I was reading the Bible the other day and came across a quote in which Jesus says:
“Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” [Luke 18:25]
I found that description interesting… vaguely familiar– but was unable to understand why.
Two days later, while reading the Quran, I come across this verse:
The English translation is this:
|7:40||To those who reject Our signs and treat them with arrogance, no opening will there be of the gates of heaven, nor will they enter the garden, until the camel can pass through the eye of the needle: Such is Our reward for those in sin.|
This expression must have been a common one back in the day. I found it rather fascinating and I wasn’t the only one; there are many pictures of the illusion on Google images.
I thought: why a needle’s eye of all objects? I obviously don’t have the answer, but the use of a needle gave me a new perspective.
We have a camel, a regular sized needle, and you.
- You stand next to the camel. From his viewpoint, you can see the needle perfectly, even as you step closer and closer to it. It’s there, physically, tangibly, practically and clearly.
- Now you stand by the needle’s side, pick it up, and look through its eye. At a far distance you can see the camel perfectly; in fact, if looks could deceive, it would appear that indeed, a camel can easily fit through the hole! But as you get closer and closer to the camel, you realize that you can’t see his whole body anymore. You walk closer and closer until all that can actually, physically and really fit is just a strand or two of his fur.
So then, what was all that about?
It was an illusion.
Perspective is everything. It reminds me of someone who has an idea that initially appears completely achievable but over time, it becomes really apparent that it is not realistic.
For example: someone doing evil and corruption on the earth can have the idea that, “Hey… It’s OK. I’ll repent when I get older. I got time.” But as time passes by as quickly as the speed of light, all of a sudden this person is on his death bed and realizes he can’t say the shahada– he is literally unable to. His idea that God could accept his repentance for multiple sins he was not really sorry for was nothing but an illusion. He was looking through the eye of a needle at the camel.
In the Quran verse above, it says that an arrogant person will never enter Heaven until a camel is able to get through a needle’s eye… AKA, impossible. Though from the arrogant person’s view, he does not believe he is in any danger of a hellish afterlife. In fact, by rejecting God’s signs, he is essentially assuming he knows best, he has everything under control, and he (or she, in case you brothers are getting annoyed) is all-powerful.
Until, of course, he realizes that he got it all wrong. Illusion.
Where am I going with this? Do I have some high-powered lesson to give you from all this?
Hate to break it to you, but– No. These are just some random thoughts about an intriguing metaphor that shows up both in the Bible and Quran. I won’t pretend I’m a scholar of any sort. 🙂
I’ll leave you off with another Google image of it:
Have a marvelous day!