We are all in need. Think not? We’re in need of our next breath, our next heartbeat, and countless other necessities. Realizing that we’re in constant need, and that the Creator satisfies our needs constantly, should be very humbling. But, how would we act when the Creator puts people needing compassion in our paths?
Self-reference is one of the keys to honesty and spiritual growth. Let’s apply some self-reference to this question. The difference between our status and the Creator is monolithic, yet he treats us so generously. Why would a far greater being care for something as insignificant as us? It’s because of his kindness and compassion.
We all want to be treated with compassion by this immense, supreme being. So how should we behave when someone “needy” crosses our path? The honest answer is to treat everyone with an expression of gratitude to the Creator by being kind and compassionate to our fellow creation.
Only someone being dishonest, someone detached from reality and arrogant, thinks that they’re better than another person. In reality, there is no difference between the arrogant (i.e. one who thinks he isn’t needy) and another person who knows that he is needy (there is an enormous difference spiritually, of course):
The Quran confirms this beautiful verse from the Bible:
“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (New International Version, Matthew 19:24).
This doesn’t literally mean that the financially wealthy will not enter Heaven, as we know Prophet Solomon was also very wealthy. By “rich man” it means an arrogant person, since those with “wealth” in anything usually think they are beyond need and better than other people.
The Quranic verse confirming the above follows:
“Those who reject our signs and turn away from them in arrogance, the gates of Heaven will not open for them and they will not enter the Garden until the camel passes through the eye of the needle. Thus do we reward the criminals” (The Quran, 7:40).1
Creator, may we be grateful for your kindness by being kind to our fellow creation. Whether it is providing food to the hungry, respect to the disrespected, kindness to those treated wrongly, or knowledge to those in need, and even of the arrogant, help us offer healing for this sickness (never forget self-reference: we must treat ourselves this way as well). Thank you for making our existence a manifestation of your kindness.
See you next post, God willing 🙂
1. This is the verse from the Quran stating how it relates to the Bible and other scriptures: “We have revealed to you the Book in Truth as a confirmation for what came before it from the Book and as a guard for it […]” (The Quran 5:48).
The Quran confirms the beauty and truth in Biblical scripture, but it’s also a guard that protects previous scriptures from the changes that self-serving interests have made to it over time (2:79). For example, saying the prophets, willfully or through other ills, engaged in terrible acts like Prophet David committing adultery then conspiring to have the woman’s husband killed, that Prophet Solomon became an idol-worshiper before passing, or that Prophet Lot’s daughters made him drunk and then did obscene things with him-God forbid (See 2 Samuel 11, Genesis 19:32).
Here are some details. This is what was said about Prophet Solomon in the Bible:
“For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done” (New American Standard Bible, 1 kings 11 4-6).
And here is the Quran protecting the original message of the scriptures:
“And they follow what the devils recite against the kingdom of Solomon. Solomon did not disbelieve (by worshiping idols) […]” (The Quran, 2:102).
May I infer that you’re shy? My inference is based on your manner, how you speak, and that you started blushing as soon as I asked.
Inferences are special because they let us come to conclusions that aren’t clearly stated. A person doesn’t have to tell you that they’re shy. You can figure that out by using evidence from their behavior. When it comes to reading, inferences help us read more into a phrase than the words actually say. Inferences are how we “read between the lines.”
“It’s Ramadan and the sun is smiling on me.” Is this person just talking about the weather and time of year? Or is she happy and feeling the warmth of the holy month of Ramadan?
Inferences are conclusions we make that are based on clear evidence, but what kinds of evidence can we use? Everything: when and where words are used, symbols, figurative language, dialogue, you name it.
Almost anything can be used as evidence, but there’s a difference between assumptions and conclusions, a weak inference and a strong one. I can assume that my daughter, who’s only allowed two cookies a day, did not eat the entire box of chocolate cookies because she’s “my little angel.” If I stick to this assumption even though she walks past me with her head stuck in an empty box of cookies, then I can be sure I have myself a weak inference. I could also investigate by digging up more evidence of a cookie monster attack, like asking her to smile. Chocolate-smeared teeth make for great supporting evidence. Anyway, assumptions come from quick glances and weakly supported clues that usually ignore evidence contradicting our position. Meanwhile, a strong inference is the opposite. It’s based on many well-connected, solid details that all support the inference in different ways.
Here’s a good observation from the Quran to get us started on making great inferences: in the entire Quran, God swears by the pen but never swears by the sword (68:1). This is very meaningful. You can only appreciate how meaningful it is if you make the inferences, though. So, what do you think? What are your inferences?
To make this inference, take into account the symbols used—something you should always do when reflecting on verses. In this case we have the pen and the sword. What does each symbol stand for? The pen is a symbol of sophistication, education, truth, and etiquette. The sword is a symbol of defense, power, danger, and aggression. From these facts very strong inferences can be made. God swears by the pen instead of the sword because he is teaching us that the pen is more powerful than the sword. We can also infer that God promotes education in Islam first and foremost, not violence, as the misguided assume.
