Sunday, April 2, 2017

GOLDEN EDUCATION Chapter Eight


God "has not taken a wife or a son." (72 : 3) God does not have a family. He does not need them. He does not need to be loved by a wife or helped by a son. Otherwise He wouldn’t be God. The best wife God could create for Himself or the best son He could ever make should be either as good as or better than Him. But why should God have someone in His presence who could be as good as or better than Him ? What would be the purpose ? There can’t be anything as good as or better than God and anything less good than God cannot be a god. “Naught is as His likeness.” (42 : 11)  Period. There can only be God, on the one hand, and the Kingdom of God, on the other hand. And then  "Thy Lord createth what He willeth and chooseth." (28 : 68) Why ? Because "If there were therein Gods beside Allah, then verily both (the heavens and the earth) had been disordered." (21 : 22)  "Allah hath not chosen any son, nor is there any God along with Him; else would each God have assuredly championed that which he created, and some of them would assuredly have overcome others." (23 : 91) "Say (O Muhammad, to the disbelievers): If there were other gods along with Him, as they say, then had they sought a way against the Lord of the Throne." (17 : 42) Look at what man, this weak creature, has done against God; what if God surrounded Himself with other gods ? Would any sensible king accept to have around him someone who could do what he does or undo what he undoes ? That would be unwise of him. We have seen what happened in History between kings and their parents and their children and their siblings. "And it was not (vouchsafed) to any mortal that Allah should speak to him unless (it be) by revelation or from behind a veil, or (that) He sendeth a messenger to reveal what He will by His leave. Lo! He is Exalted, Wise." (42 : 51) "Yet they worship instead of Allah that which can neither benefit them nor hurt them. The disbeliever was ever a partisan against his Lord." (25 : 55) God can do all His work on His own. "Unto Him belongeth all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. Lo! Allah, He verily is the Absolute, the Owner of Praise." (22 : 64) So the Kingdom of God can only be ruled by God. But God does not want to rule by force only. With those who need force God will use force because He is “the Almighty, the Wise." (3 : 6)  To those who need love God will give love because He is “Merciful, Loving.” (11 : 90)  ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Some prisoners were brought to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and there was a woman among the prisoners who was searching (for her child). When she found her child she embraced him and put him to her breast. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to us, ‘Do you think that this woman would throw her child in the fire?’ We said, ‘No, by Allah, not if she is able not to.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Allah is more merciful to His slaves than this woman is to her child.’”  We all know that the rain, which is a gift from God, does not fall only where God is worshipped. "Each do We supply, both these and those, from the bounty of thy Lord. And the bounty of thy Lord can never be walled up." (17 : 20) "And He it is Who sendeth the winds as tidings heralding His mercy, till, when they bear a cloud heavy (with rain), We lead it to a dead land, and then cause water to descend thereon and thereby bring forth fruits of every kind. Thus bring We forth the dead. Haply ye may remember." (7 : 57) This dead land could be anywhere in the world. You and I are not the one to judge God, but time has proved to us that God was right in doing so. "We shall show them Our portents on the horizons and within themselves until it will be manifest unto them that it is the Truth. Doth not thy Lord suffice, since He is Witness over all things?" (41 : 53) We now know that in almost every country in the world there’s at least one person or two who believe in God, in Alllah. For the sake of that one person God is ready to provide to all the people living where he lives. Because that person will need to eat, to wear clothes, to use transportation, to have a home, etc, and all this cannot be done by him alone. He will need people to farm for him, people to make clothes for him, to build a home for him, etc, etc. All the people will eat quite the same things, use the same transportation, have the same kind of homes, etc, but in this world only. In the Hereafter only the faithful will have the good things. That’s why it’s not unislamic for a good Muslim to enjoy the good things of this life.  "Say: Who hath forbidden the adornment of Allah which He hath brought forth for His bondmen, and the good things of His providing? Say: Such, on the Day of Resurrection, will be only for those who believed during the life of the world. Thus do we detail Our revelations for people who have knowledge." (7 : 32) That’s why God provided our forefathers who did not believe in Him. He provided them with food, with shelter, with everything. He caused love to make them feel so good so as to encourage them to marry, to support a family, to prepare the future generations of believers. That’s why when Angel Gabriel said to the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that, if he wanted, God could destroy the people of Taif, who had mistreated him, he said : "No, but I hope that Allah will let them beget children who will worship Allah Alone and will worship None besides Him." Does that mean that God is doing all this and taking all this trouble because He needs to be adored, to be loved ? We’ll see that later in the book.

