Faith vs Renunciation

Abbas Di Palma talks about the pain at the crossroads; between faith and denial

It is part of the creed of faithful individuals to believe that God is Omnipotent, Just and Merciful. These three divine qualities are seemingly difficult to understand in relation to trials and tribulations which at times affect human life. In fact to God belongs all these qualities, but how can we justify the pain and suffering inflicted on many believing people trying to dedicate their life to lofty goals such as prayer, charity, benevolence, etc…
Some find no answer to this enigma and drastically change their lifestyle ending in some cases in the renunciation of their belief in God. It should be said that in many cases such conclusions do not stem from rational conclusions but from emotions like “wrath against God” or “delusions from the expectations”: it is not a mature and rational awareness to bring the loss of trust in God but rather a very negative sentiment that pushes the individual far from Him. In this way the person finds a ‘justification’ to rely on his/her incredulity.
Pious people and mystics throughout history have emphasised the role of rida (Divine Pleasure) which implies satisfaction for what God has prescribed for them. Rida is indeed one of the first traits of spiritual wayfarers since the beginning of their journey is one of the most difficult qualities to be attained by ordinary people. The spiritual state of satisfaction signifies neither asking for anything additional to God nor wishing to change a particular situation.
This is not something required from common believers whose satisfaction with God as their Lord and Islam as their religion suffices for their spiritual nourishment. However, when common believers are struck by afflictions, they do not have the resolve to solve their problems or to rectify their feelings and it is very hard for them to find a way out of their negative state.
Generally speaking, such delusions are mostly provoked by a wrong understanding of God. If we depict God through our constructs and similitudes, sooner or later we will realise that such a mental ‘idea’ does not fulfil our expectations. Many illnesses of the soul are rooted exactly in a wrong perception of God which in turn is the cause of a wrong perception of ourselves.
Although it is true that God, as part of His mercy, answers those who call Him however, a superficial understanding of the God-man relationship may easily lead to unhappiness. In reality God is far above from mental idolatrous inferences: He is not obliged to answer any supplication and if He does it, it is only by His mercy. To believe that we can force the divine will by our whims is just a religious superstition.
Such ability is religiously understood by human perception within the limits of divine wisdom. So, God may not listen to the request of an evil-doer; and similarly He won’t listen to those religious devotees who independently make their own plans for their own sake only and finally ask God for blessings. One needs a colossal amount of self-awareness and faith to be able to fully understand God’s plan but the same awareness of His presence should bring confidence to the believer that to Him is the ‘return’ and it is Him who is leading the way back to Him. All the hardships of the world cannot be considered worthier than He Himself, our final destination.
Furthermore, the awareness of His presence should push us to invoke Him so that He can intervene and help us in a particular situation. God will then either free us from the problems we have or free us while we are dealing with the problems causing us to realise causes and effects of our situation through a natural process. It is possible that we won’t be able to grasp His full wisdom but after a period of time, while looking at the past, things may become clearer on how God acts and interacts with His creation while proceeding with His plans. Indeed God does not abandon His creation as He is ‘the wali’ (guardian) of those who believe in Him.
It is the wrong idea of God, of ourselves, or of our faith and devotion, that creates confusion in our hearts. Delusions follow but instead of doubting of our way of life, our understanding of faith, one starts accusing God of abandoning him or thinking that He does not love him or that God has betrayed him.
We must remember that “He is the One that is God in the heaven and God in the earth” (43:84) and He doesn’t accept theological compulsion nor naive devotion. A false idea of God is like an idol obstructing our relationship with Him; we should therefore rebuild our perceptions in order to bring them closer to Quranic realities.
In the Qur’an, God speaks about Himself and the way man should be. False notions often fall between us and Him, nourished and boosted by external whispers, so that His words become altered in our minds by means of personal concepts.
Finding a way to align our will with His word without being subject to external factors prevents us not only from being disappointed by God’s will but to complain about the events happening in our lives.
The Qur’an was revealed as a miracle to the people and none of them could produce something similar to it. The hearts of believers and disbelievers were affected by the wonderful recitation of its verses. Nonetheless, many people did not align their will to God’s words making themselves disappointed in what was revealed or, in more general terms, in God’s will. On the contrary, those who believed in its message were persecuted, tortured and oppressed but there was something transcending their physical and psychological hardships that still made them greet each other with the expression “peace be on you”: that was the most prominent aspect of their lives and paths to felicity.

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