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  Opinion   Oped  08 Dec 2016  Mystic Mantra: Distress - Bliss or misery?

Mystic Mantra: Distress - Bliss or misery?

The writer is an alim (classical Islamic scholar) and doctoral scholar with Centre for Media, Culture & Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia. Contact him at grdehlavi@gmail.com
Published : Dec 8, 2016, 3:36 am IST
Updated : Dec 8, 2016, 7:25 am IST

Any distress devoid of its spiritual dimensions is unhealthy.

The Quran clearly states that the only rank that eventually matters is marked by the relationship that one has with God.
 The Quran clearly states that the only rank that eventually matters is marked by the relationship that one has with God.

A Sufi adage says: “When one falls in love with the Divine, s/he goes through various forms of test, pain and suffering. Therefore, pain or distress was taken as bliss by scores of Sufi luminaries. They had great joy even in their worries, grieves and sadness.”

In fact, mystics in Islam were inspired by a universal truth as explained in this Quranic verse: “We will surely test you with something of fright, hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits (means of livelihood), but give good tidings to the patient”.

Ismail Ibn Kaseer, an authentic exegete of Quran unearths more meanings of this verse. He writes: “the one who has faith in the divine shall be tested in his/her wealth, offspring and family. Every believer shall be tested according to the degree of his/her faith, and when faith is stronger, the test is larger”. He cites one more related verse from Quran to emphasise: “But if you persevere patiently and have taqwa (righteousness), then verily, that will be a determining factor in all affairs of your life”.

However, this spiritual distress which appears as a tribulation in the divine path is diametrically different from the worldly stress that each of us grapples with.

Any distress devoid of its spiritual dimensions is unhealthy. Such a mundane distress has become a widespread problem not only for the common people but even for doctors who are supposed to cure the stressed patients. Generally, this common grievance stems from what we call 24x7 mode of jobs in the modern workplaces that demand long working hours.

This lifestyle troubles not only employees and students but also those attached to clinical departments in both private and government hospitals. Such a stress or distress has very negative consequences in our daily lives. It further reduces the human life which is already getting shortened now.

This kind of worldly distress is called “huzn” (worry) in the Quran. There is no use of having such mundane distress. It is always discouraged in so many words and verses. For instance, “So lose not heart, nor fall into despair: For ye must gain mastery if ye are true in Faith” and “Verily, there is no fear on the friends of God, nor shall they grieve”.

Shaikh Sa’adi, a noted Sufi saint in Persia, exhorted: “Life is already short, so why shorten it further with worldly worries and grief? Better, have a divine heart that breathes joy and happiness in all cases”. It is narrated in a hadith tradition that one of the Prophet’s companions used to pray: O, Allah if you give me what I ask for, I’m happy once. But if you don’t give it to me, I become ten times happier, because the first was my choice and the latter was yours.

Even a worldly stress can be propelled into something a potential. A modern Islamic thinker writes: “Tension is only the negative name of a positive phenomenon… It is actually a blessing in disguise. Your mind has unlimited capacity, but this capacity, which is a gift of nature, is in the form of potential. You need to turn this potential into actuality”.

Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an alim (classical Islamic scholar) and a Delhi-based writer. He can be contacted at: grdehlavi@gmail.com

Tags: quran, islam, god