What does a painting have to offer for us? How many messages can a painting hide for people to decipher? Perhaps never as many as the Mona Lisa can! Is she smiling or smirking? Whose is it a portrait of? An Italian lady? Or was it a self-portrait of Leonardo? Disclosing many of its secrets and more, a greatly acclaimed work of fiction, The Da Vinci Code swept the publishing world, and very recently-even if not to the same extent as the book-the theaters. Numerous books and special issues were published to provide manuals or, to put it more correctly, “unauthorized guides” to help readers not to lose their way in their pursuit of the Holy Grail and to discover the mysteries left behind by Leonardo from the fifteenth century.

The universe is just such a painting for us to observe, but it is not less complicated than the Mona Lisa. Innumerable galaxies ornamented by millions of stars and planets, the entire cosmos displays a panorama that can be perceived in two ways: 1) a colossal space filled with darkness of which only a minute portion can be illuminated by the human mind, 2) a work of art by an artist who wants Himself to be known and appreciated through studying His art. The first approach is from the standpoint of our self-ego who wants absolute freedom and who thinks his mind is the one and only guide for encrypting the “codes” of human existence. This approach provides its traveler with a dim torch of light and leads to an end where one sinks into even more darkness than before; each new discovery is doomed to be followed by things that are more complicated.

The second approach relies more on an “authorized guide.” The traveler of this second approach does not deny the human mind but enjoys it as a divine blessing given for his service in order to discover the cosmos. It is not an ultimate reliance on the mind but rather as a means to appreciate life and to choose right from wrong.

God Almighty did not leave us in this complicated universe alone. He simply did not push us into a mysterious cruel life which eventually comes to an end under the soil or in the crematorium. He sent messengers to every people and books to follow. After the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospels, the Qur’an was sent to the Prophet Muhammad as the final word of God, a guide to follow and to learn the purpose of life. The Lead Article, an abbreviated version of Gulen’s introduction to a new translation of the Qur’an, provides an extensive analysis of this Holy Book of Islam. Buti explores further on the poverty of human mind which cannot perceive the whole picture, but only single portions of it. “Partial knowledge can never convince the mind and appease the soul, except if it comes after having achieved an overall comprehensive knowledge that encompasses the structure of all existence: humanity, universe, life, and the relationship between them.”

Another decoding comes from Omer Ikramoglu. He discusses the accelerated expansion of the universe with a reference to a Qur’anic verse Dhariyat 51:47.

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