A Great Plan

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Sidi Abu Hasan al-Shadhili said,
"If you have to plan, plan that you will not engage in planning."

Despite such good advice, many of us try to ballpark some of our life plans. And then, as I so notoriously did for a year, we conduct a mental countdown to their anticipated execution. When alas the countdown is done and the plan is no more than the thought that formed its simple beginning, we go into overtime wondering about it calmly while remembering that the timeline was a mere hopeful estimate. After a few more months, however, we begin to realize that the plan may not come into effect and thus we attempt to convince ourselves to see it for what it seems to be - an illusion.

Such incidents should serve as a lesson not to cradle long hopes, but sometimes it's a lesson that is tough to learn. Perhaps this is because during the time of such inclinations we pray that Allah takes things out of our hearts if they aren't good for us and our iman, and yet all the while these things continue to remain firmly in place.

So how do we make sense of it all? I'm not all that sure yet, but for starters I'm reminded of a particularly striking occurrence in which one said, "It's heartening to see such certainty that what's best will happen. This way one is neither overjoyed or dismayed either way." I often wonder about these words as I had previously never really considered the balance of emotions and how they connect to one's faith. It is an intriguing perspective whose elaboration would certainly be insightful.

Is that to say then that some signs of security within the indulgence of hopes is not being overly excited when they come to fruition or overly saddened when they remain untouchable? Perhaps. Kullu shayin 'inda Allah, and again perhaps some deeper reflections on certitude in God and our internal reactions will prove to be extremely beneficial. In the mean time, it's a goal worth striving for as it appeals to the internal sense of balance and submission. Nonetheless, the better option, ideally, is to live one day at a time, neither dwelling too long on the past nor pondering tirelessly about the future in this world.

The irony of world-based hopes it that they, by definition, must have an end. But eternal hopes, if materialized and gifted to us from the Most High, glorified is He, are lasting. So which ones should we strive for? Which should we cling towards?

Our intelligence knows the best way to go, but we are weak and we incline to other than the way of patient submission. Part of being human is to err, but part of being a great human is to correct one's mistakes when one is able.

Just recently, I thought it perhaps a worthy attempt to try to channel more energy into reflecting on the world of the unseen. There is a lot that is happening within it, some of which we are intellectually aware but much of which we are soulfully heedless. Maybe we need to open our consciousness, for example, to the many angels that go about their work, those that accompany us at certain times and those that leave us at other times. Or perhaps we should begin to reflect deeply on how animals react to the unseen world such as a crowing rooster or a braying donkey.

Yes, perhaps this suggestion to reflect on a world that we cannot see is a bit peculiar as most of us are inept in its practice, but really, it has to be a part of who we are. How then can we prepare for our own deaths if we are oblivious to its approach and the promises that come with it? There will, without a doubt, come that day when we will be unable to make excuses for ourselves, and we will be held to account for our ambitions and actions in this world. Are we confident that we'll meet the day with favourable outcomes? No, we aren't. How can we be?

Indeed, these are the events worth anticipating. These are the only events for which we need to prepare and plan - a great plan indeed.

May Allah, the Guide, make easy that which is best for us and our relationship with Him and may He protect us from anything that distracts us from Him or burdens or hinders our relationship with Him, ameen.

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"Do you think that you will enter the Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Apostle and those of faith who were with him cried: 'When (will come) the help of God?' Ah! Verily the help of God is (always) near!" [2:214]



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"Be mindful of God, and God will protect you. Be mindful of God, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of God. If you seek help, seek help of God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that God had already prescribed for you. And if the whole world were to gather together to harm you, it would harm you only with something that God has already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the ink has dried."
--Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]