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THE ISLAMIC VIEWPOINT OF THE UNIVERSE AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

Everyone talks so much about the danger of war and environmental pollution that peace and ecology have become quite fashionable words. However, those who are expected to diagnose these problems wish to remove them through the further conquest and domination of nature.

This problem has arisen because the humanity–nature equilibrium has been destroyed by the modern materialistic conception of, and corrupt attitude toward, humanity and nature. Most people are reluctant to perceive that social peace and peace with nature is possible only through peace with the spiritual order. To be at peace with Earth one must be at peace with his or her heavenly self, and this is impossible if one is not at peace with Heaven.

Modernity and Nature

The dangers caused by our domination of nature are well known, despite new measures taken to protect it. Nature is no longer considered sacred, as it was in the medieval era, and so has lost its meaning. The resulting void caused by the disappearance of this indispensable aspect of human existence continues to exist within our souls and manifests itself in many ways, sometimes violently and desperately.

This domination of nature is largely responsible for many problems, among them urban sprawl and congestion, the exhaustion of natural resources, the destruction of natural beauty, and the abnormal rise in mental illnesses. And this, together with giving our animalistic tendencies complete freedom, has made the problem of war so crucial.

Our present encounter with nature, as well as its associated problems, carry within themselves elements connected with the Christian civilization of the Middle Ages. When Christianity came to replace or save the civilization of Antiquity, it found itself in a world dominated by naturalism, empiricism, and rationalism. Human knowledge gradually became sanctified, and the Church considered giving such attention to nature to be a blasphemy blinding people to the vision of God. As a result, the Church opposed this naturalism and emphasized the boundary between the supernatural and the natural. Theologians neglected nature’s theological and spiritual significance because they believed that nature had nothing to teach humanity about God, and therefore it had no theological and spiritual significance. 

Although some Western writers such as W. Temple, claim that Christianity and science have a close relationship because Christianity, as the most avowedly materialist great religion, can dominate matter, in fact, Christianity has shown a certain negligence regarding knowledge and certainty. The Renaissance ushered in endless controversies between the Church and science. Moreover, due to the Church’s opposition to human reason and knowledge, as well as its depriving nature of its spiritual significance, modern science developed as a fatal instrument in materialistic hands.

Divine Love as the reason behind existence 

There is an inseparable relation between God, nature, and humanity. Nature and humanity are two “books” written with different material but having the same meaning. The reason behind their existence is Divine love.

Suppose a kind, compassionate, and generous man wills to feed some very poor, hungry, and destitute people. So, he prepares a banquet on his fine ship and watches them from above while they eat. You may understand how much of their grateful enjoyment and happiness they can express only by giving thanks and praising that noble and generous person so that he is pleased and exhilarated.

Similarly, the All-Merciful and Compassionate One has spread out a vast food-laden table on Earth’s face and causes Earth to travel in the space with all of its inhabitants. He feeds them from the food on this table and invites those of His servants who are infinitely hungry and destitute to Paradise’s everlasting gardens. He prepares each garden as if it were a magnificent table laid out with all kinds of food and drink, which are of pure pleasure and delight. Consider the pleasure and happiness that the above-mentioned person feels at his guests’ enjoyment, although he is not the true owner of what he offers, and then compare it with the indescribable sacred love and pleasure felt by the All-Merciful One.

Consider another example. If a skillful technician invents something that works as intended, he or she is pleased and says: “What wonders God has willed.” The Majestic Maker invented the vast universe. He made Earth (in general) and each creature in it (in particular), especially our head, in such a way that science should be lost in admiration. Each creature displays the expected results to the utmost degree and in a very beautiful way. Their obedience to God’s laws for the universe’s creation and operation, which comprise their worship, glorification, and specific praise and exaltation of Him, as well as the attainment of Divine purposes for their lives, please Him to a degree beyond our comprehension.

