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The Mercy of Human Company II 23 February 2006

Posted by ABD in ABD, Philosophy, Psychology, Spirituality.

Note: This is a follow-up to The Mercy of Human Company. I have since also posted a third and final piece to the series.

In response to my first post on the subject, The Turk pointed out in a comment that the believer always has Allah. This is a timely reminder, for He is indeed the best company. Whoever else exists in your life, you have a standing invitation from the Lord who created you to develop a personal relationship with Him:

When my servants ask you concerning Me, I am indeed close. I respond to the prayer of every supplicant when he calls on Me. (al-Qur’an 2:186)

We also know from our tradition that the fatihah can be understood as an exchange with the Almighty: “I have distributed the salah equally between Myself and My servant and for My servant is what he asks” (narrated by Abu Hurayrah and recorded in Muslim and elsewhere). The first verses of Surat al-Fatihah are for Allah; the last for us. The relationship between seeker and sought turns on the pivotal verse “You alone we worship, and You alone we look to for assistance.” When we look to Allah alone, He is more than sufficient for us.

If we press this point further, we might conclude that the importance of human company necessarily recedes as you draw closer to Allah. The human realm has traditionally been juxtaposed to the divine realm, and it is the mark of a spiritual person to prefer the second to the first. As I remember from a college course description, the common challenge faced by people of faith is to be in the world though not of it.

We hear the same refrain in the words of our Prophet (on him be peace):

My connection with the world is like that of a traveler resting for a while underneath the shade of a tree and then moving on. (recorded in Ahmad and Tirmidhi)

If the thrust of the prophetic message is to detach yourself from the world, which attachments could be greater than the love of woman or child?

The same point can be made more obliquely by reference to Plato’s Symposium, where Socrates praises love as the transcendence of desire. Love begins in physical attraction but seeks horizons beyond it. As a reflective person ascends the “ladder of love”, the object of his admiration shifts from a particular beloved to beautiful people to beautiful things and finally to the idea of beauty itself. This final vision of beauty, abstract and disembodied, suggests that the lover has left the human realm entirely.

Sound familiar?



1. other|matters » The Mercy of Human Company - 23 February 2006

[…] Since writing this, I have posted a follow-up piece: The Mercy of Human Company II. […]

2. talib - 26 February 2006

is the above the second in this series? in any case, some thoughts (which you may or may not have been planning on making yourself, ABD).

“If the thrust of the prophetic message is to detach yourself from the world, which attachments could be greater than the love of woman or child?”

the implication here would make sense if women, children, and the ones we love are *of* the world. they are defintely not. the greatest indication of this is the fact that we know from the Qur’an and Sunnah that the inhabitants of Jannah will be with the ones they loved in this life including their wives, children, friends, and of course Allah azza wa jal; may we be among them.

“My connection with the world is like that of a traveler resting for a while underneath the shade of a tree and then moving on.”

i don’t think that this hadith has been interpreted correctly by various people. i don’t feel that it is implying an inverse correlation between one’s relationship with Allah and one’s relationship with everything else, including other humans. there is nothing to say that loving another human being, even intensely loving that person, detracts from one’s love of Allah. in fact, it more likely compliments, enriches, and heightens it. And this is where I think one of the many many many significances of the concept of ‘loving for the sake of Allah’ comes into play.
Adam alaihisalaam was in paradise. he was only with Allah and they undoubtedly had the closest of relationships. But Allah created for His slave a spouse of himself and put love and tranquility between them and this was of His signs. those who say that women are simply a fitnah or trial to be surmounted in this life are missing the fact that when Allah created Adam’s zawj, peace upon them both, they were still in paradise, a realm virtually without fitnah or tests. she served a greater purpose, peace upon her and her beloved.

3. The Turk - 26 February 2006

This a comment I posted before: this what ABD was mentioning


brother… I reach out in humanity. :) I remembered something my humanities prof. said some years ago. Most enlightened individuals; prophets and the rest have spent time alone. Moses , Jesus and the Rasul (Peace and all of them) all spent
days alone in prayer and contemplation.

What this teaches us; my analysis was that we have to reach out Allah(swt). We must able to connect with him like we connect with our mothers. You said your mother arm was reassuring but I think we must able to connect Allah(swt) like that.

I think it can be done. Hashim Bhai is the best example I know. A person so content and happy that it radiates. Mashallah.

What do you and others think?

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