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Thinking with Winnowing Winds

By the dust scattering winds; then by the heavy-laden clouds; then by their swift gliding authority; then by those who distribute the big affair; surely,…

By the dust scattering winds; then by the heavy-laden clouds; then by their swift gliding authority; then by those who distribute the big affair; surely, that which you are being promised is true… By the sky full of orbits, surely you contradict one another in what you say; Only the perverse persons turn away from the truth. Woe to those who judge by conjecture; Those who are engulfed in ignorance and heedlessness. They ask: “When will the Day of Judgment be?” It will be the Day when they will be punished in the fire, and it will be said: “Taste your chastisement! This is what you were seeking to hasten.” (Quran 51: 1-14

Then the soothing breeze came through the window into my office. It was a like balm. Ironically, it reminded me of my negligence; that I have not, in recent times, reflected over the importance of air in our life, in our existence.

Thus, I return to Quran 51: 1-14. Though Aristotle might have coined the word meteorology, he never would or could have claimed he was the source of “the dust scattering wind”.

Even though Greek scholars would have us believe he once strolled with his students in the Lyceum gardens in the 4th century B.C and then mused about the causes of thunder and lightning, of wind and storm and consequently put his conclusions on paper in Meteorologica, my reading of his opinion on this important aspect of cosmology reveals his acute awareness of his limitation.

Though he is said to have published the first work on the subject, his perspective on wind in the phenomena remains important only because it is probably the first to be attempted by any human being. The knowledge that air and wind vouchsafe of the cosmos and events in our phenomena are so sublime that it is only the perspective of the Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and the earth that can encompass its inimitable possibilities.

The wind or the air, known as al-Rih in Arabic, is one of His signs. But we have become so enamored of its presence such that we now take it for granted. We seem to have glossed over the truth in our existence – that what the plants quietly breathes out, humans and animals breathe in.

Air ensures we live in the presence of our ignorance. Consequently, we forget the nothingness of our existence in the symmetry of creation. We forget that from the wind which blows in the atmosphere our existence derives its sustenance.

Yes. In order to perpetrate evil, the ‘evil genius’ among us depend on air to survive. There he goes; completely oblivious of the day he would breathe out but would not be able to breathe in; the day the wind will blow over his body but he would have become a cadaver fit only for experiments in the laboratory or as supper for termites in his grave!

Wait a minute! Do you know how many times we breathe in a minute? Are you conscious of the fact that each breath we take is counted while we are busy counting what does not worth being counted?!

Brethren, imagine what would happen if water and wind, which represent one of the most important necessities of life were to be found only in certain parts of the world, say in the Delta or in the Sahara!

Imagine what would happen if water and wind were to be a resource under the control of earthly authorities which superintend and control resources like energy and petroleum! Imagine what would happen if water and wind were to be unavailable in Nigeria such that government would have to intervene by sourcing it from outside the country as it has done with diesel and petrol!

Imagine a scenario where we have to import air from overseas! Imagine what would happen if water and wind were to be like our national “cake” which would have to be appropriated at the beginning of every fiscal year by our “legislators”! It would have meant, in part, that to be a legislator is to have the opportunity to achieve eternity; our members of parliament would definitely have appropriated more “air” and wind unto themselves as they have done with our commonwealth!

Remember the people of ‘Ad. The wind started that day in its usual manner: cool, gentle and soothing. Then gradually it became violent. It became tempestuous. It became a typhoon; a tornado! Every element of treasure and pleasure could become, by His will, instrument of pain and agony!

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