بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
All praise is due to our Lord Who created all of creation as indications back to Him, in order that we may know Him. May the best benedictions and peace be upon the best of Creation, Muhammad, who was sent to exemplify a life of devotion to the One True God of all creation. To proceed:
In this modern age of hyper-technological usage we often find ourselves disconnected from the world around us. The watch tends to make us ignore the sun’s coursing through the sky, the calendar makes us oblivious to the passing phases of the moon, reality television, movies and YouTube cause us to forget the simple pleasures of looking at trees, rivers and the passing clouds. Even books themselves, for those who still read, tend to remove us from deeper contemplation. The problem is, the farther we are from the world around us, the more distant we tend to become from the signs of God, and hence, the more distant our relationship with Him.
Ralph Waldo Emerson touches upon some of these meanings in his famous essay “Nature” as he says, “…All the uses of nature admit of being summed in one,…It always speaks of Spirit. It suggests the absolute. It is a perpetual effect. It is a great shadow pointing always to the sun shine us. … The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship. … We can see God in the course, and, as it were, distant phenomena of matter; but when we try to define or describe Himself, both language and thought desert us, and we are as helpless as fools and savages.
“…As we degenerate, the contrast between us and our house is more evident. We are as much strangers in nature, as we are aliens from God…The end is lost sight of inattention to the means…The problem of restoring to the world original and eternal beauty, is solved by the redemption of the soul. The ruin or the blank, that we see when we look at nature, is in our own eye.
“…is not prayer also a study of truth, – a Sally of the soul into the unfound infinite? No man has ever prayed heartily, without learning something…All that Adam had, all that Caesar could, you have and can do….Yet line for line and point for point, your dominion is as great as theirs, though without fine names. Build therefor your own world…So shall the advancing spirit create its ornaments along its path, and carry with it the beauty it visits, and the song which enchants it; it shall draw beautiful faces, warm hearts, wise discourse, and heroic acts, around its way, until evil is no more seen”
As believers in the West, being indigenous to this land, we need to reorient ourselves, refocus ourselves and re-energize ourselves. If it is our aim, as it should be, to take the reigns of leadership in our (islamic) communities and be beacons of light and guidance in our (western) communities then it is incumbent upon us to first establish a firm relationship with The One in Whose Hands is every affair. The prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) informed us that spiritual excellence is that one lives their lives as though they see their Lord in front of them, and if they fall short in that, they should at least remain conscious that he is watching over us. It was this mindfulness of their Lord that allowed the companions of Allah’s messenger to spread Islam from Asia to Europe in such a short span of time. It was living lives with this awareness that allowed them, by God’s permission to open the three great super powers of the time, Abasiniyya, Rome and Persia, to the guidance of Truth.
How do we achieve this? Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words allude to the answer. Allah said in the Qur’an,
سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنفُسِهِمْ
حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ
أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ
We will show them Our Signs in the universe,
and in their ownselves,
until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth.
Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is a Witness over all things?
Seeing all of creation, everything, everyone, every moment and every event as a sign indicating back to Allah is the highest of spiritual excellences. Seeing His attributes of Beauty and Majesty in all things assists us to be mindful of Him at all times. Yet, until we arrive at that height, we must strive to remain in a state of awareness that He is a witness over our every word and deed, even our innermost intentions. And so we must seek to be aware of them ourselves, in order to present to our Lord that which He deserves of us, sincerity and sacrifice.
But even this takes effort, and so, again, as Emerson pointed out, we must be people of deep contemplation and prayer. People who are constant in their remembrance of their Lord, constant in their invocations and supplications, turning to Him in realization of, our neediness before Him – so, by His permission we can do the work necessary to guide our people, those amongst the believers and those who disbelieve, to the straight path in these crooked times. So we can serve as healers for our communities, for our society.
Know that when you fail to see the signs of your Lord, when you fail to call out to him, it is your own alienation, your moving away, as He is ever near, unchanging. You have the same potential as those who came before, but you must take the same means…sincerity to your Lord and the sunnah of His beloved (may the best benedictions and peace be upon him).
Lead. Guide. Heal.
And success is with Allah alone.