A person will always interpret everything he hears according to the light which dominates his heart. – Imam Al-Ghazzali
The morning is brought to life with the crisp calls of the Mynahs that visit the garden and with their calls come a host other birds adding to the cacophony that invites the day to start with a glorious sunrise. Faith the harbinger of every sunrise. Fear the trap of the faithless.
If I were faithless on Day 13 (6/01/2021) of my isolation and battle with the COVID-19 virus, I believe I would be my own worst enemy and the abyss of my own depression, anxiety, woes and paranoia. Making the time to sit and pen this gives faith to the workings of my brain that I have the power not to give up and to save myself from myself. I, like you, can become the enemy within and that is something the heart does not want because the desire for a good life is an innate gift from Allah, the High the Great. As the words colour the page with meaning, the birds awaken my soul to the faith they have. They leave their nests on an empty stomach and would return with a full belly but, it is their chirping and calls that speak a different faith. Their faith is in the happy sounding calls and their fitness of flight. I look at them with smiling envy because, here I am having short breath and not so long ago would get on my bike and choose to ride anything from 30 kms to 100kms. They choose to fly from one part of the garden to the next and sit on the feeder and the bird bath by choice and they look so happy and energetic. Their energy gives them flight and they flap their wings with such grace and when you look intently, you realise just how much energy it takes to flap those wings, keep their feet taught against the body in flight and still chirp along and when they land it is more graceful than any aeroplane landing on the best of runways. Faith is the life of the bird and fear, I believe is not. The sun fills the room and with it comes the distant calls of pigeons, the beautiful gurgle of doves and with the radiant roses adorning the garden, I know I am in the right place. The place of faith.
Faith drives belief and belief drives behaviour! In the moment of this indulgence I was compelled by the force of nature to admire it and record what I saw and felt. Nature has the faith to live its majesty and thrive against the odds of mankind’s pollution of it yet, it does not fail to wonder you into serenity every time. It hides its sorrows of seeing us making its birds, trees and oceans die and lives up to its reputation of giving faith to the one who gazes on it. Take a look and listen with the heart and soul of a seeker of faith.
Nature does not show its fear as humans do because its majesty is different and, man, created in the best of forms thrives on fear to make survival of its species real. Faith, on the other hand, is the gift for the soul to realise that losing hope is the beginning of fear. Fear, like the tentacles of a giant squid, begins to strangle the life we have. When we have the opportunity to sit in silence and absorb the tranquility around us, faith begins to take root like roots of trees, shrubs and grass giving a garden of varying beauty making each moment different. Similarly, faith is the garden of many roots, branches, water features, roses and thorns of life spiritual life lessons behind every trial, tribulation, worry and anxieties emboldening hope to see the success after effort and; ease after hardship. Nature shows us that every rain cloud runs out of rain and blesses the earth with water, a life giving force that caresses the earth with a delicate touch. The raindrop does not tear the rose petal from it bud except in a thunderstorm which occurs less than the beneficial rain. Similarly, faith, like rain falls on you with a delicate touch and when needed, like thunderstorm, it shakes you out of your misery of self-pity and makes you think aloud and your cry is your only anguish because you begin to tread the path of self-realisation.
Self-realisation has its roots also in the circles of guidance with sheikhs, sages and sufis in the early hours of the morning. It has its flavours in the pearls of wisdom that emanate from the teachings of Prophets (PBUH) and untainted holy scripture like the Holy Quran. They are however, conduits to open the recesses of the heart to understand faith and to let go of fear. These conduits are openings for the soul to find certainty in faith. This morning, the birds continued for a long while singing their praises because, I believe that they had faith in the day’s provisions without doubt. This made me look deep in my heart to ask what is it that I see? Imam Ghazzali is correct, “A person will always interpret everything he hears according to the light which dominates his heart.” When I interpret all what I experience it points to Allah, the Majestic who has created everything in perfect order and balance that can never be imitated by man even if we all come together to create the wing of just one fly. Therefore, this pandemic and its effect on me is from HIM and it is test of faith.
Faith and fear are the two wings COVID-19 attaches its virus too. Personally, if you strengthen the wing of fear, faith dissipates like droplets of water off a hot plate. If faith is given flight, you begin to grow roots of inner strength, inner peace, acceptance, self-reliance, gratitude, resilience and passion to live and; if the death knell is sounded for you, know that you will go down like a martyr. Cowards die everyday and martyrs never die. Somehow, you find that faith within you to want to survive and live for another day and do a good deed, pray another prayer, read another page from the Holy Quran, send salutations on Muhammad ﷺ and to glorify Allah, the Magnificent. If these were not within the heart of man, what else can fill it with a deep contentment that defies logic but, satisfies you beyond the logical? Nothing! Only Faith. Faith is hope, very much like the atheist on the edge of death on a sinking ship calling out to Allah, the Controller of affairs for help.
