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Beauty, Order, and Purpose

Paul G. Hewitt wrote about beauty, order, purpose, and their relationship.[i] According to Hewitt, beauty is explored by art, the order is researched by science, and purpose is explained by religion.

Nursi, in the Nineteenth Word, wrote about three books or three proofs that explain the existence and presence of God.[ii] They are Universe, Human, and Quran. The study of the Universe is called science. The expression of humanity is called art. The research of the Quran and similar religious sources is called religion.

Universe, Human, and Quran are interrelated and interdependent. Science, art, and religion are not contradictory, but they are complementary. The opposition, incompatibility, and enmity between science, art, and religion is virtual and imaginary, but the harm done by this virtual and imaginary trichotomy is very real, actual, and factual.

In my readings, I saw, and in my feelings, I hear the need for three of them in my life: I need beauty, and I need order, and I need purpose in my life. This means I need to do art, and I need to study science, and I need to know religion.

The Glorious Quran explains the purpose, order, and beauty within and across its own verses. For example, verses of chapter “Rahman” show the interrelatedness of beauty, order, and purpose. Verse 55:1 starts with the purpose because it mentions the name of the One who started and designed everything.[iii]

Next, verses 55:2-4 mention order, i.e., the science of learning, teaching, being, and creating. The emphasis, in these verses, is made on interpersonal and intergenerational communication because knowledge is cumulative in its nature, and by mentioning the word “Quran” in verse 55:2, God emphasizes writing and reading because Quran is not possible without writing and reading. Verse 55:4 mentions communication, and the variety of means of communication separates humans from and elevates them above other beings.

Then, in verses 55:5-7, Quran tells about the order of the Universe. These verses turn my face to the obvious and bright proofs of the sun (shams) and moon (qamar), and they point to the balance of the gravitational and centripetal (centrifugal) forces in their motion (bi-husban) (55:5). Verse 55:6 places me on the top of a high mountain or in the cabin of the plane, and it turns my gaze upwards to stars (najm), and then, it turns my gaze downwards to trees (shajar) and flowers on the trees. Stars are the ornaments of the sky, and flowers are the adornments of the earth, and Quran connects them to each other by connecting them to God. Sky and earth, stars in the night and flowers in the day are not separated, not disjointed, not divorced, not alone, not lonely, but they are the parts of the puzzle, and they are the pixels of the picture.

Verse 55:7 is the transition from the order to purpose because it mentions the order of the cosmos and connects it to justice, balance, and equilibrium.

Next, verses 55:8-9 explain purpose because they order human beings and jinn (demons) to be just and balanced, to avoid extremes, to acknowledge and enact rights and responsibilities. Verses 55:10-12 are about beauty because they mention the surface of earth, animals, and plants. Anything and everything that humans assume to be beautiful are some kinds of rocks and rock formations (diamonds, rubies, pearls, mountains, valleys, hills, etc.), some kinds of animals (horses, lions, birds, puppies, kittens, etc.), and some kinds of plants (flowers, trees, fruits, leaves, etc.). Also, verses 55:10-12 address all senses of humans because they provide visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, and gustatory stimuli.

Then, as a conclusion and summary, verse 55:13 collects all proofs and evidence mentioned and expressed in the previous verses and asks a question. Asking a question implies the freedom of choice because the answerer can answer truth or lie, and the answerer must choose to be either on the side of truth or to be on the side of falsehood.

These thirteen verses of the chapter “Rahman” explain truth in three dimensions of beauty, order, and purpose, and they explain and expound four Quranic principles of Justice, Freedom, Compassion, and Knowledge.

The difference of the Quran from other books and its superiority over them lies in the concentration, focus, and non-negligence of these three domains of beauty, order, and purpose. Other books may explain only beauty (fiction, poetry), only order (textbooks), or only purpose (philosophical books), but the balanced combination of three of them is the property and exceptionality of the Glorious Quran.

If the human soul is thought to be a musical instrument, then three needs of beauty, order, and purpose are three strings of that musical instrument, and Quran is sheet music (partitura) that makes the soul sing, fly, dance, and rise.[iv]

Beauty, order, and purpose are like the red, green, and blue lights (RGB).[v] All possible colors and hues are combinations of red, green, and blue. In the same way, all possible human endeavors are the combinations and compositions of beauty, order, and purpose.

Beauty is about esthetics, and order is about epistemology, and purpose is about ethics.

Nowadays, people who call themselves Muslims are devoid of esthetics, and they are light-years far away from epistemology, and they are ignorant and negligent of ethics, and after that, they still call themselves Muslims. Muslims must study and follow esthetics, epistemology, and ethics because they are the basic and core requirements of the Quran.

