Another day, another earthquake. Certainly not a hopeful way to start this post but indeed sometimes hope is hard. Perhaps that is why it is called ‘jihad’ (the struggle). The jihad to be steadfast, upright, positive, proactive, always working for a better world no matter what goes on around you. Yes, it is hard. Hard to smile, when you sometimes want to cry. Hard to keep believing and working when the mountain to climb is large and the way not clear. But then look at this wise saying from our beloved prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him);
“Wondrous are the affairs of the believer. His affairs are all good, and this is only the case for the believer. When something pleasing happens to him, he is thankful, and it is good for him. When something harmful happens to him, he is patient, and it is good for him.” (Sahih Muslim)
SubhahanaAllah! So then, true faith equates to an always happy disposition. You see, being patient is not a condition of worry and anxiety, rather it is the opposite, being a condition of joyful anticipation, a peaceful state of waiting. How can this be unless we completely believe in the justice, the ultimate justice and ultimate ‘rahma’ of God.
[Rahma is a fast becoming my favourite word and it’s meaning so deep it indeed begs the time to explain. Composed of the three radicals ‘r-h-m’, it includes all these meanings; love, mercy, compassion, nurturing, kindness, graciousness. In the Quran it is the first attribute Allah azza wajal uses to describe himself. Appearing in the second verse of Surah Fatiha, the opening chapter. One of the beauties of the arabic language is the root word system, where all the meanings of the derivatives of the root add to each word’s import. I am not doing a good job of explaining this so I’ll keep it simple and get to the point. One of the meanings of the root ‘r-h-m’ is womb. Yes, that beautiful complete-system-capsule we all spent the first months of life here on earth in! A safe, nurturing, loving, place where we are at complete peace, all our needs looked after. This meaning then given to the attribute of God. The Creator of mothers and source of ALL ‘rahma’ in the world. The scholars say that is why women are given such a high place in the islamic theology, as they embody this divine essence of Rahma. Indeed, of the attributes or ‘names’ of God we know in our tradition, about half are considered feminine while the other half masculine, for example, ‘jameel = ‘beautiful’, is feminine while ‘jalaal’ = ‘majestic’, is masculine. And that is why then God is beyond gender… what points these are to ponder upon…
ومن كل شئ خلقنا زوجين لعلكم تذكرون And of every thing We have created pairs: That ye may receive instruction. (Quran 51:49)
But I have digressed a fair bit. My point was that sometimes grasping that immensity of love and mercy that is the divine attribute itself, is sufficient to rid the heart of anything but hope and joy. Talking about ‘rahma’ and its presence in the world though, one must comment on the sad state existent in some Muslim societies, where this immense source of ‘rahma’ in the community, i.e, women, are not given the place our beloved prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) gave to the fairer sex. As many have said, ‘if the women would play a greater part in world leadership many of the wars would have been averted’! Remember the story of Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba and the prophet Sulaiman (peace be upon him) in the Quran? Commentators on that story mention that it was Bilqis’s wisdom that averted a war and lead to harmony between their kingdoms. But I am in grave danger of another long digression, so inshaAllah more on this and other fascinating stories later on]
But coming back to where I began, then indeed an ‘effort-ful’ grasp of ‘rahma’ is sufficient to keep the heart full of hope. And we know that God is just. Completely just. So none will be wronged in the least. Our struggle then to be patient and wait that real justice.
And while we wait, our test is that we must remain true to what we know of justice. What for example, we learn in our holy book about justice. What the prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) taught us about justice. We have been taught, nay, commanded, that we must stand up for justice, for truth, even if it is against our own selves.
‘O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that ye do. (Quran 4:135)
This we as Muslims must do. So after this long preamble to come to the point of this post. We must protect the rights of our brothers, no matter what religion, creed or denomination. No matter if they don’t care much for us. The events in Pakistan with the so called ‘blasphemy laws’ (heaven only knows where these came from, I find the whole thing very mind boggling!) and the seemingly open support by many for who can only be called a murderer has been incredibly painful to witness. In fact it is one of those things that one intrinsically can’t stomach so one turns away from. However here are details of the incidents for those of you not yet aware of it.
And that is why I was so especially glad to hear of the candlelight vigil to be held outside the Pakistani embassy in this city organized by ad hoc groups protesting the state Pakistan’s christian minority finds itself in. These efforts need more press I think.
And of this by the good people of Egypt, Muslim and Christians protesting attacks on the coptic community.
So then there is indeed hope. And in whatever way we can, whenever, wherever we are, when we find injustice we must oppose it. Trusting in the rahma of Allah, that trust keeping our hearts full of light and patience. A good struggle, to purify our souls.
Consider this powerful hadith from the messenger of God (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him). What a constant barometer for the condition of our faith it is!
“None of you truly believes until you love for your brother what you love for yourself” (Bukhari)
Thank you for your patience with this long not very well penned piece. Sharing has helped me and I thank you for that help. God bless and help us all.
Peace be upon you.