By SHIBLI ZAMAN
Yesterday. I sigh remembering it. What a blessing yesterday was.
I met up with an old friend who lived across the street from me when we were kids. Back then we used to hang out either on his driveway or in his house just jamming on our guitars. I played the six-string and he played bass. But what often ended up happening were long talks about life and our dreams of “making it big” in Rock and Roll. It feels like last week, though good sense tells me it was a lifetime ago. And there we were yesterday, so many years later, talking over lunch just like when we were kids. The only things missing were the guitars. I’ve always struggled to keep all the friends I make, but times like yesterday make me feel that I did alright. I cannot begin to express to you the value in preserving your relationships from childhood. For those who ever followed the TV series Lost (or binge watched it on Netflix), there was the theme of having a “constant” serving as an anchor between two time periods in life. It’s a lot like that.
Later that day, I saw two souls, both individually beautiful, unite in marriage to create what could only be described as a radiant light. I kid you not: those in their presence who had never met them before got watery eyed at the sight. I never believed in love at first sight, because it has always been framed within the context of nauseatingly idealistic and film-grade romance. However, there is some truth in it. When you meet someone, the souls meet before our physical matter does. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) said, “Souls are of many differing types. When they meet, they recognize and incline towards the other, or they are repulsed and withdraw from the other.” What I actually witnessed at this occasion yesterday was my soul admiring the goodness I saw in other souls. It brought the aforementioned narration, which I had heard countless times before, into flesh and blood and gave it a pulse. The eyes can be not just a window to the soul, but also a periscope for the heart.
The night closed at my brother’s graduation party. Typically, at birthdays, grad parties, weddings and other such celebrations people get together, serve food, talk and then…go home. That’s pretty much the gist of it, and that’s how everyone probably thought this was going to go. But we had two esteemed scholars, Shaykh Joe Bradford and Shaykh Mamdouh Mahmoud, in our company, whose presence helped turn it into what I call “soul food”. Nourishment for the soul. We all, one by one, recited a verse from the Qur’an, any verse we were feeling, no matter how long or short. I could feel the energy, charge and enrichment it brought to our spirits. Cattle go out, graze, share a few nudges and moos, and then go back. Our gatherings should be more meaningful than that. The obvious benefit at my brother’s graduation party was that we all recited the Qur’an. But it was more than just that. Recitation of the Qur’an became a means of bonding. So, don’t let your get-togethers just be like grazing in the pasture.
Out of all life on this planet, we humans are the ones who will seek to preserve our relationships with each other—and even with other animals—for as long as we can. That brings me an indescribable hope. We were meant for something more than mere existence. We were meant to positively affect others in the relationships we create and foster, so that we can understand and increase our desire for the greatest of those relationships: our relationship with God.
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “The Mercy of Almighty God is in 100 parts. One part He has distributed amongst all His creation, with which they show one another love and mercy. The remaining 99 are reserved for the Day of Judgment.” Many supplementary variants of this narration throughout the Hadith collections lend credence to the notion that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ must have stressed this on numerous occasions throughout his advent.
Imagine all the love and mercy that ever existed on earth in its billions and billions of years. That’s just 1/100th of God’s Love for YOU. Yesterday inspired me, and as your friend I wanted to share that in hopes that my reflections inspire you, too. After all, that’s what friends are for.