A book is a garden

Bogor Botanic Gardens lily pond

Bogor Botanic Gardens lily pond

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.” – Arab proverb

A book in your pocket is like a secret treasure. It is a magical means of transportation, a source of knowledge, a historical record, and a treasure chest containing the knowledge of human minds and hearts, or in the case of the Quran, the message of Allah to humanity.

You can take the book out of your pocket and lose yourself in it, forgetting about all the worries of the world, just as you can do in a beautiful garden.

Fozia, a Muslim sister from the UK, points out that a book helps one develop through acquiring knowledge, as a garden blossoms through the growth of its flowers and creatures…

Making the Impossible Possible

Indeed, to carry a garden in one’s pocket is impossible, but that’s the thing about books, they make the impossible possible. A family that has been stuck in poverty for generations can break that cycle by sending one child to higher education. Someone who comes from the most desperate circumstances can achieve the seemingly impossible and become a doctor, engineer, or even President, all through the power of education. The power of books.

That reminds me of a quote by Cesar Chavez, the famous campaigner for farm workers’ rights, who is now deceased. He said,

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”

This process of social change that he describes starts with a book. It starts with education. The ultimate Book is the Quran, and it is a world-changing book. It brings light where there was darkness, and changes human beings from the inside out.

The First Revelation of the Quran

Does anyone need proof that the processes of personal growth and social change both start with books? Consider the first revealed verses of the Quran itself, in Surah 96, Al-‘Alaq:

1. Read in the name of your Lord Who created.
2. He created humankind from a clot.
3. Read and your Lord is Most Honorable,
4. Who taught (to write) with the pen
5. Taught the human being what he knew not.

The moment of the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was a moment of immense significance for all humanity, possibly the most significant moment in human history. It follows that the message is one of great significance as well.

What is this message of great significance, these first few profound and powerful words?

Read, and write, and do it in the name of Allah.

Allah exalted and honored human beings by giving us knowledge, the capacity to acquire more knowledge, and the tools to record and share our knowledge, whether verbally or in print. He commanded us to make use of these tools, and to do it in Allah’s name so that our motives and methods remain pure, and so that the results will be beneficial to humanity and not destructive or oppressive.

We are supposed to use our knowledge to create vaccines for diseases, not to create deadly viruses for biological warfare. We should use nuclear power to generate clean energy, not to design bombs that can destroy nations. We must use robotic technologies to create artificial limbs for victims of war or accidents, or to explore the depths of the sea, or to clear old minefields without loss of life, or to rescue miners trapped deep underground… not to build hunter-killer drones that destroy innocent human lives while the operator moves a joystick a thousand miles away.

Knowledge must be employed “in the name of your Lord Who created,” not in the name of greed or vengeance.

This is especially important today, when fantastically powerful technologies are being developed every day. Supercomputers, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, cloning, quantum physics… If these technologies are not tempered with faith and wisdom, humanity could unleash horrors on the world that will make previous wars and genocides look like a bad case of the measles (no disrespect intended to victims of past conflicts).

A New Course for the World

The Quran was also a message that the time had come to change humanity’s meandering course. Human beings all over the world had been creating societies, customs and laws based on superstition. Some societies were based on artificial castes. Others were based on worship of human beings, or worship of the dead, or cult-like religions, or collections of taboos and myths.

The revelation of the Quran signified the beginning of a new course for the world, a lighted path based on scholarship, science and the systematization of knowledge. The engines of this new period would be literacy, scholarship, Tawheed (Oneness of God), and righteousness.

Human history, with its long and bleak stretches of ignorance and suffering, like a vast desert with only a few small oases, was given a permanent garden in the form of a book: the Quran.

A book is a garden in your pocket. It’s natural, inspiring, and life-changing. It’s your own personal haven. But only if you read it and let it into your heart.

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Article by Wael

Wael Abdelgawad is an Egyptian-American living in Fresno, California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including Zawaj.com and IslamicAnswers.com, and also of various technology and travel websites. He is a writer and poet, and has been a web developer since 1997. This project, IslamicSunrays.com, is very dear to his heart, as it has allowed him to express ideas that have growing inside him for many years. Wael is divorced and has one lovely young daughter. He practices and teaches martial arts (somewhat obsessively), and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and vanilla fudge ice cream. Wael is an advocate for human rights and blogs about these issues at AbolishTorture.com. He is also a volunteer with the MyDeen Muslim youth organization in Fresno. Wael tagged this post with: , , , , , , Read 266 articles by
3 Comments Post a Comment
  1. María says:

    I agree in everything. I hope many people listen to your message.


  2. María M says:

    As salamu alaykum,

    Today I was reading about the proper way of reading the Quran, I have done it other times, but today it acquired other dimension to me, I read the same lines but it is like when you have water filtering and at the beginning you don´t notice it because it is inside the walls but at one point the water begins to fall from the walls, and at that moment we realize something had been happening without being noticed, something like this.

    My senses are being trained to get used to the Light of the Quran, I realize that I am still wearing sunglasses, but I hope one day I won´t need them to read It, Insha´Allah. Some people may get it in a blink of an eye, Alhamdulillah, others may need a life time, only Allah(swt) knows what is the best for everyone of us.

    Knowledge is a source of growing, but the highest expression of it, it is when goes together with Wisdom, and I have learnt that this is the kind of knowledge that the Quran and the Sunnah want to sprout in our Hearts, to make us able to live our lives in the most sublime expression of a Human Life, but I have discovered too that only Allah(swt) knows and allows us to be ready for both conditions, when He(swt) consider we are ready, that is why we are tested and higher is the knowledge, higher is the responsibility and harder are the tests, because He(swt) cares about us and don´t want us to be lost or hurt more than we can handle, then for all of it, Alhamdulillah. It is like we are climbing a mountain, the fall won´t be the same at the begining, at the middle or close to the crest, then let´s go step by step, reassuring where we put our feet, being sure that He(swt) is looking at us, Alhamdulillah.

    I am sorry for writing so much, I just wanted to share some ideas.


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