By Fatima Ariadne
My grandparents are what considered eccentric persons and would go around in pride of themselves that people tell them they are ”confused aliens”. Then they told me in return, “indeed planet earth is more confusing than playing merry-go-round in your head”. If there is someone I can relate to regarding my feeling of being stranger in this strange planet, that would be my grandmother.
They’re Christians but never went to church at all, prayed in Saturday instead of Sunday, even that at home. Even they’d celebrate Christmas very half-heartedly. Near the end of their lives, my grandmother converted to Islam but not with her husband. In my childhood, my grandmother would sat me on her lap, she started singing,
“O swan in the sky, stellar in thousands of light
I’ll be on my way, through the giant stars.
Up to the sky, stir up the heavens.
Time will tell when the journey stops.
I’ll be seeking Lord of heavens
through a thousand skies”
That’s a song whose artist was unclear who. But I enjoyed it nevertheless. My grandma explained that ”swan in the sky” is so much Alpha Cygnus constellation, but it’s pretty hard to look out from my country. And in my stargazing activity, daydreaming and seeking home I’d never own ”up there” beyond the stars, I’ll find myself repeating the song automatically. It carved very deep meaning in my heart. That life is big, yet universe is far bigger than us.
Nature is like a pristine mirror for the soul. It reflects back to you what your soul already echoes. It reminds you to the greater beyond. Mystics find the very core of themselves lays with mother earth. Is it any wonder why Qur’an commands us to contemplate in the enigma of nature?
Not just nature is healing for the soul, it’s easy to see Divine fingerprints in it. When you see sunset melting in the sea, you don’t just say “wow, it’s a good stuff”. You adore the depth of beauty, mystery, and Divine’s artistry genius it contains.
When you’re gazing the stars, you don’t just think of them some random dots in the sky. You might actually ask, what is out there and beyond? What kind of the hidden infinity stored across these ancient celestial fires?
Just like the painting of “Persistence of Memory” will remind you of the creative artistry of Salvador Dali, nature itself is a work of art from Divine. And so are you!
……Then ponder again and ponder deeper. The grand Universe, existence, life what we want to call it – are greater than our perceptions, than what we set our minds to see. God has destined human race here, including you, as a microcosm of Universe. But truly we are only a part of the sum, a small drop in the collective Ocean.
In the deep end of the sky, I imagine how small humanity will look like. As Carl Sagan pointed out, we are but a speck of dust in a pale blue dot planet. Don’t you see? We are lost somewhere among the sea of trillions of stars, drowned invisibly therein like a foam. And yet, look around us. Our ego and self-conceit are so big that we are deluded into thinking we are the most significant being in the cosmos, even in the sight of God.
“Verily the creation of heavens and earth are greater than the creation of humanity, but most people are unaware” (Qur’an 40:57)
“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves” (Carl Sagan – “Pale Blue Dot”)
Muslims have mistaken the meaning of verse,
“Verily, We have honored the children of Adam”
The verse is misunderstood big time to justify our egoistical sense of superiority, that we are the most superior being than anything that God ever created. According to Imam Tabari, the meaning of the verse is limited by other verses that rebuke human beings as ungrateful, hasty, ignorant of their Lord, arrogant, likes to complain, and unjust. So this verse is not just for any ”children of Adam” or any human being. Just like we’ll never honor Hitler or Bloody Mary just because they were coming from human nation.
Lessons in Imperfection
Although it’s easier to see the sign and beauty of Divine through mother nature, to adore Him in the picture of sunset, rainbow, stars, trees and in beautiful things, the fingerprints of Divine exists anywhere and everywhere if we’re just willing to look out, stop, and ponder.
Nature teaches us imperfection and perfection, beauty and ugliness, so that we can learn and compare from two wings not just one. There is no rose without thorn, fertile land without volcano, and infant birth without pain of labor. Life spins in an endless circle.
In the end, our perceived pain and beauty, our perception and judgement is what shapes the tapestry of our reality as we know it to be. When we see our reflection at the mirror, sometimes it’s not so much what we see inside the mirror that matters, it’s how we see it.
And that’s including human beings. Aren’t we just mirrors of each other?
Honestly, I’m not very much a socially outgoing person. I’m introverted and extremely shy, to the point I work from home to make a living just so I don’t meet people directly too much. But if I meet a person, yes I know that’s weird but, if I can tell him or her something then I want to look at them in the eye and tell them that they and their stories matter as much as myself.
Human beings are never perfect. Once they’re kind, they’re kind. But once they’re selfish, evil, or disgusting, they can be more foul than anything you might ever seen. We can always forgive mother nature more and tell each other ourselves “this is due to our mistake” or “this is part of nature”. But with humans, it’s not always like that. We just condemn, condemn, and overlook.
Still, every stories from every point of view matters. Accepting from various sources doesn’t mean accepting evil and claiming that evil is acceptable. It only means we are willing to open our eyes and minds, to step outside our own perceived reality or ”black and white” border and finally, really see the world through others’ lens of vision. Therefore understanding other’s pain, fear, hope, and aspirations.
And so is our life adversities. It’s easy to be grateful when life is easy. But difficulty of life is where our real strength is *upgraded and expanded*. I don’t give in a bleak idea from religious people that ”life is a trial”. Life is simply an opportunity for souls to florish, and the purpose of life is not a trial-tribulation game.
To think about that, back to my stargazing and my grandmother’s strange song :-). Humanity is like stars in the sky. Maybe stars on earth? They’re diverse, but diversity is what makes it beautiful in its own way. Sometimes, we don’t need to go through thousand skies and floating between giant stars to find the Divine. The Divine voice resides in every heart as the light of conscience that always whisper the truth. Either we follow it, or follow the darkness of our lowly desire.
By the way… my ”eccentric” grandparents would usually call me afterward, “there you go, Nayhara! My star on earth!”. Yaay