The Quranic Questions – 4

Looking thoughtfully at something for long time is what “contemplation” is all about. Its about focusing the attention on a single thought or a connected chain of thoughts to get deeper understanding. Its about getting clear ideas for solving issues concerning human and the society.

Contemplation, is the only action that differentiates humans from rest of the creatures. The different ages in human history point towards the fact that pondering over needs and an urge to change the prevailing conditions have resulted in a phase-wise revolution. Unarguably, the overall and sustainable development heavily rely on proper usage of mind to which ears, eyes and heart assist in there own ways. 

The Quranic Contemplation

The subject matter of the Quran is humans, the Book invites them to reflect, it goes on admonishing with different approaches to make sure that man becomes a contemplative being. Look at the way the Quran convinces the human intellect:

 كِتَـٰبٌ أَنزَلۡنَـٰهُ إِلَيۡكَ مُبَـٰرَكٌ۬ لِّيَدَّبَّرُوٓاْ ءَايَـٰتِهِۦ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ أُوْلُواْ ٱلۡأَلۡبَـٰبِ

(This is) a Book (the Qur’ân) which We have sent down to you, full of blessings that they may ponder over its Verses, and that men of understanding may remember (Ch 38 – Saad: 29)

أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانَ‌ۚ وَلَوۡ كَانَ مِنۡ عِندِ غَيۡرِ ٱللَّهِ لَوَجَدُواْ فِيهِ ٱخۡتِلَـٰفً۬ا ڪَثِيرً۬ا

Do they not then consider the Quran carefully? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein many contradictions (Ch 4 – An-Nisa: 82)

and it strictly warns:

أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانَ أَمۡ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبٍ أَقۡفَالُهَآ

Do they not then think deeply in the Quran, or are their hearts locked up (from understanding it)? (Ch 47 – Muhammad: 24)

Questions about Contemplation

Contemplation (Tafakkur), a mental art, occupies a pivotal position in the domain of Islamic teachings. The essence of which clearly specify motives as recognition of the Creator and realization of the self. The verses mentioned here revolve around this two-dimensional contemplative process, viz self and the Creator.

However the verses mentioned here are not encompassing all the Quranic verses that involve reflection, they are a plenty, in accordance with the subject of our discussion, only questions have been included here :

قُلۡ هَلۡ يَسۡتَوِى ٱلۡأَعۡمَىٰ وَٱلۡبَصِيرُ‌ۚ أَفَلَا تَتَفَكَّرُونَ

Say: can the blind be held equal to the seeing? Will you not then reflect? (Ch 6 – Al-Anam: 50)


قُلۡ مَنۡ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ ٱللَّهِ ٱلَّتِىٓ أَخۡرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِۦ وَٱلطَّيِّبَـٰتِ مِنَ ٱلرِّزۡقِ‌ۚ

Who has forbidden the adornment which Allah has brought forth for His creatures or the good things from among the means of sustenance..? (Ch 7- Al-‘Araf: 32)


 قُلۡ مَن يَرۡزُقُكُم مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ

Who is it that sustains you (in life) from the sky and from the earth…? (Ch 10 – Yunus: 31)


أَمَّن يَمۡلِكُ ٱلسَّمۡعَ وَٱلۡأَبۡصَـٰرَ وَمَن يُخۡرِجُ ٱلۡحَىَّ مِنَ ٱلۡمَيِّتِ وَيُخۡرِجُ ٱلۡمَيِّتَ مِنَ ٱلۡحَىِّ وَمَن يُدَبِّرُ ٱلۡأَمۡرَ‌

Who owns hearing and sight? And who brings out the living from the dead and brings out the dead from the living? Who is it that rules and regulates all affairs…? (Ch 10 – Yunus: 31)


 قُلۡ أَرَءَيۡتُم مَّآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ لَكُم مِّن رِّزۡقٍ۬ فَجَعَلۡتُم مِّنۡهُ حَرَامً۬ا وَحَلَـٰلاً۬ قُلۡ ءَآللَّهُ أَذِنَ لَكُمۡ‌ۖ أَمۡ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ تَفۡتَرُونَ 

