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“…You bring the living out of the dead, and You bring the dead out of the living…” 3:27
9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.
As I read the Scriptures above what comes to mind is the natural process that God created by which life arises from simple (in)organic compounds (biogenesis). How brilliant and knowledgable must One be concerning chemistry (e.g. knowledge of amino acids) to designed life to evolve from inorganic material?
Submitted by Bilal
“What is the life of the present but play and entertainment? Best is the home in the hereafter, for those who are righteous. Do you not then understand?” 6:32.
“Leave those alone who take their religion to be play and entertainment, and are deceived by the life of the present…” 6:70
Although life is like a game (6:32, 3:185, 22:6), it should be played by the rules of religion (6:70) which God has revealed and programmed into creation. To explain this analogy I point to a lesser creator (23:14), the video-game designer.
The creator (23:14) of a video game, like the Creator of the heavens and the earth, gives the player freedom within limits. And although the number of environments, strategies, resources, actions, and outcomes that we can choose from are predetermined, the one we choose is in no way predetermined.
And when the game is over, whether we succeed in beating the game, fail, or quit; when the system shuts down, the image turns off, the controls are laid down upon the ground, we must rise to a greater reality. (3:185).
Submitted by Bilal Muhammad
Verses Referenced Above
“… blessed is God, the Best of the creators.” 23:14.
“… the life of the present is but stuff of illusion.” 3:185
“This is because God is the Reality. It is He Who gives life to the dead, and it is He Who has power over all things.” 22:6.
“Behold, the angels said, ‘O Mary, God gives you good news of a word from Him, his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in the present and the hereafter, and of the company of those nearest to God.’ ” 3:45
One way to celebrate Christmas and to join and enjoy the Christmas spirit is to consider how the delivery of Jesus Christ and the message he personifies has guided humanity (3:3) through the service of Christians (5:82). In America, for example, much of the advancements in government, technology, higher education and civil rights are due in large part to those who believed in the gospel of Christ and who followed the best of it (39:18).
“…And He sent down the law of Moses and the gospel of Jesus before this as a guide for humanity…” 3:3
“…Nearest to them in love of the believers will you find those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ because among these are those devoted to learning and those who are in service to humanity, and they are not arrogant.” 5:82
“Those who listen to the word, and follow the best of it, they are the ones whom God has guided, and those are the ones endued with understanding.” 39:18
“God takes the souls at death
And those who did not die,
He takes their soul during sleep
He keeps those whom death has chosen,
And He sends the others back for a time to be announced
Indeed in this are signs for those who reflect.”
So God takes us somewhere during sleep, but where? To Himself in heaven (67:17)? finding our sustenance in His presence, rejoicing in the bounty provided by Him (3:169, 3:170)? Maybe, although we should not expect to be alongside those who have passed away; we do not join “the dead” until we ourselves have died (3:170).
Perhaps one way to reason through this verse about God taking our soul during sleep is to reconsider what dreaming is. Perhaps dreaming is not only our mind’s way of taking us where we want to go, but God’s way of taking us where we want to go (or where He wants us to go). So maybe we can go to heaven while we sleep. But even if (for whatever reason) we cannot go to heaven while we asleep, we know that can choose what the space looks like, and what we do there (that sounds a lot like what we can do on earth doesn’t it (2:25)), our experience while asleep would still be at least as good as what we expect paradise to be, for after-all, what do we expect paradise to be other than a place where we can have and do whatever we imagine (36:57)?
So where will you go tonight? And perhaps more importantly, when we get back, can we use what we experience while sleep to make our lives on earth a bit more like paradise?
What do you think? Post a comment.
Obviously the reason we fast during the month of Ramadan is to increase our taqwa (2:183), consciousness, and awareness, but here is another way to think about taqwa…
Have you ever been dreaming and then realized that you were dreaming? Well that too is taqwa.
And one reason lucid dreaming is a good way to relate to tawqa is that “this life” and ” a dream” are both merely a perceived reality (3:185), while the life of the next is in fact “reality” (6:32, 57:20). For example…
You’re terrified, your heart is racing, sweat is pouring. The intense fear of death has overcome you, you feel like yelling, crying, hiding, and then suddenly, it is ok, you realize, it is just a dream (or keeping with the analogy, it is just the life of this world). Relief takes over because its only a dream, and we begin to think and behave differently when we realize that things are not as “real” as they seem. When that inkling comes to your mind that it is not real, your whole outlook changes.
And like this, when we experience terrifying challenges, if have taqwa, we feel the way we felt in that dream. And how do you feel when you realize you are dreaming? We feel relieved, grateful, focused, stress-free, in-control, fearless, ambitious, and happy, and we are also amused (6:32) that we were distressed over a mere dream. We behave ourselves (usually) but we enjoy ourselves; we feel like we are playing (6:32) No matter what unbelievably challenging thing happens to us in our dream, as long as we thikr (2:46)or remember that it is only a dream, everything will be fine. And although we are in no rush to wake up, when we do, everything will still be fine, or in the case of waking up to paradise, better.
But it takes Ramadan and taqwa to realize this (2:183).
