Sunday, January 6, 2008

272)No. 1, 'Ayats'(Signs) in the Universe series: A magnificent vista of nature as seen from a cottage deck

19)No. 1, 'Ayats'(Signs) in the Universe series: A magnificent vista of nature as seen from a cottage deck

Ayats(Signs) in the Universe series, no.1A magnificent vista of nature as seen from a cottage deck:

April 2006. I just returned with my family from my cottage in Ontario's lake district, the Muskokas. April is always a great month to go up north because the snow and ice are melting, the many varieties of birds are chirping excitedly, new buds and leaves are appearing on the many varieties of non-evergreen trees, the air is fresh and all around one there are signs of rejuvenation and renewal. I am reminded of the following Quranic verse:

Sura 36, Ayat 33: 'And a sign for them is the way in which we have given life to the earth that is dead: We quickened it and brought forth from it grain, of which they eat'.

The word 'quickening' refers not only to the sun and water and the temperature but also to the countless species of bacteria and other organisms that 'wake up' after the winter and begin to churn out all sorts of nutrients to enrich the soil and prepare it for the ensuing growing season.

With all the melting snow and ice, the small creek that usually meanders slowly by the side of our cottage is now a raging mini-torrent as it snakes towards the lake. The lake itself was about 80% covered with a thin layer of ice on friday but by yesterday(sunday) most of the ice had melted away. The gurgling sound of flowing water was music to the soul. So was the wild chirping of the birds and sounds of insects.

As I surveyed the idyllic scene from the comfortable beach chair on my deck I began to think about the differences between sufism and philosophical ismailism and how each might survey such a scene differently as they try to reach an understanding of God.

A sufi might look at such an enthralling scene holistically and contemplate it as a single unified scene reflecting the beauty of Allah's creation. Combining this picture with guidance from his murshid or master, a sufi could use a scene like this to meditate on as he plumbed the depths towards that all-encompassing divine love that is the goal of every sufi.

An adherent of philosophical ismailism would do the same as the sufi but would also try to do more to satisfy his intellect. He would be searching for other ways to link his intellect to his faith. He might remember the farman made by Mowlana Hazar Imam in Toronto on Wednesday, June 8th 2005 in which he said:".....Our interpretation of Islam places enormous value on knowledge. Knowledge is the reflection of faith if it is used properly. Seek out that knowledge and use it properly...."

This kind of farman has been made throughout the ages by earlier Imams and perhaps that is why proponents of philosophical ismailism used words like Intellect or Universal Intellect or Universal Soul rather that Divine Love or Divine Essence. They were interested not only in a holistic appreciation of the creation but also in the structure of truth in its minutest of detail.

Hence, Pir Nasir Khusraw wrote treatises on the structure and nature of time and space. He was interested not only in appreciating Allah's creation holistically but he was also trying to learn the science within creation because it represents the structure of truth at its most basic level.

Coming back to the scene in front of me at my cottage, I marvelled at the vista in holistic fashion but, in keeping to the farman made in Toronto in June 2005 where I was fortunate to be in that audience, I was also very interested in the minutest details of that scene because they represent the handiwork of Allah and my hope was and is that, in appreciating the 'zahir' of that vista, I might someday be able to penetrate through it to reach its 'batin'.

Easy Nash aka easynash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)