Take a look at the metaphors in this verse:
“And if all trees on earth were pens and the ocean were ink, supported with seven more oceans, God’s words would not be exhausted. God is indeed Mighty, Wise” (31:27).
Well, isn’t the Quran God’s words? It might take just one pint of ink to write all of it—not an ocean’s worth. What’s the inference? Although the ink runs dry after a pint, the meanings contained in the Quran’s verses are infinite, which even oceans of ink could not satisfy. This is beauty atop beauty. Can you infer anything else from these metaphors?
Remember to support the inferences you make with as much evidence as you can. This is what separates a solid inference from a weak one. Here is another verse supporting the idea of infinite meanings in the Quran:
“In this Quran we have provided an example of everything for humanity, but man is quite contentious” (18:54).
How can you have an example of everything in just one book? Easy. Because the Quran applies to everything through its symbols, metaphors, and universal principles. Remember that evidence is the ingredient of great inferences and keep thinking!
This is an excerpt of our book “Experience the Symbolic Literature of the Quran” which can be found on Amazon.com
Anger is just a boiling,
of us latching
onto the thing we’re losing—
wealth, dignity, health—
that we think makes us “whole.”
Anger is like anchors,
chains pulling us to the earth.
Instead of loss pointing us
to the One we will never lose:
our anchors strain,
try might and main,
to keep us stuck to this earth,
plowing scars through it’s crust.
And all the while,
Life pushes us
ahead and up.
keep us back and pull us down.
Help me let loose the anchors of anger,
that chain me to my lower nature.
Help me be a healer.
To heal myself and everyone around.
Our first post in this series was “Materialism: The Lower Nature and Development.” Today’s post covers what Prophets Jesus and Joseph taught us about materialism in the Bible and the Quran.1 Both the Bible and the Quran have much in common, and this shouldn’t be surprising. Take a look at this verse:
“We have revealed to you the Book in Truth as a confirmation for what came before it from the Book and as a guard for it […]” (The Quran 5:48).
Interesting! So the Quran confirms the truths in previous scriptures, and it’s also a guard that protects them from the changes material-minded men have added over time (2:79). For example, saying the prophets, our teachers, willfully or through other ills engaged in obscene crimes like Prophet David committing adultery then conspiring to have the woman’s husband killed, that Prophet Solomon became an idol-worshiper before passing, or that Prophet Lot’s daughters got him drunk then had incest with him multiple times-God forbid!2
Like all prophets, Prophet Jesus taught people not to worship the material—any created thing—but to serve God instead. He taught this beautiful, basic truth in the Bible by reinforcing the dependent and independent (material and Creator-of-material) relationship between himself and God:
“Then a certain ruler asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call Me good?’ Jesus replied. ‘No one is good except God alone’ ” (Berean Study Bible, Luke 18:18-19).
Prophet Jesus beautifully declares that he is not Good. No one is Good. Good is Independent, just like Truth or Light. These are all attributes of God alone. Prophet Jesus reflects the Goodness of God like the moon reflects the sun’s light. Prophet Jesus is just dependent and all of his magnificence comes from God, the Independent. Prophet Jesus is reminding people to mature from the material mind state—our lower nature that wants to focus on something in the material world so we could label ourselves by it, objectify it, and worship it. He’s asking us to grow into higher consciousness: instead of serving the material, serve the creator of all material.
What does the Quran say about this beautiful point? Well, if you’ve guessed that it confirms it, then you’re right. Prophet Joseph says,
“I do not consider myself innocent. Indeed, the (lower) self commands towards evil—except whom my Lord has given mercy” (The Quran, 12:53).3
Prophet Joseph is saying that he, by himself, is not innocent. The Prophet’s innocence is solely dependent on God. It’s only God’s Goodness that Prophet Joseph reflects, something that God bestows by his mercy on whomever he pleases.
When we live by our higher nature, then we are “at one with God.” This is the state that all the Prophets lived in. They were in absolute harmony with the will of their Creator. They were never independent of God, but they did wholly and consciously accept their dependence on him. This is why in the Quran you read statements like “obey God and obey the messenger.” Because the Prophet Muhammad was at one with the will of God, obeying him is obeying God. This is also why Prophet Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (Berean Study Bible, John 10:30 ) and also in this verse:
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him'” (Berean Study Bible, John 14:6-7 ).