Now, if I am a good Muslim and have some knowledge about Islam I should share it will all people all over the world, if I can. I am using things that come from all over the world (clothes, gadgets, books, etc). I should return the favour in the form of advice. God made those people help me (through their material products) to enjoy the life of the world, I should help them to see why God can be good for them too, why the life of the Hereafter is true and is no less good than the life of the world. God said to the prophet (pbuh) :  "We sent thee not save as a mercy for the peoples." (21 : 107) The prophet (pbuh) died 14 centuries ago, his message is still being shared in so many languages by people who have tasted the sweetness of Faith, by people who love God.

Now, is it easy for anyone to share such knowledge ? Well, it depends. God says : "Enjoin ye righteousness upon mankind while ye yourselves forget (to practise it)? And ye are readers of the Scripture! Have ye then no sense? "(2 : 44) Put differently, I will be punished (here in the world and there in the Hereafter) if I contradict myself. If I don’t contradict myself, if I do as I say, I will have problems still all the same. God says : "Do men imagine that they will be left (at ease) because they say, We believe, and will not be tested with affliction?" (29 : 2) Put differently, I will have to make a lot of sacrifices. Is it worth it ? Well, it depends once again. For me personally, I am a writer and I have no choice. "And who is more unjust than he who hideth a testimony which he hath received from Allah? Allah is not unaware of what ye do." (2 : 140)  "And (remember) when Allah laid a charge on those who had received the Scripture. (He said): Ye are to expound it to mankind and not to hide it." (3 : 187) I have learned things from my personal experience as a believer in God, in Allah ; so maybe there are people out there who would be interested in what I am saying. This has become part of my everyday life as a believer. As I live a new day I earn something and lose something else, the least of which are my past days which are gone for good and will never come back. It’s not a 5-minute prayer every two or five hours that will alter the course of my day or prevent me from doing what I want to do. On the contrary, it’s more beneficial than a soldier’s respite. Likewise, when I am reading the Quran I am learning new things every time. When I am writing I am enjoying the immaterial side of my life. When I am posting my work on line I am making new friends. God is watching me all the time and that’s an honour for me. "And thou (Muhammad) art not occupied with any business and thou recitest not a Lecture from this (Scripture), and ye (mankind) perform no act, but We are Witness of you when ye are engaged therein. And not an atom's weight in the earth or in the sky escapeth your Lord, nor what is less than that or greater than that, but it is (written) in a clear Book." (10 : 61) Everywhere I look I see signs that I’m leaving this world one day. I see babies who will be my age when I’m gone. I see young people who remind me that I too was as young as them and I am no more. I see very old people and I’m not sure I’ll live as long as them. I see plants that last a few months and trees that are more than 100 years old. All this reminds me that I am leaving sooner or later. At the same time, when I say my prayers five times a day, and read some Quran, and do some good, day in day out, I get the feeling that I am kind of investing in these days gone by and that this investment should bear fruit upon my death. I feel that my life is in fact eternal, once I left my mother’s womb. "They taste not death therein, save the first death." (44 : 56) This gives me hope. So if I lose something when I am writing about religion I should consider that as an investment.

Now, what would I hope for as a believer who knows something about Islam ? In the Quran I read : “whom He loveth and who love Him” (5 : 54) What does that mean ? Well, it means that, why not, God can love me too. And that’s something I would love so much. But how do I know that God loves me ? God says : "As for man, whenever his Lord trieth him by honouring him, and is gracious unto him, he saith: My Lord honoureth me. But whenever He trieth him by straitening his means of life, he saith: My Lord despiseth me." (89 : 15-16)  I would probably assume that if God gives me everything I want, that can be a sign that He loves me. But what’s the sign that I love Him ? Why should God love me if I don’t love Him in return ? Am I the only one in the kingdom of God ? Why should God favour me over all his bondmen ? God says : "O mankind! Lo! We have created you from male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware." (49 : 13) Am I "the best in conduct" ? God says : "Surely We created man of the best stature" (95 : 4) "See ye not how Allah hath made serviceable unto you whatsoever is in the skies and whatsoever is in the earth and hath loaded you with His favours both without and within?" (31 : 20) "And if ye would count the favour of Allah ye cannot reckon it. Lo! Allah is indeed Forgiving, Merciful." (16 : 18) If that applies to me too, what did I give God in return ? When someone gives me something I say thank you. Did I thank God for all His gifts ? How ? Do I have a special relationship with God, a relationship far, far better than my relationship with anybody else ? God says : "Those who believe are stauncher in their love for Allah -" (2 : 165) "Allah hath (now) revealed the fairest of statements, a Scripture consistent, (wherein promises of reward are) paired (with threats of punishment), whereat doth creep the flesh of those who fear their Lord, so that their flesh and their hearts soften to Allah's reminder. Such is Allah's guidance, wherewith He guideth whom He will." (39 : 23) "They only are the (true) believers whose hearts feel fear when Allah is mentioned, and when revelations of Allah are recited unto them they increase their faith, and who trust in their Lord; Who establish worship and spend of that We have bestowed on them. Those are they who are in truth believers. For them are grades (of honour) with their Lord, and pardon, and a bountiful provision." (8 : 2-4)  "remember Allah as ye remember your fathers or with a more lively remembrance." (2 : 200)  Am I among those meant by these verses ? When I want to sin, for example, do I hide from God or from people ? Do I fear God or do I fear people ? God says : "a party of them fear mankind even as their fear of Allah or with greater fear." (4 : 77) "They seek to hide from men and seek not to hide from Allah." (4 : 108) "The erudite among His bondmen fear Allah alone. Lo! Allah is Mighty, Forgiving." (35 : 28) "And of mankind is he who would sell himself, seeking the pleasure of Allah; and Allah hath compassion on (His) bondmen." (2 : 207)  Do I really care about "the pleasure of Allah" ?  Do I really fear God ? Do I really love God ? God says : "Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." (3 : 31) Do I follow the prophet (pbuh) ? Do I ask myself such questions when I am alright or only when I am miserable ? What do I do when I am miserable ? Do I turn to God or do I turn away from Him ? Do I implore God to forgive and help me or do I try by all  means to change my fate ?

