Friday, February 15, 2013

Shall I tell you what is far better than that?


You know the thing the psychologist call self-talk? It's the inner voice within us talking to our self all the time. This intra-personal communication includes both conscious and unconscious thoughts which are unspoken words. Well if you utter them, then people will see you talking to yourself which may not be a good thing. Self-talk is an internal silent personal conversation.

I deduced something from sitting in Habib Ali's class tonight, that a good phrase to memorize and include in our self-talk's vocabulary is "shall I tell you what is far better than that?" A'unab bi ukum biqairin min zaalikum.

Habib Ali Zaenal Abidin al-Hamid expounded on verses 15 to 17 of Surah Al-Imran. Verse 15 begins with a question: "Shall I tell you what's far better than that - A'unab bi ukum biqairin min zaalikum. It is in reference to the preceding verse no. 14 about people being attracted to the much desired and enjoyable things i.e. women, children, gold & silver, branded horses, cattle and orchards/farms. Sure these are good stuff and the Qur'an acknowledges them and Allah being our Creator knows us better, He knows our heart's tendencies. And then in verse 15, He explains the things that are actually better than those six items. But not for everyone. There are better things in store for those who fear Allah. The things which are far better than that, are:
  • Gardens, not one garden but many gardens. Habib Ali said, it's not like the gardens we have here where we need to care for the plants, water them, fertilize them etc. The heavenly gardens are self sustaining and ever presentable.
  • Beneath these gardens, rivers flow [if anyone can imagine]. 
  • This is the description of the abode where we shall live forever with purified wives. Wives over here grow old and beauty fades with age. But the wives in that eternal abode are eternally youthful.
  • We shall enjoy this kind of life with Allah's approval. We will attain His redha.
  • And Allah is watching us. He watches our ibadah. Allahu baasirun bil ibaad
In verse 16, Allah defines the type of people who fear Allah who would be rewarded with the things which are far better than that. They are:
  • People who repent saying: 
    • 'O Lord, surely we have believed, so forgive us our sins and save us from the torment of the fire.'
  • People who are patient. According to Habib Ali, there are 3 types of patience:
    • being patient in doing good deeds.
    • being patient in leaving/avoiding bad deeds.
    • being patient in handling calamities.
  • People who are truthful.
  • People who are devout.
  • People who spend in Allah's way.
  • People who seek forgiveness during pre-dawn/before subuh.
With regard to handling calamities (musibah), Habib Ali mentioned the definition of musibah as practised by Saidina Umar al-Khatab. Saidina Umar would evaluate a calamity from four angles. If it does not have any one of the four criteria, then the calamity is actually a blessing.
  • if there is other calamity which is more severe than what he is facing, then that calamity is a blessing.
  • if the calamity does not involve his iman/aqidah, then it is also a blessing.
  • if the calamity allows him to be patient, then it is not a calamity but a blessing instead. An example given by Habib Ali was the reward given to a mother who loses her child. She may regard it as musibah but Allah in a conversation with the angel would ask: "Have you taken my servant's sweet heart away?" "Yes," said the angel. Then says Allah: "Replace her with a heavenly station." 
  • if the calamity does not prevent him from getting Allah's bounties, then it is not a musibah.

My takeaway from Habib Ali's lesson tonight: when the heart seems to be too inclined towards any of the much desired things like women, children, gold and branded cars, let's pause and engage in self-talk:
Shall I tell you what is far better than that?
A'unab bi ukum biqairin min zaalikum?

Allahu a'lam.

Pic credit: Darul Murtadza

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