First, remember that this verse is metaphorical and we must consider all the sayings of Prophet Jesus in the Bible. We “see” God after we’ve seen Prophet Jesus, because Prophet Jesus is “at one with God.” He is reflecting God’s goodness as one of the prophets God sent here to show us the way. Let’s get some more clarity from other verses of the Bible:
Jesus replied, “Is it not written in your Law: ‘I have said you are gods’ ? If he [God] called them gods to whom the word of God came —and the Scripture cannot be broken— then what about the One whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world? How then can you accuse Me of blasphemy for stating that I am the Son of God? (Berean Study Bible, John 10:34-36 )
Prophet Jesus did not mean that he was the literal son of God, like the Jews who wanted to stone him thought. In fact, he clarified what he meant by quoting Psalm 82:6 from the Old Testament. Here is the full verse he quoted:
“I said, ‘You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High’” (New American Standard Bible, Psalm 82:6).
In the Old Testament, being at one with God was referred to as being “God’s son” or being “gods,” but it doesn’t mean these literally. To avoid the confusion from people thinking that Prophet Jesus or others are literally god or God’s sons, the Quran says:
“Say God is one. He does not have children nor was he the child of another, and there is nothing comparable to him” (The Quran, Chapter 112).
Those looking at the Biblical phrases with their material nature will interpret them materially / literally.
Notice the pattern of similarities and remember what God said the Quran’s purpose was. This book is a confirmation of the scriptures that came before and a guard over them. The Quran clarifies what could have been misconstrued and points us away from our lower, material nature, back to our higher, spiritual nature.
The source of everything hazy and unclear is our desire for the material world. This world is alien to our true essence. Follow your God-given higher nature, as all the Prophets did, submit to the Creator alone, and be at one with God.
See you next post God willing 🙂
1. Prophets Jesus and Joseph are referred to as Prophets Esa and Yusuf, respectively, in the Quran.
2. See 2 Samuel 11 and Genesis 19:32. This is what was said about Prophet Solomon:
For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done (New American Standard Bible, 1 kings 11 4-6).
And here is the Quran guarding the scriptures and protecting them:
“And they follow what the devils recite against the kingdom of Solomon. Solomon did not disbelieve (by worshiping idols) […]” (The Quran 2:102).
3. This statement was made after Prophet Joseph was freed from prison and exonerated of the allegations against him, but it also applies to any time and place.
You strive to accept Truth
even when its against you
to accept Truth
even when it favors you.
How could you stand
against the insurmountable—
obstacle upon obstacle—
without accepting the Truth
that favors you?
That favors your excellence,
that proclaims Success
is yours to experience—
to faithfully recreate
day to day
Because the Truth is
Your Creator is excellent,
He created you,
So your nature
when it’s against
or when it favors you—
Be complete and manifest!
We clamor to the immediacy
of what we see,
Blind to the immediacy
of the Unseen—
Although it’s Far Supreme:
With the Universe’s
To attain Mastery,
Stop being reactionary,
finding quick release
of lowest tendencies:
The path of
See the Unseen,
Of the Creator—
All lowest immediacies.
Seeking Peace with the material world?
with the cruelty, suffering, and ignorance?
To accept injustices
“ways of the world”?
To sit idly,
Only outside of our higher nature,
Would we be at peace with the sicknesses
of this material world.
Their existence is clear reminder,
That material is not God.
Peace is not with the material world.
Peace is only in it.
Peace that shines from beyond it,
Soothes in midst of it,
Comforts through Creator of it.
Seeking Peace with the material world?
The Truthful only live at Peace in it.
Ever wonder why
The tests are in our lives?
“We will surely test you by fear and hunger; and loss of property, lives, and fruits. Yet give good news to the patient. Those who, when difficulty afflicts them, proclaim, ‘We belong to God and to Him we will return’” (2:155-156).
Every test, every fitnah, happens by the Will of God. God is not guilty for any test He wills for us.
“He is not questioned about his acts, but they will be questioned about theirs” (21:23)
He is the Creator. He made us. We belong to him. So he can do with us whatever He pleases.
He is Independent.
It is we who are dependent.
We submit to Reality,
He never wills as a sadist
He always wills what’s Best,
Everything that happens to us,
Is a reminder
not only of Everything we have,
“If you were to count God’s blessings, you would never be able to. God is indeed the Forgiving, Merciful” (16:18)
or where we are in our journey,
(Are we so pained by the hurt in our past
That we hurt ourselves and others?)
More important than that,
With Every loss, we can Gain.
We are not defined by what we have.
Perhaps it takes loss for us to realize that.
We are not defined by what we’ve lost.
Perhaps it takes acceptance
and patience for us to realize this.
Everything we’ve lost was given to us by God
In the first place.
It is His to give
and His to take.
Everything we lose,
if we accept it and trust,
Have hope in our Creator,
He Will Produce Something Greater,
Allahu akbar :
God is Greater
For with every loss, we can Gain:
Know better where we are:
dishonest, pompous, hopeless?
Humble, Hopeful, Honest?
With every loss, we can Gain
A Gain that is greater still—
One never lost—
Is God, The Greatest