“Allah is He Who originates creation and then repeats it.” The Qur.an, Surah Ar-Rum (30:11)
The majesty of creation defies imagination. There are trillions of galaxies in the observable universe; billions of stars in each galaxy and several planets around each star. The magnificent flora on earth defies description. The biological complexity in each genre inspires awe and wonder. The mind tries to grasp its extent and complexity in space-time. Just as it seems to have grasped its limits and constructed a frame, the frame moves farther away, as if it is a receding mirage. The mind does not give up; it chases the continuously receding boundaries of physical knowledge.
Given the enormous complexity of creation, how is the mind able to understand it?
What makes the universe understandable is its repetitive structure. Examples abound in nature; ocean waves created by the pull of the moon; Sand dunes, created by winds sweeping over the desert; spirals observable in the vastness of space in galaxies as well as in small objects such as sea shells and sun flowers; the golden rectangle, in which the two adjacent sides have a ratio of 1.618 in the spiral galaxies; the symmetry of snowflakes; the repetitive atomic structure of gold, and so on
Repetition makes it possible to extrapolate the composition and behavior of the cosmos based on a limited set of observations and makes it knowable. It also bestows upon it a sublime beauty. Mathematics captures the repetitive structures of the universe. Conversely, nature emulates the perfection in mathematics.
The laws of Physics are built upon the repeatability of heavenly structures. Within the limits of the assumptions that they make, the canonical laws of physics capture the behavior of the cosmos and make it knowable. As an example, Newton’s Second Law, F=ma, where F is the force, m is the mass and a is the acceleration, describes the behavior of physical objects under the assumption that the velocity is very small compared to the velocity of light. The Law is universal within its limits. One can use it to build a bullock cart or tree or construct a rocket that takes a robot to the moon.
How remarkable that a single equation can describe a million phenomenon! The Creator has bestowed upon His creation a structure and a rhythm. This rhythm makes creation knowable. It is the basis of scientific discipline.
Repetition of form, shape and color impart to nature its grandeur and its beauty. They form the foundation of art, architecture and geometry. Artists and artisans alike try to capture this beauty in their works. For instance, Islamic art reflects the repetitive grandeur of nature through the intricate patterns of Arabic calligraphy and Persian rugs. A masterful calligrapher or a weaver of rugs simulates the repetitive structure of the heavens in his work and imparts to it a subtle and sublime elegance. The Dome of the Rock and the Taj Mahal are beautiful in part because they reflect the supernal geometry inherent in God’s creation.
The Qur’an affirms that the universe was created. Theories that state that the universe came into being of its own are mere conjecture. An example will illustrate this observation: It is now generally accepted that the universe started with a Big Bang. However, all of our current theories in astrophysics break down at times less than 10 -42 seconds. In other words, we have no clue as to what went on at the moment of the origin of the universe. All we know through mathematical modeling is what happened after the first fraction of a second. It is absurd to think that the universe just popped out of nothing. It must have a Creator.
The Qur.an asserts that the universe was created to manifest Justice and the Truth and (.). Humankind, as the repository of the Divine spirit has the ability to know the cosmos and use that knowledge to serve the Creator. In this grand schema, the Creator does not leave humankind without help. He creates and repeats the creation. The repetitive structures help the mind understand the cosmos, complex and majestic as it is.
Allah opens the door to the secrets of the heavens and the earth for those who ask. It is incumbent upon humans to ask, to reflect, comprehend and celebrate the beauty and majesty of creation and the greatness of its Creator. Not equal are those who know and who do not know.