May 14

The Finer Thought

Imam Mohammad Al -Baqir has said:

“Haseebu qabla an tuhasibu” – “Do your accounting before the accounting is done for you”

The poem below sums up how our each day should be:

The Finer Thought

How fine it is at night to say:

“I have not wronged a soul to-day.

I have not by a word or deed,

In any breast sowed anger’s seed,

Or caused a fellow being pain;

Nor is there on my crest a stain

That shame has left. In honour’s way,

With head erect, I’ve lived this day.”

When night slips down and day departs

And rest returns to weary hearts,

How fine it is to close the book

Of records for the day, and look

Once more along the traveled mile

And find that all has been worthwhile;

To say: “In honour I have toiled;

My plume is spotless and unsoiled.”

Yet cold and stern a man may be

Retaining his integrity;

And he may pass from day to day

A spirit dead, in living clay,

Observing strictly morals, laws,

Yet serving but a selfish cause;

So it is not enough to say:

“I have not stooped to shame to-day!”

It is a finer, nobler thought

When day is done and night has brought

The contemplative hours and sweet,

And rest to weary hearts and feet,

If man can stand in truth and say:

“I have been useful here to-day.

Back there is one I chanced to see

with hope newborn because of me.

“This day in honour I have toiled;

My shining crest is still unsoiled;

But on the mile I leave behind

Is one who says that I was kind;

And someone hums a cheerful song

Because I chanced to come along.”

Sweet rest at night that man shall own

Who has not lived his day alone.

 

BY: Edgar A. Guest

July 25

Reflections:

He sends down water from the clouds, then valleys flow (with water) according to their measure, and the torrent bears along the swelling foam, and from what they melt in the fire for making ornaments or apparatus arises a similar scum; thus does Allah compare truth and falsehood; then as for the scum, it passes away as a worthless thing, and as for that which profits people, it stays on the earth, thus does Allah set forth parables. (13:17)

This fascinating verse of the Holy Qur’an is full of meaning and depth. The example that Allah gives in this verse is that of the rain which falls on the earth. Different parts of the earth accept it according to their capacity. The water then flows along, with foam forming on top. This foam is similar to the scum produced when metal is melted. Allah likens the foam and the scum to falsehood, while the water that remains and is beneficial to human beings is likened to truth.

Pondering over this verse reveals many hidden meanings. Through this parable Almighty Allah wants us to realise the difference between truth and falsehood. Using an example that everyone can see, the Almighty points out simple facts that we often overlook and ignore. How many of us have seen the foam forming over water, and dismissed it as just worthless dirt! To us nature is to be seen and enjoyed, and perhaps seen as a proof of the existence of a Creator. But in this verse Allah asks us to go beyond that. He wants us to derive insights from observing the foam and scum produced in nature.

One teacher of the Holy Qur’an described his fascination with this verse in a lesson saying that he actually went out once when it was raining, and observed as the water fell on the earth. He followed the path of the water as it flowed, and watched as the foam began to swell. He had never observed the phenomena with such thoughtful eyes before. He saw the foam rise and gush forward, but saw it settle down as the water flowed to flatter surfaces. Eventually the foam disappeared and the water calmed down. Such, he realised, was the transient nature of falsehood.

Commentators of the Holy Qur’an have given many points when talking about this verse. Some of these points are summarised below:

  1. The rain falls equally on the surfaces of the earth, but the acceptance and absorption by the ground depends on the ground quality. Some soil will absorb enough water for growth, and the water turns it into a fertile place. Other types of soil will not have the capacity to absorb much, and will remain barren. Such is the example of Divine revelation and the human heart. The wisdom and guidance from the Almighty comes for everyone, but each human being accepts and derives benefit from it according to his capacity.

