The Search for Inner Peace (part 2 of 4):
Description: This second article provides real examples and stories that illustrate the importance of realizing that everyone in life faces obstacles within their control and obstacles beyond their control and that the obstacles beyond one’s control should be considered as destiny from God Almighty.
By Dr. Bilal Philips (transcribed from an audio lecture by Aboo Uthmaan)
Published on 24 Sep 2007 - Last modified on 04 Oct 2009
We have so many problems, so many obstacles that they are like illnesses. If we try to deal with them one by one we will never get through them. We need to identify them, put them in some general categories and tackle them as a group as opposed to trying to tackle each individual obstacle and problem.
To do this we have to first of all remove obstacles that are beyond our control. We have to be able to distinguish which obstacles are within our control and which ones are beyond our control. While we perceive the ones that are beyond our control as obstacles the reality is that they are not. They are the things that God has destined for us in our lives, they are not really obstacles, but we have misinterpreted them as being obstacles.
For example, in this time one might find oneself born black in a world that favors white people over black people; or born poor in a world that favors the rich over the poor, or born short, or crippled, or any other physical condition which is considered a handicap.
These are all things that were and are beyond our control. We did not choose which family to be born in to; we did not choose which body for our spirit to be blown into, this is not our choice. So whatever we find of these kinds of obstacles then we just have to be patient with them and realize that, in fact, they are not really obstacles. God told us:
“…and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. God knows but you do not know.” (Quran 2:216)
So the obstacles that are beyond our control, we may dislike them and we may want to change them, and some actually people spend a lot of money trying to change them. Michael Jackson is a classic example. He was born black in a world that favors white people, so he spent a lot of money trying to change himself but he only ended up making a mess of things.
Inner peace can only be achieved if the obstacles that are beyond our control are accepted by us patiently as part of God’s destiny.
Know that whatever happens which we had or have no control over, then God has put in it some good, whether or not we are able to grasp what is good in it; the good is still there. So we accept it!
There was an article in a newspaper which had a photograph of a smiling Egyptian man. He had a smile on his face from ear to ear with his hands stretched out and both thumbs sticking up; his father was kissing him on one cheek and his sister on the other cheek.
Underneath the photograph it had a caption. He was supposed to have been on a Gulf Air flight the day before, Cairo to Bahrain. He had dashed down to the airport to catch the flight and when he got there he had one stamp missing on his Passport (In Cairo you have to have many stamps on your documents. You get a person to stamp this and sign that and that person to stamp that and sign this) but there he was at the airport with one stamp missing. As he was a teacher in Bahrain and this flight was the last one back to Bahrain which would enable him to report back on time, missing it meant that he would have lost his job. So he nagged them to let him on the flight. He became frantic, started crying and screaming and going berserk, but he could not get on the plane. It took off without him. He went (to his home in Cairo) distraught, thinking that he was finished and that his career was over. His family comforted him and told him not to worry about it. The next day, he heard the news that the plane he was meant to be on crashed and everybody on board died. And then there he was, ecstatic that he did not make the flight, but the day before it, was as if it was the end of his life, a tragedy that he did not get on the flight.
These are signs, and such signs can be found in the story of Mosa and Khidr (which best we read every Jumu’ah, i.e. Chapter al-Kahf of the Holy Quran). When Khidr made a hole in the boat of the people who were kind enough to take him and Mosa across the river, Mosa asked why he (Khidr) did that.
When the owners of the boat saw the hole in the boat they wondered who did it and thought that it was a nasty thing to have done. A short while later the king came down to the river and forcefully took away for himself all the boats except the one with a hole in it. So the owners of the boat praised God due to the fact that there was a hole in their boat.
There are other obstacles or rather things which are perceived as obstacles in our life. These are things in which we cannot figure out what is beyond them. A thing happens and we do not know why, we do not have an explanation for it. For some people this drives them into disbelief. If one listens to an atheist, he has no inner peace and has rejected God. Why did that person become an atheist? It is abnormal to disbelieve in God, whereas it is normal for us to believe in God because God created us with a natural inclination to believe in Him.
“So set you (O Muhammad) your face towards the religion of pure Islamic Monotheism Hanifa (worship none but God Alone) God’s Fitrah (i.e. God’s Islamic Monotheism), with which He has created mankind. No change let there be in Khalq¬illah (i.e. the Religion of God Islamic Monotheism), that is the straight religion, but most of men know not.” (Quran 30:30)
The Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said:
“Every child is born with a pure nature (as a Muslim with a natural inclination to believe on God)…” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)
This is the nature of human beings, but a person who becomes an atheist without having been taught it from childhood usually does so because of a tragedy. If a tragedy happens in their life they have no explanations as to why it happened.
For example, a person who became an atheist may say that he/she had a wonderful auntie; she was a very good person and everybody loved her, but one day whilst she was out crossing the road a car came out of nowhere and hit her and she died. Why did this happen to her of all people? Why? No explanations! Or a person (who became an atheist) may have had a child who died and say why did this happen to my child? Why? No explanations! As a result of such tragedies they then think that there can not possibly be a God.
 The king was an oppressor and was known for seizing every good boat by force, but the people who owned the boat were poor people and it was their only means of benefit so Khidr wanted the boat to appear to be faulty so that the king did not seize it in order for the poor people to carry on benefiting from it.
 This verse was added to the transcription by the transcribers.
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