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The Mercy of Human Company III 9 March 2006

Posted by ABD in ABD, Philosophy, Psychology, Spirituality.
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This is the third and final post under this title. You may wish to read the first and second to establish the necessary context.

I wrote earlier about building a personal relationship with Allah (and the possibility that it might make human company unnecessary). In this final post, I want to stress that while the call to the divine is powerful and profound, the argument should not carry us too far. The relationship of human and divine in our lives is complex and delicate, and the weight of human things cannot simply be ignored. Nor is a ready division of labor satisfactory (the human for the ‘awam, the divine for the khawas). Before we forget, our Prophet (on him be peace) talks about the company of his wives and the pleasure of worship in the same sentence. May Allah be pleased with them indeed.

Three things of your world have been made beloved to me: women, perfume and the coolness of my eyes in prayer. (recorded in ibn Hanbal and an-Nisa’i)

I don’t really know where human company fits into the divine scheme. Perhaps it is a test. Perhaps it is a consolation and a preparation for solitude. Perhaps it is an enduring feature of our spiritual lives (after all, the promise of companionship extends to the next life). In some choreography of divine purpose, perhaps it is all of these. At the very least, however, we can say that the presence of others is a solace in the most difficult times. It is not incidental, and it is not dispensable. It is a mercy, and a divine one.

The drive for excellence is part of our endowed nature. It is therefore only proper that we seek out the best companions for our personal relationships, whether human or divine. Aristotelian friendship represents one apex in this respect, while friendship with Allah represents another. Between them is the vale of ordinary human company: nonverbal, uncultivated and available to all of us. It does not shed light on our darkest moments, but it allows us the better to bear them.

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Comments»

1. talib - 9 March 2006

companioinship is who we are. from a psycho/philosophical perspective, interaction with other beings is integral in developing our notions of the self. without others, human or Divine, we are mere shells, formless clay. what was the significance (one of the many) of learning all the names? so that he could share them and recite them to those who would listen. you can’t learn names without being taught and there is no point to names when there is no one to communicate them to. of course, Allah is As Samad; we do not influence Him in return. but our fellow man, we can and do. and influencing others and being influenced by them in return, as with all things, is at its best, acheiving ihsan, indeed acheiving its purpose, when it is a means of exalting, worshipping our Lord. loving for the sake of Allah azza wa jal, subhanahu wa ta’ala.

2. s. - 11 March 2006

assalam alaykum –

your post(s) reminded me of khurram murad’s book “dying and living for Allah.” it’s his “last will and testament” to his children and muslims in general, and at one point he talks about one particular du’aa/hope for his children: that (roughly paraphrased from memory) they never have to experience the pain of broken expectations that often happens in human relationships: the point being that in relying so much on humans, we often forget to first rely on Him, and are disappointed when human beings in our lives don’t meet the expectations we’ve set for them.

i think having that recognition and internationalization of initial reliance on Him is key – and after that, the recognition that even human company is a rizq from Allah (swt) and to be appreciated and fully valued in our lives, even as we turn to Him first.

jazak’Allahu khair for the post(s).

-s.


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