Breaking Free from Society’s Mould During Ramadan
In my previous article, I explored the first verse of the Quran revealed to Mohammad, which urges us to “read” and I interpreted it as an invitation to observe the world around us, with a particular focus on people and society.
We will now delve deeper into the second verse of the Quran, which directs our attention to the origin of human creation. The verse describes the initial stage of a baby’s birth using the word ‘alaq, which roughly translates as a “clinging clot.”
We will follow the journey of a baby girl called Laila and examine how her physical and social development reflects the intricate laws of nature and human development.
Laila’s journey through life is a wondrous creation that unfolds in harmony with the natural order of the universe. Her growth from the earliest stages of life to becoming a productive member of society is guided by the intricate laws of nature and human development in learning how to deal with other people in society.
The stages of Laila’s birth progress naturally and precisely, without human intervention, regardless of one’s beliefs in a higher power or not. After the fertilization of the egg, it grows and evolves into a clinging clot, which gradually transforms into a lump of flesh. Over time, this lump gradually forms bones and eventually covers itself in flesh, until a fully formed human being emerges, ready to experience the world and develop a range of emotions, feelings, desires, love, and a sense of attachment that will play a significant role throughout her life.
It’s worth noting that the Arabic word I loosely used to describe a “lump of flesh” is ‘alaq. This is also the name of Surah 76 of the Quran, which prompted me to examine its meaning further. In my research, I discovered that ‘alaq can also be translated to mean affection and attachment.
This concept reveals an intriguing insight beyond the physical realm. As humans, we have a fundamental need for love and affection, and our identity is shaped by our connections and attachments to people, culture, and the things around us. Even though we are created from a clinging clot attached to the inner walls of the womb, once we leave this first home and sever the umbilical cord, we enter the world with an innate desire to form connections and attachments.
However, once in the outside world, Laila unconsciously forms invisible ties that connect her to what we may perceive as our comfort zone. This psychological state unlike her mother’s womb includes those around her, such as her parents, family, friends, and society. It provides Laila and every individual with a sense of security and refuge, enabling them to lead a safe, content, and favourable life.
As Laila enters this new phase of her journey, she begins to grow and explore her environment. Through her experiences, she learns valuable lessons that shape her character and prepares her for adulthood. Although her parents may not fully grasp the miraculous nature of her existence, they provide her with a nurturing and stimulating environment that helps her develop the skills and abilities that she will need to survive.
Transitioning from infancy to childhood, Laila continues to learn and grow. She attends school and hones her critical thinking skills. With each passing year, she becomes more aware of her unique talents and interests, shaping her character and influencing her life choices.
During her teenage years, Laila faces challenges as she navigates social dynamics and grapples with her identity. For our argument, imagine her being born and raised in a bustling metropolitan city, surrounded by diversity and opportunity. Growing up she always felt a sense of belonging in her close-knit family and circle of friends. But as she entered her teenage years, Laila began to grapple with her own identity.
However, she often felt out of place around her classmates, who came from wealthy families. Laila’s family was of modest means, and she often felt embarrassed about not having the latest gadgets or designer clothes.
As Laila continued through high school, she became more aware of the social dynamics at play. She noticed that the popular kids had a certain look and style, and if you didn’t fit in, you were often left out. This pressure to conform was something Laila struggled with, as she wanted to be true to herself but also didn’t want to be an outcast.
Outside of school, Laila was also exposed to the wider world through social media and the Internet. She found herself bombarded with images and messages about what it meant to be cool, attractive, and popular, and she felt like she was constantly falling short of these ideals. Laila began to question her own appearance, personality, and interests, wondering if she was “good enough” to fit in with the people she looked up to and admired.
Laila’s cultural background also added another layer of complexity to her struggles with identity. Her mother was born into a family of immigrants from a predominantly Muslim country, and Laila often felt torn between traditional values and the more liberal attitudes of her peers. She was proud of her heritage but didn’t always feel comfortable expressing it in a predominantly Western environment.
Navigating these social dynamics was a constant battle for Laila, but she found solace in creating music at home. The music she created allowed her to express herself in a way that words couldn’t, and it was a space where she could be herself without judgment. Laila also found support in a small group of like-minded friends who were interested in activism and social justice issues where she could use her music to help the cause both by generating funds needed to finance their activism and to attract other people to join their cause.
Over time, Laila began to find her own voice and sense of self, outside of the pressures of social expectations. She embraced her own interests and passions and found others who shared them. She learned to stand up for herself and her beliefs, even if they weren’t popular or wildly accepted. Laila’s journey toward self-discovery and self-acceptance was not easy, but it was an essential part of her growth and development as a young woman.
As Laila learns and grows, she realizes that struggles with identity are not unique to her but a part of the shared human experience. She understands that it’s okay not to fit into a mould and that her differences are what make her unique.
Laila accepts that her identity will continue to evolve over time as she makes choices at every step of the way, leading to both success and disappointment, that teach her valuable life lessons.
Looking back on her life, Laila reflects on how her choices have shaped her journey. She understands that some things were outside of her control but directly connected to her choices. Her journey is a testament to the harmony of life unfolding in accordance with the elaborate laws of nature.
Now, as a young adult, Laila prioritizes cultivating deep and meaningful relationships with loved ones, striving to be compassionate and empathetic. She also applies her knowledge and skills to engage with her community and pursue a career inspiring future generations on their journeys.
Laila gains a deeper understanding and appreciation for the natural progression of human development by reflecting on what she was made of, ‘alaq.
As I look at my own life in connection with the source of all life, I realize that the process of creation is not set on autopilot following a fixed path according to scientific laws. It is a dynamic and interactive process that is alive, tolerant, and ever-changing, existing in a domain beyond my full comprehension and control. Just like a baby in the womb cannot fully understand what is happening outside, I acknowledge my limited capacity to comprehend it all.
Reading from the Quran, Bible, or Torah, a common and unique message stands out: God’s promise is that if we keep Him in perspective when making choices in our daily lives, we will have a bright ending. By staying connected to the source, we can navigate the challenges of life with greater ease and understanding.