Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Patience, Servanthood and Adab - a Divine Manna-back guarantee

Psst... Do not despair in the rude manners of your fellow creatures.
God Himself sent me to keep you company.
INSULTS AND ANGELS. An old friend shared this on his FB wall earlier this morning. It is an oral tradition of the Prophet(pbuh), as narrated by Abu Dawud. It involves the Prophet and Abu Bakar, his bestest ever friend-cum-companion in this life and in the next. It went something like this -

Once the Prophet s.a.w. was sitting with his Companions, and one person used insulting words against Abu Bakr r.a. causing him pain. But Abu Bakr r.a. remained silent. The person again used bitter words against Abu Bakr r.a., and still Abu Bakr r.a. did not respond. The third time when this ignorant person hurt Abu Bakr r.a. with his tongue, Abu Bakr r.a. tried answering back.
At this point the Prophet s.a.w. got up. Abu Bakr r.a. asked him, “Are you displeased with me, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet s.a.w. replied, “No, but (when you remained silent) an angel came down from the heaven responding to this man’s talk. But the moment you started replying to that man, the angel went away and the devil sat down. And I cannot sit where the devil is sitting.” (Abu Dawud)

I wonder what was the insulting words used to have caused hurt to Abu Bakar. I don't do Arabic, so I don't know any of the curses and insults available to them. Was it something like "You son of a cross-eyed camel!" Or maybe something along the line of "If I was a camel dying of thirst in the desert and found my way to an oasis and YOU were there, I would look for the next oasis..." We can only conjecture. Abu Bakar (ra) is well known but little is known of him. He is the silent one, compared to the towering personalities of the other uber-Companions of the Prophet, Umar and Ali. Usman however is also known to be shy and reticent, a soul of modesty.

When I think Arab and I think insults, somehow or rather, Camels always
come into the picture. I am predictable that way, I guess. 

And when the angel came down 'responding to this man's talk', what does that mean? Did the angel talk back? And obviously even if the angel responded on behalf of Abu Bakar, it is clear that the guy didn't hear it, because he went on haranguing dear Abu Bakar. Imagine if you were insulting someone and suddenly a disembodied voice from nowhere spoke with angelic gravity, "Hey, mortal! Stop it, thou art a bully!" I think you would have fainted out of fright. But it didn't happen in this case. I wonder why...

And when did the devil come into the picture? Was he a quiet witness all along, observing the tirade? And why did he sit down?

PATIENCE. I guess the morale of the story, at this level (which is not very high, mind you) at least, is that you do not allow your ego to respond to the provocation of another's ego. You just take it. You sit down, you smile and you ignore. As the Christians like to say, you turn the other cheek. And you have faith in God that He will not leave you alone in the face of unwarranted rebuke or insult. Thus, you avoid giving the devil the evil enjoyment to savour success in inducing conflict between man and man.

I AM SURROUNDED BY IDIOTS! It is not easy - this patience exercise which the Prophet(pbuh) likes to stress upon his followers. Patience, patience, patience. Servanthood, servanthood, servanthood. And Adab, Adab, Adab (good manners). None of this virtuous troika is easy. Not when we KNOW that there are fools and bad people we must contend and tolerate on a daily basis.

It's population is small because it is not easy to get in.
...But you can.

BUT THEN AGAIN... I myself have been a fool many(MANY) times in my life. And I have erred and done bad things too. Yet my family tolerates me. And so do my friends and co-workers. Hmm... but I have not done much insulting of people though (my brother Poon might debate this claim). Maybe I should, and bring an angel down from heaven... (I am just kidding here).

Patience. Servanthood. Adab. Words to live by, sunshine. It works fine more than 1,300 years ago, it will work fine now. Manna-back guarantee from God Himself. 

God bless you!

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

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