The Muslim Way of Speaking: Speaking in the Knowledge…
SPEAKING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF ONE’S HELPLESSNESS IN THE FACE OF ALLAH
With the following words from the Qur’an, “Recite: In the Name of your Lord Who created, created man from clots of blood. Recite: And your Lord is the Most Generous, He Who taught by the pen, taught man what he did not know. No indeed! Truly man is unbridled seeing himself as self-sufficient. Truly it is to your Lord that you will return.” (Surat al-‘Alaq: 1-8)
Allah points out that, in spite of their impotence, this some people may forget and become overly concerned with themselves. In truth, there are some who may behave with ingratitude towards Allah without having considered how it is He Who created them or how it is He Who gave them those attributes which they are so proud of.
In fact, without exception, in all instances, every human being is dependent upon Allah’s protection and mercy. In addition to abilities, such as sight, hearing, speech, walking and moving, at every moment a plethora of internal systems are working in the body, without a person’s realizing it, but without which he would not otherwise be able to live. We need only reflect on these matters little to realize how impotent we are in the sight of Allah.
Despite these truths, some remember Allah only when they are faced with a problem or a difficulty. For example, a person sitting in a boat, which he had been certain would return to the shore, is immediately plunged into panic when a violent wind assails his boat as it begins to rock back and forth. Similarly, turbulence felt on a plane or the slightest technical malfunction may cause a person to feel great fear. In situations such as these, when they realize their impotence in the sight of Allah, and that only Allah can rescue them from the difficulty, these people turn to Allah and begin to pray. Even one who, merely a short time ago, walked arrogantly by other passengers at the airport, realizes right away how impotent she is in the face of such a danger, and that through the will of Allah she can lose everything she possesses in an instant.
The Qur’an tells us how people turn to Allah in total subservience in times of difficulty, but when the trouble is averted, return ungraciously to their former self-aggrandizing:
When harm occurs to you at sea, those you call on vanish—except for Him alone! But when He delivers you to dry land, you turn away. Man truly is ungrateful. Do you feel secure against Him causing the shore to swallow you up or sending against you a sudden squall of stones? Then you will find no one to be your guardian. Or do you feel secure against Him taking you back into it another time and sending a violent storm against you and drowning you for your ingratitude? Then you will find no one to defend you against Us. (Surat al-Isra’: 67-69)
As we are told in these verses revealed by Allah, a person alone has no power of any kind. Allah reminds us of this truth in another verse:
Do not strut arrogantly about the earth. You will certainly never split the earth apart nor will you ever rival the mountains in height. All of that is evil action and hateful in the sight of your Lord. (Surat al-Isra’: 37-38)
Muslims are those who are aware of this impotence at all times and in all places. The words they use reflect their complete faith in this truth. Even if someone were the best looking person in the world, a person who understands the greatness of Allah never thinks that his looks are something of his own making. He speaks in the knowledge that his appearance is a result of Allah’s artistry, and that it can be taken from him at any moment, if Allah were to will it so. He would never dare say, “This beauty is a part of me and so long as I look after myself, nothing can happen to me,” thus avowing that he cannot claim this blessing for his own power.
He knows that a single virus or microbe invisible to the eye, or a minor accident, can destroy this beauty, and that these things are under Allah’s control. For this reason, he employs a manner of speech which consistently shows his gratitude to Allah, and which exalts Him. If someone else were to praise his knowledge or his beauty, he would respond by reminding him of Allah’s supreme beauty, infinite power, intelligence and magnificence. Insisting that he is good-looking merely because Allah has willed it so, and that he is but a small reflection of Allah’s boundless beauty or intelligence, he exalts Allah.
Believers’ awareness of their weaknesses in the sight of Allah manifests itself in all aspects of their behavior. A devout believer never speaks in a way which humiliates a person she regards as having fewer means than herself. Nor, on the basis of her own good looks, does she speak slightingly or hurtfully to someone who is less good looking. In the same way, she does not adopt the manner of speaking of those who despise the poor because they themselves are rich, those who discriminate against people in a class beneath their own because they hold power, or those who belittle slow-witted people because they are intelligent. She acts in the knowledge that in the trial set for her in the life of the world, Allah has determined a different fate for every person, and that in Allah’s sight true superiority is measured in terms of faith and piety. For this reason, and in accordance with the morality expounded in the Qur’an, she adopts the most respectful manner of speaking to all those who are around her, whether rich or poor, powerful or weak. Realizing that any behavior contrary to this would imply that she is setting herself up as superior, not to people, but to Allah, she fears Him and takes refuge in Him. This characteristic of the faithful is referred to in the Qur’an as such:
… Be good to your parents and relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to neighbors who are related to you and neighbors who are not related to you, and to companions and travelers and your slaves. Allah does not love anyone vain or boastful. (Surat an-Nisa’: 36)
(For further reference, please see, Muslim Way of Speaking, by Harun Yahya)