Parable of Good and Bad Friend

“A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.”

Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)

 [Sahih al-Bukhari & Muslim]

Supplication 8

Our Lord, by Your Knowledge of the Unseen, and by Your Power over Your creation, grant me life so long as You know life to hold good for me, and grant me death when You know death to hold good for me. O Lord, I ask You to make me fear You in secret and in the open, I ask You to make me speak sincerely (the truth) at times of contentment and at times of anger, I ask You to make me be moderate (frugality) in poverty and in wealth, I ask You for a blessing that does not end, contentment that never ceases, and for acceptance of Your decree. I ask You for a good life after death, and I ask You for the joy of looking upon Your face and the longing to meet You, with no harmful adversity or misleading trial (fitnah).

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

[al-Nisa’i in al-Sunan, 3/55; al-Hakim, Sahih al-Jaami, 1301]

Divine Strategies

Divine Strategies

(Salima Ibraheem), 801 Criminal Rows, is the heroine of the event.  She, along with her brother, killed her husband by beating and suffocating him. Moreover after he was killed, she ate the flesh from his dead body. That was her detailed confession before the prosecutor and the judge, and that exactly what the police report and the body attested.

I read about that accident as thousands did, and I felt the chills they must have felt.  I also felt very curious to know about that weird brutality in which the woman killed her husband; could hatred take a woman to that far?!

What would the face that eats dead look like?! I went to al-Qanater Women’s Prison, where she was detained, to my surprise I saw a pretty woman, with tiny facial features, very white teeth, with tranquil and serene face. She prays and fasts, and she sleeps deeply and peacefully. She was talking a lot about the divine mercy, the divine decree and the divine wisdom as if she was a Sufi man who lost his way.

Could the outer appearance contradict the inside to that extent? Could the images deceive us, and eyes, hands and tongue lie to us?

Could life become all disguise? I wonder how Allah (SWT) [1]creates beautiful faces for ugly souls. What is the motivation that brings out all that hidden evil from the inside of human soul? Who tears the soul’s veil to reveal its reality?

Perhaps the reason why that wife killed her husband was that he got married again and brought her a second wife. However, that is a normal issue especially in their Bedouin environment where polygamy occurs repeatedly without women eating their husbands! He then divorced her then got her back to him, and he used to abuse her in front of his second wife. Perhaps she killed him as revenge for her hurt dignity! Nevertheless, she admitted that she had multiple affairs with many men during the period of her divorce; meaning that she did not keep any dignity for her owns self. I wonder how that ruin of her soul does not appear on her beautiful, nice, peaceful and tranquil face, which looks as if it was a face of a saint.

 I remember when I once saw a very handsome young man who was charming, quite well-built and as attractive as a movie star. Moreover, he was very polite, speaking quietly and having coyness, then I knew later that he was insane; treated by electric shock.

The inside of that charming man was completely ruined; emptiness was his reality as he was entirely hollow from inside. To that extent the appearance can lie, and the image can deceive.

 (Verily Allah does not look to your bodies nor to your faces but He looks to your hearts…) (Book #032, Hadith #6220)                                                                                               

On the night of committing the crime, the husband came home with a present for his wife to reconcile her. (He did not know that, despite the long years of marriage life, he slept every night with a hyena.) She killed him at a moment when he was flirting her. How could she have the courage to do so?

The same question insists on me continuously:  How can realities disguise in deceitful garments? How can falsehood wear the garment of truth, ugliness wear the garment of beauty, and crime wear the garment of love? I wonder how the Creator (SWT) creates beautiful covers for dreadful souls! I wonder how He puts poison in a flower, and honey in a scorpion, how He hides explosives inside covers of silk! Is this the proof of the verse, “But Allah was to bring forth what ye did hide.” (TMQ[2], 2:72)                                                                                

Is it the Divine strategy by which Allah (SWT) gradually draws souls to examine them and disclose their inside, and what they hide in order to expose their realities, and reveal their ugliness? Thus a beautiful woman may be disclosed to be an executioner, and an ugly man to be an angel.

To my surprise, that woman who killed her husband did not feel remorse or pangs of conscience. She was certain that she was right in what she did!

Is it possible that we do not fully know our own selves? Abu- Bakr said that he would not be fully assured that he would enter paradise  even if one of his legs was inside it as long his other leg was still outside. He was afraid of Allah’s strategies that may disclose a deep hidden evil inside his own soul in the last moment that drives him to the eternal hell. Abu- Bakr was afraid of a deep hidden evil inside himself which he may not be aware of, or know about. 

