49. What is your God like?
One day someone asked me,
“O’ stranger, what is your God like?”
And this was what I wished
I was able to reply,
“My God is kind, like me.
My God is generous, like me.
My God is truthful, like me.
My God is patient, like me.
My God is understanding, like me.
My God is loving, like me.
My God is merciful, like me.
“He is all that?”, he asked.
“Yes. And so much more.
For He is not my God.
He is our God.”
And thus would I conclude,
“So if you wish
To know Him,
Then know me.”
The above prose does not make sense perhaps, unless the stranger is one of the Prophets of God, and even more so if he is the Seal of the Prophets himself, Muhammad ibn Abdullah (pbuh), born in Mecca, passing on in Medina but a Mercy to all the world(s).
And if it is not the Prophet Muhammad, then the stranger could very well be one of his Companions (Umar perchance?), and in that context God is taken out of the equation, and in His absence the Prophet becomes the best guide to God.
And if it is not a Companion, then it may be one of the Saints of Islam, say perhaps Shaykh Abdul Qader Geylani, and the other person he is referring to would be a Companion, Salman al Farsi, for instance.
You can guess where this is heading. He he he. The stranger is you.
I had a long chat with my friend, Mr. Ikhlas this morning. Many fascinating things we covered (which I hope to share with you here one day) but this is one nugget of advice he gave me. "You must have the best of ambitions. Do not allow the Prophet, the Companions or the Saints to become a veil between you and success in this world and in the next. The holy ones are meant to be gates of knowledge, not veils of knowledge."
"I am a little afraid, Ikhlas." I confessed. "Who am I, and who are they? I am worse than nothing, I am a bad sinner."
"No, my friend." He admonished me. "Why are you sitting out here by the gate of knowledge, pussy-footing at the peripherals? Are you waiting for the holy ones to invite you in? There is the gate. There is the door. Walk through!"
(Easy for him to say, I thought)"Walk through? How?"
Mr.Ikhlas then chuckled, "He he he. The easiest thing in the world - just ask. Ask God - o' Lord, however you have made Shaykh Abdul Qader to be, make me like him! However You have made Shaykh Jelaluddin Rumi to be, make me like him! However You have made Khalid al Walid to be, make me like him! However you have made my Mawlana to be, make me like him!"
Then he paused, before giving me the clinching reason. "After all, Taufiq, if you ask for something good from God. Would He deny you? If you asked your mother for something, if it was in her powers to give, would she have not granted you your wish? Are you telling me God does not love you as much and even better than your own mother? Or are you suggesting that God's power to grant His servants their most impassioned desire is limited or somehow constricted?
The story of Mr. Ikhlas is an interesting and continuing tale that traverse across decades of his long life, and crisscrosses between the world of Man, the world of the Unseen beings and the world of the Djinns. But essentially, at this point in his life, it is to the world of Man that Mr. Ikhlas belongs. Contented at home and happy to be in his skin... perhaps that is why he can come up with some poignant and wonderful prayers.
I just thought I would share this prayer with you today, on the eve of Malaysia's Hari Merdeka. So be not reticent in your congress with your God, sunshine. Ask! Ask! Ask and never stop asking!
wa min Allah at-taufiq
Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way