[2/2] AL-BUTI: Commentary on the Hikam (#3)

[2/2] AL-BUTI: Commentary on the Hikam (#3)

[2/2] AL-BUTI: Commentary on the Hikam (#3)

 I will give you an example that will resolve the above to satisfaction. Lady Maryam – upon our Prophet and upon her peace – when birthpains came to her – you have all read the Sura of Maryam – felt pain and foresaw what was going to happen with her, what people were going to say about her: “And the pangs of childbirth drove her unto the trunk of the palm tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died before this and had become a thing of naught, forgotten! Then (one) cried unto her from below her, saying: Grieve not! Thy Lord has placed a rivulet beneath you, and shake the trunk of the palm tree toward you, you will cause ripe dates to fall upon you.” (19:23-25) The scholars all said here: She had rested her back against the trunk of a date-palm tree of huge size at a time there was not, at the head of that date-palm tree, any date nor fruit, for it was not yet the season for them. The tree was bare of fruit. Allah then created in front of her the rivulet, and He created for her in the height of the date-palm tree a bunch of ripe dates. Now, the God Who created the date-bunch instantly – is He not able to make it fall, or to make some of the dates fall in front of her? But He said: “And shake the trunk of the palm tree toward you, you wilt cause ripe dates to fall upon you.” Imagine, what can that weak hand of hers do to that trunk which is very much like that column [in the mosque]? You all know the strength of the trunk of the date-palm. What can one do? So then: Is there any efficacy to the hand? Yet Allah ordered her to do something; to exert some effort; to knock at Allah Almighty’s door. If Lady Maryam had said: “The God Who created the rivulet for me, and created those fresh, ripe dates for me, is able to let some of them fall in front of me just as He wishes; therefore I shall not move my hand, nor move the tree-trunk.” If she had said that, it would have been misconduct with Allah Almighty. She actually moved her hand, after which Allah Almighty made them fall. Was the fall of the ripe dates effected by the moving of the hand or by Allah’s subtle kindness? It was effected by Allah’s subtle kindness (lutf).

So then, dear brethren: Our works in the marketplaces, our studies in the universities, our tilling of the fields and our farming, our medication at the hands of physicians – all the means that exist – are but the same thing as what Lady Maryam did when she was tasked with shaking the date-palm tree-trunk. If there were any efficacy to her hand, then it is the same with our works by which we strive and all our activities. But who is he that says there is any efficacy there? And that is the answer to the question mentioned before.

I am tasked with rising in the morning and going out to knock at the door of Allah’s sustenance with the means which He has made licit. I am tasked with observing and respecting the causes which He has thus named for me: “causes” – and so I interact with them. That work in response to Allah’s command is part of worship, part of the condition of being Allah Almighty’s servant. This means that when you know that these causes have no actual efficacy, but [you say]: “Allah has commanded me, therefore, I hear and I obey” – at that time you are performing one of the greatest of all acts of worship to Allah Almighty. When the farmer goes out to his field, tills, plants, strives to his utmost, knowing that Allah has tasked him with a duty, and that it is Allah, thereafter, Who creates the results: that farmer is performing an act of worship which is among the greatest acts of worship. The young man who marries in order to practice continence, knowing, however, that it is Allah Who creates continence and it is He Who shall give him happiness through that marriage – it is Allah Himself Who gives him happiness – he is performing an act of worship which is among the greatest acts of worship. The sick man who knocks at the door of the physician to ask him for the remedy to his ailment, is performing an act of worship which is among the greatest acts of worship. This is all on condition that you know that efficacy belongs only to Allah Almighty. Whether you are in the world of dispossession (`alam al-tajrid) or in the world of causes (`alam al-asbab), you must know this. “The foremost energies cannot pierce the walls of foreordained destinies.”

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