On the Way
people who have finished their breakfast and made themselves ready expect to have various challenges in their work places, schools and other areas. most people have things they need to accomplish before the end of the day. allah describes this situation in the qur'an:
in the daytime much of your time is taken up by business matters. (surat al-muzzammil: 7)
… he made the day a time for rising. (surat al-furqan: 47)
a believer sees the day before him as an opportunity to win allah's love and approval and to attain the garden for which he needs to strive to do good works. no matter how busy he is, he is careful never to forget to seek allah's approval. he takes as his example sulayman (as)'s prayer, as recounted in the 19th verse of surat an-naml, desiring that our lord will inspire him in the things he will do in the course of the day:
"my lord, keep me thankful for the blessing you have bestowed on me and on my parents, and keep me acting rightly, pleasing you, and admit me, by your mercy, among your slaves who are right-acting." (surat an-naml: 19)
everyone who leaves home on the way to school or work encounters many people, things and events to think about. everything a person sees exists in allah's knowledge and has come to be by his will and happens for a definite reason. so, when a believer looks up at the heavens with this in mind, he sees that they are marvellously created. he understands that the truth of the following verse is before his eyes: "we made the sky a preserved and protected roof …" (surat al-anbiya': 32)
the sky's function as a "protected roof" comes from its atmosphere and this atmosphere surrounds the globe and performs its vital functions so that human beings survive. the atmosphere filters out rays that come from space and are dangerous for living things; it vaporises both large and small meteorites that approach the earth and prevents them from threatening the world and the creatures on it, and it protects the earth from the freezing temperatures—approximately minus 270 degrees celsius—of space. even if some people do not appreciate this as they should, allah has created an ideal environment for us and protects us from threats that may come from the heavens.
in the qur'an, allah reveals that a believer who observes the heaven will quickly understand the proofs that it is a most harmonious and perfect creation.
he who created the seven heavens in layers. you will not find any flaw in the creation of the all-merciful. look again—do you see any gaps? then look again and again. your sight will return to you dazzled and exhausted! (surat al-mulk: 3-4)
allah says in the qur'an that there are signs in the creation of the heavens and the earth for those who observe them with faith.
have they not looked at the sky above them: how we structured it and made it beautiful and how there are no fissures in it? and the earth: how we stretched it out and cast firmly embedded mountains onto it and caused luxuriant plants of every kind to grow in it, an instruction and a reminder for every penitent human being. (surah qaf: 6-8)
a believer who turns his gaze from the heavens to the earth will see another proof of its creation. below the earth on which he walks with such confidence there is a layer of unbelievably hot molten rock called "magma". in comparison to this, the earth's crust is very thin, which means that this molten rock is almost under one's feet. so, the thickness of the earth's crust compared with that of the earth itself can be compared to the thickness of apple peel compared with the whole apple. a believer who considers these matters will understand once again that the world and all living things on it exist because of the perfect balance that allah has created according to his will, and that every creature continues to live in safety and security because of the will of allah.
a believer who looks with the eye of reflection will notice the beauty around him and the wonders of creation. for example, because they are blessings from allah, the birds in the sky, the fruits that decorate a grocer's shop-window with their attractive colours, and the wonderful smell coming from a bakery mean something to a believer that other people cannot grasp.
a believer who ponders the varied and countless proofs he encounters while walking in the street will also be careful about how he behaves. for example, he will walk without exaggeration or display because allah announces in a verse: "be moderate in your tread…" (surah luqman: 19) a humble person obeys the command of allah and, as in all his other activities, maintains a middle road in the way he walks. this is acceptable both in the sight of allah and in the eyes of believers.
believers know that allah created human beings and endows them with all their characteristics. but those who don't follow the teachings of the qur'an don't appreciate this fact and think that the qualities they have are their own. these people who think that their beauty, wealth, knowledge and success belong to themselves become proud and arrogant. and because of this arrogance, they want to show their own superiority by crushing others. this attitude is reflected in the way they walk as it is in what they say and do. however, everyone is powerless before the supreme knowledge and power of allah and we need allah every moment of our lives. in the qur'an, allah warns us about this and forbids us to boast:
do not avert your face from people out of haughtiness and do not strut about arrogantly on the earth. allah does not love anyone who is vain or boastful. (surah luqman: 18)
do not strut arrogantly about the earth. you will certainly never split the earth apart nor will you ever rival the mountains in height. (surat al-isra': 37)
everyone who lives according to the teaching of the qur'an is aware that he is powerless, that he lives according to allah's will, and that it is the sole lord of the universe who has given him everything he owns. and because he lives with this awareness, he understands everything that happens around him in terms of the qur'an.
