Understanding The Prophet's Life
From Issue: 973 [Read full issue]
The one who is in need of what people have might think that those people will actually benefit or harm him, and this is an illusion. The real One who benefits or harms you is your Lord. Out of illusion, one might think that people who have power or wealth, for example, will bring benefit or harm to him. Thus, one allows himself to be humiliated by the people he is in need of. In fact, people never bring benefit or cause harm to others. Neediness is the source of humiliation, and illusion is the source of neediness. Freedom from all of this is the solution and is another step in God's way.
It is true that one must interact with people, ask them for help or a favour. There is nothing wrong with this as long as seeking peoples' help does not bring with any neediness in one's heart, which in turn produces humiliation and servitude. It is all about the feeling of neediness or humiliation in the heart.
It is normal to ask for your needs, but when you ask people to do you a favour or ask them for money, you must ask them with dignity—without begging or feeling humiliated. Do not plant the seed of neediness in your heart, or it will lead to humiliation that grows like a tree, God forbid, and eventually, humiliation transforms us into slaves to others than God.
If you free yourself from the illusion that people have the ability to benefit or harm you, you will be saved, and you will deal with people with the right state of heart. The Prophet (peace be upon him) gave Ibn Abbas (may God be pleased with him) the following advice, and Ibn Abbas at that time was a young boy. The Prophet said: "O young lad! Know that if the whole nation were to unite and try to benefit you with something, they would never benefit you except by that which God has written for you. And if the whole nation were to unite and try to harm you with something, they would never be able to harm you except with that which God had written for you." [Tirmidhi]
Real freedom comes from servitude to God. This is the definition of freedom in the Islamic worldview. And if you are a true servant of God, then you are free from other than Him. You are free from human beings, material things, and even from your own desires. You are free from any social, political, psychological, or financial pressure. You have no illusion, no neediness, and no humiliation, and you have your freedom.
"A Journey to God: Reflections on the Hikam of Ibn Ataillah" - Jasser Auda