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Ramadan meditations: The stream of life

  • Published at 04:40 am May 27th, 2018
  • Last updated at 03:48 am May 30th, 2018
Can we be comrades? / SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN

This Ramadan, let us question our relationship to our land and other beings

A stream of life, a certain symbiosis, connected Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to the spider in Ghar Al-Thawr (cave of the bull) where he and his companion, Abu Bakr, took refuge upon being pursued by the Quarishis.

They wanted to assassinate Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Abu Bakr fretted.

 “We are only two.” Beloved Muhammad (pbuh) rose in namaz and said: “Don’t worry, Allah is the third,” while a spider wove its intricate web across the entrance of the cave, misdirecting the Quarishis to look elsewhere. 

What was the harmony between the spider, Muhammad (pbuh), and the force of energy we call God or Allah?

We know this story. What does it mean for bio-diversity? How do we apply it to our lives? Are we stewards or only consumers?

Bangladesh is home to one of the wonders of the world: The Sundarbans. According to UNESCO it is a “prime example of on-going ecological processes,” a sort of ode to the impermanence of life, which makes most Bengalis natural philosophers from birth. 

We tend to look at ourselves as terra cotta vessels and therefore encourage a heart that is open and not fixated on material accumulation. Bengal Tiger. Ganges and Irawadi dolphins. Estuarine crocodiles. River terrapin (Batagur baska). Pantheratigris tigris. Feel the weight of these lives. 

In Sura An-Naml (The Ant), Allah describes Solomon’s army thus: 

“And gathered for Solomon were his soldiers of the jinn and men and birds, and they were marching in rows.”

Allah further mentions the awareness of the tiniest of creatures -- the ant. “When they came upon the valley of the ants, an ant said: ‘O ants, enter your dwellings that you not be crushed by Solomon and his soldiers while they perceive not.’” Allah even describes Solomon’s annoyance with one of his bird comrades: 

“And he took attendance of the birds and said: ‘Why do I not see the hoopoe -- or is he among the absent? I will surely punish him with a severe punishment or slaughter him unless he brings me clear authorization.’ But the hoopoe stayed not long and said: ‘I have encompassed in knowledge that which you have not encompassed, and I have come to you from Sheba with certain news.’” The Qur’an is telling us that this cosmos is more than what may seem from a gross encounter. 

Allah, the weaver of consciousness throughout the cosmos, nuanced and immense in every dimension of being, so in tune not just with the macro but the microcosm of life -- how would Allah judge our destruction of an entire ecosystem of endangered and rare beings? 

This Ramadan, let us question our relationship to our land and other beings. Can we be comrades? 

“The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numerous blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.” -- Rabindranath Tagore

Shireen Pasha is Berlin Bureau Chief, Dhaka Tribune.

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