You know, as I do, that normal adult people aspire to three things: financial independence, marriage and good health. What if I had none of these ? What if I were jobless, single and sick ? What could I do, knowing that I can’t, even if I try, change my fate  ? All I can do is live with that and accept it and wait for salvation  –just like a homeless person who can’t find a shelter. Suppose I were married and had two wonderful boys and a loving spouse, would I know what may happen to me or to them in the near future ? Now, here’s an anecdote. It’s in the Quran. "So they twain set out till, when they were in the ship, he made a hole therein. (Moses) said: Hast thou made a hole therein to drown the folk thereof? Thou verily hast done a dreadful thing. He said: Did I not tell thee that thou couldst not bear with me? (Moses) said: Be not wroth with me that I forgot, and be not hard upon me for my fault. So they twain journeyed on till, when they met a lad, he slew him. (Moses) said: What! Hast thou slain an innocent soul who hath slain no man? Verily thou hast done a horrid thing. He said: Did I not tell thee that thou couldst not bear with me? " (18 : 71-75) Moses was a prophet and yet he could not see the point in killing an "innocent child". You and I would have the same reaction. Even after reading the justification for the killing of the child one would still wonder: Why didn’t God give those good parents the right child right away ? Well, they might have taken that for granted, just as I take it for granted when I take the train, when I switch on the light, when I turn on the tele, when I take a call from a dear person… Do I thank God for all this comfort ? What if I lost such comfort ? What if I lost anything that was so dear to me ?

Hopefully, that great loss may –I say may– bring me closer to my Lord so that I’ll think more seriously not only of my material comfort, my healthcare, my fianancial ease in this world but also of my salvation. What do you think I would prefer: work after a long period of unemployment or a kind message from a person I loved so much and thought she had forgotten all about me ? How would I feel when I read that unhoped-for message or when I get a suprise call from that dear person ? If I think about it, it’s nothing compared to when God sends down the rain after a severe drought or when He puts out the fire of a deadly war or when He helps someone repay his debt after he was very close to imprisonment. That’s my chance to feel the love of God. That’s my chance to relish and cherish that love from my Lord and the Lord of the Worlds. People are proud to take selfies with humans like them, how about the love of the Lord of the Worlds ?

These are personal experiences. I am an ordinary believer. I am not a saint. What happens to me can happen to other people in various ways. I too need to understand things that cannot be understood by reason alone. So I need to go through personal experience and to know about other people’s personal experiences.

Ayshah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: "The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had slaughtered a sheep and distributed major portions of its meat. Then he (pbuh) asked, "What is left of it?''. I replied, "Nothing remains except its shoulder.'' Thereupon he said, "All of it remains except its shoulder.'' How could you and I understand this with our logic ? The sheep was eaten by the poor and there remained no more in Ayshah’s room but that shoulder : that’s logic, that’s reason. But to the prophet (pbuh) there was another logic. He saw God’s logic. We humans when we lose something it’s hard for us to think of a replacement/a compensation that we can’t see with our eyes.

We humans will always ask such logical questions as to why God gave the prophets Noah and Lot bad wives and to the tyrant Pharoah a good wife he didn’t deserve ? Would we see in Pharoah’s wife a wife to him but also an adoptive mother to Moses (pbuh), who could have been killed by Pharoah ?

