The Father of Kittens, Cat Stevens, and the Bliss of the Abyss of Ambiguity 19 March 2007Posted by MOZAFFAR in History, MOZAFFAR, Politics, Psychology.
I memorized from the Messenger of Allah – peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – and I keep them (the knowledge) in a jar. As for one of the two (groups of knowledge) I share and explain them to you. As for the other, if I share and explain it, this throat would be cut.
– Abu Hurayra, as recored in al-Bukhari’s Kitab al-‘Ilm
In our longing for the days ahead, we often find ourselves longing for the days behind us. But, our longing is often in the search of days that never happened. When we see such reports (like the one above), we wish that Allah had written history differently. We wish that that knowledge was revealed to us.
Deeper than that, we wish that we would receive immediate, packaged answers to the questions of our time. We imagine that if Abu Hurayra – may God be pleased with him – would have shared that hidden knowledge mentioned above, that all the gaps in our understanding would be filled.
Likewise, we recall the narration from the deathbed of the Prophet – p – when he was asked to identify his successor. We know the story: the great companion Umar – may God be pleased with him – interrupted, and we do not know what the Prophet – p – was going to tell us. Perhaps he – p – was going to select his beloved son-in-law and cousin Ali, or perhaps he was going to select his beloved friend and father-in-law Abu Bakr. Or, perhaps someone else? We will never know, but we wish that he was not interrupted, for if he gave his answer, perhaps this Shi’i – Sunni divide would have never happened.
Taken a step further. Imagine that the Tragedy of Karbala took place on any day other than the 10th of Muharram, perhaps even the day before or after, but not on that day. How different would our history have unrolled, and how different would today’s world be?
And, in today’s world. What would have happened had Br. Malcolm not been gunned down? Perhaps he would have led us Muslims, Americans, Muslim Americans to a new world of hope.
What would have happened, had Cat Stevens’ conversion had not ended his recording career? What beauty could he have shared with us, had he continued for decades to strengthen his craft?
Our hearts cry for what could have been. We cry for what could have been. At least we think that’s what we cry for.
In actuality, we cry for something different. We cry because we wish for two things. We wish that our hurt would be gone.
And, more than that, we cry because it is easier to cry than to build.
We are crying for something that has never happened, and would never happen, and cannot happen. That is not the world that our Beloved Creator has handed us.
If Abu Hurayra states in that one narration that he has withheld some knowledge, it does not mean that that knowledge was not withheld.
If the Prophet – p – identified a successor, what problem has been solved? If Abu Bakr was identified as the successor, then what of Abu Bakr’s successor? If Ali was identified as the successor, then what of his succession? The question is not answered. Rather, the question itself is wrong, because no answer would have sufficed, unless the Prophet – p – identified for us all of his successors for the next 2000 years. Perhaps, his answer was going to be: “That is your job.”
It was in God’s will that history took the course that it took. If we wanted, we could point to 1000 elements in history that we wish would have taken a different route. But, identifying even 100,000 elements changes nothing. This practice serves only to perpetuate the ethos of displeasure. It is like the wife who finds no good in the efforts of her husband, or like the husband who finds no goodness in his own history. It is the like the child who finds no good in the tireless efforts of his parent. It is an ethos of displeasure. Frankly, displeasure with the Past risks being displeasure with God’s decree.
Identifying the wrongs of history runs the risk of ignoring the rights. Imagine if God had withheld the knowledge of the Prophet – p – or even the knowledge of the Qur’an. Then, where would we be? Only good can from God; the wrongs are of our own doing. The wrongs of history are based on our own perspective of how history should have unrolled.
And, thus we find the disease. And, thus, we must cure the disease by restructuring and rebuilding our outlook. What comes from God is good. What came from God is good. And, the choices people make for themselves, be they artists or companions of the Prophet – p, they are for our purposes, good.
Then, once we have re-turned our outlook towards God, we can start building. We build by making our own choices.
And, we should hit the ground running.
And God knows best.