June 2017: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

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What does the Quran say about awe?

[37:12] While you are awed, they mock.

[13:13] The thunder praises His glory, and so do the angels, out of reverence for Him. He sends the lightning bolts, which strike in accordance with His will. Yet, they argue about GOD, though His power is awesome.

How is awe related to submission? A Wall Street Journal article by Professor Gopnik from the University of California, Berkeley teaches us about how science is connecting the feeling of awe to happiness. The author recently had a unique feeling with her grandkids at a play. She felt a sense of awe— “that special sense of the vastness of nature, the universe, the cosmos, and our own insignificance in comparison.”

The article references the work of Dacher Keltner, another professor at UC Berkeley, who has been studying awe for 15 years. To show how distinctive and recognizable awe is, the author mentions work that Prof. Keltner participated in. In that research, villagers in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan who listened to a brief recording of foreign (American) voices, could recognize sounds of awe. Another crucially important part of the Prof. Keltner’s earlier research also showed that awe is good for us and for society. “When people experience awe—looking up at a majestic sequoia, for example—they become more altruistic and cooperative. They are less preoccupied by the trials of daily life.”

What gives awe this powerful effect?  According to Professor Gopnik, “Awe’s most visible psychological effect is to shrink our egos, our sense of our own importance.”

[2:54] … You must repent to your Creator. You shall kill your egos. This is better for you in the sight of your Creator." He did redeem you. He is the Redeemer, Most Merciful.

[2:87] … Is it not a fact that every time a messenger went to you with anything you disliked,

your ego caused you to be arrogant? Some of them you rejected, and some of them you killed.

The author goes on to say, “Ego may seem very abstract, but in the new study the researchers found a simple and reliable way to measure it. The team showed their subjects seven circles of increasing size and asked them to pick the one that corresponded to their sense of themselves. Those who reported feeling more important or more entitled selected a bigger circle; they had bigger egos.”

The researchers asked 83 participants from the U.S. and 88 from China to keep a diary of their emotions. The researchers found that on days when the subjects reported feeling awe, they selected smaller circles to describe themselves.

Following that, the team arranged for over a thousand tourists from different countries to do the circle test. They used two locations: (1) the awe-inspiring Yosemite National Park, and (2) Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, popular but not a place one would term breathtaking. Only Yosemite made participants from all cultures feel smaller.

Next, the researchers tested awe in the lab, showing people awe-inspiring or funny video clips. Consistently, only the “awe” clips shrank the circles.

So how do feelings of awe affect our relationships with those close to us? “…the awe-struck participants felt more social connection to others.”

[34:46] Say, "I ask you to do one thing: Devote yourselves to GOD, in pairs or as individuals, then reflect….

In another test, researchers asked people to draw a ladder and indicate where they belonged on it—a well-known technique to measure status.

This was an interesting test because it compared the emotion of awe to another emotion (status). Other emotions like shame or ego can affect perception of status. Was awe the same?

The answer is no. The author observed, “Awe had no effect on where people placed themselves on this ladder—unlike an emotion such as shame, which takes people down a notch in their own eyes. Awe makes us feel less egotistical, but at the same time it expands our sense of well-being rather than diminishing it.”

[20:130] Therefore, be patient in the face of their utterances, and praise and glorify your Lord before sunrise and before sunset. And during the night glorify Him, as well as at both ends of the day, that you may be happy.

[62:10] Once the prayer is completed, you may spread through the land to seek GOD’s bounties, and continue to remember GOD frequently, that you may succeed.

Quranically and scientifically, being in awe of God is good for us. Others see this too, by God’s leave.

“If you don’t see the greatness of God then all the things that money can buy become very exciting. If you can’t see the sun you will be impressed with a street light. If you’ve never felt thunder and lightning you’ll be impressed with fireworks. And if you turn your back on the greatness and majesty of God you’ll fall in love with a world of shadows and short-lived pleasures.”   John Piper

“Happy the soul that has been awed by a view of God’s majesty.”  A. W. Pink

“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”  Albert Einstein

In a second Wall St. Journal article, further studies seem to show that “the emotion of awe may make people more empathetic, trusting, generous and humble.”

Awe and the experiences that cause it are linked to benefits from “stronger health to improved relationships, according to several recent studies.” They also “increase our prosocial behaviors, making us more generous

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