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Articles Section > Be a Flowing Stream by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed Sahib


Be a Flowing Stream:
by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed Sahib


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Sometimes in life we may find ourselves beset with an assortment of problems, inconveniences, frustrations and disappointments, which may originate from diverse sources. For example, the Holy Quran mentions three causes of trial in the following verse which encourages us to be patient: ba'sa'i, that is, poverty, penury, straitened circumstances; darra'i, that is, personal distresses like disappointments, fear, anxiety, grief, illness (especially a protracted disease), etc.; and ba's, that is, conflicts, in war or with enemies or even with family, friends, neighbours, fellow-workers, etc.

Psychologists, sociologists and novelists have farther given us four kinds of conflicts:

1. Conflict with one's inner self, e.g., cognitive dissonance, or a clash of values, or the fight between passion and virtue.

2. Conflict with nature, e.g., in times of natural disasters like droughts, famines, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.

3. Conflicts with individuals, as mentioned earlier on.

4. Conflict with society, the most famous for a Muslim being the battle between the Holy Prophet (pbuh), the teacher of tauhid (unity of God) and his Arabian counterparts who were champions of idol-worship.

But regardless of the kind or the source of the difficulty, the Holy Quran, which is a guide for all mankind for every aspect of life, has provided guidance for us in this simple, terse, but profound exhortation:

Do not be of the qanitin (despairing ones) (15:55).

In addition to this, there are many other verses that encourage us never to give up, but to work steadfastly for Allah knows our condition (24:64) and His help is always near to His servants (2:186).

We must remember, though, according to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Mujaddid of the fourteenth century, that help will come only after we have been tested, tried, and sometimes even persecuted, as the word awa connotes in the following verse addressed initially to the Holy Prophet (pbuh):

Alum yajidka yatiman fa aawaa (Did He not find thee an orphan and give (thee) shelter? (93:6).

Help did come to the Holy Prophet (pbuh), but only after he had to walk on burning coals and through blazing flames. This is the way of Allah, as He Himself has said:

And certainly We shall try you till We mark out those among you who strive hard, and the steadfast, and (We shall) test your claims (47:31).

In the following pages, we shall look at certain verses of encouragement in the Holy Quran and juxtapose a few poems in which the poet has tried to instil courage, resolve and determination in the hearts of his fellow human beings in words that have proven to be an inspiration to millions over the years. In addition to the poems, we shall also focus on a couple pieces of advice in prose, so that from both poetry and prose we shall benefit from inspiration which has been culled from the collective experience of mankind throughout the ages.

As regards obstacles, trials and calamities in life, whether inner or outer, the Holy Quran is replete with guidance and exhortation. A few examples will suffice. The Holy Quran not only tells us beforehand what to expect in life: We have certainly created man to face difficulties (90:4), and the kinds of trials we must expect: And We shall certainly try you with something of fear and hunger and loss of property and lives and fruits. And give news to the patient (2:155), but it also furnishes us with the response that will help us to develop our latent faculties in the path of success: O you who believe, seek assistance through patience and prayer; surely Allah is with the patient . . . who, when a misfortune befalls them say: Surely we are Allah's, and to Him we shall return! (2:153, 156) and it then holds out to us the reward of cheerful but creative acceptance of the degrees of the Almighty: Those are they on whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord and those are the followers of the right course (2:157).

Furthermore, if we are assaulted by any kind of opposition in the pursuance of the right course, the Holy Quran again comes to our assistance: And say to those who believe not: Act according to your power, surely we too are acting (11:121-122).

These, too, are some of the things that a sage recommends to us in his own style and words and in the light of human wisdom:

"Keep right on with your work. It is comparatively easy to smile when blest with friends, fortune and fame. The supreme test of your real qualities, however, is when everything seems to be against you, when friends prove false, plans go wrong, illness overtakes you and money, position and those dearest to you are taken away. If a reverse comes to you, look at it philosophically and keep right on with your work. If a friend breaks faith with you, forgive the fault, and keep steadily to the main purpose of your life. If a seemingly overwhelming disappointment assails you, rise to your full stature and keep on courageously with your chosen task. If everything goes against you, don't give up, don't worry, don't falter, but smile and keep right on with your work" (OP Ghai, Quest for Inspiration, p. 98).

