Appearance of the name of The Almighty on a tree
I once mentioned it in this column that one of the fundamental errors scholars of religion have committed is the translation of the word “aayat” into “verse”. This is because the literal meaning of the word “aayat” made use of in the Quran, is ‘sign’. Signs, for scholars in philology, grammar and semiotic studies are nothing but signifiers; they call attention to other than themselves. In the Quranic parlance, everything and all things are signs.
They call attention to something other than themselves. They call attention to the solemn, the subtle, the ethereal, the unfathomable regions of existence. “Of His signs” so says the Quran constantly, is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of night and day. “Of His signs” so says the Quran, is the creation of man and woman, of beauty and ugliness, of the known and the unknown. Signs in nature call attention to the Fashioner and Cherisher of nature; you do not talk about nature in the absence of He whose creativity led to your emergence from your mother’s womb after you first entered that ‘paradise’ as a dirty, lowly and extremely inconsequential being.
Thus when the news filtered into town about a week ago of the discovery of a tree in Ogun State on which the name of the Almighty was engraved boldly for all to contemplate, I took a reasoned position in regard to the event. I shrugged the news off. I asked myself: what is new in this news? I asked myself what was newsy in the news simply because it was not the first time such a phenomenal event would take place for us to ponder, for some to discredit and for many to celebrate. Remember the event in Lagos some time past of the birth of a child who held the Quran firmly in his palm. Remember the cowry shell which was found with the inscription of Allah boldly written on it. Remember when a part of a rock was found to be in prostration as if in Muslim prayer. Remember when the heavens suddenly displayed the name of the Almighty as if a calligrapher had appropriated the horizons in order to display his artistry.
I thought the emergence of these signs in unbelievable places is no more news. In other words, it should not be newsy that the name of the Almighty was discovered boldly written on a tree in the backyard of a compatriot of mine who happens to be a follower of the Christian faith. I thought we should rather ask the other question: of what import have these being for humanity? Of what spiritual value have these miraculous events been for the destiny of sons and daughters of Prophet Adam? Is it not the case that the more the Almighty reveals these signs, the more humanity becomes steeped in unbelief and spiritual infamy?
In other words, dear brethren, it appears as if were the Almighty to appear in the horizon nowadays, and were the angels to emerge in physical forms and in a row one after the other all calling on humanity to re-connect with its Creator, it seems a large majority would still not believe. It appears that in order for humanity to believe in the eschatological, a plea for the material must be entertained; it feels as if humanity would not believe in the divine until they become certain how many millions of naira and dollars would accrue to them from the exercise.
Dear brethren, whereas these events of the discovery of signs and portents which point to the existence of the Almighty in unexpected places should occasion our wonderment, such should not lead us to forget or gloss over the message while celebrating the messenger; we should not focus on the signifier to the extent that we would forget the signified. We should not gloss over the fundamental message in the event which includes the necessity for us as Muslims to reconnect with our origin, to re-establish our relationship with the Almighty.
As had been the case before, some commentators have pooh-poohed the event of the appearance of the name of the Almighty on that tree as fiction. But this should not be surprising. Remember the unbelievers’ comments when they heard about the journey of the Prophet to the heavens (Quran 17). Remember what the Jews told Maryam, the mother of Jesus Christ. They asked her in jest: “how could you say you have given birth to a baby boy without having had any relationship with a man?” )Quran 19) The Jews eventually disbelieved the message brought to them by Prophet Isa even as he cured the leper and the blind and revived the dead by the permission of the Almighty. Prophet Musa (a.s). My argument is this: each time this signs appear, do not expect the other miracle to happen: the recognition by the dissolute of the existence of the Almighty and the necessity to accept His message embodied by Islam. No message would be useful, so says the Quran, for those who have sold their souls to the devil.
Therefore brethren, kindly await the discovery of the next miracle from the Almighty and from, once again, another unlikely and unexpected quarter. While we all await that event, ask yourself this question: of what benefit have these messages being to your relationship with your Creator? Let me put you on notice: the next sign of and from the Almighty might appear right there in your bedroom!!