His fear is considered the peak of piety as it reveals fear of Allah (SWT), humbleness, not being comfortable to the purity and innocence of his soul, not being conceited of his good deeds and his fear of the deep hidden evil that may be suddenly disclosed through a test. Abu- Bakr was not one of those who claim piety and seek for high ranks. He was a man of facts, and those of facts are in permanent fear of having a deep hidden fact, which they are not aware of or know about, disclosed and led them to peril. Those people are having fear; fear from the evil that may be hidden inside their souls, and fear from Allah (SWT). That is the true knowledge of one’s soul and the true knowledge of Allah (SWT). That is for the soul is the (big secret), and the mysterious unseen; it is unseen even for the one him/her self. The reality of the soul can never be disclosed except through suffering. It is always in guile; revealing one of its faces while hiding thousands.

Allah (SWT) is the absolute unseen and the entire secret. Moreover, He has (glory be to Him), if it is right to say, the highest planner. Why did He (SWT) describe Himself of (scheming)? He (SWT) said: “They plot and plan, and Allah too plans; but the best of planners is Allah.” (TMQ, 8:30)                                                                                                                                    

Moreover, what is the difference between the divine scheme and ours?  Allah (SWT) schemes to reveal the fact, but we plot to hide it. That is why Allah’s scheme is all good while our plotting is all evil. Allah’s scheme is light while ours is darkness. His scheme is justice and ours is injustice.

Is there something worse than the guile of those two rows of pearly teeth, which eat the dead, suck blood and whisper with love while they intend to kill? There was only one thing in the appearance of that weird woman that indicated her true nature: her voice. It was metallic voice which was sharp, loud and continuously monotonous as if it was coming out from a metal tube, not from alive heart.  In her voice you cannot recognize grief, joy or anger. It was devoid of all human emotions; a smooth voice that did not show any emotion.  Her voice always made me feel that a non human thing was speaking and that I was in front of an inanimate object. She spoke about love in the same way she spoke about hatred. She spoke about Allah’s mercy in the same way she spoke about His revenge; with the same rigid face and the same monotonous metallic tone. The one who listened to her would feel that there was someone else speaking inside her; a devil, or a jinni, or a prompter speaking from behind. Is it possible that we get possessed by devils? Allah (SWT)said that devils possess only those who are like them, and that there should be agreement and resemblance between two in order that one can dominate the other.

”… evil ones among men and jinns, inspiring each other with flowery discourses by way of deception.(TMQ, 6:112). A devil does not possess (dominate) except a devil like him, so that they can communicate and affect each other.  As for the servants of Allah (SWT), the devils have no way to affect them. Allah (SWT) said, “For over My servants no authority shalt thou have,” (TMQ, 15:42). Thus the one who says that devil dominates him, we reply to him by saying: (because you are a devil like him).

For those who think that Divine scheme is contrary to Divine Justice, we say that it is the essence of justice. That is because Allah (SWT) does not scheme except against a malicious one. “They plot and plan, and Allah too plans” (TMQ, 8:30). “As for them, they are but plotting a scheme And I am planning a scheme.” (TMQ, 86:15, 16). The fact is that Allah (SWT) gives a person, who hides something evil in himself, power over another one who hides something evil as well; and that is the ultimate justice. Here we see a fully perfect balance as in each scale there is a malicious soul that hides something evil. Therefore, their true reality is revealed through the plotting of both malicious souls against each other. That is life, and that is why Allah (SWT) created it: to establish the truth. “It is He who created the heavens and the earth in true…” (TMQ, 6:73). This is the ultimate good in the issue of creating the world, despite what appears of blood shedding, crimes, evil and atrocity. What matters is how things will end. That is because the evils of this world, no matter how strong and persisted are transient. A transient evil does not matter as long it eventually reveals everlasting good. 

If we think quietly and contemplate profoundly what is happening in the world around us, we realize that the matter is serious, despite what appears on the surface of playfulness and futility. There is a measure of everything, and everything is run according to accurate balance. 

We are the skilled deceivers; everyone imagines that he plans perfectly and intelligently. However, we, without being aware, disclose each other, and disclose ourselves through the complex successive dilemmas in which destiny casts us. We are disclosed through the successive events which are called the worldly life until nothing in ourselves is hidden, and then we die after everything is disclosed.

