Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The key to happiness (12-4)

If you know GOD and worship Him, you will have found happiness and peace, even if you are living in a hut made of mud.
But if you deviate from the true path, your life will truly be wretched, even if you are living a life of luxury and comfort in a large mansion.

If this latter case applies to you, then you do not have with you the key to happiness.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pause to reflect (12-5)

GOD protects those who believe from evil, both in this world and in the Hereafter. He repels evil from the believers in proportion to their faith. The evil of the disbelievers, the evil whispers of the Devil, the evil in their own selves, and the evil of their deeds, all of these does GOD ward off from the true believers. When calamity falls, its burden will be lightened from them. Every believer has a share in this divine protection. Yet it varies according to one’s level of faith, some will receive less, others more. Among the fruits of faith is that it gives solace to the believer in times of hardship. the believer is who when he is afflicted with hardship, he knows that it is from GOD and that it was written for him. He is satisfied and submits his will to what has been predestined for him. Thus, the fatal blow of hardship will lose its effect on him because he knows that it came from GOD and that he will be rewarded for his patience.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What the wise say about patience (12-6)

The following words are ascribed to somewiser:
“Calamity in this life is of two kinds. The first kind allows for a way out, worrying is its remedy. The second kind permits for no solution or way out: patience is its cure.”
It is also said that, “Whoever follows patience, success will follow him.”

It has also been said:
“Strive to remain alive by seeking out death. For how many have remained because they sought out death and how many have perished who preferred to stay! And safety most often comes after treading the path of uncertainty.”

People would say:
“Verily, even in evil, there are degrees of better and worse.’ ,

Somewiser explained the meaning of this expression, saying, “If you are afflicted with a hardship, know that you could have been hit with far worse. If you have such an outlook, you will be better able to deal with the hardship.”

A way out of difficulty most often comes when hope is lost.
Sometimes GOD brings success and relief when hope is lost and all seems dark. This is in order to encourage us to turn our hopes to Him, to trust completely in Him, and to never lose hope of His help at any time. Also, when afflicted, one should be satisfied with the knowledge that he was afflicted with something minor and was saved from what could have been worse.

Somewiser said,
“Perhaps GOD tests a slave with a calamity but then saves him from destruction. Thus, the calamity is really a great blessing (in disguise).”

It has been said that whoever forbears a hardship, and is content with GOD’S decree by being patient, then some hidden benefit or blessing will come about for him through that experience.

Somewiser also said:
“Beware of complaining if you are caught in the sharp claws of a hardship, for the way to safety is a difficult path to tread.”

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The importance of a positive attitude (12-7)

A writer justly said:
“Verily, hope encourages and steers one towards patience; hope arises from having a good opinion of GOD; hope in GOD precludes the possibility of failure. But why should we be so confident that hope in GOD precludes the possibility of failure? If we were to study the characteristics of generous people, we would find that they take special care of those who think well enough of them to turn to them for help. They will also tend to eschew those who think ill of them. What is important here is that they refrain from hurting the hopes of those who single them out for help. Then what will be the case regarding the Most Generous One, Whose kingdom is not decreased in the least when He gives even more than what the hopeful ones expected from Him in the first place!”

A person who finds no way out of a difficult situation illustrates the most poignant example of GOD’S generosity and guidance for one of His slaves. After losing all hope in everyone that he turned to for help, he is forced to remember that there is one door that remains open and that he should hope in no one save in Allah(GOD), the Exalted. At that point, he feels the chastisement for not having hoped from GOD in the first place, and at that point, aid and relief arrive.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A few words on patience (12-8)

Abban ibn Taghlab said:
“I heard a Desert Man say, ‘One of the noblest of characteristics becomes manifest when one is afflicted by a trial and then uses patience to overcome that trial. His patience and hope affect him positively; it is as if he constantly visualizes himself being saved from his problem; his state of mind is positive to such a high degree because of his trust in GOD and his good opinion of Him.
Whenever one possesses these characteristics, he will never have to wait long for GOD to fulfill his needs and remove hardship from his life. He will be saved, and his religion and honor will remain safe.”
Al-Asma’ee related that a Desert Man said:
“Fear evil when you find yourself to be in a good situation; hope for good when you are in an evil situation. Many have lived who have sought after death and many have died who have sought after life. And safety comes most often for a person after he has followed the path of fear.”