it is clear that a person cannot cover a lot of distance walking in a day. it is easy to walk short distances, and the ability to walk is a great blessing from allah. but people can't travel great distances by walking; their bodies becomes tired at some point and they can't walk any farther. allah knows this weakness of his slaves and has created animals and vehicles to carry them and has made transportation easy. here are some verses from the qur'an related to this great blessing of allah that show his grace, mercy and compassion towards his slaves:
they (livestock) carry your loads to lands you would never reach except with great difficulty. your lord is all-gentle, most merciful. and horses, mules and donkeys both to ride and for adornment. and he creates other things you do not know. (surat an-nahl: 7-8)
it is he who created all the species and gave you ships and livestock for you to ride. (surat az-zukhruf: 12)
do you not see that allah has made everything on the earth subservient to you and the ships running upon the sea by his command? he holds back the heaven, preventing it from falling to the earth—except by his permission. allah is all-compassionate to mankind, most merciful. (surat al-hajj: 65)
by the use of our intellects it is obvious to us that allah created materials such as iron and steel with certain capabilities and inspired people to use them to make different kinds of vehicles. and it is by allah's will that people made vehicles such as cars, busses, trains, ships and airplanes. so allah made it easy for us to go on journeys we could never make by ourselves. what we must do in response to these blessings is to remember allah when we board these vehicles, praise his name and give him thanks. allah tells us of this in the qur'an:
so that you might sit firmly on their backs and remember your lord's blessing while you are seated on them, saying, "glory be to him who has subjected this to us. we could never have done it by ourselves." (surat az-zukhruf: 13)
transport today is much faster, easier and more comfortable than it was in the past. for a person who lives according to the teachings of the qur'an, thinking about this is an important way to draw close to allah and to thank him sincerely for his blessings.
a believer also thinks about allah when he is taking a trip. the person beside him driving the car, the model and colour of the car, the other cars and people around him, their movements, the writing in the back window of the vehicle in front, the row of buildings along the way, their shapes, their windows, billboards and the writing on them are all created by allah by his decree. allah announces this to people in the following verse:
we have created all things in due measure. (surat al-qamar: 49)
allah created the things we encounter every moment of our lives, not only for a single individual, but also for each of the billions of people on the earth. for someone who lives according to the teaching of the qur'an, to think about this is a way for him to know that allah is always at his side, and that he sees his every deed and action. because the awareness of this fact is with him throughout the day, neither traffic congestion, nor a vehicle swerving in front of him, or any other difficulty he may experience will alter this attitude of submission to allah.
some people see even small misfortunes as major adversities; they become impatient and sometimes lose control of themselves, behaving in an irrational way. heavy traffic or an inattentive driver quickly irritates them and they may start to mutter to themselves or shout. they have no patience when they are stuck in traffic and they show this by continuously honking their horns and irritating others. the reason for such behaviour is that they have forgotten that everything is under allah's control.
for someone who has turned his back on allah, transportation is not a blessing but a bother and an annoyance. for example, potholes in the road, traffic congestion, a sudden rainstorm, and many other things will occupy his mind all day. but these useless thoughts are of no benefit to him either in this life or the next. some people claim that the main thing that prevents them from thinking deeply about these things is the struggle they have in this world. because of the time they must give to satisfying needs for food, shelter and health, they claim they have no time left to think about the existence of allah or the signs leading to faith. but this is nothing more than evasion of responsibility. a person's familial duties and the position in which he finds himself have nothing to do with thinking. a person who, in order to win allah's approval, thinks about the signs leading to faith, allah's decree, the afterlife, death and reflects on the blessings our lord has given him in this life, will find allah's help at his side. he will see that many of his problems are easily solved and he will be able to find more time and ease to think.
a believer never forgets that allah has created every situation he meets during his day. the purpose of the creation of these things is for us to learn to be patient or to use our minds to try to solve the problem in the way most pleasing to allah. if there is a problem that cannot be solved by personal effort, then the only thing to do is to be patient. to become irritated, start shouting and arguing like some people do, is wrong and senseless because it may be dangerous both for themselves and for others.
it is wrong for people to expect trials to occur only with great pain and tragedy as tests of our patience, because allah tests human beings throughout the day with various trials both big and small. so, annoying things like being caught in traffic or being late in arriving somewhere and small accidents are tests for human beings. but, in this situation, those who live according to the teaching of the qur'an do not feel annoyance and they keep their patience without complaining. in the qur'an, allah reveals that it is one of the characteristics of believers that they remain patient with the trials to which they are subject:
whose hearts quake at the mention of allah, and who are steadfast in the face of all that happens to them, those who establish prayer and give of what we have provided for them. (surat al-hajj: 35)
with regard to traffic accidents that they may have, believers maintain their composure and are resigned to their destiny, not in a passive sense, but realistically accepting what allah has decreed for them. in such a situation they act sensibly knowing that allah created what has happened to them and they try to do something to save the injured, call for help and limit the damage. they know that they are responsible every moment of this earthly life to act in a way that will be pleasing to allah.
in surat al-mulk, allah reveals the purpose for human creation and the responsibility given to us:
he who created death and life to test which of you is best in action. he is the almighty, the ever-forgiving. (surat al-mulk: 2)
a believer who lives every moment of his earthly life according to the teachings of the qur'an will not let his mind be occupied by pointless and senseless thoughts during a trip; he directs his attention to things and events about which he can think deeply. for example, those people who are far removed from the teaching of the qur'an, seeing birds flying through the air, will perceive it as an ordinary occurrence. however, for a believer, the fact that birds, not attached to anything, remain suspended in thin air and perform manoeuvres with their delicate wings; that their wings are designed so that they can fly, move quickly and perform these manoeuvres; that their bills are structures especially made that they can be appropriately nourished; their flying techniques, special skeletal structures, and respiratory, nervous and other systems; the complex aerodynamic structures of their feathers; their nest building techniques; their sense organs, hunting and feeding methods, their behaviour, the sounds they make during mating and at other times; the fact that the systems observed in birds are wonders of design, are proofs of allah's existence, power and supreme knowledge. allah draws our attention to this in the qur'an: "have they not looked at the birds above them, with wings outspread and folded back? nothing holds them up but the all-merciful. he sees all things." (surat al-mulk: 19) as believers go on their ways, they observe the wonders of creation such as these that surround them and are witnesses every moment to allah's endless power.