By Umme Aisha
When I woke up for Fajr this morning, I decided to do a little experiment. Instead of going straight back to bed once I had prayed, I thought I’d spend the early hours of the morning doing something productive. But the question that immediately popped into my head was: What do I do instead?
Not wanting to give myself a chance to think about this too deeply, I was quickly on the way to my laptop- thinking: ‘I read Qur’an just before I slept; how about I work online for a bit and then read a little more Qura’n once I’m done?’
Apparently we plan, but Allah has His own plans- and those are the best plans. So I was busy working on Facebook (read: wasting my time) when I suddenly came across this video all about how our electronic lives are harming and affecting our real lives. Feeling slightly guilty, I shut my laptop off and wondered whether this was true for me.
The first and most obvious excuse that came to mind was, “NO, I use my Facebook solely for Dawah purposes. I share things related to the Quran and Sunnah on Facebook and I read about Islam over there. Don’t I always ‘like’ things that are Islamic and support worthy causes/Facebook groups etc?’ With that I mentally patted myself on my back. Such an amazing model Muslim I was!
My inner voice (zameer) chose precisely that moment to speak up: “How much of the Facebook Dawah do I actually remember? What was my last ‘like’ about?” Unable to answer any of these questions, I was hit with shame. So much for trying to justify my excessive Facebook use. It was time to distance myself from the ‘technology’.
I made my way upstairs to the open roof, and for a while I kept on thinking up great ways to alternately spend my time (away from the laptop). I finally settled on trying to connect with nature. Picturing different scenarios in my head, ‘Hey, I could go with so and so for a hike next Wednesday’, I made plans for the perfect technology-free trip. Yes, I would definitely reconnect with nature that way!
While I sat there on the rooftop reciting a part of the Quran, reflecting and just generally lost in my own thoughts, I realized that I was already in the process of connecting with nature. All around me, the world was waking up to another lovely morning as the sun rose in the sky!
The thought of ‘connecting with nature’ had previously made me think of my childhood; of the times spent as a child playing outdoors (come rain, mud or a storm!)- where I’d frequently get ‘real wounds’ on my knees and elbows. I compared this with myself in the current day and age; the more recent me who usually ‘played’ while logged onto the internet, injured only by her own heartbreaking realizations ‘NO ONE liked my status/picture’.
This beautiful morning, I realized that nature was still the same as it was in my childhood- the sun still rose from the east, the sky was still vast and blue, the mountains were still far and gray, the trees were still green and huge, the crows crowed the same way and sparrows chirped the same ‘chu-chu’.It wasn’t that the world and the experiences it had to offer had changed; no, it was I who had simply stopped noticing.
To my great pleasure, I also discovered that the date-palm tree outside my house was about to bear dates again. I discovered that my past complaints about the weather being too hot didn’t hold- apparently, in the early hours of the morning, the weather is not only pleasant and mild, but also perfect to get things done in! Too bad our mornings start after noon, and that we ‘feel’ as if it’s always hot in summer.
Once I came back inside, I realised that it was several degrees hotter (and stuffier) in my room than it had been up on the roof.
So this was how I spent one fantastic morning simply as an observer of nature. Nature, and God’s creation in general is always appealing for the majority of us; yes, we will click ‘like’ under a beautiful picture of a couple of hills. Ironically though, most of us hardly take out the time to experience this in person.
Allah subhanahu wa Ta’ala has mentioned these natural phenomena time and again in the Qur’an, so that we will appreciate and understand just how great our Rab is, how much He has blessed us with, and in general, to understand-“if He has taken care of my aesthetic sense how would He not take care of my physical and spiritual self?”
Instead of appreciating God’s creation, we choose to complain about the few things we don’t have, and go so far as to even question whether the Creator exists. Had we spent some time reflecting on the world around us, the miracles in days and nights; the great skies and other celestial bodies; trees and mountains; the wondrous colors of nature, birds and animals; had we but given thought, we would not be wondering around confused and lost.
To sum it all up, Allah says in the Quran:
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ
Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of (Or: differences) the night and the daytime there are signs indeed for ones endowed with intellects.
It’s high time everyone one of us took out a morning to try to appreciate and ponder over the beauty Allah has placed all around us in nature.