Reflection in Nature
October 19, 2006 § 10 Comments
I often wonder of the Moon and its mystery; its relationship and influences in my life, influences both spiritual and of mundane consequence. However, beyond the mystery of wonderment is an authentic and scientific interest in the symbolic correlation of the Moon and its presence as a Sign. There is a beautiful hadith that describes our Prophet pointing out yet another miracle which is often overlooked even in these days of modern science, Anas narrated,
“The people of Mecca asked the Prophet to show them a sign (miracle). So he showed them (the miracle) of the cleaving of the moon.”
This object the moon, a rock with no light of its own, yet somehow becomes the boldest of all objects in the sky upon the Sun’s retreat. What power does the Moon have? None, its nothing more than a large object ‘in the right place at the right time’. The light of the Moon, soothing and comforting offers just enough to temper the worlds adrenaline from a blaring roar to a gentle purr. Then it occurred to me, and while sitting on the stoop of my building just after ‘isha I noticed that a neighborhood usually buzzing with excitement, was hushed. The intensity of the City was reduced from overbearing chatty neighbor to a pleasant and overweight Auntie who only speaks when there is something important to say. What I realized was that the power of the Moon is in its nature, that is the nature of phases, being synonymous with perspectives. From this point forward be attentive, as I will be using “the Moon” and the human quality of reflection interchangeably.
The Moon itself is not the source of power or for our comparative purposes here, knowledge. However, it provides the conditions absolutely necessary for gnosis. These conditions of nature can be compared to human qualities, with a little imagination. For example, the key to making the cognitive process useful is the ability to reflect. Likewise the most fundamental action of the Moon in terms of light is its ability to reflect, otherwise it would be cast among the rest of the shadows at maghrib.
Then I thought that’s it! The Moon’s greatest action is not an action at all. I mean while the Sun emits, the Moon refrains and suppresses, thus suggesting rest. What rest allows us to do is reflect, when we reflect then and only then can we truly make the process of gnosis useful. I also find it interesting that it is during Ramadan that I wake to this understanding. Reflecting is what allows us to make real steps toward peace in this dunya. Without reflection there is but a single perspective, without reflection a comparison of ideas is not possible and in terms of virtue it is as Heidegger put it when he wrote,
“Reflection is the courage to make the truth of our own presuppositions and the realm of our own goals into things that most deserve to be called in question.” (M. Heidegger, The Age of the World Picture)
I suppose that there is a reason for me to write an article like this however, the reasons are deep and personal and difficult to understand no matter how I position them. Thus putting them to paper (or blog) does not constructively serve the cognitive process, on the contrary it pushes my reasoning to sequester or conform to my presuppositions about you, the audience.
In summary, the Moon a clear Sign from Allah brings an understanding, a deep understanding through the contemplation of its qualities. It says in the Qur’an,
“And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: Behold, in that are Signs indeed for those who reflect.” (45:13)
In this case I have compared human qualities with that of the Moon and its function as an integral part in the administration light on the Earth. These lunar qualities became symbolic for our ability to reflect, and reflection as a chief means to helpfully manage your thoughts or cognitive abilities. You may think, ‘it seems a roundabout way to think of simple terms’ but there is much more in terms of knowledge that I cannot convey in word or imagery. Perhaps this is because my thesis is incomplete or better yet fallacious, but my hope is that the audience would provide a little objective criticism. After-all there is nothing wrong with objective criticism, it inspires reflection as Camus has stated in “Pessimism and Tyranny”,
“Objective criticism is the best of things, in my opinion, and I can’t object when someone says that a work is bad or that a philosophy is not good for man’s fate. It is only fair that writers should answer for their writings. That forces them to reflect, and we all have a dreadful need to reflect.” (A. Camus, Pessimism and Tyranny)
Therefore, I am making a petition to my fellow readers to develop a culture of reflection. All ‘action bears risk‘ but it is our understanding which manages risk as an artist’s fingertips clasp the brush, and in the same manner it is reflection that serves as a canvas for reason. Therefore, I pray that we each attempt to paint brilliant portraits that serve humanity for the benefit of humanity and not our selfish desires.