Where does human happiness lie?
Belief in the All-Mighty Creator and the belief in the Hereafter are alike
precious, since it is through them that the mystery of the universe is revealed
and the door to human happiness opened. Reliance on the Creator in patience,
begging from the Provider in gratitude, and seeking refuge in Him—these are
invaluable medicines for the ailments of mankind. To heed the Qur’an, to abide
by its laws, to do the prayers and refrain from the major sins, make up the
documents and passport for the journey to Eternity, both a light for the grave
and a provision for the next life. If you want to understand the truth of that,
listen to this story full of meaning:
A story to understand the source of happiness
Once there was a soldier in the middle of a battlefield who found himself
in frightening circumstances. He was wounded in his right and left side—behind
him was a lion ready to tear him apart, and ahead of him his friends and comrades
were being hanged upon a gallows. And beyond that lay the long road into exile.
The soldier was in deep distress and much troubled, when a pious man of wisdom
appeared on his right and said to him: “Do not despair. I am going to give you
two talismans, precious phrases. If you use them the lion behind you will become
calm and obedient like a horse, and the gallows will become like a swing for
your enjoyment. I shall also give you two medicines. If you use them on the
wounds, they will heal and take on the fragrance of a rose. I shall give you,
also, a ticket that will al-low you to travel the distance of years in one day.
If you have any doubts, try them out and see the truth of what I say.”
The soldier did just as the humble pious man had said, trying out his advice,
and finding that it worked, he believed the man and followed everything he had
After this, all of a sudden, a deceptive devil of a man appeared on the left
– Let us enjoy ourselves and listen to music and eat and drink these delicious
Then he asked the soldier, “What is that you’re mumbling?”
“A sacred invocation,” answered the soldier.
– Leave these complicated issues alone, and let’s not ruin our comfort. What’s
that in your hands?”
– A medicine.”
– Throw it away. There’s nothing wrong with you. What’s that paper with five
– It’s a ticket and a rations card.
– Tear them up! How could you think of going anywhere on a beautiful spring
day like this?
In this way a man’s devil tries to deceive and lead the soldier astray. And
the soldier will eventually be tempted to follow, for he is human, and humans
are subject to deception.
Then suddenly, on his right, the soldier hears a voice like a thunderbolt.
It says: “Wake up! Don’t be deceived. Say to that devil, ‘If you’re able to
kill the lion behind me, do so. If you can re-move the gallows ahead of me,
then do it. If you can heal my wounds, then heal them. If you can arrange it
so that I have no need to leave this place, then do it. When we see this done,
we can enjoy ourselves. If you cannot—then, be quiet, stupid deceitful man!’“
Meaning of the parable
To return to reality:
We see ourselves in the world in the situation of the soldier. The lion is
our appointed hour of death. The gallows stand for the separation from friends,
one by one, and day after day. The two wounds are our infinite and troublesome
impotence, and our grievous and boundless poverty.
The long journey goes from the world of spirits to the life of the embryo
in the mother’s womb. Then it continues to the life in youth, and then the life
in old age, then being laid out in the tomb, and the life in the grave up to
the Day of Resurrection, and passage over the bridge of Sirat to begin the eternal
life in the Hereafter. As for the two talismans, they are belief in God and
Death and belief
So understand this precious phrase “Belief in the All-Mighty Creator and
belief in the Hereafter.” This precious talisman obtains peace of mind for us,
and the Mercy of God, and the lion being unable to act without His permission
becomes like an obedient horse. For this reason the pious and learned, those
who have a true understanding of death, are not afraid of dying—on the contrary,
they wish to die before the time appointed for them.
Death is represented by the gallows. The passage of time, punctuated by separations
from friends, actually becomes, through belief in the Hereafter, a means to
see the perpetually renewed and always colourful embroideries of God’s wonderful
acts, the miracles of His Power, and the manifestations of His Compassion. Because
the “mirrors” which reflect the colours in the sunlight are varied and replaced,
the resulting spectacles are even more beautiful.
As to the medicines, one is patience and trusting in God, reliance on His
Power and confidence in His Wisdom. What needs the man to fear who, realizing
his helplessness, relies upon God Who owns the command of
Be, and it is? For
even in a most frightening situation and in the face of a most awful calamity,
he says, “Verily, to God do we belong, and to Him is our return”, and places
his trust in his Most Compassionate Lord with utmost serenity.
Fear of God and feeling of helplessness before Him
This is why the pious are content with their realization of their helplessness
before God, and put all their hopes in God’s decision. Surely there is pleasure
in the fear of God. If a one-year old were asked what is the most pleasant thing
he knows, he would say, “being protected in the warm embrace of my mother, conscious
of my weakness and helplessness—instead of being punished as I expected.” However,
the sum of compassion possessed by all mothers in the world is only a small
spark from the Compassion of God. Because of this, men of perfection take great
pleasure in their helplessness and their fear of God, and abandoning all that
is in their own powers, they take refuge in God. They make their fear and helplessness
a means of intercession before God.
Thanksgiving and contentment
The other medicine is petitioning God with thanksgiving and contentment,
and relying upon the mercy of the Generous All-Provider. It is for us to
ask, and for God to give. The Generous All-Provider has laid the whole
surface of the earth as a table and made the springtime for flowers to put
on that table. How could guests of such a Being regard their own poverty and
helplessness before God as an unbearable burden? They could not. For them
their poverty and need become appetite so they try to increase their
poverty—that is why men of perfection are proud of their poverty. (But let
this not be misunderstood: the realization of one’s poverty in this context
means one’s poverty before God. It does not mean being needy and begging
from people.) As for the passport to Eternity, it comprises five times daily prayer, doing the other obligations, and avoiding
the major sins. As unanimously agreed by men of discernment and learning, the
only way to get a light, some provision and a vehicle for the long journey to
Eternity is to abide by the laws of the Qur’an and to refrain from its prohibitions.
Possession of sciences and philosophies and craftsmanship alone are not worth
much, for these things only light the road as far as the grave.
How important, and easy, and light it is to perform the five prayers and
to renounce the seven major sins. If you possess a mind, and it is one that
has not been spoiled, then you should be able to understand how important and
great is the outcome of doing the prayers and avoiding the sins. Having understood,
you will turn to the one astray, and to the one who leads you to stray and sin,
– If you can abolish death, do away with impotence and poverty, and close
the door on the grave—then show us and let us see. Otherwise, be still and let
us listen to the Qur’an explaining the universe. Let us become filled with its
light. And let us act according to its guidance. For the Qur’an is the truth
since it comes from the Creator—and it speaks the truth, spreading its light