A Canadian goose was leisurely shewing on a dandelion as I passed by. The scene triggered a thought of how wonderful a system it is that the geese came back from America when it was spring, the flowers had bloomed, and the geese were eating some of the dandelions that had spread like yellow fire among the grass. And then I saw three adults walking in my direction, one of them pushing a stroller with the cutest baby. While the three adults were consumed in their worldly conversation, the baby had noticed the goose. He propped himself up, extended his arm and index finger towards the goose, and his eyes glistened as he watched it admirably. The adults did not notice the goose. But the baby noticed.
Being aware of your environment
The Quran, Islam’s revealed book, starts with a prayer for guidance, then its second chapter starts by stating for whom this book holds guidance:
“This is the scripture in which there is no doubt, containing guidance for those who are mindful of God” -The Quran, ‘The Cow’ chapter, verse 2
The Arabic word of the original text for “those who are mindful [of God]” is those who have “taqwa”. When asked about the meaning of taqwa, Omar, companion of prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and second Caliph of Muslims, gave a profound analogy: He said taqwa is like a man who has a long flowing robe and has to walk in between the thorn bushes. So he sees the thorn bushes, he thinks about them, and then he pulls his clothing in around him and walks in, so the thorns would not catch his clothing. A shade of the meaning of taqwa, in other words, is being aware of your environment, and noticing things around you.1 Like the goose baby.
The Quran talks about God, the sea, the angels, the sun, the prophets, mountains, early Muslims, debt, the waves, marriage, current Muslims, the stars, morality, water, breastfeeding, jurisprudence, plants, future Muslims, ethics, the animals, the day of judgement, the sky, previous nations, law, the stars, and the baby inside the womb, to name only some of its topics. And it may seem confusing how the Quran “jumps” from one topic to another. Why is not it structured by topic, one might ask?
I think the point is for the reader to have a broad view; the Quran wants you to connect things, reflect on things, and be able to implement these things in your life and in the lives of others. Islam is not special in that it tells you to do good; all religions are supposed to do that. What is special about Islam is that it gives you perspective; perspective as to why we are here, what the world is, and what you are supposed to do in it, and how everything is connected. As a “carrier of the Quran”, you have a basis to stand on in the world -and launch from. You are in harmony with the world/creation, and the world is in harmony with you. You know what is wrong with the world and you are required to fix it. But unless you notice what is around you, you will not be able to do any of that.
If you have taqwa, you see which action is called for on every circumstance. A unique aspect of the Quran is that it keeps pointing your face to what matters and keeps setting your priorities. You are not supposed to waste time on futile attempts, on frivolous battles, on self-defeat, on self-deceit, on self-indulgence, nor on self-harm.
“Say [Prophet], ‘Shall we tell you who has the most to lose by their actions, whose efforts in this world are misguided, even when they think they are doing good work?” –The Quran, ‘The Cave’ chapter, verses 103-104
Noticing the miracle
Einstein said “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle”. We know which way babies live by.
The Quran keeps shoving evidence for its case of the oneness of God in your face. It points to the wonders of creation and the laws of the universe. Can you not see this, can you not see that? Muslim scholars call the Quran “the read book of God” and the universe “the seen book of God”. The two are very interconnected. And the two make the same case. If only we noticed.
“Did you think We had created you in vain, and that you would not be brought back to Us?” –The Quran, ‘The Believers’ chapter, verse 115
1- Reason and Revelation - dialogues of Gary Miller
-Quran Translation from: The Qur'an, Translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, Oxford University Press