On the ten realities of life


“The likeness of the life of the present is as the rain which We send down from the skies: by its mingling arises the produce of the earth- which provides food for men and animals: (It grows) till the earth is clad with its golden ornaments and is decked out (in beauty): the people to whom it belongs think they have all powers of disposal over it: There reaches it Our command by night or by day, and We make it like a harvest clean-mown, as if it had not flourished only the day before! thus do We explain the Signs in detail for those who reflect. (Quran 10:24)

Of this world, we know very little; we can only know very little. The reason is simple: we are entities formed out of ignorance. We came to the world in utter desire for guidance and direction as to where we were, where we are and where we shall ultimately be. Ilya Abi Madi, the Lebanese-American poet once captured this ‘reality’ when he wrote: “I came, from where, I did not know/I saw a path ahead of me then I trekked; I shall continue to trek whether I like it or not/ How did I come and how did I make a choice of my path, I did not know”.

But the existentialist musings of Abi Madi do not enjoy any patronage in Islamic weltanschauung. His querulous and philosophical pondering of beginning and ending, his agnostic diffidence and dubitacio has been rendered nugatory by the Quran. There in the Quran lies answers to questions life constantly asks; there in the last testament you would read about questions only the last testament could answer. Whereas Abi Madi was concerned only with one reality of life, of human existence, the Quran engages realities of existence; whereas Abi Madi did not know how and why he came to the world, the Quran offers ample explanations and justifications for why he came, from where he came and to where he is headed. Quran chapter 76 verse 1-3 reminds us of our beginning; chapter 10 verse 24 quoted above impinges, in the typical Quranic style, our existence in the here and now in a metaphorical field. As to where shall be our ultimate destiny, reason and revelation leaves no room for any confusion or bemusement. Your end and mine shall be like our beginning- entities fashioned from the union of sperms and eggs – of dreg, of dirt, of grime, of filth, of gunk and slime. Your end and mine shall be, like our beginning, a journey into the timeless zone of eternity; of appointment in paradise hopefully not hell; of stations in bliss and rapture; prayerfully not of and for Abaddon nor in bottomless pit of Jahannam.

Of the above realities, much information is available in the Quran. Again in line with the Quranic style, all discussions of realities of life may travel at least ten different pathways. These may include the following: one, that in your constant struggle to mean, in your daily desire not only to exist but indeed to live, you should bear this in mind: that you are not alone. If you are happy today, billions of other creatures of the Almighty are happy in different ways; if you are sad and saddened by realities beyond your control, keep this in mind- many other creatures of the Most High are in different condition and states of melancholy like your good self. The “reality” of and in this reality is this: nobody in this world can be permanently happy; none can be permanently sad.

Two: the Almighty, the Most High, would not cause something to happen except for a purpose which is grander and more sublime than the thing itself. In other words, everything in the world – an atom, a particle, a leaf, a pebble- are signs and symbols. They are all signifiers for something greater than themselves. The Almighty, according to Albert Einstein, does not play dice. Whatever He does is for a reason. We get to know of His wisdom as humans either through revelation (the Quran) or in retrospection.

Three: the only entity who is capable to grant favours fortune and prevent misfortune is He the Almighty. One of the cardinal principles of faith in this religion is for the believer to not hold that somebody else could. Nobody does it but Him. He however could do it through you or me.

Four: following from the above, we must bear this mind, dear brother, that whatever comes our way, whatever afflicts you, so says the Prophet, could not have missed you and whatever misses you could not have afflicted you.

Five: to know the above as realities of life is to come to terms with the world of as unreal. He went to a village in that state for a crusade. He asked his audience to bring whatever was in their possession for special blessing. “Whatever I bless”, he pontificated, “no calamity would come its way”, he concluded. However, on his return journey to the city, his vehicle was involved in an accident. The man of god- the god of money and materialism- was rescued from a canyon by ordinary mortals. He was rescued by those whose monies and properties he had “blessed” the night before.

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