I have only seen mountains once in my life, from a couple thousand feet above. I remember looking out of the airplane window, seeing frosty tops scatter the horizon. Even from so high up, they were massive. I imagined myself standing at the bottom of the mountains, looking up and up and up…and I realized just how small of a creature I really am. What then, of the Creator of these mountains?
We have often heard the quote: “Do not look at the size of the sin you are committing; rather, look at the greatness of the One you are sinning against.” Do we really understand the implication of these words? Time and time again in the Qur’an, we read of mountains crashing down into dust, but do we actually take a moment to think about the reality of this? Can you imagine a massive mountain shattering into millions of tiny pieces, right in front of your eyes? One of the most magnificent stories is that of Musa `alayhi assalam (on him be peace) and his wish to see Allah. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (glorified is He the most High) tells us of this story in Surat al-Araf:
‘And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, “My Lord, show me [Yourself] that I may look at You.” [Allah] said, “You will not see Me, but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.” But when his Lord appeared to the mountain, He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious. And when he awoke, he said, “Exalted are You! I have repented to You, and I am the first of the believers”.’ [Qur’an, 7:143]
Musa (as) was blessed with the ability to speak to Allah directly, with no intermediaries. In this encounter with the Almighty, he decided to ask for more than just that. Musa asked to see his Lord. Our Lord, al-Hakeem (The Most Wise), answered with a sign that should make each of our hearts tremble every time we hear of it. Allah told Musa (as) that he would not be able to see Him, but instead, Allah would show Himself to something much greater than man. He would show himself to a mountain, and if that mountain could withstand the sight of Allah, then Musa (as) too would be given the opportunity to see Him. According to a hadith verified by Al-Hakim, mentioned in tafseer Al-Jalalayn, Allah did not even show Himself in His entirety to the mountain. Rather, Allah revealed a portion of His light that is equivalent to half a nail of a little finger to this mountain, and the mountain crumbled. The ayah says that when Allah revealed Himself to the mountain “جعله دكّا” – not only did the mountain collapse, but it broke into pieces the size of grains of sand. Think about it – from mountain to sand in an instant.
Again, in Surat Taha, Allah tells us about mountains. He says:
‘And they ask you about the mountains, so say, “My Lord will blow them away with a blast. And He will leave the earth a level plain”.’ [Qur’an, 20:105-106]
According to tafseer Al-Jalalayn, “ينسفها ربي نسفا” actually means “My Lord will scatter them as ashes, by pulverizing them into moving sand and dispersing them with the wind.” Not only will these mountains be made into dust, the earth will be completely leveled flat. The hills will be flattened; the dips will be straightened out; all by the Power of the Almighty.
Now, imagine standing before a great king, knowing that this king is watching, knowing that he has his eyes locked on you, seeing your every move. Would you dare to falter? Would you dare to break any of the rules or even come near to breaking the law that he has set? Allah, the Creator of that king, is the greatest of all kings, He is Al-Malik. We live our lives, day in and day out, committing sin after sin, breaking rule after rule, yet we know that the Creator of the Worlds sees our every move and knows our every thought. The One who created the mountains, the One who will scatter them as ashes, is watching us. Our every move is recorded, but are we acting accordingly?