Now and again
human beings are prompted to ask themselves some of life’s truly profound
questions. In the quiet darkness of the night, when far off stars twinkle in
the vast, majestic sky, or in the cold, hard, light of day when life rushes
past like a speeding train, people of all colours, races and creeds wonder
about the meaning of their existence. Why are we here? What does this all
mean? Is this all there is?
On magnificent days filled with sunshine and iridescent
blue skies, people turn their faces towards the sun and contemplate its beauty.
In the deepest winter or the wildest storm, they ponder the strength inherent in
the forces of nature. Somewhere in the deep recesses of the mind, the concept
of God arises. The wonders of creation are a call to the heart and the soul. The
gentle touch of a snowflake, the smell of freshly cut lawn, the soft patter of
raindrops and fierce wind of a hurricane are all reminders that this world is
full of wonder.
When pain and sadness threaten to engulf us, human
beings are again prompted to contemplate the meaning of life. In the midst of
suffering and grief, the concept of God arises. Even those who would consider themselves
far from religion or spiritual belief find themselves looking skywards and
pleading for help. When the heart constricts and fear swamps us, we turn
helplessly towards some sort of higher power. The concept of a God then becomes
real and meaningful.
In the midst of pleading and bargaining, the sheer
vastness of the universe is laid bare. The reality of life is filled with awe
and wonder. It is a rollercoaster ride. There are moments of great joy, and
periods of immense sadness. Life can be long and monotonous or it can be
carefree. As God arises and His majesty is clear, more questions begin to take
shape. One question that inevitably comes to mind is – where is God?
Around the world and down through the ages people have
struggled to come to terms with the question of where God is. The human
inclination is to search for God. The ancient Babylonians and Egyptians built
lofty towers in their search for God. The Persians looked for Him in fire. Still
other, such as the indigenous people of North America and the Celtic people
looked for God in the glorious signs of nature around them. Buddhists find God
in themselves, and in the Hindu religion, God is believed to be in every place
and in everything.
The quest for God can be confusing. When posing the
question where is God, the resulting answers can also be confusing. God is
everywhere. God is in your heart. God is where goodness and beauty exist. What
happens however, when your heart is empty and your surroundings are dismal, dirty,
and ugly? Does God cease to exist? No! Of course not! Amidst this confusion,
the Islamic concept of God is a beacon of light for those stumbling in the
What Muslims believe about God is clear-cut and simple. They
do not believe that God is everywhere; they believe that God is above the
heavens. The human need to turn our faces towards the sky in times of trouble
and strife is an inherent answer to the question, where is God? God tells us
in the Quran that He is the Most High (Quran 2:255) and that He is above
all His Creation.
“He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days
and then rose over the Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty). He knows
what goes into the earth and what comes forth from it, what descends from the
heaven and what ascends thereto. And He is with you (by His Knowledge)
wheresoever you may be. And God is the All-Seer of what you do.” (Quran 57:4)
Prophet Muhammad was known to point towards the sky when
referring to God. When making supplication to God he raised his hands towards
the heavens. During his Farewell sermon, Prophet Muhammad asked the people, “Have
I not conveyed the message?” and they said, “Yes!” He asked again, “Have
I not conveyed the message?” and they said, “Yes!” He asked a third
time, “Have I not conveyed the message?” and they said “Yes!”
Each time, he said, “O God, bear witness!” - at the same time pointing
up to the sky and then at the people.
God is above the heavens, above His creation. This
however does not mean that He is contained by any sort of physical dimensions.
God is close, very close, to those who believe in Him and He answers their
every call. God knows all of our secrets, dreams, and wishes, nothing is
hidden from Him. God is with His creation by His knowledge and power. God is
the Creator and the Sustainer. Nothing comes into existence except by His
When Muslims marvel at the wonders of the universe they
are secure in the knowledge that God, the Most High, is above the heavens, and
comforted by the fact that He is with them in all their affairs. When a Muslim
is struck by loss or grief, he does not question God’s wisdom, or ask the
question, ‘where was God when I was sad, or grieving or suffering?’ Humankind
was created to worship God, (Quran 56:51) and God said many times that
trials and tribulations would be part of our life experience.
“And He it is Who has created the heavens and the earth in six
Days ...that He might try you, which of you is the best in deeds.” (Quran 11:7)
In their darkest night, or their darkest hour humankind
instinctively looks towards the sky. When their hearts beat heavily and fear
threatens to overwhelm them, people turn to God. They raise their hands and
beg for mercy, forgiveness, or kindness, and God responds; For He is the Most Merciful,
the Most Forgiving and the Most Kind. God is distinct and separate from His
creation, and there is nothing like Him. He is All Hearing and All seeing. (Quran
42:11) Hence when we ask the question where is God, the answer is undoubtedly,
He is above the heavens and above all His creation. We also say that He is not
in need of any of His creation and all of creation needs Him..