Auron ka hai Payaam aur, mera Payaam aur hai,/ Ishq key dardmand ka tarz-e-kalaam aur hai! (Iqbal)
Thus, no matter how you look at it, Islam, the Qur’an and the life of even the most ordinary Muslims are all full of things that can only be described as miraculous.
I call them the Everyday Miracles of Islam – and Muslims.
By that I mean all the wonderful and amazing phenomena that are part of Islam and Muslim life, and of course part of the most miraculous Qur’an, but which are either unknown, unnoticed, unrecognized, un-understood, unappreciated, ignored, minimized or dismissed as unimportant by most people in the world, including most Muslims.
But to me the story of Islam – and of the Qur’an and of Muslims – is the story of a ceaseless torrent of these Everyday Miracles – facts, events, happenings and realities whose probability of happening in real life is so low as to make their occurrence almost impossible.
The fact is that Islam, the Qur’an, the Hadith – and the life of the most ordinary of Muslims – is brimming with them.
That is right: even the life of the most ordinary of Muslims is full of these everyday Islamic miracles.
If only we had eyes to see; ears to hear; minds to ponder, analyze and understand; hearts to absorb, enjoy and appreciate – and, to a significant degree, if we had the integrity, honesty, humility and courage to acknowledge!
THE HONEST CHOICE
That means when faced with these miracles, you either account for them, which means you come up with some natural, rational and plausible explanation for them. Or you accept them at face value – for what they claim to be – as being entirely a gift and a miraculous blessing from God Almighty.
Miracles. Nothing but miracles.
Or better still, you do both: you accept them as divine gifts and miracles and yet at the same time continue to investigate them rationally and scientifically as the Qur’an admonishes us to do at every turn.
The choice is that simple.
And you come out on top – as they say – no matter which alternative you pursue.
And these Everyday Miracles of Islam, as I call them, are living and vivid in every age and time, right before the eyes of every generation, either to accept or to reject. In every age, time and place, these Everyday Miracles of Islam exist in the form of hard, contemporary and compelling realities, and not as vague, mysterious, fragmented, reconstructed memories from debris of times gone by – memories that are either shrouded in the mist of time and legend or which are in constant flux, splintering, rediscovery and reconstitution.
“Good” Muslims “Bad” Muslims
I now turn to one such miracle: the everyday miracle of “fun” in Islam, that I made a reference to a long time ago.
Let me begin by sharing with you a little exchange I had with some Muslims in England – “good” Muslims that is. It is always the “good” Muslims that interest me. The “bad” ones don’t really seem to matter that much in Allah’s scheme of things.
There is very little entropy or uncertainty associated with them – the so-called “bad” Muslims I mean. The course and outcome of their lives and conduct are quite known and predictable.
The “bad” Muslims, whoever they are and however you define them – and regardless of whether they have chosen to be bad morally, philosophically, politically, economically, socially or in Ibaadaat or in Mu’aamallat – have more or less made a conscious decision to be bad and evil, or at least to continue to move along the path of being bad and evil.
God and his angels are well equipped to deal with them. And to protect the Muslims and the world from the evil they may unleash.
But there is a catch, and the “good” Muslims are that catch. It is the “good” Muslims – always the “good” Muslims – that are a bit of a thorn in the flesh of human life on earth. They are the ones who make the difference in this world.
They are the ones who sometimes get in the way of Allah, his Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, Islam, Muslims and the world, and make a mess of Allah’s world. The world then becomes essentially what they make. The so-called “good” Muslims I mean.
It is they whose lack of imagination and education, whose lack of knowledge and understanding, whose overactive egos and sensitivities, and whose lack of leadership and discipline create havoc for Muslims in this world – and for the world in general.
As a poet once said: Is ghar ko aag lag ga-ee ghar kay charaagh say!
Paraphrase: It was the lamp inside the house that burned down this house.
That is in part because Allah cares about these people, the “good” Muslims, and, as a result, he lets them commit all the foolishness they want to commit in this world – the next world and its joys and wonders being guaranteed for them.
Naturally, when they, the “good” Muslims, behave in all kinds of strange and questionable ways that they so often seem to do, Allah’s Sunnat of cause-and-effect takes hold in his world, and everyone pays the price. Muslims as well as non-Muslims – all of Allah’s creation on earth, in fact – pay the price.
Muslim history is full of any number of heartbreaking instances that illustrate this.
The Miracle of “Fun” in Islam
Some years ago a fairly important Muslim leader in England asked me a question at the end of a set of speeches I gave and at the conclusion of a rather sumptuous feast he had arranged, Allah bless him, for some of us.
“So, what are your future plans?” he asked over steaming kebab and pilaf. To which I replied in a rather meaning sort of a way: “To have fun! Endless fun! Inshallah!”
Then I added after pausing a second or two for effect, “Right here in this world and, hopefully, if Allah is merciful, in the next world, after my death.”
The silence that followed could have been carved with a butcher’s knife. It was broken only when people began to react with visible signs of surprise.
In response, I recited that most amazing Aayat of the Qur’an – that most incomparable gift of Du’a or prayer that Muslims have in their possession, in many cases unbeknownst to themselves. A prayer given to them by none other than God Almighty himself.
“Rabbanaa aatinaa fiddunyaa hasanatan wa fil aakhirati hasnah!”
How in the world do you render in English that most amazing Qur’anic expression Hasanah? The best I can do is “something good, something wonderful, something amazing, something indescribably joyous and felicitous.”
Having, mashallah, brought up, as they say in this part of the world, three children in America – may Allah bless them and give them the best of both worlds – boy, do I know a thing or two about what those two words, “Something Good,” mean!
For child after child, may Allah bless each one of them, that has meant the endless quest for something nice, wonderful, exciting, amazing, rewarding – and fun. Of course, all this within the bounds (hudood) of what is right, lawful, Halaal – and also affordable for the parents.
The results generally were endless hunt for parents and endless joy – not only for the children, but also, in some inexplicable way, for the parents as well.
And here is Almighty Allah teaching us to ask him for “Something Good” – right here in this world as well as in the next world. Does that mean Allah loves us like the most doting of parents in this world love their children?
To answer that question, let me tell you two things, one from the Qur’an and the other from the Hadith. Does it also mean that it was We-the-Muslims who gave American culture and language that beautiful expression “fun”? But about that some other time, inshaAllah.