my attempts at peace and my real friends – 66:1

chapter 66 is puzzling at first sight, especially if the sight is tainted with baseless assumptions that whatever it said is a report of some historical event that must have happened, an assumption that whether or not i find here any truth that guides me, i am still going to just accept it as Gods word and guidance because i am a believer or i am a Muslim. If i am tainted with such identity claims and false attitudes and not in search of truth from my maker as a human being, it hardly matters what any given verse says or whether one understands anything at all because in that case, any claim can be true if i say its true and any claim can be false if i say its false…and i just need to obey God so that he will send me to heaven and i have no interest in truth.

but if i am a human being looking for my maker’s message so that i can find a truth i can live by and so that i can find safety with that truth, then i should ask what truth, if any, is revealed to me by my maker in the 12 verses of this chapter.

ostensibly, the chapter starts by addressing the caller…i take this to mean that the text is claiming that if i hear, i wil find such a ‘call’ in my life, in myself, in my world…whatever the caller is saying or doing (both are the ‘calls’ of the caller), I should ask myself: is it something that i can hear?

the first verse asks a ‘why’ question. the caller is asked why he is doing a certain thing. do i hear such a thing being done in the world? in myself? do i feel called to do such a thing by the caller?

the caller is asked why he makes things that God has made agreeable to him, forbidden to himself for the sake of pleasing my mate? do i ever get called to do such a thing? the ‘mate’ is an instance of anyone i join with (as a partner) so that for the sake of their pleasure, i deny myself what is agreeable to me and in so doing, i deprive myself of mercy and i feel as if i am being punished and a burden is being put on me?

i live in a world where i seek partners so that together with them, i can find joy and happiness. in order to be happy, i strive to please those with whom i wish to fulfill my needs – if they are happy, i imagine that then I can also get what i want. let me stick to the example of an intimate spouse, as the verses seem to do, and perhaps i can generalize to other instances later.

i find in myself the inclination that i should not expect mercy and forgiveness from my partner and thus not burden them with anything that would upset them. i feel i should not put them in a situation where they would need to show mercy or overlook something they wont like, even though i myself may feel it is an agreeable and beautiful thing to do. in such a situation, forgetting and ignoring that whoever has made me love mercy and forgiveness is merciful and forgiving, i assume the worst about my partner and make the patronizing choice of assuming that my only option is to try to please them by denying myself what was agreeable and beautiful to me (and it was something which would have needed the partner to manifest compassion and forgiveness).

in my life, for instance, i want my wife to talk to my mother sometimes on the phone to ask after her health. my wife also wants to do it on her own but sometimes it occurs to me that maybe i should not reveal my desire to my wife and just pretend that i dont care if she calls my mother or not. i start to feel that this may be more pleasing to my wife even though i feel it is more compassionate for my mother to sometimes be called by her daughter in law whom she loves a lot. I can feel inclined to put aside what i see as a compassionate and agreeable thing in order to choose what I imagine would please my partner (it would not actually if they love compassion and forgiveness – you need to forgive the older parent for needing your time and attention). one can easily switch roles in this example too so that, for instance, someone may make their mother their ‘partner -to-make-happy’ (in the sense of finding happiness together) so that even though i may know my wife loves my mother and would love to call my mother but isn’t able to because of some genuine reason, I ignore what i see as compassion and forgiveness (not insisting she calls for instance) and only in order to please my mother and make her feel happy, i get angry with my wife and put pressure on her to call my mother and then accuse her of not caring about my mother etc. the bottomline is that i can try to make a ‘pact’ with another person to please them and in the process, i can deprive myself and others of compassion and forgiveness even though these are agreeable things for human beings to witness and experience.

The verse claims that my maker is compassionate and forgiving. He makes us love compassion and forgiveness. That if I want to be with Him and see Him, I shoud not deprive myself of His compassion and His forgiveness by imagining that i need to make some kind of private, secret agreement or pact with another person which binds me to just please them and thus makes me falsely imagine that they would be better off without the opportunity to witness compassion and forgiveness of God. as two people who are expected to be together in God’s name and for the sake of seeing God’s compassion and glorifying it, it is not a legitimate or rational way of thinking about one’s partner. why shall I assume that my mate or partner would not love compassion and forgiveness, when i love them? why shall i not stand for them and remind my partner, even he/she forgets? why shall i give up on what is dear and agreeable and instead try to please my partner while i have deprived myself and her of realizing God’s compassion and forgiveness? If i want to be in the presence of compassion and forgivenss, i cannot abandon them on any pretext, not on the pretext of ‘well i was trying to please my partner’. I need to see the truth of the claims of this verse in my life and see how this truth helps me. For me, it reminds me that no pact of finding happiness would work if it is established at the cost of forbidding oneself the presence of the compassionate and the forgiving. I need to know my maker is compassionat and forgiving. to deny such knowledge to myself, nothing is left of real value for the souls of the two partners…to be continued…

Published by Faraz Sheikh

Faraz Sheikh

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