20:99-103 [the tragedy of the proverbial starving saying to food: touch me not!]

Is there a moment of reckoning, a gathering of “criminals”, a heavy burden? Am I going to see myself confined to a life with a time-stamp of a few years (how do these years feel to me? long?) and what or who makes me feel that my life has a time-stamp and an expiration date? Am I choosing to see life this way? Is it true? Is it the case? How does it feel to have an expiration date for myself and for everything I love and cherish? Why does it feel that way? Who or what makes me feel sad and disappointed when things decline and pass? It’s silly to call this “natural”? What does that even mean? “I naturally feel disappointed or sad” when what I love dies or goes away!! That means nothing to me. It is meaningless. The word “natural” has no meaning. It is an empty label that explains nothing and pretends to explain everything. Revelation from my maker gives me the meaning I need for making sense of me, my “feelings”, the reality that I face and the contradictions it raises (I find myself loving life and I find myself with a life that is leaving me…and at lightening speed when I stop to look and reflect).

If and when I realize that what I have been taking to be the real owner and source of life and beauty and benefit for me is NOT such a self-sufficient, inexhaustible source of life, beauty and benefit to me, I have witnessed a moment of reckoning, a heavy burden, a panic that is the feeling of loss and alienation, of utter abandonment and loneliness. I have being made to stand up and take note. It is in this moment that I realize I have wronged myself. I find myself, as if, beaten and battered and dying (blue), life and beauty slipping away into nothing. I have no source of life I can trust and count on for giving me life and beauty and benefit I so desperately need. I find that I was connected to things as an illusion – I find that no enduring connection exists between me and what I love and I am alone and forsaken. My awareness that I exist and my awareness of what I have been made to need and even taste and then lose is a torture. This is the yawm al-qiyama I face here and now and so I confirm its existence in the unseen realm BASED ON what I see here and now. Faith that is blind is no faith. It’s a lie and a false claim. Faith, or as I like to call it safety/security or trust is always about something unseen (or else it would be knowledge) but always based on the seen and the known and the understood. There is always, as a human being, a basis for trust and this basis is not trust itself (or some ironic or sentimental or self-ennobling assertion that one simply trusts). I am not such a being. I am not a being for whom trust is possible without evidence that something or someone is worthy of trust. This is how I find myself. If you trust without any reason to trust, please carry on. For me to do so would be a delusion and a lie.

I face the burden, a burden worse than death, when I turn away from the real source of life and joy and beauty and instead see it coming from other than Him (these “idols” of mine are things like “religions” that I “embrace” (including Islam), my own humanity, my community, a shared history, memory, some great individual whom I admire, some culture, some venerable past – people attribute glory and beauty to all kinds of things which do not own that beauty and glory). Whatever is other than the eternal source and owner of all the beauty demonstrated in all beauty-bearing activities and beings in the world, passes and displays its contingent, created reality and disappoints me AS a source of sustenance (beauty, life etc) FOR ME. It cannot give me anything. It does not and cannot provide beauty and life and benefit to me! I see this. The burden of a “life” that I cannot sustain and enjoy for more than a few passing years, which passes like the flashing of a light, is for me to carry. The loss is mine that I must inflict upon myself if I turn away from the guidance my maker sends that essentially asks me to see life as the Life of an eternally Living One, beauty as the Beauty of an everlasting all-Beauteous One and so on. The “seeing” of this One is what it calls me to do with the tools he has given me – reason, feelings, my “I” and so on.

