This again, is a difficult question. What is the nature of reality according to Islam, according to Muslim philosophers, theologians and masters of spirituality? I believe the best point to start is with the Kelime-i Tawheed, “La ilaha ilallah”. “There is no god but God”. If we think about this as a, secret formula, we will be able to answer this question as well. “There is no god but God” which is to say nothing in this world, nothing can be divinized. This world is absolutely dependent on God. This is what this means. This world is absolutely dependent on God.
There is this relationship between the world and God. The world does not exist by itself, nor does not sustain itself. But everything in the world, every process, and every natural phenomenon must be explained in its relationship to God. This is what this world is. The world is something dependent on God. It doesn’t exist by itself.
And this, I believe, is the most fundamental thing to know in regards to, the nature of reality in this world. From another perspective I believe we can answer these questions with the examples of philosophers. Muslim philosophers. This answer has beenassimilated and absorbed into different fields of Islamic sciences such as Islamic theology and, Islamic spirituality.
The world is a contingent being, they say. And God is a necessary being and the world is a contingent being. This is what they want to say. The world does not exist by itself. It doesn’t explain its own existence. You know we are transient beings; transient the sense that we come and go. Nothing in this world is eternal. Nothing in this world explains its own existence. For example I do not explain my own existence.
You cannot, you know, explain my existence by just referring to me. You have to include the whole universe to be able to explain my existence and to be able to explain the universe. You have to go to a transcendence source. I do not explain my own existence. I come and go. I am not infinite but I am a finite and I am an important being.
So everything in the world is like that. We do not explain our own existences but God does. There is One being that does. And that’s the necessary being. And that’s the necessary existence.It is God. And we all are contingent beings as if we are this light. Sunlight. Does it explain its own existence? You are referring it back to the sun to be able to explain it’s light.
Or with sufis you can think about the nature of the world. You can say the world is a mirror for the reflections of the Divine Names. Or it is something like this; the world is actually the multiplicity of mirrors on which God’s Names, God’s majestic and beautiful Names are reflected continuously and incessantly.
That is what we are. We are these mirrors on which God’s Names and Attributes are reflected. That’s another way of looking at the issue. Or again with Islamic spirituality, you can say that this world is actually an interplay of God’s Divine Names and Attributes. There are majestic Names, there are beautiful names, and the world reflects them both.
Let me give you an example to make this more accessible. If you look at glass of water, what do you see? What you see is a glass of water but you also see some attributes in this glass of water. You see for example the traces of “ilim”, which is knowledge. To be able to create this beautiful thing, this transparent, beautiful thing, that’s exactly what I need, what anyone needs to know. That’s knowledge. One needs to know how to create this. And you also see power, Divine Power here because you need to be able to create those atoms that make up this glass of water and establish the natural laws that govern their behavior.
That reflects infinite power. And from that, reflects God’s Mercy. That glass of water reflects God’s Mercy because God knows what I need and God gives me what I need. So in a glass of water, you can see Divine Power, you can see Divine Knowledge, you can see Divine Mercy, Divine Compassion, Divine Subtlety, Divine, maybe Quddus, right? The thing that cleans and God is Clean, Pure. The idea of purity exists in water, that glass of water.
So a glass of water is actually a mirror that reflects continuously and, incessantly the Names of God, you can see the traces of God’s Acts in this glass of water. In that sense, everything becomes a mirror in which God’s Names and Attributes are reflected continuously and incessantly.
But you know after all this deep thinking, the bottom line is this; the world is absolutely dependent on God in its existence and in the sustenance of its existence. The world is a relative thing and God is the Absolute. The world is a finite thing and God is the Infinite. The world is the created order and God is the Creator.
It is essential to understand this only; and if you understand this, you will have the desire to make a connection between the relative and absolute, between the finite and infinite. Say you’re a finite being and you have this consciousness of infinity. You want to assimilate that. You want to come closer to the Infinite and the Most Beautiful, and the Most Perfect Being.
This understanding is what Islam teaches. The discernment, that nothing in this world can be demonized and nothing in this world can quench our existential thirst and hunger, can answer our questions but anly God can do this.This is the nature of reality. The nature of reality, if it is understood, will drive you to make an attempt to get closer to the source of reality.