Nature

Caring for ourselves

Okay, so this is going to read a little messy perhaps but please bear with me.

Caring for ourselves is not as simple as we might think. We try, right? We take our vitamins, watch our nutrition, drink plenty of water, get good sleep, laugh a little, read a lot, volunteer our time and money to help others, raise our children, care for our pets, maintain our homes and cars, keep steady jobs, endure years of education, plan for our future, squirrel away money for retirement, plan how many children we want and where we want them to go, what we want them to become and how we want them to look… we do it, right? I don’t know about you but I slip up and as nice and neat as this list may seem, there are many heartaches, sicknesses, disasters, unplanned events etc. that just happen… but we get through it, right? We can only try, try and keep trying. No matter how much we try, we can never know what is to come, nor are we even fully able to appreciate what has come before. Every time we slip, we get back up and carry on. By now, we must recognize how difficult it is to even carry out the task of  caring for and maintaining ourselves – and I’m not talking about our infancy when it is practically impossible for us to do – I’m talking about now, the self we know sitting here reading these words. It is not an easy task to maintain ourselves, let alone others.

Okay, so with that in mind take a look around you the next time you find yourself in a park or out in nature – outside the four walls that keep a portion of His Signs out of sight. Think about that tiny fragile bird traveling immense distances, the trees that are hundreds of years old, the tortoise that was around before you, the caterpillar that turns into a butterfly, the creatures of the seas, and much, much more. How immense and impossible for us to care for, provide and sustain. Impossible. Nor is it possible for any one of us to do – regardless of wealth, family lineage and so forth – neither alone nor collectively, we are not capable of maintaining ourselves properly, and then everything else on this tiny planet and beyond.

Now read and think about this verse from Surah Al-Baqarah of the Holy Qur’an (Sahih International translation):

Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great. (2:255)

And please, listen to the Arabic too:

Just something to ponder… peace.

Mmm it smells wonderful!

Roses smell good, don’t they? To me, they smell wonderful… the scent of a rose is enough to relax me and bring on beautiful, peaceful thoughts.

You might know that some things smell like roses when they aren’t roses at all but did you know that there is bark that has a rose-like scent?

Okay… so perhaps you knew that. What about roots? Did you know that some plants have roots that smell like roses? SubhanAllah!

Take silverweed for instance. The root has a rose scent.  Not only that, what we see as little yellow flowers actually appear as two-tone flowers to insects like bees. The plant is useful for creation in so many ways and by uncovering its uses and secrets we can learn so much. SubhanAllah!

Silverweed – as it appears to us (left) and as it appears to a bee (right) demonstrated here as an ultraviolet image.

What about rose-root? While fresh root is scentless, when dried it smells like roses. SubhanAllah! This plant too is useful in so many different ways and Allah (SWT) has uncovered some of its secrets for us so that we may benefit from it. Alhamdulillah!

With so many favours enveloping us, so many favours to be grateful for, which of these can any of us deny?

Smile and Cry

On this journey towards falah, there are signs along the way that let one know where their heart is at and to illuminate the path. When one takes stock of one’s heart, though it may still be at a relatively early stage in the journey, insha’Allah with patience and perseverance it will reach a point where knowledge beyond the earthly signs will also bring on smiles and tears.

For now, we embrace those earthly signs that bring on smiles and tears and are grateful to Allah (SWT) for everything He provides.

When Hardship Hits

I just came across something spectacular. I’ll show you what it is in just a moment. First, I want to share what I found extraordinarily simple yet awesome about this sign from nature. These tiny creatures would normally be harder to see (for the most part, they live underground), isolated from one another, and spread out. Yet, when hardship hit, they banded together, moved above-ground in unison, didn’t mind that they were literally on top of each other and quite visible.  What is going on? If a tiny creature knows its purpose and moves and acts accordingly, how arrogant of us to think of ourselves each as unique and independent?

Arachnaphobes beware.

Contingent Creation

Everything we have discovered and are yet to discover, everything we encounter and contemplate about – ourselves, languages, animals, time, mountains,  air, space, the entire universe – exists, is created, is interconnected and contingent on external factors.

All creation  is contingent on the Will of Allah (SWT).

Intricacies Unseen

Have you ever peered through a microscope at something simple like a snowflake or a feather? SubhanAllah, the intricate patterns are breathtaking. Even the tiny organisms that can potentially help or harm us – SubhanAllah, extraordinarily awesome! Such variety, such complexity, such intricate detailing hidden in everything big and small.

Even if we were worlds unto ourselves, we would remain insignificant and so intimately tied to everything in, on, and around us. SubhanAllah – that we can contemplate and comprehend our insignificance within our own being is a favour to be grateful for.

What a Merciful favour on us that we are able to contemplate our state of being both outside and within our own bodies, we are able to peer into creation and see the intricate interconnections and yet by His Mercy we are also able to remain outside of it all (through contemplation), in deep comprehension of our place – a place of insignificance, of passing, of transition, of impermanence.  Surely, these favours are not lost on those whose contemplation is linked to deep comprehension.

Oceans in the Sky

Have you ever come across marine fossils while hiking high up in the mountains? SubhanAllah, what unexpected and extraordinary discoveries that fill one with awe! Standing there, at the top, it is so much easier to feel insignificant and to feel the profound significance of the discovery as it penetrates your comprehension.

Even if Earth is but a tiny insignificant speck in a vast universe, and we are that much more minute, that we can contemplate and comprehend our insignificance and the vast infinity outside of our own being (which we hold to be so valuable) is a favour to be grateful for.

Oh, to contemplate at the top of a mountain the Power that thrust a sea bed up towards the sky. Oh, to hold a piece of rock with the imprint of a time long gone. Surely, these favours are not lost on those whose contemplation is linked to deep comprehension.