ANGER: A learned person was teaching about anger; he asked his students, “Why do we shout in anger? Why do people shout at each other when they are upset?” The students thought for a while. One said, “We shout because we lose our calm.” “But why shout when the other person is right next to you?” asked the sage. “Isn’t it possible to speak to them in a softer voice? Why do you shout at a person when you are angry?” The students gave some other answers but none satisfied the teacher.
Finally, the teacher explained, “When two people are angry at each other, their hearts psychologically distance themselves. To cover the distance, they must shout to be able to hear each other out. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other through that great ‘distance’ their hearts have artificially created.”
Then the teacher asked, “Why is it that people in love don’t shout at each other but talk softly? It is because their hearts are psychologically knitted and the ‘distance’ between them is very short. And when they love each other even more, they do not even need to speak, they only whisper. Finally, they even need not whisper at all, they only look at each other and that’s all; they just understand. So next time you and a loved one or a colleague shout at each other, know that you have created a ‘distance’ between your hearts.”
(As Shaikh al Islam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah once said, “Smart people know how to hold their tongue; their grandeur is to forgive and forget”.)
REFLECTION: Once a king presented his daughter, the princess, with a beautiful diamond necklace. Not soon after, the necklace was lost and the people of the kingdom searched everywhere but could not find it. Some said a bird might have stolen it. The king offered a generous reward for anyone who found it.
One day, a poor man was walking home along the bank of a polluted river which was filthy and smelly. As he walked, the man saw a shimmering in the water and when he looked closer, he saw the much-sought-for diamond necklace. He decided to try and catch it so that he could get the reward. He put his hand in the filthy, dirty river and grabbed at the necklace, but somehow missed it. He took his hand out and looked again and the necklace was still there. He tried again, this time walking into the river and dirtying his clothes in the filthy river. He put his whole arm in to catch the necklace. But strangely, he still missed it!
The man came out, feeling mightily depressed. Then again he saw the necklace, right there, beckoning. This time he was determined to get it, no matter what. He decided to plunge into the river, although it was a disgusting thing to do as the river was polluted, and his whole body would become filthy. He nevertheless plunged in and searched everywhere for the necklace, and yet he failed. This time he was really bewildered. He came out feeling very depressed that he could not get the necklace that would get him such a generous reward which would make him rich.
As the poor man was walking away all wet and dirty and in disappointment, a learned man walked by, saw him, and asked what the matter was. The poor man, afraid the stranger might take the necklace for himself and claim the reward, didn’t want to share the secret, so he refused to tell the other anything. But the learned man could see that this man was troubled and desperate. Being compassionate, he again asked the other to tell him the problem, and promised that he would not tell anyone about it.
The poor man mustered some courage and decided to put some faith in the stranger. He told him about the necklace and how he tried and tried to catch it, but kept failing. The other then told him that perhaps he should try looking elsewhere, for example upward, toward the branches of the tree, instead of in the filthy river. The poor man looked up and, true enough, the necklace was dangling on the branch of a tree (as it had indeed been taken, and dropped, by a bird). He had been trying to capture a mere reflection of the real necklace all this time.
(Material happiness is just like the filthy, polluted river, because it is a mere reflection of the happiness of the spiritual world, up there, with God. The Illusion of Reflections is sourced from 100 Moral Stories at islamicoccasions.com.)
SHARING: Famous Islamic scholar Sayyed Jawad Ameli was having dinner when someone knocked on his door. A servant from his own master, Ayatullah Sayyed Mehdi Bahrul Uloom, appeared and said: “Your master has sent for you to come immediately. He has just sat down for his dinner but refuses to eat until he sees you.” There was no time to lose. Ameli left his dinner and rushed to the Ayatullah’s residence.
Just as he entered, the master looked disapprovingly at him and said: “Sayyed Jawad! Have you no fear of Allah! Don’t you feel ashamed in front of Allah?” This came as a shock to Ameli, as he could not remember doing anything to incur the wrath of his master. So, full of confusion, he responded: “My master may guide me where I have failed.”
The Ayatullah replied: “It is now a week that your neighbour and his family are without food. He was trying to buy some food from a shop on credit but the shopkeeper refused to grant him any more credit. He returned home empty-handed and the family is without a morsel of food tonight.” Ameli was shocked. “By Allah,” he said, “I have no knowledge about this.”
“That is why I am displeased all the more,” said his teacher. “How can you be unaware of your own neighbour? Seven days of difficulties have passed and you tell me you do not know about it. Well, if you had known and ignored him despite your knowledge, then you would not even be a Muslim!”
Then he instructed him to take all the dishes of food before him to his neighbour. “Sit with him to eat, so that he does not feel ashamed. And take this sum for his future needs. Place it under his pillow or carpet so that he is not humiliated, and inform me when this work is completed, for not until then shall I eat.”
(Remember, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, has said, “That man is not of me who sleeps contentedly while his neighbour sleeps hungry.”