Wa yurīkum āyātihi fa-ayya āyāti-llāhi tunkirūn
He shows you His signs. So which of the signs of Allah do you deny?
(Sūrat Ghāfir, No.40, Āyat 81)
The signs of Allah ‘azza wa-jall are all around us. They cannot be denied. Whether you look above you, or under you, around you or inside you. The wisdom and efficiency of creation is very visible for those who have eyes. Life at each stage is a witness to a Being who planned its progress perfectly. From the fetus in the womb to the emerging of the baby, from childhood to adulthood and then to old age, all are signs of the Almighty. Death itself is proof that human being is not in charge of things. Allah subhānahu wa-ta‘āla says: Soon We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in their own souls until it becomes clear to them that He is the Truth (Q 41:53).
When the signs of the Almighyt are so evident why is it that some people deny the existence of a Creator? Shaykh Tabarsī in Tafsīr Majma’ al-Bayān says that the reasons behind it include:
1. Giving in to the desires of the nafs and indulging it. This creates a veil over the heart. Spiritual insights then don’t mean much and are not the focus of attention. The signs are seen but not given importance. There is also the subtle apprehension of accepting the signs and then having to submit to an authority.
2. Following others and succumbing to their dogmas without reflecting personally or listening to the inner voice. People who are vocal and articulate impose their views on the rest.
3. Having wrong beliefs that prevent a person from accepting the right ones. A flawed understanding without pursuing the truth can be a barrier to the correct perspective of life.
The best way to strengthen awareness of God and gratitude to Him is to ‘see’ His signs all around us. This seeing is not just with the physical eyes, but also with the eyes of the heart and intellect. It is seeing followed by reflecting. To see, to pause, to look beyond, to wonder. This leads a person to accept and glorify the Creator. That is why the Quran asks believer to reflect constantly on what they see around them. The avenue is available to all, regardless of background or ability.
The verse above is a question – ‘which of the signs of Allah do you deny?’ The question is a form of rebuke. We show you the signs, how is it that you can deny them? Why is there such stubbornness when it is so obvious? It would be appropriate to interact with the Creator and say ‘I do not deny any of the signs of Allah’. This would remove us from the group being rebuked. The verse is similar to the question posed thirty one times in Surat al-Rahmān: So which of your Lord’s bounties will you both deny? (Q 55:13, 16, 18, etc.), with the difference being that that verse is addressed to humans and jinn and asks about denying the bounties of Allah (swt). Before this in Q 53:55 God asks: Then which of the bounties of your Lord will you dispute? From the a‘māl (acts of devotion) of Friday, it is recommended to recite after morning prayers Surat al-Rahmān and following every of the 31 repetitions, say: lā bishay’in min ālā’ika rabbi ukadhdhib – none of your bounties my Lord do I deny (Qummī, Mafātīh al-Jinān).
Reflect on the signs of God all the time. Every time you see something beautiful in nature, read about new wonders of the universe being discovered, or understand something more about how your body works, see God in it. He shows you His signs, do not be from those who are blind to them. Let this verse remind you of the abundance of signs for those who wish to see.
Sources: Shaykh Tabarsī, Tafsīr Majma’ul Bayan; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; Agha Muhsin Qarā’atī, Tafsīr Nūr