In science, uncertainty is acceptable, and errors are welcomed.[vi] Errors are unavoidable; therefore, blindness to errors is unacceptable, and errors have to be measured, managed, controlled, and reduced. Similarly, in art, there are no right and wrong ways of producing and performing art, but there are new and old ways, and there are classical and modern arts. In the same way, in religion, sins are unavoidable and inevitable, and sins are the source of information for improvement. Without sins, there is no information, and without information, there is no improvement (95:4, 95:5, 95:6). That is why errors, sins, and mistakes are the paving stones on the way to search for beauty, order, and purpose.

Art is about the “what” of living. Science is about the “how” of living. Religion is about the “why” of living.[vii] Art is the most concrete of these three concepts because art can be seen, touched, listened to, tasted, and smelled. Science is more abstract than art; think about the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, imaginary numbers, etc. Religion is the most abstract out of these three concepts because it has eschatology, angels, demons, Names of God, multi-layered meanings, interpretations, schools of thought, schisms, etc.

Nursi explains these three levels of abstraction in Twenty Fourth Word by using metaphors of flower, diamond, and droplet. There, the flower is art and beauty, the diamond is science and order, and the droplet is religion and purpose. All three of them lead to God, and each person can choose one or two or three of them to be her way, method, and model.

The flower of art is the least abstract and the most concrete. Flower absorbs all seven colors of visible light from the sun (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet), but it reflects only one of them. For example, red rose absorbs orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet wavelengths of light, and it reflects the red wavelength of light, and that is the reason we see rose as red-colored. In this sense, the flower receives seven gifts, but it thanks only for one gift.

Diamond of science, on the other hand, reflects and refracts all seven colors of visible light. It takes seven gifts and gives seven thanks. However, the diamond stays the same, and it does not change and transform; it just transacts during the interaction with light.

A droplet of religion also reflects and refracts all seven colors of visible light like a diamond of science. However, the droplet also interacts with the invisible light of infrared and ultraviolet parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Droplet uses the energy of the invisible infrared and ultraviolet light to change and transform itself. Droplet evaporates, takes new forms, and rises to the Sun, defying and overcoming the gravity of its own egoism and ignorance, while flower and diamond cannot overcome this gravity. Thus, droplet becomes the freest out of them, and droplet gains new degrees of freedom.

The flower of art is grounded in the soil of place and time, and it cannot move through space and time – think about architecture, sculpture, paintings, musical instruments, literature of dead languages, etc.

Diamond of science is free to move from one owner to another. Owners value the diamond of science and use it to progress technologically. Diamond of science was traded from ancient Babylonians and Indians to ancient Greeks and Egyptians, then to medieval Arabs and Persians, then to modern Europeans and Westerners. Science does move through space and time, and science does change places and owners because it is more abstract than art. Art is concentrated in the physical carriers, but science is about words, and words are more independent of physical (papyrus, parchment, stone, paper, clay, etc.) and biological carriers (people) compared to art.

A droplet of religion is almost independent of constraints of space, place, time, physical and biological carriers because religion is about the meaning of the most abstract principles of Justice, Freedom, Compassion, and Knowledge. These four abstract concepts can take many forms and shapes, various colors, and hues because they are not dependent on physical and biological carriers. Buildings, temples, cathedrals, synagogues, mosques are not religion.

Persons, people, individuals, groups, countries are not religion. They are only devices and tools to conceptualize, concentrate, and concretize the abstract principles of Justice, Freedom, Compassion, and Knowledge.

Religion is like droplets of rain from the sky. Some people collect these droplets in the palms of their hands, and some people collect them in buckets and barrels, and some people collect them in artificial ponds and reservoirs, and others collect these droplets in natural lakes, rivers, seas, and oceans. Those who collect the raindrops of wisdom in their palms (brains) are called philosophers. Buckets and barrels are called philosophies and schools of thought.

Artificial ponds and reservoirs are called schools of jurisprudence and churches (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafii, Hanbali, Catholic Church, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hasidism, etc.). Natural systems of lakes, rivers, underground water reserves, seas, and oceans are called Divine Books, i.e., Quran.

All these methods of collecting raindrops from the sky are viable and valuable because a small amount of water collected in palms and buckets may offer fresher water in comparison to stale water in non-flowing and non-connected reservoirs. Also, raindrops collected personally and individually are less susceptible to poisoning than buckets, barrels, and reservoirs. And, of course, all collected water must be filtered and purified by the filters of reality and rationality before consumption.