Or, say a just judge receives great pleasure from doing and establishing justice, and becomes extremely happy when he or she can restore the rights of the oppressed against the oppressor. Compare with this the sacred meanings arising from the reality that the Absolutely Just Ruler, the Majestic Overwhelming One, gives all creatures the right of existence. He gives animate beings the right of life, protects and maintains their existence and lives against aggression, restores all rights in the universe, acts with absolute justice, and will judge humanity and jinn in the Here-after and establish absolute justice.

As in the examples above, each Divine Name contains many sorts of beauty, grace, and perfection, as well as many levels of love, pride, honor, and grandeur. This is why exacting saintly scholars, who manifest the Divine Name the All-Loving, have concluded: “The essence of the universe is love. All creatures move with the motive of love. All laws of attraction, rapture, and gravity originate in love.” One of them even said:

With love the spheres are intoxicated,
angels are intoxicated, and so are stars.
The heavens, the sun, the moon,
and Earth are intoxicated.
Intoxicated are the elements and plants
and trees and human beings.
All animate beings are intoxicated,
and so are all atoms of creation.

Every creature is intoxicated, according to its capacity, with the “wine” of Divine love. People love those who are kind to them as well as true perfection and transcendent beauty. They also love those who are kind to those whom they love and for whom they have mercy. Given this, we can understand that the Majestic and Beautiful, the Most Beloved of Perfection, in each of Whose Names are innumerable treasuries of kindness, Who makes all those whom we love happy with His favors and is the source of countless perfections and levels of beauty and grace, is worthy of infinite love and the creation’s intoxication with His love. This is why some saints who have manifested the Divine Name the All-Loving have said: “We do not even want Paradise. A gleam of the Divine love is eternally sufficient for us,” and why, as Prophet Muhammad said: “A single minute spent in beholding the Divine Beauty in Paradise excels all the bounties of Paradise.”

So, perfect love and all perfections attained through love are possible within the spheres of the universal manifestations of Divine Names on beings as a whole (Unity) and the spheres of their particular manifestations on individuals (Oneness or Uniqueness). Any perfections imagined outside those spheres are false.

The reason behind the events in the universe 

If someone enthusiastically performs a natural or social duty, an observer may infer two reasons for doing so: the ultimate cause (what can be obtained from doing so) and the motive or necessary cause (one’s yearning to do it and subsequent enjoyment in doing it.) For example, eating when hungry gives some satisfaction [necessary cause], while food nourishes the body [ultimate cause]. 

Likewise, the existence of the universe and the incessant, amazing activity in it are caused by two kinds of Divine Names and for two comprehensive purposes or results. The first purpose and cause is that God’s Beautiful Names manifest themselves in countless ways and kinds. This causes multiplicity in creation. Further, the Divine Names manifest themselves incessantly and seek to display their works continuously. This causes the Book of the Universe, with all of its “sentences, words, and letters” to be renewed constantly. Each part of this Book, which is the manifestation of the Divine Names, is a sign or indication of the Sacred Divine Essence so that conscious living beings can know Him.

The second cause or purpose is that every creature is active because it yearns for and takes pleasure in activity. Activity itself is a pleasure. Likewise God, the Necessarily Existent Being and in conformity with His essential independence of creation and absolute perfection, feels infinite sacred affection and love. Such affection and love cause an infinite sacred enthusiasm, which engenders a limitless sacred joy that, in turn, is the source of infinite sacred pleasure. Due to this pleasure special to His Divine “Essence,” God has infinite compassion. In turn, this compassion causes His creatures to attain their relative perfection by enabling them to realize their full potential. His creatures’ perfection and the pleasure they find in attaining it pleases God so much that His infinite sacred pleasure requires the whirl of creation. 

However, the followers of materialistic philosophy and secular natural sciences, unaware of this delicate Divine wisdom, attribute such activity, which displays perfect knowledge, wisdom, and insight, to unconscious nature, blind coincidence, and causality. This causes them to fall into the dark pits of misguidance.

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Last Updated on April 15, 2002

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