By Aisha Sheikh, Hafsah Chak, Zayna Hamdeh
Conflicting views regarding the connection between nature and the divine have revolved around society for ages, and for many, they remain a ponderous topic. Some consider that nature itself is divine, while others believe that nature is actually a sign of an existing authority. So what does Islam have to say about this fascinating connection?
Why is Nature Viewed as Divine?
In some religions across the globe, nature is believed to be divine. Nature itself is worshiped in these religions–religions such as Hinduism. Hindus view nature as sacred as they believe all living things are a part of God. Their texts and scriptures guide them toward worshiping nature–some Hindus worship the sun as a God who created the universe and is a source of all life. Another concept regarding nature’s divinity is the one of “Mother Nature” which is a term referring to nature as a woman who is the source of all creation. These notions of nature being godly all admit that someone or something is in charge of creation. But why nature?
What happens when people worship animals or inanimate beings is that they are avoiding accountability and responsibility. There is a conflict of interest here–”if you get to speak for it, then it is you who is making the rules.” People who worship deities that cannot speak are making the rules for themselves; they are colluding inside and avoiding God. There is no accountability for their deeds. When people worship an external deity, a God that can speak for Himself, morality comes from divine authority. This means people are responsible for their actions, as they must be in the existence of God; God who is the creator of all things. Muslims believe in this very idea of worshiping one divine authority who created everything. In the Qur’an, Allah (God) commands us not to prostrate “to the sun nor to the moon”, but to prostrate to “Allah Who created them” (Quran 41:37). Why would one worship the creation and not the creator? Elsewhere Allah says, “Can the One Who creates be equal to those who do not?” (Quran 16:17). The objects that some people worship such as the sun and the moon cannot help themselves nor create anything, whereas God, The Creator, is powerful over everything–and He is the very deity whom Muslims worship.
Nature as a Sign of God
Although Muslims do not worship nature, it is still something of utmost importance to them. Nature is ultimately a sign of God’s existence. Everywhere we look, we see the beautiful creatures, the wondrous life that Allah created. These are all signs of God’s existence. Just as footprints are a sign that a person was there, all of creation is a sign that God prevails. Being surrounded by nature is often referred to as something that brings peace of mind, and that idea is supported in Islam. We learn from the Qur’an that “Allah is glorified by all those in the heavens and the earth” (Quran 24:41). Everything from the plants to the birds glorifies Allah, and surrounding ourselves with the continuous recitation of God’s name brings a distinct peace and pleasure to one’s mind and heart.
Muslims are also told to take good care of nature as it glorifies Allah, and also because humans are responsible for taking care of the earth. By taking care of nature, Muslims are fulfilling their responsibility and also calming their minds through the presence of nature. Nature has a prominent connection with spirituality, as it reinforces the Muslim’s belief in the oneness of God.
By a variety of belief systems worldwide, nature is regarded as divine, but at the end of the day that all comes down to avoiding accountability. Muslims believe in one God–the creator of nature, the creator of all things. Nature, in Islam, is viewed as a sign of God, a visual sign that is evidence of God’s existence. Muslims find tranquility and joy in nature, as they are surrounding themselves with mentions of their creator. The connection between nature and the divine is an eminent one, as it not only reminds people of God’s presence but also brings people to fulfilling their responsibility of taking care of the earth whilst uplifting their spirituality.