Monday, August 5, 2013

FORGIVENESS, FEAR OF GOD - The Ramadan Story, Part 18

Forgive me, o' Lord
Forgive me, o' Patience
For not knowing your better,

Forgive me, o' Wisdom
For thinking I have already attained you,

Forgive me, o' Hope
For abandoning you again and again,

Forgive me, o' Beauty
For failing to distinguish you from Vanity,

Forgive me, o' Mercy
For putting limits to your vastness,

Forgive me, o' Love
For putting a lie to you
And accepting a mere facsimile,

Forgive me, o' Me
For wavering in my quest
To understand You.

Forgive me, o' Forgiveness
By the Light of the Moon
And the Ocean that washes upon my shore,
I am standing here beneath the crying seagulls,
Counting my daily errors and unspoken curses,
Realising that more than ever before,
I am in need of Your Attention,
Your Conciliation,
Your Forgiveness...

Ramadan is the time not only to restrain
our hunger, but perhaps more importantly,
our wayward ego.
The Ego Sickness. Every single day, there is always something that happens to send me scurrying like a frightened mouse back to God. And what 'happens' is actually me, driven by some angry thought, bitter recriminations and hubris, motivated by my wayward ego. And it happens so often that I am led to realise that at this juncture of my life, I am more comfortable with my ego, allowing it to become my habit, which of course means that my ego has become me. This is not good news.

Good and Bad Days. Well, awareness of our own sickness is a beginning, I guess. And there is no better month than the month of Ramadan to try to bring our ego under containment and control. For the obligatory fasting is intended to also help quell our ego and nafs (base-desires). This requires some practice, because I have witnessed even the most gentle souls breaking into anger and impatience during fasting, as it occurred today just minutes before iftar (breaking of the fast at sunset) between a newly married couple who are otherwise contented and happy on any other day. But they soon get over it, and were back to their lovey-dovey default mode.

Fear only God. I guess we all have our peaks and valleys, and though we always try to put a brave happy face, we are in fact constantly being pulled and pushed by some anxiety or subconscious fear of something - money, health, marriage and relationships, work, tax, debt and career failures. To this, the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s) has said and exemplified the important and very fundamental tenet of the Muslim faith, which is - fear only God, so that you need not fear anything else.

39. Taqwa (With Poon)
Fear of God is not paranoia,
It is the certainty that you need not fear anything but Him,
Since nothing exists but Him.

It is therefore not the affirmation of your fears,
But the affirmation of His Oneness.
It is not the negation of His Mercy,
But the negation of all that is illusory.

Nice... but mind the mountain goat.
Muhammad's Faith. The Islam of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) isn't and has never been the hermetic, lets-leave-the-world-and-find-a-lonely-mountain-top-to-occupy. After all, not many mountain tops are lonely, and you would probably be unfairly evicting a mountain goat or a golden eagle who has lived there for generations. No, your life belongs here, amidst the crowd of humanity, striving and working for a honest living. Being born, growing up, learning and working, getting married and having children, before withering gently into contented, forgetful dotage. In this sense, what the Faith of Muhammad has to offer are the tools and instruments that we need (if we only knew better!) to face such a life, with a good heart and a healthy active conscience. And to leave this world one day, if not better, at least not making it any worse, for our children and grandchildren. And one of the greatest sunnah (Prophetic tradition) is to fear Allah (s.w.t.). For that is the equalising factor between people, whether you are rich or poor, old or young, a king or a beggar in the gutter...

O' mighty kings! Fear God!
O' religious preachers! Fear God!
O' presidents and prime ministers! Fear God!
O' generals and leaders of men! Fear God!
Fear God and obey His Prophet!

And how worthy is God to be the only centre of your fear and anxiety to please! For no one, nothing created or uncreated, past, present or future, known or unknown, will ever love you more or know you better than your Maker, who coincidentally, is also my Maker... a.k.a. God Almighty, Allah (s.w.t.) - the One God and most Beloved of His Beloved, Muhammad Habibullah (s.a.w.s.).

And that is the happy conclusion of our travel through this form of 'fear'... into the all-welcoming arms of God - the Most Compassionate, Most Merciful, Lord of Mercy, Giver of Mercy, that being none other than Muhammad (s.a.w.s.), the Mercy to all the Worlds...

Fear of God is the balloon by which you can float above
the valley of illusory fears that has plagued not just
you, but all of humanity since time immemorial.

So are we not blessed in infinite ways, sunshine? 

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

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