Seeing and Being Seen(1)
by Gai EatonThe Prophet made use of three terms to define our religion: first,islam, meaning submission to God and to His law; then iman,meaning faith in God and in what He has revealed to us, andfinally ihsan, which is usually translated as "excellence", in other words "submission" and "faith" brought to their highest point,perfected. And he defined ihsan in this way: It is to worship God asthough you saw Him; for, though you see Him not, yet He seesyou".The Quran – the sacred Scripture of Islam – speaks again andagain of God as al-Basir, the All-Seeing, and also as al-Khabir, Hewho is totally aware of everything. "Not a leaf falls but He knows it",says the Quran; and "He knows the secret thoughts and what iseven more hidden".So He sees us at every moment, and He sees into the most secretrecesses of our being. Now here, I think, we are on dangerousground. I have known people brought up in a Christianenvironment who have turned against religion precisely becausethey were taught, as children, that God is some sort of super-Spy.They were told that a fearsome Old Man in the Sky sees everythingthat they do; he was just waiting to catch them out when theywere naughty, and he would punish them even for those shamefulsecret thoughts which they hardly dared acknowledge tothemselves. No wonder they rebelled against this. Most of us havean impulse to duck when we come into a building and notice asecurity camera pointing in our direction. Surely we have a right toa bit of privacy?