By Dr Teresa Lesher
I was driving home yesterday when I spotted this sign on the road: “Camera ahead – 80.” I thought, how nice of the traffic department to warn us that a camera is ahead and remind us that the speed limit is 80 km/hr. I drove ahead and looked for the camera. Sure enough, about 100 meters from the sign was the camera, barely visible behind a tree branch. I realized that many such signs are placed along the road – they warn us of danger, give us directions or information, prohibit certain actions, and even relate good news such as “sale!” or “opening soon.” To all those who invest in signs to help us on our way – thank you.
Not only on the roads are there signs. God said He placed them throughout the universe and within our own selves. But what do they say and where do they lead? For those who think, ponder, and reflect, the signs tell him a lot about the Creator of our world and relate certain facts of our existence. But not everyone is paying attention to the natural phenomena around us and analyzing their meanings.
So our Creator did us a great favor by spelling out His signs in a more obvious way. One by one, over 6,000 signs are catalogued in human language in what is known as the Quran. The “signs” share information, give directions, demarcate boundaries, prohibit dangerous actions, relate good news and give very clear warnings. Here is a sample of God’s signs from the Quran:
Information: God (Himself) bears witness that there is no god but Him, as do the angels and those with knowledge – He is the One upholding justice. There is no god but Him, the Almighty, Most Wise. (3:18)
Directions: …And establish regular prayer for My remembrance. [20:14]
Prohibitions: …Indeed, intoxicants and gambling… are but defilement from the works of Satan, so shun them so that you may be successful. (5:90)
Good News: Verily, the dwellers of Paradise that Day, will be busy in joyful things. They and their spouses will be in pleasant shade, reclining on thrones. They will have therein fruits (of all kinds), and all that they will ask for. ‘Peace’ shall be the word from a Merciful Lord. [36:55-58]
Investment Opportunities! Who is he that will lend to God a goodly loan so that He may multiply it for him many times over? (2:245). Indeed, the charitable men and the charitable women who have loaned God a goodly loan shall have it multiplied for them by their Lord. So for them, there is a gracious reward awaiting in the Hereafter. (57: 18)
Advice: Do not turn your cheek to people in contempt, and do not walk upon the earth proudly exultant. Indeed, God loves no one who is smug, boastful. (31:18)
Warnings: Indeed, God will not forgive associating any god with Him. But He forgives anything less than this for whomever He so wills. Thus, whoever associates gods with God has truly strayed far astray! (4:116) Truly Hell is waiting- a destination for the transgressors. (78: 21-22).
Corrections: Righteousness in the sight of God is not the mere turning of your faces toward the East or the West. Rather, true righteousness dwells in one who believes in God and the Last Day, and in the angels, and the Book, and in the prophets; it dwells in one who, despite his love for it, gives of his wealth in charity to close relatives and orphans, and to the indigent and the wayfarer, and to beggars and for the emancipation of slaves; it dwells in one who establishes the Prayer and gives charity, and those who fulfill their covenant when they make a covenant, as well as in those who are patient during periods of affliction and harm and times of conflict. These are the ones who have been truehearted, and it is such as these who are the God-fearing. (2:177)
The signs are presented in various ways and repeated often to make sure the reader understands them and the correlations between them. Some of the signs mention the signs themselves: “(Here) indeed are signs for a people that are wise.” (2:164). “Thus does God make clear His signs to you, in order that you may be guided.” (3:103). “We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest to them that this [Qur’an] is the Truth” (41:53).
To our Creator, who gave us these signs to help us on our way – thank you!
NOTE: Courtesy of the TIES Center, whose mission is to empower Kuwait’s expats through social and educational services that promote a positive and productive role in society, and to facilitate opportunities for intra- and interfaith interactions that promote social solidarity. For more information, please call 25231015/6 or e-mail: [email protected].