We see the description of a people who know only the surface of this world. If something looks or feels good to them, they are happy… but right when things go wrong.“And when We cause mankind to taste of mercy, they rejoice therein; but if an evil thing befall them as the consequence of their own deeds, lo! They are in despair!” (30:36)
The verse sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Actually, the meaning of this verse in particular pops up in quite a few places throughout the Holy Qur’an. While it may seem pretty straightforward at first glance, a bit of contemplation on the practical significance of the verse may reveal some eye-opening truths.
Just a few days ago, we were at the doorsteps of the holy month of Ramadan. Now, we are dashing rather quickly into our second week of both the academic year and the spiritual journey of this blessed month. We’re told that reading one verse of Qur’an in this month is like reading the entire Qur’an in any other month. But what’s written in the “spiritual fine print” is what gives such reading a perpetual value – this is none other than contemplation and reflection.
So, dear reader, here we are reading these words and wondering about the significance of the verse at the beginning. Let the ocean of meaning flow from the verse into the streams of your mind, and think.
We see the description of a people who know only the surface of this world. If something looks or feels good to them, they are happy… but right when things go wrong, they plunge into an abyss of woe and misery. We wonder, are the happenings of our daily lives so extreme as to easily swing us out of equilibrium? Or is it that we, as a result of our own foolishness, do not react appropriately in accordance to what we know to be reality?
The reality we know is that Allah is the Source and Absolute Sustainer of our existence. In every iota of anything that is a thing, Allah is the only True Doer. When something befalls us, it befalls us with His permission. The One who gives this permission is not only the One with the Ability and Might, but the One with the Wisdom and Insight.
If Allah is the Wise, then whatever happens in His Domain must be the best possible outcome. Yes, in everything – it is the best possible outcome. The action, the reaction, and everything in between, all fall under the authority of His plan and scheme.
Dear reader, take a step back and know that we have mentioned some thoughts provoked in trying to understand the verse. But now let’s move to the next level of contemplation. As the streams continue to flow in your mind, examine where they slow down. Take the opportunity to find out how to use the flow to practically purify your soul.
At school, at work, at home, everywhere, we face the waves of hardship and/or the cool breeze of mercy. The exam you’ve been preparing for… the promotion you’ve been striving for… you’ve done your best at putting the time and effort. Then you raise your hands and direct your heart toward the Sustainer asking for His Generosity.
The answer comes, but maybe not as you expected… If you are from the group that the verse describes, then you may rejoice with an A+ on the examination, or you may feel despair with a C. You may be happy with a raise, or you may be saddened by the lack of one.
However, if you are from the aware group of those who react to reality in the appropriate way, you may be affected neither by the happiness nor the sadness of the shallow group aforementioned. You would see the success as a test and the failure as a test. Furthermore, you would even see the test as a test.
The understanding of reality would manifest in your reaction to reality. It is a test, designed by the Wise Creator, to promote you to your perfection. At all times, you would only be as Your Wise Lord has prescribed.
It is narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) asked a group of his companions, “What are you?”
They replied, “Believers.”
The Prophet then asked, “What is the sign of your belief?”
They responded by saying, “We are patient in times of hardship, grateful in times of ease, and pleased with the outcome of fate.”
Finally the Prophet said, “(You are) Believers, by the Lord of the Ka’ba!”
Now, dear reader, we have come to an end of our contemplation together, but hopefully with a drive for further thought and reflection. Sailing from the oceans of the Qur’an into the streams of our thoughts, contemplation clears the horizon for remembrance, and:
“…continue to remind, for surely the reminder profits the believers” (51:55)