‘And We have not created Jinn and Mankind except but to worship Me’ – (51:56)
In very simple words Allaah, the Originator of everything we see and don’t see, expressed the purpose of our existence. He created us to worship Him. But what does this worship mean? Take 2 minutes to draft a list in your mind of what worship means to you. Is praying, fasting, charity, pilgrimage all that comes into your mind? Then, it means that you have confined worship to a very narrow definition which is quite contrary to the meaning of worship in Islam.
Islam means the peace acquired by submitting your will to the will of your Creator. It means to give your Creator’s will and choice preference over any other being’s or even your own self’s choice. It means to willingly submit to Him after knowing Who and How really God is and realizing the fact that His Choice is always better for us. It means to live a life in full submission and obedience to Him, through all actions in our lives and a part of these actions is what we consider to be only worship, namely praying, fasting, charity, etc. So, worship that Allaah means for us is a more comprehensive term than what we generally perceive.
However, realizing, understanding, accepting and living up to the Will of God and the purpose of our lives is a process. And I must say that this process begins with science and signs.
Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and the day, and the [great] ships which sail through the sea with that which benefits people, and what Allah has sent down from the heavens of rain, giving life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness and dispersing therein every [kind of] moving creature, and [His] directing of the winds and the clouds controlled between the heaven and the earth are signs for a people who use reason. (2:164)
Allaah in numerous verses of the Qur’an has depicted His marvellous and perfect creations and asked people to reflect and ponder over them. Over and over again. Why? Because, this is the beginning of our journey to reach the purpose of our lives.
Physics is such a world that reveals to us the perfection of the system of the creational world and universe we live in, further and further. With its advancements and new discoveries, it should be a means of us human beings increasing in more humbleness, humility and responsibility. Physics is an essential world that acts as the first stage of our process of submission. It is the stage of unfolding the mysteries of Allaah’s breath-taking, awe-striking creations, using it as a tool to increase in our faith in Him and then utilizing this knowledge to benefit the world, which in essence is also worshipping Him. Beauty, isn’t it?
In this article, I will just be sharing two very simple examples from the world of Physics to let you observe and ponder as Allaah mentioned.
The unusual water expansion
As water is cooled to 4 degrees, it contracts as we would expect. However, between 4-0 degree, it expands surprisingly. This is an unusual expansion that does not occur in most substances. And due to this unusual expansion, in deeper water, you always have water beneath the ice which then explains how fish and other aquatic lives can survive in extreme cold weather! Amazing, isn’t it? It all seems so beautifully planned and crafted. But, have you ever gone a step further to think, Who is the One Who planned so subtly, so beautifully, without any rifts in the plan?
Why don’t we feel Earth move?
Wouldn’t we feel the earth moving if it were spinning on its axis, or if it were travelling through space in an orbit around the sun? This question was the objection of Copernicus’ contemporaries and predecessors. However, in the case of motion on the train (or a bus or a plane), what is important to our sensation of motion is not the speed, but the bumps. What is important is whether or not we change our velocity, in other words whether or not we are accelerating. The bus goes over a bump. Its velocity is initial horizontal but it acquires a small upwards component as it rises, then a downwards component, then back to being purely horizontal. When it goes up, we go up too. We feel the extra force as the seat not only supports our weight, but accelerates us upwards. We feel force, so we notice acceleration. To keep us travelling in a straight line, even at high speed, requires no net force. And there are no bumps in space.
The earth’s rotation. The Earth is turning, but it takes nearly 24 hours to complete one turn on its axis: the rotation rate is 0.004 degrees per second. Now unless you are in Antarctica, you are probably thousands of kilometers from the earth’s axis, so this converts into a considerable speed – over 300 m/s at the latitude of Sydney: faster than an airliner. However, the acceleration is small: again, it depends on latitude, but it is typically 2 or 3 centimetres per second per second. The force required to make you turn with the earth is less than 0.3% of your weight. Because this extra force is nearly always there (it is a component of the gravitational force on us), we don’t notice it.
The earth’s orbit. For the Earth in its orbit around the sun, the speed is 30 km/s, but the turning is even slower: 360 degrees per year. A degree per day. No wonder you don’t notice it: this gives an acceleration of 6 millimetres per second per second, and the required force is only 0.06% of your weight.
At this fact, we go wow. But, for a moment, have we ever thought what a great blessing this is for us? Normal human life and its activities would come into question if we were to feel the earth spinning. And so once again, beautifully crafted system and plan which surely serves a purpose.
The above two examples are very basic examples which most of you are already aware of. But the purpose of bringing them in was not an acknowledgement of facts, but approaching them through a new lens. The lens that Allaah wants us to see the universe with. The lens through which we are fascinated and come to the conclusion that which Allah says in the Qur’an:
Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing];… (3:191)
So, through science we attain this conviction that there is a Supreme Being, Someone Who is absolutely perfect, since His creations and its systems are so flawless. Through science, we are left curious to learn more about this Being and left inquisitive to know why He created us. For we surely realize that a Being like such will never create anything without a wisdom behind it. It simply does not go with His Majesty.
And so then, science leads us to the second stage of our journey in finding God and the purpose He created us, which is Divine Knowledge. Divine Knowledge is that knowledge that came straight from Him through His chosen Messengers and revelations, revealing to us a completely unique set of knowledge that we would have no access to if He did not send us through. And we as Muslims believe that Quran is the final revelation that came to us in which is guidance for us as well as further signs to strengthen our faith in God. In it are miracles not only of science, but also from literary and linguistic perspectives. And discussion of its miracles are beyond the scope of this writing. However, interested readers may do further reading on the Sciences of the Quran and its exegesis to learn more.
On a final note, Science is an integral part of human lives. It is a fascinating world of discoveries. It is inseparable from Faith. It is the beginning of our journey to find God and the purpose we all seek, the purpose of our very temporary lives in this world. It is where Faith begins.
Faria Alam is a young aspiring student who seeks to help young females educate themselves. She is a freelance writer and loves to read books of different disciplines. She takes great interest in personal development.