Some of the wise would say:
“The wise person, when afflicted by hardship, consoles himself in two ways. The first is to be contented. The second is in hoping for a way out of the difficulties that have befallen him. The ignorant person is shaken and nervous in situations of hardship in two ways. The first is in the number of people from whom he seeks aid. The second is in his constant fears and apprehensions about that which is worse than what has already befallen him.”
And as I mentioned earlier, it has been said that GOD, the Exalted, disciplines us through trials, a form of education that opens hearts, ears, and eyes.
Al-Hasan ibn Sahl described trials as being a wake-up call for the forgetful ones, a means of achieving reward for the patient ones, and a reminder of blessings for everyone. And the decree of GOD is always better, especially for those who, through their bravery, appear to be seeking out death, who are searching for a life of remembrance, and who are unlike.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Don’t grieve if you are poor, for your true value is not determined by your bank balance (12-9)

Therefore the value of a scholar is based on his knowledge, on whether it is limited or vast, and on the degree to which he disseminates his knowledge. Similarly, the poet is appraised based on the quality of his poems. And so it goes for every person of every occupation, his worth with people is measured by his excellence in what he does. In terms not of occupation but of religion and life in general, everyone should strive to increase their value and worth by performing good deeds, by increasing their knowledge and level of wisdom, by cultivating and polishing their mind, and by developing noble traits in their personality.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A word on reading (12-10)

Reading opens the mind, guides one to correct morals, and sharpens one’s ability to think. Reading is a comfort for the lonely, a stimulant for the thinker, and a lamp for the traveler.
To not read makes one limited in one’s speech, thinking, and personality. Most books contain at least some benefit, whether it is in wise sayings, interesting stones, strange experiences, or new knowledge.
It can even be said that the benefits of reading are beyond enumeration, And we seek refuge in GOD from one of the greatest of calamities, to have weak determination and will power.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

O’ son of Adam, do not despair (12-11)

O’ man: man who is bored of life, who finds it difficult to pass the days, and who has tasted the bitter vicissitudes of life, remember that ease follows difficulty, that GOD’S promise is true, and that, if you are true and sincere, victory is near.
For your dilemma, whatever it may be, there is a cure, and for your difficulty, whatever it may be, there is a solution.
O’ Man: the time has come for you to remedy your doubts with faith and your deviant thoughts with guidance. You must remove the veil of darkness that covers you so that you can see the brightness of a true sunrise; you must supplant the bitterness of sorrow with the sweetness of contentment.
O’ Man: beyond the dry desert that you are crossing you will find green pasture and fertile soil. The fruits therein grow profusely from all directions.
O’ Man, who because of sleepless nights, screams in the late hours of the night.
O’ whose mind has wandered in grief, move to action without haste, for upon the horizon of the unseen lies a solution and a way out of your difficulties.
O’ you, whose eyes are loaded with tears, repress your tears and give leisure to your eyelids. Relax and know that your Creator protects and aids, and that His Mercy for you will bring you peace. Be peaceful in mind, O’ slave of GOD, for the divine decree is written and all matters have been decided upon. And know that your reward is secure with He Who doesn’t disappoint the one who seeks to please Him.
Be at peace, for after poverty comes wealth, after thirst comes drink, after separation comes a joyous meeting, and after sleeplessness comes sound rest.
O’ you who are oppressed in the lands, who suffer from hunger, pain, sickness and poverty, rejoice in the knowledge that you will soon be satisfied with food and that you will be happy and in good health.
Every Human must have good thoughts about his Lord and must wait patiently for His favor, for ALLAH (GOD) the One Who has the power to say “Be” to something and it is, is worthy to be trusted in regards to His promise. No one can bring good except for Him and no one can ward off evil except for Him. For every action He has wisdom and after every hour He brings ease. He made morning to follow the night and rain to follow dryness. He gives to be thanked and He puts to trial to know and He has knowledge of all things those who are patient. Therefore it is in the best interest of the Human to strengthen his relationship with his Lord and to ask Him more frequently.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pause to reflect (12-12)

Loving GOD, knowing Him, remembering Him, seeking peace in Him, singling Him out for complete love, fear, hope, and dependence, these are qualities that, when combined in a person, constitute a sort of heaven on earth. They are qualities that bring peace to those who love GOD, a sort of peace that has no comparison in this world.
If the heart is content and has a strong attachment to GOD, anxiety and grief will be removed from it. And vice versa, no one feels more constricted with grief than someone whose heart is attached to other than GOD, someone who forgets GOD’S remembrance and who is not satisfied with what He has given him. We can verify this reality by studying cases of those who have passed before us.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Blessings in disguise (12-13)

