Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Principles of Life | Al Risala, July 1988
Bewailing man’s insensitivity to the divine wonders that surround him, the Quran observes: “And there are many signs in the heavens and the earth that they pass by and give no heed to” (12:105). We may attempt to convey great truths in human language, but how much better they are expressed in the divine language of the universe! But when people are deaf to the word of God, how can we expect them to give ear to the human voice and be influenced thereby? Those who fail to read the writings of God in nature all around them can scarcely be expected to benefit from the writings of man.
Where can we find better teachers than the vastness and grandeur of the universe? They teach us that man is a humble creature and that the only posture which is proper for man to adopt is that of extreme humility. In spite of this, man continues to display his arrogance. The Quran tells us not to walk proudly on the earth. “You cannot cleave the earth, nor can you rival the mountains in height.” (17:37)
God has given us many signs in nature so that we may grow in understanding, “... for, there are rocks from which streams gush forth; and, there are some that cleave asunder and water flows out from them” (2:74). This same verse sadly comments, “Your hearts became as hard as rock or even harder.” (2:74)
People go on building their lives and their societies to resemble shallow-rooted, delicate tendrilled creepers which may be swept away at any moment by even the most minor vagaries of nature, yet that very same nature provides us with the analogy of the lofty tree with its deep, spreading roots – a veritable symbol of unity, strength and wholesomeness. Why cannot human beings read the signs that are meant for them? Why do they build on such shallow foundations when society’s roots need to go down so deep? The Quran makes it clear that we are meant to see a divine meaning in the tree when it asks: “Do you not see how God compares a good word to a good tree? Its root is firm and its branches are in the sky, it yields its fruit each season with its Lord’s permission—God makes such comparisons for people, in order that they may take heed.” (14:24-25)
Had people ears that actually heard, and eyes that actually saw they would find the universe announcing divine truths at every moment. But when people are deaf to divine announcements and blind to divine signs, is it to be expected that the human voice will benefit them to any degree whatsoever? When such a stage of insensitivity has been reached, it will only be the last trumpet of Doomsday which will finally bring them to their senses.