The Quran tells us that God did not give a child to Abraham (pbuh) until he was very old. And then after He gave him a child and this child grew up a little bit, God told Abraham (pbuh) (in a dream) to sacrifice him. Someone who doesn’t have faith in his heart would only see in this kind of sadism. But both Abraham and his son would forget all about the pains they had suffered during the trial once they saw the gift brought down by angels from the sky, from the Lord of the Worlds. It’s like slapping your little son or little brother and then you give him a surprise present : the slap is painful, but your present will make him forget it, because you gave him a sign that you love him, that you didn’t mean him any harm. Likewise, it is not easy for many people to fast during the whole month of Ramadan. And yet they do it, not out of fear of people, but to please God and to do good to their own health.

Why did God do that to Abraham, why did He order him to sacrifice his son ? We don’t need to dream up an explanation. When God tells me, as a believer, to do something I have to do it, I don’t ask why. "The saying of (all true) believers when they are called unto Allah and His messenger to judge between them is only that they say: We hear and we obey. And such are the successful." (24 : 51)  "And it becometh not a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His messenger have decided an affair (for them), that they should (after that) claim any say in their affair; and whoso is rebellious to Allah and His messenger, he verily goeth astray in error manifest." (33 : 36)  Nobody asks a king to justify an order. God is the King / the Lord of the Worlds, period. Adam, don’t touch that tree. That’s it, don’t touch it.  "And when Saul set out with the army, he said: Lo! Allah will try you by (the ordeal of) a river. Whosoever therefore drinketh thereof he is not of me, and whosoever tasteth it not he is of me, save him who taketh (thereof) in the hollow of his hand." (2 : 249) Don’t go beyond what you have been ordered. "To hunt and to eat the fish of the sea is made lawful for you, a provision for you and for seafarers; but to hunt on land is forbidden you so long as ye are on the pilgrimage." (5 : 96) That’s it, don’t hunt on land. Don’t ask questions. Maybe there are secrets I don’t know and God would not let me in on the secret. So I have to do as  I am told. Who am I to be let into the Secret of God ? I should respect the distance between me and my Lord as I respect the distance between me and my superiors at work. I should show my Lord that He is indeed my Lord. I should show Him that I love Him by obeying His orders whatever they are. I should not ask why a male heir should receive twice as  much as a female heir. That’s none of my business. I should not ask why a woman does not pray or fast during menstruation. God did not ask me to use water for my ablutions if I am ill. God  permits me to only perform tayammum if I can’t find/use water, or to perform my daily prayers lying on my side in bed if I am ill. God permits me to postpone my fasting until after Ramadan if I am ill. If I can see symbolism in tayammum, why can’t I see symbolism in Adam’s tree or in Hevrews’ river or in hunting during Hajj in Mecca?


God made me (as a human) a viceroy of Him in this earth. A viceroy is not the king. But a viceroy can be brought near the king. I too can be brought near my Lord if I make a good viceroy. What’s my job as a viceroy ? I do what I can, that’s my job. I can help a homeless person by giving him shelter or food or clothes or money or just a smile. I am doing this to a human like myself. If I marry I marry a human like myself. If I work, I work for a human like myself. If God wants to take revenge on a tyrant He will send him a human like himself. God will not transport victims in ambulances or help the blind cross the street. I, as a believer, do it in His name. If God wants me to be jobless, nobody will ever give me work unless God wills so. If God wants me to be single, nobody will marry me unless God wills so. That’s because God is the Lord.  "Knowest thou not that it is Allah unto Whom belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth; and ye have not, beside Allah, any friend or helper?" (2 : 107)  God is never in the headlines, but He is somewhere behind what’s in the headlines. When a celebrity dies, all the media talk about that celebrity, but where is he/she taken ? To a church or a mosque, to where God is. People who have faith in their hearts know that. So each would do what he/she can as a viceroy of God. They will seek a peaceful rather than confrontational relationship with God, because they know that there are things that God Alone can do. God does them for us.  "Have ye seen that which ye cultivate?  Is it ye who foster it, or are We the Fosterer? If We willed, We verily could make it chaff, then would ye cease not to exclaim: Lo! we are laden with debt! Nay, but we are deprived! Have ye observed the water which ye drink? Is it ye who shed it from the raincloud, or are We the Shedder? If We willed We verily could make it bitter. Why then, give ye not thanks?" (56 : 63-70) "Let man consider his food: How We pour water in showers Then split the earth in clefts And cause the grain to grow therein And grapes and green fodder And olive-trees and palm-trees And garden-closes of thick foliage And fruits and grasses: Provision for you and your cattle." (80 : 24-32) These people who have faith in their hearts strive to serve their Lord and do not wait for Him to serve them. That’s golden education. When they need something they beg God to help them. When they have questions they think about possible answers rather than ask them bluntly. These people know that even science cannot explain everything. So they try to guess what God would expect of each of them and each would strive to accomplish his/her mission in the best way possible. What matters is what God wants, not what they want. 

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