And then we aren’t. Torn away from our origin, we came across time and space to another world. A lesser world. But in that separation, something painful happened. We were no longer with God in the physical space. We could no longer see Him with our physical eyes, or speak to Him with our physical voice. Unlike our father Adam (`alayhi as-salam – peace be upon him), we could no longer feel that same peace.
So we came down. We were torn from Him. And in the pain of that separation, we bled. For the first time, we bled. And that tearing apart from our Creator left a gash. A deep wound that we are all born with. And as we grew, so did the agony of that wound; it grew deeper and deeper. But as time went on, we moved further and further away from the antidote, already in our fitrah (nature): to be near Him, heart, soul and mind.
And so with each passing year, we became more and more desperate to fill that empty space. But it is in this very quest to fill the hole that we stumbled. Each of us stumbled on different things. And many of us sought to numb the emptiness. So, some of humanity stumbled on drugs or alcohol, while some looked to other sedatives. Some of us stumbled on the worship of physical pleasure, status or money. Some of us lost ourselves in our careers.
And then, some of us stumbled on people. Some of us lost ourselves there.
But, what if every single stumble, every challenge, every experience in our life was only intended for one purpose: to bring us back to our origin? What if every win, every loss, every beauty, every fall, every cruelty, and every smile was only intended to unveil another barrier between us and God? Between us and where we began, and where we are desperately seeking to return?
What if everything was only about seeing Him?
We must know that all that we experience in life has a purpose. And it is we who choose whether to realize that purpose or not. Take for example, beauty. Some people don’t even recognize beauty when it’s right in front of them. They can walk through a sunset or a brilliant forest of orange trees, and not even notice.
Other people see beauty and do appreciate it. They will stop and take it in. They may even feel overwhelmed by it. But it ends there. That person is like the one who appreciates art, but never inquires about the artist. The artwork itself was intended to communicate a message from the artist; but if the art lover loses himself in the painting—but never sees the message, that artwork hasn’t fulfilled its true purpose.
The purpose of the glorious sun, first fallen snow, crescent moons and breathtaking oceans is not just to decorate this lonely planet. The purpose is far deeper than that. The purpose is as Allah told us in the Qur’an:
“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.”
“(Those) who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You have not created all of this without a purpose. Exalted is You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” (3:190-191)
All this beauty was created as a sign—but one that can only be understood by a select group: those who reflect (think, understand, use their intellect) and remember God in every human condition (standing, sitting, lying down).
So, even the sunset must be looked through. Even there, we cannot lose ourselves. We must look beyond even that majestic beauty and color, to see the Beauty behind it. For the beauty behind it is the True beauty, the Source of all beauty. All that we see is only a reflection.
We must study the stars, the trees, the snow-capped mountains in order to read the message behind them. Because if we do not, we are like the one who finds a message inside a beautifully decorated bottle, yet becomes so enamored by the bottle, that he never even opens the message.
But what is that message, stuck inside the intensity of stars? There is a sign— but a sign of what? These signs are a pointer to Him, to His greatness, His majesty, His beauty. A pointer to His might and His power. Study, reflect, absorb the beauty and majesty of what’s created—but don’t stop there. Don’t lose yourself in beauty. Look beyond it and consider that if the creation is that majestic, that great, that beautiful, how majestic and great and beautiful must be the Creator.
Finally realize, experientially, that: رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَٰذَا بَاطِلًا سُبْحَانَكَ - “My Lord, You have not created all of this without a purpose. Exalted is You.” (Qur’an, 3:191)
Purpose. Everything has one. Nothing in the heavens or the earth or inside of me or inside of you is created without a purpose. No event in your life, no sadness, no delight, no pain, no pleasure… no loss, was created without a purpose. So just as we must read the ‘message inside the bottle’ of the sun and the moon and the sky, so too must we examine the messages in our own life experiences.
We are always looking for signs. We are always asking for God to ‘speak’ to us. But those signs are all around us. They are in everything. God is always ‘speaking’. The question is whether we are listening.
“Those who do not know say, ‘Why does Allah not speak to us or there come to us a sign?’ Thus spoke those before them like their words. Their hearts resemble each other. We have shown clearly the signs to a people who are certain [in faith].” ( Qur’an, 2:118)
If we can look beyond and through everything that happens to us, everything we do—or fail to do—and see Allah, then we will have gotten the purpose. When something happens that you love, be careful not to miss the point. Remember that nothing happens without a reason. Seek it out. Look for the purpose Allah created in what He has given to you. What aspect of His Essence is He showing you through it? What does He want from you?
Similarly, when something happens that you dislike, or that hurts you, be careful not to get lost in the illusion created by pain. Look through it. Find the message in the bottle. Find the purpose. And let it lead you to glimpse just a little more of Him.
If it’s a slip or even a fall in your deen (religion), don’t let shaytan (satan) deceive you. Let the slip make you witness His mercy in a more experiential and deep way. And then seek that mercy to save you from your sins and your own transgression against yourself.
If it’s an unsolvable problem, don’t despair. Witness a glimpse of Al-Fataah, the One who opens for His slaves any closed matter. And if it is a storm, don’t let yourself drown. Let it bring you to witness how only He can save His servant from a storm, when there is no one else around.
And remember that after all of creation is destroyed and not a single being exists but Him, God will ask: لِّمَنِ الْمُلْكُ الْيَوْمَ – “To whom is the dominion today?” (Qur’an, 40:16)
“The Day they come forth nothing concerning them will be concealed from Allah. To whom belongs [all] sovereignty this Day? To Allah, the One, the Irresistible!” (Qur’an, 40:16)
To whom is the sovereignty today? Try to witness even a piece of that in this life. To whom is the dominion today? Who else has the power to save you? Who else can cure you? Who else can mend your heart? Who else can provide for you? Who else can you run to? Who else? To whom is the dominion today? Li man al mulk al yawm?
Lil wahid al qahaar. To the One, the Irresistible. To run to anything else is to resist the irresistible. To seek other than The One (al Wahid), is to become scattered, but never filled. How can we find unity, completion of heart or soul or mind in anything other than Him?
So, on this path back to where we began, who else can we run to? What else can we seek? After all, we all want the very same thing: To be whole, to be happy, to again say: