Mar 18, 2010

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The Power of Trust in God

By Imam Mohamed Hagmagid Ali

Of the Quran’s more than 6,000 verses-a number greater than the stars one can see in even the darkest sky-one stands out. So great is it that verse that Prophet Muhammad once called it “al-Sayyidah” (the chief) and encouraged us to recite it after every fard salaat (Compulsory Pray) and just before sleeping. We call it Ayat al-Kursi:

“0 God. There is nothing worthy of worship but He, the Living, the Sustainer. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. His is what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and behind them, and they can grasp only His knowledge He wills. His throne embraces the heavens and Earth, and it tires Him not to uphold them both. He is the High, the Formidable”. (Quran 2:255)

God’s fullest self-description

This verse is God’s fullest self-description to humanity, a jewel that enables us to know Him as more than a mere abstraction so that we can connect to Him. Let’s take a moment to ponder its myriad meanings.

After commencing with the profession of faith, this verse mentions two of God’s names: al-Hayy the Living) and al-Qayyum (the Sustainer). We might wonder -why these two names follow the profession of faith. One possibility is that they help clarify what elevates someone to be worthy of worship. As we know, what is worthy lasts forever, and what is unworthy does not.

And how many are the finite things that we may revere. We may busy our minds and bodies with the material (food, money, and possessions) or the immaterial (pleasure, fame, and security) things of life, but to what end? Even the wealthiest, most famous, best fed, and most secure people can still find themselves spiritually unsatisfied. The wise person must thus do as Abraham did: While contemplating the various objects of human worship, including the stars, he said: “I do not love those that set” (Quran 6:76).

As we think about God’s next self description, that He is not overtaken by slumber or sleep, let’s reflect upon what an extraordinary attribute this is. How often do we yearn to speak to someone about something wonderful that has happened or seek their consolation in moments of grief, only to find that their cell phone is turned off, they are in a meeting, have gone to sleep, and so on? Yet God is always available whenever we call upon Him. He never asks us to “hold on” or call back. Even in the depths of night, He remains closer to us than our jugular vein (Quran 50:16).

God’s dominion over the heavens and Earth

God then mentions His dominion over the heavens and Earth. This important statement clarifies our relationship to Earth and its creatures. Earth is not a gift that has been given to us unconditionally, but rather a sacred trust in our hands for safekeeping. The mountains and valleys, animals and plants, water and air are thus ultimately borrowed property that He will recall one day. As Muslims, we are bound to preserve them in the best manner possible.

So too do we – our bodies and – talents – belong to God. This is important, because we may wonder why we are bound to the rules He has established for us. For example, why can we not drink alcohol if we want to socialize, or skip our prayers if we find their timing in convenient? The answer is that our bodies are trusts given to us for our benefit from the Divine Mercy, but nonetheless property that He will recall one day. Just as a teenager who borrows the family car must accept the parents’ conditions, such as washing it once a month, so are we bound by the terms of the trusteeship of our body. Yet so merciful is God that He requires nothing in return. Moreover, all of His requests are strictly for our own benefit.

God’s all encompassing knowledge

In the middle of the verse, God describes His knowledge as encompassing all that is before and after us. Take a moment to consider the unease we all experience when a police officer appears in our car’s rear-view mirror. How many of us begin to pay extra careful attention to our speedometer lest we accidentally exceed the speed limit? Yet God sees infinitely more than any police officer ever could. Why does God’s knowledge of our acts so often fail to stir us the way a police officer’s does? God says: “One day … the Book [of Deeds] will be placed [before you], and you will see the sinful in great terror because of what is [recorded] therein. They will exclaim: ‘Ah! Woe to us! What a Book is this! It leaves out nothing small or great, but takes account thereof!” (Quran 18:47-49).

Moreover, when cited for a traffic violation, we usually accrue points and receive a ticket. Yet when we violate God’s law, if we “pay our ticket” (sincerely repent), He converts our bad deeds into good deeds – as if paying a ticket resulted in a deduction of points and a financial reward!

Trust in God

Sometimes we experience difficult times and become frustrated, even despondent. Our health can fail and our wealth can disappear. Worse, we can feel that there is no one to turn to, no one who can fully understand our plight. When this happens, remember God’s promise: “If anyone puts his/her trust in God, sufficient (is God) for him/her” (65:3). Ayat al-Kursi reminds us of God’s splendor and majesty, closeness and understanding, mercy and care. Indeed, there is no One more worthy of our worship than Him.

Imam Mohamed Hagmagid Ali is the Imam and Executive Director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Sterling, Virginia and  Vice President of ISNA

Source: www.islamicity.com

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