‘Physiology’ of faith – Part 2
But let nobody misconstrue this- patience is required not only in times of sadness but equally in time of happiness; it is required in moments of pain and at the juncture of pleasure.
The believer who enters the mosque to observe his prayers must exercise patience in order to achieve perfection. The husband who goes to his wife must be patient with her to achieve maximum satisfaction.
To be patient in times of sadness is to recognize that the condition or situation of pain never endures; to be patient when happy moments come your way is to affirm the ephemerality of earthly pleasures. Yes. Pleasure and pain are fleeting moments in human life and lexicon; they come like a dream and pass like a mirage.
Someone once said to me- “are you happy now?” I responded Quranically with the Ayat that reads – “In order that you do not despair over what has eluded you and you may not be extremely joyous over what He has given to you. And the Almighty does not like the self-deluded and boastful (Quran 60: 23)
Thus unto you, my brother! If is true – and indeed I know that you know that this is true – that no leaves drops from a tree either in the town or in the wild except that He is fully apprised of it, it then means He is well aware of your present situation and circumstance.
Unto you my sister! If indeed you know and believe that He desires none of these earthly prizes upon which we sometimes hinge our happiness, then your lack of same presently does not mean your lack of same eternally.
In fact, it is in His Sunnah that He withholds one thing simply because He desires to grant something greater and grander in return.
Thus you must be prepared at all times not to copy from the answer ‘scripts’ of your ‘class mates”.
After all this world is an examination hall (Quran 64: 2). The questions she is ‘answering’, the questions of life and living, of faith and fortune, are completely dissimilar to the ones you are answering.
Your sister and mine must therefore be prepared not to attempt to travel on the other’s lane, the lane of life. He must avoid the temptation to want to travel using the other’s vehicle.
The word ‘vehicle’ becomes a metaphor- a metaphor for the track we have been programmed to tread; the track every soul found on earth would tread, a distinct path.
If indeed the finger prints of identical twins are dissimilar, it means we must constantly acknowledge that we are travelling on our tracks and paths not on someone else’s. If it appears fuzzy and foggy, it is because your perception is sickly and wobbly. The Almighty does not author and authorize confusion.
While pondering all of the above, the story of Suhayl bn Amr found its way to my desk. Suhayl bin Amr was one of the aristocrats of Quraysh. He hated the Prophet with passion so much so that when his sons and daughter accepted Islam, he tortured them in terrible ways. To be great you need an enemy. Suhayl was one of those enemies the Prophet was ‘blessed’ with. He was eloquent and would say horrible things about Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w).
During the battle of Badr, Suhayl was captured. Umar (r.a) asked the Prophet whether he could be given permission to ‘deal’ with him. But the Prophet shook his head and told Umar: “No, O! Umar. Perhaps you will see in him something that you will praise him for.” The Prophet was patient. He believed that people could change.
Yet after Suhayl was released, he did not change. On the contrary, he joined in all of the battles against the Muslims. It was Suhayl who concluded the treaty of Hudaybiyyah with the Muslims in which he refused to accept reference to Prophet Muhammad as “the Messenger of the Almighty”.
Suhayl eventually accepted Islam after the conquest of Makkah, when he was over seventy years old.
Slowly, he started to change. It is never late to find the Almighty. He started praying and fasting. He started learning from Muadh bin Jabal, who was younger than him in age and not from Quraysh. He recognized that human value does not come from status, money or family, but from being servants of the Most Merciful. He was grateful that he did not end up like Abu Jahal and Abu Lahab. He was fortunate that he had no monuments written specially for him in hell. His name was not registered among those who would suffer eternal damnation.
If the Almighty is patient with someone like Suhayl, do you think that He is not patient with you? Do you think that when you sincerely intend to become better and you take the steps, no matter how small, that He gets bored or tired of you? So do not let the fact that the road seems long deter you. There will always be something to improve, and that is a good thing, because it means we are constantly growing. The companions were always evolving. They slipped up, but they never stepped out of the path.
Moreover, they were not complacent. They knew themselves. If it was anger they needed to work on, then that was what they worked on. If it was prayer, then they focused on that. If it was laziness, then that.
Thus do not be so hard on yourself when you cannot get something right. Do not be frustrated because you feel you have squandered all of your life in play, and now have no time to make up for it. Suhayl was seventy when he accepted Islam. He was so grateful for that gift that he took the steps.
The past only matters inasmuch as you can learn from it and from your mistakes. You can only cease being patient with Him the moment you take your last breadth. You can say it is finished only when the shroud is brought preparatory for his burial. Even then another journey begins!!!