THE SEVENTH WORD
The Door to Human Happiness
Belief in the All-Mighty Creator and the Hereafter is precious, since such belief is used to reveal the universe and open the door to happiness. Patiently relying on the Creator, beseeching the Provider in gratitude, and seeking refuge in Him are invaluable medicines for all ailments. Heeding the Qur’an, abiding by its laws, praying, and refraining from major sins provide us with the documents and passport needed for our journey to Eternity.16 They are a light for the grave and a provision for the next life.
If you want to understand this truth, understand the following story: Once a soldier in the middle of a battlefield found himself in frightening circumstances. He was wounded on his right and left sides. Behind him was a lion ready to tear him apart, and ahead of him his friends and comrades were being hanged. Beyond him lay the long road into exile.
A wise, pious person appeared on his right and said: “Don’t despair. I’ll give you two precious phrases that will render the lion harmless, like a horse, and make the gallows like a swing for your enjoyment. I’ll give you two medicines that will heal your wounds and make them smell like roses. I’ll also give you a ticket that allows you to travel the distance of years in one day. Try them and see if my words are true.” The soldier did so. Finding his words true, the soldier believed and followed the person’s advice.
Suddenly, a devilish man appeared on his left and said: “Let’s enjoy ourselves, listen to music, and eat and drink these delicious things.” He asked the soldier what he was mumbling. The soldier replied: “A sacred invocation,’” to which the man said: “Leave these complicated issues. Let’s not ruin our comfort. What’s that in your hands?” The soldier replied “Medicine.” The man snorted: “Throw it away. There’s nothing wrong with you. What’s that paper with five seals upon it?” When the soldier said it was a ticket and a rations card, the man said: “Tear them up! How can you think of going anywhere on such a beautiful spring day?” This is how that devilish man tried to lead the soldier astray. The soldier eventually will be tempted to follow, for he is human and thus subject to deception.
To his right, the soldier suddenly hears a thunder-like voice: “Wake up! Don’t be deceived. Say to that devil: ‘If you can kill the lion, do so. If you can remove the gallows, do so. If you can heal my wounds, do so. If you can arrange it so that I don’t need to leave this place, do so. Do these things, and then we can enjoy ourselves. If you cannot, be quiet!’”
To return to reality: The soldier represents each one of us. The lion is our appointed hour of death, while the gallows stand for our continual separation from friends. The two wounds are our infinite and troublesome impotence and our grievous and boundless poverty. The long journey goes from the World of Spirits to our life as an embryo, then to youth, old age, being laid out in the grave, life in the grave up to the Day of Resurrection, and passage over the Sirat bridge to begin eternal life in the Hereafter. The two talismans are belief in God and the Hereafter.
Understand: Belief in the All-Mighty Creator and the Hereafter. This precious talisman gives us peace of mind and God’s Mercy. The lion, unable to act without His permission, becomes like an obedient horse. Thus the pious and learned, those who have a true understanding of death, are not afraid of dying and actually wish to die before their appointed time.
The passage of time, punctuated by separation from friends (because of death, represented by gallows), is transformed by belief in the Hereafter into a means to see the perpetually renewed and always colorful embroideries of God’s wonderful acts, His Power’s miracles, and His Compassion’s manifestations. Its like is this: Since the “mirrors” reflecting the sunlight’s colors are varied and replaced, the resulting views are even more beautiful.
The first medicine is patience and trusting in God, relying on His Power, and having confidence in His Wisdom. What is there to fear when, realizing our helplessness, we rely upon the Owner of Be, and it is (36:82)? Even when confronted with a most frightening situation and a great calamity, he says: Verily, to God do we belong, and to Him is our return (2:156), and places his trust in his Most Compassionate Lord with utmost serenity.
Thus the pious are content to realize their helplessness before God and put their hope in His decision. Surely there is pleasure in the fear of God. If a one-year old were asked what is the most pleasant thing he or she knows, the reply would be: “Being protected in my mother’s warm embrace, conscious of my weakness and helplessness—instead of being punished as I expected.” As a mother’s compassion is only a small spark from God’s Compassion, people of perfection take great pleasure in their helplessness and fear of God. Forsaking what is in their power, they take refuge in God and make their fear and helplessness a means of intercession before Him.
The other medicine is petitioning God with thanksgiving and contentment, and relying upon the Generous All-Provider’s mercy. We ask and God gives. How could the guests of a Generous All-Provider, Who has made Earth’s surface as a table and the spring for flowers to put on that table, regard their own poverty and helplessness before God as unbearable? They could not. Their poverty and need become their appetite, and so they try to increase their poverty. This is why such people are proud of their poverty.17
The passport to Eternity comprises the five daily prayers, observing the other obligations, and avoiding the major sins. All people of discernment and learning agree that the only way to get a light, some provisions, and a vehicle for the long journey to Eternity is to abide by the Qur’an’s laws and prohibitions. Science, philosophy, and craftsmanship alone are not worth much, for they only light the road as far as the grave.
The importance and ease of performing the five prayers and renouncing the seven major sins cannot be overemphasized. If you understand the truth here, you will turn to the one already astray and the one who wishes to lead you astray, and say: “If you can abolish death, impotence, and poverty, and close the door on the grave, do so. Otherwise, be still! In the greatest mosque of the universe, the Qur’an explains the universe, so let’s listen to it. Let’s become filled with its light and act according to its guidance. The Qur’an is the truth, since it comes from the Creator. It speaks the truth, spreading its light everywhere.”
O God, illuminate our hearts with the light of belief and the Qur’an. Enrich us with poverty in relation to You. Don’t impoverish us with indifference toward You. We have given up our power and strength for Your sake and taken refuge in Your Power and strength, so make us among those who place their trust in You. Do not leave us to ourselves. Preserve us with Your preserving. Have mercy on us and all believers.
Bestow blessings and peace upon our master Muhammad, Your servant and Prophet, Your chosen one and intimate friend—the beauty of Your Kingdom, the foremost of Your creation, the focus of Your affection, and the sun of Your guidance; the tongue of Your proofs, the embodiment of Your Compassion, the light of Your creation, and the noblest of Your creatures; the lamp of Your Oneness among the multiplicity of Your creatures; the discloser of the mystery of Your creation; the herald of Your Lordship’s Kingdom; the preacher of what pleases You; the proclaimer of Your Names’ Treasures; the instructor of Your servants; the interpreter of Your signs; the mirror of Your Lordship’s Beauty; the circle and compass of witnessing You and Your making us witnesses; Your beloved one and Messenger whom You sent as a mercy to the worlds— and upon his Family and Companions, his fellow Prophets and Messengers, Your angels brought near, and Your righteous servants. Amen.
16 The major sins consist of associating partners with God; disrespecting one’s parents; consuming the property of others, especially of orphans; engaging in usury; retreating when the army advances; slandering chaste women; committing crimes with a prescribed punishment (e.g., theft, fornication, adultery, murder); engaging in prohibited acts despite the Qur’an’s or the Traditions’ threat of a severe punishment for doing so in the next life; and deeds cursed by the Prophet. (Tr.)
17 Poverty in the sense that God owns everything and we own nothing. It should not be confused with begging from people to meet one’s worldly needs. (Ed.)