The Company You Keep

The end justifies the means

Sometimes we all get a little distracted with life and its highs and lows – especially the lows. The stresses we face can force us unexpectedly and relentlessly down a twisting flume whilst we hang on desperately trying to catch our breath.  But even then, after all the twists and turns, we are more often than not safely deposited into a pool of relative calmness and relief.  The ride may have been unnerving but the end result compensates for it all.

That’s the best analogy I can think of right now for my present reality.  The point to note is that, all other things being equal, I believe I will get through the challenges facing me right now, inshaAllah.  It’s a matter of simply not focussing on the problems themselves.  I need to take the wider perspective and remember that Allah has put me in this situation and so He can surely get me out of it.  He has given me the exam paper and I need to write the answers with my own pen and intellectual capacity.

This is how I plan to ‘Keep Calm’. 

Life is always going to be a series of problems and some will be exchanged for others as we move through the constant of time.  The thing we need to get a grip of is our own emotions.  Not easy, I know. I’d be the first to testify to that.  Rationality often eludes us when we need it the most.

However, I can’t believe I find myself echoing my elders when I say that age does bring wisdom.  It’s true that there is a level of maturity that only life experience can deliver.  It has to be earned through living itself and going through all kinds of experiences, rough and smooth.  Arguably, wisdom can’t be earned through simply pre-empting a situation and expecting textbook answers to suffice.  I personally have never been given to reading self-help books produced by life coaches.  Quite frankly, I am very cynical of their formulae.  To some extent, others can advise but how can a blanket response to a situation take into consideration so many different personalities, cultures or religious affiliations?  The variables from person to person are so many that it negates the effectiveness of a ‘one size fits all’ solution.  Words of advice look good on a page but close the book and most of those ideas don’t transfer well into workable solutions.  That’s just my experience.  How many motivational quotes on life do we read and yet the lesson is as transient as the time it takes to read them? The stark truth is that there is no escaping the fact that we will forever be the mice on that wheel until we realise that there is a higher purpose to this temporal existence. 

Recently, I stumbled across a short lecture by Abdul Hakim Murrad, the Cambridge intellectual and professor who inspires me not least because he is such an eloquent speaker.  (He is, in my opinion, Britain’s answer to Hamza Yusuf – another awesome orator who I admire greatly).  The talk reminded the listener that Allah is with us through thick and thin.  Knowing that should be comfort in itself.  And it is.  The reminder was timely since I have been concerned lately with financial matters amongst other routine issues.  However, Murrad’s advice reminded me that Allah is indeed with me.  Even if others desert and disappoint, I know I am in the company of an infinitely superior Presence.  No human could take the place of divine company.  The only condition of being remembered by Ar-Razzaq (The Provider) is to remember He is the source and the solution – all in one.  There is no escaping that spiritual reality.

Whilst that knowledge in itself may not actually change my situation, it is a huge comfort.  It is yoga for the soul – the spiritual exercise that in turn regulates the heart when it flutters.  It is the morphine that controls emotional piques in times of mental disarray.  It is the perfect antidote to all the stresses that cause us to keel over in pain. This is no exaggeration.  I can bear witness to that experience myself.  When I have become consumed with worries about this or that and eventually return to the default mode where Allah is the centrifugal force in my world, I see that stress dissipates instantly, Alhamdulillah.

So, I write today as a reminder to myself that everything in this life will come to pass.  That is an outcome I can’t avoid. I don’t say that in a morbid or depressing tone.  I say it so as to remember that I shouldn’t let any problem consume me.  I need to step back and look at things from a distance.  Just as I have learnt to let go of those who come in and out of my life, so too the same applies to circumstances.  Nothing is fixed or permanent.  Even the darkest days will pass.  I can’t prescribe my formula for survival onto others; I am not a life coach.  However, in very broad terms, I can say that as long as Allah remains the focal point of my life, there is really nothing to fear.  That is the one lesson I would share with anyone looking for appeasement or reassurance.  There are many roads to Allah and we all travel our unique journeys but as long as the destination is the same, inshaAllah it is an adventure well worth setting off for.

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