Reading the Signs of God


Ship on the Mediterranean by I. Chatterjee

I live high in the Alpujarran mountains of Andalucia in Spain and the views across the mountains to the Mediterranean are stunning and give a great deal to reflect upon. The entire universe, including ourselves, is a great book filled with the signs of God waiting to be read. At this time of year, after the intense heat of summer, the weather is beginning to change. A pleasant drop in temperature, cooler breezes, a subtle change in the quality of the light are all harbingers of the coming Autumn and as I walk above the village and look out to sea I am reminded of the importance of rhythm in our lives and its connection with time.

From the beating of our hearts and the breathing of our lungs rhythm is an essential partner in the passing of time and the two link arms and appear throughout the natural and biological world and also manifest in cultural, religious, and social scenarios. If rhythm is honoured then the result can be a creative unfolding of divine surprises and moments of grace that reveal the true humanity of an individual. It is these divine surprises and blessings that suggest to me the melodies, keys, and chords for which rhythm builds the framework.

Time may appear to stop, to expand, or to contract according to our subjective experiences of the moment but the rhythms of the natural world and of humankind provide a framework for living and a foundation for the melodies of life that at times lift us out of this space/time continuum and allow us to experience the eternal present. How majestic are the rhythms of the tidal surge, the flow of seasons, the sunrise and sunsets of millennia? These rhythmic ‘beats’ are never a constant repetition of the same but rather a re-occurrence of the similar that coheres in the larger picture. That larger picture is that of the unity of all existence. How unique is each wave that beats upon the beach and yet all are from the one ocean and roll onto the sands as a result of the tides that are an effect of the gravitational pull of the moon. Walk on the wet sand at high tide or surf the waves as the tide turns and rushes back in to land and you are connected with the ocean, the moon, the sun and momentous cosmic events as the Lord of the Worlds manifests the unity of all creation. Surf splashing against the legs of a child can tell us the whole story of creation.

For me it is the rhythm of salat, the five daily prayers, which provide the essential framework for my spiritual voyaging. No prayer is ever the same as another and together with the regular practise of dhikr, remembering Allah, these are spiritual conduits that draw us close to an awareness of the unity of all creation and that there is nothing other than Allah. I feel this rhythm like embracing arms that contain those unexpected inspirations, guiding dreams, or the revelations of the inner heart that are released into life as the arms unfold. Ya Rabb! These mountains, this magnificent sea have many stories to tell for as the Qur’an says, ‘Wherever you turn there is the Face of God’ 2:115

I wrote this a while back for inclusion in the first edition of the Ansari Sufi Times. To read copies of the magazine click here.

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7 thoughts on “Reading the Signs of God

  1. how do i tell you how much i loved this!!! the last verse reminds me of the peace which comes with the month of ramadan.

    reading this peace bought a calmness to my mind… you live in a beautiful land and your thoughts are as beautiful.

    thank you for visiting my blog and leaving behind such a lovely comment, thank you so much!!

    you will see me here more often. 🙂

  2. Beautifully expressed, dear Sister 🙂 And true as the ocean and moon.

    “We show them the signs, on the horizons and in themselves.”
    – The Qur’an 41:53

    Ya Haqq!

  3. people creat gods and they feel empowered by the gods they creat
    though they may not be real
    they represent what we all want unity, peace, love

    stop looking for what you’ve created

    look for one another

  4. two things are very imprtant in the spiritual path.. One obviously is virue slaat zikr etc.. but we have to remember the path to God isn’t about feeling ecstacy al the time and joy.. yes there is joy in saying Gods name but at the same time we must feel the pain of avoding sin and going agaisnt our nafs.. The breaking of our ego, the swallowing of pride anger etc.

    A sheikh gave a very god n simple example.. to light a bulb we need 2 energies the Positive and Negative. Thus to truly light our heart and open up the realities we need the same 2..TO fulfill (+) all the obligations in deen and the pain of avoiding (-) all sins..of the soul, body and heart.

    with salams

    a learner

  5. Allah says in the Holy Quran:

    “Do they not see the birds suspended in mid-air up in the sky? Nothing holds them there except Allah. There are certainly Signs in that for people who have faith.” (Surat an-Nahl: 79)

    A bird uses great energy when it takes flight because it has to lift all its body with its tiny wings. Yet, once it is up in the air, Allah has made it easy for it to remain aloft without expending too much effort. Birds can fly for a long time by allowing themselves to rely on the wind. This way, they hardly tire since they consume very little energy. When the effect produced by the wind diminishes, they begin to flap their wings again. By means of this feature Allah has given birds, they can cover very long distances and migrate to remote destinations.

    It is interesting that birds’ legs, so slender and little in comparison to their bodies, can carry their entire bodies. It is amazing that so many muscles, veins and nerves can exist in such a slender leg! If birds’ legs were thicker and relatively more bulky, it would be more difficult for them to fly.

    Almost all birds sleep on one leg. This does not upset their balance since their body weight is concentrated on this one leg. Allah has created birds with the features that enable them to maintain such a delicate balance.

    The eyes of water fowl have been created for clear underwater vision. While we can’t keep our eyes open underwater for even 45 seconds, water birds can easily catch insects and molluscs in water as they plunge their heads into it. Since this is the only way for them to feed themselves, they must have clear vision underwater. For this reason, Allah has created a special structure in their eyes, which permits seeing underwater.

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