Thursday, June 16, 2005

For Granted

I read a most incredibly wonderful and powerful dua today. Someone recommended it to me and now I have to spread the word and recommend it to everyone else. It is Imam Husain (as)'s supplication at Arafah (Dua Arafah of Imam Husain (as)), given just before he left the plain of Arafah toward Karbala. It is not particularly short, so set aside a bit of time for it but I think you would certainly not regret it.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how we take things for granted; I've been learning about that through lots of events in my life and hopefully learning to do it less. We take our families for granted, that they will be there, that they will be healthy, that they will do what we expect them to, etc. We take our health for granted, that it will be there, that we will be able to do what we want with our bodies like getting up in the morning, moving around the house, driving to the store, breathing, typing. We take nature for granted, that we overlook its beauty, that it will always provide us with wholesome resources, that our children will be able to enjoy it. We take our minds for granted - that we can learn, reason, try to reform ourselves, deal with difficulties. We take our faith for granted, that we have it, that it stays with us and doesn't leave us, that it grows and guides us in the right direction. We take Allah swt for granted more than anything, that He will forgive us, that He accepts our prayers and answers them, that He guides us, that He loves us and is Merciful. Everything in life that we haven't lost or had to fight for we tend to take for granted, and sometimes even those things we take for granted, too, the moment they are given to us.

That is the beauty of loss and struggle. It teaches us to appreciate the uncountable blessings in our bodies, our minds, our souls, our environment, our friends and family, our challenges. Being able to appreciate Allah swt even a fraction of what He is due is a source of peace and joy. Appreciating makes us reflect and slow down and honor what we have. It also makes us understand that it is Allah swt's to take away and when it is taken away we still have uncountable blessings and still owe immeasureable gratitude, and that something taken away is really not a loss to us, it has its own blessings. The only loss or challenge we could face that would truly be a loss is that which takes us away from God, from His pleasure, from knowing Him.

It is not only loss and struggle that teaches not to take things for granted and to appreciate. But an answered prayer, a wonderful unexpected blessing can do the same. In the presence of a wonderful gift, if we reflect on it and acknowledge its preciousness, we have to love Allah swt all the more for the blessing. Its preciousness, even if it is a short-lived blessing, makes us not take that honor of receiving it for granted and makes us appreciate that gift and the Giver. In order to appreciate, we have to be willing to feel joy and pain alike, and we have to be open to Allah swt's designs and plans whatever they may be.

If you want to feel the power of Allah swt in your daily life; to you have to acknowledge the complete power He has over every aspect of your life. The fact that you breathe another breath is only due to the will and power of Allah swt. Allah swt is a changer of fortunes. Like Yusuf (Joseph) who was the lowest of low in the well and became the highest of the high in the Pharaoh's kingdom. We can be made high from low or low from high in an instant despite any effort of our own power granted to us by God. In a moment, I could lose my health, my sanity, my family, my everything. So we must appreciate and not take for granted anything, nothing is promised but that we all will die and raise again; whatever we have is a gift.

If we truly understand this and absorb it into our being, we can never want for what we do not have, we cannot be jealous for what another possesses or can do, because we will be absorbed in the acknowledgement of the greatness of what Allah swt has given us, appreciating it, enjoying it, and inspired by it to give thanks to Allah swt, draw nearer to Him, and seek His pleasure.

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