Comments & Analyses-II
By Yousuf Mahbubul Islam, PhD
In places of worship all around the world, at other places during prayers, also while standing, walking, and sitting or lying on our sides how often do we ask God for something? Even, those who lead congregational prayers sometimes break into tears while asking. What is it that we ask for?
Before or while asking do we take stock of what God has already given us in the intelligent life that we are leading? Have we ever asked ourselves why He has given so many blessings? In fact, do we use God like we would a special medicine – medication that we take whenever we have a problem or need/want something? How many people thank the medicine when cured? Indeed, how many of us are grateful to God for the opportunity of intelligent life and the blessings that He has already given?
What is the situation we have here? We continually ask for things, yet we are not grateful for what we have or what we get? Should we analyse what this implies regarding the comparative perception we have of ourselves verses God? To help with the analysis, let us ask some further questions while looking at similar situations. For example, for household goods, manufacturers act as suppliers of furniture, ovens, fridges, washing machines, utensils, crockery, etc. Are the goods free? We not only have to pay, we give value and show respect to good manufacturers by referring them to neighbours, relatives and friends.
So in the case of home goods, the suppliers are valued and respected. This we do, in addition, after having paid them good money. In contrast, why/when do we approach God? Do we approach Him for things that other suppliers cannot provide? For example, do we ask for success in exams, for a safe flight in stormy weather, for safe delivery from a sinking ship, etc.? When God supplies what clearly only He can do, with exam success and safe delivery home on dry land how do we respond? Do we return the favour by praising and thanking Him? Do we, in turn, refer Him to others relating how He gave success or how He saved us using the most unexpected means? If we do not, why not? As an all powerful Supplier, does He not deserve at least the minimum courtesy we show our other suppliers?
At this point, we need to analyse our thought processes carefully and logically. We can do this by asking ourselves the following questions. The first question is do we shy away from thanking Him? If we do, why? On the one hand we proudly discuss the qualities of a brand manufacturer, yet on the other hand we shy away from discussing the all powerful qualities of God, especially when He has done us a clear favour? Does our ego get in the way – would we feel small or subservient? Or would we be afraid of being called “old-fashioned”?
On the contrary, should we feel honored that God has not only listened, He has given us importance by responding to the prayer and granting the favour – a favour that only He can grant? If we ignore Him in return, an important question to consider is how should God look upon our ignoring His Indulgence? If we deny Him the value and respect that is due rightfully to Him, could we be classified as disrespectful, unjust, arrogant, ungrateful or simply be demonstrating disbelief? To help understand human nature and the role of our egos, we need to relate the following practical situation to our life, as relayed by God in the Holy Qur’an.
18.32 “And present to them an example of two men: for one of them We granted two gardens of grapevines and We bordered them with date-palms. In between the two gardens We placed corn-fields.”
What does the human ego say when blessed with so much? As additional blessings,
18.33 “Each of those gardens abundantly produced its fruit and failed not in the least. Between the two gardens We caused a river to flow.”
Why – for the convenience of watering? Being so blessed, his ego took over,
18.34 “As he enjoyed the fruit of his blessings, he said to his companion in the course of a mutual argument, “I am greater than you in wealth, have more honor and power in (my following among) men.””
By letting loose his ego, did he prove his ingratitude towards the Giver of his blessings?
18.35 “He went into his garden in a state (of mind) unjust to his soul; He said (to himself), “I feel not that this will ever perish.”
Instead of working out the source of blessings, he felt like the lord of the blessings! Did he feel that he deserved everything he had, given his feelings of greatness?
18.36 “I do not think that the Hour (of Judgment) will (ever) come. Even if I am brought back to my Lord I shall surely find (there) something better in exchange.”
God gave him a companion to help him understand his nature (as another blessing?)
18.37 “His companion said to him in the course of the argument with him: “Do you deny Him Who created you out of dust then out of a sperm-drop then fashioned you into a man (and gave you all these blessings)?”
18.38 “As for me, He is God, my Lord and none shall I associate with my Lord.”
By denying God, the blessed friend had, in effect, raised himself to the level of God. Even when comparing himself with his friend, he did not recognize the special favors given by God.
18.39 “Why did you not, as you entered your garden say, “Allah has willed these blessings! There is no power except with Allah!”? Although when you compare me you find me less in wealth and sons.”
18.40 “It may be that my Lord will give me something better than your garden and that He will send on your garden thunderbolts (to jog your understanding) from heaven making it (but) slippery mud!”
We should fear God as He may do anything to jolt our understanding – He may even withdraw His blessings.
18.41 “Or the rivers of the garden will disappear so that you will never be able to find water.”
18.42 “So his fruits (and enjoyment) were encompassed (with ruin) and he remained twisting and turning his hands over what he had spent on his property which had (now) tumbled to pieces to its very foundations and he could only say, “Woe is me, I wish I had never associated partners to my Lord and Cherisher!””
18.43 “Nor had he any power to help himself against God nor was he able to deliver himself.”
Who had he equated as a partner with God and what was the result? Are there any lessons for us?