There is the tragic example of the Barmak family, a family that lived a life of opulence, comfort, and extravagance. Their end, however, has served as a lesson and example for all Arabs who came after them. Haroon al-Rasheed, the ruler during their period, ordered an unexpected attack on the Barmak family and on their possessions. GOD’S decree came to pass over them in the morning at the hands of the closest person to them, he destroyed their homes, took possession of their slaves, and shed their blood. Their loved ones and children wept at their disgrace. There is none worthy of worship except GOD; those who know the story should especially appreciate the transitory nature of power and wealth in this world. Only one hour before their downfall, they were strutting in silks, full of joy and complacency, feeling secure from harm, unaware of the vicissitudes of life.They swaggered in their life of play; however, sadly for them, they mistook the mirage for water and this life for eternal existence.They wrongly thought that justice would not overtake them and that vindication would not come about for the wronged.
They woke up that morning in a state of joy but by the time the night had fallen, they were in their graves. In a moment of anger and caprice, Haroon al-Rasheed unsheathed the sword of wrath upon them, killing Ja‘far ibn Yahya al-Barmaki, by hanging him on a cross and then burning his body. He imprisoned his father Yahya and his brother Al-Fadl. Their wealth was confiscated. Their plight was mourned over by many Arab poets.
One of them said:
“When I saw the sword mixed in Ja‘far,

And a caller announced the news of Yahya to the Khaleefah, I mourned over this world and I came to truly believe That in the near horizon is a day when a boy will depart from this world, It is nothing but one country and ruler supplanted by another, The event of misfortune follows the appointment of blessings. If this one dwells in the high mansions of a king, Then that one sinks to the lowest depths of misery.”
But as for the present, where is Haroon al-Rasheed and where is the Barmak family? Where is the murderer and where is the murdered? Where is the one who ordered the killing while he was lying down on a bed in his castle? And where is the one who was crucified? Yesterday and the actors of yesterday are both gone. But the Most Just will judge between them on a Day about which there is no doubt, a Day wherein there shall be neither wrongdoing nor injustice.
Yahya ibn Khalid al-Barmaki was asked concerning this calamity, “Do you know its cause?” He said, “Perhaps it was the supplication of someone whom we wronged, a prayer that traveled quickly through the night while we were unaware of it.”
‘Abdullah ibn Mu‘aawiyah ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Ja‘far said in jail about his imprisonment:
“We have departed from the world and we are still of its inhabitants, We are neither from the dead nor from the living, If the jail guard comes in for one reason or another, We are astonished and say: This one has come from the world, Overjoyed do we become after seeing a dream, because most of our talk, When we wake up is about the dreams we saw, If it was a good one, ever so slowly it comes to pass, And when it is bad, it waits not but comes with speed.”
There is a good deal of cynicism in the last two lines; after reading them, I am reminded of the words of Al-Jaahiz:
“When the mailman brings news to us, Concerning some evil event he loses no time and makes haste, Thus, when evil, it arrives after a day and a night, And when it is good, it takes its time and arrives after a week.”
A Persian king once imprisoned a wise man, who wrote to him saying, “Every hour that I pass in here, I come closer to ease and you to wrath. So I wait for better times. Meanwhile, you are promised a bitter humiliation.”
After reaching the summit of opulence and extravagance, Ibn ‘Abbaad, the Sultan of Andalusia, faced a crisis. At a time when frivolity and musical instruments and dancers became prevalent in his castle, the Romans attacked him, and so he sought aid from the Sultan of Morocco, Ibn Taashfeen. The latter crossed the ocean with his army and brought with him victory. Ibn ‘Abbaad treated him as an honored guest, allowing him to treat his castles and gardens as if they were his own. But Ibn Taashfeen was observing the situation like a lion, and he had other plans.
After only three days, Ibn Taashfeen and his army attacked the weakened kingdom of Andalusia. Ibn ‘Abbaad was taken captive and his properties were seized. His castles and gardens were destroyed and he was transported to his home province of Agmaat as a prisoner.
The dominion of Andalusia fell into the hands of Ibn Taashfeen, he claimed that the leadership was rightfully his, since it was the people of Andalusia who had summoned him from Morocco in the first place.
Much time passed, and then one day the daughters of Ibn ‘Abbaad managed to visit him in prison. They came barefoot, hungry, wan, and in tears. When he witnessed their pathetic situation, he cried out :
“In past days I would rejoice on special occasions,
But what a miserable occasion is it in Agmaat as a prisoner. You see your daughters emaciated and hungry,
They stitch for people and they own nothing.
They come to see you fearful and weak,
With sad eyes and broken hearts,
Traveling on mud barefoot,
As if those feet never trampled on precious perfume and roses.”

