Inspired by Elif Shafak’s The Forty Rules of Love.
Every human being following any religion believing in the God of their choice have one aspect in common – to fear or love God. I don’t stand as a scholar of any religion neither do I belong to an extreme or a liberal form of mind-set. What confuses me always is, am I supposed to fear my Lord or am I supposed to love my Lord?
The religion Islam says that Allah loves his beings seventy times a mother loves her child. Such is His compassion and mercy. But religious zealots out there are obsessed with underestimating and demeaning others making it a point to conclude THEIR version of interpretations of religion; which in fact are wrong. I’ve always had terrible conflicts with over religious people, they lost in their own deeds consider themselves superior over the next person. Who gives a right to a person to judge another person on the basis of deeds? Man has no right to do so. Only the Supreme Lord knows the most inner intentions of a human’s heart.
“There is no compulsion in Religion”
“Al-Baqara” (The Cow).
A person cannot be judgemental about others, cannot pass comments regarding issues he is not aware of, cannot decide the fate of a fellow being just on how he acts or reacts. Most of the times what the eyes see aren’t always correct. A very famous saying pops up in my head, “Don’t judge a book by its cover“. Don’t judge a man by the way he looks or acts.
“Four merchants were praying in a mosque when they saw the muezzin enter. The first merchant stopped his prayer and asked, “Muezzin! Has the prayer been called? Or do we still have time?”
The second merchant stopped praying and turned to his friend. “Hey, you spoke while you were praying. Your prayer is now void. You need to start anew!”
Upon hearing this, the third merchant interjected, “Why do you blame him, you idiot? You should have minded your own prayer. Now yours is void, too.”
The fourth merchant broke into a smile and said loudly, “Look at them! All three have messed up. Thank God I’m not one of the misguided.”
The Forty Rules of Love, Elif Shafak
What we learn out of this story according to this book is that instead of minding their own business and connecting with God, they were more interested in what was going on around them. However if we pass judgement on them, I’m sure we’ll be making the same crucial mistake.
Sufis say that once when a person falls in love with God, he breaks all rules and shackles to experience divine love. When the Almighty is being discussed at most forums; punishment, torment and fear is being spread. Instead compassion, empathy and forgiveness should be debated; a moderate understanding should be developed. An understanding on love rather on fear.
All of us have heard the famous story of a prostitute, with the help of her shoe gave water to a street dog that was lying thirsty and helpless on the way. The next day she met a man of great wisdom, he told her that the Almighty was so happy with her act of genuine kindness that he forgave all her sins then and there. This is a lesson for all of us that the inner soul should be pure; the heart should be clean of any ill thoughts or selfish feelings.
No wonder the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) said, “In this world take pity on three kinds of people. The rich man who has lost his fortune, the well-respected man who has lost his respectability, and a wise man who is surrounded by ignorant.”
(The Forty Rules of Love)
Every time we listen to the stories of our beloved Prophets we are constantly reminded in searching for God everywhere, He The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful is present no matter wherever the eyes can go and no matter how hidden an intention is, The All Knowing is aware. On every step of life we are supposed to respect our fellow beings, be more magnanimous and moderate but the situation in my dear homeland breaks my heart. Protecting the minorities is a completely different chapter, Muslims have become enemies among themselves, intolerance and xenophobia is at its peak, sectarian and ethnic differences are making them to tear chunks apart; sadly physically.
Sometimes, a man gets so monstrous that lest love he doesn’t even fear God, ignorance and arrogance makes him blind. This kind of extremism is making us hollow within with every passing day. May God Bless us with His divine love and fill our hearts with light of wisdom so we stop wandering into false erroneous tunnels.
Mariam Mumtaz is a Dubai based Journalist. She can be reached at @mariammumtaz