At my kids’ school, they sing a soulful song which repeats:
When I first heard my kids singing these lyrics, I had a knee jerk reaction: A holy place?!!
Isn’t that blasphemous? … Why are they saying the earth is holy?? … How could that be? … Isn’t the earth a place of temporal desires and unlimited distraction? … Isn’t its beauty just a means of forgetting that heavenly place of holiness??
But then after my fears settled, my mind started to turn in so many directions …
There are many origin stories the world over that try to get at how it is that we humans ended up here on this earth. How did this place become our home? For us as believers in the message of the Quran, the story of Adam is (re)told. The earth was the place Adam was meant for and sent to. Before even creating Adam, Allah told the angels that He was going to create a successor for the earth1see the story of Adam in the second chapter of the Quran titled ‘The Cow’, verses 30-38. Yes, man was a creature created outside of the earth, but simultaneously made from earth stuff, for residence and growth on earth. Initially man resided in the peaceful heavens, but was not meant for it (at least not yet). There is something important about our being on earth specifically, that Allah chose it for us.
I remembered a saying of the Prophet ﷺ where he likens the earth to a masjid. He says: ‘The earth has been made for me a place of prostration and a means of purification, so wherever a man of my Ummah is when the time for prayer comes, let him pray”2Sunnan Annasai 736. If one were to claim a place as holy on this earth, surely it would be a masjid – a place dedicated to remembrance of and longing for Allah. Yet, the Prophet ﷺ seems to reeducate us. The earth in its entirety is a place to bask in the remembrance of Allah and reach out to Him. It is the place that Allah has chosen for us to know Him, to prove our devotion to Him, and to rise in ranks closer and closer to Him.