So then, when the trumpet is blown i.e. when I suddenly come to realize (and it’s always some sudden dawning and realization on the heals of some proverbial “loud sound” that interrupts me and shocks me out of my apparent comfort zone and which, looking back from a place of guidance I can all “ghafla/heeslessness’ that things become clear to me. They are made clear to me in this way. I witness this here and now. The moment of reckoning of which Quran tells is when my burdens become clear to me and I am not able to escape them. When I am not able to cover and dress my wounds in fake smiles and empty claims. It is when I grasp with some clarity the deathly trouble I am in. It is when I realize that all that I take to be praiseworthy, significant and beautiful and beneficial to me is simply disappearing without a trace, it is a heavy moment. I find myself betrayed and despaired by what I loved and what I counted on for my happiness and sustenance (mainly the sustenance of the soul, which is meaning). The idea that that “someone may continue living in people’s hearts, memories or through one’s good works etc” is the silliest piece of therapeutic and heart-numbing crap I ever heard. What does it mean to live in someone’s heart, someone who is also going to die? BUT if I read these feelings as signs, shown to me in my own being by my maker, that tell me that my soul does not accept annihilation and tries to give longevity and continuity to beauty and if I thus see that this is a sign telling me about the existence of eternal life beyond death for all beings, then my feeling would be meaningful and the idea of people living in thoughts etc would be perfect as signs to a real resurrection. But if I am supposed to find solace in living in the hearts of people only, people who are also going to die, I find it meaningless and of no use at all. I dislike escapist lies like that. If I have no lasting meaning and thus no lasting life, beauty is not beauty for a beauty that attracts only to then forever disappear is torture and it is not beauty anymore. If i have no source of beauty available to me, then I am, as if, a person who is blue/dead/dying (but worse because I am aware of the loss) and I find myself having done wrong to myself. I find myself a criminal for killing beauty for myself, destroying my access to it. It is a terrible burden for me. I understand this. And i see that the ayat/signs revelation mentions are true – these signs point to a reality that exists, a reality that my maker sometimes calls hell, a reality that is an existence worse than death because it is an awareness of the loss of an eternal bliss and eternal life that is there and that I have been given the need for. This loss is not some gentle and benign oblivion that I pass into. I have no evidence in the seen world that I love oblivion or that I am happy that all things exist in oblivion. I want to be noticed and I want things to count. I want people to count, feelings to count, beauty to count, justice to count. There is no evidence of oblivion in my life that I could have faith (unless i am that “faith is blind” person, in which case anything goes really) that I or others would pass into some benign oblivion. I find myself having stakes in the matter of existence. And this points to something revelation makes known to me.

And so, fellow reader, if you find yourself realizing, as I sometimes do, that “time flies”, you should ask who gave you this sense of passing time as something you are made rueful about? Who or what is the source of your life and beauty and your love of beauty? And so if I think time is my reality, time makes me, that I exist in time and by time, this name “time” that I have made up which has no meaning and which my maker describes as the bringing of all things into being at once and again and then again with an effortless, spontaneous, ever-present command that I as a human being can witness and understand as a “be!” of an all-powerful, all-wise, all-merciful One. There is no “time” that I can find satisfactory or sufficient for living life. Ten days or one day or a hundred years or a thousand years, existence with a time stamp, an existence that is constantly going into oblivion and with it, me and all I care about, is a burden for the kind of creature I am. The One who is the source of being flies nowhere and neither would I and my life and all things beautiful, if I do not turn away from Him as the source, to things and names I have made up. IF I take other than Him as what I love and what I need, read a few verses before the ones I have noted and you will find me described as the person who would say to everything: do not touch me (la misas)! I would be someone saying (with my heart and my attitude): “go away life! go away beauty. go away justice and wisdom. I know you are there but I choose to deprive myself of you! this “touch me not” will be the outcome, the Quran claims, of my perspective that took other than the Living, the Beautiful One to be the source of my life, the source of the beauty I love and need. What a foolish choice it would be for me to do this to myself. But I find it true. If I make my provider something that is a dying and helpless one, it is as if I have said to provision, “be gone!”. I have done this. Revelation tells the truth about me IF and When I choose like Samiri.

I understand this. I say to myself: don’t bear burdens of meaninglessness and oppression and so don’t take created beings to be sources of value and life and beauty and benefit. Surrender life and beauty to the Living, Beautiful and merciful One and see other than Him vanish AS sources of these goods. They are burned and scattered as ilah/deity and I can confirm this when I question their status as the source of what I love in them or about them. I witness this burning and scattering (20:97-98). Because I witness it, I trust it and find safety/iman and guidance through it.

Published by Faraz Sheikh

Faraz Sheikh

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