Did you consider that the sustenance which Allah had sent down for you of your own accord you have declared some of it as unlawful and some as lawful? Ask them: ‘Did Allah bestow upon you any authority for this or do you forge lies against Allah?.. (Ch 10 – Yunus::59)


قُلِ ٱنظُرُواْ مَاذَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۚ

Say: Look at all that is in the heavens and on earth..? (Ch 10 – Yunus: 101)


أَلَمۡ تَرَ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ‌ۚ إِن يَشَأۡ يُذۡهِبۡكُمۡ وَيَأۡتِ بِخَلۡقٍ۬ جَدِيدٍ۬

Do you not see that Allah created the heavens and the earth in truth, were He to will, He could take you away and bring a new creation? (Ch 14 – Ibrahim: 19)

أَوَلَمۡ يَرَوۡاْ إِلَىٰ مَا خَلَقَ ٱللَّهُ مِن شَىۡءٍ۬ يَتَفَيَّؤُاْ ظِلَـٰلُهُ ۥ عَنِ ٱلۡيَمِينِ وَٱلشَّمَآٮِٕلِ سُجَّدً۬ا لِّلَّهِ وَهُمۡ دَٲخِرُونَ

Do they not look at Allah’s creation, (even) among (inanimate) things,- How their (very) shadows turn round, from the right and the left, prostrating themselves to Allah, and that in the humblest manner? (Ch 16 – An-Nahl: 48)


أَوَلَمۡ يَرَوۡاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ قَادِرٌ عَلَىٰٓ أَن يَخۡلُقَ مِثۡلَهُمۡ

Have they not perceived that Allah, Who has created the heavens and the earth, has the power to create the like of them? (Ch 17 – Bani Israel: 99)


أَفَلَا يَرَوۡنَ أَنَّا نَأۡتِى ٱلۡأَرۡضَ نَنقُصُهَا مِنۡ أَطۡرَافِهَآ‌ۚ 

Don’t they see We gradually reduce the land (in their control) from its outlying borders? (Ch 21 – Al-Anbiya: 44)


قُلۡ مَنۢ بِيَدِهِۦ مَلَكُوتُ ڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ وَهُوَ يُجِيرُ وَلَا يُجَارُ عَلَيۡهِ إِن كُنتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُونَ

Say: “Who is it in whose hands is the governance of all things, – who protects (all), but is not protected (of any)? (say) if you know? (Ch 23 – Al-Muminoon: 88)


أَمَّن يَهۡدِيڪُمۡ فِى ظُلُمَـٰتِ ٱلۡبَرِّ وَٱلۡبَحۡرِ وَمَن يُرۡسِلُ ٱلرِّيَـٰحَ بُشۡرَۢا بَيۡنَ يَدَىۡ رَحۡمَتِهِۦۤ‌ۗ أَءِلَـٰهٌ۬ مَّعَ ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ
Who guides you through the depths of darkness on land and sea, and Who sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings, going before His Mercy? (Can there be another) god besides Allah? (Ch 27- An-Naml
: 63)


أَلَمۡ يَرَوۡاْ أَنَّا جَعَلۡنَا ٱلَّيۡلَ لِيَسۡكُنُواْ فِيهِ وَٱلنَّهَارَ مُبۡصِرًا‌ۚ

Did they not perceive that We had ordained the night for them to have rest in it, and made the day bright? (Ch 27- An-Naml: 86)

أَوَلَمۡ يَتَفَكَّرُواْ فِىٓ أَنفُسِہِم‌ۗ مَّا خَلَقَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ وَمَا بَيۡنَہُمَآ إِلَّا بِٱلۡحَقِّ وَأَجَلٍ۬ مُّسَمًّ۬ى‌ۗ 

Do they not reflect within themselves: Allah did not create the heavens and the earth and what is between them two but with truth, and (for) an appointed term? (Ch 30 – Ar-Rum: 8)


