Who are we? Where did we come from? How did life originate on this planet? Who were our ancestors? These are some of the intriguing questions that each of us grapples with at least once in our lifetime.
People look for logical and satisfactory answers to these queries both in religion and science. While the three Semitic religions— Islam, Christianity and Judaism— share a common belief in the origin of mankind, Hinduism has a slightly different view. According to the famous tale of Purusha as mentioned in one of the early Vedas, a cosmic man’s sacrifice created all life. According to the Bible, God just said: “Let there be light”, and only in six days the sun, moon, land and sky and all living creatures came into existence. Similarly, the origin of mankind is beautifully embedded in a mystical Quranic verse: “Kun Faya Kun”. It means “the originator of the heavens and the earth (Allah). When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is.”
However, we need a deeper insight into the origin of mankind in order to fathom the complete creation plan in a cogent manner. Quran further says: “O mankind, be conscious of your Lord, who created you from one soul (Adam) and created from it its mate (Eve) and dispersed from both of them many men and women” (4:1). This Quranic verse reminds us of our origin, oneness and commonality, something that has become the most forgotten reality in today’s world. In addition, a lot more verses in Quran unravel the eternal truth that all human beings have one creator, one father and one mother. They actually laid the basis of the Sufi worldview of Wahdat-ul-Wujud (unity of being).
The notion of Wahdat-ul-Wujud was propounded by Ibn Arabi, an eminent Spanish mystic who has inspired a countless number of Sufis in the history of Islam. Eminent sufis such as Shahab-ud-Din Suhrawardi have written complete spiritual treatises on the related Quranic verses which have been referred as untenable esoteric proofs for the Sufi belief in the Unity of Being.
For Ibn Arabi, the entire world is only one “Divine Reality”. He strongly believed that there was none and would be nothing in the universe except for the existence of one and only Divine. Thus, the world and whatever it has in it including the entire humankind, is nothing other than the self-revelation of God by Himself. In his spiritual discourse on this subject, Ibn Arabi wrote in his book Fusus al-Hikam (The Seals of Wisdom)—one of the most in-depth panoramas of Islamic spirituality: “Allah, the Most Truthful (al-haqq) wanted to see the essences (al-a’yan) of His most perfect and infinite Names (al-asma al-husna)… Allah wanted to see His own Essence (‘ayn) in one global object (kawn) which having been blessed with existence (al-wujud) summarised the Divine order (al-amr) so that He could manifest His mystery (sirr) to Himself.”
This clearly sets out that mankind did not appear on this earth by sheer chance. Rather, Allah willed that peoples from different ethnicities and with different faith traditions inhabit the earth as a manifestation of the Unity (wahdat). If we remind ourselves of this basic point, all polemics of racism, xenophobia, misogynism, ethnic superiority and religious bigotry would disappear from this world which is founded on the beautiful spiritual notion — unity of being.