بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Ibn al Qayyim says:
“Look then at yourself again, and think:
Who took such great care of you – since you were a fetus in the belly of your mother, in a place where no hand could extend help to you, and no eye could reach you? You had then no way of seeking food or fending for yourself.
When your skin was judged to be strong enough to be exposed to air, your eyes strong enough to meet the light outside, and your bones were sturdy enough to withstand the touch of hands and life on earth, your mother had the labour that ushered you out into the world of ordeals, with all its attendant hardships.
And then He opened that gate and expanded it, for you to exit in the twinkling of an eye? You were not suffocated with its narrowness, and you were not held by the hardship of your passage through it. If you contemplate your entrance through that gate and then your exit through it, you will have enough to wonder at: Who inspired it to tighten when you were a drop so that you would not be infected, and later had it expand and open wide for you to exit strong and healthy?
Then you came out alone, unescorted, weak, without shelter, or clothing, or property, or money: you were the neediest, weakest, and poorest of creatures. But He ordered the nourishment that you received inside to be transformed into milk preserved in two reservoirs hung on the breast of your mother. She bears your nourishment on her breast as she bore you inside her belly. Milk flows to those two reservoirs for you in the subtlest way through paths that have been predesigned to carry it; it pauses in those paths until the milk already in the reservoirs is exhausted, and then a replenishment is provided for you to suck. It is like a well that is never depleted, and is never blocked, running to you through obscure ways, untrodden ways! Who led it to follow those ways? Who purified it and gave it a delicious taste? Who chose its agreeable colour and made it to perfection? It is neither too hot nor too cold, neither bitter nor salty nor foul of scent. The teat at its tip is just the right size for your mouth, neither too big for it, nor uncomfortably small. The pore at its tip is just big enough for your convenience, neither big in a way that suffocates you, nor small in a way that you need to exert yourself in sucking at it; it is just the amount that the Great Judge has arranged to fit your convenience.
Who directed the mother’s heart to have all that extraordinary compassion for you and amazing mercy, so that she dedicates to you the warmest, most convenient and the most precious of her devotion. On the slightest crying or complaint you make, she will every time put your pleasure before hers, even if that happens every moment. She would come obediently to attend to your needs, without any call or exhortation but the call of her mercy and the exhortation of her compassion. She wished that any affliction you suffered were inflicted on her body, that not the slightest pain should come to you, that years may be cut off from her life and added to yours, Who made her feel like that?
And then, after your body grew robust, your intestine expanded, your bones stiffened, and you needed tougher food, to solidify your bones, and strengthen your flesh, He supplied you with the tool of cutting and grinding, the incisors that cut the food, and the molars that grind it. Who held back the growth of your teeth while you were a sucking infant, out of mercy for your mother, and then let them out at the time you needed them, out of mercy for you, as a blessing and a boon to you? How would it be for your mother if you were born with incisors, canine teeth and molars? And if you lacked the same at the time you needed them, what would you have done with the foods that are not digestible before they are cut and ground? Observe how the stronger you grew, and the more you needed teeth to eat various nutrients, those tools in your mouth were increased, until you had canine teeth, that can stand the tearing of meat, the cutting of bread, and the breaking of solid foods.
In His vast judgement, Allaah willed that you emerge from your mother’s belly knowing nothing, a blank that has no intellect, no comprehension and no knowledge. This is in reality His mercy, since you, in your frailty, would not stand thinking, comprehension and knowledge: they would have shattered you. He rather evolved that gradually in you, step by step, so that it does not overwhelm you should it come in one blow. It grows in you little by little until it is fully grown. You may see an illustration of this in the infant who is snatched into slavery from its parents and from home before it has understanding: you see how it does not mind at all, while the more understanding it has, the more it feels the blow of bereavement. An adult taken into slavery is seen to be like one dazed and obsessed. Consider also that if you were born with your full intellectual power your life would have been one of great misery and vexation, for in that case you would see yourself a newborn, lactating infant, swaddled in some pieces of cloth, confined in your cradle, frail and unable to act, unlike the older people around you. So what would life be like in that state? Besides, you would not in that case have that sweetness, loveliness and appeal to all hearts and the affection that people have for the very young; you would rather be the most unpopular, burdensome, stubborn and curious of creatures.
That you entered this world as a dullard who understands nothing, who knows nothing about what people engage in, has been sheer mercy and deep judgement; since you encounter things with your feeble mental power and without prior knowledge of things, and then your mental power and knowledge grow steadily and slowly, until you become familiarized with things. You practice things, and gradually overcome your bewilderment at them; then you stop being surprised and amazed at them; you begin to receive them with confidence, acting on them and taking control of them. There is even more to it than this. Who, then, is keeping such a close watch over you, keen to attend to your progressive needs, requisites, desires and tools at the time of their arising, not before and not later?”
Men and the Universe – Reflections of the Universe, by Ibn al Qayyim.