It was a beautiful Saturday evening. Despite the unpredictable weather that Malaysia experiences every so often, my dad and I decided to carry on with our usual weekend evening routine: hiking at a hill near our neighborhood.
As soon as we walked out of the house, it started drizzling. My dad, upon observing the clouds, predicted that the rain will not get much heavier and admitted that hiking in a bit of rain is delightful anyway. So we carried on.
The rain got slightly heavier as we started our hiking exercise. However, the trees that were towering over us protected us from the rainwater somewhat. The opening stage of the hike was the toughest as the trail was steep and slippery.
Moments later, we passed by a mini waterfall. We paused, closed our eyes and took a deep breath. The sound of water rapidly cascading over the rocks was better and more soothing than any award-winning soundtrack. I didn’t mind sitting there all day.
Lush greenery encircled us throughout the journey as we made an attempt to reach the top of the hill. Scores of leaves of various brown shades casually glided down through the moist air before me. Occasionally, random gaps between trees, as their leaves and branches in unison danced to the tunes of the escalating breezes, would reveal a bird’s eye view of the Kuala Lumpur busy highways and skyscrapers with a beautiful backdrop of opulent green mountains.
As I looked up to admire the trees, raindrops landed on my face, tickling my nose. Cool, fresh breeze gently run over my face. SubhanAllah, indeed, nothing beats the scent of the clean moist air of the tropical forest right after rain. Soon enough, the dark gray clouds vanished from the horizon and, just like floating cotton candies, the white ones took over the clear blue sky.
Sporadically, I would look up at the apexes of the trees to find monkeys staring down peacefully and obliviously at me. Upon reaching the peak of the hill, a dog, a couple of cats and a flock of hens greeted us. Flowering shrubs were scattered all over. Butterflies flew gracefully around the daisies and dandelions. It reminded me of my childhood, the summer days in Bosnia. My aunt would collect wild daisies along our hiking trails and make flower diadems for me and my little sister.
All the way through the hike, a particular verse from my favorite Surah or chapter from the Holy Qur’an repeatedly echoed in my mind: “So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?” (Ar-Rahman). It made me realize that I – just like many of us -- have often been taking many things and experiences of great significance for granted. Allah’s mercy is present at every moment and every step of our way. His bounties are innumerable. We can see the signs and beauty of Allah manifested everywhere and in everything, if we would actually let ourselves see them: in the small and slight, like a pebble or a raindrop, and in the great and vast, like a mountain or an ocean.
This undeniable truth led a poet to assert:
“Oh, what an oddity…
How is it that Allah is disobeyed,
How can a disbeliever deny Him,
When in every single thing there is a sign,
Revealing that He is the One!”
Perhaps, we do not deny them, but, surely, we often tend to ignore the beauty and splendor of the simple things in life. We do not have to travel all the way to the Alps, or dive deep into the Pacific, to witness and experience the greatness of Allah. Paying attention to our very selves and our immediate surroundings is all it takes.
Look at the trees along the road on your way to a grocery store. Apart from their beauty, they provide us with shade, oxygen, food, as well as shelter for various animals. Also, recall that no leaf falls without the permission and knowledge of Allah.
While you are growing impatient waiting for the bus or tram at a station, look up at the beautiful sky. Remember our desperation for the clear blue sky during the suffocating hazy days. The fluffy white clouds that seem weightless can hold thousands of liters of water that all living things down on the ground greatly depend on. Look at all those beautiful birds of various vibrant colors, flying and chirping all around, and glorifying their (and our) Creator. Close your eyes and feel the occasional wind running over your face. Absorb the relaxing sounds of the seemingly haphazard, but subtly synchronized, movements of leaves and branches as the breezes pass through them and set them in motion.
God-consciousness does not always have to be just a scare tactic to stop us from doing the prohibited things. God-consciousness is a wonderful thing, much wider and more consequential. It gives us tranquility of the heart and mind that no amount of money can buy. It gives us strength and a sense of purpose. When everything around us, and all the situations and experiences we go through on a regular basis, remind us of our Creator and Master, the life phenomenon then unfolds with supreme and most profound peace, love, meaning and appreciation. After all, didn’t Allah assure us that “verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest” (Qur’an, 13:28)? However, He also revealed that “for surely it is not the eyes that are blind, but blind are the hearts which are in the breasts" (Qur’an, 22:46).