By Syed Akbar Hassan
The Qur’ān (30:22-23) says: “And among His signs are the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your tongues and colours. In this there are clear signs indeed for those who are endowed with knowledge. And among His signs is your sleep, at night and in daytime, as well as your quest for some of His bounty. In this there are clear signs indeed for people who listen.”
The mention of the creation of the heavens and the earth here actually refers to this great expanse of the universe, with its fine and elaborate system, of which we know only very little. It includes countless numbers of planets, stars, orbits, celestial bodies and galaxies, in relation to which our earth seems no more than a weightless particle. This great and limitless expanse is coupled with remarkable harmony between its celestial bodies, orbits and motions, as well as the distances between them, ensuring that no collision occurs haphazardly, and that everything is kept functioning according to a set measure. As for the essence of these great creatures, their respective natures, qualities, what occurs in or on them, the major laws that protect and regulate them, and how their affairs are conducted – these are beyond any human being’s knowledge. What we know of all this is very scanty indeed. In fact, our study of the small planet on which we live remains at a very elementary stage.
Very often though we speak about this carelessly, yet at the same time we speak at great length, expressing amazement and admiration, about a small machine a scientist makes. Yet the harmony the latter achieves between its component parts is such that it only works in unison for a short span of time. Still some people who are lost in error claim that this great universe, with its fine and elaborate systems, exists without a Creator.
The surah then mentions the amazing variety of human languages and colours. Although our vocal cords are similar, and there is no difference in the structure of our mouths, tongues and brains, yet people speak different languages in different regions of the world. Even in the regions where the same language is spoken, different dialects are spoken from city to city and from town to town. Moreover, the accent and pronunciation and the style of speech of one person is different from another’s. Similarly, colours are so different that, nations apart, even the colour of the two sons of the same parents is not the same.
In this ayah, attention has been drawn only to two aspects, but if one looks around, one will notice a variety everywhere in the world. One will find countless differences in the species of man, animal, plants and other things in spite of the basic uniformity in their different members; so much so that no member of the species is exactly identical with another. Even the two leaves of a tree are not exactly alike.
This shows that there is a Master-Artist at work, Who gives individual attention to everything and produces it on a new design with new embellishments and proportions and qualities, and everything thus produced is unique in its own way. His inventive genius is turning out a new model of everything every moment, and His creative power abhors repeating the same design the second time. Anyone who sees this wonderful phenomenon with open eyes, can never be involved in the foolish misconception that the Maker of the universe has gone to sleep after having made it go. This is, on the contrary, a clear proof of the fact that He is ever engaged in His creative activity, and is giving individual attention to each and everything in His creation. Besides, the wonders of the creation of the universe and the great variety of language and colour are appreciated only by those who have true knowledge.
It is evident from the ayah 30:23 that sleeping at night and working at daytime is made a natural habit for us. It is not something that one has to cultivate, but is a natural gift bestowed by Allah, the Exalted, to all His creatures. In fact, one cannot sleep at times despite making all possible arrangements for comfort. Sometimes even the sleeping pills prove ineffective. But on the other hand, when Allah wills, people go to sleep even on hard floors amidst severe hot and oppressive conditions.
Though we generally sleep at night and work for our living in the day, this is not a law. Many people also sleep in the day and work for their livelihood at night. That is why the night and the day both have been mentioned and it has been said: “And among His signs is your sleep, at night and in daytime.” This also is a Sign which points to the design of the Wise Creator. Furthermore, it also points to the fact that He is not merely a Creator but also extremely Compassionate and Merciful to His creations, and is more anxious than the creation to meet its needs and requirements. We cannot constantly labour but need to have a rest after every few hours of hard work so as to rebuild energy to take up work again. For this purpose, the Wise and Merciful Creator has not rested content with creating a feeling of fatigue and a desire for rest in us, but has placed in our nature a powerful urge for “sleep”, which without our will, even in spite of resistance from us, overpowers us automatically after every few hours of work and wakefulness, and compels us to have a few hours of rest, and leaves us as soon as the need has been fulfilled. Its being precisely according to the people’s requirements is enough to testify that it is not anything accidental, but has been provided by a Wise Being in accordance with a clear wisdom and reason and purposefulness. Moreover, sleep itself testifies that the One Who has placed this compulsive urge in us is our greater well-wisher than we ourselves, otherwise we would have deliberately resisted the sleep and endeavoured to keep constantly awake and worked continuously hard and thus exhaust not only our work-power but also our vital powers.
The same principle applies to earning of sustenance. It is a common knowledge that two persons having equal opportunities, knowledge and intellect, and putting in equal efforts and skill for earning their livelihood, do not necessarily succeed equally. One earns more than the other, because it is decreed as such by Allah’s wisdom. Therefore, one should try to earn the living through all the means available to him, but should not ignore the reality that the outcome of his endeavours depends on the will of Allah, as He is the real provider. This also applies, in varying measures and degrees, to all living things on earth. They all find the universal system meets their needs and natures, allowing their lives to progress. “In this there are clear signs indeed for people who listen.” (Ayah 23)