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REFLECTION

Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

The Koran directs man's attention to the phenomena of nature and the facts of history, as they reveal the power of God and His wisdom. Man is invited to look at and reflect upon the grandeur of the heavens, the beauty of the earth, the freshness of dawn, the glory of sunset and the terrifying force of the wind as it sweeps over the open spaces of the desert. Pointedly, it asks: "Are not these marvelous? What more do you want?' The phenomena of nature, at once beautiful and mysterious, can fully gratify man's sense of wonder.

Drawing our attention to the starry firmament above, the Koran kindles in our minds a sense of its infinitude. In contemplating the heavens we are contemplating the infinite. Therein we have a value experience of a high order, composed of curiosity, wonder, awe, reverence and feelings of sublimity and beauty. Who knows but these may be life and reason in some of the countless galaxies in the infinity of space. "And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and what He has spread abroad in both of them of living things; and He has the power to gather them together" (42:29) and "There are signs for those who reflect" (1:24).

In truth, each person possesses a capacity for thought of which even he himself is unaware. Once man begins to use this capacity, facts he has not been able to realize until that very moment begin to be uncovered for him. The deeper he goes in reflection, the more his capacity to think improves, and this is possible for everyone. One just has to realize that one needs to reflect and then to strive hard. Each person needs to ponder the purpose of creation, first as it concerns him himself, and then as it pertains to everything he sees in the universe and every event he experiences throughout his life.

To convey this concept, the Koran mostly employs the trilateral Arabic root fkr. Second and fifth forms of the root fkr are attested 18 times in the Koran, vide fakrun 74:18, tatfakru 34:48, tatfakrun 2:319, 366; 6:50, yat'fakru 7:184, 30:8 and yat'fakrun 3:191, 7:176, 10:24, 13:3, 16:11, 44, 69; 30:21, 39:42, 45:13, 59:21, mentioning the creation of the heavens and everything between and exhort the humans to reflect (mushahida) on and to realize Divine Omnipotence. Besides, the terms reflection (tafakur) is used frequently intended to illustrate God's creative power. It must be noted that one-ninths of the Koranic verses are devoted to the description of nature, its manifestations and objects with the suggestion that man should give thought and contemplation to them. On the other hand, verses on prayers, fasting, pilgrimage and ablution etc. don't exceed one hundred and fifty.

We find in these verses a clear reference to generic sciences. The men of knowledge are therefore, who have acquired knowledge of these natural phenomena, and that is, they are the men whom we now call scientists. The sphere of work of ulema is the science of man and nature. It is obvious that the Muslim ulema have since long relinquished their proper object of study and have applied their keen intellect to matters of far less importance. Absorbed in matters relating to ritual and ceremonial, which are the adjuncts of institutional religion, they could not spare the time to observe and study nature as they had been commanded to do by God. Instead of ranging over the wide expanse of the world of nature, their mind moved in a narrow circle with the result that it has lost its vigour and flexibility. It is high time they turned their attention to the prosper object of study


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