بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Q - What is the perfect definition of having a good opinion of Allah (حسن الظن بالله)?
A - To have full certainty in your heart that Allah deals with you and gives you according to that which He knows is best for you (not good for you but best for you).

[Al Habib Husayn As Saqqaf - April 21, 2011]


Thoughts of children fill my mind. There is a lot that we can learn from them - not necessarily in terms of what they say and do but rather the combination of both phenomena as they relate to how they are as people and how they develop. For example, the other day I noted how politely my nephew asked his brother for a plastic bat as the two of them played some version of hockey whilst their beloved little sister - a newcomer to the world of walking - insisted on having a share in the game. I figured that he would probably consider his casual request of "Can you please pass me that stick?" as insignificant and normal. And really, in the world of ideals, being polite should not be unexpected. Nonetheless, I recall many occasions in his short life when he's been reminded, "How do you ask nicely?" or "Hey, you forgot the secret word!" or "Is that how you ask for something?" Like all of us, he wasn't born into this world knowing what makes up acceptable speech. Progress in this realm has required the sincere concern of his caretakers - his parents namely - to teach him, and repetition and discipline have definitely been a part of the equation.

So how does this simple, "no duh!" point relate to adults? Our nafs is a child in many respects and needs to be chided, reminded, and disciplined much like children. As we grow into adults with a solid awareness of what is respectable or praiseworthy conduct, we realize that there is still a mischievous, lazy, and easily-distractable part within ourselves, and sometimes we are entirely ineffective in curbing its child-like inclinations to whine and indulge itself.

While I toss around such thoughts in my mind, I note the craze in this world for people to improve themselves. Advertising speaks to both the childish nafs that wants ease and comfort, and it speaks to the brain that says "challenge yourself to be better" - better looks, better money, better accomplishments, better socializing, better everything. And sometimes better is only realistically sold at the price of discipline and sacrifice. Thus, we have 1001 diets, programs, videos, etc. inviting people to work hard to lose those extra pounds, or the ridiculous fast-paced work environments of vile characteristics that ask people to "suck it up" and push on if they want to "make it" and other things.

So perhaps the nafs has opportunities to be disciplined and such efforts are more common than I'm aware. Personally, I'm not sacrificing anything at all, and popularized endeavours to deal with the pain of getting ahead are not the least bit appealing to me. I don't think I could motivate myself nor discipline myself enough to achieve even sentiments of a single fad.

Then where is one, such as myself, supposed to find strength when preparing to reproach one's nafs? I can only really think of one piece of advice when attempting to answer this question even though the greater meaning of it is lost to me in practice. A teacher advised one to be connected to those of similar spiritual aspirations. In one word, he advised suhba or companionship. I suppose before I reach clarity in this advice, I must learn what it means to truly have a good opinion of His creations and how to interact with them deeply.

My personal inclinations of suhba are largely embedded in quality and not quantity. Regardless, it is a concept that currently escapes me and thus it is one which I must struggle with should I hope to be even mildly deserving of its fruits.

Think deeply, live deeply, die peacefully... inshaAllah.

Started on Feb, 28, 2011 and completed today.

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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]