Sunday, April 17, 2016

Friends of God

Could I have known of God had He not made me ? What do I know about God ? Very little, indeed. Yet, I know He could have stayed ‘alone’ and not bothered to make anything. He was God, magnanimous and magnificient, free and self-sufficient. But He was too beautiful not to be known. He was too generous not to share His beauty. But with whom ? He was God and nothing could be like Him. Nothing could match up to Him. Nor did He need anything or anybody. It’s by the grace of Him that He made the world to share not only His beauty but also His bounty. He made Heaven, beautiful in every sense of the word. He made it not for Himself. (He didn’t need it.) He made it for Man. And why Man ? (Good Jinns are also entitled to Heaven.) Well, only a man can know God ! The whole world, including Jinns, could worship God in the most perfect way. But only a man can know God –even if his worship is flawed. Even if his knowledge is limited. The Koran says : "Of knowledge ye have been vouchsafed but little." (Al-Isra : 85) "Though mankind and the Jinn should assemble to produce the like of this Koran, they could not produce the like thereof though they were helpers one of another." (Al-Isra : 88) Yet with this little amount of knowledge a ‘God-knowing’ man can come close to God (spiritually). God said : "Neither My Earth nor My Sky has been vast enough to hold Me, but the heart of My believing slave has !" In the Koran we read : "He ( Solomon)  said : 'O chiefs! Which of you will bring me her (Queen Balqees) throne before they come unto me, surrendering?  A stalwart of the Jinn said: I will bring it thee before thou canst rise from thy place. Lo! I verily am strong and trusty for such work. One with whom was knowledge of the Scripture (i.e. a human!) said: I will bring it thee before thy gaze returneth unto thee." (An-Naml : 38-40) That’s why it’s the Jinns who are supposed to follow humans (human Prophets) and not vice-versa. "And when We inclined toward thee (Muhammad) certain of the Jinn, who wished to hear the Koran and, when they were in its presence, said : Give ear! and, when it was finished, turned back to their people, warning. They said : O our people! Lo! we have heard a Scripture which hath been revealed after Moses, confirming that which was before it, guiding unto the truth and a right road. O our people! respond to Allah's summoner and believe in Him. He will forgive you some of your sins and guard you from a painful doom." (Al-Ahqaf : 29-31) No wonder, then, when we remember God’s breathing into Man of His spirit ! "When thy Lord said unto the angels : lo! I am about to create a mortal out of mire. And when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My spirit, then fall down before him prostrate." (Sad : 71-72)  Yes, when a man is a true slave of God (i.e. humble enough to learn more), he can ‘see’ how beautiful God is, how bountiful God is. Such a man could see that Hell is too good a place for disbelievers. He would easily understand the verse:  "For those who disbelieve and debar (men) from the way of Allah, We add doom to doom because they wrought corruption."  (An-Nahl : 88) A God-knowing man, even if he were the poorest man on earth, would see hismelf the richest. Such a man, even if he were the most wretched of the earth, would consider himself the happiest. Such men are few, but have always existed. Be they Jews, Christians, Muslims –they’re quite the same. They’re knowledgeable people and they use their brains and hearts to know God more and more. And the more they know Him the more they love Him, the more they fear Him. Neither poverty nor illness, nor any misfortune befalling them, their family or anybody else, would affect their love for God. In fact, they see themselves as the least worshipers, as the least likely to deserve a place in Heaven. Not that they are fools or worthless. They are smart and successful. The Koran says : "Hast thou not seen that Allah causeth water to fall from the sky, and We produce therewith fruit of divers hues; and among the hills are streaks white and red, of divers hues, and (others) raven black;  And of men and beasts and cattle, in like manner, divers hues? The erudite among His bondsmen fear Allah alone." (Fatir : 27) The erudite see what other people don’t. They see God in everything. They see Him in the rose and in the thorn, in the darkest hour and in dawn. And they’re always eager to know more. "And Allah brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers knowing nothing , and gave you hearing and sight and hearts that haply ye might give thanks.  Have they not seen the birds obedient in mid-air? None holdeth them save Allah. Lo! herein, verily, are portents for a people who believe.  And Allah hath given you in your houses an abode, and hath given you (also), of the hides of cattle, houses which ye find light (to carry) on the day of migration and on the day of pitching camp; and of their wool and their fur and their hair, caparison and comfort for a while. And Allah hath given you, of that which He hath created, shelter from the sun; and hath given you places of refuge in the mountains, and hath given you coats to ward off the heat from you, and coats (of armor) to save you from your own foolhardiness. Thus doth He perfect His favor unto you, in order that ye may surrender (unto Him)." (An-Nahl : 78) These men’s fear of God and their love for Him merge into one beautiful feeling of awe of God’s beauty and bounty. And thus they would strive to live up to God’s expectations, knowing that "Allah tasketh not a soul beyond its scope." (Al-Baqara : 286) God  says : "Lo! We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man assumed it. Lo! he hath proved a tyrant and a fool." (Al-Ahzab : 72) A God-knowing man is  aware of  what he was made for. And what does God want after all ? Gratitude towards Him and solidarity with people ! And that’s what God-knowing men strive to do.  Yet, these men have a self-contradiction ! While they long to meet God –which can only happen after death–, they would love to live on and on to know more and more about God. These people see the world in perpetual motion while others see it as static. They see how, whatever Man does, it’s God who will lead him as He pleases. They see how God would even use earthquakes and wars and all sorts of calamities to remind Man of Heaven when Man does not want to see anything but the life of this world. They see that despite all these calamities life remains beautiful ! People find time for joy even in war times ! Ask any woman about labour, she’ll say awful. Ask her about the first smile of her baby, she’ll say something else. A man who knows God sees the baby’s smile before the baby is born ! And because a man who knows God is like anybody else –a human being– God made Angels to kneel to Man, and made the earth and the skies and even Jinns to serve Man.The Koran says : "And verily We tried Solomon, and set upon his throne a (mere) body. Then did he repent. He said : My Lord! Forgive me and bestow on me sovereignty such shall not belong to any after me. Lo! Thou art the Bestower.   So We made the wind subservient unto him, setting fair by his command whithersoever he intended.  And the unruly, every builder and diver (made We subservient),  And others linked together in chains, (Saying) : This is Our gift, so bestow thou, or withhold, without reckoning."  (Sad : 34-39) Also about Solomon: "And there were gathered together unto Solomon his armies of the jinn and humankind, and of the birds, and they were set in battle order."   (An-Naml : 17) The funny thing is that if you ask a 'God-knowing' man whether he knows God, the only answer you’ll get from him is a smile ! If you wish to know more about these blessed men, read about them in books –for you may never come across one. Such books are available in English. Just look for them, and read them to see how a man could become a friend of God.

Man, man, man––what about women? a woman would ask. "The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him. And his mother was a saintly woman. And they both used to eat (earthly) food. See how we make the revelations clear for them, and see how they are turned away!" (Al-Maidah : 75)


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