At times we may feel snowed over by misfortunes, or overburdened with responsibilities, with no time for our own pleasures and enjoyments in life. Worse than self-pity is expecting pity from others according to Richard Nixon, former US President, in his memoirs. At other times when "success" comes we are tempted to indulge in some triumphal flourishes of our own. Again the Holy Quran comes to our rescue as it forces us to reflect soberly on our circumstances:

No disaster befalls in the earth, or in yourselves, but it is in a book before We bring it into existence -- surely that is easy to Allah -- so that you grieve not for what has escaped you, nor exult in that which He has given you. And Allah loves not any arrogant boaster (57:22-23).

Our poet friends, too, give us some of the fruits of their life's experience in these two beautiful poems:

Life's lesson
I learn, as the years roll onward
And I leave the past behind,
That much I had counted sorrow
But proved that God is kind;
That many a flower I'd longed for
Had hidden a thorn of pain
And many a rugged bypath
Led to the fields of ripened grain.
The clouds that cover the sunshine;
They cannot banish the sun,
And the earth shines out the brighter
When the weary rain is done.
We must stand in the deepest shadow
To see the clearest light;
And often through wrong's own darkness
Comes the welcome strength of Right

(OP Ghai, Quest for Inspiration, p. 11.)

and,

This, too, shall pass away
When some sorrow, like a mighty river,
Flows through your life with peace-destroying power,
And dearest things are swept from sight forever,
Say to your heart each trying hour:
"This, too, shall pass away."
When fortune smiles, and full of mirth and pleasure,
The last days are flitting by without a care,
Lest you should rest with only earthly treasure,
Let those few words their fullest import bear:
"This, too, shall pass away."
When earnest labour brings you fame and glory,
And all earth's noblest ones upon you smile,
Remember that life's longest, grandest story
Fills but a moment in earth's little while:
"This, too, shall pass away."

(OP Ghai, Quest for Inspiration, Lanta Vilson Smith, p. 29.)

And Rudyard Kipling encourages us:

If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same.

As Muslims, we are especially fortunate to have been gifted with the Holy Quran for Allah has given us in this Book, as supplications, two chapters (113 and 114) which are calculated to safeguard us from every conceivable kind of injury in life, both internal and external. Additionally, He exhorts us in the following verses to strive a mighty striving to reach Him, and assures us that we are not alone -- He knows our circumstances -- and that help will come from whence we perceive not. However, we must persevere if Allah is to come to our assistance and we must not fear the attack of anyone if we are on the right way:

O man, thou must strive a hard striving (to attain) to thy Lord, until thou meet Him (84:6).

Now surely Allah's is whatever is in the heavens and the earth. He knows indeed your condition. And on the day when they are returned to Him, He will inform them of what they did. And Allah is Knower of all things (24:64).

And whoever keeps his duty to Allah, He ordains a way out for him, and gives him sustenance from whence he imagines not… and whoever keeps his duty to Allah He makes his affair easy for him… and whoever keeps his duty to Allah, He will remove from him evils and give him a big reward… Allah brings ease after difficulty (65:2, 3, 4, 5, 7).

And those who strive hard for Us, We shall certainly guide them in Our ways. And Allah is surely with the doers of good (29:69).

O you who believe, take care of your souls -- he who errs cannot harm you when you are on the right way. To Allah you will all return, so He will inform you of what you did (5:105).

Hazrat Mirza, in his own inspired way, has given us from nature a vivid example that lights up every corner of our minds and brings solace, strength, determination, courage and focus to our hearts. He gives us the likeness of a pool of water which, in the beginning, is clear, transparent, sweet to the taste and delightful to all. But with the passage of time, this pool becomes stagnant: the dirt and the worms begin to overtake it from beneath and that same sweet water now begins to smell badly and is repugnant to the taste. The lesson is that a human being may start off potentially with beautiful qualities of goodness but if he does not develop them he becomes a cause of sorrow and distress to others.

Maybe this is what the Holy Quran is drawing our minds to when it says:

And surely We created man of sounding clay, of black mud fashioned into shape (15:26); and

Then He made him complete and breathed into him of His spirit, and gave you ears and eyes and hearts; little it is that you give thanks! (32:9).

It is our life-long responsibility to struggle to keep the black mud under control and develop the spirit breathed into us by our Creator thus becoming birds that can soar to the high heavens.

In this regard, this hadith quoted a few times by Hazrat Mirza in his writings, comes to mind:

"The descendants of Adam (pbuh) have been created in various categories. Some are born believers and live and die believers; some are born infidels and live and die infidels; some are born believers and live as believers but die infidels; some are born infidels and live as infidels, but die believers" (Robson, Mishkat, p. 1067).

