Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | The Sunday Guardian | July 11, 2021
If our gaze could encompass the entire universe, we would feel amazed and awed at the vastness of its expanse, and at the myriads of stars and asteroids which go hurtling through it at incredible speeds. All of these celestial bodies are either dry rocks or blazing stars with surface conditions (extremes of temperatures, too high or too low a gravitational pull, constant hurricanes, an absence of oxygen, etc.) which could never support life as we know it. The sole exception is our planet earth, which is blessed with air and water, plant and animal life. In such a sterile universe, our earth is indeed a rare phenomenon, with its lush greenery, its multitudes of living creatures and, above all, man, with his ability to think, reason and plan.
God has created man in an environment which, in affording him so many benefits ranging far and beyond his needs for mere survival, is unique in the entire universe. Is this not a sign that He intended man for a higher existence? The world in which God created man is not only an exceptional gift from the Almighty but is also a model for the heavenly world which he has fashioned for the spiritually elect, that is, for those who, fully conscious of, and filled with gratitude for God’s beneficence, have patterned their lives on the divine example he has set them.
The paradise which He has planned for them, in being free of all disadvantages, all limitations, in short, of all negative factors, will be an everlasting manifestation of God’s own perfection. It is a world which will be inhabited by those who are blissfully untarnished by worldly considerations, giving off what they possess with no thought of reward, just like the tree which gives its shade and its fruit to friend and foe alike.
Heaven is for those who can sing the praises of their Lord–just like the warbling birds all around us–even when He never assumes a material form which would serve as a reminder of His actual existence. Paradise is for those who know how to derive their spiritual sustenance from the manifestations of their Lord all around them in nature. Such souls alone are fit to preach the word of God, taking their inspiration as they do from His silent message which is unceasingly relayed throughout the universe; the true preacher of His message has his mind and heart ever attuned to such divine communication. As a recipient of God’s message, he can joyfully mingle his words of praise with the chorus of birds and trees who never cease to chant hymns of praise to the Almighty.
A true preacher must rise above the trivial issues of this mundane world if he is to convey the exalted message of his Lord. He must unfailingly maintain a higher moral standard than his listeners. If he cannot do so, he is no longer in consonance with the divine pattern of God’s universe, and, as such, he is not worthy to receive or communicate the holy commandments of God.