enclosed in incompleteness & its wrongs

48:1-2

إِنَّا فَتَحْنَا لَكَ فَتْحًا مُّبِينًا

VERILY We have opened for you an opening manifest/clear

لِيَغْفِرَ لَكَ اللَّهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِن ذَنبِكَ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ وَيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ وَيَهْدِيَكَ صِرَاطًا مُّسْتَقِيمًا

so that God might erases/covers the wrongs of your past and that come after, and complete his blessing on you and (thus) guide you onto a path [on which] you can firmly stand (i.e without feeling the constrictions of presumably incomplete goods/blessings?)

Revelation makes claims about my reality. It describes it to someone like me, who is looking for a satisfactory description of reality because one has found one’s own descriptions unable to free one’s heart-mind from confusion, dissatisfaction, despair and worry – the worry that is a worry about not understanding the truth about one’s life and existence and feeling one is in the proverbial “dark”. It is the light of meaning that I seek in revelation and it is thus inevitable that i would ask if a claim made in a “revelation” is true – does it reveal a meaning that satisfies the heart’s dissatisfactions? This can also mean that the claims of revelation also, being “signs”, reveal the dissatisfactions to me more clearly than I may have been able to discern on my own. I should come to revelation ready to hear its description of both the problem and its solution, then bring it to my life and experience and observation and reflect. Then I come to either witness the truths of its claims (about both the problem and the solution, not just the solution) and experience “light” of meaning in relation to what I simultaneously confirm as the “dark” of meaninglessness/misguidance. To come to revelation is to ask one’s maker to reveal what one CAN understand as true or false but what one DOES NOT, as one seeking meaning, does not already understand. Fidelity to revelation, as I have noted in some earlier post, is NOT that one rushes to agree/echo/repeat its claims as things one already believes and affirms. It is to witness one’s pre-revelational perspective, as a reader, to be “misguided” and therefore to witness the post-revelational understanding to be “guidance”. Otherwise, I am not seeking guidance but simply seeking to be counted, in the eyes of others and in my own eyes, as redeemed and saved. Only I lose when I do this to myself. Anyways, all of this I have said before and is repetition. But for me, if I do not situate myself as someone looking for meaning that will make sense to my heart/mind, here and now, there is little sense to my engagements with “revelation”. I feel I have to clarify my intention and purpose when I decide to read a text that claims to be revelation, just as I do the same when I read the back of a pancake mix box. If I weren’t hungry and weren’t looking to make pancakes in a way that would me edible and enjoyable and nourishing, why would i read the back of a pancake box? I should not abandon this kind of commonsense when I approach “revelation”.

When I read the first verse, I find a claim about the speaker “opening” something for me. A manifest or clear opening. And so I ask myself: do I have a need for an “opening” of some kind? Are things “closed” in some way? What is the closing that needs an opening that my maker, God, opens? Do I or do I not find myself trapped or constricted? What kind of existence or life do I have? What is the “trapped” or “enclosed” situation for which my maker claims His opening of a “clear opening” is a message/guidance from Him to me? I have to think about this claim, a sign, in relation to my life and existence, if I am going to respond by affirming or rejecting the truth and guidance of this claim. If there is nothing that is unopened or closed that I can attest to, how can i attest that my maker indeed opens a clear opening for me as He claims here?

With these questions, I read the second claim. The second verse speaks of the outcome of the alleged “opening”. This can help me understand what the “opening” is. For instance, if i told you that I am giving am going to “open” a “clear opening” for you so that you may can take a shower (for instance), you could understand that the “opening” I am talking about is referring to you not knowing how to turn the water on for your house or you not knowing where the shower/bathroom is in the house. You would have to look at your situation and ask things like: am I in need of a shower? Do I have access to the water to shower? Do I want to take a shower? And if so, is the reason for my inability to do so related to something not being “open” to me (e.g. the location of the shower or access to water more generally). In other words, reading revelation is to read it in relation to what the revelation pertains to so that I can confirm if its claims are true. In finding out if the claims are true, something would be “revealed” to me which would either be a guidance or not.

So the second verse is, in my view, very important for understanding the truth (if there is any) of the first verse and vice versa. The second verse speaks of “erasing” my wrongs and my maker’s fulfilling or completing His blessings on me so that I can find a stable ground (for my life? existence?) i.e. a path that I can be steadfast on without wronging myself. I have discussed in earlier blogs that wrongdoing in the Quran is the wronging of myself. So I understand that the second verse claims this: I do wrong to myself whenever (in the past and still applicable to my future) I experience something good/beneficial/beautiful (a “blessing”) that is incomplete and shows incompleteness and lack. I see something beautiful, I go after it, as if traveling a path towards it, in pursuit of it and alas, “something” happens (and this is something to reflect about) that produces the outcome that the full enjoyment (unending and absolute, without any lack and disappointment) of beauty is “closed” to me. I find myself, as if, stumbling on this path towards a totally satisfactory (complete) fulfillment with the beauty I went after. Why? What is it that turns the pursuit of beauty into a dead-end and closed?

In the revelation, the maker says, “WE” (the creator/maker) open a clear opening for you. I understand then that this is in response to my “misguided” attempt to find an opening unto satisfying and complete beauty in created beings! It is this mistake that the wrong I do to myself. I try to find lasting and perfect life in beings who, in revelation’s view, given their lives by the Living One and I end up with dead beings, beings with lives marked by all kinds of lacks that makes my love life painful and hurtful – a wronging of my self. Their life is open to Life only when i see their life as His LIFE. When their life is completed in the Living One, then Life is really blessing. He, when he is there in my perspective as the Living One who is giving life to all living beings, opens an opening to Lasting and Perfect life for me. The only “blessing” is a good that is complete, a beauty that is complete. A beauty that fades, a beauty the disappears, a life that dies – this incompleteness to these “goods” (beauty, life etc) make them hurtful. My love of them hurts me. This love of such goods is not a path that I can remain firm on without hurting myself. Now the world is not free from life and beauty. I am not free to just ignore life, beauty. I am not free to not love because the One who has made this world has made beautiful and lovable things and made me love them. The only option now is to wrong myself by engaging in “incomplete” and hence hurtful interactions with beauty or to see, as the revelation here is asking me, the beauty of a beautiful thing as opening me to the beauty of the Absolutely and Eternally beautiful One, the eternal owner of all the beauty that manifests in all things, the owner of all the love of beauty (manifest in me as my love of beauty) that seeks to behold perfect beauty eternally. My mistake i.e. my attitude that needs to be erased and “forgiven” is my attributing life to dying things, for instance, and finding the path of Life “closed” to me. I am not able to get LIFE by pursuing the life of living beings themselves. What I need is the One, the Living One, the Beautiful One, whose existence completes these blessings for me and thus make them truly blessings. Otherwise, they are hurtful wrongs and not blessings.

I find that the message here is, as elsewhere in the Quran, about my misguided propensity to seek out created beings for the satisfaction of my heart. This path is not one I can remain on without hurting myself, the Quran seems to suggest. It is a path of “incomplete blessings” which need to be “completed” in order for them to actually be blessings and not wrongdoings and instruments of self-harm. The message calls me to see my maker and the creator is the One who is the owner of what I seek. I should be on a path that is leading to Him as I seek love, beauty, life and so on. I must see beauty as His beauty, life and His life. It is He as the Beautiful, the Living, that completes blessings i.e. actually fulfill their initial promise. Otherwise, life and beauty betray me and they are vile, treacherous enemies to me, not blessings.

more later…

Published by Faraz Sheikh

Faraz Sheikh

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