Sunday, April 2, 2017

Golden Eductaion 2

Excerpts from GOLDEN EDUCATION

Suppose you were in a beautiful garden and then you got a call with bad news : chances are you’d forget all about the beauty of the garden. All your thoughts will focus on your SELF. There’s nothing more important to you than your SELF. And that’s normal. « Man was created weak. » (annisaa 28) Paradoxically, it’s at our moments of weakness that we pay attention to things we wouldn’t notice normally. This morning I went past a very old house on the outskirts of the city. It was in the worst possible state you could imagine. The French family who built this house and lived in it for years and years, during the colonial era, would be shocked to know that it has been turned into a dirty animal shed with lots of filth all around. Of all those French colons there remains one family in the whole area and it still lives in its old house. I have seen more than a dozen such uninhabited old houses in and around Sidi Moussa Elmajdoub, a rural commune, some miles away, which was called by the first French colons « La Suisse du Maroc » (The Switzerland of Morocco), however exaggerated that might be ; to everybody here the real Switzerland of Morocco is Ifran, in the Atlas Mountains. (When I visited Ifran with friends in 1995 I said if this is Ifran I wonder what Paradise is like !) Anyway, a few weeks ago I went to  Sidi Moussa Elmajdoub on foot and I was a bit dazzled  (once again) by the beauty of the valley and the artificial waterfalls built by the French and I can understand why the first colons called the place the Switzerland of Morocco. (At least at that time there was no dam on the river and so there must have been much more water than now.) The problem is, I was just going past a large graveyard, with lots of graves in it, when the rustic beauty of the valley snatched a broad smile from my face. I quickle forgot all about the graveyard and took pleasure in walking alongside the waterfalls. Such is the power of temptation ! But it is unislamic to feel and enjoy the beauty of the world ? Is it unislamic to live in a beautiful mansion in the middle of the greenery ?
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This beauty was made for us, but it can also turn against us. It’s like knide, you remember (chapter 1) ?
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So why should there be such pleasures in the first place ? Why should there be such a dazzling beauty ? Well, it’s the same place, the same Switzerland of Morocco, for the French colons, for those who lived there before them and for those live in there now. The same beauty, the same temptations, the same graveyard. But God did not make beauty only. He also allowed for there to be nasty things –for us to reflect. I wrote a whole post about trial : Why Sould I Be Tried?  So  you can understand that I’m talking here about trial.
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Even the soldiers who served the French colonial authorities were not all French. Many came from other French colonies. And the foreign people who were then in our cities and villages were not all French. Also there were local collaborators. We learnt all this at school. The question is, does onr choose to be a colon or a collaborator ? A colon or a collaborator may have a family and children to feed. These children will not necessarily know how their father got the money to buy them good food or good clothes or build them a good house. Another question is, what’s the difference between a house built with money made by collaborating and a house built with money made by legitimate trade, for example ? For a stranger, what matters is the look of the house : is it nice or not ? He will be thrilled at the beauty of the house, of the car, of the factory, of the children… even if he knows the origin of the money. It’s because people look at the look, not at the origin. If this stranger were poor or single or homeless, who would care about him ? He may even be of those who
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Maybe the French family who lived in that old house (turned into an animal shed) enjoyed the beauty of the house and the area in that beautiful time, but then the French had to leave. Maybe they weren’t even happy with the money they got when they sold everything. I can imagine the house was beautiful like a beautiful French high school girl. You can’t compensate that with money. But why is the house so dirty now ? Is it because the owner of the place is so poor that he only cares about the money he gets from the animals ? Doesn’t he care about beauty ? Or could he be « a wise person » who believes beauty is transient ? Could he be happy with his life ? I don’t even know who it is, so I can’t answer those questions. But what would you do in his place ? What would you care about ? That’s a very big question.

I wonder whether you have ever seen a little child or teenager draw something in an old copybook that he wouldn’t show to anybody. The copybook is full of drawings of horses or pets or movie characters or imaginary or real persons –why ? You, who can’t draw, would say WOW ! You are amazed at the child’s creativity. But to him that’s quite normal, it’s natural. And suppose he wanted to show his « work », who would be interested ? Don’t you know of painters/writers…who were recognized as such only after their death or very late in their life ? Don’t you know of artists who died poor while their work brought lots of money to other people ? Does such an artist necessarily have someone in mind (an audience) when he creates something ?

You know, it’s springtime right now, and the other day I was walking in the nearby wood when suddenly my eyes fell on a beautiful wild flower. As I was looking at that particular flower I noticed other flowers just beside it –maybe much less beautiful, but each with a different colour, each with a different shape. Once I was leaving a school where I gave evening classes when a 17-year-old female student of mine waved to me and said in a voice filled with awe : « Teacher, look over there ! » She pointed almost with a trembling hand at a car that was parked across the street. Between us, my heart leapt when I saw the car. It was just marvellous. (Didn’t I say temptation is so powerful !) I understood why the girl was looking at the car with such reverence. Well, I too went around in that wood, walking slowly, going from path to path, looking with such wonder at all those wild flowers, examining, like a passionale botanist, the shape, the colour, the peculiarities of each flower. When you are in such a place, looking with your heart rather than with your eyes, you can’t help asking : But why did God make this flower grow here, at this particular place, where nobody will see or care about it ? How many people will come and spend half an hour going from flower to flower and looking at their colours and shapes ? Well, is the number so important ? You remember those verses at the beginning of this book ? "And though thou try much, most men will not believe."  (12.103) "And most of them believe not in Allah except that they attribute partners (unto Him)." (12.106) God knows all that ! He knows that only a few would ever care. God says :
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It’s for those people, who
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That God made that beauty. If God says to those people
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they will certainly say : No !
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This penitent servant (عَبْدٍ مُّنِيبٍ) will be sensible to all beauty : be it wild beauty in the woods or man-made beauty like that wonderful car parked in front of the school. But this penitent servant  will not be impressed too much by man-made beauty when he knows the origin. He will care as much about the look, not at the origin.
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This penitent servant  knows that it’s all trial.
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But here’s the problem ! If that is what you believe, well, you will be tested. You can’t feign, once or twice.
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If you pass the first test, prepare for the next. The higher you rise in your iman (faith) the harder your trial will be. And you’ll be tried with people around you, people who have wonderful cars, nice houses, good jobs, lovely children…and even people who don’t have anyhting at all.
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You’ll be like a lonely sailor in a pitiless sea, lonely except from God. Each time you go beyond a wave in this monstrous sea of temptations you say
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until  you reach the shore with the least damage. It’s a fascinating experience, but it’s very, very hard. It’s like learning chess on a software application, you go from level 1 to level 12. Except that you risk leaving plenty of feathers there!

Some people surpass themselves by practising certain sports or by engaging in certain adventures.
A
penitent servant  surpasses himself by practising his faith, on the ground, in reality. In either case, you’re doing that for the good of your own soul.
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The world is full of people, but only a few of them mean to you. Your family and your friends mean to you more than anybody else. Idem for God. In the Quran we read :
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How can this one mean to God anything ? If you want to mean something to somebody you do something to please him, don’t you ? If you want to mean something to God you do something to please Him, don’t you ? But if you can lie to people, if you can feign to people, you can’t lie to God.
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All the temptations, all the glamour, all the beauty in the world was made for that purpose.
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And just as we reveal to God that we are truly sincere, God reveals to us, through our tests, that when everybody lets us down, God alone stays by ours ide to support and save us. Just we know God more and more we end up loving Him.





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