By March 23, 2017 Read More →

Reading the Quran Here and Now: Chapter Muddaththir – Part 3

74:7 “Be patient and constant for your Lord’s cause.”

Main topic of this verse is “patience”.  Traditionally, the concept of patience is understood as keeping it calm or controlling your emotions when faced with a hardship and in adversity. Does being patient in this way solves your problem? Not really, because deep down you are in turmoil but outwardly, you are keeping it cool. This type of state of mind is not in line at all with the teachings of the Quran. The Quran teaches one to question all their emotions and feelings and find out the Source of their existence.

Here are 3 different types of attitudes prevalent in the society:

1.     I am the product of random happening, so I see myself as happening to be here (an atheistic attitude). I am subject to death which is unavoidable and so I should make the most of this life until I die.  My attitude is: “Life is too short.” According to this understanding of existence, this person will try to entertain himself in any way possible. That is, in order to enjoy himself, s/he engages in various humanistic activities. Why? Because s/he feel happy when s/he does that and it is for his/her personal satisfaction. Example: If I can do more for the community, I am happier. It is not bad to engage in such activities but without questioning the existence of the feelings to help others, this person’s understanding of his status in this universe is incorrect. This type of attitude simply reject that they are the product of a Conscious Being because they do not engage in extended thoughts.

2.     I accept that this universe has an Owner and this universe is transient. We are given bounties in this world and the Creator of this world is a Conscious being and being gracious to us and we have to pay back.

  • Analogy: A tenant acknowledges the Landlord but s/he uses his tenant rights to make use of the property within his area as long it doesn’t contradict tenant’s contract. Similarly, a person who thinks of himself as a tenant in this universe, the needs are given to him by His Creator, the Landlord, so this Landlord must provide what he needs. So, according to the understanding of this person, tenant contract must include the provisions he needs. If he is not provided the provisions to satisfy his needs, then, it is against the contract. In this case, he feels that he has every right to complain. He maybe acknowledging the bounties given by the Landlord but he may have the attitude that as long as he is not contradicting the contract his needs must be taken care of by the Landlord. That means as long as he does his religious duties he feels that he is done his part. If what he needs is not provided, then, He think the Landlord is not keeping His promise. He may think in this way: “I am not contradicting the religious rules and I am paying for a service (performing rituals). Therefore, if I do not get the provision in this world, then I shall will get at least in afterlife.
  • This attitude is dangerous because the person thinks that s/he is entitled to goods in this life and an afterlife for the service s/he performs in the form of rituals. Let’s say that one day the water stops running, the tenant quickly reaches out to the Landlord to get the water supply fixed. If the Landlord does not fix it, then the tenant gets in agony that the Landlord must provide it because it is part of the contract. If the water supply is not restored here, then as long as I pay (perform the religious rituals) for the service here, I should get the goods in an afterlife then.
  • This person dies without knowing who God is because s/he has not paid attention to the existence of water, but only paid attention to whether it is given to him or not.

3.     I am aware that this universe is transient and I am created, i.e. I am invited to this world by my Creator as His guest. More importantly, I question the existence of things and I realize that I exist and the objects around me are given existence (a true men attitude).

  • Analogy: A guest acknowledges the host. That is, the host has invited him into his palace and gave him a room. Similarly, the Host of this universe has invited human beings into this universe and has given us existence.  Therefore, I have no “tenant rights” since my host has invited me here. As a guest, my responsibility is to be thankful for whatever is given, when something is not given, I should think about the wisdom in not being given. Since the Host has invited me, there must be a reason in His every treatment of me. Let’s say that one day the water supply is cut off, I should not think of Him as not keeping His promise”
  • This attitude is so relaxing because the person is aware that however the Host deals with him, there must be a reason in it. This person realizes that whatever is given to him/her is extra because the Host invited him/her here and put him/her in a certain condition here. “Since I did not require anything, my Host will take care of me”.  Human feelings, which desire eternity, say that I must be entertained as a guest in another form as well.  “All the treatments that I receive from the Host is a way to introduce Itself to me, an opportunity for training and educating me with who I am and who my Host (Lord) is.
  • This person dies knowing who God is.

Although, attitude #2 and #3 may look same but there is a radical difference between how they see their status in this world.

What is the benefit of understanding our existence as a guest?

When the water supply is cut off, attitude #3 tries to understand the reason in not receiving the water in order to understand the Host.

According to the person who sees his existence as a guest, s/he quickly realizes that if today there is no water, then my Host is teaching me that I am in need of water and that It is the Source of water. It is not the water which benefits me. Water does not act on its own. It is dependent etc.

Patience (sabr in Arabic) has to do with having inner peace from within instead of learning how to be patient at adversities which becomes an external act. We need to understand the fundamental nature of existence in order to understand the foundations of “patience”.

  • Change your understanding of this world and get into the existential side of the matter in order to be patient.
  • Redefine your existence.
  • Try to utilize every kind of creation in order to get to know who your Creator is.
  • These opportunities are given to train and educate yourself.

Unless we don’t make radical changes in our understanding of existence, we will always be in despair: “I better understand The Educator by all the treatments It is applying to me so that next time I am able to understand my own self better.” That is, through the awareness of my existence, I get aware of Its existence.

The difference between both attitudes provides me with an understanding of what patience should mean.  Let me learn how It is teaching himself to me. I have no right to reject Its existence as It brought me into existence.

What is the Lord’s cause?

  • To teach me who I am and who It is.
  • The guest uses every opportunity as a sign to know who his/her Host (Lord) is whereas the tenant uses the opportunity to look into the tenant-landlord contract.

Since I have been invited here into existence, I am aware that I am only using part of Its property here. Only with a guest attitude can I learn to be patient with the Lord’s cause.

Instead of getting upset with having no water supply, I try to see the wisdom in not getting water.  That is, It is trying to teach me something. What is the point in not getting water? Looking for other means of getting water is a different topic. What is going on within you is the point.

  • Are you not thinking about the wisdom of not getting water?
  • By experiencing this event, I should be looking about my interpretation of my being.

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Recent Comments

  1. Tolu Owodunni says:

    Thank you for these notes!

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