Never does a new reminder come to them from Ar-Rahman but they turn away from it. Surely they have done with denying; soon will come to them the news of what they were laughing at. Do they not see the earth, how We grow all kinds of noble things upon it? Verily there are signs in this; yet many of them do not believe. Your Lord is surely mighty and merciful.
We are constantly surrounded by signs of God's presence. The beauty in His Creation, the manner in which we are nurtured by nature and the joy that fills us when we truly follow the path of Ar-Rahman by being a compassionate and caring person, are all examples thereof. Yet again and again many people choose to deny or ignore these signs of His presence.
It seems to me however, that these times are truly times in which many people will see what they were laughing at. Their condescending attitude with which they acted as if it was below them to even consider the possibility of the underlying divine principles that keep existence in balance, will not last much longer. For soon it will become clear that it is impossible to keep extracting resources from the earth faster than they can be generated. Soon they will see that all the pollution that they produce in order to make always bigger profits will leave them without anything to enjoy. And soon they will see that the subjugation of people through war and economic extortion will backlash in their face.
In that way the balance is bound to return. Those that resist will become the victims of their own short sightedness. And that will be one more sign of the fact that God is indeed both almighty and merciful because the balance will resurface for those who seek it.
What Christians can learn
In many parts of the Christian world, worship and devotion have become completely separated from social activism and vice versa. But we should ask ourselves: can we truly continue our efforts to right the wrongs through social activism if it becomes devoid of a spiritual undercurrent? Can a 'moral will' suffice without a sincere focus on God? Many NGO's, groups and institutions do much work to try to build a more sustainable world but how long can their efforts go on when they are constantly confronted with powers that immediately ruin much of what they have built up?
I see no need for fatalism. Of course I believe that activism which seeks more sustainability should be actively promoted. Yet if the people involved in such work do not open their hearts to spiritual sustenance, I'm afraid they will become depleted just like the world they're trying to protect. If they think they can carry the world itself on their own shoulders, they are mistaken. Eventually it is God that sustains us all and the signs thereof are all around us. It is of much value then to once in a while reflect upon those signs for it will replenish our own spirit with the light and compassion that is needed to continue our work.
Questions for Muslims
Many times the Qur'an speaks of the way in which we should see God's signs through aspects of nature, like here, in Surah Ash-Shuarah. Often long poetic verses are used to describe the beauty of divine abundance within the nature that surrounds and sustains us. Strangely enough however, there is as yet no strong current of some sort of 'eco-islam'. It is limited to a few theologians and activists. It seems nonetheless needed to start asking questions to those in power in the Muslim countries that depend primarily on revenue of oil. Oil is not the one single devil as certain activists sometimes claim, but it can most certainly be asked whether the economic and political dealings of the leaders of those countries are in any way coherent with the divine law of the Qur'an. For the consequence these dealings have on a social level (like wars) or ecological level (like extreme worldwide pollution) do not seem very coherent with Islamic principles. Is there no need then in the Muslim world for more 'eco-activists' who criticize the way many Muslim leaders of oil-rich countries actually destroy the signs of Allah?