beauty of/in the pair

وَمِن كُلِّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقْنَا زَوْجَيْنِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

And in everything have We created pairs, so that you might find/remember (Me, your Lord)

It is an act of mercy and wisdom that associates, in my mind, smoke with fire. When i see smoke, I can be, mercifully, alerted to the possibility of fire. This pairing, this association, is help from my maker.

But for a human being, this creation of the pair does not eliminate the need for reflection. I should not assume that all smoke is always about a dangerous fire. Smoke is also produced when fire cooks food. The water that quenches thirst can also drown. This mani-ness of relations and pairs is a sign that those things do not themselves act as this or that pair. They are in the hands of someone else. They are subject to another’s power and will so that here He puts them to this use, there to that use. They do not, on their own, have the will to assign themselves to only this function or task.

at any rate, pairs have a wise purpose. But their beauty can be, by human choice, abused and used to oppress.

I can choose to accept the association black skin color with crime or violence or poverty or lack of intelligence etc. if I am shown and taught these associations repeatedly. If I do not reflect about the validity of these associations, I may accept them. So what makes a pair valid? what makes it an invalid association?

First, IF it were true that people with a certain skin color actually were more violent and less intelligent than people of different color on my personal experience, I would be inclined to associate skin color with violence and intelligence. BUT if these associations are SHOWN/presented to me on TV and news and in books and I am asked to make these associations based not on my experience but on the assertion of others (no matter how authoritatively/scientifically couched), they are false. And what counts as violence (is resisting injustice violence?) and what is intelligence (is more predatory profit-making, domination, technological advancement and optimization a sign of the kind of intelligence that matters?) are whole different question.

That human beings are granted the benefit of associations/pairs is a wonderful thing. Human being is asked to then reflect – i should not run at the sight of smoke but i have reason to think and investigate that there might be. The association of smoke and fire, the association of skin color and violence – these are starting points of reflection.

So, for instance, i may investigate and realize that the association of skin color and violence is, for instance, the poverty, lack of education and economic opportunities, injustices suffered because of institutions and structures, historically entrenched systems and associations, that manifest as people of a certain color finding themselves in situations where violence becomes a real option. OR i may discover that the associations are actually exaggerated and manufactured (to some extent or to a a large extent) and that the association is not valid (even as it was given to me as a help and an invitation to investigate its truth).

If i do not see my maker’s act in the creation of associations, if i think “my mind makes these associations”, then I do not see myself as a created being and i see myself self-existent. This, to me, is a lie. I do not create myself. Associations are given to me. But once they are given, it is my job as a created being to ask the maker to reveal their truth to me. As He helps me seek the truth of these associations, I act like a servant of the Truth should act. In coming to truth, I see Him guiding me. I do not overcome my bias. I do not find truth. He, the One who gave me the association and the One who made me wonder about its truth or falsity, is the One who shows me of the truth as much as He wills to show me. My job is to ask. When I do not ask or do not ask enough, when I leave my effort and desire for truth, then I wrong/deprive myself of the Truth.

There is immensely important news in revelation’s claim that the One who makes this world, creates in pairs and creates in truth. This is a claim that says, “you will find pairs. when you find them, seek out their truth. And because there is a truth to them, there is also falsehood possible. It is to my benefit and for the exercise and joy of the exercise of such gifts as intelligence, inquiry, search etc, that I am given the opportunity to reflect and come upon truth and to find some falsehood that I can reject. In this ‘coming upon and ‘finding’ something that was missing/lacking is the soul’s joy (just as there is joy in eating when one is hungry but not otherwise). I know I am a servant of Truth because I am someone who finds himself wanting to reject what is false. I am not indifferent.

If I do not interpret the existence of a pair in His name, as a means to finding Him in the pair and through the pair, I am condemned to give my own interpretation to the existence of the pair. And it is for me to decide which meaning of the pair, my own or my maker’s, make more sense. To me, my maker’s explanation makes more sense to me. The truth of the association/pair is the means, a SIGN, for a creature such as ME for finding/glorifying Him, the Truth.

I do not try to kill or eliminate associations even as I know they may be false. I take them as the starting point, a mount, that should take me to a truth through a rejection of the false. This truth, is the truth of the One who is truth. I see in it, when I see it, His truth and I see that I love Him because I see that I love the truth and I love it that its separated from falsehood. If no associations could ever be false, there would be no truth to be found in them. If there were always false, there would be no truth to be found in them. My maker leaves to me this much – that i reflect on the pair as a sign and seek out and serve and extol the truth to the extent my maker allows me.

Published by Faraz Sheikh

Faraz Sheikh

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