Bismillahir Rahmānir Raheem.
An undeniable and universal Truth, since Allah has informed us of it, through the Qur’an: we, humankind, have been created in a state of hardship: كبد (Kabad). Toil, worries, uphill struggle. That is what this is.
I am scared, and I am worried. And I have a lot to do. Pretty much everybody, as soon as we come into maturity — bāligh (in Arabic: بالغ, adult) age — we meet this Truth properly. Always errands to be run – difficult ones, excruciatingly tedious ones, at times. Always various sources of worry, uncertainty. Anger, grief, want. Thankfully, though, never more than we, individually, can bear.
This is going to sound extremely random (as many aspects of my blog articles, I do realise, do) but… I started thinking about the particular Āyah above after… thinking about ‘June 21st’ [2021. Dear future readers, if you exist: this has been a rather wild, chaotic, time in recent history. The 21st of June is, apparently, when things go back to ‘normal’, here in the UK. Corona].
I was thinking about what I would like to do if/when this lockdown ends. I would like to go to the planetarium, to stare in wonder and amazement at some of the magnificent things that hide beyond our atmosphere. Tangent: how awesome is it, that the sky is deep blue during the day, and then a curtain falls, to reveal a sublime darkness and is pulled away, to reveal those diamond stars, later on? Subhan Allah.
I kind of also want to go to the farm. And I also miss the mosque. I started thinking: is the sum of these places and things I love, not ‘lame’? Is enjoying Scrabble ‘lame’? Is it ‘lame’ to thoroughly, thoroughly enjoy a nice cup of chai and a hearty conversation?
That age-old attempted delineation between ‘cool’/carefree/exciting and ‘boring’/’over-thinking’/’sad’. I guess, ultimately, it means different things to different people. But the most popular and widespread view, perhaps, is that ‘cool’ has a very particular look to it, a particular attitude; earns a particular type of admiration from people. ‘Cool’ is meant to be: emotionally closed-off, ‘does not care’; self-certain-seeming, and sensually enticing. ‘Bad’.
Its opposite is: when you ‘care too much’ about things. Are uncertain about many things, as though you… realise you are upon this Earth for the first, and last, time.
Definitions of ‘fun’ are an interesting thing to consider. There are numerous supremely insightful things that Allah alludes to, on this topic, via His Qur’an. For many people who are not Muslim, ‘Cool™’ is the sum of, perhaps, three primary ingredients: sex/sex appeal; drugs/intoxication (including alcohol); rock-‘n’-roll (music and the culture surrounding it). I seek not, here, to look down upon people who enjoy these things. My point is simply that, yes, if this is what ‘Cool’ [and I acknowledge that even my usage of this word renders me, evidently, its opposite…] is, then I am not it, and I cannot be it.
What I wish to do, here, is to accept what Al-Qur’an says, and I guess I have, Alhamdulillah, been raised this way, also. I have learnt, primarily, perhaps, from my wonderfully generous and creative aunt, and my adventurous, interesting-outing-loving uncle, how to have such ‘clean’ fun in this world. Painting canvases; climbing mountains; horse-riding; driving a speedboat, even: I have them to thank for much.
To seek to live a life that is ‘Halāl and Tayyibāt’, meaning: lawful, and good/pure/wholesome. And rejecting certain inner-desires, for now.
Planetariums are pretty Halāl, no? And farms tend to be essentially wholesome. Baby animals, man. I could cry.
Shameless oversharing, once again, maybe. But I suppose it is a bit of a ‘double-whammy’, being quite Islamically-inclined and quite academically-so. But in line with what I have learnt about Dunya, maybe this is not a bad way to be at all. In fact, I hope I can continue like this, come into the acquaintance of people who view things in a similar manner; I hope that I will not ever compromise on Halāl and Tayyibāt things merely because someone else disapproves, and/or wants to live their lives in a different way.
In a world in which we are essentially swimming through Kabad… it is not necessarily ‘happiness’, which I ought to chase after, here. For as long as I am alive, within this first life of mine, I will not really be able to locate it. I mean, at times, I have managed to convince myself that ‘happiness’ does exist here, in some other-than-here-and-now, which I am yet to meet. But, no: I know Dunya. I look down at my boots. I walk forth, and seek, instead, contentment.
Islām: the word’s trilateral root means commitment, surrender, submission. And it means peace. These concepts are unquestionably interrelated.
This is my Dunya: abode of trials, replete with the stuff of illusion, delusion. My Jannah, Insha Allah, awaits: ten flying horses with golden wings, a castle surrounded by gorgeous climbing roses, rivers of wine. Whatever I want, and all the rest of it. For now though, I feel as though things like certain museums, boardgames, food, people, masjids and breathtaking natural views are more than merely ‘enough’. They are forms of enjoyment – goodness, even – which are rooted in Truth, here, and not in ‘escaping’ it, or seeking things that are other than it. I do not want to lose the stuff of Truth, and my experience of Eternity, for whatever is false, and fleeting.
Why on Earth – why in Dunya – would I want to gamble away the entire ocean, for but a mere drop of it?
Why should the opinions of fellow fallible, mortal men matter so much, when I know that I am on an inevitable road towards meeting my Lord?
With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.