The mercury in the saucer
While pondering what could be the subject of today’s interaction, I eventually chanced upon this story of faith and consciousness from Imam al-Ghazalli. You would recall that one of the unique features of his works is this constant effort on his part to use stories to teach morals, to source inspirations from the life of our forebearers that could ginger us into more alliance with our Creator. You would recall too that al-Ghazalli’s whole life was dedicated to the search for the eternal, the preternatural, not the ephemeral.
His whole scholarship was fashioned after the pursuit of that uncanny merger between moral authority and spiritual prosperity. He achieved renown since the medieval period for reminding us, among us others, that modesty in life is the nodus prosperity. The story below is taken from His magnum opus – Ihya Ulum al-Din.
There lived a pious man who spent most of his time praying, fasting and praising the Almighty. Almost all his waking hours were utilized in meditation and devotions. He was very happy with his spiritual progress. No wicked thoughts ever came to his mind and no evil temptations ever entered his heart.
One night, he dreamt a rather unusual dream. He saw that a shopkeeper in the town was far superior to him in spirituality and that he must go to him to learn the basics of true spiritual life. In the morning, the pious man went in search of the shopkeeper. He found his target in the latter’s shop as he was busy with his customers, selling goods and collecting money with a cheerful face. He sat there in a corner of the shop and watched the shopkeeper carefully. “No signs of any spiritual life at all,” he said to himself. His dream could not be true. But then he saw the shopkeeper disappear to pray his Salah. When he returned, he was busy dealing with money matters again.