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COSMOLOGY

A text by Ghassan El Masri

Cosmology | Islam

If you want to see Islamic cosmology in single glimpse, enter the mosque, and listen to the recitation of God’s word! A proper mosque is always surrounded by a natural Garden with a source of water. Past the Garden, and as you enter the main hall, you will see that the flowers of the garden, became abstract flowery ornaments on the inner walls of the mosque. The motifs of foliage and tendrils on the inside, turn into abstract arabesques as they climb up towards the center of the dome, in increasingly purer geometrical forms, that are reduced to lines, that merge with calligraphy of the Qurʾān, that return to being straight lines that merge at the center of the dome, and disappear into a central point… God, in the heavens. Inside the mosque, you will hear a melodious divine recitation that echoes in the soul. God, is the source of all nature, real and abstract, and from him everything emanates. In our souls, He is present as a word, an
indelible sound.

‘Recognition’ of God, is the purpose of creation. This may be deduced from an oft cited qudsī ḥadīṯ. Speaking through His prophet, God says: kuntu kanzan maḫfiyyan, fa-aḥbabtu an uʿraf, fa-ḫalaqtu al-ḫalqa li-yaʿrifūnī, “I was a hidden treasure and I wanted to be recognized, so I created the creation so that I might be recognized”. The epistemic purpose of creation is recognition of God, maʿrifat Allāh. All of God’s creatures worship their lord in all that they do (Q17: 44). The inanimate world, the Angels and the animals are in no need of extra effort to stay in God’s path. God’s purpose for His creation, Muslim scholars are unanimous, is for them to ‘recognize’ and ‘worship’ Him (Q51:56; 39:75; 42:5; 13:13), and recognition is already the most important form of worship. Yet, humans, having been endowed with free-will, must perpetually adjust their perceptions to recognize God, and align their actions to His will. Because they forget and get distracted; nature, all of nature, is a book of signs to remind them of God’s will and path. The world is a semiotic system of ʾāyāt that, like Qurʾanic verses (also ʾāyāt), reveal God’s will in the cosmos.

That God created the world for Him to be recognized, implies that the entirety of the creation, the heavens and the earth and all that is between them are divine manifestations (tağallī ilāhī). God, to be sure, remains transcendentally removed from the World (laysa ka-miṯlihi šayʾ - Q42:11), and the world is “everything, excluding God” (Ar. kullu mā siwa Allāh). Together, these two axioms mean that the world is the immanent manifestation of a transcendental God, who can only be grasped from His creation. Meditating the natural order, and introspecting the human soul (Q51:20-21; 41:53) are the only windows that we have for witnessing the divine. As such, appreciating nature and reflecting upon the scripture is our duty, towards our selves and towards God. In the same way we do not unjustly harm a fellow human, because we are all the Children of Adam, we do not unjustly harm an animal because we are all God’s creatures, and in the
creation resides God’s Grace. Harming nature is injurious, above all, to the spirit of the perpetrator, for it harms his relationship to God. The famous prophetic hadith about the woman that was condemned to Hell because she purposively tied a cat until it died of thirst and hunger is a reminder thereof. Enjoying the creation and meditating upon its beauty and goodness, are, by contrast, paths to God that the Muslim follows to see his creator, where, the entire world is h/His mosque.

Each of my senses see Him, even if He is far from me,
In every beautiful and joyous sense
ln the sound of the Lute and the Flute, when they
Harmonize in melodies of songs
In the prairies of the Gazelles by the bushes,
In cool evenings, and in the bright break-of-dawn
Where the falling morning dew weaves
With the blossoms into a tapestry of flowers

 

Cosmology - A text by Ghassan El Masri

Cosmology.pdf (106.5 KiB)

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