10:25 (a supplicant’s will is the answerer’s willing)

“God guides whomever He wills towards the path that human beings can walk steadfastly (without wronging themselves and without losing their heart’s peace etc)

When I feed my child, when I want to feed my child, when i find myself wanting that my child is fed, when I find in me a “will to feed” at work – I experience it as a state of being that is my own, not some separate “entity” called “will” that I an put under the scope and analyze. I find myself willing to feed my child. And the will I find in me to feed my child is a part of reality that is real – i cannot deny that I find myself willing as such (without any hand in creating such a will in me). Neither can I tread a path where I consistently will NOT to feed my child (for instance) without ruining my peace, nor can I claim that I am the owner and creator of such will. Again, I do not speak of “will as some thing in me. It is my response or perspective on reality in which I find myself. I find myself, for instance, in a reality where this is hunger and the possibility of satiety with food, the possibility of compassion through words and acts of kindness and so on. This perspective – a will that wants a hungry child fed (again, this is just one example or one slice of reality that I can contemplate through the lens of this claim (10:25) to see what message it brings to me from my maker) is undeniably experienced by me. It is, on the face of it, my perspective. It is not illusion. Not yet! But it is also not meaningful. What is the meaning of hunger, satiety, their relation and the existence of a will in me that desires that hunger be met with satiety? I do not know. Because I do not know, I come up with all kinds of theories (often implicit) about what it all means. For instance, I may say that it is a feature of human species that they need food and nature has provided a mechanism whereby parents feel the need to feed their children. Again, this is nonsensical to me. What is nature that it can will such a thing and “provide a mechanism”? This is not what I see. What I see is a will (or me in the mode of willing that hunger be satisfied). What I hear the verse telling me is that this will, and it IS a will – an intention directed towards an end (satiety) that I, as a human being, can recognize as good and wise and compassionate. The verse claims that God, which the Quran describes as The compassionate One, the Merciful One, is the One whose will it is to feed the hungry. the meaning of hunger and satiety and their relation is that they are signs for me that point to the Will of a compassionate One. Now then, if I am to take the guidance offered by this verse, I can see/perceive my will as nothing by the action/work/command (amr – the Quran says that the soul is amr/command) of the One who feeds the hungry. To perceive the meaning of hunger, satiety and their relation in this way, the Quran seems to claim, is a way of perceiving reality that allows me to see the meaning and purpose in the lack-provision pairs in existence rather than lose my peace over the constant change and continued lack (hunger arises again and again) I witness in my own life and the reality around me. The Quran claims that reality, without seeing how the relations between things point to the work/command and hence the existence of a compassionate will at work, will not make sense to me. My will to do this, liking that, disliking that – these relations will not make sense to me and I won’t find my life here to be a journey that I can peacefully and meaningfully traverse. It claims that when I see God willing the feeding of the hungry (realities that He has created), I find the purpose and meaning of these realities that otherwise SHOULD bother me and, so to speak, make me ask what they mean. The verse asks me to interpret my reality as the work of not my will or the will of “nature” or “no one’s will” but the will of the owner and possessor and doer of all acts that I see – all actions need a will that bring them into existence and to bring the relations (hunger-satiety) into existence and to bring my consciousness of these relations into existence. None of these (things, relations and consciousness of them) can simply be there or sustain themselves on their own. It is my mistaken view (a default view, yes, but mistaken, claims revelation) that I will to feed the hungry. Precisely because I do feel this way, it makes sense to me that my maker would tell me that He WILLS to the meaningful/steadfast path WHEN he is “guiding” me (the obvious implication is that my default view is misguided). My default view then must be that I will the hungry child to be fed. And I witness that I indeed find this to be my default – meaningless but default – view when I perceive a will in me to feed my hungry child. When I see it as my will or just a random will or no will at all, the existence of this reality becomes obscure and mute and meaningless. It is unbearable for my heart and mind and soul. It is my reality that I seek to understand when I turn to my maker. The verse claims that when I find the will of the maker of hunger-satiety-my-consciousness of the relation being carried out in all instances of hunger-satiety-awareness/love of satiety (and all instances of willful actions of an absolute, compassionate Will), I would have found what my heart needs – a perspective and thus a path where such a perspective is available that connects me to an absolute and eternal will to provide/serve/satisfy. To find such a will in my act/state of willing – to will good/completion of a pair (hunger-satiety) as a supplicant/asker who is always asking his maker to will and the maker is responding by willing – to see my reality in this way is to find the path that brings me to the presence of the Compassionate One here and now. It takes me to a path of servanthood – all the way to willing as an act of worship and supplicating/dua. This is the path of compassionate and unending provision and care that I can be steadfast on. On this path, it is not by my own will that I love and live and help. It is not by my will that I will beautiful or praiseworthy outcomes. It is see that I am asking the Will that always Wills the beautiful and He is answering me constantly by willing good outcomes (the example I used was my will to feed my hungry child). In any case, what I understand is that the implicit claim made in this verse is that the problem I have is that I think I am willing what is good and I am the one aiming at a path of wholeness and I am the one who wants the meeting of the needs of all beings, including my own. The verse thus offers an alternative view of reality (which it claims is truth) which it invites me to test and affirm – that it is not me that wills but that my willing is actually the Will of my maker – the One who is indicated by the relations (hunger-satiety) I find myself willing/wanting. It is He who is making whole all things around me and to find Him as the One willing things, I will find the path on which I too can tread with integrity and without oppressing myself.

Published by Faraz Sheikh

Faraz Sheikh

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