By Samia Mubarak
Five times a day, Muslims must remain constantly aware of the sun’s position in the sky as it makes its gradual departure from east to west. Isn’t it so amazing that our daily prayers are so inherently intertwined with the world around us? Before the sun rises, we pray Fajr, when the sun is at a certain angle throughout the day, we pray Duhr and Asr, when it sets, we pray Maghrib. When there is a certain amount of darkness, we pray Isha. Allah is teaching us to constantly connect with nature around us while we simultaneously connect with Him, the Creator of everything, from the sun to each of us.
Nothing is created without purpose. This drives us to remember Allah in every change we see in the sun and nature around us, slowly helping us remember Him in every aspect of our lives as our lives also change. As reflected in the physical world around us, there will also be varying degrees of darkness and light in our lives and in our hearts. Through it all, Allah wants us to stay connected to Him, the one constant rope to hold on to. Our spirituality in Islam is so vitally entwined with the world around us. There is a merging, reliance, and interdependence of the unseen and intangible with the apparent and physical.
Allah says in the Quran: ‘Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for those of understanding. Those who remember Allah standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): “Our Lord! You have not created this without purpose, glory to You! Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire.”‘ [3:190-191]
What is beautiful about these verses is that Allah encourages us to reflect on the creation around us. Watching the sun set, the birds spread their wings and defy gravity, and lightning strike against the pitch black sky remind us of God’s amazing power and vast ability. The world around us is constantly giving us reasons to glorify His names.
Moreover, our beloved prophet (PBUH) also taught us to say certain prayers depending on changes in nature. The prophetic tradition has a specific supplication for when it rains, when the wind is strong, when lightning strikes, during a lunar eclipse, in a drought, during sunrise and sunset. Our religion teaches us to be in touch with the outer world and make it a part of our spirituality.
Being connected to nature can you help you overcome certain stages in your life. Allah says those who remember Him standing, sitting and on their sides. We don’t remember Allah when it’s merely convenient. We remember Him in times of hardship and ease, in darkness and light, in success and in failure. Allah is always there for us regardless, and the sun that is once not visible will eventually rise. Allah is teaching us to be hopeful through His creation.
In these verses, Allah describes those who reflect on His creation as those who understand. When you reflect on the nature around you, you are increasing your intellect. Allah is encouraging us not to let things around us change as we sit and watch, unaware of everything going on around us. As the world changes, so too should we reflect on how we should change; just as the clouds pour down their rain, at times, we need to let go of our grudges and bad habits; just as the moon lights a dark road, we too can light the path for others; just as the gentle breeze brings coolness on a hot summer day, we too can strive to be sources of mercy in the lives of others. These reflections transform these physical realities into meaningful, spiritual realizations that hit deep and lead to changes in our own lives.
I pray Allah grants us the understanding to use the changes of nature to reflect on our lives, build a deeper connection with our Creator and His creation, and strengthen our own spirituality.