The ‘beauty’ behind the tragedy
No disaster strikes upon the earth or among yourselves except that it is in a register before we bring it into being …In order that you not despair over what has eluded you and not exult [in pride] over what He has given you… (Surah al-Hadid: 22-23)
Hardly would a day pass me by except that I struggle to know the unknown-for-unknowable; to comprehend the seemingly incomprehensible, to make sense of what constantly appear, given our limited knowledge, ludicrous. But here is what know, of Him the Almighty, in His relationship with us. I know that He is the Creator. His creation of entities in nature is not past perfect but present continuous. He creates that which He desires out of entities of His desires whenever He desires. He creates out of love not hatred of His creatures. It grieves Him to see His creatures in pain and grief.
I know He is al-Rahman. He is the Most Beneficent. He is al-Raheem- the Merciful. I equally know that He is the Most Compassionate. He is more compassionate than the most compassionate of all bearers of the womb. He derives no pleasure from seeing His creatures go through pain and grief. But He decrees pain not as an end in itself but a means towards a nobler and enviable end. He takes the knife through the furnace in order for it to become sharper. He subjects His chosen servants through tribulation in order for them to attain to higher pedestals.
Go through their histories and biographies. The history of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s). The history of Prophet Nuh (a.s) The history of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). These are great men who suffered greatly in order to be great. Prophet Ibrahim suffered delays, not denials, and tribulations. He was taken through the crucibles of faith and temptations. Prophet Nuh found himself in the midst of the enemy; his saga essays the impossibility of earthly successes in the absence of the enemy. Prophet Muhammad lost those who were dearest to him, male and female, before he became the greatest man in history.
Thus he regretted missing his flight. He therefore bemoaned the day he kissed the planet earth at birth. He did all that because he missed his flight. Inside the plane, she sat in her seat, full of joy and happiness. She thanked the day she emerged from her mother’s womb. Things are looking up, not down for her. Life could not be better than now.
Unfortunately. It turned out that that particular flight had been destined in the womb of time to be a coffin. The plane turned out to be the last port of exit from life and first port of entry into the hereafter for her, for him, for them: “in order that you do not despair over what has eluded you and not be exulted [in pride] over what He has given to you”. Consider the story below. A brother who thought it would be good to share it with you sent it to me.
A photographer was with a group of adventurers for a week. He took great pictures of the group on hills, valleys, seasides, meadows, forests and several other beautiful sites. On the last day of his assignment, his group met another group, which also had a photographer. The photographer of the second group requested that he be allowed to take a picture of the first group. The request was granted. He immediately took the photograph, printed it and gave the group leader. At the end of their tours, they paid off their own photographer and told him that his pictures would be published in an international magazine. In curiosity, he wanted to know which of his pictures would be made the cover page picture. He was overwhelmed with sorrow when he heard that it was not any of his pictures that would make the cover page, but the picture of the other photographer who just snapped them one shot. “Your own pictures will not be good enough for the cover of our magazine”, said the group leader.
This photographer went home sad. He thought of his great work for a whole week. He did not know why the other photographer’s picture would be the cover page while none of his pictures would be used. His sorrow lasted several weeks and he felt he had failed even at his best.
Three months later the magazine was out. To the amazement of the sad photographer, he began to receive several calls from people who knew him and even those who did not know him. “We saw your picture on the Cover Page of an international tourism magazine”, they said to him. In his curiosity, he reached out to a store to buy a copy of the magazine and the first picture he saw was the cover page. To his amazement, of all the pictures taken by the group, this was the only picture in which he appeared with his camera hanging on his chest. He had been doing his profession with skill. He could not have appeared in any of the pictures except the one taken by the other photographer. But inside the magazine were the pictures he had taken on every page. Willie, the photographer then called the tour group’s leader to tell him he had seen a copy of the magazine. The group leader then addressed him thus: “You did such a marvelous job that our group decided on the last day that we needed a picture with you to announce you to the world. That was why we told the other photographer to capture us with you inside”
Most times, we do not understand why certain things happen to us. We feel bad and condemn ourselves while indeed the Almighty has a better idea. He always does. His thoughts and ways are always higher than ours.
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