أَوَلَمۡ يَرَوۡاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَبۡسُطُ ٱلرِّزۡقَ لِمَن يَشَآءُ وَيَقۡدِرُ‌ۚ

Do they not see that it is Allah Who gives abundantly to whom He wills and sparingly (to whom He wills)? (Ch 30 – Ar-Rum: 37)


هَـٰذَا خَلۡقُ ٱللَّهِ فَأَرُونِى مَاذَا خَلَقَ ٱلَّذِينَ مِن دُونِهِۦ‌ۚ

Such is the Creation of Allah: now show Me what is there that others besides Him have created? (Ch 31 – Luqman: 11)


هَلۡ مِنۡ خَـٰلِقٍ غَيۡرُ ٱللَّهِ يَرۡزُقُكُم مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِۚ

Is there a creator, other than Allah, to give you sustenance from heaven or earth? (Ch 35 – Fatir: 03)


أَوَلَمۡ يَسِيرُواْ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ فَيَنظُرُواْ كَيۡفَ كَانَ عَـٰقِبَةُ ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِهِمۡ وَكَانُوٓاْ أَشَدَّ مِنۡہُمۡ قُوَّۚةً۬

Do they not travel through the earth, and see what was the End of those before them,- though they were superior to them in strength?… (Ch 35 – Fatir: 44)


أَفَلَمۡ يَسِيرُواْ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ فَيَنظُرُواْ كَيۡفَ كَانَ عَـٰقِبَةُ ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِهِمۡۚ كَانُوٓاْ أَڪۡثَرَ مِنۡہُمۡ وَأَشَدَّ قُوَّةً۬ وَءَاثَارً۬ا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ۔۔۔

Do they not travel through the earth and see what was the End of those before them? They were more numerous than these and superior in strength and in the traces (they have left) in the land…? (Ch 40 – Al-Mumin: 82)


فَأَمَّا عَادٌ۬ فَٱسۡتَڪۡبَرُواْ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ بِغَيۡرِ ٱلۡحَقِّ وَقَالُواْ مَنۡ أَشَدُّ مِنَّا قُوَّةً‌ۖ أَوَلَمۡ يَرَوۡاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَهُمۡ هُوَ أَشَدُّ مِنۡہُمۡ قُوَّةً۬‌ۖ فَأَمَّا عَادٌ۬ فَٱسۡتَڪۡبَرُواْ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ بِغَيۡرِ ٱلۡحَقِّ وَقَالُواْ مَنۡ أَشَدُّ مِنَّا قُوَّةً‌ۖ أَوَلَمۡ يَرَوۡاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَهُمۡ هُوَ أَشَدُّ مِنۡہُمۡ قُوَّةً۬‌ۖ

As for the ‘Aad people, they became arrogant with pride in the land without any right, and said, “Who is stronger than us in might?” Did they not see that God, Who had created them, is stronger than they in might? (Ch 41- Fussilat: 15)

فَبِأَىِّ ءَالَآءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ

Which of the favors of your Lord will you deny? (Ch 55 – Ar-Rahman: 13)


أَمَّنۡ هَـٰذَا ٱلَّذِى هُوَ جُندٌ۬ لَّكُمۡ يَنصُرُكُم مِّن دُونِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ‌ۚ

Who is there that can help you, (even as) an army, besides (Allah) Most Merciful? (Ch 67 – Al-Mulk: 20)


أَمَّنۡ هَـٰذَا ٱلَّذِى يَرۡزُقُكُمۡ إِنۡ أَمۡسَكَ رِزۡقَهُ

Who is there that can provide you with Sustenance if He were to withhold His provision? (Ch 67 – Al-Mulk: 21)


قُلۡ أَرَءَيۡتُمۡ إِنۡ أَصۡبَحَ مَآؤُكُمۡ غَوۡرً۬ا فَمَن يَأۡتِيكُم بِمَآءٍ۬ مَّعِينِۭ

