Abdolhossin Moezi says the Equinox is an example of the balance that can be applied in daily life
The advent of Spring is the turning of another page in the book of creation and is a golden opportunity to learn lessons that are constructive for our lives. The changes that the beginning of every solar year brings are opportunities for human beings to also make changes to spiritual and material aspects of themselves. Although we are responsible for initiating these changes their execution is the work of God.
Just as God brings the dead to life, the earth infuses the flowers and blossoms with new life with the winds that He blows and the rain that He lets fall. He blows the breeze of His grace and mercy upon the landscape of the heart of humanity and enlivens the heart and soul of man.
There is a well known tradition of the Prophet(s) that says, "Verily, in your lives there are breezes (of grace and mercy) that will blow, indeed you should take advantage of them." As such the rain of divine mercy falls and the divine grace reaches everyone without limit, obstacles or conditions. Everyone benefits from it depending upon the extent of his capacity and being, just as a smaller patch of ground has a smaller share of the rain, and a larger patch of soil benefits from a larger share. The heart of man is similar with respect to the descent of divine grace. Verse 17 of Surah Ra'd accurately encapsulates this very reality when God says: "He sends down water from the sky where at the valleys are flooded to the extent of their capacity." The supplication recited at the beginning of each Spring emphasises four important points:
- Oh the converter of hearts and vision,
- Oh He who directs nights and days,
- Oh He who changes stratagem and circumstances,
- Change our situation to the best conditions.
The principle of change
According to this supplication the world is constantly undergoing change and profound transformation. The great philosopher Sadra al Mut'alliheen, asserted that the substance of existence is permanently in motion, change and transformation. This change and transformation is so embracing that it encompasses the outside world as well as the interior world and the soul. In reality, the very continuance of the world depends upon this change and transformation.
The axis of transformation
In addition to the principle of transformation and its encompassing aspect, the supplication also points to the things that are themselves transformed, from the phenomena that characterise this season - when nature awakes from the winter sleep, those things that were dead become alive, the earth quickens and moves, fields and meadows become clothed in beautiful green displaying freshness and vigour, and when flowers of various hues beautify the earth - to the cream of the crop of existence, the Vicegerent of God, Man, who also undergoes changes. These changes can affect every dimension of his spirit and his inner realities. They can change his way of thinking and understanding, his perceptions and beliefs, his behaviour and his deeds. These changes too are necessary for Man to arrive at perfection.
The tune of monotheism
Every sentence of this short supplication speaks of monotheism. For indeed everything, from the cycle of day and night, the enumeration of the events of the year, the changes in the conditions of mankind all derive from the power and wisdom of the "One God", the Unique Source of all. In truth, this supplication calls mankind from multiplicity to unity and monotheism.Of course, some atheists would argue that the real reason the Archbishop could not provide a coherent rational account of God was that the very idea of God itself is incoherent, whether because there are so many "gods" or so many different beliefs about God, or because many of the beliefs we hold about God are contradictory and result in absurd paradoxes. However, these paradoxes are often based on flawed understandings of God by theists and atheists alike; in fact, many of these supposed paradoxes are found in the books of theologians themselves! Take for example the paradox they say occurs if we believe that God is both all-knowing and all-powerful: If God is all-knowing then He knows the future, but if He already knows the future He cannot change it, or else this would mean He was not really all-knowing. Hence He cannot be all-powerful. The problem with this paradox is that it places God within the limitations of time and space and treats His knowledge as analogous to ours; when we say that God is beyond time and space (being the originator of both!), this paradox disappears as there is no "future" for Him to change.
The purpose of transformation
The purpose of this great transformation that begins from the depths of nature and reaches the state of mankind is to change the human condition to the best of states which is the state of "divine nearness" in order to have access to His mercy and to receive divine grace. We can now see that this supplication which is recited at the beginning of the Spring, despite its brevity, is a complete lesson in religious doctrine.
The Holy Qur'an talks about knowing God through natural phenomena in more than 750 verses. In these verses God teaches us that natural phenomena are divine signs that invite mankind to contemplate and investigate them within the context of the order of existence.
Bilal the Mu'azzin of the Prophet(s), narrated that upon the revelation of the verses 190 to 195 of Surah- al- Imran, the Prophet said tearfully: "Woe unto him who reads this verse and does not contemplate it". And then the Prophet(s) recited the following verse, "Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of night and day, there are signs for those who possess intellects. Those who remember Allah standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth (and say) 'Our Lord, You have not created this in vain! Immaculate are You! Save us from the punishment of the Fire." (3: 190-191)
Thus, the more a person is aware of the mysteries of the universe, the more they should be aware of the Creator of the universe and with this knowledge should be more effective in the area of self-training and perfecting the personality.
Spring opens for us many avenues to know God. One of these is the Spring Equinox, which refers to the position of the sun in relation to the Earth on the first day of Spring. The Spring Equinox is one of two times in the solar calendar when day and night are equal, the other being the Autumnal Equinox.
The Spring Equinox is a time when we witness the beauty of the flowers and enjoy and take pleasure in the greening of the pastures and fields. This view takes both the material world and the afterlife into consideration, as depicted in the Qur'anic prayers: "Our Lord! Give us what is good in this life and what is good in the next and save us from the punishment of the Fire." (2:201) And "By means of what Allah has given you, seek the abode of the Hereafter, while not forgetting your share of this world." (28:77)
The Spring Equinox teaches us that in our material and spiritual lives, we should also go towards an Equinox and this is nothing but the middle way that is a teaching specific to the religion of Islam. Islam takes into consideration man's instincts and drives as well as his intellect. It sees extremism in both areas as an indication of ignorance and decries all forms of extremism whether in beliefs, moral conduct, and even worship.
Allah says: "Thus We have made you a middle nation that you may be witnesses to the people and that the Messenger may be a witness to you." (2:143).
Alexander Khaleeli is a researcher and student in the Hawza 'Ilmiyyah of Qum. He earned his BA and MA at the Islamic College in London.
Originally published in islam today magazine UK, issue 5 vol.1 | March 2013. It has been republished here with permission.