof), the appearance of comets and new stars while some others are extinguished, as well as solar and lunar eclipses, demonstrate that it is not stable and therefore is making its way toward a final ruin. However slow its changes are, like the hand counting the days in a weekly clock, they also show that the world is mortal and moves to its inevitable end.
Thus, the world, with respect to its worldly existence, was founded upon these seven unstable “pillars.” They shake it continually. However, when considered with respect to its Maker, its movements and changes are the results of the movements of the Divine Power’s Pen writing the Eternally Besought One’s missives, and the transformations it undergoes function as ever-renewed or ever-polished mirrors reflecting the Divine Names’ manifestations in all different aspects.
Thus, when considered with respect to itself and being a material, created entity, the world continually convulses and moves toward decay and death. Although it moves like flowing water, heedlessness has frozen it and (philosophical) naturalism has solidified it so that it has become a veil before the Hereafter. Philosophy, nourished by modern scientific thought and supported by corrupt modern civilization’s alluring amusements, as well as the intoxicating desires it arouses in people, makes the world more turbid and increase its solidity, which causes people to forget the Creator and the afterlife. Whereas through such verses as: The sudden, mighty strike! What is the sudden, mighty strike? (101:1-2); When the event to happen happens (56:1); and: By the Mount, and by a Book inscribed (52:1-2), the Qur’an shatters this world and cards it like wool. Through such verses as: Do they not consider the inner dimension of the heavens and the earth, and God’s absolute dominion over them? (7:185); Do they not observe the sky above them, how We have built it? (50:6); and: Do those who disbelieve consider that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them? (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 (24:35), and: The present, worldly life is but a play and pastime (6:32), it melts that solid world.
Through its threatening verses that recall death, such as: When the sun is folded up (81:1); When the heaven is cleft open (82:1); When the heaven is split asunder (84: 1); and: The Trumpet is blown, and so all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth fall dead, save those whom God wills (39:68), it destroys the delusion that the world is eternal. Through its thunder-like blasts, such as: He knows whatever goes into the earth and whatever comes forth out of it, and whatever descends from the heaven and whatever ascends into it. He is with you wherever you may be. God sees all that you do (57:4); and: Say: “All praise and gratitude are for God, Soon He will show you His signs, and you will come to know them. Your Lord is never heedless and unmindful of what you do” (27: 93), it removes heedlessness, which gives rise to naturalism.
Thus all the Qur’anic verses concerned with the universe follow the principle outlined above. They unveil the world’s reality and display it as it is. By showing the world’s ugly face, they turn us away from it; by pointing out its beautiful face, which is turned toward the Maker, they turn our face toward it. The Qur’an instructs us in true wisdom and teaches us the meanings of the Book of the Universe, with little attention to its letters and decorations. Unlike human 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 such meaningless things as the letters’ decorations.
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi