Wheel of Life, God's Currency, Immortal Dreams

Issue 859 » September 11, 2015 - Zul-Qadah 27, 1436

Living The Quran

Wheel of Life
Al-Zukhruf (Gold) - Chapter 43: Verse 32 (partial)

"It is We who dole out to them their livelihood in the life of this world, and raise some in rank above others, so that some of them may take others into their service."

People's livelihood and provisions in this present life are influenced by their individual talents, life circumstances and social relations. The way they are shared out among individuals and communities is subject to all these factors. Its sharing, however, differs from one generation and society to another, according to the systems, relations and general circumstances of each. The one essential feature which has never been absent, even under the most government-controlled system, is that people's shares are different. It has never happened that people receive equal shares, not even under artificial social orders claiming to enshrine absolute equality.

The result is that some people are raised in rank above others; a situation that occurs in all societies and generations. When the wheel of life turns, some people will inevitably be made to serve others. What is meant here is not that one class or one person should behave arrogantly towards another. This is a naive understanding that is unsuited to the Divine pronouncement. The significance of the statement is longer lasting than any change or development in human society. All mankind serve one another as the wheel of life turns with them all. The one whose provisions are stinted serves the one who is affluent, but the reverse is true as well. Those who have plenty accumulate wealth, using it for their living and employ others who will then receive their provisions by virtue of their work. Each one thus serves another, and it is the difference in their livelihoods and their provisions that enable them to use one another in the course of life. Thus, a worker is in the service of the engineer and the employer, while the engineer is in the service of the employer and the worker, and the employer, in turn, serves both engineer and worker in like manner. All contribute to man's assignment on earth through their differences in abilities, talents, livelihoods and incomes.

It is part of the nature of human life that it relies on differences between individual human beings with respect to their abilities and talents, as well as to the type of work each one can do and the degree of excellence a man or a woman can achieve. These differences are necessary to ensure the fulfillment of a wide range of roles needed to discharge man's mission on earth. Had all human beings been copies of the same model, life on earth could not have survived. Numerous types of work would not have had corresponding abilities. They would have remained undone because there would not have been people who could do them. The One who created life and willed that it should steadily progress also created people with different talents and abilities to correspond to the different tasks that needed fulfilling. It is through such differences in roles that differences of livelihood and provisions occur. Such is the rule.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade Of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol 15, pp. 237, 238

Understanding The Prophet's Life

God's Currency

Once I enter and live in the orbit of the creation — rather than the orbit of God — I begin to use that currency. See, the currency of God’s orbit is: His pleasure or His displeasure, His reward or His punishment. But, the currency of the orbit of creation is: the praise and criticism of people. So, as I enter deeper and deeper into that orbit, I covet more and more of its currency, and I fear more and more of its loss. While I’m playing Monopoly, for example, I covet more and more of its currency. And it feels great to be ‘rich’ for a moment. But when the game is over, what can I buy in the real world with Monopoly money?

The human currency of praise is Monopoly money. It feels great for a moment to collect, but when the game is over, it’s worthless. In the reality of this life and the next, it’s worthless. And yet, I even covet this false currency in my worship. In this way, I fall victim to the hidden shirk: Riyaa (showing off in worship). Riyaa is a consequence of living in the orbit of the creation. The deeper and deeper I enter into that orbit, the more I become consumed with gaining human praise, approval and recognition. The more I enter that orbit, the more I fear loss — loss of face, loss of status, loss of praise, loss of approval.

Yet the more I fear the people, the more I become enslaved. True freedom only comes when I let go of the fear of anything and anyone other than God.

In a profound hadith, a man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of God, direct me to an act, which if I do, God will love me and people will love me.” He said: “Detach yourself from the world, and God will love you. Detach yourself from what is with the people, and the people will love you.” [Ibn Majah]

Ironically, the less we chase after the approval and love of the people, the more we gain it. The less needy we are of others, the more people are drawn to us and seek our company. This hadith teaches us a profound Truth. Only by breaking out of the orbit of the creation, can we succeed with both God and people.

Compiled From:
"Reclaim Your Heart" - Yasmin Mogahed


Immortal Dreams

A dream transports us from the narrowness of our present circumstances to the expansiveness of the future. It takes us from despair and gives us hope. It takes us from a state of fear to one of optimism and expectancy. A poor child may dream of an apple he can sink his teeth into or a comfortable bed to sleep in or a nice toy to play with. A person in fear dreams about safety and nothing else. Fear is the enemy of dreams. When a person is consumed with fear, it is as if they are bound in chains.

There are those who confine and constrict people’s lives. The worst of those are the ones who constrict people’s dreams. They do not want to want people to dream or stretch their imaginations beyond their daily preoccupations.

Happiness is a dream.

Success is a dream.

Freedom is a dream. It is even so for the bird that flings itself at the bars of its cage longing for the sky, and the cat that mews and scratches at the door, longing for the field.

Justice is a collective dream, where the artificial distinctions between people are finally dissolved and everyone stands as equals before the authorities on Earth, and when it ultimately will happen in the Hereafter.

The sense that you must contribute something to life, that you are sincere to a dream that you wait to realize this is enough. It is the need to be an example of creativity or excellence or to contribute something original that opens up new horizons for others or provides an original and fresh configuration of older modes of action.

When you connect your dreams with Allah, they take on a timeless, immortal character. They cease being personal dreams and become dreams of the whole community. A worldly dream, when connected with Allah, can extend to the farthest horizons and stretch to the Hereafter where, with Allah’s grace, there is joy that cannot be comprehended on Earth.

Those who do not have the power to dream will never achieve anything. Be careful not to domesticate your dreams in order to bring them in line with the pessimistic, distorted and limited outlook of your present circumstances. Dream without limits. Let your imagination run free. Create your own imaginary world that will become the real and tangible world when you believe it can.

We will excel as a nation when we possess dreams as numerous as the people who constitute it, or when those who have noble dreams take life by the collar and move forward. We will progress when our religious sermons start inspiring our dreams instead of stifling them.

We should note that Martin Luther King said: “I had a dream.” He did not say: “I had a problem.”

Indeed, it was a problem that he was addressing, a problem that still exists. However, if we approach life as a problem, we are making things as difficult for us as we can possibly make them.

Compiled From:
"I Had a Dream" - Salman al-Oadah