Beauty, order, and purpose are correlated to the product, process, and principle. For example, the beauty of the cathedrals, mosques, synagogues, temples is a product that is tangible and touchable. The order of the steps and stages in the construction is the process. The purpose of connecting to eternity and knowing infinity is the principle.

Arthur Schopenhauer’s esthetics provides a hierarchy of five types of art.[viii] The lowest and the most embedded in matter, space, and time is architecture. Then, there are three-dimensional sculptures and two-dimensional paintings and drawings. Finally, there is poetry (literature) and music. Schopenhauer placed music in the first place, but I do not agree with him because music requires instruments for performance, but poetry doesn’t. So, in my opinion, the hierarchy of arts is like this: architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry (literature).

Quran positions itself above and beyond poetry, and this means Quran is the highest form of art (36:69, 52:30). By using Schopenhauer’s hierarchy, we can tell that Quran comprises, composes, and combines poetry and music, but at the same time, Quran is not poetry, not music, not the song. As shown in the example of the chapter “Rahman,” the Quran targets, hits, and plays all three strings of beauty, order, and purpose in the heart of the human. If a human is like a musical instrument, then Quran is like sheet music (partitura) composed by the Maker of the instrument to showcase all possibilities, diapasons, and functions.

Quran affected and influenced all five types of art: it shaped architecture, it introduced abstractness to sculpture and painting, it positioned itself as a canon of music and poetry (literature). I hope the influence of the Quran re-enters architecture, and I will see “talking walls” again instead of “mute and blind walls.” The text on the walls is as powerful as paintings, and sometimes text is even more powerful than paintings on the walls. Text on the walls makes walls not barriers and obstacles, but it makes them openings and windows to new outer worlds and mirrors to the inner worlds of self. The walls of mosques were those openings, windows, and mirrors, but the illiteracy and aliteracy of Muslims made them meaningless and ineffective.

Buildings are like books, rooms are like pages, and walls are like paragraphs. Nowadays, the books, pages, and paragraphs of the architecture are blindly empty. Walls and all available surfaces must carry and express meaningful information in the form of beautiful calligraphic text.

Every person must practice art, study science, and research religion because all of them bring a person closer to God. The cheapest, the most available, and the most accessible art is the art of word and practice of writing. Architecture, sculpture, painting, and music require specific instruments, and this makes them inaccessible to the poor and destitute, and they are arts of the rich and affluent. However, the art of word and practice of writing requires very little investment, and the tools of writing are very cheap. So, the pen mentioned in 96:4 is the tool and instrument of art, science, and religion. By using a pen, a person can achieve and build beauty, order, and purpose in her life.

Art, science, and religion are traditional and organized ways and methods of finding and exploring beauty, order, and purpose in human life. However, there is no right and wrong way of doing art, science, and religion, and existing forms, rituals, and traditions must be customized, personalized, and individualized to and by every person in the same way dress is customized by a tailor. Or person can be satisfied by the factory-made clothing and dresses.

In my life, I need beauty, order, and purpose. I can achieve and reach them by practicing art, studying science, and researching religion; by doing, knowing, and believing. Quran, in its entirety, targets, hits and plays these three strings of beauty, order, and purpose in the instrument of my heart and soul.

2:111 … Say: “Produce your proof if you are truthful!” [ix]

 25:30. And the Messenger says: “My Lord! Surely my people have made this Qur’an something worthy of no attention.” [x]

-İman isteyen münafık


[i] Paul G. Hewitt, Conceptual Physics, 10. ed., Pearson international ed (San Francisco, Calif.: Pearson Addison Wesley, 2006).

[ii] Said Bediuzzaman Nursi, The Words: On the Nature and Purposes of Man, Life, and All Things, trans. Şükran Vahide, vol. 1, Risale-i Nur Collection, 2008, http://www.sozler.com.tr.

[iii] Ali Ünal, The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English, n.d., www.mquran.org www.theholybook.org.

[iv] Wikipedia, “Sheet Music,” in Wikipedia, April 7, 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sheet_music&oldid=1016434548.

[v] pascoscientific, Color Mixer & Accessory Kit, 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZmEddsYqo.

[vi] Wikipedia, “Uncertainty Principle,” in Wikipedia, May 3, 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Uncertainty_principle&oldid=1021276027.

[vii] TEDx Talks, Start with Why -- How Great Leaders Inspire Action | Simon Sinek |

TEDxPugetSound, 2009, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA.

[viii] Wikipedia, “Arthur Schopenhauer’s Aesthetics,” in Wikipedia, December 1, 2020,

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Arthur_Schopenhauer%27s_aesthetics&oldid=99162 0023.

[ix] Ünal, The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English.

[x] Ünal.


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