In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent
Are you not aware that it is God who causes the clouds to move onward, then joins them together, then piles them up in masses, until you can see rain come forth from their midst. He it is who sends down from the skies mountainous masses charged with hail, striking with it whom He wills and averting it from whom He wills.
The flash of His lightning well-nigh deprives people of their sight.
It is God who causes night and day to alternate. In this too there is surely a lesson for all who have eyes to see.
(Light, Al-Noor: 24: 43-44).
The first of these two verses portrays yet another scene which people pass by without giving much attention to it. It is very pleasant to the eye, carrying a message to the heart and inviting the mind to reflect on God’s creation, the pointers to faith available everywhere in the universe and the indications of the source of light, guidance and faith. “Are you not aware that it is God who causes the clouds to move onward, then joins them together, then piles them up in masses, until you can see rain come forth from their midst. He it is who sends down from the skies mountainous masses charged with hail, striking with it whom He wills and averting it from whom He wills. The flash of His lightning well-nigh deprives people of their sight.”
The scene is portrayed at leisure, slowly, with its components being raised up for reflection before they combine in a panoramic view. All this is done on purpose, so that the very sight of these details would touch people’s hearts and awaken their minds to be able to reflect on God’s perfect design.
Clouds and Hail
It is God’s design that drives the clouds from one place to another, before allowing these clouds to come together and pile up a great mass. When it is heavy, it bears water that begins to ooze out and then pours in heavy rain. When piled up, the clouds look like great mountains, producing small pieces of hail. No one sees the clouds look like mountains better than a passenger in a plane that flies higher than the clouds, or moves through them. The scene from there shows the clouds just like mountains, with all their huge sizes, steep cliffs, as well as high and low peaks. It is a scene that shows the reality people could not have seen before they were able to fly. These mountains are subservient to God’s orders, functioning in accordance with His law that governs the universe. It is in accordance with this law that God lets rain drop over any community He wants and diverts from others as He wills. The scene is completed with this final statement: “The flash of His lightning well-nigh deprives people of their sight.” It thus provides an element of harmony with the great light that fills the whole universe. And yet another universal scene, showing the night and day: “It is God who causes night and day to alternate. In this too there is surely a lesson for all who have eyes to see.”
Beauty of this Universe
When we reflect on the alternation of the night and day, in a perfect system that never fails or slackens, our senses are sharpened and we can better appreciate the perfection of God’s work and His law that governs the universe. The Qur’an alerts our hearts to such scenes which we normally overlook because of their familiarity. Yet they have a clear message. Hence the Qur’an helps our hearts to always face the universe with sharpened sensitivity and fresh reaction. Many a heart has wondered at the alternation of night and day when a person contemplates this remarkable phenomenon for the first time. Yet it is always the same, losing nothing of its striking beauty. It is only our hearts that have lost their interaction with this great phenomenon. The Qur’an re-invigorates our blunted sensitivity, touches our cold hearts and awakens our tired minds so that we can look at the universe as though we see it for the first time. We thus stop at every phenomenon reflecting on how it works and inquiring about its secrets. We see God’s hand doing its work in everything around us, and we reflect on His wisdom and the signs pointing to Him.
Limitless is God in His glory. He wants to give us more of His favours. He wants to gift us the whole universe every time we contemplate one of its phenomena in a way that we appreciate it as though we are seeing it for the first time. This universe is beautiful, awesome and has a nature that is harmonious with our own nature. Both are derived from the same source, subject to the same law. Thus when we relate to the universe we feel more reassured and we experience the sort of happiness that we feel when we meet a dear person who has been absent for a long time. Besides, in the universe we see God’s light, for “God is the light of the heavens and the earth. We experience this light in the great expanse of the universe, as well as within ourselves, at the same moment at which we look at the universe with an open heart that wants to understand the secret of God’s elaborate planning.
Therefore, the Qur’an reawakens us time and again, drawing our hearts and souls to a variety of great universal scenes, so that we do not pass by them with closed eyes and sealed hearts. If we do, we end our life journey with very little gain to show for our efforts.