Does God Talk To Me?

Light coming into the world, Belihuloya, Sri Lanka

Allah definitely talks to me. I just don't listen. There are signs everywhere and we're fiddling with our phones instead of looking at the road. As the poet Björk said:

All is full of love
You just ain't receiving
All is full of love
Your phone is off the hook
All is full of love
Your doors are shut
All is full of love

In the Quran, Allah says, “There are signs in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day for people of understanding.” If you sit there in the middle of nature at dawn, it's obvious that there's something bigger than you. I've felt this a few times, when I've watched light come into the world, bringing color to the ocean and the trees. Every morning Allah says good morning and we sleep through it.

This Ramadan, I didn't. I decided to try Ramadan as a lay Buddhist, the whole praying and fasting thing. So I woke up before dawn to forage for my breakfast, even when I went camping. The morning before we almost lost my mother in some rapids, I walked up to the hovel we ate in, using my phone torch to dodge the leeches. It was pitch dark, as it always was during the appointed time, around 4:40 AM. The commandment is to “Eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct from the black,” which is practically an hour before you can actually see anything. So I sat there in the dark, wolfing down a plate of noodles, feeding a bit to the unfortunately bulimic dog, and then we just both sat there. Watching the light come into the world. Show's on every day, but I never go.

There's a deep signal in this, amidst the noise of day to day life. Modern electronics overwhelm our sensations, but this place had no electricity. There was normally a little bit, but there'd been a power cut that evening. I don't know why, but I like to think that it was the horny elephant that had surveilled, targeted, and destroyed the generator at the place we were supposed to go, bringing us here in the first place. Irregardless, it was total radio silence this morning. My phone still worked, but opening it was like opening Tinder for insects. I literally had to swipe them away. So I was just sitting there with nothing in my hand, thinking about nothing but Allah, which is just the Arabic word for God. Allah-luia. It's one God (and that one nation definitely ain't under it).

As Allah said to his Messenger long ago,

Your God is one God. There is no deity save Him. He is the Compassionate, the Merciful.

In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of night and day; in the ships that sail the ocean bearing cargoes beneficial to man; in the water which God sends down from the sky and with which He revives the earth after its death, scattering over it all kinds of animals; in the courses of the winds, and in the clouds pressed into service between earth and sky, there are indeed signs for people who use their reason.

I was sitting there between two hills looking out onto the water of an artificial lake. As the thread of dawn became distinct from the black, color slowly came into the world. The water became distinct from the land, the trees became distinct from each other, and the leaves reached out to capture the energy, the warmth that hits you last. Birds came out, insects, the whole cacophony of creation, recreated every morning. We sleep through this most days and curse the alarm, but every dawn is a little miracle. I, using my reason, thought there was certainly something going on. There's obviously something bigger than me in the world, and even Their smallest creations (like the leeches) have me running.

There are signs in the rains, in the harvest, in the numerous cycles of birth, death, and rebirth in the world. The Quran says there are signs like this everywhere, and the Quran itself is a proof of God. I agreed with this when I first read it, it's obviously inspired. Decades ago I was stuck in Dubai, before it became a Satanic paradise, and the only thing I could find to read was a Quran. So I read half of it. When I first read those words I felt physically afraid. I felt what they call godfearing in Christianity. I don't mean that in a bad way at all, it is in fact the highest good. Allah says that his word, “causes the skins of those in awe of their Lord to creep. Then their skins and their hearts soften at the mention of God: such is God’s guidance.” I physically feel this when I read the Quran, or the red parts of the Bible, or the Dhamma (I'm still a polytheist, spare me). I started as a poet and the Quran is definitely divine poetry of the highest order. To me, as a poet, Muhammad was definitely talking to God, peace and praises upon him.

Now, decades later and closer to death, I appreciate these words on a different level. I also appreciate the practice of Islam (praying five times a day, fasting) as a monastic discipline. The discipline in the little things makes you disciplined over all, which makes you highly perceptive of the world around you. Simply getting up before dawn is a superpower. And if you get up in a state of nature, you can physically feel the world being resurrected every morning.

There really are signs of God everywhere, if you turn the djinn world of endjinneering off for a second. There are signs in the creation of heaven and earth (ie nature) and in the alternation of night and day. Every day the world goes from black to Technicolor Wizard of Oz. It's a small miracle, and more than a metaphor, it's the divine pattern that surrounds us. Creation and destruction. Destruction and resurrection. Over and over. Every day, if you're quiet, you can hear the voice of God saying “good morning.” We're just not quiet. God talks to everyone every day. We (I) just don't listen.