Seeking help is an instinctive desire of man to have because of being constantly in need of things from food, clothing, shelter, security, acceptance and self-actualisation. Fear is the most overwhelming because it can destroy good and pure desires and contaminate it with the seven deadly sins. We desire happiness in times of grief, spirituality in times of moral despair and food in times hunger. These are real and genuine because it fulfils a need that adds greater value to our existence. Our existence is above animal because of our intelligence and if we don’t realise this, we are the greatest fools. There is story of Isa/Jesus (PBUH), related in the book, Irshad. The Wisdom of a Sufi Master and it goes like this:
The Blessed Jesus Flees From a Fool
A person once encountered the venerable Jesus, who was going somewhere in a great hurry. “O Spirit of Allah,” said the man, “where are you rushing off to at such a great speed?” Replied the venerable Jesus: “I am fleeing from the fool.” The man then asked: “O Prophet of Allah, you have restored the dead to life by God’s leave; you have given sight to the blind; you have healed the leper. Have you no remedy for the fool?” But the venerable Prophet told him: “The dead may be brought to life, the blind may be given the power of sight, the leper may be healed. But for the fool, since he is subject to Allah’s wrath, there is no cure. From him one must flee.”
The point made here is that there are so many intelligent people who know the truth about faith but refuse to admit to it and they confuse you with fear and desire of the worldly life. I am drawn to Abu Jhal who was alive in the time of Muhammad ﷺ. He knew the truth of Muhammad’s ﷺ message, mission and revealed word but refused to believe in him. Today Muhammad ﷺ is still revered and followed whilst Abu Jahl has no lineage or following that renders him amongst the saintly or those on truth. The point made is that fools distance themselves from faith because it demands that you relent to divine guidance and stay clear from envy, personal vaulting ambition and pride.
The desires of pride inflames envy and personal ambition and the primary example is that of Satan who fell from grace. The fool takes himself into the abyss of uncontrolled desires, passions and envy whilst it is Allah, the Great who takes HIS faithful through every condition. If you study it closely it shows that submission to faith in Allah, the Powerful who opens up a pathway for you to take to reach the next spiritual station whilst, falling prey to a fool’s paradise, you take your own path which you do not know where it leads too. It might come across sermonising here but, I want to make the point that in my condition of agony and pain it was only Allah, the Merciful who took me through this illness.
I would have been foolish to believe in all the conspiracy about COVID-19 and other associated stories on it and rely on medication only because those are all ends in themselves like a candle that must reach its end when all the wax is melted. So this curved ball of COVID-19 that was thrown at me was catch I was happy to take because, it separated me from fools and made me realise that there is faith and the desire to improve on ones faith is like the journey of the salmon. A journey of arduous trials but what a metamorphoses? It is one of the most epic illustrations of faith and desire to start and finish a goal with no envy just the deep desire to spawn again at the place of birth. Similarly, the life of the faithful is the desire to spawn more and more good so that the legacy of faith continues in the hearts of people who have faith and who are not foolish. The foolish cannot wield the sword with loyalty or strike the soul with a sincere word but, the faithful changes the path of destiny by a mere footstep in the right direction.
The birds fly in the right direction all the time without navigation instruments and are never fooled to take another direction yet, we with all guides and instrumentations are lost. Is it not that we desire more of the transient world therefore, we interpret every thing from this vantage because our hearts are soaked with the world? The answer is yes. We need to soak our hearts with faith and work on it. This must be the desire and the road is tough because it is easier to go downhill than to to climb uphill. As I get into the next phase of recovery I realise that it was faith in Allah, the Glorious that took me through the illness and it will always be HIM who will open a pathway and provide from resources unimaginable to the mind. It all starts with the morning ring of appreciating the bounties of Allah and being grateful that you have another day to have faith. Desire for faith is spiritual whilst fear is an overpowering enemy that you give life to because of a lack of faith. Step out in faith and embrace the day with all that it has to offer and don’t fear the unknown because it has not happened yet. What is happening now is the chirping of the birds, the rising of the sun and millions getting off to work and millions doing millions of things except for the fool who is irritated by the crowing of the rooster because it has woken him up from his slumber and spiritual loss. Your heart has the answers, give it a voice when you enjoy the ‘sounds of silence.’