Al hamdulillāh [i], when Allah led me to the wellspring of Islam, I recognized the sweetness of its cool, refreshing water. Al hamdulillāh after much time spent wandering the desert of my inner life, I didn’t think: “Well, maybe there is a deeper, clearer pool over there somewhere.”
A dear, Muslim friend and teacher whom I had recently met had warned me of the rusty, cracked pail of fuqarā[ii] life; how sometimes the reddish-brown stuff rubs off on hands, how not all water drawn reaches the lips. There would even be a few bugs that would fall into the water, which I would soon discover…but I drank anyway. Allah soothed my heart and quenched my thirst, al hamdulillāh, each time…
Many wanderers passed by me – some I knew, some I did not – “That water you drink, it’s not like ours,” they commented, embracing their status quo, “you look different.”
“Try some!” I invited, impassioned by Divine Drink and the new view of reality it offered. “It’s what you’ve been looking for.”
“No thanks,” most replied. “It’s crazy,” some deduced, “too risky,” others concluded.
Knowing that there is always plenty of something to go around, even blame and bias, to them and their missed opportunities, I simply waved.
Already I was learning the less we know, the more we fool ourselves, and the more we know (of Qur’an and the Prophet’s way [may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him and his family]) and struggle to apply, the more we see how we fool ourselves.
I am still learning that in this life there is really only one site of instigation and that is www.me.now.
Every event is a test and at this point only – the now – are the missed opportunities. Whether my nature be male or female, it all falls back on one thing: what I do at this moment. My missed opportunities are the moments I fail to struggle, to rise to the occasion in front of me.
Over the years, my life has completely transformed in its outward situation and yet the essence of my struggle remains the same:
Will I be kind, faced with inhumanity? Will I be generous even in poverty? Will I have compassion when confronted with coldness? Will I forgive my provoker? Will I have patience with affliction at the hands of others? Will I be content with my Lord’s Decree and pleased with what He has given me? Will I remember Him constantly, in my actions? In my speech? Will I be grateful? Not complain?
Will I hold my self back?
“None of you will have authentic faith until your hearts are made right, nor will your hearts be made right until your tongues be made right, nor will your tongues be made right until your actions be made right.” ~The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) [iii]
As I continue to drink Islam’s pure, sweet guidance, both near and far from the blessed well there is a chill in the air. On the outskirts, injustice rages. Many mistakes are being made, many boundaries transgressed. There is a lot of confusion and shouting and a whole lot of fear.
I remind myself that every Firaun [iv], every treachery – whether close to home or abroad – although perhaps not within His Pleasure, is not without His Permission.
Remembering that there is always plenty of something to go around, even blame and bias, I remind myself, too: to them and their missed opportunities, I can simply wave. My preoccupation with other than Him is only a distraction.
To this day, what my real preoccupation needs to be is that I might lose nothing.
Since losing nothing of my self would be one of the most tragic missed opportunities of all.
“…And when I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hands with which he strikes and his legs with which he walks.* ~Hadith Qudsi”
*For whoever has reached this state, nothing remains in his heart but Allah (His love, knowledge of Him and remembrance of Him). Whenever the heart is filled with Allah’s Majesty, everything else is erased. Nothing remains of the slave’s whims or desires except what Allah wants.
[i] Transliteration of the Arabic language: the praise belongs to Allah
[ii] A group of Sufi aspirants
[iii] Abbreviation for: Peace be upon him
[iv] Pharaoh. Tide of the Ancient Egyptian rulers, particularly the one who rejected the Prophet Musa (Moses), peace he on him, and tried to have him killed. They were famous for their cruelty and disbelief. See Holy Qur’an, (Al-Baqara 2:49), (Ta Ha 20:9-80), (Al-Qasas 28:1-42), (Al-Fajr 89:1O-14)