On the other hand, Hazrat Mirza gives us the analogy of a stream that flows freely and the water of which is sweet and delightful to the drinkers as well as life-giving to the plants and animals of the earth. It is true that there is dirt in this stream but because of the force of the current, the mud remains below and is not apparent to the beholders. So, too, true believers may have their little faults, but they keep on flowing and Allah Who is Sattar (the One Who screens) and Ghaffar (the One Who covers up) screens their shortcomings from the public gaze and covers their defects until they expunge them from their systems.

Therefore, he advises us to keep on seeking means of beneficent service as does our poet friend:

I shall not pass this way again
Through this toilsome world, alas!
Once and only once I pass;
If a kindness I may show,
If a good deed I may do
To a suffering fellow man,
Let me do it while I can.
No delay, for it is plain
I shall not pass this way again.

(OP Ghai, Quest for Inspiration, p. 50.)

Hazrat Mirza reminds us also that whatever may be the opinion of others concerning us, it is by our works that we will be judged, as the Holy Quran tell us:

He said: My Lord, help me against their calling me a liar. He said: In a little while they will certainly be repenting (23:39-40).

Surely Allah is with those who keep their duty and those who do good (to others) (16:128).

This, too, is the sound advice of our philosopher friend:

"Good work speaks for itself. One of the most insistent things in life is that you are ultimately judged by what you actually accomplish. The busy world of workers gives scant attention to assertion, explanation, protest, apology, or complaint. What counts most is not promise, but performance. Good work speaks for itself; therefore achieve something first, and talk about it afterward if you must. Time spent in promises, regrets, and professions, is usually unavailing. The way to do things is not to dream about them, nor wish for them, but to do them. The distinguished men in all times have been prodigious workers, earnestly intent upon securing actual results. The present age is intensely practical, and more than ever the race is to the alert, the energetic, and the industrious" (OP Ghai, Quest for Inspiration, p.99).

Finally, what really matters in life above everything else is our relationship with our Master Who created us to know Him, love Him, cherish Him, worship Him, beg Him and to colour ourselves with His colours. The following extracts from Hazrat Mirza's writings bring home this point to us with penetrating clarity.

The first is taken from Kishti-e-Nuh:

"Our God is our paradise. Our greatest delight is in our God for we have seen Him and found every beauty in Him. This wealth is worth acquiring even though one may have to sacrifice one's life to gain it" (p. 30).

Therefore, he warns us:

"He whose heart is dead derives all his pleasures from worldly things while the true believer does not love everything more than God" (Malfuzat, vol. 6, p. 64).

Instead, he affirms that God alone must be the Source of our comfort:

"It is simply not true that wealth can bring comfort to a person. Mere wealth cannot do that, for, if a man is blessed with riches but his health is poor, for example, his digestive system is defective, will his life be a paradise? That points to the fact that riches alone are not the source of comfort. On the other hand, it is only that person who has a strong connection with God who can enjoy a life in this world that can be called a paradise…. Again, who can protect us from millions of dangers that surround us? Who is there besides God who can console man in his sorrow? It is God and God alone Who can do that" (Malfuzat, vol. 11, p.335).

He then teaches us how to achieve realisation of God in our lives:

"God says in the Holy Quran that He will not forgive people for associating others with Him. But the majority of mankind do not understand the meaning of this statement. They think that it refers only to idol-worship. That is not true. It includes all those who are loved by man. There are people who sever their connection with God when they are faced with minor trials and tribulations or when one of their children passes away. They begin to grumble and complain. Such people are, in fact, among those who associate partners with God and they are really harsh to themselves. You should not be like them. You should drive away those kinds of evil suggestions and ideas from your mind. And this is how you should do it. You should offer your daily prayers in great humility and you should pray to God to help you in this respect" (Malfuzat, vol. 9, p. 115).

He emphasises the primacy of putting God first when he says:

"The essence of religion is to put God first in our lives for indeed we are His and He is ours. However many children we may lose, yet if He is pleased with us, no pain shall we suffer from our loss (Malfuzat, vol. 10, p. 90).

Finally, a couplet from one of his Urdu poems discloses the kind of feeling the heart must have for our beloved Creator:

Sab ghair hain Wohi hai ik dil kaa yaar jani
Dil mein mere yehi hai
Subhana muny-yarani

He alone my heart yearns for. Foreign to me is everything else.
Gratefully my heart is ever singing:
Glory to Him Who keeps me always under His eyes.

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Articles Section > Be a Flowing Stream by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed Sahib

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