Those who are fully aware of the truth of life tremble from fear. That is because they know that this life is not futility, rather it is dreadfully serious.  A cunning person always asks me how the civilized, clean, white, European technology professor ends up into Hell, while a simple Muslim man crying at the Ka’ab ends up into Paradise! We reply that the man crying at the Ka’ba has already gone to Paradise while he is still in this world. He is already in Paradise; that is because he realized the essence of the matter of life and death. He is connected to the absolute entire knowledge, while the European professor is still occupied with studying iron, copper etc. He is occupied only with the matter of science; he failed to recognize the essence of life. There is no doubt that science is beneficial for the world, but it has no value in the Hereafter. Allah (SWT) did not prevent us from detecting iron and manganese, but He rather commanded us to do so.“…and We sent down Iron, in which is (material for) mighty war, as well as many benefits for mankind,”(TMQ, 57: 25)

This is a command of getting the benefits of iron. However, the religion of Allah (SWT) demands us to go beyond this to realize the matter’s essence in order to search for an everlasting benefit. Thus the Muslim can gather the benefit of the worldly life and that of the Hereafter. Iron and manganese are important, but they are not everything. The simple man who weeps at al- Ka’ba is not an idiot.  He weeps because he has a different profound knowledge; that is knowledge of himself and his Lord. He stands on a higher threshold of knowledge than that of the professor of technology whose knowledge stops at iron and manganese.

There is a huge difference between that man who has profound knowledge of himself and his Lord and the professor whose knowledge stops at the material and its laws. The real idiot is the one who knows about material while being oblivious of the Lord of the material.

Acquiring material science is easy and can be found in books and schools. In Egypt alone, there are more than ten thousand obtaining doctorates, more than a hundred thousand having masters and diplomas, but how many in this country, of ones or dozens who can be said about them from those who have profound knowledge of themselves and their Lord. I have acquired the science of medicine when I was young, now that I am an old man, yet I have not reached the full knowledge of myself or my Lord which is a pinnacle that only few individuals can reach. Those whom their Lord said about them: “Whenever the Signs of ((Allah)) Most Gracious were rehearsed to them, they would fall down in prostrate adoration and in tears.” (TMQ, 19:58)                                                                                                                                                     

That is the same state of that man who prostrates weeping at al-Ka’ba; that is his rank, his degree and his status which is very far from that of the civilized, intelligent Swedish professor of technology. That professor is one of the masters of the land, who is possessing limited property in limited time while the prostrating man is a master of the ancient and latest generations; for him a vast, eternal kingdom in the heavens without boarders. So, who is heedless of the truth and who is fully aware of it?

However, we are in materialistic era in which mentioning Paradise and heavens makes cunning people smile; those who are only interested in the worldly life. They even laugh at our naivity. Their only interest in this world is swift profits. It is then out of justice that Allah (SWT) deals with those malicious people with divine strategy ….” They plotted and planned, but We too planned” (TMQ, 27:50) All that  prosperity, richness and welfare they enjoy is to lure them and draw them gradually (to destruction) “by degrees shall We punish them from directions they perceive not.” (TMQ, 68:44), “Do they think that because We have granted them abundance of wealth and sons, We would hasten them on in every good? Nay, they do not understand” (TMQ, 23:55,56) “Mighty indeed were the plots which they made, but their plots were (well) within the sight of Allah, even though they were such as to shake the hills!” (TMQ, 14:46)

However, if that intelligent fellow, who never runs out of arguments, sees that our rationality and that our logic is about to defeat him, he then screams, “Who am I compared to the greatness of Allah, why will he punish me when I am worth nothing? I am nothing but a trivial atom.” Of course this is false humility and fabricated submission. That is because if he truly realized his Lord’s greatness and his own triviality, he would fall down prostrate before Allah’s glory, and he would feel humbleness before Allah’s reverence, but it is all about argumentation and controversy. We reply to his guile saying: you are not trivial for your Lord, nor is your position insignificant as He breathed into you of His spirit, ordered His angels to prostrate themselves before you, made the whole universe subject to you, gave you immortality and granted you freedom; if you wish, you can be devoted servant to Allah, or you can be diabolical. So, how come you claim your position is trivial with all these privileges?! It is but the trickery of malicious people when they run out of arguments, they then show weakness and helplessness saying: we are nothing but flies, O, Lord. Has the dust any right to be rude? Does the mud have enough significance for You to concern Yourself about it or punish it?

However, were any of them to realize that he is dust, and were all his deeds and sayings to come out of that feeling, he then would have some other completely different position with Allah, but this is their guile, and whatever they plot, Allah’s planning and His strategies are much bigger.

 

Dr. Mustapha Mahmoud

Translated by: Amany Elmorshidy

[1] Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Salam (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 

[2] Translating the meaning of the Qur’an

Some Beneficial Words

 

It is reported that a man came to ‘Abdullâh Ibn Mas’ûd (may Allâh be pleased with him) and asked, “Teach me some comprehensive and beneficial words.” He replied, “Worship Allâh and do not associate any partners with Him, and be with the Qur’ân wherever it is. And whoever comes to you with some truth – whether he is young or old, even if he is hated by you – then accept [that truth]. And whoever comes lying to you – even if he is beloved and close – then reject it from him.”