retread| Who, What, Where is God, especially when we need Him? 4 March 2006Posted by EDITOR in MOZAFFAR, Spirituality, Theology.
Retreads are quality posts from yesterweeks that are given a second run on Saturdays. This piece was originally posted by MOZAFFAR on 17 January 2006.
When we open many commentaries on the Qur’an, we often see this one same narration. We are told that God says, “I am what My slave makes of me.” Too often, when we read this narration we glide past it without much reflection.
Similarly, if we consider that the word “Allah” or “God” appears in the Qur’an over 2000 times, we may discover that we also glide past the references to God Himself as we read through the Qur’an. We glide past these descriptions of God because we tend to regard these descriptions of God as basic or ‘common sense.’ Many people, as they read through the Qur’an, are seeking the knowledge of rules, even though they know that the Qur’an is itself presenting the knowledge of God.
What is my point here? My point is that if we glide past God’s own descriptions about Himself, and if we do not reflect upon the fact that God is to us what we make of Him, then the end result will definitely be that we will define God for ourselves without even thinking about it. If we do not think about what God is telling us about Himself, then we will impose our own vision of God on Him without even realizing it.
Thus, even though the Qur’an repeatedly describes God as The Most Merciful (al-Rahman) and The Eternal Source of Mercy (al-Raheem), many of us will, without thinking, instead regard God as a Punisher. In our society, even though we speak of God as a source of love, in our day to day lives, we too often look at Him as one who is seeking to punish us even for the smallest trifling negligences in our lives.
If you look at God as a Punisher, then you will glide past the countless benevolent references to God in the Qur’an and see nothing but strictness and punishment. If you look as God as a punisher, you will look at the world that He has handed to you as a world full of severe tests and punishment.
So, if you regard God as a Punisher, and if you get into a car accident, you may find yourself looking at it as a punishment from God.
On the other hand, if you look at God as One who loves you, as One who constantly has provided for you and will always provide for you, as One who glides past your mistakes and negligences, as the One who is Just, then you will look at Him and the world around you in that manner.
So, if you regard God in this manner, and if you get into a car accident, you may find yourself looking at the accident as a small nuisance, or perhaps as a small test, or perhaps as a reminder. But, you will have confidence throughout the whole experience that God will deliver you through to comfort.
As you can see, I’m making five fundamental points here. Some are direct and some are indirect.
The first point is that when you read the Qur’an, focus on those passages that make mention of God. You will have great difficulty finding a page in the Qur’an that does not mention God. When you read the Book, and you see a mention of God, look at it and carefully reflect on it. What is the verse saying about Him? Next, how does it relate to the verses around it? The verses about God are the whole foundation of the Qur’an. Again, the verses about God are the whole foundation of the Qur’an. And, if the most commonly mentioned word is “God,” another commonly mentioned word, in the context of God, is perhaps “Mercy.”
The second fundamental point is that when you define how you interact with God, you define how you interact with the whole world around you. This world is nothing but an illusion, a veil. Everything in this world is temporary; it will eventually expire. Everything is temporary whether you are a king or a pauper. And, while you are on this side of the veil, God is on the other side. In another article, I will have to explain how to keep looking at this world as a veil. It is too easy to forget our priorities and, as a result, it is too easy to look at this world as our eternal destination. Thus, it is too easy to forget God. But, as you know, in Islam, we have the prescriptions for getting closer and closer, step by step, to God Himself. Simply put, as you, step by step, implement God’s prescriptions in your life, you will find yourself bringing yourself closer to Him. There are obligatory prescriptions and there are voluntary prescriptions. Do not look at these prescriptions as lifeless rules, but as necessary steps to reach Him.
The third fundamental point is necessary for the world we live in today, often surrounded by people who have lost themselves, and, as a result, may harm other people without even realizing it. This point, also taken from the Qur’an, is that God is closer to you than the veins in your neck. He is always with you. He is always with you. When you speak to Him, He is closer to you than the breath on your tongue. So, when you feel abandoned, you must consciously, actively, bring Him back into your mind. Sometimes, when you’re stuck in a rainstorm, and the wind is tossing you left and right, and the water is drenching every inch of your clothing and skin, you may need to take that short moment to pause. You may even need to take a step out of the storm, if you can. Then, take that moment to renew your friendship with Him, and then, jump back in to the storm.
The fourth fundamental point involves praying to God for things. Too often, when we make requests of Him, we don’t get surprised when we don’t get them. In another article, I will (if God wills), detail the concept and process of praying to Him, but for the purposes of this article, we must understand something simple. If we are indeed defining God for ourselves, then we are also indeed defining whether or not God will answer our prayers. Meaning, we are choosing whether or not God will answer our prayers. Consider how serious these consequences are: we might find ourselves defining whether or not God will answer our prayers. Further, we are defining how He will answer them, and we are also defining whether or not He will answer our prayers to our level of satisfaction. Again, it is up to you to choose whether or not He answers your prayers.
Naturally, if you pray for a luxury car to suddenly appear in front of you, you don’t expect it to happen. But, later, we will have to discuss the difference between the prayers of our tongues and the prayers of our hearts. Too often, when our tongues are praying for something specific, our hearts are asking for something simpler. He is answering the real prayer, the prayer of your heart.
The last fundamental point is the simplest reminder. We know that the Qur’an demands that you use your mind and your heart and your body. We know that the Qur’an demands that you do not just follow the way of your parents without seriously considering their ways of life. What the Qur’an demands is that rather than just follow the ways of those around you, even those who love you more than anything, you make choices. The Qur’an tells you how to define God. And, it tells you that life is all about making choices. The stuff of life is found in those choices.
And, the most important choice, from which all other choices come, is about God.
I ask God, the Turner of Hearts, to turn our Hearts to Him. And, if I made any mistakes in this piece, I seek His forgiveness, and yours.