Youtube Link to the video I made:

In the second chapter of Professor Asani’s upcoming book Infidel of Love: Exploring Muslim Understandings of Islam, he writes that one of the ideals that Muslims associate with their faith is a selfless love of God. According to legend, Rabia al-Adawiyya al-Basri (d. 801) was an embodiment of this ideal. One popular story states that she roamed the streets of present-day Iraq with a torch to destroy Paradise and a pitcher of water to extinguish hellfire to ensure that people were worshiping God based on unconditional love not the selfish hope or fear of the afterlife. She claimed that her only focus in life was loving God. Jalal ad-Din Rumi (d. 1273), one of the most influential Muslim mystics, popularized the idea of love “as a cosmic force that binds everything created thing to God.” However, only the keenest humans can see this love in God’s creation.

The Quranic verse 2:164 supports Rumi’s belief that every creation is a manifestation of God’s love. One translation of the verse is, “Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and of the day; in the sailing of ships through the ocean for profit of humankind; in the rai which God sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that he scatters through the earth; in the change of winds, and the clouds which they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth; indeed are the signs for a people that are wise.”

I thought of this verse one evening when I was scrolling through pictures from my travels to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, Newport, and Montreal over the past year. During my travels, I often find myself awestruck by the beauty of nature. When I share these pictures with friends and family some of them say, “Look at these gifts from God!” and “These images show the blessings of God.” Even though I am not religious, I understand why they made these comments. After some thought, I decided to make a short video of the pictures thus far that have left me speechless.

The video begins with the first line of the shahadah, the profession of faith, that all monotheists can proclaim. I did not include the other lines of the shahadah because I think seeing God through his creations cuts across religious lines. I broke the verse into five digestible sections interspersed with pictures related to each section. The song playing in the video is “Hypnotize” by the band Coldplay. It is the song I often find myself listening to when I am heavily moved by the beauty of nature. I ended the video with the basmala, an Islamic phrase, which is at the beginning of almost every chapter in the Qur’an and some Muslims say before embarking on any journey.