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God is nowhere!

4/13/2009

By: Charles Le Gai Eaton

IslamiCity* -

 

He indeed is the Aware, the Seer of His servants.

(Quran 17:30)

 

Truly We created man and We know what his innermost self whispers within him, and We are closer to him than his jugular vein.

(Quran 50:16)

 

In this, truly, there is a lesson for all who have eyes to see.

(Quran 3:13)

 

Where am I? It is hard to tell. My mind and my senses tell me that I am in a world of solid objects and of people who are no more and no less than they appear to be. But the Quran tells me, as do other scriptures, that-here and now-I am in the presence of God. My absence from Him is due only to my blindness or to the covering which encloses me and all who are with me, shutting out this tremendous presence.

 

Years ago, in India, I met a strange man known every where as "the German Swamy". He came to our home one evening in his grubby dhoti and fumigated the house with the acrid smoke of cheap cigars, and he told me a story. It was a story that depended for its point upon an English word, so he could not have heard it told in Tamil, the local language, or in German. Perhaps he had invented it for my benefit.

 

There was once a hermit, he said, who lived for many years in a cave, subjecting himself to bitter austerities in his search for God. Finally, in despair, he chalked on the cave wall the words "God is nowhere!" Then he walked out into the world or, perhaps, to his death. Some time later a shepherd boy took refuge in the cave, He was almost illiterate and traced with difficulty the letters which the hermit had left as his empty testimony. N-O-W, "Now". Having got that far he rested briefly before tracing the remaining letters: H-E-R-E, "Here". Light flooded his mind and joy possessed his heart. He had it. "God is now!" "He is here!" In a flash he reached the goal that the hermit had sought in vain.

 

As the Quran constantly reminds us, "God does as He wishes"; and again, we "plot", but He is the better "plotter". We think that we understand, but He alone understands. He chooses as his agents and for His greatest gifts men and women whom we may think unworthy; His justice and weighing are not like ours, "Far exalted is He above all that y attribute to Him," says the Quran.

 

There are, indeed, people-a few people-who have been enabled to see beyond and behind the stage set which is "reality" for the rest of us. Since they still live in this world, they have acquired a kind of double vision. In Ibn Arabi's phrase, they "see with two eyes". They walk among the one-eyed. They mix with them and bestow blessings upon them, having access to the ocean of mercy. But limited vision is what makes earthly existence possible. If we were all capable of perceiving, clearly and permanently, what lies beyond the screen, this world of trial and testing would have no function; it would no longer be what it is and what it is meant to be. St. Augustine referred to the fall of Adam as a "happy sin"; the fall from Paradise brought this non-paradisal world into being, and the Quran tells us that, it was created "in truth or "by the Truth". In other words, it was created in accordance with the divine intention as the theatre in which we play our parts as though this theatre were that there is. Hence the need for Revelation, for guidance, for the "messages" which come to us from elsewhere.

 

Charles Le Gai Eaton was born in Switzerland and educated at Charterhouse at King's College, Cambridge. He worked for many years as a teacher and journalist in Jamaica and Egypt (where he embraced Islam in 1951) before joining the British Diplomatic Service. He is now a consultant to the Islamic Cultural Centre in London.

 

Excerpted from the book "Remembering God" by Charles Le Gai Eaton.

 

Remembering God

By Charles Le Gai Eaton

(241 pages - English)

 

Price: $19.95

Members Price: $17.96 (15% Off)

 

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The opinions expressed herein contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization.

 

 

 

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