Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | ST Weekly Blog | June 14, 2021
“When opened, it was like a small tent, and when shut, it was all curiously jointed and would fold up to the length of a man’s hand.” This curious description applies – in case you hadn’t already guessed – to the umbrella as we know it today. Nowadays, no one finds it necessary to describe an umbrella nor to express any astonishment over it, because it is now such a commonplace object. But when it was first manufactured in London in 1749, it seemed such a strange, new, wonderful contrivance that it caused a great deal of excitement. An invention which aroused even greater awe was the hand pump which was installed for the first time in an Indian village at the beginning of the twentieth century. When it caused water to gush forth from the ground, a village woman exclaimed, “Now it is only death which can defeat man.” Today we feel that there is nothing so extraordinary about a hand-pump, and even pumps which operate on electricity and diesel oil have come to be regarded as run-of-the-mill items of agricultural equipment.
The moment that something becomes familiar–be it a discovery or an invention–we tend to take it for granted. We no longer have any sense of wonder about its appearance, functioning and creation. This is even more true of the vast array of God’s creation. Yet everything which exists in this world, be it a leaf, a snowflake, or a ray of sunshine, is a veritable miracle of creation. From his earliest childhood, man has been aware of these things; yet they have become objects of such familiarity, that he almost ceases to notice them. Imagine how different his attitude to them would be if he were to see them for the first time! He would be like someone who had been cured of total blindness examining his surroundings with a tremendous joy and a great sense of wonderment.
This is how we ought to look at God’s creation all around us. We should not lose our sense of awe and gratitude simply because familiarity has taken the edge off our awareness.
The next time the sunlight enters a darkened room a bird sings by the wayside, the moon casts its silvery spell or a rose gives its fragrance to the air, we should remember that these are things which go far and beyond human creativity and that, ultimately, we owe everything to God.