Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Imagery in Al-Ghaashiya

"Will they not then consider the camels, how they are created?
And the heaven, how it is reared aloft,
And the mountains, how they are firmly fixed,
And the earth, how it is made a vast expanse?" (translation by Shakir)

Camel.Heavens.Earth.Mountain....and Man as the Active Participant.

These verses point to four phenomena, among the many, that are indicative of God's Power, Might and Glory.

A reflective reading would also uncover a stunning imagery presented here, as well as reveal the inner philosophical underpinning of Man's place in the universe and his journey to the Creator.

The camel, known as the ship of the desert, is presented here as a marvel of creation, and the reader is indirectly, by the use of rhetoric, invited to take a closer look at this creature. In the desert environment, the camel is the ultimate resource as it provides the most valuable means of transportation, and a source of food. Its biological make up is ideally suited to the desert environment, as it can go for hours upon end without food or water. Without the camel, the traveller is lost and helpless. (And without guidance, Man is also lost and helpless!)

From this earthly creature, the Qur'an takes us to the heights of the heavens, in a stunning contrast of earth and sky. The raised heaven is the handiwork of God; it is also the goal of Man who as an inhabitant of earth, must travel the path to seek that goal. Heaven is at an elevated rank in the scheme of things; and as the camel is aptly fitted to perform its task in the desert, so is man given the faculties and spiritual resources to point himself to the direction of heaven.

To complete the picture of camel, desert and sky the reader is invited to take a look at the mountains - and how they serve the critical purpose of balancing the earth. The mountain is firmly rooted in the earth, creating balance. Thus the believer must also be firmly rooted in faith,creating balance and harmony within a faith that spreads under him like the vastness of the earth and can transport him to the heights of the heavens.

The gaze is shifted once more to earth, and how it is spread out - a vast expanse on which Man, Camel and Mountain blend to create a perfect picture of a purposeful journey, a journey of return to the Source.

The Qur'anic imagery presented here makes use of a known environment, one that the bedouin and Arab was familiar with, perhaps to the extent of being taken for granted. By presenting such a vivid picture to the reader, the Qur'an engages him with something that is naturally close to him/her.

In the same manner, contemporary readers of the Qur'an would do well to look at similar signs that are present in his own environment, to instill an awe for God's creation, and engage in a reflection of creation and Man's journeying to God.


Post a Comment

<< Home