Exploring varied dimensions of faith, ranging from gnosis to the application of doctrinal principles with respect to contemporary issues was my objective; however after going through some books and papers, I realised that these areas are quite broad. And a proper representation requires an in-depth understanding and articulation. Because without that, what would be the purpose of me writing it? One could gain an erroneous or incomplete understanding of the topic at hand. And that would be a setback of great measure.
So now I have finally decided to delve briefly into the philosophy of tribulations. But I did realise after reading through this, that there might be a greater nuance to what I have put forth, but all I seek to convey is a modest premise or kernel for one to begin their voyage, onward to the land of exploration.
“When you see grief, embrace it lovingly:
Look on Damascus from the top of Rebva”
This is a proverb of the Arab world, which quite succinctly puts forth the perspective that one should have towards the trials of life. It was used by Rumi in his Masnavi to evoke the panorama of the Sufi Salehiyye district, at the base of mount Qasiyum.
This phrase encompasses the philosophy of tribulations.
Which has different streams of understanding in distinct traditions, but the one I am putting forth truly resonates with my being, satisfying the heart and mind.
To begin with, the first point of realisation must be, “the one who faces the greatest tumults is the one who is highly placed”, and that is in terms of deeds rather than power or wealth.
And at the same time in this regard, a wrongly held expectation is that the world is a place of reward and punishment. This is because the very material of this world cannot accept absolute punishment or pleasure. Herein the afflictions and bounties are intermixed, no happiness is without sadness, and no grief without some reprieve. It is only in the realm of the Divine that such purity and a lack of contradictions can exist.
So if one moves beyond this base of understanding, the next step is to then see how to perceive the problems of life. What is usually believed is that problems are due to one’s sins or something of that nature. While that holds true, at the same time, it has been said,
“The greatness of man’s reward goes with the greatness of suffering, and God did not love a people but that He subjected them to suffering.”
This might seem confusing to say the least, but at such moments of adversity, an individual comes closer to God, they pray and lament for relief and support. So such incidences of calamity are ones that reel us further in the direction of the Divine. If this is seen as aversion or disfavour from God, I can’t think of anything further from the truth.
Now when one is facing a challenge, how does she/he confront it?
God is always close to us, never far. So in the face of tumult, one should submit to face it effectively. Here submission means not to give in, but rather to have complete belief in the creator. We must flow in this river of life. What is there for us, is for the best and we must accept it as such.
At the same time, an individual can’t just throw up their arms. People must start the endeavour to resolve their troubles. A person has to make an effort, and then faith acts as a facilitator or a healer that guides us through our worries. It can make the impossible seem possible or give us the courage to start the journey. Take the first step, the rest will come.
In the end, it is then God who responds to our calls and prayers. When all seems lost, the path is revealed, when hope departs, a glimmer appears. Instead of resisting, surrender. Let life be with you, not against you. “If you think ‘My life will be upside down’, don’t worry. How do you know the down is not better than the upside?”