Addressing last year’s Sacred Path of Love conference in Singapore, American scholar Imam Tahir Anwar addressed the packed auditorium about the virtues of patience. Mspiration was there and below is an abridged version of his address.
On Desires and Awareness
We need to realise as Muslims the blessings we have from Allah SWT and not just focus on what we don’t have. As humans we tend to aspire for the materialistic. It is okay to desire, but you shouldn’t let it drive you. Time flies by. It is the responsibility of every individual to stop and derive from that moment. We carry smart phones and sometimes we just stop to take a photo of something so later we can look back and reminisce about at that moment. But we forget to stop in that actual moment and realise how it was amazing, to experience that moment and keep it in your memory rather than a photograph. Allah SWT talks about time in the Quran and he says “By Time, verily man is lost. Except for those with imaan and do good deeds, who stand upright with truth and stand upright with patience.” This shows that you just can’t be a passive Muslim, we are constantly striving.
On Difficulties and Tests
In life there will be difficulties. There is no life void of difficulties. We derive from the life and experience of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH and he himself had very difficult experiences. Muslims in the post 9-11 world today think Oh my God, life is hard. I can tell you as Muslims in America life has been somewhat difficult compared to a pre 9-11. But in all honesty it has not been anywhere near the life of the Prophet PBUH and his companions and what they went through. We need to stop complaining and realise the blessings around us. We also need to realise that for an individual to live through this life, there will be difficulties.
Allah SWT reminds us that in this life there will be tests and they will come in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. What are those tests? Allah SWT says he will test you “with something of fear and hunger, loss of wealth and lives and fruits.” This is a reality. But Allah says “give glad tidings to those that are patient.” Who are the patient? Those that Allah says when a calamity befalls them they are reminded that we belong to Allah and we will return to Him. We need to think about this.
On Allah’s Justice
Allah says He has power of everything. Reflect on Ayat Al Kursi, that is such a powerful verse. It is the Verse of The Throne and tells you that Allah is in control of over all things. He is the same Allah that will test us in this life and each one us will be tested individually. There is no life without tests, in fact if all what you go through in life is blessing after blessing then you should be worried. There is something wrong. Because Allah through his mercy puts us through his tests. Look at the blessed prophets Ayub, Yousif and Nuh, even the companions Ali and Bilal. If they all went through great difficulties that we can’t imagine then who are you and I? That is why Allah is so merciful and so kind. Allah tells us that things are going to happen, you will go through difficulties but if you remember Him then he will pull you out if. Also, while you are going through that difficulty you will still remain content, you will still be able to have a smile on your face and it’s not the end of road. There is a light at the end of the tunnel… but there is also a tunnel.
They are two things I want to say. The first is a famous saying in English; if Allah brings you to it, He will bring you through it. The second is Allah is Just. One should never say why he or she has more and why I have less? Why is she better looking and I am not? Why does he have a better job and I don’t? Never want to be another person because you don’t know what difficulty they are going through. You don’t know their internal challenges. So we need to remind ourselves when Allah SWT gives – what He gives is ultimately very just.
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