My Log – 8
God’s Small and Not-So-Small Mercies
I just got back home from a 100-mile personal errand.
“Personal,” did I say?
As if anything you do on God’s earth, under God’s sky, utilizing the body, mind and means God gave you, is “personal.”
What temerity! What nerve!
As if it is “yours” as opposed to God’s.
Shows how deluded and warped we human beings are in our thinking.
And how gullible and naïve we are.
I mean even some of the best of us.
And that includes some of those who pride themselves on being among the most educated and sophisticated among us.
And some of us even toting what are called “Terminal Degrees.”
But that is a basic human tendency, I am afraid:
- Failing to understand reality clearly and accurately.
- Failing to come to terms with reality in a truly honest and meaningful way.
- Cheating and lying in things we do understand a little bit.
- And covering up and lying even more brazenly when we are caught red-handed doing the terrible things we should not be doing.
That is who we are as human beings – ungracious and ungrateful wretches, generally speaking – some of us a little more than some others.
So, the fact is that the “errands” you undertake on a daily or hourly basis, or from minute to minute, they are “personal” as well as not so-personal at the same time.
For, everything in life is an errand – a command – from God.
Or else you’d better not be doing it.
For, it is his earth; his sky; his time; and his body on loan to you that you are using to do what you are doing.
That is why as a Muslim you must only do things that are clearly lawful, legitimate, right – and good.
And do them all in ways that are also at the same time clearly lawful, legitimate, right – and good.
And you must be careful to avoid all things that strike you as clearly wrong, doubtful, bad – and unlawful.
That is what it means to be a Muslim: doing the right things and doing them the right way.
And doing them all the time for the right reasons: to please God Almighty and to serve his creation.
For, as a believer in God, as the Ad says, you do answer to a Higher Authority. And in Islam it is not just a catchy slogan designed to make a few extra bucks.
But the very essence and nature of your life on earth and your commitment to God on the one hand and to God’s creation on the other hand.
Furthermore, in Islam you answer not only to God but also to all duly constituted sources of legitimate human authority.
That is because Islam means respecting Man’s Law (as they used to say not so long ago) along with respecting God’s Law.
And it is making sure Man’s Law corresponds as closely as possible to God’s Law.
And that is why Islam also means working to end all forms of tyranny, as Thomas Jefferson once put it, over the mind – as well as over the bodies – of man and replace it with justice, peace, enlightenment and broadmindedness everywhere.
However, to pick up the story of my “errand” where I left it, I have another 200 miles in front of me, before the day is out, on some more “errands” of the same “personal” nature.
As I was driving, I noticed the temperatures were dipping below 10 degrees Fahrenheit – into single digits Fahrenheit. The day started out with 1. Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
But the roads were clear, Alhamdulillah, even though there was snow and ice everywhere all around.
The winds were like razor blades fresh from a factory.
It occurred to me for a moment:
“Allahu Akbar, what hard life, I should have to be driving a 100 miles in weather like this and on roads like these.”
And then I saw this crow, black and beautiful, nimble and agile, coming in to land only a few feet from me.
Or were there two of them?
Then the crows hopped around, in what seemed a cheerful manner, picking up food I could not see, and gobbling it.
And then there were more crows, all going with considerable enthusiasm after the same food that somehow was visible only to them.
And then I said to myself:
- Thank God Almighty: I don’t have to hop around barefoot on frozen tundra looking for each morsel of my daily meal.
- Thank God Almighty: I am wearing warm socks and boots.
- Thank God Almighty: I have a nice sweater and scarf on.
- Thank God Almighty: I have all kinds of gloves and heavy jackets within easy reach should things get sticky.
- Thank God Almighty: I am sitting inside a warm and comfortable car.
- Thank God Almighty: I will – God Willing! – be returning to a fairly cozy and warm home – and possibly a warm shower.
This would not be the first time crows would come down to mixed-up human beings on their errand of mercy to act as teachers and professors and teach confused humans a thing or two about the nature of this world and their role in it.
Read the Qur’an and you will know.
Is this what the smart and educated and devout ones among us would call God’s Small Mercies?
Really? Like what?
And as opposed to what?
As opposed to being out there with the crows in seriously sub-freezing temperatures and competing with them in snatching a few shreds of something long since dead?
Is this what we call “Small”?
What is big then?
Did we ever take a few seconds to think about God’s Big Mercies on us?
And the Small Ones as well?
Did we ever catalog or inventory any of his mercies on us – small or big.
Or are we waiting for the next Thanksgiving to do so?
How about opening an English Translation of the Qur’an today – right now – and reading in it the following miraculous statement?
Actually, several of them, one after another.
The chapter is called “The Most Gracious, Loving and Merciful One.”
Ar-Rahmaan in God’s own original words.
The number of the chapter is 55.
As for the specific number of each one of those Miraculous Statements (what people erroneously call “verses”), the first one is No. 13.
The correct name for those Miraculous Statements in the Qur’an is “Aayat” – a miracle.
That is what the Qur’an calls each one of them: a “Miracle”: an Aayat.
So, it is 55:13 – Qur’an Chapter No. 55 and Qur’an Aayat No. 13.
And that is followed by a whole series of them:
- Followed by 55:16;
- followed by 55: 18;
- followed by 55:21;
- followed by 55:23;
- followed by 55:25;
- followed by 55:28;
- followed by 55:30;
- followed by 55:32;
- followed by 55:34;
- followed by 55:36;
- followed by 55:38;
- followed by 55:40;
- followed by 55:42;
- followed by 55:45;
- followed by 55:47;
- followed by 55:49;
- followed by 55:51;
- followed by 55:53;
- followed by 55:55;
- followed by 55:57;
- followed by 55:59;
- followed by 55:61;
- followed by 55:63;
- followed by 55:65;
- followed by 55:67;
- followed by 55:69;
- followed by 55:71;
- followed by 55:73;
- followed by 55:75;
- followed by 55:77.
That is 31 references, one after another. All in the same chapter called Ar-Rahmaan (the Most Gracious and Loving and Merciful One).
May God Almighty forgive me if I counted or numbered them wrong!
And they are all the same: Fa-bi-ayyi aalaa-i rabbikumaa tukadhdhibaan?
Repeated 31 times.
As for what each one of those Aayats – Miraculous Statements – means, here is a rendering of it by one of the English translators of the Qur’an – the one I prefer to most others – Yusuf Ali, may Allah grant him peace and paradise:
“Then which of the favors of your Lord will ye deny?”
Will I change the translations in any way? I probably will say it as:
“So which of the blessings and favors of your master will you deny?”
So, now does anyone see any connection between the name of the chapter Ar-Rahmaan and these Aayaat being repeated in this fashion – 31 times?
So, don’t you think there is a reason why God Almighty is driving home this point so methodically: That we are in his debt in all kinds of small and big ways?
Thirty-one times in one chapter with a total Aayat count of less than 80? Am I right in that, or did I get the number wrong?
It is almost half the Surah – chapter that is. Mindboggling.
That is how the Qur’an unfurls its miracles for us all to see: Aayat by Aayat – passage by passage.
One Aayat at a time – each packed with a million miracles.
As for those who have trouble seeing these miracles, or in accepting God’s blessings in our lives, or in giving proper and humble thanks to him for each and every single one of them, God speaks a bit more harshly elsewhere:
“How dare they deny or dispute God Almighty’s blessings and favors upon them?”
Oh, yes: 16:71 – my translation.
Am I expected to say: “Thank You Mr. Crow for making me see the light”?
Or was it Mrs. Crow?
© 2011 Syed Husain Pasha
Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at]
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.