  2. Truth and falsehood are sometimes difficult to distinguish. Often, falsehood is disguised as a form of truth, and has many advocates who will vouch for it. This point is especially true in today’s modern world, where truth and falsehood in moral and ethical issues are often indistinguishable. In the verse above, the Almighty gives us the following signs to identify truth and falsehood:

a) Truth is always useful and beneficial. Like the flowing water that is a source of life, truth gives life and spirit to everything it comes into contact with. Falsehood on the other hand, is useless and superfluous. The foam on top of the water does not quench any thirst, nor cause any greenery to grow. It has no benefit for the human being.

b) Falsehood is always on top, making a lot of noise and movement. It invites attention and seems large, but like the foam is empty inside. Truth is humble, quiet, and content to stay at the bottom. It has weight and value, and does not need to attract attention to be worthy. Imam Ali (a) says: Truth is heavy and wholesome, while falsehood is light and bitter.

c) Truth is strong and always depends on itself. It is often used as a support. Imam Ali (a) says: Truth is the strongest support. Falsehood depends on others to exist. It tries to disguise itself in the dress of truth, and use it to support itself.

  1. Truth will always overcome falsehood, even if it takes some time. Those who have neither patience nor wisdom to know that this will eventually be the outcome are deceived by falsehood. Wise people however, are content to wait. They know that truth will ultimately emerge the winner. Almighty Allah says in Surat al-Anbiya: Nay! We cast the truth against the falsehood, so that it breaks its head, and lo! It vanishes. (21:18). The foam may be strong for a while, but will eventually disappear.

  2. When the water calms down and enters a flat area, the foam subsides and soon disappears. Clear and pure water then becomes visible. When human beings become tranquil and are ready to see the truth, the falsehood on top of the truth subsides and disappears. Truth, in all its purity, is then recognised and accepted.

The above verse of the Holy Qur’an is a beautiful example of how human beings can learn much from nature. It is an eye-opener, reminding us to walk on earth with eyes and ears open for understanding. It is a great loss if we pass by such wonderful lessons of nature, seeing them but not really understanding them. That is why the Almighty reminds us often in the Holy Qur’an to ponder over creation; Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alteration of the night and the day, there are signs for a people who understand. (3:190)

Sources

Ayatullah Nasir Makarim Shirazi (ed.), Tafsire Namune

Agha Muhsin Qara’ati Kashani, Tafsire Noor

Muhammad al-Ray Shahree, Mizanul Hikmah

The Academy for learning Islam

Reflections: Issue # 16 April 2012

July 23

WHEN I DIE – By Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi

When my coffin is being taken out, you must never think I am missing this world Don’t shed any tears, don’t lament or feel sorry: I am not falling into a monster’s abyss.



When you see my corpse being carried, don’t cry for my leaving. I am not leaving: I am arriving at eternal love.



When you leave me in the grave, don’t say goodbye: Remember a grave is only a curtain for the paradise behind. You’ll only see me descending into a grave: Now watch me rise. How can there be an end when the sun sets or the moon goes down ? It looks like the end, it looks like a sunset, but in reality it is dawn.



When the grave locks you up, that is when your soul is freed. Have you ever seen a seed fallen to earth, not rise with a new life ? Why should you doubt the rise of a seed named human ? Have you ever seen a bucket lowered into a well coming back empty ? Why lament for a soul when it can come back like Joseph from the well.



When for the last time you close your mouth, your words and soul will belong to the world of no place no time.



                                     

I  AM  FREE

      

Don’t grieve for me, for now I am free.  I’m following the path God laid for me. I took His hand when I heard him call, I turned my back and left it all. I could not stay another day, to laugh, to love, to work or play.



If my leaving has left a void, then fill it with remembered joy. Be not burdened with times of sorrow, I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.



My life’s been full, I savoured much, good friends, good family, a loved one’s touch.



Lift up your heart and share with me, God wanted me now, He set me free.

July 13

Fable Of The Porcupine

It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals died because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together. This way they covered and protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions even though they gave off heat to each other.    

After awhile, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen.  

So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth.  Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. They learned to live with the little wounds that were caused by the closeness  with their companions, but the most important part of it, was the heat that came from the others  enabled them to survive. 

 

Moral of the story: The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but the best is when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others and admire the other person’s good qualities.

LEARN TO LOVE THE PRICKLY PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE.