In my unceasing search for the credo of life and existence, I am constantly humbled by the reality of my origin. Whenever I contemplate my own children, I am reminded that I am equally one of their children and they were once children of their parents. Those who bore me were once like my humble self- a dirty spermatozoid agent which became mixed with blood in order to become a weak and seemingly inconsequential object (Q23:12-13). Those who bore me, like the children I claim are mine today, were once kept away in three levels of darkness which they could not by themselves illuminate. The Quran refers to that darkness in a triad- the darkness of the stomach, the darkness of the womb and the darkness of the amnion fluid (Quran 39: 6) in which the fetus is tucked away and protected from the exigencies of life of the bearer of the womb.
Thus whenever I contemplate how the fetus of yesterday has become the man and woman of today, whenever I ponder the miracle in the birth of man, in his growth and ultimate death, I become attentive to the fact that all of us are actually signs (ayaat) from and of the inimitable creation of the Almighty. We are all programmed (scientists would call this the genetic code), to be what we are today; to age and die.
Yes. I am forever buffeted by that reality that we never had a say in coming to the world (Q28:68), in determining where to be born and which womb to bear us. These realities function in reminding me of my destiny, in making me aware of my station and my ultimate destination. My destiny and yours, brethren, is in the first instance, enframed in between the knowable and the unknowable. Ponder the knowable: “Indeed We have created man from an essence of clay, then placed him as a drop of semen in a firm resting place, then changed the semen into a leechlike mass, then leechlike mass into a fetus lump, then fetus lump into bones, then clothed the bones with flesh, and then We brought him forth as quite a different creature from the embryo – so blessed is the Almighty, the best of all creators” (Quran 23:12-13).
Now, if it is true that none of us came to the world by choice, it means none of us would leave the world by choice; if it is true that an authority took charge of our being from non-being, it is only proper that the same authority should take charge of our ultimate transition from being to non-being. But is it not true, and strange at the same time, that the moment we are in this world, we begin to plot ways by which we can outlive the world; as soon as we emerge from non-existence to existence, we forget the essence of our being and the consequence of our existence?.
What about the unknown? What about the unknowable in regard to our destiny? Again, ‘listen’ to the Quran: “Surely the Almighty alone has the knowledge of the Hour… He knows what is in the wombs. No one knows what he will earn tomorrow; and no one knows in what land he will die. Surely… He is aware of everything. (Q31: 34). Here the Quran tells us, among others, that we are subjects destined for extinction; that we shall continue to pursue the attainable and the unattainable until the unknowable intervene to transmit us to the Inimitable.
The above explains why we have been imbued with the capacity to ‘take charge’ of our destiny, of our ‘station’, in preparation for our destination. But some among us do not know their destiny; others are oblivious of their station; some conflate the ‘station’ with the destination. The reason this happens is our failure to understand our origin. Contemplate your origin and those of your children. Though we all know the role we played in bringing them to the world, we are utterly unable to account for how ‘nothing’ became ‘something’. We all know that to the ‘farmer’ belongs the task of tilling and planting the ‘seed’; how the seed would grow and germinate belongs to the Almighty.
Eventually I became located in my mother’s womb. Eventually, I became like a tendril – I was engrafted unto the womb of my mother by a power beyond me. I had no independent existence. I needed to breathe; I did that through my mother. I needed to eat; she was my food supplier. I needed a fine bed to sleep; nothing proved more luxurious than her womb. Where exactly was I? I never know. Was my mother’s womb my destination or station?
On the day I was born it became clear to me that my mother’s womb was indeed not the destination but a station in my life. If I had been told while still in her womb that there are better pleasures and enjoyment in this world such would have made no sense to me. If I had the chance, I would have preferred to remain in her womb forever. But immediately I came to ‘know’ this world, I forgot the pleasures of the womb.
The moment I tasted life on earth, I pooh-poohed all the pleasures my mother’s womb afforded me. This world became my destination. It feels as if I am in another ‘womb’ – the womb of the world. Here all information about another life after this world is a fiction. But is this really my destination and yours? No. Definitely not. It is to Him, the Almighty, your destination and mine.