What do you think? Post a comment.
“O you who believe, fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that you might increase consciousness and awareness.” 2:183.
“Every soul will have a taste of death. And only on the Day of Accountability will you be paid your full reward. Only he who is saved from the fire and admitted to the garden, will have attained the object of life, for the life of the present is but stuff of illusion.” 3:185
“What is the life of the present but play and amusement? Best is the home in the hereafter, for those who are righteous. Will you not then understand?” 6:32
“Know that the life of the present is but play and entertainment, pomp and boasting, and increasing for yourselves, wealth and children. Here is a similitude, the rain and the growth which it brings forth pleases the hearts of those who plant it, soon it withers, and you will see it grow yellow, then it becomes dry and crumbles away, but in the hereafter is a penalty severe, and forgiveness from God and His grace, and what is the life of the present but stuff of illusion?” 57:20
Verse 2:260 (below) reveals that God expects us to be uncomfortable with some beliefs, because if Abraham is the intelligent in faith (3:95), the friend of God (4:125), and he whose example we are to follow (4:125), and he is, and if Abraham was not completely comfortable with all of his beliefs, and he was not (2:260), then why should we expect to be completely comfortable with all of our beliefs?
It is only when we admit that we do not understand a belief, as Abraham does in verse 2:269, that we begin to seek to understand it, and it is only when we understand our beliefs that we are truly comfortable with them, following the way of Abraham. the intelligent in faith (3:95).
What do you think? Post a comment.
“Behold, Abraham said, ‘My Lord, show me how You give life to the dead. He said, ‘Do you not believe’? He said, ‘Yes, but show me to satisfy my heart.’ He said, ‘Take four birds, and train them to return to you. Put a part of them on every hill and call to them. They will come to you with speed. So know that G-d is Exalted in Power, Wise.’ “ 2:260
“Who can be better in religion than one who submits their whole self to G-d, does right, and follows the way of Abraham, the intelligent in faith? For G-d took Abraham for a friend.” 4:125
Say, “G-d has spoken the truth. Follow the way of Abraham, the intelligent in faith. He was not of the pagans.” 3:95
“Jesus said to him, “Away from me Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’
Matthew 4:10 + Commentary
“Jesus (the Word) said to him, “Away from me Satan (Satan and Satan’s behavior is an example of wrong, immoral, and unethical actions). For it is written (in the Bible and Quran): ‘Worship the Lord your God, and worship Him only (and do not worship Satan).’
“And O you in sin, get away this day.”
“Did I not enjoin on you, O you children of Adam, that you should not worship Satan, and that he was to you a sworn enemy?”
Sura 36:59-60 + Commentary
“And O you in sin, get away this day (get away on Judgement Day from appreciating the good things of paradise).”
“Did I not tell you (Through Jesus, in the Bible), O you children of Adam (O human beings, including all monotheist), that you should not worship (you should not direct any feelings which could rightfully be directed towards God) Satan (to that which is an example of wrong, immoral, or unethical behavior), and that he (and that wrong, immoral, or unethical behavior) was to you a sworn enemy (promises to be harmful)?
And O you in sin, get away on Judgement Day from appreciating the good things of paradise. For we’re you not told, O human beings, including all monotheist that you should not direct any positive feelings which could rightfully be directed towards God, to that which is an example of wrong, immoral, or unethical behavior. And wrong, immoral, or unethical behavior promises to be harmful.
Can Monotheists Unknowingly be Worshipping Both God and Satan?
Why does God explicitly direct these words about worshipping Satan to all people, including monotheist? Is it possible that people other than those who identify themselves as Satan Worshipers could be Satan worshipers? Might it even be possible for monotheists to find ourselves worshipping Satan?
I think so, here’s why.
If worship is more that bending knees or bowing, but is also praising, showing respect and showing appreciation; and if Satan and Satan’s behavior is an example of wrong, immoral, and unethical actions, then showing respect and appreciation for any wrong, immoral, unethical (or in religious terms, satanic) action can be considered worshipping Satan.
And as you too might have experienced, it is sometimes difficult for our senses to distinguish bad from good. It is much easier to distinguish right (or righteousness) from wrong (Quran 2:256). Failing to make a conscious effort to reject wrong and invite right can disrupt that person’s inner peace (Quran3:110); here are a few examples…
*Note: These example are a bit conservation, and I typically err on the side of liberalism, but I prefer not to err at all.
A monotheist may visit a museum and come across a beautiful photograph of a nude. He may appreciate the quality of the photograph, but if he would not pose for the photograph himself because of his beliefs then he should not allow himself to appreciate it. Instead he should show appreciation for the many other photographs of a non-objectionable nature.
Or a song may have a good sound but the lyrics may be of the sort that he would not repeat because of his beliefs, in this case, he should not allow himself to have an appreciation for it. Instead he should seek to appreciate and enjoy more inspiring songs.
A businessperson may be successful and may even be very giving, but his wealth may have been acquired in a way the monotheist would not have wanted to acquired it. Again, this particular businessperson should not be appreciated. Instead we should appreciate the ethical business people.
What do you think? Can you think of other examples? Post a comment?