I never considered myself a germaphobe. Learning about the tiny little bugs that were on my hands, pencils, and desk never freaked me out. But in many television shows I watched as a kid, there was always an episode focused around one character’s obsession with germs after the class learned about it during the science hour of the school day. The character would start imagining creepy crawlies on the cafeteria lunches and gym equipment during recess. The newfound fear would render them motionless and overwhelmed with paranoia. It seemed like a horribly uncomfortable way to live.
This topic of germs reared its head over the breakfast table recently at my parent’s house. I know—not the best time or place to be having such a discussion. But nevertheless, there we were with my parents talking about germs and viruses. I tried to remain zoned out as I sipped my orange juice (this subject is not one I gravitate toward), but one point my father mentioned in the middle of all the bacteria banter caught my attention. He said the extent to which our eyes see is truly a blessing.
Allah says in the Quran while describing the creation of man: “Then He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him the soul, and He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts. Little is the thanks you give!” (Q. 32:9).
In this verse above, God points to the sight He bestowed upon human beings as a blessing often taken for granted. I always thought about this in terms of how seeing makes our lives easier and how it is a wonderful addition to life to be able to witness the smiles of our loved ones. But my dad pointed to the limit of a human being’s eyesight as a blessing from the Creator, whereas their strength and complexity are usually what get highlighted.
Imagine if you could see all the bacteria in your food, on your hands, and around your home, both good and bad. Taking a single step comfortably or tasting a bite joyfully would become experiences of the past. Sleeping would be stressful, and cleaning would be a hopeless endeavor. Any sense of security, cleanliness, or comfort would be lost after witnessing the millions of germs in every corner of every space we inhabit. We would become like those obsessive cartoon characters who were scared senseless by their textbooks and school videos that simply tried to illustrate why washing their hands after using the bathroom was necessary.
Picturing ourselves in this alternate dimension makes one appreciate that Allah made certain things microscopic. It took my dad mentioning something so simple during a late Sunday morning breakfast for me to realize this. The limit of our own eyes is such an incredible and overlooked blessing, and frankly, I feel foolish this is dawning on me now. My failure to appreciate this blessing further highlights the message delivered in Chapter 14 of the Quran, which was referenced in a recent post on this blog: “If you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them.” (Q. 14:34)
There are so many blessings God bestows upon us that it is impossible to keep track. We are so used to the way our lives and bodies work that we forget they were gifts to us from the Almighty. If He wanted to, He could change the entire course of our existence in a mere moment. Yet, we do not have to live constantly on guard—instead, we revel in the consistencies and comforts God provides for us every moment of every day. Our blessings do not go as far as the eye can see, rather, they continue to infinity and beyond.