Monday, October 25, 2010

"How can you have patience about that which is beyond your knowledge?"

"How can you have patience about that which is beyond your knowledge?"
Surah kaf, is recited every Friday by millions of Muslims around the world. Sometimes myself and my family gather together and read this surah on a Thursday night. Other times we read it on our own. Very often we get stuck asking the same questions of this surah and making the same observations. Sometimes we expound on old thoughts, and every once in a while we have a new one.
We know, my family and Muslims in general, that there must be great lessons in this surah. Besides for the great blessings of protection from the dajjal (anti-christ) and a light carrying us from Friday to Friday, there must also be a guidance, logic, wisdom, and knowledge.
Masha Allah I searched a while back on itunes for Bilal Philips, hoping he'd have something on there, I found one 'cd'. I downloaded the content and have been listening for weeks.  33 parts, each about an hour explaining this blessed surah, surah kaf. I've thought about this question Kadr posed to Musa. The question baffles me -and its answer seems urgent to anyone attempting to learn new knowledge. Some people are naturally more patient then others and are willing to complacently accept anything brought to them, and most of us as long as the new knowledge doesn't contradict old knowledge accepting it bears little hardship. But actions of Al- Kadr would be for most (if not all) unbearable. Murder, destruction of property, and helping the inhospitable -we would probably not only be impatient but try to get Al- Kadr put away in jail or a mental institution! But we know, as Allah mentions in the surah, that he was given special knowledge from Allah. He wasn't crazy or criminal but an obedient slave of Allah given  knowledge and specific tasks. But even with this knowledge about Kadr, Musa could not bear to have patience. But how can he "bear patience about that which is beyond (his) knowledge"? Musa pledges that if "Allah so wills you will find me patient". Sheikh Bilal Philips expands on these points in parts 26 and 27 of his tafseer. One point in Musa's answer is that he is attributing his ability to have patience both with his own efforts and with Allah. Musa tells Kadr that he will be patience alluding to his own efforts and commitment to attain knowledge from Kadr but he still makes it clear that he will only be able to do so if Allah wills.
So for us the first lesson in Musa's answer is a statement we know very well "There is no power no might or ability except with Allah". Anytime we feel we need patience, expiecially in particularly trying times we have to remember this. But does this really answer Al- Kadr's question? I guess in a sense it does, it answers it in a complete and honest way. But something drawn from Kadr's question that Sheikh mentions is the importance of knowledge in acquiring patience. Kadr had certain knowledge bestowed on him by Allah and acted on that knowledge, and Musa had certain knowledge and acted on that knowledge. How can we expect Musa, a prophet of Allah, to stand idly by as Kadr, to Musa's knowledge is going against the laws of God. Even though he knew who Kadr was his instinct as a righteous servant of Allah could not be so easily broken in this journey with Kadr. And Kadr also a righteous servant of Allah (Sheikh Bilal points out that some scholars believe him to be a prophet) given particular knowledge and acting on that knowledge. From this I assume, and Allah knows best, that Kadr would be going against divine will if he refused to act on the knowledge which he was given. He knew that the wall falling would expose the treasure of orphans whose righteous father died, how could he stand by and watch it fall simply because the people of the town did not welcome him. And why would Musa not question his behavior when all he could see is a man helping fix the property of a town who refused to feed them -for him not asking for recompense is just strange and irrational.
Musa did not have the same knowledge as Kadr and therefore could not function on a greater level of patience then he was able to hold. Our Prophet (pbuh)  told the believer that either in good we are well off because we thank Allah or in bad we are well off because were patient (not exact translation). But this patience, Sheikh Bilal stresses, is from knowledge. A believer knows that All 'evil' that comes directly from Allah (Tsunami, hurricanes, death, etc.) contains good in it and all trying times faced with patience are rewarded by Allah. But how can anyone be patient when faced with calamity if they don't know this -if you don't know that Allah increases our deeds when where ill, if we don't know that those most loved by Allah were faced with the harshest calamities (Mary, the wife of Firoun, Prophet Muhammad), if we don't know that "there's always a silver lining" how can we bear anything with patience? We always see on the news when great calamities are faced people begin to question God and question their faith. People die and their family members ask "why would God do this to us?". A natural disaster happens and people question "How could a good God cause so much destruction? Other times people pushed to the brink asking "Where is God?" Or declaring "There is no God!" Though I can sympathize with anyone in hard times I always use to think to myself -don't these people see the hardships of others going on all around them? Why is it that only when they face tragedy are they willing to renounce their faith? what about the suffering of others? And as Sheikh Bilal points out, what makes people think they don't deserve the calamities that they are faced with? Is anyone on earth a perfect specimen of morality that they are undeserving of even a single calamity? But now, I feel as though I have a better understanding, knowledge and patience go hand and hand. People with faith in an illusion, will give up once the illusion is broken but people with faith based in reality will be patient in light of that knowledge. They will be of the As- Sabirun. Masha Allah one of the many lessons I've been able to gain from this surah and Sheikh Bilal's tafseer. And Allah knows best in all matters.

More on Surah Kaf and Sheikh Bilal's Tafseer:

No comments: