Ease, Tolerance, Remembrances, Comparing
Issue 512 » January 16, 2009 - Muharram 19, 1430
Al-Baqarah (The Cow)
Chapter 2: Verse 185 (partial)
Yusr (ease, tolerance) consists of accepting the desires until the establishment of their undesirableness. It protects the Muslim from self-closure to the world, from deadening conversation. It urges him to affirm and say yea to life, to new experience. It encourages him to address the new data with his scrutinizing reason, his constructive endeavour, and thereby to enrich his experience and life, to move his culture and civilization ever forward.
In religion - and there can hardly be anything more important or prior in human relations - tolerance transforms confrontation and reciprocal condemnations between the religions into a scholarly investigation of the genesis and development of the religions in order to separate the historical additions from the original revelation. Yusr also immunizes the Muslim against any life-denying tendencies and assures him the minimum measure of optimism required to maintain health, balance and a sense of proportion, despite all the tragedies and afflictions which befall human life. That is what God has assured us in the above verse.
"Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life" - Ismail Raji al Faruqi, pp. 46-48
Our daily remembrances, in and of themselves, have no healing or protecting power. Those remembrances are neither physicians nor guardians. They are merely a reason for us to enjoy Allah's protection and care. Allah is our protector and everything that happens takes place according to His decree. Allah indeed protects his devotees on account of their worship, devotion, supplications, penance and good deeds.
Our daily remembrances are just like our supplications. When we beseech Allah for something, and do so with sincerity, presence of mind, certainty of faith, and positive expectations, we know that Allah answers our prayers. However, Allah, in his wisdom may answer our supplications in different ways. He may give us specifically what we ask for. He may, instead, remove a harm from us that would otherwise have befallen us. He may also postpone the answer to our supplication and give its benefit to us in the Hereafter, when we need it the most.
Rain clouds are merely a reason for precipitation and not a guarantee of rainfall whenever they pass overhead. If Allah wills, the clouds will bring rain. If He so wills they will pass over and drop their rain at some other time and place. In the same way, our supplications and remembrances are a reason for our attaining Allah's protection and reward. It is Allah's will when and how He will answer them.
It needs to be said that when a person beseeches Allah with a distracted mind or with a pessimistic attitude, the supplication might not be answered at all.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Allah does not accept the supplication of an inattentive and distracted heart." [Sunan al-Tirmidhi]
The same applies to our daily remembrances. If we chant them ritualistically, without any presence of mind, we cannot expect to attain the full benefit of those remembrances. Our remembrances are essentially supplications. They are a means by which we beseech Allah, invoke His name, and remember Him. Therefore, if we recite the words of our remembrances insincerely, or with heedlessness or negativity in our hearts, we might very well be deprives of the blessings of our recitation.
"Supplications & Remembrances" - Sami Al-Majid
Comparing yourself to others is nothing but bad news. Why? Because we're all on different development timetables. Socially, mentally, and physically. Although some of us are like the popular tree, which grows like a weed the moment it's planted, others are like the bamboo tree, which shows no growth for four years but then grows ninety feet in year five.
Life is like a great obstacle course. Each person has their own course, separated from every other course by tall walls. Your course comes complete with customized obstacles designed specifically for your personal growth. So what good does it do to climb the wall to see how well your neighbour is doing or to check out his obstacles in comparison to your own?
Building your life based on how you stack up compared to others is never good footing. If I get my security from the fact that my GPA is higher than yours or my friends are more popular than yours, then what happens when someone comes along with a higher GPA or more popular friends? Comparing ourselves makes us feel like a wave of the sea tossed to and fro by the wind. We go up and down, feeling inferior one moment and superior the next, confident one moment and intimidated the next. The only good comparison is comparing yourself against your own potential.
"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" - Sean Covey, pp. 156, 157