Have you ever thought if (all) your water were to disappear into the earth, who then could bring you gushing water? (Ch 67 – Al-Mulk: 30)


أَلَمۡ نَجۡعَلِ ٱلۡأَرۡضَ كِفَاتًا

Have We not made the earth (as a place) to draw together? (Ch 77 – Al-Mursalat: 25)


أَلَمۡ نَجۡعَلِ ٱلۡأَرۡضَ مِهَـٰدً۬ا

Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse? (Ch 78 – An-Naba: 06)


فَلۡيَنظُرِ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنُ إِلَىٰ طَعَامِهِۦۤ

Let man look at his food, (and how We provide it)? (Ch 80 – Abasa: 24)

The outcome of contemplation

Now, by focusing on these verses, one should gain a deeper understanding of things and clear ideas for solving issues. For every verse there should be a concrete form of thought and a plan of action. Let us have a look, the points (thoughts and actions) enlisted are in order of verses mentioned above, there reference is being given in brackets:

  • Decisions should be based on knowledge (6: 50)
  • Adornments of the world are for humans (7: 32)
  • God is the Only Provider of sustenance (10: 31)
  • God is the Owner of life and death (10: 31)
  • It is against the dignity of human beings to forge lies against God (10: 59)
  • Observation of stars, study of the celestial objects and pondering over the creations on and above the earth are acts of worship (10: 101)
  • The life span on earth is a period given for God’s worship, the period is temporary, if it is not considered, God will bring a new creation and its possibility can’t be ruled out (14: 19)
  • The presence of things on the earth and in heavens is a clear manifestation that there existence and movements are nothing but there own way of worshiping the Creator (16: 48)
  • Apart from thousands of galaxies, the possibility of another universe can’t be ruled out (17: 99)
  • The recent developments have made the world a global village, there are huge possibilities of further developments in the field of science and technology which can make the world even more smaller than the perception of a global village (21: 44 & 77: 25)
  • The existence of the earth and heavens are a clear manifestation that God exist and He is one (23: 88)
  • The modes of transportation both on the surface and air are possible because the mercy of God plays a pivotal role which is way ahead of the technological developments (27: 63)
  • The human nature supports working hours during the day-time, barring a few sectors, and rest in the night (27: 86)
  • Provision of sustenance is in God’s hand (30: 37)
  • Only the Creator is worthy of worship (31: 41)
  • The God is One Who Provides sustenance, He doesn’t require any kind of provision (35: 3)
  • Tourism for studying and learning is desirable (35: 44 & 40: 82)
  • A nation get perished if bad traits like arrogance, pride over wealth and power becomes its collective conscience (41: 15)
  • Remembrance and realization of favors of God is a great character (55: 13)
  • God is the only Helper in both known and unknown matters (67:20)
  • One of the reliable solutions for issues like drought, hunger, scarcity of natural resources etc, is repentance and turning towards the Creator (67: 21)
  • To detect and sense the underground water is not always possible, one should seek God’s help (67: 30)
  • Apart from finding the lives on other planet, one should reflect over the earth as how it has been spread like a carpet to facilitate the human habitats (78: 6)
  • Preparation of food is a reflection of God’s mercy. One should reflect over its different aspects involving branches of studies such as; gastronomy, nutrition, agriculture and culinary arts (80: 24).


The Quranic contemplative scheme for unlocking hearts is amazing! It’s a Divine course of understanding the self, universe and God, and every human takes birth as a student of the same. The world is a campus. The life span is the duration of exams and the death is a clear indication that the time is over. The way one had spent his / her life in the world decides the fate. God has given all that is required to reflect, understand and practice both at individual and collective levels. The phrase “I think therefore I am” wonderfully explains the reality.  

Hence, the act of contemplation in Islam is not to get lost in one’s own self to taste the worldly pleasure, or to get some sorts of remedies for ailments, rather it’s a serious business. It has a direct link with the purpose of human-existence on earth. It prepares humans to be benefactor of all creatures and beneficiaries of the eternal bliss. 


© Muhammad Abdullah Javed – April 2016


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