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The fruits of contentment (12-14)

Contentment bears many blessed fruits. More than anything else, by being contented with that which is decreed, one is able to soar to the highest levels of faith and truthfulness.
Some might wish for only good to befall them, for only pleasant things to occur in their lives, but that is not what being GOD’S slave means.Many of the true believer’s characteristics, which include patience, total dependence, contentment, humbleness, and submission of one’s will, only become manifest when one is confronted with something that one dislikes.So being pleased with that which has been decreed does not mean being contented with only those things that suit one’s disposition; the real gauge for true contentment are those times when one goes through a painful situation.And it is not for the human to dictate the terms of preordainment; he can be happy or discontented and it makes no difference except that by being discontented, he is sinning. Human beings do not have much of a choice in regards to the divine decree, the choice and decision thereof belong only with GOD.
He is All­ Knowing and Most High.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Being pleased with GOD (12-15)

We should know that if we are pleased with GOD, He is pleased with us. Therefore if you are pleased with a small amount of sustenance, He will be pleased with you for your small deeds. And if you are pleased no matter what the situation, then you will find that you have earned your Lord’s pleasure, and you will realize that GOD is most pleased with sincere people who are content.On the other hand, there are the hypocrites, GOD rejects their deeds, regardless of whether those deeds are many or few. They are displeased with what GOD sends down and they hate seeking His pleasure.Thus their deeds are performed in vain.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

For the malcontented there is wrath (12-16)

By being dissatisfied with one’s situation and by thinking inappropriate thoughts about GOD, one opens the doors of anxiety and grief.On the other hand, contentment with one’s situation and with GOD’S Decree opens the door to a paradise on earth even before that of the Hereafter.To question and complain about what has been decreed cannot result in self-contentment and inner peace.Instead, it is by submission and acceptance that we can bring about those propitious results, because the One Who sustains all things should never be accused concerning what He has decreed. I still remember the story of Bin ar-Rawandi, the well-known atheist philosopher.
He saw a common ignorant man who lived in castles and who was very wealthy.Bin ar-Rawandi turned to the sky and exclaimed, “I am the philosopher of my generation yet I live in poverty, while this ignorant commoner is rich.This is a random and strange distribution.”
GOD then increased Bin ar-Rawandi in his misery, humiliation, and poverty.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The benefits one reaps by being contented (12-17)

During hard times, if one remains contented with one’s situation, one is able to remain calm and composed.
In contrast, the malcontented heart is filled with sickness, doubt, and instability; such a heart remains rebellious and troubled. It is as if this heart too has a voice, but the words it speaks are ever so different.
The people who possess this kind of heart are contradictory in their dealings. If they have rights upon another, they hurry to claim their rights. Yet if they are sought after to fulfill their obligations, they turn away in disdain. When good befalls them they feel calm and complacent, but when they are put to the test, how sudden is their change for the worse! They are those who have lost not only this world, but also the Hereafter.
So those are two opposites which yield results that are equally opposite in nature: contentment leads to peace, which eventually leads to prosperity; resentment about GOD’S decree leads to anxiety, which eventually leads to failure. You must remember that from the greatest of blessings that GOD can give to one of his slaves is bestowing tranquility upon him, and one of the best ways of achieving tranquility is being contented and pleased with GOD at all times.

Do not challenge your Lord (12-18)

By being contented, one is saved from being like those who challenge their Lord in His decrees and rulings. To understand this, one needs only look at the case of Iblees (the Devil). He argued and disputed with his Lord because he was displeased with His decree and ruling. Those who refuse to believe in GOD only do so because they seek to challenge Him in might and power instead of submitting to Him. Then they abandon His orders, perpetrate what is unlawful, and challenge His divine decree by showing resentment.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Resentment yields no return (12-19)

Being resentful about one’s situation generally issues from two possibilities.Either it is caused by not achieving what one desires, or by the occurrence of what one hates. Yet if one truly believes that whatever has passed him by was never meant for him, and whatever afflicted him was always meant to be, then he has no reason to feel disgruntled.

Safety is in contentment (12-20)

Contentment offers safety in that the contented heart is healthy and free from deceit, corruption, and rancor. And it is only a sound and healthy heart that will be saved from GOD’S punishment, a heart that is safe and free from doubt, disbelief, and the various tricks of the devil. Such a heart is only concerned about how to please GOD.
Bitterness and resentfulness are concepts that are foreign to the healthy heart, and so, the more one is contented with GOD’S Decree, the more healthy and sound one’s heart will be.
Wickedness, corruption, and deceit accompany discontent, while a healthy heart, righteousness, and sincerity accompany contentment. Also, jealousy is another of the fruits of discontent.