The Vastness of Heaven

Peace, one and all…


I have always been struck by the vastness of the stars, by the beauty of the heavens.  When I was a child I would often gaze up at the sky and wonder about the scale of it all.  ‘What’s out there?’, I would find myself thinking.  This no doubt explains my fascination (in a very lazy, amateurish way) with astronomy and science fiction.

When I began to explore life’s great questions, I often caught myself recalling this astral vastness: this universe is so large, how did it all come about?  At certain times, I would gaze out into the sky thinking: ‘there must be a God; there must be a creative force behind all of this’.  At other times, I would feel less certain: ‘this universe is so huge, how could one being possibly encompass it all?’  Or, to put it another way: given the universe’s size, how can all the small protocols of religious life actually matter?’

It was these (and other) questions that occupied me for a long time.  As I learned and grew, I began to flirt a little with religion, in a kind of shy, hesitant manner.  I read and thought and spoke my heart into the night, until one day I came to a realisation: I will never know how the water feels until I throw myself into the pool!  And thus, I embraced Islam…

Though I thought otherwise at the time, that was not the end of the matter.  Far from it, indeed!  I still gaze up at the sky in wonder and I still have moments of faith and doubt, moments of strength and weakness.  Sometimes it all makes sense.  Sometimes it makes no sense at all, and I wonder what it’s all for.

Reflecting on my ongoing inner conversation I realise that I am once again faced with questions of self and other.  That is, the universe exists independent of my imagination.  It just is.  I am the one who gives it this peculiar meaning.  It is the vessel of my own heart that carries both faith and doubt.

This leads me to another realisation.  I am insignificant.  But, that very insignificance brings its own strength.  I am so insignificant as to be significant.  I am so meaningless as to be meaningful.

This is why I swore, long ago, that I would never again belittle another person’s spirituality, another’s meaning.  And, regardless of the ultimate truth of all this, I will strive with might and main to keep holy what is holy, and to never desecrate the sacred temple of another human being’s heart.

And praise be to God who maketh it so…

Ma’as salama,
Abdur Rahman


4 thoughts on “The Vastness of Heaven

  1. Ameen dear Bhai 🙂 That an infinite God would manifest an infinite universe seems right, and that He is both being and non-being, beyond all boundaries of which the human mind can conceive. Ah, the stars in their beauty…only can only breathe Allah!

    Ya Haqq!

  2. Very true, very true. I believe very much that taking these moments to try to apprehend awe is a big part of faith itself, not just ours but faith in general. Seeing “the signs” to paraphrase the Qur’an. You then go down Abraham’s path, reflecting, wondering, walking the Earth…

    I also have this kind of pseudo-scientific personal theory that city life is very much antithetical to this pursuit because we never have an expansive view of nature or the world. Our view is always compromised by roofs and walls and buildings. So when we do walk up a mountain, or see the stars in the sky, it does take our breath away. I wish we could experience that everyday (yet I’m such a city boy at heart, too).

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