Vision of God, Protection of Faith, Appropriate Response
Issue 959 » August 11, 2017 - Dhul Qida 19, 1438
Vision of God
Al-Araf (The Heights) Sura 7: Verse 143
"And when Moses came to Our appointed meeting and his Lord spoke unto him, he said, 'My Lord, show me, that I might look upon Thee.' He said, 'Thou shalt not see Me; but look upon the mountain: if it remains firm in its place, then thou wilt see Me.' And when his Lord manifested Himself to the mountain, He made it crumble to dust, and Moses fell down in a swoon. And when he recovered, he said, 'Glory be to Thee! I turn unto Thee in repentance, and I am the first of the believers.'"
Every one of man's faculties has its appropriate function which it delights to fulfill. This holds good of them all, from the lowest bodily appetite to the highest form of intellectual apprehension. But, even a comparatively low form of mental exertion affords greater pleasure than the satisfaction of bodily appetites. Thus, if a man happens to be absorbed in a game of chess, he will not come to his meal, though repeatedly summoned. And the higher the subject-matter of our knowledge, the greater is our delight in it; for instance, we would take more pleasure in knowing the secrets of a king than the secrets of a vizier. Seeing, then, that God is the highest possible object of knowledge, the knowledge of Him must afford more delight than any other.
But, the delight of knowledge still falls short of the delight of vision, just as our pleasure in thinking of those we love is much less than the pleasure afforded by the actual sight of them. Our imprisonment in bodies of clay and water, and entanglement in the things of sense constitute a veil which hides the Vision of God from us, although it does not prevent our attaining to some knowledge of Him. For this reason God said to Moses on Mount Sinai, "Thou shalt not see Me."
The truth of the matter is this that, just as the seed of man becomes a man, and a buried date stone becomes a palm tree, so the knowledge of God acquired on Earth will in the Next World change into the Vision of God, and he who has never learnt the knowledge will never have the Vision. This Vision will not be shared alike by all who know, but their discernment of it will vary exactly as their knowledge. God is one, but He will be seen in many different ways, just as one object is reflected in different ways by different mirrors, some showing it straight, and some distorted, some clearly and some dimly. A mirror may be so crooked as to make even a beautiful form appear misshapen, and a man may carry into the next world a heart so dark and distorted that the sight which will be a source of peace and joy to others will be to him a source of misery. He, in whose heart the love of God has prevailed over all else, will derive more joy from this vision than he in whose heart it has not so prevailed; just as in the case of two men with equally powerful eyesight, gazing on a beautiful face, he who already loves the possessor of that face will rejoice in beholding it more than he who does not.
"Alchemy of Happiness" - Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali
Protection of Faith
Ask Allah to grant you an abundance of livelihood that is halal and tayyib (lawful and pure); to grant you the means of income that should at least be enough for you to meet your needs with ease, so that while being contented with whatever you have, you may be happy and have a due portion of worldly enjoyments.
A minimum of worldly resources is necessary even for the protection of faith. Do not be negligent in trying to secure some portion of the world. Indeed, this is part of ibadah (worship) and is essential in order to ensure a degree of excellence in the other acts of ibadah. So do try to earn at least this minimum of livelihood, considering it a part of your religious obligations. At the same time, hold fast to the belief that you are bound to receive what Allah has ordained for you. Treading on forbidden paths will not earn you any more than what is your apportioned share. Also keep in view the directive of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him: “Be moderate in seeking [wealth]” [Kanz al-Ummal]
"Dyning and Living for Allah" - Khurram Murad
One of the greatest summations of the saving virtues comes from a sage in the 13th century, Imam Abu Abbas al-Mursi. He summarized all of life’s possibilities in four scenarios:
1. You can be in a state of obedience to God
2. You can be in a state of disobedience to God
3. You can be in a state of ease
4. You can be in a state of adversity
Each of these situations is from God, and each necessitates an appropriate response - not of the body, but of the heart. The appropriate spiritual virtues to embody in response are:
1. If you are obedient to God, you must exhibit awareness of God’s favour upon you, having guided you to obey Him.
2. If you are disobedient to Him, you must remorsefully repent to Him for your transgressions.
3. If you are in a time of ease, you must sense deep gratitude to God for his gifts.
4. If you are challenged by adversity, you must endure God’s decree with patience.
To make use of this timeless wisdom requires a level of awareness and introspection regarding the states we are in. Too often we live our lives at so fast a pace that we do not reflect upon ourselves. With reflection and introspection, we will be more able to engender the appropriate virtuous response of heart.
"Being Muslim: A Practical Guide" - Asad Tarsin, p. 107